When I first started watching Days of Our Lives as a little kid, Tom and Alice were still alive, and their presence added such a sense of warmth and love to the show.
In the years since MacDonald Carey and Frances Reid passed away. that sense of family and love has gradually faded away, which is a real shame, because that was what drew viewers to Days of Our Lives year after year.
That's why when Julie decided to tell her new-to-her grandson about the family he was born into, it was so disappointing that there wasn't a single flashback.
Julie's family stories were a welcome diversion from all the kidnappings, violence, and general meanness for the sake of meanness elsewhere in Salem. I loved hearing all the old stories again. But having some flashbacks to go along with the memories would have enriched these scenes.
First of all, since it's been 23 years since Tom Horton died and seven years since Alice's funeral, there's probably a sizeable number of younger viewers who don't remember them at all. And since David was last seen in 1983, that goes double for him.
Flashbacks would have brought these characters to life for fans who don't remember them and those who remembered them would have enjoyed seeing them again. All of which would have translated into a big ratings draw.
But instead, Julie just told her stories to a laid-back but bewildered Eli without a single visual reminder of what she was talking about.
This really made no sense. This show is constantly showing flashbacks from five minutes ago, and this week there was almost an hour's worth of made-up flashbacks in which Billy Flynn and Camila Banus tried to convince viewers they were actually high school students and not just pretending to be 10-20 years younger.
Why, exactly, were we treated to all of that but not to real flashbacks that viewers might actually enjoy?
The Chad/Gabi flashbacks were silly on multiple levels. Basically, Chad spent every waking moment obsessing over having played catch with Gabi, who apparently was a skilled pitcher, one day when he was in high school.
I'm not quite sure how we're supposed to buy that Gabi was a seriously talented player when she's never once mentioned it to her friend and co-worker Paul, who is a former professional baseball player. Plus, Gabi's hatred of baseball was part of her relationship with Will once upon a time.
No wonder the producers see fit to regularly provide flashbacks of things viewers saw earlier in the same episode. They clearly assume that viewers' memories don't go beyond what aired a few minutes ago.
Anyway, even if I was able to swallow this ridiculous rewrite of Chad and Gabi's history, there is no earthly reason for him to be thinking about it while at a benefit with Abigail.
A game of catch a good 10 years ago doesn't turn someone into a better life partner than your wife today, and it made no sense for Chad to not appreciate the woman who was standing right next to him putting together a benefit to help his company regain its reputation.
Abigail, for her part, had a few stupid and substance-free conversations with Gabi about bellydancing (as if the original scene wasn't offensive enough) and seemed oblivious to the feelings between Chad and Gabi.
Meanwhile, Gabi walked in on Chad in the most contrived sequence yet. He happened to be changing in an unlocked room and happened to hit his head while half-naked because Gabi startled him.
He must have hit his head harder than anyone realized, because he then spent half an episode listening to Kate tell him what to do about his inability to choose between Gabi and Abigail.
Listening to Kate has never worked well for Chad and it would be nice if he stopped wasting time getting more useless advice from her. Plus she's not exactly skilled in the romance department, since she's currently sulking that Eduardo is hanging around Chloe even though she wants nothing to do with him.
Eduardo: All right, what is going on here? Why do you feel a need to kick this girl when she's down?
Kate: She's down? She's always down and out, and it's always her fault. Eddie, she got pregnant by a dead man. She used another woman's eggs. She failed to share that information with anyone, including the biological mother. And SHE'S the damsel in distress?
I will give Kate credit for being the latest in a long line of people to call Chloe out on this delusional claim she keeps making that Holly isn't Nicole's child. But she's doing it more or less because she's jealous of Eduardo and hates Chloe on general principles, so I'm not exactly enthusiastic about her opinion one way or the other.
If Kate really wants revenge on Eduardo for whatever it is he's supposedly done this time to get in trouble with her, she should leave him and Chloe to their own devices and enjoy some more banter with Roman over at the bar.
Kate's relationship with Roman is the only one of her many relationships I've ever been able to stomach. He brings out a softness in her that we rarely see otherwise.
His son Eric has a similar effect on Eve, so it's too bad Eve was abruptly written out of Salem instead of giving those two a try.
Jen: So... ready to sign on the dotted line?
Eric: Yeah. Before I do this, I think there's one thing you and I need to get straight.
Jen: Is there something wrong with the contract?
Eric: No, I just want to make sure it's clear that I'm just signing off for a trial.
Jen: Oh yeah, it says that right there at the bottom of the first page.
Eric: Jen, it's more than a contract. I can't stop my parents from getting their hopes up. It's more important that you know -
Jen: I know. I know that if you start feeling like the walls are closing in on you, it's important that you have a way out.
Eric: You get it.
Jen: I do.
Eric: Does Maggie know I'm coming back?
Jen: I didn't want to tell her until I knew for sure.
Eric: What about Nicole?
Instead, Eric and Jennifer did the awkward kissing while not being sure they're really into each other thing.
I have to admit I'm on the fence about this couple. A long time ago, before a lot of really bad writing for all involved happened, I thought that Eric was more suited for Jennifer than Daniel was.
But Jennifer and Eric have both been written as insufferably judgmental in recent years, and starting off their relationship with Eric verbally abusing Jennifer last week didn't help.
Jennifer came to give Eric his Horton Center contract and some moral support as he planned to move back to Salem from his farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Eric asked Jen about contracts and mentioned not being sure he wanted to stay in Salem long-term.
His eyes lit up briefly when he asked about Nicole, and then he went back to feeling guilty that he had killed Nicole's fiancee.
What all this tells me is that Eric is still in love with Nicole and that Jen will always be the woman he settled for, not the woman he truly loves. I really don't want to see Eric and Jennifer begin a relationship under those circumstances.
I stopped being a fan of Eric and Nicole a long time ago, when Eric became so rude and nasty to Nicole, but that's beside the point. If he's going to move on, he has to really move on, not settle for someone else while still yearning for Nicole.
Jennifer needs someone who is going to look at her with stars in their eyes, not constantly ask her about someone else before kissing her. While there was a softness to their scenes together in the farmhouse this time, Eric's obviously using her to get over Nicole, and that just isn't going to end well.
Theo: You wanna make love right now?
Claire: Well, that's what I said.
Theo: I know. I just, um.
Claire: You just what?
Theo: I, um, wasn't expecting it to happen so soon.
Claire: You wanna wait a year or two?
Theo: No. It's just, it's a big step, you know. It's just very... grown-up.
I'd much rather have Eric and Jen's rebound relationship than the travesty that has been made out of Theo and Claire's relationship.
The writers obviously want Theo with Ciara instead of Claire, but rewriting characters and creating ridiculous situations isn't the right way to get there.
When Theo and Claire got together, Claire was a sweetheart that took after her mother and Theo was sensitive and kind and sometimes took things literally when anyone on the writing team bothered to remember he is on the autism spectrum.
But now, Claire is suddenly a self-absorbed brat who could care less if Theo is having a hard time in his bio class because that takes away from him paying attention to her and only her.
Meanwhile, Ciara, who at the age of 8 was a schemer and spitfire that rivaled Sami Brady, is a sweet, kind girl who would never ever do anything underhanded and feels guilty about having any feelings for Theo at all.
This makes almost as much sense as Ciara going to celebrate Hope's release from prison a month or so after it happened just so Theo and Claire could think they had the loft to themselves.
Naturally, Claire wanted to prove that Theo was hers and not Ciara's by having sex right away even though Theo seemed confused and uncomfortable.
At least nobody was murdering anyone and their attempt at lovemaking wasn't explicitly rape-y. But Claire pressuring Theo wasn't attractive at all, and Theo awkwardly trying to hide his condoms from Ciara as if she were his mother and he were 13 was kind of uncomfortable to watch.
Predictably, Ciara came home early to deliver a letter about how she felt about Theo, just in time to see him and Claire doing it on the couch.
Never mind that this could cause a PTSD reaction since Ciara was raped on a couch (something everyone would like to forget, I'm sure). Why can't anyone ever have sex in their bedrooms?
Considering how awkward Theo felt about the whole thing, I can't imagine he'd feel comfortable having sex in the living room when three other people live there!
While Theo was doing this, Abe was having an entirely inappropriate conversation with JJ about how not right for Lani he thinks he is.
First of all, Lani is the one who is not good enough for JJ. Raping him and then claiming not to know he was too drunk to consent to sex despite being a cop with years of experience is a dealbreaker, to say the least. Abe should be upset with his daughter over her inappropriate behavior, not with JJ for his alleged immaturity.
And secondly, Lani is an adult and it's not Abe's place to deny permission to potential suitors.
This is not some fairy tale set during feudal times where a man needs to go on three life-threatening quests to prove he's good enough for the king's daughter. It's the 21st century and adults have the right to decide who they want to date, even if the potential pairing is awful.
This whole exchange just ruined Abe's character, which is a shame because I have always loved Abe and his support of JJ and Paige early in their relationship was one of my favorite parts of that storyline.
None of that was as bad as Rafe and Hope's latest attempt at romance, which involved Rafe pretending to be a victim of a violent crime to lure Hope to his home and Hope handcuffing him and then walking away. The less said about that the better; too many viewers are in serious need of brain bleach after those scenes as it is.
Finally, Nicole continued to be written as far stupider than she is so that the baby Holly story could continue.
I'm not sure which was worse: Brady having to tell Dr. Lee that the doctor's commitment to do no harm was supposed to outweigh reporting parents to the authorities when they arrive with a sick baby; or Nicole being blissfully unaware that Dr. Lee telling them to wait in the exam room for the medicine to work was a ruse designed to keep them there until they got caught.
Nicole is a street-smart reporter who faced down the evil Dr. Chyka two or three times and rescued Daniel from a drug dealer who didn't want his business being interfered with. Someone must have kidnapped her and replaced her with a doppleganger, because this airhead is not Nicole at all.
What did you think of this week's Days of Our Lives? Did you find any couple or character actually rootable this week? Which storyline did you think was the most contrived or annoying?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.