Soap operas are full of rejected suitors who are determined to make the object of their affection love them.
Some become stalkers while others try to manipulate the situation to get their way, making viewers root for them to lose.
But the plan that Stevano and Gina came up with on Days of Our Lives during the week of 1-13-20 was an over-the-top addition to an over-the-top story.
This Gina/Stevano story is as annoying as it is silly, and I can't wait for these characters to be found out and their real selves restored.
Of the two, Gina is the more unlikable. She's vain, selfish, and has no point beyond her obsession with John Black.
And her idea of killing Marlena to get her out of her way has been tried before. It wasn't that long ago that Diana Colville was having a series of fantasies about a bereft John turning to her for comfort.
So if we're going to go this route again, Stevano's plan to fake-kill John and Marlena and then swoop in is at least semi-original.
Not that Stefano faking people's deaths and holding them hostage on an island hasn't been done before, but at least it hasn't been done within the last year or two.
Anyway, I wish the plan had been foiled by John or Marlena being smart enough to see through Gina and Stevano's obvious nonsense.
Instead, Marlena's desire to go with John to Europe was quickly squashed, and John's need to play the white knight to her damsel in distress made it easier.
It was John who insisted Marlena stay behind for her safety, and Marlena didn't put up much of a fight.
She objected a little, then gave in. Her only problem seemed to be that she hates "Hope" for having interfered with her marriage and didn't want her involved in helping her out while John is gone.
Way to be distracted while your life is in danger, Marlena. Geez.
Meanwhile, a bunch of people caught on to the fact that "Hope" isn't acting like herself, but since all of them are sworn to secrecy they're probably going to get in each other's way.
Still, there was something gratifying in so many people waking up. It was especially exciting that both Abe and Julie were pulled into the conversation.
These are legacy characters that don't have enough to do. Julie is mostly stuck in this ridiculous Gabi/Eli/Lani storyline and Abe tends to wander around town giving people advice instead of having a story at all.
Even better than Abe learning about "Hope's" weird behavior is his learning about Lani's.
Abe's concerns about Lani are long overdue, and not just because Days of Our Lives jumped a year ahead.
When he learned that Lani lied about who the father of her baby was, he made excuses for her behavior and was 100% behind her having lied for months. That was out of character for Abe, who is usually Salem's moral compass.
But now he finally woke up to the fact that Lani had been avoiding him, acting bizarrely, and had broken a store window.
Abe's insistence on answers that Lani wasn't willing to give was a great first step. If I were Abe, I'd also check in with Marlena. Lani's bizarre behavior screams of a psychiatric issue, especially since Abe doesn't know about Gabi's threats.
Lani needs some tough love. She's bought into this idea that everyone is powerless against Gabi and her magic pacemaker controlling app when there's no reason to be.
JJ was right that she couldn't continue to give in to Gabi's threats for the rest of her life.
There was no reason to do so in the first place. Lani was a cop at the time that Gabi threatened Julie's life so all she had to do was arrest her and confiscate her phone.
Now Lani's let Gabi intimidate her into hiding, and she sees anyone who tries to do something about the situation as the bad guy.
At the very least, she should be worried about Julie's sudden friendship with Gabi. Gabi's threatened to kill Julie on multiple occasions--who says she wouldn't snap and do something to her even if Lani isn't in the picture?
JJ should have been drafted to ask Gabi for Stefan's heart in the first place. Gabi has a soft spot for him and acts like a decent human being around him, and him asking would have prevented this whole absurd situation.
But with things being the way they are, he was probably the best person to try to resolve the problem. When JJ's judgment isn't clouded by emotional problems, he's smart and has good instincts.
That's what let him get one over on Theresa all those years ago and why he was a good choice for the undercover drug operation right before Paige's death.
This time, though, JJ was far from subtle. He burst into the Dimera mansion living room and demanded that Eli not marry Gabi. That did nothing for his plan to trap Gabi and was not in character, either.
The only reason I can think of for that senseless move is that the writers thought it would help prolong the story.
That entire thing was unnecessary plotwise, too.
If JJ had pretended to be happy for Eli and Gabi, he still could have said he would wait in the living room for Abigail and tried to get his hands on Gabi's phone.
Also, how does taking a photo of her app password screen help anything? He can't open the app without her phone, and he's not likely to get his hands on it twice.
Lani insisting Kristen come to JJ's "rescue" accomplished little too, other than giving the writers an opportunity to sneak in some silly dialogue about how JJ wasn't going to try to shoot her again because he was sober now.
Instead of an off-screen rehab that apparently lasted one day, JJ's rehab should have been on-screen. That would have been a meaty, emotional storyline that Casey Moss would have knocked out of the park.
But instead, JJ's drug use was merely a plot point to facilitate the next phase of this Gabi/Eli/Lani love triangle.
And this story isn't even worth it, because Lani's refusal to stand up to Gabi when she could have done so easily makes her look weak and Gabi's threatening an old woman's life to make Lani comply makes her over-the-top selfish and evil.
I know you. You wouldn't settle for a dishrag like Nicole when you could have me.Kristen
I wish we'd get on with Kristen's revenge plot against Gabi, though. That seems to have gone by the wayside so that she can spend every waking moment trying to convince Brady that he's in love with her.
Kristen sounds delusional most of the time, but there's a kernel of truth in her opinions about Brady.
Brady can only hold out for so long before he jumps into bed with any woman who shows interest in him. He's more or less a sex addict, and Kristen knows how to push that button.
And his pattern is always that he goes from hating Kristen to believing she's changed and that this time things will be different to Kristen breaking his heart so that he hates her again.
If this were written as the story of a man struggling to overcome addiction to an abusive partner, that would be one thing, but despite the unhealthy dynamic it's always written as if Brady and Kristen are end game.
And Brady's fake relationship with Nicole -- which we all know will turn real at some point since that's Brady's other pattern -- does not help matters any. All that accomplishes is Kristen wanting to beat up Nicole every time she sees her.
Now that Eric is back and seems to have left his obnoxious attitude toward Nicole in Boston, the only question is whether Nicole will worry that her ruse with Brady will hurt her chances with Eric or whether Eric and Brady will come to blows again over this.
I'm not particularly thrilled that Eric is back. He's been so cruel to Nicole and so judgmental to the world in general that it's shocking he was ever a priest, and the break from his brooding and nastiness was too short.
Plus, the baby Mickey cancer story is written so unrealistically. Everyone in town comments on how this seriously ill baby has so much color in her cheeks and doesn't appear sick at all despite multiple rounds of chemo and cancer that is resistant to treatment.
That makes no sense.
The emotional scenes with family comforting the distraught parents are strong, but they fall flat because it is so hard to believe this child is sick at all.
Medical storylines don't seem to be the current writing regime's forte, though. JJ detoxed in the hospital without a single on-screen visit from a doctor, and Victor's stroke isn't written much better.
Did anyone else wish that Kayla had blamed Maggie for Victor's high blood pressure?
Maggie was obnoxious, and Victor's stress probably went through the roof from her yelling at him about his texting Xander, not from him sending a text while he was in a hospital bed.
Victor has few ill effects from the stroke, too. He supposedly just had brain surgery but his mental function is fine and other than needing oxygen, he doesn't seem to have many physical problems, either.
Instead, his story is mostly about his fear that Ciara will tell someone the truth about Adrienne's death, while Ciara's is a toss-up between knowing this secret and worrying about Ben being on death row.
This is the problem with the plot-driven writing that Days engages in so often.
Stories such as Victor's stroke, JJ's drug addiction, or baby Mickey's cancer aren't stories in their own right. They're hastily thrown together plot points that exist to move someone else's story from Point A to Point B.
It's a shame, because these stories would be the dramatic, painful stuff that soap viewers live for if only they were written properly.
Instead, all we get are doppelgangers and secrets, and everything else is incidental.
Will: You could have just had Justin send the divorce papers to my lawyer.
Sonny: I could have. But we owe it to each other to sit down face-to-face, look each other in the eye, and agree that our marriage is over.
Will and Sonny's divorce paper scene was emotional, but this divorce isn't going to last.
With Ciara deciding to tell Will that he's innocent and Sonny starting to move on with Evan, it's obvious what's going to happen here.
Will should soon get out of jail and want to reclaim Sonny just as he's moved on.
Evan will likely turn out to be a bad guy, eventually he'll be disposed of, and Will and Sonny will marry for a third time.
We've seen this with this couple over and over, and there doesn't seem to be any way for the story to go except the obvious one.
I'd love for Days to surprise me with this one, but I'm not holding my breath.
What did you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics? Is this new Gina/Stevano development exciting or annoying?
How long do you think it'll be before Will gets out of jail?
And are you finding the medical storylines believable?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.
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.