The twisted Stefan-in-love-with-a-nonexistent-person storyline continues to dominate Days of Our Lives, and that's a shame.
During the week of 12-3-18, there was a lot of movement on several fronts. Ben proved himself to be smarter than Ted and Hope, Maggie took a more central role in the Holly custody storyline, and Gabi's plan started unraveling.
But there was also Abigail pretending to be her alter Gabby and seducing her rapist in order to get out of the mental hospital, taking this already offensive storyline even further down a dark path.
Abigail is desperate to get out of the hospital, but this plan is the worst possible idea.
Not only did she tell the man who raped her that the encounter was 100% consensual, but now she has to live with him. She's already kissed him several times -- what are the chances that this plan will go off without the two of them having sex?
Stefan already spent the better part of an hour imagining that "Gabby" had returned home to him and convincing himself that he never took advantage of a very sick Abigail at all.
This wouldn't be a bad thing if the show made it clear that Stefan's point of view is reprehensible. But it doesn't. Abigail herself has said on many occasions that since Gabby is part of her, that means she consented, and now her plan helps egg her rapist on in believing that he did nothing wrong.
Stefan: Jennifer, I thought you were upset that Abigail had been committed.
Jennifer: No, I am upset because of how it happened, but I want my daughter well, I want her whole again, and you just care about yourself. You’re always thinking about yourself.
Stefan: That’s not true. I love Gabby.
Jennifer: How can you love Gabby? She’s not a real person.
The only person who sees this for what it is is Jennifer.
Despite being a rape survivor herself who would do anything for her children, she's not doing much except yelling at Stefan and agreeing with Chad that Abby's mental illness has returned without as much as consulting a psychiatrist about whether that's possible.
You'd think an investigative reporter would be more aware of how much is wrong with this picture than that!
Chad doesn't either, of course. He quickly fell for Gabi's latest manipulations and managed to miss her telling herself that Stefan wasn't the father of Abby's baby even though he was standing three feet away.
This is nothing new. Chad has become stupider every time he's been on screen since this storyline began.
I did think it was interesting that he realized that he was turning into Stefano and had been ever since he put on Stefano's ring. Could this be the start of Chad's redemption?
At the same time, it's frustrating that for about the 900th time, it looked like Gabi was about to get caught and then she didn't because of someone else's stupidity.
I'm not sure who is worse in this department: Chad or Kate. Kate supposedly found her backbone and told Gabi she was done with her, but every time she sees her, she protects her anyway.
Strong, fearless Kate should never have been intimidated by an amateur like Gabi, and she certainly shouldn't continue to be weeks after deciding she was done.
But Kate kept up the pretense, telling Rafe she saw "Gabby" and then arguing endlessly with the real Gabi about whether or not Gabi was going to reveal Chad to be the father of her baby.
This whole plot would unravel if Kate would stop being afraid of Gabi and start being Kate again. And with Leo back in Salem revealing quite a few of Kate's misdeeds, Gabi's blackmail threat should hold even less weight.
Wouldn't all that be easier and more enjoyable than Kate and Gabi having the same argument over and over?
All these fake endings of this story make it hard to be excited about the cliffhanger of Abigail discovering Gabi trying to break into the mansion. Since both Gabi and Abigail know there is no Gabby, I'm sure this will lead to Gabi blackmailing Abigail into silence -- and Abby will go along with it without hesitation.
Somebody make this stop. Please.
This Leo plot also needs some work if it's going to be believable.
As is, it is yet another story in which someone gives in to a blackmail threat for no good reason.
The scenes where Sonny and Will confronted a quasi-remorseful Kate were powerful. I loved seeing Kate get some comeuppance, even if it is only from someone who is tangentially related to her, and Freddie Smith did a great job of unleashing all of Sonny's pent-up anger.
But then the guys kicked Kate out when she said she could take care of Leo and Sonny cried to Will that he had no choice but to enter the sham marriage that Leo wanted.
First of all, Kate is the kind of person you want on your side during this kind of mess, so kicking her out was clearly plot-driven stupidity.
And even more importantly, this is all taking place under Victor's roof!
There is no way in hell that Victor would allow someone to move into one of the spare rooms and torment his nephew.
Even though he's not happy with Will and only accepted his reunion with Sonny because of a temporary desire to be a good person after almost choking to death, Victor still has a lot of affection for Sonny. He wouldn't let this continue.
Sonny threatened to go to him, but backed down when Leo said he wasn't scared of Victor. That was stupid decision #2 in this ridiculous storyline.
Maggie seemed to have no idea what was going on, either. There was no mention of any of this when she and Sarah argued about Holly's living arrangements the next day.
DAYS seem to have got into a bad habit of treating the same house like it's two different houses.
It didn't make sense in 2015 when Jen and Hope were both living in the Horton House but never saw each other or had any awareness of what the other was going through and it doesn't make sense in 2018 either.
Granted, the Kiriakis mansion is a lot bigger than the Horton House, but still. Victor and Maggie should be aware of what's going on in their living room and of unexpected and unwanted houseguests.
I enjoyed Maggie and Sarah butting heads in these scenes, though.
Maggie was right, for the most part. Eric is not exactly stable.
In Salem alcoholism only is an issue when a story demands it, but even without the booze, Eric has shown himself to be the kind of person who turns on a dime, suddenly hating someone he professed a moment earlier to love.
He was verbally abusive to Nicole for months after the shredding incident, he was almost as bad to Jennifer when he found out she'd sat on information about Nicole for a couple months, and now he's doing the same thing to Brady.
The first time Holly disappoints him, she's going to be in for it.
Eric got violent with Brady when Brady suggested that Eric was far from perfect himself and in fact, had killed Daniel while drunk.
I very rarely agree with Brady, but he was spot on about holier-than-thou Eric, who expects everyone else to live up to standards he doesn't even meet himself!
The fight was so cliched, though. For some reason it's become a DAYS trope for everyone to try to choke their enemies to death as soon as they hear something they don't like.
Are the writers trying to suggest Ben's former crimes aren't any worse than anyone else in Salem because everyone does this or what?
And wasn't part of the reason Abigail was locked up that she choked Gabi in a similar manner?
So why does Eric get a pass for that from anyone?
Sarah is also too quick to defend Eric and is acting like he is her boyfriend.
She JUST broke up with Rex, so she needs to slow her roll. Plus, while Maggie is talking about alcoholism being a serious disease, maybe she should say something to her daughter about her drunken behavior instead of assuming Eric is the only one with a problem.
In any case, Eric is far less unstable -- fights and all -- than his Aunt Hope.
I absolutely can't stand Hope, and that's a shame because she used to be one of my favorites.
The dangerous games she's playing in order to try to get Ben arrested are so out of character for her. Is this the same woman who tried to calm Jennifer down back in 2013 when Jennifer was convinced JJ was still using and wanted Hope to go arrest him?
Ted clearly wants Hope for himself and I doubt he'll stop til he gets her, no matter what he has to do. I just hope it's Ciara who saves Hope from him and not Rafe.
Rafe showed some impressive detective skills for once. Too bad he was using them to track down Hope instead of anything remotely work-related.
Hope's lies to him were pathetically obvious, and even if Jennifer hadn't got her message to cover for her too late, I doubt Jen would have done any such thing.
Between that message and Rafe's fears, Jen is now aware something is very wrong with Hope too and if she ever gets past thinking Abigail had a DID relapse, she might do something about it.
This story might be okay if we were moving towards Hope's friends and family realizing she's had a complete nervous breakdown and trying to help her.
But I doubt it's going that way, and even if it was the less-than-stellar job the writers did with Abigail and JJ's mental health issues leaves me doubtful they could write a truly moving and effective mental health storyline.
Hope: Hey, it’s your favorite cuz. I need a huge favor. I hate having to ask this but if Rafe should ask, could you please tell him I spent the night with you last night? I’ll explain later. Thanks cuz. I love you.
[Jen gets off phone]
Jen: Hope, what are you up to right now?
More likely than not, this silly story is going to create some angst for Rafe and Hope in which he thinks she's cheating and breaks up with her, only to find out the truth, rescue her, and reconcile again.
This story also mocks the idea of someone suing for police harassment.
It's only brought up in the context of trying to get Ben to confess to a crime he did not commit. Ben said he would sue for real if this didn't stop, but I doubt he ever will, not when the message behind this show since 2015 or so has been that corrupt behavior on the part of police officers is heroic and justified.
Ben and CIara's date was interesting.
I'm not sold on this couple -- this whole story is a rehash of the JJ/Paige story of 2014 except that the writers are actually seeing it through instead of dropping it halfway through for a nonsensical hookup story.
But I do like that Ben and Ciara are doing their best to overcome the obstacles that society puts in the way of formerly incarcerated people moving forward with their lives.
Julie was incredibly obnoxious. She doesn't even treat Gabi this badly! Where was Doug to temper her nonsense?
The biggest concern at this point isn't that Ben will kill again, but that he's involved with Stefan. Ben and Stefan have this weird kinship based on both feeling like pariahs, and Ben is willing to act violently as long as he doesn't have to kill.
Stefan could drag him further and further down a dark path, and what happens if Stefan orders a hit on Ciara or her family?
While John and Marlena have never been my favorite couple, it was nice to finally see some genuine romance on this show. Their date in the Pub was all sorts of sweet, and I was thrilled with their breakfast with Abe.
THIS is how to use soap vets properly!
The three old friends spending time together and John and Marlena encouraging Abe as he struggles with his long-distance relationship was a lot more like it.
I have a hard time believing that Abe is 100% okay with his daughter's encouraging him to hire Sheila for the sole purpose of manipulating Eli's living situation, but I was glad to see Abe do something more worthwhile than rant about his parking space.
I just hope that Eli and Lani being together and Valerie appearing to be on the cusp of ending things with Abe isn't clearing a path for Abe and Sheila to date.
Dating the woman that Abe's daughter was recently jealous of would be weird, and Sheila seems to bring out the worst in Abe. So I hope all this silly work conflict doesn't somehow blossom into a romance.
Lucas became the latest person to leave Salem. His exit story was plausible, if a little rushed: he's worried that his teenage daughter is developing an alcohol problem.
I wish we'd seen some of that on-screen. It sounds like a compelling story. Instead, it came out of nowhere and was more or less an excuse to get Lucas off canvas.
It seemed like the whole point of that was to free Chloe to be with Brady. I wish they'd try her with someone she hasn't dated before instead of constantly recycling her exes. Is Philip going to reappear next?
So what did you think, DAYS fanatics?
Is Abigail's plan a good one, or is it going to end in disaster?
How is this mess Hope has got into going to end?
And are you sad to see Lucas leave Salem?
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.