Days of Our Lives packed a lot of story movement into three short days during the week of 6-4-18.
I'm not sure how I feel about some of these story developments, but I can't say the show didn't keep my interest!
The major story involved Ben being released from a sanitarium and returning to Salem in record time. I know a lot of fans are excited, but I'm not.
Ben was a serial killer who choked the life out of Paige and three other characters in a convoluted revenge plot against Chad, turned the crazy on and off whenever it suited him, and escaped from mental hospitals several times to create more chaos in Salem.
And now he's been released at lightning fast speed while Gabi continues to languish in prison, accused again of a crime she didn't commit while trying to defend herself from a random violent prisoner.
I really don't think we need this character to return yet again, especially since he quickly found an unconscious Ciara and carried her away to parts unknown.
I'm really not sure what to make out of this story.
I don't like the idea of a serial killer being set free and left to his own devices in the town where he killed innocent women in order to get revenge on his rival for sleeping with his then-girlfriend.
For him to be so easily deemed fit to return to society and for Marlena to claim that his being not guilty by reason of insanity is equivalent to him having not committed any crimes doesn't sit well with me at all.
It sends the message that his victims' lives didn't matter and that all he needed to do to be redeemed was apologize for it.
Ben: I just want to make amends.
Chad: Amends? To whom? To Paige? She's dead. Serena? Dead. Wendy? She's gone too.
In addition, it would be better drama for this to be dragged out. If the writers wanted to bring Ben back, why not have a court hearing about his potential release and give some people -- like the family of his victims -- the opportunity to oppose it?
Viewers could then debate whether he should be released or not, and if he was victorious in court it would be an emotional punch in the gut to people like Eve, JJ, and Eric, who lost loved ones to his acts of senseless violence.
And the inevitable confrontations with Chad, Will, and others in town would be more meaningful if they came at the end of this story instead of at the beginning.
Ben's return was rushed, which cheapened the drama that followed.
Chad told Ben to leave town and he agreed. After being dropped off at the edge of Salem, he stewed over being called psychotic and being told he was hated, then ran across an unconscious Ciara, who he picked up and carried off.
The writers are clearly going for making Ben's motives ambiguous, and it worked. The five-day hiatus allowed viewers to debate whether Ben plans to help Ciara in order to redeem himself or make her his latest victim.
But considering he already killed three women and Ciara crashed her bike after struggling to tell Tripp that she was raped, the idea of her immediately falling into Ben's clutches is disturbing.
I hope Ben doesn't become the latest predator to kidnap a woman and use her for his own purposes. We just got Chloe out of an equally creepy situation and I don't want to see it repeated with Ciara.
There's also the possibility that Ben and Ciara will hook up romantically.
I've seen a number of fans excited about this idea, but I'm not one of them. For Ciara to reject Tripp because she was raped and then have no qualms about being with Ben would make no sense in addition to being a horrible story.
Ciara's difficulty dealing with her rape was at times a moving story, but all too often it denigrated into nonsense, especially as far as Tripp and Claire were concerned.
Unsurprisingly, Claire came home immediately after Ciara pushed Tripp away and ran off. Theo had dumped her and she wanted to hook up with Tripp now that she was single.
This seems to be how every love story in Salem goes nowadays. Two people who are supposedly meant for one another get into some sort of conflict, the guy immediately has a fling with someone else, and then regret, tears, and anger follow.
It's so played out on DAYS that viewers could start taking bets on who the interloper is going to be as soon as a couple gets together.
I hate this predictable, boring trope. It makes guys look weak and incapable of being faithful and women look like sex-crazed vixens who will take any opportunity to get a man in bed regardless of the potential consequences.
I would rather have seen Ciara's dilemma play out without this unnecessary plot. Ciara feels she is damaged goods who deserves only pity and shouldn't be with a decent guy like Tripp, while Tripp wants to support her and is willing to go as slowly as she wants.
Why isn't that enough drama?
In addition, the scenes between Tripp and Claire were so dragged out that I wondered why Tripp didn't just leave the apartment to get away from Claire and her continued advances towards him, since he claimed not to have any interest.
Claire was clearly supposed to be the villain -- a selfish, spoiled brat who will stop at nothing to get her way.
Except she wasn't.
As soon as Claire realized that Ciara's behavior towards Tripp was because she'd been raped and not because she wanted to run around town being a supermodel, she felt guilty about hooking up with him and tried to be a good friend to Ciara.
The writing for Claire is so inconsistent that it's impossible to invest in any story involving her. Sometimes she's a sweet, kind, miniature version of her mother and other times she sounds like the next Sami Brady.
If the writers are trying to make her a bad girl with a heart of gold, they've seriously missed the mark. It feels like they just shoehorn her into the villain role when the story calls for it and don't have a clear idea of what her personality is supposed to be.
It's annoying and makes her stories seem contrived. Her character is so all over the place that they might as well have had her be the one with Dissociative Identity Disorder instead of Abigail.
The best part of Ciara's storyline had nothing to do with Claire or Tripp at all. She went to the hospital looking for Marlena and found Kayla instead.
Kayla was able to counsel Ciara rape survivor to rape survivor. This was a terrific use of history, much better than when Jack's rape of Kayla was used for the ridiculous story of Paige insisting on knowing who raped Kayla in order to freak JJ out a few years ago.
Kayla was empathetic and encouraging, and she shared just enough of her own story to give Ciara hope. Their conversation was the highlight of the entire week of 6-4-18 for me.
Kayla: I'm just glad I could be helpful to someone.
Hope: Wanna talk about it?
Kayla: It's fine, really. It's just Steve.
Hope: How's he doing? I'm sorry I haven't been around more.
Kayla: It's all right. It's just, my husband hasn't got the memo that it's not a badge of honor to be the tough guy 24/7. I mean, you know, when I lost my hearing I let him help me. He even learned sign language. Yeah, it was hard. I felt like a burden at first. But you know something? It actually brought us closer together. I just wish he'd let me be that for him.
Later, Kayla talked to Hope about how glad she was to be able to help Ciara, since Steve was rejecting her help. I was glad to finally get the reference to that time Kayla was deaf that I've been waiting for since this blindness story began!
As a long time Stayla fan, I couldn't understand why this important part of their history was not part of their current story. I thought that Kayla should have reminded Steve about it when he first brought up this idea that his blindness made him a burden.
Better late than never, though, and the mention was perfect, especially juxtaposed with Steve's scenes with Tripp.
Steve seemed to be functioning well despite his blindness until he knocked over a glass and couldn't see to pick up the broken pieces.
He didn't want to let Tripp help him, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who breathed a sigh of relief when he finally acknowledged that trying to pick up broken glass without being able to see was just going to lead to a bloody mess on the Pub floor.
I loved seeing Steve bond with Tripp while struggling with his own problems. He took time off from hating his blindness to listen to Tripp's problem with Ciara and try to encourage him.
These are the kinds of family scenes that I want to see more of instead of all the violence that seems to be at the forefront of the show nowadays.
I'm not sure how I feel about Kayla going behind Steve's back to get the technology from Stefan.
I love her dedication to her husband, but I can see where this is going and it bothers me.
Kayla agreed to get dirt on Kate for Stefan in exchange for getting Steve the technology to restore his vision.
She said nothing to Steve about this, and he made sure to tell anyone who would listen that he wants his family far away from Stefan and that he'd rather be blind for the rest of his life than accept help from him.
Can the writers be any more obvious that this is going to cause a major conflict and probably Steve and Kayla -- the one example of true love that still exists in Salem -- are going to end up on the outs when she is doing everything she is doing in order to help him!
There has to be conflict in order to drive stories forward, but I prefer to see couples fighting an external force together, and I don't want to see Steve and Kayla fighting each other.
On the other hand, if this gives them more screen time, I'm all for it.
Plus, I would love it if Kayla found out about Kate taking over Vivian's scheme with Leo to ruin Sonny's life.
I hate this Sonny fake sexual harassment lawsuit storyline, and it got even sillier.
Sonny's first mistake was asking his dad to handle the case. Justin is not only too close to be objective but is the worst lawyer Salem has ever seen. His mishandling of Gabi's murder trial should have all of Salem running the other way, and he was no better in the way he dealt with Sonny's case.
Justin and Sonny met with Leo and his shady lawyer in the outdoor cafe instead of at someone's office. This was hardly the way to preserve anyone's confidentiality, and it got more ridiculous from there.
Sonny attempted to prove Leo was lying by pulling up his dating site profile, only to find he had deleted it. Somehow this backed up Leo's made up story that he met Sonny at work and Sonny pressured him for sex.
First of all, no competent lawyer would wait until the meeting to check whether evidence like that was accessible.
And if Leo did delete his dating profile, a proper lawyer would subpoena the dating site's records and Sonny's phone records to prove that the profile once existed and that messages were sent to it via Sonny's phone.
The issues of the texts Leo sent himself could also have easily been dealt with. Sonny claimed Leo sent the texts to himself while he was out of the office. It happened Sonny was meeting Will at the time.
So all Justin would have to do would get the date stamp on the messages and corroboration that Sonny was with someone else and not sending any texts.
DAYS relies on professionals not being able to do their jobs far too often.
Lawyers and cops are always stupid, incompetent, or exhibiting poor work ethics. It's not believable and it insults viewers' intelligence whenever idiocy is used as a plot device.
Theresa continued to try to manipulate her way back into Brady's heart.
This story is a prime example of what happens when writers think that putting words in characters' mouths is enough without showing anything on-screen to back up what they are saying.
Theresa said she suffered terribly at Mateo's hands and that she had no choice but to betray Chloe.
I wish that had been the story we'd seen on-screen! Jen Lilley is a wonderful actress who can handle heavy material, and I would have rather seen Theresa dealing with severe PTSD after being treated as a sex slave than have her ordeal be a plot point that is glossed over.
But we didn't see that story. At all.
Theresa continually made the hard-to-believe claim that Mateo was so powerful no one could stop him and she had to do whatever it took to protect her family, even put John and Paul in harm's way.
Meanwhile, on screen we saw a cartoonish villain who in no way resembled a drug lord or anyone with any power, whose sole violent act was to impulsively shoot one of his minions. John and Paul broke into his compound easily and he was quickly disposed of when Chloe stabbed him in the back.
His goons claimed he was so powerful that Chloe and the guys would not survive her attack on Mateo, then in the next scene the good guys were all safe and sound and on their way home.
This was hardly someone Theresa had to be afraid of. Xander, the guy who saved her, was far more scary and dangerous than Mateo, by the looks of it!
If Theresa were actually shown as having been abused and suffering from PTSD, Brady would have come off as a jerk. But as it was, he was in the right and finally using his brain instead of what was between his legs when he threw Theresa out of his house.
Afterward, Brady continued acting like an adult for once, confronting Victor and telling him he wasn't going to be controlled by him any longer. He rejected the offer to become CEO of Titan again and made arrangements to leave with Tate.
There are some problems with this. For one thing, a motel room isn't an ideal place to raise a child, and Brady's move is impulsive, especially considering he has no long-term plan for financial independence.
And Maggie's reaction to learning Victor didn't care whether Chloe was stuck in Mexico forever was way over the top.
Maggie's worship of Eve is ridiculous, especially considering their history, and she's acting shocked that Victor isn't Tom Horton when she knew exactly what she was getting into when she married him.
This conflict should have ended back in 2013 after Maggie forgave Victor for unmasking Kristen's rape of Eric during Brady's wedding to her. While it makes sense that she would be upset about the mother of her grandchild being kidnapped and tormented, for this to be a dealbreaker now makes none.
Meanwhile, Theresa ran into JJ, who acted like she was his long-lost best friend.
It seems more and more like JJ never came to terms with Paige's death and projects his feelings about her onto every woman he sees, because Theresa is the latest in a long line of women who don't deserve that kind of reaction from him.
Theresa herself admitted that she had been terrible to JJ in the past and was confused by his sudden adoration. I think she was speaking for the viewers there!
It's clear that she's taking advantage of JJ's kindness. Even though she told him she's interested in Brady, not him, she isn't above doing anything she can to manipulate him into helping her get Brady away from Eve.
JJ should have realized Theresa was not worth his time when she asked him to tell Brady about Eve's terrible treatment of him years ago. And I have no doubt that if she thinks it will help, she'll pretend to Brady that she and JJ are together now.
She's a step above the liar that raped JJ and is now trying to get him to take her back, but that's not saying much.
So what did you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics? Are you excited or disgusted by Ben's return? Was anyone surprised that Tripp hooked up with Claire, even if he did stop short of sex? Do you want more Steve and Kayla on our screens?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.