I had high hopes that Days of Our Lives was finally ending this ridiculous Kristen-masquerading-as-Nicole story.
"Nicole" had slipped up and shown her true colors several times, Hope was hot on the trail as Xander tried to feed his prisoners, and Abe was shocked by the way she treated him.
But I guess that would have been too easy because Kristen slithered out of trouble again on Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-7-19.
It is standard operating procedure on Days of Our Lives. Just as the bad guys are about to get caught, something happens that prolongs the story, often leading to a more dramatic climax later on.
But it's still frustrating as hell! This story is annoying, plus it's the fourth doppelganger story in less than a year.
So the payoff when this thing finally ends for real had better be worth it!.
The lead-up to this latest plot twist was more predictable than exciting, too.
Ted told Kate several times that Hope would see Sarah wearing Xander's necklace and rescue them -- and that was what happened. The only "wrinkle", if you can call it that, was Hope losing Xander in what looked like the church garden, only to quickly find a secret passage.
Some more surprising and challenging obstacle might have made this story more interesting!
Meanwhile, Kristen decided to take Kate and Ted out herself after an endless argument with Xander, who was no longer interested in killing people for the hell of it.
They stalled her for a while and then she forced Xander to accompany her to her hotel room instead of feeding his prisoners.
Once there, she told Xander all the same things he had told her: Ted and Kate were more useful alive, and she and she had unilaterally decided to put off killing them.
Never bring a broken bottle to a gun fight.Kristen Dimera
The irony of that was lost on Xander, who only wanted to know how she managed to secure Ted and Kate's silence about her part in this.
That's something I'd like to know too. Presumably, Kristen blackmailed them in some way. But if she threatened to kill them if they told the truth, that makes zero sense. If they accused her of kidnapping and trying to kill them, she'd be in jail.
Of course, police protection in Salem is more or less useless, but still. That would be a weak blackmail threat indeed.
The only other thing I can think of is that she threatened to out Kate and Ted's kiss to Hope. Hope would have no particular reason to believe Kristen about that, and Kate would have no reason to go along with it.
So what the heck did Kristen do?
The most frustrating part of this, besides Kate and Ted prolonging the story by going along with leaving Kristen's name out of their ordeal is that Abe found Kristen's ransacked hotel room and then vanished.
At the very least, Abe should have thought that someone made off with Nicole since her room got trashed, and she was nowhere to be seen! But instead, after he made this discovery, Kristen dragged Xander to the room and Abe was nowhere to be seen.
Nor did Days of Our Lives show him making a phone call, talking to Eli and Lani about his suspicions, or even telling Stefan that Nicole had disappeared!
Granted, that could still be coming, but for "Nicole" and Xander to enter the room as if nothing happened, with no clue as to what Abe is doing with his discovery, is sloppy storytelling, and that's being charitable.
Abe's insistence on keeping the cops out of "Nicole" attacking Stefan didn't fit his character.
Whether or not it would look bad for Dimera Enterprises, Abe has always been by the book and is not the kind of guy to turn off his moral compass for the sake of a job.
Besides, Abe's daughter and her boyfriend are two top detectives who could have dealt with the situation quietly while Abe put a positive spin on Nicole's absence from the launch.
Plus, the whole concern about the launch was misplaced since Stefan was far more interested in having more sex with Gabi than finding a new venue once Julie kicked him and Gabi out!
Julie throwing water on the two of them was amusing, but the bad blood between her and Gabi hit a childish new low when she called Eli to dispose of the "intruders" and then Gabi grabbed her phone and wouldn't give it back.
It is not a good use of Julie! She is the only Horton left of the first generation of Hortons from the 1960s. Surely Days of Our Lives can find something more worthwhile for her to do.
Anyway, the bigger issue is that the launch, like so many other things lately, was a plot point rather than a full-fledged story. Its only purpose seemed to be to give Kristen an additional reason to hate Stefan enough to pin two kidnappings on him.
Across town, the same thing happened to JJ...again.
Somehow, drugs found in JJ's apartment and him getting arrested for aiding and abetting a fugitive didn't bother his landlord, but Haley returning from China did so the landlord sent him an eviction notice..
JJ was angry and planned to sue the landlord, but we all know that's never going to be shown on-screen. Instead, JJ and Haley moved in with Tripp, and either the lawsuit will never get mentioned again, or we will hear in casual conversation that it was settled out of court.
It's a shame that JJ gets bounced from plot point to plot point without ever getting a real story, especially when the story that's not told would enrich the one that is.
If the writers were interested in a story for JJ, they could have done it so easily.
The landlord could have been seen in person, telling JJ before the whole fugitive thing that his lease forbade him to add a roommate without written permission and that Haley had to go, even though the landlord never had any problem with Theresa living there without being added to the lease.
JJ could have hired Justin at that point, who might agree that this is thinly veiled racism but warn JJ that it would be difficult to prove and that he could end up losing his home if he didn't get rid of Haley.
Later, JJ could have told Justin he was going to get arrested on purpose to protest Jack's treatment of Haley and ignore Justin's warnings that the consequences might go beyond spending a few nights in jail.
And when he returned, the landlord could have used the arrest as grounds for eviction, claiming it was the last straw after all the drama JJ had caused with both Theresa and Haley.
Will could even have been included in this story, investigating the landlord for JJ and trying to help him prove that this was illegal discrimination against Haley while trying to get a story for the Spectator about a major housing scandal.
But instead, all we got was a random eviction notice from a landlord for the express purpose of JJ and Haley moving in with Tripp.
The writers are going for some triangle with JJ/Haley/Tripp now that the Claire/Tripp/Ciara triangle has come to a violent end.
The more interesting story here, though, is Tripp's inability to stop blaming himself for Claire's breakdown.
It would be great to see the cousins bonding over their shared tendency to blame themselves for serious problems that aren't their fault and for JJ to support Tripp through his trauma reactions to this incident!
We probably won't get that, but something is going on with Tripp and I'm curious to see where it leads.
Sarah: I can't believe Victor didn't get rid of all the alcohol!
Maggie: Oh, don't blame him. He's devastated about Claire.
Sarah: But you need his support.
Maggie: I can't expect the world to bend around me. I need to be stronger.
Sarah: You are strong! Yeah, you went on a bender, but ever since then you've had everything under control.
Maggie: It looks that way, but the truth is I'm scared. I was sober for over 30 years. The days and weeks and months went by and the thought of drinking never even crossed my mind. And since I slipped, I'm tempted every day. It's like I'm starting all over again.
Maggie's struggle with alcoholism continued to be a highlight on Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-7-19.
Victor's decision to hide all the alcohol so that he can keep drinking without tempting Maggie is, sadly, realistic. Many spouses and other family members take on the responsibility of stopping their loved one from drinking, creating an unhealthy dynamic that can add to the problem instead of resolving it.
Victor, Sarah, and anyone else who thinks that Maggie's issues with alcohol can get resolved by limiting the amount of alcohol in the house needs to go to Al-Anon or another support group for friends and family of alcoholics.
I wasn't convinced that Maggie needs to go to rehab, though. Has she gone to any meetings besides the one she went to with Brady? Many alcoholics go to multiple meetings a day for the first 90 days to try to keep themselves busy, out of trouble, and among fellow sufferers.
In any case, it was nice to see Sarah supporting her mother. Sarah was far more tolerable and likable in this capacity than in trying to convince herself she's in love with Rex.
The Rex/Sarah/Eric triangle has got to go! Marlena's interference and continual insistence that Eric pursue Sarah while she is married to his brother is getting on my nerves, especially since neither of these guys has much chemistry with Sarah.
And the fact that Marlena agrees with Sami on this issue should be a giant red flag that something is wrong.
Claire's goodbye scenes were well done. She struggled to accept that she had a mental illness and didn't understand why everyone forgave her.
It was silly for Ciara to be 100% okay with Claire having tried to kill her, but Days of Our Lives seems to be going for a story in which everyone blames Eve and absolves Claire of any responsibility at all for her actions.
Eve: Where's Jack?
Hope: He took off. If he has any sense, he's hiring a new commissioner. Or getting a divorce from you. Or both.
Eve: Look who's talking, Hope. You've had how many divorces now?
Hope: We're not talking about that. This is about Claire. You knew she was suffering and you keep quiet.
Eve: Because I didn't know! Look, even Claire said I was innocent.
Hope: Clearly she's trying to protect you!
Eve: Look, you have no proof of wrongdoing. You don't have a case against me.
Hope: You left incriminating messages on Claire's phone, which just happened to have disappeared from the evidence room. That was your doing.
Eve: Why would you think that?
Hope: Because of you. You're in the public eye now, Eve. We're watching you.
What Eve DID do is horrific enough. She allowed a young woman with a tendency towards violence to continue being violent so that Eve could avenge Paige's death by framing Ben for the serial arsons.
That press conference that Eve held, throwing Hope and Eli under the bus, added insult to injury, although Eve was not wrong that Hope did the same thing when she was the police commissioner!
But at the same time, I feel bad for Eve that's she's being treated like the cause of Claire's problems. She enabled Claire. She put vengeance over Claire's well-being and public safety. She deserves to lose her job for that, if not face prison time herself.
But she did NOT put a lighter in Claire's hand and tell her to set those fires, and it will not help Claire for anyone to deny the role her own choices played in this whole mess.
The saddest thing about Claire going is that it wasn't necessary to write her out.
Viewers occasionally see Jordan at Bayview, so why not continue the story by showing Claire struggle to get better while confined to a mental institution? Olivia Rose Keegan certainly would be capable of handling such heavy scenes, and that would be a fascinating story!
Plus, there was no point to Shawn and Belle staying in Salem for Claire's sake if Claire, Shawn, and Belle are going to be entirely off-screen!
The writers would have had to do some research and treat mental health issues with far more seriousness than they usually do to pull it off, but it's a definite missed opportunity.
What did you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics?
Are you disappointed that Kristen's reign of terror isn't quite over, or are you looking forward to more of this story?
How sad was Claire's exit?
And are you looking forward to JJ and Haley sharing living space with Tripp?
Weigh in below, 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.