A Days of Our Lives Callback to the Past Has Us Fearing for Xander’s Future — Plus, Wigs In Heaven and Other Oddities
This week really hit home the bizarre dichotomy as Days of Our Lives insists on telling fantastical stories alongside more grounded ones. It can be jarring jumping from assassination plans, brain programming and battles with the devil in heaven to Xander and Gwen resorting to good old fashion blackmail to get revenge. Some things work, others…
Too Much, Too Weird?
The show’s fascination with the fantastical is not something new. It’s been woven in for decades as a kind of extra seasoning to the soup that is Days of Our Lives. Stefano always brought a sci-fi element with his schemes that relied on mad science and the devil’s been a whole thing since the ‘90s. (Though up until about a year-and-a-half ago, we really thought that was a one-time deal…)
But lately it seems like the soup’s been a bit… over seasoned. Mysterious toxins, inhibition-erasing drugs, undead heart transplants, love transplants, possession jumping, afterlife hopping — maybe we should ease up on the throttle a bit. Heck we even got Nick tearing off his Susan disguise which consisted of a wig and false teeth. Is that really how souls disguise themselves in heaven?! I need to sit down. Thank God, they at least left the rubber masks in Salem.
Credit: Peacock screenshot
Plus, what’s with those contracts? We guess evil hell contracts don’t really have rules, but shouldn’t signing under false pretenses void them? (Side note, my aunt used to work for a bank and I remember as a kid always getting a two-dollar bill in my birthday cards. I don’t know about the ladies, but I was genuinely excited each time I got one.)
And as much as I was hoping they’d drop Stefan’s mystery drugging, they didn’t. Kind of. EJ was drugged on Tuesday and then… well, we’re still waiting. What happened? Who knows! But it’s clearly still affecting Nicole since Eric had to catch her in the park. Whatever this drug is, it’s powerful. But this is when the show’s pacing problems collide with its more out-there storylines. It’s just like the ladies in the afterlife who we see once a week. These stories are getting stretched out artificially long, which is more frustrating than tantalizing.
Building on History
With all that said, I can’t put my finger on why, but things started clicking into place for me on Friday. We got an amazing Johnny and Xander confrontation, which really saw the younger man let loose about losing Susan. (And undercut some of what has been bothering me about the lack of feeling over all these deaths.) And there was the added tension of Xander — he may be more of a charming rogue now who feels bad about Susan but push him enough and Johnny may be reminded that he’s a very dangerous killer too.
Credit: Peacock screenshot
More: Sonny and Will are out!
Plus, Xander’s waffling between wanting to do good and wanting to hurt those who hurt him worked for me. Even Sarah’s cruel delight in rubbing sleeping with Rex in Xander’s face was just masterfully done. I loved how she reveled in taunting him, then physically stepped in his way to keep him from Rex with a single hand on his chest.
And the tension with Jack and Jennifer back together confronting their blackmailers was more enjoyable than I was expecting — as was knowing their indignation over being blackmailed is a bit hollow. As Leo mentioned, Jack obtained the Spectator by buying controlling shares of it from his mom, Diana Colville, just to stop her from running a story on him. He then forced her to give up the rest that she still owned by blackmailing her. Jack, much like Xander, was not always a standup guy. And having that history in the background just adds a richness to Xander and Gwen going rogue.
But Xander’s really making a lot of enemies for himself right now, which has me starting to worry about his future and his wellbeing. You know what they say. Live by the sword, die by the sword… Eek.
A Glimmer of Hope?
I even enjoyed the tension of Chanel coming home to catch Alex and Allie together — which says a lot with how little I’ve been enjoying this story. At least now that we’ve got the news that Linsday Arnold is leaving, it seems like they might be rushing through Chanel and Allie’s collapse in preparation for that. But unless the show was completely blindsided by her exit, shouldn’t they have had more time to plan it out better? Because Allie took the words right out of my mouth when she was talking about her, Chanel, Johnny and Alex and let out an exasperated, “This is so stupid!” Amen. I’m just having such a rough time rooting for anyone because they’re all driving me crazy.
Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI
Plus, all the self-centeredness as half their families have died has just been driving home the show feeling like it has no heart to it. That’s something separate I wrote about, along with how it fits in with Chad and Stephanie, the kill Orpheus plot and Joey’s bizarre matchmaker turn with Wendy and Tripp. You can read it here.
The week, for me, just really nailed the feeling I’ve been getting about there being two different shows in one. And only one of them is really working for me. (And it’s not the devil-sparring, brain deprogramming, mystery drug inducing one.) I’m not without hope that things can pick up, but I guess, in the end, I just really wish Days of Our Lives would even out a bit more tonally and pace itself better.
• I’m suddenly very excited to see Li and Sloan work together… and maybe something more? If any two were fit for each other, it’s them.
Credit: Peacock screenshot
• I’m getting less excited about Roman, John and Steve’s plotting, seeing as how it’s moving forward at the same sparse speed as the afterlife snippets we get once a week.
• Evil Dead 2 is not a thriller. It’s a horror comedy. If Johnny loves movies so much, he should know movie genres.
• EJ and Nicole’s awkward looks as Stefan explained he was in love with both Gabi and Chloe channeled my exact feelings.
• “Isn’t that cute? Romantically idolizing your dad and his wife while ripping away their most prized possession.” Leo’s still a predatory creep, but well played.
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There’s a lot of turmoil in Salem and Valentine’s Day may not help anyone! Find out which pairings we think are doomed in the photo gallery below.