Days' John Aniston & Peter Reckell mashup
Credit: Howard Wise/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI

If there’s one thing Bo’s return to Days of Our Lives has taught us, it’s that whether he’s onscreen or not, Victor Kiriakis’ shadow looms large over everyone. Right now, Bo’s pretty intent on emulating his biological dad in the worst possible ways, but thanks to a love letter Kayla found from Victor to Caroline, it’s clear that there’s more to the corporate titan and sometimes mobster than money and power.

It was a bit unusual to see coming from the head of the Kiriakis family, but not totally out of left field. After all, we’ve seen that softer side for years with his relationship with Maggie, one of the kindest souls ever to set foot in Salem.

Still, all this talk of Victor can’t help but sting a little, seeing as how we know the late John Aniston’s final episode aired back at Christmas. He never made it back to film again. And that, Peter Reckell shared on Soap Opera Digest‘s podcast, ended up hurting more than he could have guessed.

In Greece, Kayla rests her chin in her hands at a dining table. She glares at Bo, who eats.

Bo’s been learning all the wrong lessons from Victor. But Reckell learned all the right ones from Aniston.

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

Working with Aniston was such a big part of Reckell’s career and his “growth as an actor. Working with him, it was like working with Frances Reid [Alice]. You never caught them acting. They were just who they were to you. He’s my dad. Frances was my grandma.”

When he first got back to show, Reckell said he tried to visit everyone, “the older actors that were such a huge part of, not only Bo’s life, but my life. Victor, in this storyline was such a huge part. So I was thinking about John quite a bit during these working hours.”

He asked one of the stage managers how Aniston was doing the last time he was in and was told that he was in his wheelchair but doing well. That was great news and Reckell was planning on visiting his TV dad once he was done shooting, “because I was so busy. Unfortunately, a couple days later, we got the news that he was gone. So that really hit me hard, his passing.”

It was almost like a cruel example of life imitating art. Stephanie missed out on the chance to say goodbye to her mother, Kayla. And for Reckell, he missed out on the chance to say goodbye to his dad. And that is, simply put, who Aniston was to Bo’s portrayer.

“It was difficult just that he was gone and not to have the chance to see him,” Reckell admitted. “It hit me kind of hard. You look at the scenes that we did together and he’s my father. That ran a little deeper than what I thought when I found out he had passed.”

The father and son dynamic was as real as it gets, maybe even more off-screen than on.

Credit: Paul Smith/JPI

More: The Salem exit that outraged fans

While heartbreaking that Reckell didn’t get to say goodbye, and it looks like Bo won’t be able to either, it does sound like the show has just about caught up with John Aniston’s real life death. And that, we have a feeling, means that Victor’s farewell is coming up soon.

It’s not clear what exactly this will mean to the Kiriakis family. Though rarely seen these days, Victor’s presence is still very much felt — especially as Alex jockeys for control of Titan from Maggie. His attempts to tattle on Aunt Maggie to Uncle Vic have, so far, fallen on deaf ears. Victor’s given Maggie carte blanche to run Titan as she sees fit and has backed up her every move, much to Alex’s frustration.

But what will happen without Victor’s backing? Will Alex be able to convince Titan to jettison his aunt? And who will head up the Kiriakis family then? Will everyone left be jostling over Victor’s will? These are all things that we’ll likely be learning soon, rather than later.

Take a look at our photo gallery of daytime stars as they said farewell to Days of Our Lives‘ legendary John Aniston.