stefan stefano joseph mascolo marlena kristen dimera ej days jpi mashup
Credit: John Paschal/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI (4)

This plan would be downright diabolical.

OK, so it looks like Kayla, Kate and Marlena are all surviving their little brush with death on Days of Our Lives. That’s great news… but at the same time, it has us wondering — what was the point of all of this? It’s not that we wanted any of the ladies to die, but why write the story if there weren’t going to be any consequences?

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Yeah, Brady’s dumped Chloe and is giving Kristen everything she wants (a loveless reunion) but that could have happened in any number of ways that didn’t involve a long, drawn-out threat that went absolutely nowhere.

We thought maybe the mention of those Marlena clones would give the show a way to have their cake and eat it too, giving us a death that stings, but could be explained — while still shaking up the canvas. But no, it looks like Marlena’s coming out of this right as rain.

So that got us wondering… what’s really been the point of this story and why have we gotten all that clone talk?

Stacey Haiduk, Richard Wharton dr. rolf kristen jpi days

Rolf and Kristen’s clone mentions were far too obvious and pointed to just be a random idea. And if it didn’t mean a faux Marlena was coming out of this poisoning storyline, it had to mean something else. Maybe something a bit more… devilish? No, no, no, don’t worry, we aren’t talking about Satan coming back again! (And definitely not as a clone!) Instead, we had someone far more brilliant (and evil) in mind.

In their last conversation, Rolf made clear to Kristen that his only concern is protecting Stefano’s legacy. And that’s when everything clicked. Maybe, we realized, we’d been too focused on Marlena… and not on the man who Dr. Rolf has always and will always serve: Stefano! Or at least a younger, cloned version of him.

The Phoenix’s “essence” may have been destroyed, but you only need that if you want to take over someone else and turn them into Stefano. If Rolf has clones of his former boss, the essence would come already built in, right? (We’re talking soap opera “science” here, folks, so we say, “Yes.”)

Now, admittedly, the show’s sci-fi plots can get pretty silly, but a young Stefano running around wreaking havoc? That we could get behind. Let’s be absolutely clear on one thing: Nobody can ever replace the late, great Joseph Mascolo. But we have a feeling he’d be honored to know that his legacy will live on forever. Quite literally.

EJ looks up at Stefano's portrait on Days of Our Lives

Because despite how often Stefano’s family members like talking to his portrait, they haven’t really been up to the task in living up to the great man himself. Chad, for instance, is a nice guy, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Kristen used to be one of the more stable DiMeras, but as she’s been pushed further into villain territory, she’s also become a bit too unbalanced and single-mindedly obsessed with Brady.

Then there’s Tony who, unlike the very dead Andre, has always been more in the good-guy camp — at least compared to most of his family. EJ, meanwhile, has always more or less been the heir apparent, but he’s much better as a corporate raider than an outright villain. Jerk he’s got down pat, but master strategist, not so much.

And when Stefan first arrived in town as the son of Stefano and Vivian Alamain, he seemed set to become the amoral, devilish heir that we craved. But, like EJ, he was more concerned with the legitimate part of the DiMera empire and even tried to keep his mom’s crazier impulses in check. Then he and Gabi fell in love and, honestly, it’s hard to build a supervillain out of a supercouple.

Soaps will always have villains. But they won’t always have good ones. And that’s where the problem comes in. Stefano was always one of the best. It’s why he didn’t just stick around but (when he wasn’t taking one of his dead breaks, at least) stayed on the canvas for decades.

As for the others who’ve been running around Salem these days? Eh.

Orpheus has always been more B-rate than Stefano with his complex but underwhelming plots. Poisoning Marlena, Kate and Kayla accomplished what, exactly? He couldn’t even come up with his own scheme — he had to recycle one of Stefano’s! Then there was Clyde, who was always more thug than villain. Stefano sully his hands by breaking into someone’s house and murdering them? Perish the thought.

And don’t even get us started on TR.

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No, we need a Stefano back to shake things up and keep them shaking. The mythological phoenix was truly immortal. Stefano should be the same. So if those clone mentions amount to more than just four Marlenas running around, and we get Salem’s true devil returning, well, we’d welcome that with open arms.

To help ponder this idea, we put together a photo gallery of 10 actors who could play The Phoenix reborn