Whenever Vivian pops up in Salem, it's guaranteed to be a wild ride.
She's usually threatening people and wreaking havoc while conducting herself like the upper-class diva she is.
But on Days of Our Lives during the week of 2-01-21, the Vivian baby-napping story took a crazy turn nobody was expecting.
Many of us guessed that Vivian was behind the disappearance of Lani and Eli's twins.
After all, nobody holds a grudge like Vivian Alamain, and Lani accidentally shot Vivian's beloved Stefan at point-blank range.
But for once, Days of Our Lives surprised us, or me anyway, when it turned out that Vivian's loyal henchman Ivan came up with this plot all on his own, and "Madam" had no clue what he was up to.
We need more surprises like this. It's no fun when we can predict absolutely everything that will happen months ahead of time.
That said, the rest of this story is silly.
First of all, Vivian was right when she explained why she was hesitant to accept these random babies Ivan had stolen for her.
Vivian: I thought at this stage of my life I'd be traveling and shopping... maybe the occasional fling. Not dealing with crying babies and diaper changes.
Ivan: Leave all that to me.
Vivian: Even the icky diaper changes?
Ivan: I will take care of everything. All you have to do is love those kids.
(As an aside: there is NO WAY that Vivian bought Ivan's story that he paid a reputable person to facilitate a legal adoption. She's smarter than that. She doesn't care.)
Vivian is getting up there in years, and while I have no doubt that she'd fawn over any grandchildren Jake managed to give her while having no use for the children's mother, I have my doubts she wants to start all over again with infants of her own now.
And Ivan doing all the caretaking defeats the purpose of her having the babies -- how is she going to bond with them if he does?
This story doesn't seem like Vivian's usual MO, either. She's displaying a much softer side than she usually does and expressed genuine concern for the babies' parents.
Of course, some of that might have been self-serving as she was trying to catch Ivan in a lie, and once she realizes she has Lani's babies, her attitude may change. But still.
We also have a new actress playing Vivian.
Louise Sorel's shoes are hard to fill, but Linda Dane is doing a great job so far. The transition to this Vivian is pretty seamless -- I haven't been distracted once by wondering how the original actress would have delivered the lines -- and she has good chemistry with Ivan.
But Vivian engaged in some fairly ridiculous fantasies that made me think this story is being played for laughs. When Lani and Eli came to the door in search of their babies, things got totally ridiculous.
Lani and Eli may be parents of missing children, but they are also supposed to be cops, and they let Ivan call the shots for no reason whatsoever.
They decided early on that breaking into the penthouse might put the babies at risk, so instead, they rang the doorbell over and over and had their guns drawn when Ivan came to the door.
I don't know exactly what real cops would do in this type of situation, but something tells me it's not that.
And then it got stupider.
Predictably, Ivan was unphased by the guns in his face and quickly used the promise of reuniting with their babies to manipulate Eli and Lani into dropping their guns, giving him their phones, and... going into an empty room that he quickly imprisoned them in.
Who didn't see that one coming?
It was mostly Lani who went along with Ivan's nonsense. Eli kept saying Ivan was crazy to think he'd listen to that but then cooperating because Lani said so.
You should have used your cop instincts, Eli. Lani isn't always on the ball, and this time was no exception.
It's too bad Vivian wasn't really behind that door, though. I'm eager for her to realize that "Jacob" and "Stefania" belong to the woman who she swore revenge on for killing Stefan.
Meanwhile, an equally silly kidnapping is taking place across town, or maybe across the world.
I was looking forward to Ciara's return so that we could stop with the endless grief scenes centered around someone who was most likely still alive.
But this story of where she is and where she's been all these months is ridiculous.
Apparently, some guy who works for Vincent is, for reasons unknown, locking Ciara in what looks like a luxury hotel room. She's not been tied up or abused in any way, other than her captor continually gloating that she will never see her husband again.
So she's basically in solitary confinement in a gorgeous room that looks like it probably costs thousands of dollars a night, and her captor encourages her to read Shakespeare to pass the time.
Making sense yet? It's not to me either.
If that wasn't all crazy enough, Ciara made an escape attempt that went nowhere because after she knocked her captor out, he only stayed unconscious for about five seconds.
And when she tried to run away, he pointed a gun at her, so naturally, she decided the best thing to do was stand there arguing with him and then eventually surrender.
I've lost count of how many brain cells died from writing out that nonsense, never mind watching it.
Ben's half of the story isn't much better since he got a premonition from his wedding photo falling on a fortune cookie and some more info in a semi-seance with wacky Susan Banks.
Don't get me wrong. Susan is one of my favorite minor characters, and in small doses, she is just quirky enough to be fun.
But this was a silly, random use of Susan, and it felt more like the writers were treading water with her until Kristen could come up with the idea of switching places.
Or at least, I assume that's what's going to happen next.
Kristen came up with some brilliant idea when she heard Susan was back in town; she usually kidnaps Susan and takes her place at least once per visit. The current writing team loves doppelganger stories and has only gone a couple of months without one.
So yeah, that's probably going to be a thing soon.
Anyway, maybe if I were a hardcore Cin (Ben/Ciara) shipper, I'd like this story better. But to me, it demonstrates everything problematic about this couple.
They're too damn co-dependent and have no lives outside of each other. Grief is one thing, but Ben literally has no life because Ciara isn't there to share every waking moment with.
And Ciara's entire motivation for playing escape-the-room is to get back to Ben, not to find her heartbroken mother, tell her brother she's alive, or anything else.
At least Ben has a friendship with Claire now, although it seems to be entirely based around their shared grief and determination to find Ciara.
And Days of Our Lives is pushing the psychic connection thing too hard with Ciara getting the same fortune that Ben did. I don't want ever to hear again that "nothing is truly lost if you follow your heart."
Elsewhere, Philip and Chloe kissed.
I've always enjoyed them together, though I still object to Days of Our Lives recycling all of Chloe's high school boyfriends.
And Philip admitting that he was distracted by Mimi last time he had a chance with Chloe made it sound like these two are eternally sixteen.
Chloe: I think you should spend more time worrying about your real-life drama and less time about imaginary drama between me and Brady.
Philip: How about I get my head on right, clean up my mess, and then we pick up where we left off?
Chloe: You don't give up, do you?
Philip: It's one of my superpowers.
Nevertheless, their post-kiss conversation was refreshing. It was honest, kind, and fun, and Philip was likable for once!
I could do without the Brady leg of this triangle, especially with Kristen getting violent over her belief that Chloe will "steal" Brady from her.
Kristen, for the last time, I'm not leaving you for Chloe. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Rachel and I are counting down the days til you get released.Brady
This could have been a moving story about how hard it is to be in prison and away from your loved ones, but instead, Kristen chose to do crazy things that added to her prison time, demonstrating she learned nothing after being jailed for impulsively stabbing Victor in the stomach.
And don't get me started on the cops and the prison guards' incompetence, who give Kristen free reign and ignore it when she makes violent threats right in front of them.
In other couple news, it looks like Rafe and Nicole are moving closer to a relationship.
I've shipped this couple for almost a decade. So, this is thrilling news... except for the Eric problem.
Eric's been given the Bo treatment, which means that he's off on the other side of the world, constantly calling Nicole to say he's coming home then calling the next day to say he's not.
Nicole would be an idiot to stay with him under those circumstances, and I was glad she stood up to his latest no-show incident. But the chances are that the second she moves on with Rafe, Eric will wise up and come to Salem to reclaim his wife.
I don't want that. Let Nicole have a clean break, get together with Rafe, and have some adventure involving the two working together instead of the usual break-up/make-up nonsense.
Finally, the biggest story on Days of Our Lives during the week of 2-01-21 was Laura's reveal that she paid off Gwen's mother to go away.
The flashbacks using Marci Miller as a young Jennifer and Cady McClain as a young Laura have gotten decidedly mixed reviews from fans. I enjoyed them, but some fans found them silly or cartoonish.
More important than the flashbacks was the story. I didn't have any sympathy for Laura when she finished her tale of woe. There was no reason not to let Jack know he had a daughter, and she caused all sorts of chaos by putting her nose in where it wasn't wanted or needed.
It's hard to believe that this flighty woman paid off Gwen's mother because she thought Jack and Jennifer couldn't weather him having fathered a child years before he and Jennifer met is a world-renowned psychiatrist who successfully treated Abby's DID.
I don't blame Jack and Jennifer for being furious. I especially liked the dressing down Jack gave Laura where he pointed out that as a psychiatrist, she should have realized what her actions would do to Gwen.
Laura wandered off afterward, which is fine -- we don't need her. But now the question is what Jack will do.
He feels guilty about Laura's decision and probably wants to try to forge a relationship with Gwen. But how can he do that when she's out to get the whole family and nearly destroyed Abigail's mind by drugging her drink?
Also, could someone please remember JJ exists and fill him in? Among other things, he needs to know that the woman he had a crush on not only is a venomous viper who wants to destroy his family but also is his half-sister.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics!
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Days of Our Lives continues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.