The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Salem. Sort of, anyway.
Traditionally, Christmas is when viewers get to take a break from the drama for a day, instead sharing in warm family moments and the annual ornament hanging party at the Horton House.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 12-20-21, though, the party was super small, and it almost didn’t happen thanks to the Devil. How well did this Christmas match viewer expectations?
With the Devil running around Salem, it was unsurprising, though annoying, that it chose to disrupt the Horton Christmas.
The timing sucked, though.
It’s been years since Bill Hayes was given the opportunity to sing on Days of Our Lives, and the Christmas carol scene offered a sweet family moment in the midst of all the chaos.
And then the Christmas tree caught on fire, ruining the whole thing. Maybe that was the point, but it was no way to begin the Christmas celebration!
From everything that followed, the writers’ intentions were clear: the Devil was supposed to try and fail to ruin Christmas so that everyone could celebrate the power of love on Christ’s birthday.
It didn’t quite work for two reasons. First, the Devil and the Hortons’ battle was so incredibly campy. The Devil magically manifesting lit tiki torches was bad enough, but John’s response was equally silly.
The whole battle would have fit in a Marvel movie but was too goofy to take seriously here, which detracted from the storyline’s intended message.
Plus, the Christmas party was so small that it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit while watching it.
That wasn’t entirely Days of Our Lives’ fault. Between smaller budgets and COVID restrictions, big parties have been out for a while.
But with 95% of the family missing, the ornament hanging lacked impact. It felt like there were more still shots of the ornaments on the tree than of people hanging them.
Even with COVID restrictions, there might have been a creative way to show a bigger party. People could have had staggered visits, with some people going home as others arrived, or scenes of people hanging their ornaments could have been filmed at different times so that Days of Our Lives could include more people.
Plus, most of the excuses for people’s absences were silly. The twins coming down with a cold was the only reasonable explanation for anyone’s absence.
Hope’s absence was especially egregious. Every time they need to explain her absence, Days of Our Lives’ writers use the same excuse: her plane can’t make it.
This excuse is almost as overused as the whole “they’re my past, you’re my future” nonsense. Retire it already! And better yet, recast Hope so that she can be part of Days of Our Lives.
Christmas is one thing, but Hope’s daughter is pregnant, and until very recently, her father was in Bayview and supposedly was suffering from advanced dementia. Hope wouldn’t stay away for months under these circumstances, and her absence is leaving a hole in these storylines that is not being explained away effectively.
And if Days of Our Lives doesn’t want to recast, then at least show some one-sided phone calls regularly. A text from Hope saying she can’t make it when no one mentioned her coming isn’t enough.
Jennifer’s homecoming took up less than ten percent of the Christmas Eve episode. Julie and Doug didn’t seem surprised to see her, and she was mainly in the background once they got to the Horton House.
Come on! This has been one of the most anticipated returns of 2021, and it fizzled out. It was great that Jennifer had a spare Christmas tree angel that she found at Laura’s, but she should have been way more than a bit player here.
Christmas itself should have taken up the entire hour, too, instead of being interspersed with all sorts of nonsense related to the Devil. Where was the annual Christmas toast, declaration that being together is more important than all the bad things that have happened this year, and mentions of all the people they wished could be there but couldn’t?
The last several Christmases have been lackluster, but this one was severely lacking in the holiday spirit no matter how many times characters said that getting rid of the Devil would be a Christmas miracle.
At least the Devil seems to be on its way out of Salem, but why should ropes hold it to a bed when it easily broke police-issued handcuffs at Thanksgiving?
And all of its plans to ruin Christmas failed, so there’s that, even though its plans were so ridiculous that they were unlikely to succeed anyway.
The Belle/Jan switch thing was yet another doppelganger/mask story, this time with a supernatural bent, and was a waste of Jan Spears.
Jan is a delightfully evil character who is single-mindedly focused on interfering with Belle and Shawn. She didn’t need any encouragement from the Devil to do what she did. Plus, Shawn believing that Jan was Belle, even with the Devil’s help with the “disguise,” required him to become so stupid that one wonders how he can be a decorated detective.
As Belle pointed out, Shawn should have been more careful when he knew that the Devil was going around disguising itself as other people to create mayhem.
Thankfully, Belle understood that Shawn didn’t willfully betray her, which puts her a step above people like Kayla, who, despite being a rape survivor herself, claimed Steve cheated on her when Ava forced him to have sex with her to save Kayla’s life.
Anyway, so that plan failed. What’s the next doppelganger story going to be since these writers can’t seem to go more than a month without one?
And I thought the Devil wanted Ben and Ciara’s baby. It kept screaming about that when it crashed the Christmas party. So what was with getting sidetracked with messing with Belle and Shawn, especially with this stupid plan that was doomed to failure?
The Devil’s plan to put Tripp in an irreversible coma also failed. Steve and Allie were quick to figure out what happened and find him, and he was even awake by the end of the hour.
All in all, the only thing the Devil got away with this Christmas was spilling the donated Christmas presents on the police station floor. So much for being an all-powerful demon that all mortals are supposed to fear.
Of course, one has to wonder if the Devil got into Philip and Lucas too.
Both men engaged in over-the-top, violent schemes to keep the woman they claim to love away from their rival. This behavior was out of character, unnecessary, and ultimately destroyed any chance of Philip/Chloe or Lucas/Sami being endgame.
Both of these couples have huge fanbases that were excited about the potential pairing, only to have the rug pulled out from under them with heavy-handed, one-sided writing that makes it clear that they were never endgame and never will be.
This happens a LOT on Days of Our Lives. The show announces that a fan favorite is returning, gives viewers hope that a long-awaited couple will get together, then does something to ruin that couple permanently.
It’s almost as if the writers enjoy giving fans false hope just to completely destroy the possibility of their favorite ship happening.
In Lucas’ case, it’s especially egregious because not only is it out of character for Lucas to be behind Sami’s kidnapping, but it turns EJ into an innocent victim when he is far from innocent.
EJ abused Sami terribly, and both Lucas and her kids are aware of it and have pointed it out repeatedly. But now Lucas is the evil interloper who kidnapped Sami to keep her away from her “true love” EJ.
At best, Lucas stooped to EJ’s level with this scheme. It makes all of his claims about EJ treating Sami like dirt hypocritical.
Jason: Who the hell are you?
Belle: I’m Belle Brady. You kidnapped my sister and I’m going to make you pay.
Jason: I did you a favor. That bitch is a pain in the ass and I stopped you from having to put up with her.
And to make matters worse, since Lucas pinned the kidnapping on EJ, Sami will likely gravitate toward him while EJ is in jail, only to break up with him forever when she finds out the truth. Ugh.
It’s also a total rerun of what Philip just did. Now both of Kate’s sons have framed their rival for a major crime to get them out of the way. Great.
Despite the awful reveal that Lucas kidnapped Sami, his scenes with Philip were among the best of the week.
Philip needed to know that people cared about him, and learning that Lucas missed him and loved him seemed to wake him up as to what he’d been doing.
It almost seemed like Philip was trying to compromise with suicidal feelings by merely faking his death instead of killing himself for real, and he got the opportunity to learn how many people did love him and mourn his “death.”
And once Lucas established that he needed his half-brother in his life, Philip came back to his senses and talked honestly with Lucas about the mess he’d made out of everything. It was refreshing to have two brothers supporting each other instead of being at each other’s throats.
Philip finally realized that Chloe and Brady were not sleeping together this time any more than they were the other times he went nuts with jealousy. He also admitted he needed help.
Thank goodness Kate and Victor sent him out of town. If Kate had confided in “Marlena,” that would have been a disaster.
While it would be wonderful to have some strong scenes of Philip getting therapy, that’s not Days of Our Lives’ style. The current writers tend not to take mental health issues or treatment seriously, and they probably want to keep this triangle going.
Who else thinks the next step is for Chloe to get closer to Brady in Philip’s absence, only for a cured Philip to return to Salem, ready to pick up where he left off with Chloe?
Johnny: I know about Chanel’s past. And I also know that we are 100% committed to each other.
Paulina: You sure about that? [to Chanel] Can you really be committed to Allie’s brother when it wasn’t that long ago you were kissing Allie?
Finally, Johnny and Chanel came back to Salem married to each other.
Nothing that their shocked parents said was wrong per se, though they were all talking past each other, and Johnny was never going to hear anything EJ had to say, anyway.
EJ and Johnny’s relationship dynamic hasn’t changed. EJ always tries to control what Johnny does, and Johnny resists bitterly.
Surprisingly, Sami was the most mature of the bunch about this, speaking quietly and calmly about her concerns. She’s been married so many times that claiming that marriage is forever sounded ridiculous coming from her, but that’s beside the point.
Paulina’s advice to let the kids make their own decisions was sound, but it’s not advice she’s ever followed before, either. Has losing Lani changed her, or will she go back to her old ways?
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics!
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Days of Our Lives airs on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes or watch on Peacock TV weeknights after 8 PM EST/5 PM PST.