Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-25-23 dropped the ball after one of the best Horton Christmases in recent memory. Christmas Day took a backseat to Stefan’s attempt to get out from under Clyde’s thumb and Paulina’s medical crisis.
Before anyone knew it, it was New Year’s Eve. Chanel struggled with guilt over leaving her ill mother alone, several Salemites watched sadly as the one they loved kissed another at midnight, and Tate found a nearly-dead Holly in the alley behind the Bistro. That’s some start to the New Year!
New Year’s drama is a typical soap trope, and Days of Our Lives has had even more eventful parties. Daniel died in a drunk driving accident as Salemites rang in 2016, and back in the 1980s, Emma Donovan was murdered during a New Year’s Party.
Still, there was a black cloud over the entire holiday week this time, and it made the drama more depressing than entertaining.
Paulina’s potential cancer story has all the ingredients for solid drama. Paulina is ambitious, strong-willed, and feisty; she won’t accept that she has to slow down and take care of herself because of a severe illness.
And Jackee Harry, Raven Bowens, and James Reynolds (assuming Abe deals with the news on-screen) have the acting chops to pull this story off.
But it started on Christmas Day, which magically morphed into New Year’s Eve, and the dialogue was more of a heavyhanded public service announcement about early cancer detection than anything else.
It didn’t help that the Christmas Day aspect of the Christmas episode was minimal. It’s almost as if the writers forgot it was a holiday and shoehorned in the traditional Christmas story reading at the last minute.
Paulina being an ill person reading to sick children could have been an emotional beat, but instead, she switched off her anxiety and impatience to go home so she could read to the children and then disappeared for the rest of the week.
If the writers had planned this better, Paulina could have learned about her potential cancer a few weeks or days before Christmas. Then Kayla could have convinced her that reading the Christmas story to the children would help her feel better about her diagnosis.
That would have been a strong story that encompassed the season’s spirit. Instead, it was rushed, and it didn’t help that when Paulina next demanded that Kayla hurry up and discharge her, it was supposed to be New Year’s Eve.
Just give me the prescriptions or whatever I need to get rid of this lump in my neck and move on with my life!
No wonder Paulina was peeved after sitting in Kayla’s office for an entire week waiting to hear about her next steps!
Paulina’s diagnosis was also all too predictable, with her stating loudly to anyone who would listen that there was no way she had cancer.
That stubborn denial was entirely in character for Paulina, but it would have helped if we’d gotten more vulnerability from her, perhaps in a scene with Abe.
And where was he? He supposedly came over for New Year’s Eve, but that was off-screen. Abe’s memory loss should make his emotional reaction to this news even more powerful.
It would be a gut punch for Abe to realize that Paulina could die before he remembers their shared past, their marriage, and their life together before his accident. He might become more desperate to remember or despondent if he fears he won’t be able to in time.
Let’s hope those scenes are coming. If not, the writers completely dropped the ball on this one.
Cancer storylines are hard to write. If they’re too realistic, they’ll turn viewers off who have lived through it or lost a loved one to the disease in real life. (The Good Doctor made this mistake with its overly realistic COVID storyline.) But if they skip important beats, the story feels rushed.
In this case, the public service announcement also overshadowed the story.
Johnny’s eye cancer being in remission was a good use of history, But multiple discussions about how he’s fine because he got treatment early and Chanel’s constant mention of the importance of early detection made these scenes feel too much like an infomercial about cancer detection.
I’d rather have her friends rally around her and reassure her that she can beat it because of who she is.
Her newfound friendship with Kate would come in handy here. Kate is a lung cancer survivor and a strong, take-no-prisoners type of woman like Paulina. Scenes between them will be gold if the writers avoid public service announcement territory.
Stefan’s attempt to get EJ on his side didn’t belong on Christmas Day, especially since the Kiriakises had their Christmas dinner the next day.
It would have made a ton more sense if the Kiriakis dinner and Christmas reading both aired on Christmas. That would have made it feel more like a holiday episode.
The Kiriakis dinner wasn’t great — what was with Alex’s entitled, obnoxious attitude? — and things went from bad to worse when Konstantin showed up, claimed he was going back to Greece, and then stepped on his own foot hard enough to sprain his ankle.
That trick made no sense, but Sarah’s insistence that Konstantin couldn’t return to Greece because of his injury made even less. He could have gotten a wheelchair at the airport to help him navigate the terminal and seen a doctor when he got back to Greece.
Disappointingly, he got away with staying in Salem, though John and Steve turned vigilante to fix that.
Steve used to be a hired goon, but I wasn’t a fan of this kidnapping. It gave Konstantin far too much screen time and wasn’t much different from when Abigail kidnapped Gwen and Gabi had to stop her from going too far.
The only exciting part of these scenes was when John grabbed Konstantin and froze like he used to do around statues of pagodas back in the day. Drake Hogysten said in a recent Soap Opera Digest interview that DAYS will soon revisit John’s pre-Pawn life — this must be the start of that story.
Hopefully, the writers won’t mess with his newfound revelation that Dick Van Dyke‘s character is John’s father. Even if Van Dyke is never seen on screen again (which would be a disappointment!), that sweet reunion needs to stay that way.
Jada and Rafe had the most boring scenes of the week, lying in bed all day and discussing how Gabi couldn’t make her traditional tamales since she’s in jail, then having more sex after one bite of Rafe’s attempt at recreating the recipe.
These endless sexathons are not realistic for people who have jobs and full lives. And Rafe and Jada are not an exciting couple; I spent these scenes wishing Jada would go downstairs and run into Everett!
Seriously, will she and her ex ever come face-to-face? It’s almost comical how Jada has an excuse not to be around whenever Everett is nearby.
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to New Year’s, Holly seemed to turn over a new leaf. After waking up hungover, she confessed her feelings and inappropriate behavior to Nicole, who told her Johnny was not a viable option.
Perhaps if Nicole had been a little harder on Holly about her underage drinking instead of so damn understanding, Holly would have thought twice about taking those pills.
Holly’s father died in a drunk driving accident, but Nicole shrugged off her daughter helping herself to the Scotch in the living room as no big deal. Holly’s worst punishment was Nicole telling Eric — the man who killed Daniel when he got behind the wheel drunk — that her daughter was hungover.
Even if Nicole didn’t want to confront Holly because she felt guilty about leaving her alone on her birthday, she could have told EJ her concerns or talked about them in her session with Marlena.
Instead, Nicole let the whole thing go, and Holly went on to take pills that were likely laced with something.
None of that makes any sense, but Days of Our Lives is determined to forget that Daniel existed because his death and Eric’s culpability interfere with the narrative that Eric is Nicole’s one true love.
This scenario will cause a few dilemmas. EJ knows Stefan is involved in the drug trade, and Stefan knows that Clyde is pushing tainted drugs that have killed other teenagers. But neither will likely come forward with the truth after Holly is saved.
Spoilers say Tate will be blamed for Holly’s drug use (insert eye-roll here), which will be devastating for Brady and will probably kill his relationship with Nicole.
And Ava already feels guilty about helping move tainted drugs through the Bistro — what will she do now?
There was plenty of other drama during that New Year’s Eve party. If there was any doubt that Brady is still into Theresa, his reaction to her kissing Alex proved it.
But what was with Theresa’s anger because Brady tried to encourage her about Bella? It seemed over-the-top, and if this couple weren’t already split up, I’d think they were headed for a break-up for the sake of drama.
Leo invited himself as usual, angling to get rehired. He wants to use his column to threaten to expose Sloan, but how will he get away with it when both Chad and Everett are watching him closely?
And if Leo publishes gossip about Stephanie and Harris, his two bosses might find themselves on the same side for once, angry that Leo is spreading her business.
Finally, Nicole’s therapy session was one of the better ones Marlena has handled recently. But Marlena has no business treating her ex-daughter-in-law, who is now married to Marlena’s ex-son-in-law!
Nicole: I’m so nervous I can’t speak and I’m starting to think this isn’t a good idea.
Marlena: Why would that be?
Nicole: For one thing, you’re Eric’s mother.
I wish Days of Our Lives would take mental health issues a little more seriously. Ari Zucker would rock a story about Nicole exploring her past pain and how it relates to her present circumstances.
But Marlena’s claim she can be objective in this case is so ridiculous it borders on malpractice.
Ethical guidelines require therapists to refer clients to someone else when there’s a conflict of interest, and Marlena’s already proven she can’t be trusted after the whole Shawn/Belle debacle.
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