Days of Our LivesSoapbox

Soapbox

Kate and Jennifer Slapped Some Fun Into the Week, But Lani and Eli Need to Fix Things, Pronto — Plus, the Problem With Kristen

November 16-20

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Jill Johnson/JPI (3); Paul Skipper/JPI

We need to talk about the big Kate/Jennifer confrontation that went down on Days of Our Lives this week. You know, the one that found two grown women slapping each other in the park. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss Ava’s return (and her unexpected friendship with Kristen), as well as the fight that saw Lani kicking her new husband to the curb. In other words, there’s an awful lot we need to unpack, so let’s dive right in.

Slap-Happy

In many ways, what went down between Kate and Jennifer this week was good old-fashioned soap. Rivals getting in one another’s faces, taking digs at one another and then — inevitably — exchanging slaps. I’ll admit to having loved every minute of it. Others, however, looked at it differently. “I hate seeing women attack each other on soaps,” a female friend told me after the episode aired. “This isn’t the days of Dynasty, with Krystle and Alexis rolling around in the mud. Have we not progressed at all?”

DYNASTY, Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Ep. 3-23, 'The Threat', 04-13-1983. Season 3, 1981-1989.

Had there been a pond in Salem’s park, Jennifer and Kate might have looked something like this…

Proving that on occasion, I can nod my head and bite my tongue at the same time, I didn’t point out that those types of scenes still play out on everything from the Dynasty reboot to the Real Housewives franchises where they stop just short of actual physical violence. The exchange did, however, illustrate a point: No matter how many times someone on Twitter declares “Nobody wants this” (or “Everybody wants this”), different factions of the soap audience will be looking for different things.

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It’s why I’ve long said soap writers have the hardest job on the planet. They have to try and satisfy an audience that is subdivided into a million splinter groups, all of which want something different.

Personally? I loved the catfight. What I said in last week’s column continues to be true: The fallout from the big reveal of Jack and Kate’s affair is proving far more interesting than was the party at which the secret was revealed.

The Invisible Woman

It drives me crazy that people who are trying to lay low now routinely hang out in that little park just off Horton Square. After Clyde escaped from prison and kidnapped a child, he just plopped himself down on the bench and waited for Kate to show up and shoot him. And this week, Ava — you know, the woman who’s trying to avoid being arrested for her past crimes — had a long conversation in the park with co-conspirator Philip, then stuck around to almost touch Tripp’s shoulder. The fact that Ava’s son somehow didn’t see her tells me he has really, really bad peripheral vision and should probably get that checked out.

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Ava also managed to sneak off to jail so she could spend a little quality time with Kristen. Establishing that these two bonded in Italy while Kristen was recuperating from that whole fell-out-a-window thing (which I’m happy to report happens far more frequently on soaps than in real life) was fun. However, their current-day interactions were a bit problematic.

days ava kristen flashback church JJ

Theirs is the kind of friendship that often results in a body count.

What are we supposed to think of Kristen? On the one hand, she’s trying to be a better person (except for that whole Victor-stabbing incident, but come on… he kinda deserved it). Clearly, we’re rooting for her to reunite with Brady so they can raise Rachel and live happily ever after (or at least until something tragic happens, because we all know Brady is physically incapable of sustained joy, especially where his love life is concerned). But there sits Kristen, practically cackling over — and definitely encouraging — the actions of an unbalanced Ava.

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Lest one forget, Ava is pursuing Steve, who is Brady’s dad John’s best friend. Even if that weren’t true, it’s hard to imagine Brady being gung-ho about his girlfriend’s choice of gal pals. You can almost hear him saying, “What ever happened to that nice Lani girl you used to play convent with?”

Speaking of…

When Lani and Eli tied the knot, Days of Our Lives made a big deal about the fact they were the first Black couple to have an on-air wedding in the show’s 55-year history. This is a weird thing to brag about, because it kinda points out that it took y’all until the year 2020 to achieve this particular milestone.

On the plus side, once the couple did exchange vows, they didn’t get shuffled to the back burner the way they might have on some soaps. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Bold & Beautiful, where happy couples have as much shot of getting a decent story as I do of developing abs like those of Robert Scott Wilson.)

Victoria Konefal, Robert Scott Wilson, James Read"Days of our Lives" Set NBC Studios Burbank 08/16/19 © XJJohnson/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 13820 U.S.Airdate 04/01/20

“Son, I’m pretty sure he made that joke just so he could run this picture.”

This week, Eli and Lani’s fight built to the point where she booted her husband from the apartment. This came after Lani proved to be one of the smartest characters on the canvas by secretly recording her husband and her dad chatting about the secret they were keeping, then going directly to Brady and demanding to know the truth.

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Of course, Brady folded like a poker player with a bad hand and no ability to bluff. I was actually glad to see this story move at a clipped pace, because if Lani and Eli are going to have a marital crisis, they need to get it over with and work their differences out so they can be happily reunited before those babies arrive.

Eli panics as Lani talks to Abe on Days of Our Lives

“Let me give you boys a clue: If a woman ‘accidentally’ leaves her purse behind, she is definitely recording every word coming out of your lying mouths!”

One big reason this story works for me is that Days of Our Lives took the time to build the friendship between Lani and Kristen. Even though they largely bonded off screen while at the convent, we’ve seen just how close they got over the past year. It’s nice to see women being ride-or-die for one another, especially in a genre that’s often about pitting them against one another (see also: the previously-referenced Jennifer/Kate showdown).

Crazy Like a Fox… Who Happens to Be Crazy

I love Jan Spears. I’ve loved her since first she went ’round the bend to hold Shawn hostage and feed him soup while dressed in a sexy nurse’s outfit. I’m also a big fan of the Shawn/Belle/Philip story, which is chock full of history-riddled angst. But I have to admit I’m not loving the whole Jan-tries-to-stop-the-wedding story, largely because it feels so incredibly rushed.

Heather Lindell and Jason Cook"Days of our Lives" Set NBC Studios 7/21/04 ©Paul Skipper/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 9873

Whether played by Jason Cook (as here) or Brandon Beemer, we totally get why Jan’s a little nuts for Shawn.

In part, it’s tough to connect to this story because there’s just too much going on. The idea of Philip using Jan to bring down Xander was fun, but only played for a couple of days. Then we got a few days of Belle serving as Philip’s lawyer over Shawn’s objections.

Of course, Shawn was busy trying to help his mom track down Vincent and keep Ben from going entirely off the rails. With so much going on, the Belle/Shawn relationship — not to mention Philip’s impact on it — fell to the wayside. So what we’re now getting is a rushed living-room wedding with a family-member officiant — again, shades of Bold & Beautiful — with a touch of crazy Jan, making the whole thing feel like a B-plot when everyone involved deserves better.

Elsewhere in Salem…

• Gwen trying to make Chad jealous of Abigail and Jake’s friendship is fun. It especially works because while Chad is busy focusing on his brother’s supposed attempts to seduce Abigail, he’s totally missing the fact that Jake is canoodling with Kate. Plus, the whole scenario is set to blow up when Gabi returns next week.

• It’s ludicrous to think that anyone would make Jake vice-president of anything. This obvious extension of the Chad/Jake rivalry might play better if we hadn’t just seen the exact same “We hate each other but are forced to work together” scenario play out with Xander and Philip.

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• The scenes in which Tripp said his peace to Allie — and she listened — were really well-written, and it was great direction to have her leave the apartment door open slightly while he was inside. That said, wouldn’t it have made sense for her to say, “Tripp, I’ll let you say your peace, but can we wait until Nicole is here?” It made no sense for her to agree to be alone with the man she believes raped her, even if he was being calm and rational at the time.

That’s my take on this week’s episodes. Hit the comments to share yours, then make sure to visit the gallery below to look at the highlights of Gabi’s time in Salem as we brace for her return.

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