Days of Our Lives Review: A Fractured Family Christmas

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It was a heartbreaking Christmas in Salem on Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-24-18

Abigail served Stefan with divorce papers and came home, only to lash out at her mother for not believing she was sane, JJ spent the holiday trying to get a suicidal nurse to open up to him, and Leo insisted on tagging along to the children's party at the hospital.

On the plus side, Julie came home for Christmas and remembered exactly what she'd found in Gabi's room and Abe smiled for the first time in months after Sheila got him to dance! But was that enough to save Christmas 2018?

Angry Abigail - Days of Our Lives

I loved seeing Abigail have the strength to get herself out of the mental hospital, out of her sham marriage with Stefan, and back home with her baby despite the lack of help from her family. God knows there's been a shortage of strong women in Salem in 2018, so that was refreshing.

And Abigail wasn't necessarily wrong in what she said to Jennifer. Jennifer may have had good intentions, but she unquestioningly accepted the idea that her daughter was mentally ill without as much as consulting a psychiatrist about it. And for an investigative reporter, she certainly seemed to lack critical thinking skills!

Related: Days of Our Lives: Why Social Messaging Matters

I'm just not convinced that Christmas Eve was the right time to do it.

The Horton family Christmas has been a Salem tradition since 1983 and is a fan favorite because of the warm family moments, everyone coming together to hang their ornaments on the tree, and the surprises and gifts for people who have been having a hard time all year long.

Usually, it's a one-day break from the drama that leaves viewers feeling uplifted.

There was a Christmas miracle of sorts this time, as Julie woke up and came home from the hospital in time for the ornament hanging party. But it was overshadowed by Abigail's anger.

Instead of the family celebrating Julie's recovery and being grateful that there was such good news on Christmas, by the time Julie arrived everyone was depressed because of Abigail's attitude. Abigail's anger totally upstaged Julie's release from the hospital, and that wasn't Christmassy in the slightest.

Abby and Jennifer had the same argument again a few days later, so Abby could have put it aside for Christmas so that the family could celebrate and then admitted later that she wasn't 100% happy at the Christmas celebration.

The family should have been there -- including JJ and Will. JJ was off-screen tending to newcomer Haley, which didn't worry Jennifer at all even though the last time he skipped Christmas Eve it was because he was contemplating suicide, and Will was who-knows-where right after having lost his relationship with Sonny.

(TALL) Crestfallen Jennifer - Days of Our Lives

Jennifer was pretty much alone throughout the Christmas party since her family wasn't around. She was left to be comforted by Hope after Abby's rant. Hope told Jennifer to give Abigail space while Ciara -- who has been telling Hope for months to give her some -- was sitting on the couch right behind her.

If Ciara doesn't throw that in Hope's face someday I'll be disappointed. But either way, it didn't help the already gloomy Christmas, nor did the lack of time given to the annual tradition of trimming the tree with personalized ornaments.

The only new ornament given this year was in memory of Lani and Eli's baby, and Rafe hung one of his own that I don't remember him ever having been given on-screen.

And where was the annual speech summarizing the year and being grateful for friends, family, and love despite hardships? Maggie could have given it; instead, she was at the party but never said a single word, not even to explain where Victor was.

A Christmas Miracle - Days of Our Lives

That's not to say there was no Christmas spirit, but the emphasis wasn't on Christmas or miracles, just on continuing the heavy storylines that Christmas is traditionally a break from. Juile's 50th annviersary celebration was far more family oriented and Christmasy than the actual Christmas party.

The Christmas Day hospital party wasn't much better. There was some silliness with Sheila giving Abe a pair of sneakers right after he revealed that he and Valerie were having problems and he left DC early -- another story that didn't have to happen on Christmas. 

Related: Why Is Days of Our Lives Misusing Abe Carver?

I did enjoy Abe flashing an all-too-rare smile as he danced with the kids at the holiday party, and it was nice that the show included Steve by having him call Kayla on Christmas.

But Leo's irritating, petulant, and self-centered comments were not funny and put a damper on the holiday for me, and Sonny and Will kissing was sweet but did nothing for me considering that Will and Sonny have been in this holding pattern where they love each other but have to keep their distance for months on end.

Losing His Best Friend - Days of Our Lives

The best moment of Christmas 2018 was Julie remembering what she was fighting with Gabi about just before she fell down the stairs. 

Breaking something because of a sudden memory is an overused trope on this show, but it was satisfying to see Gabi's ornament drop from Julie's hands and shatter into a billion pieces on the floor.

And then viewers got the confrontations they'd been waiting for after Abby told Chad he was the father of the baby and he and Abby confronted Gabi.

Abby Punches Gabi - Days of Our Lives

I wasn't a fan of Abby punching Gabi. Did Gabi deserve it after months on end of gaslighting Abby, manipulating Abby's family, and trying to take Abby's place in Chad's life? Of course. But Abigail was still trying to convince a skeptical Chad that she was sane, and losing her temper wasn't going to help that.

Plus, her go-to reaction when Gabi starts her nonsense seems to be to get violent -- surely there's another way to express her anger than that!

It was satisfying to see Chad finally realize that he'd been played all these months, though I had to wonder what was wrong with him all this time!

I can understand in some twisted way how you could do all this to Abigail. But how could you do it to me?

Chad

And of course, Gabi turned on the waterworks when Chad told her that she'd hurt him and betrayed their friendship, even though Kate had told her over and over that that was exactly what was going to happen.

Chad and Abby did a good job of presenting a united front, making it clear to Gabi that her plan to get revenge by stealing Chad and the baby from Abby was not going to work even though later it turned out that Abby had not forgiven Chad for his stupidity.

The only note that rang false to me was Abby telling Gabi to go ahead and spend one last day with Ari. 

I know Abigail is supposed to be kind and sweet and a miniature version of Jennifer, but that didn't make sense.

Abby was so angry at her family, and so angry at Gabi up until the second that Chad said Gabi didn't deserve mercy. Then all of a sudden she decided to be nice.

Torturing the Torturer - Days of Our Lives

I guess maybe Abby didn't want to be bitter and vengeful like Gabi, but it seemed like a set-up for Gabi to get kidnapped.

The whole Gabi kidnapping seemed to have one point, and that was to get Gabi and Stefan interested in each other.

Ben somehow sneaked into Gabi's room at the mansion and kidnapped her without any of the people downstairs seeing it or hearing her scream. I know it's supposed to be a big house, but come on!

Anyway, Stefan threatening Gabi with a hot poker, only to let her go, made little sense. However, the angry banter they exchanged seemed like the beginning of some sort of connection.

Now that Stefan finally gets that "Gabby" never existed, I have little doubt that he's going to fall hard for the real Gabi, and that eventually she's going to return his feelings.

It's as sick and twisted as the rest of this and won't do either character any favors, but all the signs are there and SOMETHING has to come out of this pointless kidnapping.

I was shocked that Rafe listened to Chad and doubly shocked that he was willing to put out an APB for Gabi!

Rafe has covered for Gabi over and over in the past, so much so that her insistence that Abigail always gets a pass and she never does is ludicrous.

He's far from the straight arrow, by the book cop that he has been rewritten to be lately, and I fully expected the next source of tension between him and Hope to revolve around his insistence on covering for his sister.

Of course, Gabi turned herself in so it was a moot point. She'll probably be in jail for about three days, but she's missing New Year's Eve with Arianna. So there's that.

Trying to Help - Days of Our Lives

Meanwhile, JJ was totally out of the loop about what was going on because he was focused on Haley's suicide attempt.

I'm thrilled that JJ has a story, but I wish that it was written a little better.

Related: 7 Ways Days of Our Lives Could (And Should!) Be Using JJ Deveraux

If Haley had been introduced before her suicide attempt and she and JJ had a connection that was disrupted by her suicide attempt and insistence she didn't need help, that would be one thing.

Instead, JJ comes off as a stalker who is obsessed with helping a woman who doesn't want his help and won't give her any space, and that's not a good look.

If they were going to go the route of JJ going all in to help a stranger, the story should be about how he's determined to help this person because he arrived too late to help Paige and instead found his true love's dead body on the floor of her shower.

That could have easily been established by having a quick flashback of seeing Paige's body when JJ found Haley on the floor and then this story would make sense.

Unfortunately, the writers like to pretend that JJ and Paige were never a thing, so they didn't go there.

I told you about my friend who stopped me from going off a cliff. But I still had a long way to go before my feet were back on the ground.

JJ

This story is also riddled with problems as a result of the writers not taking suicide as seriously as they should.

Haley's suicide seems to be a plot point for JJ to fall in love with this woman who he saved from an attempt on the anniversary of his own rather than an actual story.

Someone like Haley who tried and failed to commit suicide should be feeling that she can't even kill herself right. She might try to mask feelings of depression, but they should still be there.

She also shouldn't be up and about less than 24 hours after downing an entire bottle of pills. There's physical effects for these things!

As usual, no psychiatrist was called in to deal with a mental health issue. Marlena being part of this story would not only be realistic, but would enrich JJ's story because surely she would confront him about why he is so obsessed with this woman he has never met!

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In addition, Haley's plight is being used as an excuse for JJ to not be part of his family again.

He not only didn't come to the Christmas party, but had no idea that Abigail had divorced Stefan or any of the rest of it until he overheard Lani and Eli telling him at the New Years' Eve party.

Jennifer apparently tried to call him but he didn't pick up his phone because of his obsession with Haley. That makes no sense, nor does it make sense for Jen not to be worried about not being able to get ahold of JJ on the anniversary of his suicide attempt.

Doug is the only member of the Horton family that treats JJ as at all important or valuable, and that would be fine if part of JJ's story involved feeling rejected by his family and having to work through those feelings as part of his own recovery from suicidal depression.

But instead, it's written as if this is totally acceptable and normal and viewers are supposed to think that JJ being left out of everything is cool.

And why did Haley even agree to go on a "friend date" with JJ, who she clearly wants to keep at arm's length? That made no sense whatsoever.

Haley is so convinced JJ just wants to be her guardian angel (and his behavior is doing nothing to disprove that) and so offended by it that I was shocked she didn't think Jen and Eric's speeches at the New Year's Gala were orchestrated to convince her to seek therapy. 

Jennifer: It's been a rough year for Abigail. Just when I thought she and Chad were going to have a normal life, Andre died and then the DID and now this whole Gabi mess...
Julie: It's been a rough year for you too. You fell in love -- which was a long time coming and well deserved, by the way -- only to get your heartbroken.
Jennifer: I lost Eric because I kept it secret from him for months that Nicole was alive. Whenever you lie to the one you love, it ends badly. But I am done. I mean it. My resolution this year is no more love, ever.
Julie: What a load of malarky! You don't give up on love. You forgive yourself and you move on! Preferably with tall, dark, and handsome. Or whatever floats your boat.
Jennifer: Honestly, I think my boat sank when Jack died.

The New Years' Gala had some nice moments. 

I especially enjoyed Julie convincing Jennifer to open herself up to love again. Julie is carrying on Alice's legacy, which is a much better fit for her than being a busybody who has something negative to say about everybody.

All the mentions of Jack make it painfully obvious that Jack is about to return, though. Even though he is one of my favorite characters, I wish they would have left him as a ghost. Jennifer's long-overdue moiurning for her late husband is so moving, but knowing that it's just foreshadowing of his return cheapens it.

In addition, Jennifer had an on-and-off relationship with Daniel that included talk of marriage, so writing it now as if Eric were her first serious boyfriend since Jack died is silly.

Justin: If you sue Chloe, the gloves are going to come off. Her lawyers are going to do whatever it takes to try to prove you are an unfit parent, including bringing up parts of your past that might be dark and painful.
Eric: Like what? [Justin gives him a look] Oh. I killed Holly's father in a drunk driving accident.

As for Eric, he needs to grow up!

He is being incredibly immature and insensitive about this custody battle. I can't believe that he forgot that he killed Daniel or that he wanted to skip a benefit where he was expected to make a speech as program director just because there are people he doesn't like in attendance!

If he didn't want to go to a New Year's Eve party because the last one he attended resulted in him drinking too much and making the fatal decision to get behind the wheel anyway, that would be understandable.

But to skip a work-related event where his absence could affect the donations the benefit was seeking because Jennifer and Chloe would be there was unconscionable.

I'm not going to call Eve. I'm tired of all this. I jump from one bad relationship to another. Why do I do that?

Brady

Sarah was trying to turn over a new leaf for the New Year and Brady made an attempt at it, but he and Eric just couldn't resist arguing about Holly's custody in the middle of the party. None of that is good for Holly.

And Eric was insisting on hiring a lawyer who was doing everything to dissuade him from filing that custody lawsuit. That should have told him something.

Sorry I missed the countdown, but better late than never. I'm here now. So let's let the party begin.

Eve

Of course, the biggest news was that Eve crashed the New Years' party.  If I didn't know from reading spoilers who it was, I might have thought it was going to be Nicole since everyone was talking about wishing she'd show up alive while a mysterious someone tiptoed towards the door.

Eve was wearing the same cloak Vivian did when she made a similar grand entrance on New Years' Eve 2017, which made it all too clear that this was a repeated storyline, but her entrance was fun nevertheless, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she's up to.

What did you think, DAYS Fanatics? Were Christmas and New Years satisfying enough on Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-24-18?

Was Gabi finally getting caught satisfying enough, or were you disappointed?

What do you hope to see in Salem in 2019?

Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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