It's always sad when long-term characters say goodbye, and Days of Our Lives has been having a mass exodus lately.
But Will and Sonny's final scenes on Days of Our Lives during the week of 8-31-20 were a worthy send-off, so there's that.
And while I can think of a ton of other characters that I'd rather head out of Salem, at least their exit left the door open for them to return.
Will and Sonny will always have a special place in my heart. As a transgender person and an advocate for suicide prevention in the LGBTQ community, I was thrilled that Will's original coming out story was handled sensitively and that the pair were the first male-male marriage in daytime history.
The writing for them has not been great since Will was "killed off" in 2015, though. That thoughtless ending to this groundbreaking love story was a major disappointment and a slap in the face to Days of Our Lives' many non-heterosexual fans.
And ever since Will's miraculous resurrection, the guys have had only one story over and over: Sonny getting involved with some malevolent loser while he and Will are forced apart for some reason, only for the jilted ex-lover to go nuts after Will and Sonny reconcile.
It was bad enough when Sonny and Will BOTH managed to break nice guy Paul's heart in their rush to reunite. But after that, we were treated to crazy Leo and violent Evan, both of whom resolved to make Sonny's life a living hell as soon as Will got back into the picture.
This got tedious after a while, but the guys' final storyline contained so much promise that was never delivered on.
Will and Sonny deciding they wanted another child could have been a fantastic, modern storyline that excited viewers.
The writers hinted at the difficulties some gay couples face when trying to adopt when an adoption agency didn't want to give a child to a gay couple, but it all happened off-screen.
And the whole thing was quickly abandoned in favor of this overdramatic argument over who would adopt Allie's baby... only for Will and Sonny to forget adoption altogether when they lost out and run off to Arizona so Sonny could start a new career.
If only this had been a real story with a happy ending. Even Will and Sonny going off to another country to try to adopt a baby would have been acceptable.
Instead, the writers gave Sonny a new job out of the blue and the guys conveniently got to take Ari with them because Gabi had to go to Mexico due to another last-minute plot complication.
This rushed storyline cheated viewers out of a worthwhile ending to Will and Sonny's story. Plus, the writers missed a golden opportunity by not having them even explore surrogacy.
It's well known that in real life Deidre Hall is a surrogacy advocate, so having Marlena help her grandson explore the process would have been the perfect meld between real life and fiction.
And Marlena being unavailable to help with a surrogacy crisis because of John's aneurysm would have been more realistic drama than this ridiculous Ben brainwashing story.
It also would have been nice if Ari had been part of the goodbye scenes. She was mentioned, but kept firmly off-screen.
Her reaction to her mom leaving again and her having to move to a brand-new state would have been fantastic drama, but instead she got no reaction at all and wasn't even with the guys as they said goodbye to Salem.
That said, the goodbyes themselves were a beautiful tribute to Will and Sonny.
Will's final scene with Sami highlighted the unhealthy yet loving relationship between tempermental Sami and her firstborn son, and the guys making the rounds to say so long to all their relatives was a nice touch.
And I loved that their final scene together ended on such an optimistic note. It was a positive message for the LGBTQ community about how this gay couple was going to have a great life, even if it was going to be offscreen.
The flashbacks were a nice tribute to their history too, as were the pair holding hands in front of Alice and Tom's memorial as they said goodbye to Salem. The message was clear: Alice and Tom would have been 100% supportive of Will and Sonny's relationship if they were still alive.
All in all, it was a beautiful goodbye despite the rushed nature of this exit.
Meanwhile, a couple of returns didn't go quite so smoothly.
Jan Spears is a great villain, but what's the plan for her this time? She showed up at Sami's bequest to testify to Nicole's bad behavior 25 years ago, and ever since she's been wandering around town making snide remarks to Belle and Shawn.
I'm sure she has something more up her sleeve. I hope so, anyway. It seems like a waste to bring her back for this ridiculous purpose.
And Tripp almost got choked out thanks to being the second person in as many weeks to break into a relative's home instead of just telling them they were coming.
I'm not sure what Tripp is doing in Salem either. Many fans speculate that he could be the father of Allie's baby, as he is one of the only men her age who isn't related to her. (Although Kayla is Allie's great-aunt, Tripp is only blood-related to Steve. So it's weird but not entirely incestuous for him to sleep with Allie.)
Steve and Kayla's scenes prior to Tripp's surprise entrance were refreshingly normal. The pair looked through their mail, discussed the difficulties in keeping up the relationship with their far-away kids, and took some time to cuddle before heading to the grocery store to buy food.
None of that sounds like high drama, but it's exactly what viewers need right now.
Life is anything but normal for many people as COVID-19 continues to ravage communities. So daytime TV needs to be an escape into a fantasy world where people still do what people used to do before the pandemic, where people love each other and worry about when and how to travel to see their kids.
Steve and Kayla provided some of that.
Storywise, I wish we'd known all along what was going on with Stephanie. Apparently she's in Hawaii with a new boyfriend. But maybe she'll come back to Salem someday or we'll actually follow Steve and Kayla when they visit her.
It was interesting that Joey only gets two visits a month.
That's the first time Days of Our Lives has been realistic about how hard prison is not just for prisoners, but for their families. Everyone else in Statesville Prison seems to get a never-ending stream of visitors and full access to the visitors' room even when they're not expecting someone.
Anyway, could story be coming up for Joey and/or Stephanie now that they've been mentioned? They'd complement Tripp nicely if so.
Back to Jan, her main purpose seemed to be as a catalyst for the next part of this silly Sami/Nicole showdown story.
The courtroom scenes annoyed me.
While Justin claimed that the judge was fair and impartial, she was anything but. She kept letting Sami undermine her and continue arguing after the case was supposed to be decided, yet cut Justin off on the rare occasions he objected and threatened to throw Nicole out any time she raised her voice.
Last time around, Deimos paid this judge off to side with Chloe over Nicole. The judge seems to have forgotten that, but could Sami have paid her off this go-round?
Also, Justin continued to be the worst lawyer in the history of Salem. Sure, he objected once or twice. But he declined to cross-examine Jan and he didn't pursue the obvious line of defense to Sami's nonsense.
What Nicole did or didn't do to Victor 25 years ago was totally irrelevant to this custody hearing, but since she went there... why on Earth did Justin not bring up the fact that Sami tried to sell infant Belle on the black market? Or that she helped throw Nick in the river to cover up Gabi "killing" him?
After all, Sami's history is just as sordid as Nicole's, so if she was going to go that route, Justin should have had a ton of ammo to fire back with. But instead, he did nothing.
Sami's showdown with Belle was more worthwhile, though I was shocked that Belle didn't bring up the whole black market baby thing, since she almost always does.
Sami: Belle knows lawyers sometimes have to pull dirty tricks to win. I think she'll be proud of me.
Lucas: Yeah? Right now you're living in Sami World. But soon the real world is gonna come crashing down on you.
Lucas did a great job of pointing out the many flaws in Sami's plan, not that Sami listened, and when Belle showed up he more or less was proven right. However, Belle was stupid not to accept Sami's apology.
Sami is selfish and controlling and she's always going to be that way. The best Belle is ever going to get is a heartfelt apology about how Sami doesn't think before she acts -- and for Sami, apologizing at all is major progress. So Belle needs to encourage that even if she's still angry and wants to keep her distance for a while.
Meanwhile, the Ciara story continued to waste airtime.
Vincent having been in love with Wendy the murdered midwife was a nice touch, but his desire to kill Ciara because of it makes no more sense for him than it did for Eve.
It would have been perfectly reasonable if Vincent kidnapped Ciara in the hopes that Ben would be accused of murdering her. That would be an act of vengeance designed to finally get some sort of justice for the death of Vincent's girlfriend.
But killing an innocent person so that Ben would lose his lover just inflicts the same pain on Ciara's family as Wendy's death did on him.
And although it was great for Marlena to get to use her hypnosis skills again, we didn't need all those flashbacks. Also, there was zero reason Hope wasn't actively searching for Vincent before Ben remembered he was there.
She knew he was Eve's partner-in-crime and had been responsible for brainwashing Ben. So even if she didn't know he had Ciara, shouldn't she have wanted to get ahold of him to find out what he knew about her disappearance?
Elsewhere, Lani's impassioned insistence on covering for Kristen once again suggested that she has more than friendship feelings for Kristen.
Eli: What the hell were you thinking?
Lani: Kristen needed someone and I'm her only friend.
Eli: And you're gonna be her only cellmate too. What kind of friend puts you in this position over and over?
As Eli pointed out, nobody should be risking their career regularly for their best friend. But people put it all on the line for those they love most. And in Lani's case, she acts like Kristen is her spouse more than Eli, who has to be kept in the dark so he doesn't get in the way.
In any case, it was unsurprising that Brady gave into sex with Kristen. This is probably not going to end well, as usual, but Brady will never learn. It would be fun if Kristen really did use her Nicole mask to put Sami in her place, though.
Finally, the silly fight between Philip and Xander over the CEO position was made worse by the fact that we had a lot more dumb drama coming from Titan's main competitior.
Now that Gabi's gone, we're stuck with an awful love triangle. Gwen and Jake are not a compelling couple and need to stay away from each other. And while I'm thrilled that Marci Miller's Abigail is back, it was utterly predictable that she'd walk in on Gwen hugging Chad.
We don't need an Abby/Chad/Gwen triangle either. The sooner Chad takes Kate's advice and kicks Gwen and Jake out of the mansion, the better.
As for Phillip, this time around he seems to have become a snobby mini-Kate. That's not a good look and it just makes me wish he'd leave town as quickly as he came.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics!
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Looking for more DAYS discussion? Check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table.
Days of Our LIves continues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.