Days of Our Lives is at its best when it writes realistic, family-based stories.
This used to be the backbone of the serial when Alice and Tom Horton were still alive, but sadly, the writers have drifted far off course lately.
But on Days of Our Lives during the week of 9-21-20, there were two well-done storylines: Sami's exit and John's struggle with trauma-related personality changes.
Although Sami is one of my favorite characters, I can't say I'll miss her all that much.
For the most part, the writers emphasized her worst traits during this visit and ignored her softer side, making her difficult to watch.
And her last act was to try to manipulate Allie into mothering a baby she didn't want anything to do with, while simultaneously denigrating Nicole for no good reason.
Ugh. Bon voyage, Sami. Please stay in Europe for a while.
Despite the obnoxiousness, though, Sami's final scenes with Allie and Lucas were well-done, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had tears in my eyes when Allie and Sami hugged.
Allie and Sami have had a rough time because they are too alike. Headstrong, controlling Sami kept butting heads with her equally stubborn daughter, and I was glad that Sami had the self-awareness to realize it in the end.
Sami: It's been a rough couple of months for us.
Allie: You mean years.
Sami: Anyway. I think it's sort of in our genes, problems between mothers and daughters. It's because we're strong and we're stubborn and we don't like being told what to do and we're right. Even when we're wrong. I think it's because we love so deeply that we fight so much. There are a lot of times I thought I'd never speak to my mother again, but she was always there for me when I needed her, just like I will always be there for you. The bond between us is unbreakable whether you like it or not. I love you so much.
Allie: Mom, wait. I love you too.
If only it would lead to changes in her behavior, maybe Salem wouldn't be throwing a party at the prospect of Sami leaving town!
But the reason the Allie/Sami goodbye scene was so emotional wasn't because of Sami. It was because of Allie.
We all knew Allie would forgive her mother at the last minute -- that's the way it goes in Salem -- but given the intensity of her anger all this time, her admission that she loves Sami too was doubly heartwarming.
Sami's last scene with Lucas was equally touching.
It's obvious that these two are the loves of each others lives no matter how many women the writers randomly throw Lucas with or how many times Sami insists EJ is her first priority.
Lucas is the only man who has ever truly "gotten" Sami. He understands how she ticks, he supports her as much as he can, and he is unafraid to call her on it when she's being ridiculous and destructive.
EJ has been an afterthought all this time, and with good reason. He was never at all good to Sami and their "relationship" consisted of shouting matches and trying to outscheme each other.
The only thing EJ and Sami had in common was their desire to manipulate others to get their way, and their relationship brought out the worst qualities in each other. That's not what true love does. Soulmates should complement and complete each other, not encourage each other's bad behavior.
Hopefully, someday the writers figure that out and put Lucas and Sami back together like they ought to be.
Sami wasn't the only one to leave town -- Eric left the day before. But his ending wasn't nearly as effective as hers.
In a sense, their reasons were equally silly. Eric randomly decided to go back to the Congo, while Sami decided it was time to go back to Europe rather than having her other kids come join her in Salem.
But Eric's just seemed ridiculous. They had to do something, but this out-of-the-blue request for him to help African villagers and Nicole's decision to push him to go didn't seem realistic.
At least he wasn't on the run from bad guys he learned about five minutes earlier like Rafe and Gabi are, but this still seemed rushed and didn't quite make sense.
In the scheme of things, I guess it was a better ending than another random death or kidnapping, but it still leaves Nicole in limbo. She and Eric are finally married and now he's on another continent for the foreseeable future.
This would have been an acceptable ending if Nicole and Holly were leaving Salem too. The family could start a new life in Africa, similar to how Jack and Jennifer moved to London when JJ was a baby. But what sense does it make for Nicole to push Eric to leave her behind indefinitely to help people in the Congo?
Eric's original decision that his life was here now was far more logical. There had to be some other way he could help the villagers besides traveling there.
In addition, it was sadly ironic that this storyline was written and taped shortly before COVID-19 forced Days of Our Lives to temporarily halt production. Every time Eric talked about the Ebola outbreak I couldn't help thinking about the real-life situation.
Anyway, although Eric's exit story was all kinds of random, his goodbye scenes with his family were great. I especially liked Roman being part of his send-off. Roman is a peripheral character these days, which is a shame. I'd love for him to have a real storyline again.
Eric also left just as John was waking up from his coma.
John's struggle with his temper post-aneurysm has the potential to be a fantastic story. This is a realistic, medical-based storyline, if only the writers will not go off on any ridiculous flights of fantasy like they usually do when people are in the hospital.
Everyone in Salem will have to adjust to the new John and his tendency to blow up over things that wouldn't have bothered him before.
It was one thing when he was fighting with Sami -- many fans felt that was long overdue, and that his anger could have been half due to pent-up rage. But now he's picked fights with Marlena and Steve, too.
I loved how Steve handled it, too. It's not easy to be on the receiving end of someone else's paranoia, and just a few short months ago Steve would have happily taken the blame for things he did when he was Stevano.
But this time, he was able to react with compassion and acceptance once he understood why John was acting out.
And Drake Hogestyn is doing some of his best work as John alternately gets upset then realizes he's not acting like himself.
I do think that Steve, as well as Brady and any of John's other close family members, should be told ahead of time that John is struggling with impulse control and anger since the aneurysm. It won't help anything for his visitors to be caught off-guard when he blows up at them.
But either way, I'm looking forward to where this story is going.
Speaking of blow-ups, what the heck was with Justin's reaction after he rejected Bonnie's kiss?
I was glad that he was strong enough to push her away, because most men in Salem seem to go on autopilot, making out with any woman who makes a move toward them and regretting it later.
But that should have been the end of it. There was no need for the usually level-headed Justin to go get drunk because Bonnie made a pass at him.
The most charitable explanation was that Kayla's rejection and Bonnie looking like Adrienne were the real catalyst for his upset. But this looked like the beginning of some ridiculous Justin/Bonnie romance.
I don't want that. Romances based on someone looking like someone's dead spouse rarely work out. And if the writers do a switcheroo so that it turns out Bonnie is Adrienne in the end, that'll feel like a copout.
Speaking of ridiculous relationships, it's getting harder and harder to believe that Lani and Kristen are just friends.
Even if Days of Our Lives doesn't intend for them to move in a romantic direction, Eli should be worried that that's what's going on.
Kristen is Lani's first priority, not Eli. She regularly risks her career and her freedom for Kristen, she only forgave Eli because Kristen insisted on it, and she's made it clear over and over that if she has to choose between the two of them, she will always choose Kristen.
Either Lani is in love with Kristen or she is still suffering from the same psychological problems that led her to believe baby David was the reincarnation of her stillborn son. Whichever it is should be addressed, not swept under the rug so that the writers can tell us that Eli and Lani are a great love story without backing it up.
As for Brady, this scheme to confess to stabbing Victor was never going to work, Trask or no Trask.
I don't know why Belle bothered pitching this one to Trask. She should have hightalied it out of there and told Brady why.
But it was a stupid idea anyway that Brady had already tried once, and it's entirely unnecessary.
Why can't Victor use his power and influence to get the charges dropped to get back in Brady's good graces without anyone lying about who did what?
This just gives Trask an opportunity to be obnoxious while putting Kristen on trial for a different crime than the one she's accused of. I wonder if JJ is going to come back to see justice done in Haley's case. If so, that's the only saving grace in this silly story.
Yay, Abigail's back. But boo to Gwen working with Rolf to get revenge for reasons unknown.
I don't think the writers had any clue what her motive was when they wrote these scenes, and that's why Gwen said Rolf would find out when she was ready.
This seemed like a tailor-made Gabi plotline, and since Camila Banus left Days of Our Lives, they needed someone else to do it. So they shoehorned Gwen into the villain role even though she was supposed to have been in Bayview when Abigail was poisoned.
The impossibility of it all isn't the worst part of this storyline. The continued mocking of mental health issues is.
Gwen constantly uses words like "cuckoo," "poster child for nut cases," and the like to describe Abigail, then sarcastically pretends to apologize when people call her out on it.
This is beyond obnoxious, especially airing at the end of Suicide Prevention Month. Mental illness is not a joke, nor is it something that randomly turns people violent.
Kayla excused Tripp from holding her hostage and faking medical records that might have led to patient deaths because he was "grieving and angry" too.
Can we not keep perpetuating the myth that strong emotions are an excuse for bad behavior and that mental health issues are synonymous with being out of control and violent? Please?
And with Jan befriending Claire, we're probably in for more of this kind of nonsense, too.
Not that the Jan/Claire story isn't compelling, but it's yet another example of someone with mental-health related violence wandering around Salem while everyone argues about whether she's really cured. Enough already!
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought about Days of Our Lives during the week of 9-21-20.
And if you're hungry for more Days of Our Lives chat, be sure 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.