Serious injuries and miraculous recoveries are a soap opera staple, with good reason.
When a family member is injured or dying, friends and family bond together and emotions run high.
These kinds of realistic, relationship-driven stories were once Days of Our Lives' backbone, and they are seen all too infrequently nowadays.
But on Days of Our Lives during the week of 9-10-18, viewers were treated to the heartwrenching story of Belle and John fighting over what to do about Marlena's Advance Directive demanding that she not be placed on a ventilator.
While there were definitely some problems with this storyline, the drama was intense. Drake Hogysten continued to do amazing work as John bounced back and forth between grief, anger, and determination to keep fighting for Marlena. I especially loved him admitting that this time Marlena was in trouble that he couldn't fix.
As much as I hate the whole trope of Marlena always being the damsel in distress that John has to rescue, the fact is that an invisible enemy like a serious illness would be doubly hard for John to bear because he literally could do nothing to save Marlena from it.
John kept taking his grief out on Belle, telling her over and over that he loved her but that he was ashamed to call her his daughter because she wouldn't hide the Advance Directive, but somehow that didn't make him unlikeable.
I wanted him to stop blaming Belle, who was only doing what she thought she was legally and morally required to do, but at the same time I felt for him.
I'm going to go to the chapel and pray that God's will be done, whatever the hell that is.John
An interesting side note to all of this was the crisis of faith John seemed to be experiencing.
Long-time viewers may recall that Eric is not the only ex-priest in the family -- years ago, John gave up the priesthood -- so for him to constantly be questioning God's will and whether God was even listening to his prayers in all this was a powerful sideline that I hope the show explores more.
I felt terrible for Belle, who was caught in the middle because of her role as Marlena's health care proxy, but there was one problem.
Marlena's Advance Directive stated that no heroic measures were to be taken and that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means if there was no hope of recovery. But that was not what this situation was.
Marlena had been unconscious for a day or less when Belle decided the Advance Directive meant Marlena didn't consent to being attached to the ventilator. Supposedly she was on antibiotics to help control the infection, which might allow her to awaken and breathe on her own again.
It didn't seem like the Advance Directive applied to this situation, yet Kayla told Belle that there was very slim hope for Marlena and everyone pretty much agreed that the document required she be removed from ventilation before enough time had even passed to see whether the antibiotics would work or not!
This is a problem that DAYS often suffers from. Instead of writing one coherent story, details are changed in the middle to make the story worse, and whenever they do that it weakens the reality of the situation.
Viewers are not stupid and often remember details like this, and it makes it feel like contrived drama whenever those details are changed to accommodate the plot.
And in this case, that's a shame because there is more than enough drama to sustain the story without that.
In fact, I think the drama would have been even stronger if there had been more of a fight about what the Advance Directive really meant.
I know DAYS has been short on funds for a long time, but even with a limited budget there had to have been a way to show Kayla arguing with board about whether this paper really meant they should turn off the ventilator or actually having a court case, rather than having all of the drama over this off-screen.
While Marlena's goodbye scenes were super emotional, the heartbreak would have been even more painful if it had been the payoff for a longer arc where viewers didn't know which way the court was going to rule. That would have allowed this realistic, current story to be on air for weeks or months instead of beginning and ending in a week's time.
This kind of realistic, painful drama is exactly why I watch this soap. I don't need to see over-the-top violence and a billion people keeping secrets from their lovers in order to be entertained. In fact, I prefer relatable stories, and I doubt I'm the only viewer who feels that way.
So why rush this like this, as if the "really good story" is some other story waiting around the corner instead of the riveting one playing out on screen right now?
Too bad John's best friend didn't get the same treatment.
It's bad enough that when Steve was the guy in the hospital and then struggling with adjusting to blindness, his storyline was shoved to the back burner and told mostly off-screen.
Now that actor Stephen Nichols is no longer on canvas, the aftermath of his poorly written exit story continues to be insulting to the iconic character's legacy.
Supposedly, Shane is working on getting Steve's sentence commuted off-screen, and Roman is of the opinion that people close to Steve, like Kayla and John, should just forget about the situation and go on with their lives.
I'm sure the writers would love for viewers to accept that message, but it's not going to happen.
Steve's exit happened off-screen when it should have been on-screen and involved a dumb story when all they had to do was have one scene where he told John and Kayla he was going to the other side of the world to search for a cure for Marlena's condition.
And now his "rescue" is going to be off-screen too, which means it will likely drag on until it is dropped altogether.
Plus, the idea of Shane being the lead investigator makes zero sense.
In the summer of 2018, Theresa took Tate to California after another off-screen call from Shane alerted her to the fact that Kimberly was terminally ill.
Are we really supposed to believe that Shane is going all the way across the country to straighten out this mess while his wife lies dying at home?
And even if Shane can work on this remotely, during his last run his solution to a drug lord wanting to use Theresa as a sex slave was to tell her that the ISA could do nothing and that she should just give the guy what he wants.
Kayla should have been more torn up about Steve leaving and wanted to take a leave of absence, only to get an off-screen phone call from Steve saying that she should be there for John and Marlena since he couldn't be.
Similarly, John should have been more broken up about his best friend being arrested while he is dealing with a double tragedy at the hospital and struggled with the question of whether Marlena would have wanted him to leave Steve hanging to sit by her hospital bed even though he didn't want to leave her side.
And Tripp doesn't even seem to be aware his father is in jail while he is busy dealing with Claire's manipulations and trying to convince Ciara not to help Ben with his latest legal problem.
How much more are the writers going to insult the memory of this legacy character with their nonsense?
Don't get me wrong; it's great to finally see Roman have something to do other than wipe down the bar at Brady Pub. But it shouldn't have been at the expense of Steve's character like this.
It was especially obvious what was going on in his scenes with Paul, as Roman was suddenly upgraded from non-entity to stand-in for Paul's dad. I'm sure those scenes were originally intended for Steve before contract negotiations broke down.
I am not giving up. You are going to get through this and walk again, and by God, as the sun rises, Doc is gonna open her eyes again.John
The one scene John had with a sleeping Paul was a stand-out among an entire week's worth of emotional scenes. Seeing his son alive but struggling seemed to give John the strength to believe that Marlena would wake up too.
Paul's struggle to accept that he may be paralyzed was another excellent storyline, and Christopher Sean brought his A-game to these scenes. But instead of this ridiculous love triangle between Paul, Will, and Sonny, someone should have called his mother.
Tori left Salem without much explanation after her last visit and has never been mentioned again since. But Paul isn't an orphan, and his mom and grandfather were important to him when he first came to Salem. So she should have at least been mentioned during this saga of his potential paralysis.
As for the storyline we actually got, I'm not sure what to think at this point.
Will and Sonny's plan to hide their sudden renewed love for each other in order to allow Will to care for Paul during his recovery was portrayed as a noble sacrifice, but I thought it was anything but.
Maybe it's because I don't believe that Will getting his memories back has to equal him falling hard for Sonny a week after telling Sonny he was in love with Paul.
It just seems to me that Will is being wishy-washy and trying to have two boyfriends at the same time. And deciding to keep their love secret does little more than turn their relationship into an illicit affair!
There is no way that Paul won't pick up on Will's real feelings, especially since he's insecure to begin with and asked Will what this meant the second he woke up from his coma to learn his boyfriend no longer has amnesia.
Is it right to rush to tell bedridden Paul that it's over? Probably not. But lying to him and trying to hide the affair is just as cruel, if not crueler.
And with John being thrilled to hear that Will is staying with Paul, the writing is on the wall for an explosive fallout when the truth finally comes out.
To offset all the heavy stuff, DAYS chose to embark upon a ridiculous story where Bonnie claimed Lucas was the father of her baby.
I didn't really find it funny for the same reason I didn't find Stefan impregnating Abigail funny or Lani's many manipulations of JJ funny.
This is the third story we've had in the space of six months where someone lies about the paternity of a child in order to force a relationship to continue or to end.
It's also the third story that involves sex of dubious consent, and just like when Lani did it to JJ, Bonnie's bedding a too-drunk-to-consent Lucas is portrayed as completely consensual.
This story also shares a problem with Abigail's story: just like people with DID can't suddenly remember what they did while in a dissociative state, people who are blacked out drunk can't recover their memories from the time they were in that condition.
Blackouts of this nature are caused by a chemical reaction that stops the brain from encoding memories. Yet Lucas remembered the sex as Bonnie told him about it.
Then Lucas told Chloe about his dilemma, and she was suspicious.
I have a feeling Chloe will soon break up with Lucas over his "blackout sex" resulting in a baby just like Gabi broke up with JJ because she didn't understand the difference between rape and cheating and is berating Abigail for having been raped now.
I hope this Lucas/Bonnie nonsense ends quickly, but even that isn't as obnoxious as this rewritten version of Hope.
Hope had zero compassion for Sami being in jail while her mother lay dying, despite the fact that she was Bo's niece. All she cared about was that Rafe was nice to Sami, which in her mind was equivalent to cheating again.
And if her cold, callous attitude wasn't bad enough, she was so determined to keep Ben and Ciara apart that she arrested him based on evidence that she likely planted herself.
So your best friend is on her deathbed and Kristen Dimera, who really is a psychopath, is still on the loose, and you decide it's a good time to go way out to the cabin and go for a walk through the woods. Don't you know they're going to find out sooner or later that you planted that evidence?Ben
I wanted to shake Ben when he declared he didn't need a lawyer because he's innocent.
That is a stupid message that DAYS should not be sending, especially since innocent Gabi's stint in jail is what turned her into angry, vindictive Gabi.
A quick Google search will turn up a dozen blog posts by lawyers warning people that innocence is no defense against being arrested and that if you don't want to get in trouble, don't talk to the police without a lawyer.
And since Hope has been determined to get Ben behind bars since Ciara's rescue and he suspects she planted evidence, that's doubly true!
I mean, yay for being onto her and having the guts to call her on her crap, but he needs to be smarter about this.
Just because Ted is missing in action doesn't mean Ben should suddenly trust the cops not to try to convict him when he's innocent at the same time as he's aware that Hope has planted evidence to convict him when he's innocent.
What'd you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics?
How are you liking this John storyline? Whose side are you on: his or Belle's?
Weigh in below on that and all things DAYS!
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.