Days of Our Lives Just Set Up the ‘Stabi’ Reunion — But Not In the Way We Were Thinking! Plus, Is [Spoiler] Back From the Dead for Revenge??

chanel paulina stefan gabi mashup jpi days

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI (3)

From Stefan’s return and the ensuing DiMera drama, to the increasing stakes in Kayla, Marlena and Kate’s illness, the show’s picking up momentum again. But in some ways, that makes the pacing flaws all the more evident as these stories shouldn’t have slowed to a crawl to begin with.

Finally! The Stefan return is warming back up for me as the corporate maneuvering shifts into new territory.

More: Who will undo Stefan’s programming?

I loved that EJ/Li scene as the two reluctant allies began their dance over who’s more power-hungry. Heck, I loved almost all of those corporate scenes. Even just some of the technical framing was well done, from focusing on EJ and Li squirming as Stefan seemed to recall memories with Gabi, to watching their relieved reactions in the mirror as the camera switched over to focus on Stefan and he ultimately deemed her, “A conniving little bitch.”

A wry EJ stands next to Jake at DiMera, as Gabi hands the latter a file. Li observes behind Gabi

There was nothing in the folder but a note that read. “Do you still like me? Check Yes or No”

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

And the possessive way Li wrapped his arm around Gabi after meeting with EJ made me want to vomit — in a good way. The show’s done an excellent job of turning him into an increasingly loathsome villain. From the start, his and Gabi’s fling made me feel ambivalent, at best, but as they’ve unwound Li’s devious layers, I’ve come to appreciate his role and enjoy hating him more and more. Teaming up with EJ works as he’s also been shifting back into villain territory.

Plus, the parallel between EJ sidelining Stefan and Li sidelining Gabi as they took over was fantastically done. If they were as smart as they like to think, they’d have seen this too and realized they were positioning Stefan and Gabi to ally with each other, regardless of whether their love blossomed again. Which it may not.

Whatever he may feel deep down, Stefan’s fighting feeling anything for Gabi. So even if he does recall those feelings (on his own or thanks to one of the others working on his bizarre shift), it seems like there’s no guarantee he’s going to want them back.

But we shouldn’t have gotten such a lull to begin with in Stefan’s return. It was a Big Deal. Then it seemed we just got several weeks of people, one by one, running into him again instead of the news of his return from death spreading like wildfire.

Out for EJ’s Blood

At least the story’s picking up again and spinning off new threads like Ava’s (temporary) departure. It was a bit unclear, but now that we’ve gotten spoilers for next week, it looks like she’s going to go full Vitali princess as she’s out for blood against EJ.

Ava blanked out a bit as she imagined all the horrible things she’d be doing to EJ.

Credit: Peacock screenshot

Then there was Johnny and Wendy teaming up against each other’s families. With Joey and Tripp returning along with Wendy coming to town, that triangle seemed like a no-brainer. But now Johnny’s been thrown into the mix, and he may end up getting caught up in another quadrangle with Tripp again — albeit of an entirely different kind than the Tripp/Allie/Chanel/Johnny one.

Actually, maybe there will be a love pentagon? With Ava wanting revenge against EJ, hopefully that means she and Johnny still have a shot. Especially since her aims will line up with his and Wendy’s.

Three’s Company?

Speaking of Allie and Chanel… How about that threesome, huh? I know viewers were divided on it, though I tend to fall in the — It shouldn’t have been necessary to “save” Chanel and Allie’s relationship or however it was presented. If they’d approached it as, “Hey, this might be fun, we’ve never tried it before and our relationship is so strong, it could be cool to try,” it would’ve been a bit better. But they seemed to go into it for all the wrong reasons to get over whatever rough patch they were hitting.

In bed, Chad reaches across Alex to cup Stephanie's face

To be fair, Alex, you’ve made Stephanie uncomfortable enough, you were due for a nightmare or two.

Credit: Peacock screenshot

Also, for all my problems about Alex, in the threesome, he worked for me. He’s the kind of goofy, kind of sexy friend in this case, which is fine because he checked to make sure hopping into bed was something they both wanted. In short, he got consent.

But I’m hating him and Stephanie more and more, especially after seeing how sweet she and Chad are — whenever he finally feels ready to move on. The fact that Stephanie was starting to see things Alex’s way after he showed up on her doorstep to whine about her and Chad and “Why can’t get what I want???” has me worried.

How is she even developing feelings for him like the show’s starting to suggest? They’ve hardly spent time together and most of their interactions were her telling him to stop ignoring her “no’s!” Also, Alex isn’t right, Stephanie. You aren’t being a hypocrite.

Thank you, Chad, for lecturing Alex on the difference between consensual coworkers (maybe not a great idea, but not gross and wrong) and sexual harassment. OK, I went off enough last week.

Mama Bear

Sometimes I forget just how powerful and in control Paulina is. She kept her cool with Sloan, felt her out and focused on the important thing: Fixing this for Chanel. Paulina was clearly shocked but kept control so much that we really didn’t get a hint at how bad Sloan’s dirt was until Paulina showed her daughter and we saw Chanel’s panicked devastation.

Sloan spreads her hands as she faces Paulina and Chanel in the conference room

“On the one hand, this could ruin you two. On the other, I don’t care.”

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

But then Paulina pulled it all back together for her daughter and pushed back hard against Sloan. The show knows how to lean into Harris’ comedic strengths, but it still never loses sight of the fact that Paulina is a force to be reckoned with. With all that said, this secret better live up to how horrible they’re making it.

Did someone die in a sorority hazing? Was there a secret pregnancy? Also, who’s gunning for Paulina and Chanel? Is it someone on the canvas or someone new? Oof, I just had a rough thought. What if TR is somehow still alive? His goal was marrying Paulina to get her money. He could be the one behind the blackmail, still intent on getting the cash without letting on that he survived somehow. And he’s vicious enough, I can imagine him getting a kick out of panicking Paulina with this shake down.

Flower Power

Another story that’s finally picking up for me is the pathogen. I’ll always be annoyed with the damsels in distress aspect of it, but I’m finally feeling like there are real stakes. Marlena and Kayla are in rough shape.

A stern looking Kristen touches Brady's gaping face

“And while you’re at it, shave. I don’t like being scratched when we kiss.”

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

Plus, the Roman/Kate flashbacks as they remarried were a fun little surprise. I feel like Roman and Kate fly under the radar a lot of times these days, reacting more to other storylines like Philip, Lucas and Sami, so it was lovely to be reminded that they could hold their own plots.

And just as I was about to blast the Brady/Kristen conundrum for not making sense, she explained why Brady can’t just go back on their deal the second the ladies are cured. With that said, there’s got to be a way to force her to give up the orchid. Or track it down. I don’t know that Brady’s as stuck with Kristen as they’re making it out.

But even though Kristen’s utterly delusional if she’s convinced herself she’s not a horrible person and is doing wonderful things, I enjoy seeing her and Brady battle it out more than I enjoy seeing him and Chloe all lovey-dovey.

We got some great lines as Brady gave in to Kristen’s demands, like his promise that she’s never known loneliness like what she’ll feel in a loveless relationship. I want to see them be utterly vicious with each other.

Stray Thoughts

• Chloe got about two minutes of talking about Kristen, Rachel and Brady before Nicole was like, “Cool. Let me tell you about my own, self-inflicted problems now.”

• “You keep my daughter’s name out your freaking mouth!” God, I love Paulina sometimes.

• Did Johnny just stumble upon the new DiMera Enterprises slogan? “The DiMera office here is a snake pit.”

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