Claire's return could have been such an emotional storyline.
Some of the right pieces were there on Days of Our Lives during the week of 6-01-20, especially John and Marlena's discussion of how difficult it might be to take care of her post-release from Bayview and Marlena's fears that Ciara's wedding could trigger Claire's mental illness.
Unfortunately, Days of Our Lives again relied on stereotypes and unrealistic scenarios that ruined the whole thing.
Claire's mental illness was never specified. She was a pyromaniac who set fires because she was pathologically jealous of Ciara, and like most murderers in Salem, used mental illness as a justification for her behavior.
That was terrible writing when it happened. It reinforced untrue and damaging stereotypes about people with mental illness being violent and dangerous, and Claire's behavior didn't fit her character.
Olivia Rose Keegan's return underscored the missed opportunity that awful storyline represented.
Claire sounded manic as she pled with Marlena to get her out of Bayview. Her speech was rushed and pressured, and her insistence she was fine now could easily have been attributed to the delusions of grandeur that often accompany manic episodes.
If Claire had been written as bipolar and the writing had been accurate, a story about her begging Marlena to return home while Marlena didn't think she was ready yet would have been strong drama. Olivia Rose Keegan would have knocked the scenes out of the park.
Instead, Marlena's reluctance to pull strings for Claire lasted only a few minutes, and her only qualms about the whole thing seemed to be that Claire might get upset by Ciara's upcoming wedding.
Marlena and John's conversation about it was honest enough and enjoyable enough, but it would have been better if they weren't on the same page.
John wants the little girl he once knew back and is eager for Claire to come home. Imagine the drama if John was overly optimistic, and Marlena couldn't talk him out of it.
That would be a realistic story about dealing with a relative's mental illness and would create strong drama for John and Marlena that didn't involve any unnecessary kidnappings or rescues. But I guess that's too much for Days of Our Lives nowadays.
Instead, Marlena gave John Claire's psychiatric record -- which should have been confidential -- and asked him to look at it and give her his opinion. To John's credit, he "went with his gut" without skimming more than the first page of the report.
But still, would it kill the writers to do some basic research about confidentiality?
Meanwhile, both Ben and Ciara and Claire's roommate offered plenty of insults about people with mental illness.
Ben implied that Ciara didn't need another crazy person in her life. At the same time, Claire's roommate called all the other residents "whack jobs" and suggested that nobody truly gets better enough to leave a mental hospital permanently.
Those kinds of statements are demeaning and unnecessary and do nothing to help clean up Days of Our Lives' poor reputation with mental health storylines.
And since Claire's roommate turned out to be Jake's missing ex-wife, Gwen, I had to wonder if Gwen really suffers from mental illness or is just pretending to because she needs a place to hide out. Given the way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter.
Ben and Ciara's story -- and their relationship -- has an even more severe problem.
Ben: Who are you going to pick for your Maid of Honor?
Ciara: That's a good question. My whole life has been you for a while, which makes thinking of other friends to ask challenging.
Ciara was right about one thing: her whole life is Ben, and she doesn't have other friends she could ask to stand up for her at her wedding.
That's not a good thing. It's not romantic, and it's not healthy.
Bo and Hope's daughter should have more going for her than being a pretty face and the partner to a good looking guy.
She should have a life of her own that Ben is part of, not a life that revolves around him, and the fact that neither she nor Ben sees any problem with her lack of interests outside of the relationship is disturbing.
Ciara going up against Brady might be just what she needs. As irritating as that storyline is, at least it's something Ciara could be doing on her own that involves using her brain.
Brady isn't much good as a saboteur so far. He didn't even give lip service to considering Ciara's proposals, he made Nicole suspicious, and he threw Ciara's hard work in a trash can that was easy for her to find.
A story about Ciara being as determined to save the company as Brady is to destroy it might be compelling, but since Ciara is now helping Ben and Jake find Gabi, it doesn't look like we're going to get that.
Meanwhile, Gabi became the latest kidnapping victim, mostly because she stupidly told a goon she was Jake's wife, so now he thinks she's a valuable bargaining chip.
It was unnecessary, but some viewers are thrilled for a break from Gabi's incessant whining about how she can't have kids, went to jail because of Abby's mental illness, and lost her husband too early. Can Jake pay the kidnappers to keep her? Please?
Anyway, Will and Sonny's agony over how to tell Ari that her mom had gotten arrested again was for nothing, but now they'll have to tell her that her mom got kidnapped.
Sooner or later, Ari will be old enough to decide that her mom is a loser who is forever getting into stupid situations and getting locked up for immature behavior. THAT would be an interesting story!
Sonny's bluntness with Gabi was refreshing, though, and harkened back to the golden days for these three, when they all lived together and raised Ari together, but Gabi was always doing stupid things that got on Sonny's nerves.
I'd much rather focus on Will and Sonny's quest for a new baby, though, and hopefully, some more of that is coming soon.
Brady and Sarah's revenge plan is almost as irritating as Gabi's endless quests for revenge.
Brady's plan to run Titan into the ground is selfish, shortsighted, and has been done a billion times before in recent DAYS history.
But this fake relationship between Brady and Sarah is even worse.
It's cruel, it's obnoxious, and it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that these two are not really together -- at least not right now.
It's easy to predict that they will be before Kristen sets foot in Salem again, though. Brady's been down this road before, and this is exactly how Gabi fell for Stefan.
Xander isn't falling for it so far, and Sarah's extreme hostility toward him every time Brady is in the room just makes Xander more sympathetic.
Yes, he switched the babies, and it was the wrong thing to do, but he was trying to help Sarah. And he tried to stop Kristen from stealing Sarah's embryo, despite what Brady claimed.
Sarah is just cruel for the sake of being cruel. Her behavior is over the top, and the whole thing smacks of junior high school.
Days of Our Lives wasn't all bad, though.
The Lani storyline is surprisingly compelling. Lani used to be my least favorite character, but now she's on the top of my list. It's amazing what better writing can do!
Lani's fear of miscarrying again makes sense, and the family scenes with her, Eli, Abe, and Julie were more like it. THIS is what I watch Days of Our Lives for -- families supporting each other no matter what forces are aligned against their members.
Abe and Julie's competition over who would get to officiate cracked me up, too, especially since it turned out Lani and Eli didn't want either of them to do it.
Let's hope this story stays realistic and doesn't veer off in any bizarre directions. I'd also love for Kristen to return to support Lani as she goes through this.
After all, the two bonded over having both lost babies. Now they could bond over both having a second chance.
The less said about Hope and Rafe joining forces to get custody of little David, the better. These two don't need to be more than friends, and the entire Zoey/Orpheus storyline is pointless.
You know, I used to be afraid of you because you were so powerful. But now I'm afraid of you because you are so damn stupid and it's dangerous.Zoey
Zoey's confrontation with Orpheus seemed like little more than a dig at the current political situation in the United States, and Orpheus seemed more like Clyde 2.0 than like the villain who has terrorized Salem on and off for over 30 years.
Realistically, Rafe should get custody, but does anyone care?
Rafe and Hope finding their way back to each other is also pointless since Galen Garing is slated to exit the canvas around September, but Hope and Steve don't work as a couple either.
So far, they're just friends, but with Steve refusing to tell Kayla how he feels about her and Hope taking care of him and his hangover, it doesn't seem like that'll last too long.
In Steve's dream sequence, Kayla put the blanket over him because she always takes care of him, and in reality, Hope did it. Days of Our Lives couldn't be any more obvious about this.
Steve: He was already proposing to her. HE WAS ON THE KNEE! What was I supposed to do?
Jack: So you rush in there, tell Justin to get out of the way, and then you get on your own knee.
The best part of this entire triangle during the week of 6-01-20 was Jack's conversation with Steve.
The difference between working-class, orphan Steve, and highly educated, raised-by-elites Jack was never clearer, with Jack making literary references that Steve didn't recognize. But the brothers' bond is as strong as ever, even if Steve refused to listen to Jack's advice.
It's also fascinating, considering that Steve used to be the more together older brother who had to talk his unconfident sibling into taking charge of things, and now the tables have turned.
Jennifer was right that Kayla isn't as happy with her engagement to Justin as it seems and that she deserves to know how Steve feels, but Jack was also right that it wasn't their place to tell her.
Jennifer was annoying me with her insistence on putting her nose into this. Just as Steve needs to stop trying to make decisions for Kayla, so does Jennifer.
And Justin seems to keep trying to act like Steve to hold onto Kayla's heart, so it's time to stop pretending this is anything other than what it is.
I feel bad for Justin, but he's not Steve, and he never will be. He needs to stop trying to win Kayla over and let her and Steve find their way back to one another.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics. What did you think about Claire's return, Gabi's kidnapping, and Steve's refusal to tell Kayla how he feels?
Hit the blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know. And don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives airs on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.