Fourth of July used to be a big deal to the Horton family.
Year after year on Days of Our Lives, the Horton and Brady clans got together to celebrate with barbecues, family time, and love of the good old USA. This holiday was second only to Christmas!
The good news is that Rex and Sarah decided to revive that tradition on Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-1-19, but the results were less than spectacular.
The good news: the 4th of July celebration wasn't completely terrible, and the drama leading up to it was strong.
But the bad news is that Days of Our Lives tried just a little too hard to recapture the spirit of holidays past, and the whole thing fell flat.
The first mistake was putting Rex and Sarah in charge of the festivities.
In Days of Our Lives review after review, I've complained about the lack of chemistry and general boredom when it comes to this couple. Some of that is due to them being transported to Salem as an engaged couple who was having problems off-screen.
But their behavior on-screen has done nothing to fix that, and their role as party hosts didn't help.
For example, Days of Our Lives went for a lighthearted July 4th story where Rex and Eric argued about whose barbecue was better and then asked Sarah to decide.
These scenes were undoubtedly meant to be funny. But for an audience that has had far more than they need of this ridiculous Eric/Sarah/Rex triangle, they were annoying.
Predictably, Sarah declared that Rex's burger was perfect but she liked Eric's better, which seemed to be an announcement of how she felt about the two guys that nobody could miss (though Rex did).
After that, Rex made a toast to July 4th that could have been sweet, about the family being like the founding members of the United States who understood that there's nothing you can't do if you present a united front.
But instead, Sarah kept interrupting to correct him, which was obnoxious rather than cute, and afterward, viewers were treated to Sarah and Rex kissing while Eric watched sadly through the window.
The biggest problem with the 4th of July celebration, though, was that Doug and Julie gave their chance to host away to these two.
The look on Julie's face said it all. She didn't want to relinquish control but didn't want to cause a scene on a major holiday, so she did.
And while Julie can be petty, in this case, I agreed with her. Now that Tom and Alice are gone, Julie and Doug are the closest things to the head of the Horton family, and Days of Our Lives should be honoring them by allowing them to host big holiday parties like this.
Julie: I was so busy running everyone else's life I didn't see...
Lani: You don't run other people's lives. You fight for your family.
Julie: Is there a difference?
Everyone's enthusiasm for the holiday was probably dampened by Claire's breakdown, though.
Despite how much I hate this storyline, the aftermath of Claire's attempt to kill Ciara has been powerful.
Claire's eventual surrender, only to attempt to kill herself while Marlena's back was turned, is definitely Emmy-nomination material for Olivia Rose Keegan, and Shawn and Belle's shock, disappointment, and self-blame have also been strong.
The scenes in the cabin were tense and dramatic, and I almost forgot that Days of Our Lives was repeating itself with this storyline.
Jordan kidnapped Ciara, tied her to the bed, and eventually decided she had to burn the cabin down so that Ciara wouldn't continue to love Ben. Now Claire kidnapped Ciara, tied her to the bed, and decided she had to burn the cabin down to end her own sense of inferiority.
Different motive, same story. But strong scenes nevertheless.
It was predictable that Hope would finally see that Ben was a good person who was willing to risk his life to protect Ciara. If she didn't after the third time he saved Ciara's life, she would have needed a bed next to Claire's in Bayview!
Hopefully, that means that this everyone-hates-Ben storyline is almost over, along with Eve's insistence on pressing charges against an innocent man.
I don't like the way Paige is being used as an excuse for Eve's bad behavior.
Eve hasn't been fighting rage over Paige's death for years.
She suddenly can't take Ben being free NOW when she has a chance to do something about it and turns on the waterworks about Paige's death every time Jack questions her motives.
That is disrespectful to the character of Eve, who did love her daughter despite her many flaws as a mother, to the memory of Paige, who would hate what her mother is doing, and to the many Days of Our Lives fans who were heartbroken when Paige was killed off for no real reason.
Eve: Well, today is a federal holiday but -
Jen: You're just a walking civics lesson today, aren't you, Eve?
Eve: But tomorrow I will call and find out what Haley is doing here. I'm certainly not going to take the word of a law breaker like JJ.
Jennifer: Did you lose your spine when you lost your memory, Jack? That's our son she's talking about.
Hope tried to tell Eve what she needed to do about the Claire situation, but Eve wouldn't listen. I don't expect her to remain in her position as police commissioner for much longer.
Her relationship with Jack may be on its way out, too. His interest in maybe getting his memories back seems to be the beginning of the end of this mess, and he's always looking at Jennifer when Eve wants him to look at her instead.
Or maybe that's wishful thinking because this storyline is so disappointing to Jack/Jennifer fans.
Jack seemed suspicious of Eve's explanation of why John and Marlena are so angry at her, so there's hope that he finally has stopped buying her nonsense. I still want to see Jack play Eve to try to get at the truth, but at least he's beginning to get his brain back.
Another story that is hopefully on its way out: this fake Nicole business.
This story would be more tolerable if we didn't have doppelganger storylines all the time! Evil people masquerading as good ones wears thin after a while.
Kristen has slipped up a billion times and the net is finally closing in on her. Rex and Brady are questioning whether Kate is really out of town, Gabi provoked her into calling Stefano "Father", and Hope is suspicious about Ted's sudden disappearance.
If only Kate and Ted hadn't given in to temptation, this would be exciting!
The most overused trope on Days of Our Lives is that of two former lovers getting kidnapped together and having sex because there's nothing better to do.
Gabi and Chad did it twice and now Kate and Ted are getting there -- or they would have been, had Kristen not walked in on them. As it was, they were kissing moments after Ted declared his loyalty to Hope.
That was entirely unnecessary and wasted screen time that could have been used on something more interesting!
I am curious as to what would have happened had Gabi found Ted and Kate down there, but we don't need Gabi playing the hero after the stuff she's done anyway. And since Ted thinks Kristen is Nicole, this showdown should be riveting TV!
The most pointless story award goes to Carrie and Rafe, though.
Christie Clark no longer lives in the United States and thus couldn't commit to more than a few days' work, so I certainly don't fault Days of Our Lives for making Carrie's stay brief.
However, the writers KNEW this going in. So what was the point of them giving Carrie a failed marriage that she couldn't explain the end of and a one-night-stand with Rafe?
There certainly was no need for her to not only drift apart from Austin off-screen or whatever the hell happened and then tell her family one-by-one that it was over.
And there was little need to repeat the Sami/Rafe fling of 2017 with Carrie and Rafe, either, regardless of their history.
The end result of this mess is that Carrie stayed long enough to ensure Hope learned of the one-night-stand, then promptly went back to Switzerland. Whether she plans to reconcile with Austin is anyone's guess since he was such an afterthought that she didn't mention what her plan was.
Hopefully, the plan isn't for her to show up in a couple of years with a three-year-old that she and Rafe conceived on the most pointless ever night of sex.
Also pointless: Eric walking in on Rafe and Carrie in bed. There was no fallout from this except Eric berating Rafe, then feeling stupid when he learned that Austin was not part of the equation anymore.
Eric jumped in and lied about why Rafe was upstairs before Rafe could explain himself to Hope, only for Hope to learn half an hour later about the one-night-stand.
Rafe wasn't mad that Eric interfered with his attempt to be honest with Hope, Hope wasn't mad at Eric lied to her, and Carrie wasn't worried about Eric having a change of heart about keeping her secret.
So why exactly was Eric thrust into the middle of this already-useless story?
Finally, Eli and Lani went for a walk in the park and Eli proposed.
I'm neutral about these two. They have a nice friends-turned-into-grieving-parents vibe that doesn't scream chemistry but isn't obnoxious either.
However, they've been together for all of two days since they reconciled.
Considering that Lani was pushing to create a relationship with Rafe not that long ago, they might want to hold off on marriage til they're sure Lani is stable enough to commit to it.
What did you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics?
You read my review of July 4th and everything else. Now share yours in the comments!
And don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives continues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.