Is Days of Our Lives Starting the New Year With Shocking Farewells?!

Kristen, Roman, Rex hugging Gwen mashup jpi days

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI (3)

The New Year was off to a rocky start in Salem as marriages imploded, relationships hit troubled waters and lives hung in the balance. And that’s just the first week of 2023?!

Happy New Year! Lori did an amazing job picking back up while I was gone. Now let’s see if I can do the same… I’m certainly not at a loss for things to talk about this week!

Stairway to Heaven?

First off, Kate actually died?! It’s hard to see how they’ll pull her out of this one seeing as how she flatlined and the orchid is nowhere in sight. And even if it is found, it takes time to create a cure from it. You don’t just feed someone a petal.

Lauren Koslow, Kyle Lowder, Josh Taylor Kate dying in hospital with Rex and Roman jpi days

“I told her she could have a ten minute nap, dad, no more! We’ve got things to do!”

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

That would be a great cliffhanger, but the show’s winter preview promised that all three of Orpheus’ victims would end up in heaven — and that there’s still hope. So is Kate actually dead? Sure, but I’m pretty confident it’s just a temporary condition. And that takes the tension out of it.

In fact, the whole orchid thing gets a little silly again. Marlena was fine, then Eric told her she needed a booster and she sneezed and got woozy. Is the disease triggered by people mentioning it? And this all went down the exact same time Brady and Eric made a play for the orchid and found it missing.

It does throw all the drama together in one big, boiling cauldron, which can create some amazing, edge-of-your-seat tension — if we build up to it. This feels rushed. I’m hoping the endgame will make it all worthwhile and something significant to the very fabric of Salem will happen — perhaps with whomever they meet in the afterlife. Could it be tied to Bo’s return somehow even though he’s already, supposedly, out of heaven?

Fighting Fire With Fire

As for Brady and Eric’s little ploy — I don’t get why Rachel had to be kidnapped. What was Brady’s leverage with Kristen? That he was going to run off with Rachel? He could have threatened that without Eric snatching the poor kid.

Eric holds an irate John back from a glaring Kristen.

John’s attempt to karate chop Kristen was hampered by the fact that he didn’t extend his arm.

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI

Eric’s sandwich munching nonchalance at the beginning of Rachel’s “kidnapping” was amusing, but by the time he was telling her that she couldn’t go home even though she wanted to, he was starting to tick me off. And then getting her hopes up about her parents getting closer just as they’re about to implode was cruel. Sloan had to be the voice of reason!

Still, Stacy Haiduk did an amazing job bouncing between a mother’s anguish, rage at Brady’s family and remorse that things had gotten more out of control than she’d planned. I don’t believe Kristen wanted anyone dead and I do believe in her twisted view, she was doing this for love. It was insane and vicious, but I’m sure she doesn’t see it that way. But between this and Stefan’s brainwashing, I have to wonder: Is she about to be shipped off to jail again or have to go back on the run? That would be a shame. While she’s been increasingly erratic in recent years, Kristen still has so much potential.

Love Gone Wrong

I feel like Kristen and Xander are variations on the same theme — though to different extremes. Actually, those two might be a match made in hell. I could see both pariahs playing their little “But I did it for love!” games with each other.

At the Horton House, Leo shoots Gwen a pleading look.

Gwen, when Leo is the voice of reason, you need to seriously take a good look at yourself.

Credit: Peacock screenshot

Gwen’s been seeming like Xander’s obvious destination, but I don’t think Leo was wrong in urging her to cut Xander loose. She was walking the straight and narrow until Xander’s drama.

To be clear, her own involvement is wholly her own doing and I have a feeling she’s another one who justifies it as being done for love. But the fact is, she’d be better off without Xander. She’s like an addict and he’s her fix. Xander confiding in her just pushed her right off the wagon. And if she’s not careful, right back to jail. Unless she does what Leo suggested and turns on her man to save her own skin?

Kudos to her for turning him down when he offered to sleep with her as his marriage was falling apart — but before Sarah told him she wanted a divorce! Update: Mea culpa! I misinterpreted, and it’s been called out (on Paul Telfer’s Twitter no less) that he did not offer to have sex with Gwen. However, after saying he would make things right with Jack, Xander did make it clear he wanted to “repay” Gwen “right now” while sitting on the bed, and she got uncomfortable, pulled her coat a little tighter around herself and said Sarah still loved him.

So I swear I didn’t pull that idea out of the air! Even rewatching, I still got that vibe from the context around what was said. Eek, but maybe that was just me projecting! Either way, at this point, even Paul Telfer feels Xander doesn’t deserve Sarah anymore. And I agree.

Kiriakis Blunders

As for Leo… Look, there’s something to be said for the chance of redemption and becoming a better person. But he’s still getting mixed up with Gwen and, by proxy, Xander. He’s still making more than his share of bad choices and he’s still clearly gunning for Sonny at the expense of his new “pal’s” marriage.

In Allie's apartment, Will looks intently at Sonny, who covers his face with his hands.

Yeah, this is all giving me a headache too, Sonny.

Credit: Peacock screenshot

And even if he did start acting more noble on a regular basis, I’d still be skeptical. We’ve been down this road with Clyde before… and that turned out very, very bad. It’s beautiful that Sonny wants to think the best of people, but I cheered on everything Will said to him about being naïve and flat-out calling Leo a predator. But I still don’t see many scenarios that don’t end with Leo and Sonny in bed together.

And over on the Alex side of things, I hate to say it, but he may not be entirely wrong. His possessiveness is wrong and his confronting Chad was kind of icky, but consciously or not, Chad’s not being entirely honest, especially with himself. He’s finding reasons to be around Stephanie and she’s clearly not being honest with herself that there’s nothing there either. But how Alex is going about this may just push Stephanie and Chad even closer together than ever.

Stray Thoughts

• We didn’t get to see much Gabi/Li/Stefan fallout yet, but what we did see was interesting. Stefan may simply not want his memories back. What then, Gabi?

In bed, Chloe holds a sheet to her bare chest, and a shirtless Stefan props on his elbow. They look offscreen gaping.

Don’t you hate it when room service just barges in?

Credit: Peacock screenshot

More: Lucas returns with a wild new look

• “Jealous, insecure, territorial. I’m not that guy. Or at least, I wasn’t that guy until I met you.” So Alex went from one brand of toxic masculinity before falling for Stephanie to another after?

• I knew the DiMeras stored wine in the “secret room,” but linens? They don’t have enough linen closets up somewhere that doesn’t require a secret passageway?

• Why was Brady talking on the phone while Kristen was home with his back turned away from where she just went? Sometimes these overhearing incidents are ridiculously mind numbing.

Start the year off right with a look at our new photo gallery of daytime’s handsomest men of all time!