At night in the woods, a disheveled Ava scowls at EJ with her hands on her hips.
Credit: Peacock screenshot

At the Kiriakis mansion, Maggie interrupts Stephanie and Alex kissing in the living room. They discuss Susan, and Maggie tells them Sarah’s theory that Xander was the clown who took her and Bonnie. They muse over the possibility. She swears them to secrecy and heads off to see Victor. Alex wants to return to making out, and maybe more, but Stephanie wants to take things one step at a time. They look forward to their next date.

At the Kiriakis mansion, Alex and Stephanie cast concerned looks onto Maggie.

Gwen slams her laptop shut, as Jack returns from Thanksgiving in New York with Jennifer, Chad, and the kids. He relays they had dinner with Nancy and Mike, who are dating now. Since the holidays are tough this year, he decided to come home to check up on the paper. He warily looks at her, wondering why she is hiding her work from him. She says she’s working on a story about Paulina, but Chad doesn’t want her to write it. She’s holding off until she can fact-check every detail, but worries about missing out on the story of the year.

She asks Jack what she should do. He appreciates that she wants to make an ethically sound decision, but she’ll have to make a judgment call. Her determination to be a good reporter makes him feel better about not hiring Xander. She had no idea that was an option. He explains he felt it was a good idea to keep them apart. Gwen says they’ve been seeing each other, but assures her father they are keeping it friendly. Jack doesn’t want to see her get hurt again. Gwen knows Xander doesn’t love her and is committed to Sarah. As his friend now, she’s happy for him. Jack is proud of her. She tears up upon hearing those words. He asks to see her work because it will feel good advising one of his daughters again. A daughter who should call him Dad.

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In the motel, Xander and Sarah look down at her laptop with furrowed brows.

In their motel room, Sarah asks Xander if he kidnapped Bonnie and Susan. When he denies it, she asks what shady thing his new “employer” asked him to do. He lies that they wanted to claim a new drug wasn’t addictive, but it’s a lie, and he didn’t want to be part of an operation like that. She doesn’t want to believe he did this, but if he did, he has to tell her. Xander acts hurt over her not believing him. She wants to look up the so-called drug company, Rednax. He tells her to go ahead, but sweats and fiddles as she jumps on her laptop.

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Sarah finds the company’s website. Xander’s eyes bulge, and he swallows. Sarah apologizes for not believing him and asks him to forgive her. Of course, he does and suggests they eat the leftovers Maggie brought them. Xander steps out to get ice for the wine and calls Gwen. He tells her what just happened with Sarah and the fake website. She tells him she built it — it’s what friends are for.

In the DiMera mansion, Tony holds drinks at the wet bar and narrows his eyes at Chad.

From the mansion, a worried Tony leaves EJ a message. Chad explains he came home early from New York to check on their brother. As they discuss Ava’s actions, Tony informs Chad she ran off with Susan after EJ had Tripp kidnapped. However, he implores Chad not to tell Stephanie. Chad assures him he’ll stay quiet. Rafe calls Tony and tells him EJ is getting drunk at the crash site. They head out.

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At the crash site, a disheveled and drunk EJ holds up his hand at Ava.

At the cliff, EJ grips his flask and yells out for Susan when he hears a noise. However, it’s Ava who emerges from the woods. EJ wonders if she’s really there or if he’s just drunk. Dirty and disheveled, she claims it’s really her. He points out no one could have survived that crash. She says, “I guess that means I’m dead.” She pulls a gun and says, “Maybe you’d like to join me.”

She taunts him about his need to best her, which only led to Susan’s death. EJ determines that since he doesn’t have a conscience, she can’t be that, so she must be real. Therefore, if Ava made it out alive, then Susan could have too. Ava recounts jumping out of the car before it rolled into the embankment, but Susan was definitely in it when it blew up. She threatens to kill him, and EJ lunges for the gun. They struggle, and the gun goes off.

Later, Chad finds EJ slumped against a rock, bleeding from his head. Tony discovers the flask. EJ tells them Ava was there and pointed a gun at him. He wants to find her, but a disbelieving Chad and Tony lead him away. A bullet lies on the ground.

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A wild eyed EJ explains to Chad and Tony near woods at night.

Next, on Days of Our Lives: Johnny confronts EJ, and Nicole confides in Chloe.

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