Honesty is always the best policy, but what soap opera could survive if its characters realized that?
Several truth bombs hit Salem on Days of Our Lives during the week of 1-16-23, effectively ending blackmail schemes but leaving plenty of problems in their wake.
Among the best news: Brady actually disciplined his bratty daughter. He wasn’t forceful enough, but at least he tried to impress on her that she doesn’t get to talk to Chloe any way she feels like.
If Brady had been honest with Rachel long ago, it would have prevented so many problems. It’s nice that he didn’t want to interfere with her relationship with Kristen, but he didn’t do her any favors by pretending that Kristen was a decent human being.
[Rachel sees Brady and Chloe hugging.]
Rachel: You! Get away from my daddy!
Brady: Rachel. You will not talk to her that way, okay? Chloe has done nothing wrong.
Rachel: Mommy said she had to move out because of her.
Brady: Listen to me. Mommy says a lot of things that are not true.
Rachel: You told on Mommy, didn’t you? And that’s why the police came.
Brady: Honey, the police came because Mommy broke the law, okay?
Chloe: I would never do anything to hurt you, Rachel.
Rachel: You ruined everything. I hate you!
Brady: Rachel! That’s it. You need a timeout. I want you to go to your bedroom right now. I want you to cool off, and I will be in there in a minute.
Rachel: You seem mad.
Brady: I’m not gonna be mad when we talk, sweetie, okay? But you and I, we will get some things straight. I love you. Go.
That mistake led to Kristen being able to manipulate Rachel so easily in the few months Kristen was around. Kristen’s tried to go on the run with Rachel twice and has poisoned her mind countless times in the interim.
That’s abusive and dangerous, and Brady did nothing to protect his daughter from it.
Understandably, Rachel is upset that her mother was arrested again. Those feelings are legitimate, but that doesn’t make her bratty behavior in response to it acceptable. Since it didn’t seem that Brady had ever disciplined her before, it’ll be a big shock for her to discover that her words now have consequences, but better late than never!
Chloe took the ridiculous position that the universe was using a small child’s words to tell her she was not meant to be with Brady. What?
It’s incredibly self-centered to assume a child’s acting out is due to a Higher Power giving you a message about your love life. Additionally, Brady was right when he said that his young daughter doesn’t get to decide who he dates.
Rachel’s well-being should be a priority for Brady, but that doesn’t mean Rachel should get the final say over his love life or any other adult decisions.
Come on, Chloe! Nancy raised her to be stronger than this; would she accept this behavior from Parker? If not, she shouldn’t give this type of power to Brady’s daughter.
Chloe shouldn’t be so quick to take Brady back, but his daughter throwing a tantrum about it has nothing to do with why.
Brady let Chloe suffer needlessly for months; he shouldn’t get to pick up where he left off as if nothing happened. And Chloe hasn’t resolved her feelings toward Stefan, which she needs to do before she moves on with anyone.
Was Brady’s attempt to discipline Rachel too little too late?
He was barely forceful, emphasizing how much he loved her rather than ensuring that she understood that he was in charge, and she’s been a brat for a while.
We can expect more disrespectful and inappropriate behavior from this child in the coming months, especially if Brady insists on continuing a friendship or anything else with Chloe. This problem will worsen before it improves, and no one should be naive enough to think one semi-stern talking to is enough to resolve it.
Rachel’s upset would be more believable if Kristen were around for more than a few months out of her life. Kristen has always been in jail or on the run; the last few months, where she blackmailed her way into living full-time with Brady and Rachel, have been the exception to the rule.
Still, Rachel believed in the fairy tale of her parents getting back together, thanks in no small part to Kristen’s lies and manipulation, and now her world is crumbling.
It sucks that Marlena “died,” as she would be the person who could help Brady and Rachel navigate this painful transition. Brady needs to be firm with Rachel while also being empathetic about her disappointment that her parents will never be together and her mother is going back to prison.
Let’s hope Kristen goes to prison! While Johnny’s willingness to testify against her got Rafe the warrant, I don’t like how quickly the cops are jumping to discussing deals that include immunity.
Rafe could be tricking Kristen, though it’s not legal to deny her a lawyer now that she’s asked for one. He could be promising a deal that is never going to materialize.
But it’s equally possible that Kristen will through Li under the bus and then show back up at Brady’s doorstep, demanding to see her daughter.
Ugh. That’s the last thing anyone needs, especially Rachel. Kristen’s skated enough times in her life; can this be the one time she has to pay for what she’s done?
Besides, far too many people have threatened to kill her or taken steps in that direction.
Belle: I’m scared because if anything happens to Mom, Claire… she loves her so much. Did you know that Mom emails her every single day?
Eric: I’m not surprised.
Belle: If we’d known Mom could relapse, we would have insisted Claire come home for the holidays.
Eric: If we’d known Mom was going to relapse, we would have done a lot of things differently.
Belle: And now Claire missed Mom’s last Christmas.
Eric: We don’t know that. John, he’s in there with Sarah and she is doing everything she can do.
Belle: Well, has anyone murdered Kristen yet? Because if not, I’ll volunteer.
There’s been so much death and destruction in Salem recently. We don’t need another murder mystery, especially since those tend to follow the formula of one person after another sitting in jail (or the interrogation room) until the cops finally find the real culprit.
Kristen was determined to bring EJ down. I was proud of him for not giving in.
He should never have succumbed to Kristen’s blackmail in the first place. The best way to get rid of it was to tell the truth and let the cards fall where they may.
EJ seemed more mature than he has in a while when he confe
I was being upfront with you when I told you you’re playing against a champion. I’m gonna get you, EJ. And you’re not gonna see me coming.
Stefan [to a non-present EJ]
Still, too many people twisted the truth to keep EJ’s secret, so I’m glad it’s out in the open!
Much of the week was dedicated to Marlena’s “death.” Everyone grieved, prayed, and shared tearful memories before she passed away in John’s arms.
Marlena: I love that one [photo] too. It’s the love in your eyes.
John: And yours.
Marlena: John, how did this go so fast?
John: I don’t know. I just want to do this all over again, Doc.
Marlena got the kind of send-off that should be reserved for Victor if and when the series catches up to John Aniston’s real-life death (Victor got a tribute after Aniston’s final episode aired, but the character is still alive on-screen.).
While her family’s grief was understandable and moving, it was hard to take seriously when it’s so unlikely that Marlena won’t turn up alive sooner rather than later.
Plus, there was a serious imbalance here. Kayla and Kate died within hours of their diagnosis, but Marlena hung on for a week or more and died surrounded by family.
Why was Marlena able to survive so much longer than the other two women?
The writers haven’t given any explanation, and it’s a bad move. By giving Marlena this send-off while ushering Kate and Kayla off-screen within moments of diagnosis, Days of Our Lives is playing favorites, and they’re not trying to hide it.
Marlena is half of a DAYS super couple, but so was Kayla, and Kate/Roman have a lot of fans. Viewers who loved Kayla or Kate or who shipped their pairings feel shortchanged, and they should.
All three women should have had a big send-off. Yes, it would have been depressing (if you overlook the fact that they will likely all be back soon.) But it wouldn’t have made it look like the writers only cared about one character when three died.
Marlena’s send-off was odd for another reason. It took place on a rooftop, and Chanel almost fell trying to help Johnny set up the slideshow. Yet, no one made the connection to Chanel having pushed her rapist’s wife off a different rooftop.
Chanel doesn’t have to have full-blown PTSD, but Sloan is suing her, and she just got out of jail for that incident. How could she not make that connection in her mind, particularly when she fell?
These are the small details the writers should pay more attention to. It would make stories such as Chanel’s reveal that she “murdered” a woman on a rooftop feel that much more real.
Disconnects of this nature don’t affect the plot as a whole, but they make it seem like DAYS creates backstories solely as plot points instead of stories in their own right.
It’s obvious where this is going. Chanel wants to be a good friend to Johnny, which means Allie will walk in on them hugging right after his grandmother (who is also Allie’s grandma!) passes away. Cue unnecessary jealousy and fights, just as we thought this awful Johnny/Chanel/Allie triangle was over!
The slideshow was an effective send-off for Marlena despite the problems.
While Marlena’s death feels like contrived nonsense, her sentiment that time has gone too fast is so relatable. Anyone who has gone from parent to grandparent or young adult to middle-aged knows exactly what she meant and may wish they could turn back the clock.
Those old photos were juxtaposed perfectly with a white-haired John holding a close-to-death Marlena, especially when some photos also featured Alice, Tom, Caroline, or Shawn Sr — four important characters who left the world when the actors playing them did.
Caroline also got some mentions from Brady and Allie, two characters who don’t often interact.
Allie: I remember when I was little, everyone used to make fun of Great-Grandma Caroline because she was always making Novenas. And she’d say, “You can laugh all you want, but I have enough faith for the whole family.” She did.
Brady: She did, yeah. She was always so good at making Belle and I feel like part of her family. You know, when I was taking my first driver’s test, she gave me one of those, um – oh, God, you wear it around your neck. What is it?
Allie: Oh yeah. A scapular.
Brady: Scap – yeah.
Brady: And she said, “Brady, it’s not magic, but it’s just a way for you to tell God that you need a little help.” Oh, Allie, I need a little help right now.
Allie: Yeah, me too. I could use a little of her faith cause right now, mine’s a little shaky.
These family reminiscences are a big part of why viewers have stuck with Days of Our Lives for over 50 years. Family used to be the backbone of this series, and now that so many Salem matriarchs and patriarchs have passed away, the only way to stay connected to them is via stories.
Still, I wondered if Kayla will encounter a stand-in for Peggy McKay’s Caroline when she goes to heaven since Caroline is suddenly getting so many mentions.
That could be emotional, even though it’ll be hard to accept a replacement for the late actress who made Caroline into such an iconic role.
A few other truth bombs hit Salem, though none as powerful as EJ confessing his sin or Brady beginning to undo the mess he made with Kristen.
Stephanie spent a lot of time crying because she didn’t get to say goodbye to her mother before Kayla died.
Understandably, she’s upset. She lived only a few minutes from the hospital, yet didn’t get the message about Kayla’s critical illness until it was too late. And Alex had no right to turn her phone off without permission; he way overstepped her boundaries and made her realize that he was still the immature semi-stalker he was when they first met.
Still, this is now an excuse to cry on Chad’s shoulder, and in Salem, that often leads to sex.
Stephanie and Chad need to get on the slow-buildup train. Chad is still grieving Abigail, and now Stephanie is grieving her mother’s death. That’s a recipe for relationship disaster!
Surprisingly, I felt bad for Leo when Sonny kicked him out after learning about Leo’s part in the Creepy Clown Kidnapping Scandal of 2023.
Leo: Sonny, before I go, there’s one thing I want you to know. I really did care about you. Your friendship meant — MEANS — everything to me.
Sonny: Come on. You were just playing me the entire time.
Leo: I wasn’t. The bond we had, it was real. It was sweet and special and great, and deep down I am certain you know that’s true.
Leo never learns. He made this same speech to Craig after their relationship imploded, thanks to Leo’s ex revealing that Leo was only supposed to con Craig into marriage.
Sonny had been pushing for Craig to learn the truth about Leo, only to turn around and give Leo a second chance — until he learned about Leo’s latest trick. I believe that Leo planned to get his act together and wasn’t playing Sonny, but he screwed himself over again.
I don’t believe that Leo had no clue that he had feelings for Sonny.
His game this time was exactly what he told Sloan: to be a good friend to Sonny and swoop in when Sonny and Will’s long-distance relationship imploded. He didn’t mind helping Sonny and Will’s estrangement, but he didn’t have a big plan beyond that.
Gabi made me laugh when she dumped ice on Li. Did he think getting back in her good graces would be easy?
Across town, the Sarah/Xander/Gwen stuff took a predictable and silly turn.
Xander always drinks himself into a stupor when Sarah isn’t around, so that wasn’t a surprise, nor was Sarah walking in on what looked like a compromising position.
Salem has an excess of people who jump to the wrong conclusion, and Sarah was no exception, though Gwen didn’t help anything by opening the door while only half-dressed!
Since Sarah supposedly is divorcing Xander, she has nothing to say. Xander can be with whoever he wants. But Sarah will say plenty anyway.
What do you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics? Did it irk you that Marlena got far more of a send-off than Kayla and Kate? Did Brady finally discipline Rachel properly? And will Kristen go to jail, or will she get herself out of trouble again?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts!
Don’t forget to check on Sunday for the latest Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.