days february sweeps preview part 1
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

“We want there to be a payoff along the way for fans of Ben and Ciara.” 

If a beloved character has just risen from the dead and another is on her way back to Salem, it must be February sweeps on Days of Our Lives. sat down with headwriter Ron Carlivati for an exclusive chat about the big drama about to unfold in the little midwestern town. How much dirt did he spill? So much that we’ve actually broken the interview into two parts, the second of which can be found here.

Ben Searches for Ciara

Seeing Ciara back on their screens was like a dream come true for Cin fans. OK, sure, they’d probably just as soon she not be held hostage, far from the loving arms of her husband, but hey… its a start!

days ben ciara xmas visit JJ

“It’s not like Ciara is going to be rescued tomorrow,” says the scribe of Ben’s true love. “We’re beginning a journey. It started with Ben finally voicing what he’s been feeling deep down for a while now, that maybe his wife isn’t really dead. From this point forward, we see him taking action to try and figure out where she could be. But the trail is very, very cold at this point.”

More: Could someone other than Vincent have kidnapped Ciara?

The real challenge, Carlivati says, is keeping the audience invested along the way. “To that end,” he explains, “we’ve forged sort of a psychic connection between them, similar to something that’s been played in the past with John and Marlena and some of our other supercouples. There will be a fantasy element to it as well. We wanted to give the audience romantic payoffs on the way to the ultimate payoff.”

Here Comes Sami

It’s been somewhat odd to have Sami absent for so much of the story involving daughter Allie, but that’s all about to change in a very big way. “Whenever you have Allison Sweeney returning, you want to make the most of it, no matter how long she’s going to be around,” says Carlivati of Sami’s portrayer. “You want her to come in with a bang, and maybe that’s foreshadowing a little bit.”

Days allie sami fight

Obviously, Sami’s return will be tied to Charlie’s story. “The walls are starting to close in on him, and I think it’s safe to say that he doesn’t have any friends in Salem, with the possible exception of new acquaintance Gwen. But the attack on Allie was outside of the Salem police department’s jurisdiction, and although he kidnapped Ava, she’s not the most credible of witnesses for several reasons, so it’s beginning to look as if Charlie might actually walk away from all of this.”

More: Which Days couples made our list of best weddings?

Enter Sami. “She is definitely going to play into this in a big way,” previews the writer. Also playing a huge role in the next phase of this story are John, Marlena, Steve and Kayla. “They were on opposite sides when Tripp stood accused of Allie’s rape, especially John and Steve. But now, moving forward, they are on the same side and working toward a common goal.”

Gwen’s Real Past: Revealed

Jack’s not the only one with questions regarding the veracity of Gwen’s claims. Viewers suspecting there has to be more to the story will soon find out just how right they really are.

jack and gwen get their dna results DAYS

“I think most of the audience is plugged in and knows that Jennifer’s mother, Laura, is coming for a visit,” sets up Carlivati. “She really holds the key to this whole mystery as to who Gwen is and why her version of what happened in the past is so different from Jack’s version. We will learn that the story Gwen was told — the one that compelled her to do the things she did — is not true. So her resentment toward Jack and toward Abigail is sort of misplaced. What does she do with that now, and how does she atone for her actions?”

More: Tribute to Frances Reid — plus, Alice photo album

A Wedding For Sarah and Xander?

A guy can only take so much, and when Victor opts to stand behind Philip — despite his actions putting both Titan’s future and Brady’s life on the line — Xander throws in the towel. “He’s disillusioned,” sighs Carlivati. “His focus had been on Titan, but now it will shift to Sarah. She’s the person who stood by him through this entire story. She helped him get the goods on Philip, and in the process, the bond between them became stronger than ever. So now, he wants to put a ring on it!”

Sarah and Xander in each other's arms on Days of Our Lives

More: What we need most from Sarah and Xander

Does this mean Sarah and Xander are heading for not only a wedding but a happily ever after? “They’re definitely heading in that direction,” acknowledges the scribe. “Of course, the question is whether or not they actually reach their destination.”

Share your thoughts about the twists and revelations above, then prepare yourself for Sami’s return by reliving her life, lies and loves in the gallery below. And make sure to check out part 2 of our exclusive interview with Carlivati in which he reveals Gabi’s scheme to win back Jake, Kristen’s dangerous plot and why the challenge ahead might be the toughest yet for Abigail and Chad.