Greg Vaughan, eric, priest, days, jpi
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

Is this really the last we’ve seen of our favorite on-again/off-again priest?

When it comes to the devil — or maybe we should say, the MarDevil — it takes a special kind of holy man to do battle. The first time around it was John. This time, though, it required a little finesse from Marlena’s own son, Eric, back in town and re-frocked into the priesthood. But that’s all over now. At least, the Eric part of it.

Greg Vaughan made his return to Salem to help out, but visit was a quick one. Eric was in and out of town before we could barely blink and now, it seems, he’s gone again until some other calamity. Or is he?

A recent interview with Soap Opera Digest seemed to indicate that he’d be sticking around — and Vaughan certainly talked about Eric with an enthusiasm for his character’s growth that appeared to go beyond a two-day stint.

“I’m revisiting the character and putting the training wheels back on,” the actor shared of his return, “seeing where he’s matured while dealing with the aftermath of Eric and Nicole’s marriage not working. I think there’s a lot of growth that’s taking shape, so he’s coming to make amends.”

Those amends are all well and good, and clearly Eric shared a healthy hello/good-bye with Nicole, but talking about growth taking shape very much seems to be an in-the-present process that we didn’t get to see much of yet. And on top of that, Vaughan had a few more words to say about his hopes for Eric’s future.

“I just want to take it down a new road,” he told Digest. “I’m very curious. I’m really taking a different approach, and just trying to see if I can navigate where his path leads him. I just want it to be interesting.”

The road that he returned on is a familiar one, with Eric having again returned to the priesthood. It’s something that made sense from a storyline perspective, seeing as how his mom was possessed by Satan, but which wasn’t exactly a journey of personal growth.

“I thought I closed that door and left it behind me,” Vaughan admitted to Digest. “But I do see the purpose and the reason. It was fun and it helped kind of kick-start the story again.”

The question is, what story is that? With Nicole and EJ on rocky ground thanks to Sami (and, let’s face it, their own volatile natures), it seems like an Eric/Nicole reunion would make sense. And it seems like a shame not to tackle it. Yes, their tale of being drawn together while wrestling with the priesthood is a familiar one, there’s plenty of room to give it some new twists.

For one thing, there’s the Kristen angle. There’s a reason the devil appeared to Eric as her during the exorcism. In between the horror, there was clearly temptation. The real Kristen is still running around somewhere, so imagine if Nicole and Eric tried reuniting, only for them to end up torn between feelings for the DiMeras — while EJ and Sami undergo their own reunion, no less!

More: Could Eileen Davidson make a full return to Salem?

We aren’t exactly fans of survivors falling for their rapists, but add in the spiritual growth Eric’s undergone in the priesthood and a willingness to extend forgiveness and accept repentance and Days of Our Lives could tell a carefully nuanced story of redemption and temptation. Nicole and two pairs of siblings (okay, Kristen and EJ aren’t blood-related, but close enough) wrestling with the sins of the past and present sounds like exactly the sort of soapy drama that makes daytime great.

Either way, maybe Eric shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Because if Days of Our Lives does let him go without a fight, they’re missing out on scores of juicy story that’s just primed for him to jump into.

While you ponder the possibilities of Eric’s future, why not take a look at Days of Our Lives‘ past, in our photo filled show Year in Review? It turns out it really wasn’t all MarDevil all the time!