Custody battles are a soap staple, and with good reason.
When people who were once in love decide they can't stand the sight of each other, things can get ugly and children can get caught in the crossfire. Parents can lose sight of what it's doing to their kids to fight over them, and the drama can be off the charts.
Brady and Theresa's custody hearing heated up on Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-2-18. It was definitely dramatic, and it quickly devolved into a competition to see who could trash who the most.
It was entertaining, though not at all realistic. But really, should either of these two seemingly irresponsible people be responsible for the welfare of a small child?
Despite Judge Duncan's admonishment that the court needed evidence that one parent or the other was unfit before she could grant sole custody, the hearing quickly devolved into a bunch of seemingly irrelevant nonsense.
Eve brought Chloe in as a surprise witness, and Chloe complained about Theresa leaving her in Mexico and calling Mateo to warn him about John and Paul's planned ambush -- problematic behavior to be sure, but did it necessarily prove that Theresa was an unfit mother?
Having Chloe be involved at all was strange because the judge was the same one who had awarded custody of Holly to her. Theresa's lawyer brought up that previous custody suit to discredit her, yet the judge didn't seem to have any recognition of that fact.
I guess she was trying to be objective, but it made me feel as if the writers didn't fully remember the previous storyline.
Besides, if Ted wanted to discredit Chloe, he really should have pointed out that she kidnapped her own son to keep him away from his father and therefore wasn't the best judge of who was a good parent.
My son is growing up without a father because his father passed away. And I see what that's doing to him. He's confused. He's sad. What mother would wish that on her own son?Chloe
And since Chloe never sees her son -- he stays with her parents in New York -- her claim that she knows how he's suffering due to his father's death was dubious in addition to being irrelevant to Theresa's case.
Eve might have called Chloe, but Theresa countered by calling one person after another who was actually on Brady's side. It seemed like they all stood up for Brady on the stand and apologized to him for being forced to say anything detrimental.
Theresa's claims that Brady was unfit were all centered around the fact that he seduced Eve to steal her company and has had several fiancees. That came uncomfortably close to sex-shaming for me.
I don't like Brady's tendency to jump from one love of his life to the next, but unless it can be proven that he paraded all these exes in front of Tate and that Tate was traumatized by losing these people he was attached to, it's irrelevant to his fitness as a parent.
Brady's history as an addict was the only thing that was actually relevant, but as Maggie pointed out, Tate was always taken care of at times that Brady was incapacitated.
I think it would have been a much stronger argument would have been the fact that he had been obsessed with Nicole and abusive towards her, bringing up the question of whether he had ever also been abusive towards Tate.
Ted dropped a bombshell towards the end of the custody hearing, implying that Brady is guilty of murder.
Brady is actually only guilty of blackmail, a crime Theresa has also often employed, and if the hearing was actually focused on what was best for Tate instead of on putting every witness on trial and trying to prove he or she was a bad person, the murder accusation never would have come up.
It was also ridiculous that Theresa didn't know Ted was going to ask about this.
I really dislike that Theresa is not only written as desperate, manipulative, and vindictive but also as an idiot.
I have a hard time believing that it never occurred to her that Brady might strike back by demanding full custody too or that when she told her lawyer to go after him using any means necessary, he might accuse him of a serious crime.
Theresa may be a schemer, but she's also smart and cunning, and I'm tired of characters -- especially women -- being dumbed down to suit the plot.
What did you do with your lunch break, Theresa? Plot 50 new ways to wreck Brady's life?Eve
In any event, the between court appearance scenes convinced me that neither Brady or Theresa is mature enough to take care of a three-year-old. They were acting like preschoolers themselves, trading barbs every chance they got and verbally abusing one another instead of allowing their lawyers to handle the case.
Theresa was angry that Brady and Eve actually believed the lie she told about going back to being a party girl and didn't magically realize she was being held against her will as a sex slave when they didn't hear from her from months on end, which was ridiculous. Brady responded by yelling at her.
Neither one of them seemed focused on what was best for Tate, just on calling each other names. I felt bad for Tate, having these two as parents!
Meanwhile, for some inexplicable reason, JJ went to comfort Lani after the death of her baby instead of being there for Theresa like he'd promised. Then, when he got Theresa's text (which conveniently took forever to arrive), he decided to head back right away... and wasn't seen again until long after the hearing had resumed.
I know time can be wonky in Salem, but that was just ridiculous. I guess JJ hit 4th of July traffic, since Salem is the only place in America where the court is open on Independence Day.
Seriously, though, it seemed like the writers completely forgot that he told Lani he was going to head back to court, since he was next seen talking to Eric about how he wanted to support Theresa.
The timeline seemed to be disjointed, too, since it was dark outside the Pub when they met, yet the trial was still going on, and it wasn't clear from the dialogue whether JJ had seen Lani the same day or not.
: Because of what I've been through, I have a new rule. The only way to deal with mistakes , big or small, is to forgive yourself, be grateful for whatever the lesson in them is, and then let it go.JJ
I don't like the idea of JJ slowly gravitating back towards a relationship with his rapist. When he told Lani she burned their whole relationship down, it should have been the permanent end of this awful pairing.
I did like JJ's wisdom and the advice he gave Lani, not that she deserves a friend like him.
But I also wished we'd seen him struggle with his emotions and grow into his new way of being on-screen instead of being given one pseudo-therapy session where Eric bought him breakfast before he was magically cured of his suicidal depression.
As much as I like JJ's friendship with Theresa -- and Theresa needs a friend like him, especially since the rest of Salem is all too eager to judge her -- his reasons for supporting her custody bid are proof he still needs therapy that he will never receive.
JJ feels Theresa's insistence on being Tate's sole custodian is equivalent to his desire to have been the father of Lani's baby.
Leaving aside the fact that it was completely out of character for JJ to be happy about having a baby out of wedlock with a woman he no longer wanted to be with, Theresa sharing custody of Tate with Brady is in no way analogous to JJ's heartbreak over learning Lani's baby was not his.
A proper therapist would explore the feelings that lie beneath JJ's attachment to Lani's baby and his need to make up for that loss by supporting Theresa despite the fact that it may not be good for his mental health to get involved in her drama.
Instead, we get Eric, who was always Theresa's biggest champion before, suddenly warning JJ every chance he gets that Theresa is trouble and that he should stay away without even bothering to probe for what this relationship means to JJ right now.
Worse still is the way Abigail's mental illness and her subsequent sexual assault are being treated.
Instead of treating Abigail's Dissociative Identity Disorder at all realistically, the writers chose to give her back her memories from when she was dissociated -- something which does not happen during integration.
The reason for this faulty depiction of integration of alters seems to be so that Abigail can claim that she now remembers consenting to sex with Stefan and thus was not raped.
In other words, the writers wanted an out so that instead of treating a rape story as rape, they can proceed with a cheating/who's-the-daddy story.
There are no words for how offensive this is.
It's almost worse than JJ's rape-never-treated-as-rape because viewers were given a token acknowledgment that what happened was non-consensual, only for it to be taken away again via a lie about how the mental illness Abigail is supposed to be suffering from works.
It's also an insult to viewers' intelligence. Even if you don't agree with the argument that Abigail's severe mental illness rendered her incapable of consenting to sex, there's the fact that 30 seconds before the sex happened she literally told Stefan not to touch her!
Abigail supposedly remembers everything, but this fact keeps getting skipped.
Why? Because it makes it clear that this was a non-consensual encounter, and treating Abby's rape as rape interferes with the story the writers want to tell.
The saddest thing about this is that a story about a woman struggling with the decision about what to do after a rape results in pregnancy could be a stronger, more powerful story than yet another who's-the-daddy story.
By denying that Stefan raped Abby, the writers are not only implying that rape is okay and that victims should be blamed for it, but also cheating the viewers of a story worth watching.
The story as written doesn't make much sense, either.
Despite some pseudo-scientific babble from Gabi about how Abby can't tell the paternity of her baby without getting DNA from both brothers, there's no reason for her to need both samples other than it being a good way to get Stefan suspicious about Gabi's motives.
And Abby should be wondering why Gabi -- the only person who thought that Lani should not hide the baby's true paternity from JJ -- is encouraging her to hide the baby's potential paternity from Chad. She also should think twice about doing it after the way Lani's deception hurt her brother.
So, in summary, instead of a powerful story about rape and pregnancy, we have a nonsensical version of the exact same story we had three years ago when Abby didn't know if her baby was Ben's or Chad's.
Ciara and Ben's story took a dark turn that again reinforced the myth that people with mental illness are violent and dangerous.
All of a sudden, Ben needed medication that he couldn't get because the cops were after him. As a result, he began hallucinating. He thought Ciara was handcuffed to the bed when she wasn't and saw his father encouraging him to kill her.
First of all, Ben's motive for killing the other women he killed had nothing to do with hallucinating about Clyde or anyone else.
It had to do with him being jealous of Chad and wanting to get revenge on him by framing him for the murder of people who had nothing to do with the situation.
He was not suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time he was arrested for kidnapping Abby and for all the murders; that was added in recently in order to accommodate his redemption storyline, or whatever it is this is supposed to be.
The minute Ben missed a dose of his medication, he seemed to turn into a dry drunk -- a person who has the mood swings and reduced inhibitions of a drunk person despite not having touched a drop of alcohol and who is often verbally abusive and out of touch with reality.
Then he started randomly hallucinating.
James Read, Robert Scott Wilson, and Victoria Konefal are all phenomenal actors and these scenes were intense and scary.
But they were also ridiculous, especially Ben snapping out of it because Ciara touched his hand -- something that is clearly a set up for a ridiculous love story where she can bring him back from the brink of insanity because of their heart connection.
Either he needs medication to stop him from losing touch with reality or he doesn't -- which is it?
In addition, Ben's claim that Ciara is the first person who's ever been nice to him and that's why he couldn't kill her is a lie. Paige was always nice to him too, and he killed her for no reason at all.
I need my meds and I can't get them because the cops are after me and I didn't do anything wrong!Ben
One thing I do like about this story was that it touches on the difficulties ex-prisoners have in re-establishing their lives.
Ben's difficulty obtaining medication because the cops were after him was an example of the types of barriers former prisoners often face on a daily basis, and I would love to see a story about an ex-prisoner trying to move forward in a positive direction and finding himself blocked at every turn.
I don't think that story can be told with a serial killer as the star, and the references to unfair conditions for ex-prisoners was probably an accident, but it's about the only part of this that interests me at all.
The cops being too incompetent to find Ciara, the way Claire waffles back and forth between being terrified for Ciara and wanting Tripp to be into her, and Ben's stereotypical violent mental illness aren't compelling; they're irritating.
The only good thing about the cabin being set on fire again is that it means this story is just about over.
Finally, Sonny and Will got involved in a ridiculous story after Leo tried to choke Will and Sonny accidentally killed him when he pulled him off his ex's throat.
As happens at least once a year on DAYS, Sonny decided he couldn't report the incident to the police. Instead, he and Will hid the body in a rug, lied about what was going on, and eventually dumped it.
This kind of nonsense works as comic relief, I guess, but it was a poor vehicle for getting Hope and Rafe together when they did this with Stefano's body and it's just as awful as a way to reunite Will and Sonny.
Will is lying to Paul over and over and secretly helping Sonny stage a car accident -- all to cover up an accidental death that occurred because Leo was trying to kill Will.
Sonny claimed that he couldn't go to the cops because it would look suspicious, but what does he think all this rigamarole does? Calling his lawyer as well as the cops would have been the smart thing to do here, and I wish just once someone would do that.
And if Leo turns out to somehow still be alive like Nick was after Gabi, Sami, and Kate threw him in the river during a similar incident, I'm going to be extremely irritated.
So now it's your turn, fellow DAYS Fanatics. Who do you think should get custody of Tate? What do you think of this Abigail pregnancy story? And are you enjoying Ben's struggle with madness?
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.