Back in the day, everyone feared Stefano Dimera.
He was diabolical and didn't care who he hurt, as long as it didn't backfire on his family.
And he seemed to have limitless power.
But Stefan and Kristen, the new generation of Dimera evilness, don't have Stefano's genius for evil schemes or an iota of the class he possessed.
Stefan is the worse of the two. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, is in love with a person who doesn't exist, and spends most of his time harassing a mentally ill woman.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 10-1-18, Kayla finally stood up to Stefan and Roman hatched a plan to bring him down.
Could this finally be the beginning of the end of this awful character?
The Stefan/Abigail storyline is one of the worst stories DAYS has had in years. It boils down to a rapist taunting his victim and trying to trigger her mental illness to satisfy his own pleasure.
This story manages to make a mockery out of mental illness and shame victims of sexual assault every time it is on.
The first go-around prompted massive fan outcry, so why on Earth did the writers think viewers wanted to see Round 2?
And yet that's exactly what we got. Thanks to Gabi's manipulations, Stefan was led to believe that Abigail's Dissociative Identity Disorder had returned and that he had a chance to see Abigail's alter "Gabby" again.
Naturally, Stefan rushed right over, ignored Abigail's desire for him to leave, threatened to tell Chad that Abigail was ill again if she didn't do what he wanted, and forced her to allow him to go with her to see a psychiatrist.
Abigail: You are not going with me. I don't even let you come to my prenatal appointments, much less accompany me to a shrink.
Stefan: I just want to support you.
Abigail: No! You want to see Gabby.
Stefan: I won't deny that. But look, if you're worried about me saying anything to Chad, I'm not going -
Abigail: Why do you keep bringing him up?
Stefan: I wasn't aware that I was doing that.
Abigail: You're threatening me, aren't you? If I don't let you come with me, you're going to tell him everything I told you.
And if that wasn't bad enough, he tried to hold her hand more than once in the waiting room and would have followed her to the elevator afterwards if Kayla hadn't stopped him.
Clearly Stefan is meant to be the villain here, but Kayla's condemnation of his behavior was diluted slightly by the fact that she dismissed Abigail's symptoms as just being tired from her pregnancy and told her to go home, where Abby was met with a furious Chad and Jennifer, who had found the black wig Gabi had planted.
The messaging here is atrocious.
Abigail's mental illness is not being taken seriously at all, especially not by the writers.
It's being used as a plot point over and over.
Abby's husband left her because she's having a baby as the result of a rape that he only remembers is rape when it's convenient, and the fact that she's going to a psychiatrist at all is written as proof that something is seriously wrong, as if a person with a serious mental health condition wouldn't see a psychiatrist as part of her overall treatment plan.
Plus, Kayla's advice was too close to the way (male) doctors in years gone by used to chalk every symptom a woman had up to hysteria and dismiss her complaints, and she should know better.
At the very least, she should have admitted she's not a psychiatrist and encouraged Abigail to see whoever is covering Marlena's caseload while Marlena is out sick.
Abigail didn't feel comfortable with a new doctor, but Kayla should have suggested that this sounded like an emergency situation and explained that as a non-psychiatrist, she couldn't really comment on what was going on instead of just dismissing Abigail's symptoms as pregnancy-related fatigue.
The only person who treated Abby with any respect at all during this whole thing was JJ.
He was more mature than his mother or Chad about it, though his advice to stay away from Chad until the DID issue was resolved was suspect.
I'm also disappointed that JJ seemed to have bought Gabi's story when it seemed like he was going back to his investigative roots and finding out what was going on with her.
JJ is desperately in need of a storyline, and once again the writers are refusing to give him one, instead having him give advice and support to friends and family and then promptly disappear again.
I was glad to see Kayla finally stand up to Stefan.
Stefan: I respect this fiery, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar attitude, but you're forgetting that I still hold a lot of cards here.
Kayla: I'm a champion poker player. I'd say the odds are on me.
This is the strong, fiesty Kayla that I've known and loved for over 30 years. Her caving so easily to Stefan's threats before didn't make sense, and I was glad to see the real Kayla back.
I hope she's right that Stefan is going to lose in the end! I can't stand another minute of him and the sooner he is brought to his knees, the better.
Meanwhile, Gabi is trying to use Abigail's mental illness to make life difficult for Abigail in order to punish her for behavior she could not control.
Gabi is not an enjoyable villain and this is not an entertaining storyline. It's offensive and it needs to stop.
Plus it makes Chad look like a total idiot because he keeps falling for Gabi's super-obvious lies and manipulations. She even suggested that Chad shouldn't contact Abby with his concerns and should instead snoop through her things to see if she had a black wig.
Anyone with half a brain can see through this, so why can't Chad?
Speaking of people with half a brain, what was up with Brady agreeing to leave town with Kristen?
I wasn't a huge fan of Hattie's advice to Eve, mostly because it seemed like her pro-feminist statements were played for laughs and this show has more than enough misogyny without that.
And storywise, Eve should have realized something was wrong with "Marlena," but I'll give her a pass because Hattie said what she was desperate to hear.
Anyway, Hattie was right about one thing: Brady doesn't deserve Eve.
Eve does stupid things, some of which are more forgivable than others, but she is definitely not equivalent to Kristen.
For Brady to break up with her because she failed to tell him that she suggested Victor do *something* about the Tate situation, then give Kristen the time of day makes no sense.
Kristen caused both Brady's mother and his half-brother to suffer life-threatening injuries, kidnapped Brady's girlfriend, and briefly kidnapped one of John's other grandchildren -- all within the last 96 hours or so in Salem time.
In the past, she raped Eric to get revenge on Marlena and hid a porn video that she made of the rape on her computer.
She was obsessed with John and now is obsessed with Brady simply because he is John's son.
And all that is possibly all right with Brady but he can't take Eve telling a lie?
I'm hoping that Brady is playing Kristen, but even if he is, that's no guarantee he won't end up falling in love with her.
Brady was originally playing Eve too, then decided he loved her for real and begged her to take him back when she found out about his scheme.
Brady only has two modes: totally infatuated or totally self-destructive. And when it comes to Kristen, he can be both at the same time!
It's hardly a match made in heaven, but no matter what Brady's intentions are right now, he's likely going to suddenly have a change of heart and decide Kristen is the love of his life again.
Unless, of course, Chloe distracts him, since it looks like she and Lucas are going to drift apart soon over this Baby Bonnie nonsense.
The Lucas/Bonnie story has been all sorts of problematic from the beginning, and the latest wrinkle seems to be that Bonnie claimed Lucas was the father of her baby when the baby belonged to her daughter Mimi.
I don't remember Mimi all that well. She was part of the Last Blast crew and apparently bullied Chloe back in high school.
She's been back for 30 seconds and it's clear that she's not happy, as is expected when your mother gives your baby away to some guy in order to get herself out of prison.
What I'd really like to know is why Mimi went along with this at all. No sane person agrees to let her mother pretend to be the mother of her baby and convince some guy he's the father.
And side note: while it was nice that Maggie got Chloe to admit she was scared of raising Baby Bonnie because of her past with Mimi, asking Chloe if she really wanted to commit to Lucas' daughter was silly. Lucas already HAS a daughter, which the writers seem to have forgotten.
I guess that admitting that Allie exists would force the writers to acknowledge that Lucas and Sami's relationship wasn't always platonic, and they're determined to make EJ the love of her life instead of Lucas.
That's a real shame, because Lucas and Sami defeating Bonnie together would be far more interesting than Chloe asking every two seconds how Lucas can possibly stay sober when he has a new baby whose mother is crazy.
Mixed in with all the craziness was John and Marlena's tearful reunion.
I'm not a big fan of this couple, but the scenes where Marlena woke up were sweet. I enjoyed John filling her in on the Hattie situation and expressing his gratitude that she was still alive.
John: Just think back to the last thing you do remember clearly and tell the story of what happened.
Marlena: That's what I tell my patients.
John: Who do you think I stole it from?
Maybe if John and Marlena were in more storylines like this and less stories where Marlena has been kidnapped by the psycho of the month and John has to save her, I could grow to enjoy this couple.
It was cute when John used Marlena's psychiatric techniques on her to help her remember what happened the day she was shot, though this whole second shooter thing is ridiculous.
It would have been more dramatic and realistic for Marlena to realize that the gun went off when Eric grabbed Sami's arm.
Eric has long been considered the "good twin," and his guilt over having caused his mother to be shot would be powerful, considering that it's taken him so long to accept that his choice to drive drunk led to his good friend Daniel's death.
Instead, the show went for some contrived nonsense. It's not terribly believable that at the same time that Kristen was trying to manipulate Sami into shooting John at point blank range, someone else was hiding in some bushes across the Square and happened to shoot at the exact moment that Eric grabbed Sami's arm.
Plus, it never occurred to the Salem PD to test the bullet fragments to see what caliber gun they came from until John recovered Kristen's gun.
Even with eyewitnesses reporting Sami had a gun, it seems they'd want to do that ASAP so their case against her was airtight and not just rely on eyewitnesses who could have been confused during a chaotic scene where the gun switched hands several times.
Meanwhile, Eli re-arrested Sami based on Stefan's say-so, which Sami correctly pointed out was a waste of time, and the entire Salem PD was unable to find Kristen, who was walking around the hospital in scrubs and threatening people.
If only John had put his built-like-a-cement-mixer ISA buddy on guard duty before Kristen attacked both Hattie and Marlena, maybe she would have actually been caught! A good back-up plan might have been to put a guard on Brady's door since Kristen was obsessed with Brady.
Undoubtedly the biggest story of the week of 10-1-18 was Eric's search for Nicole.
I know a lot of fans love "Ericole," but I was over them after his abuse of Nicole for nearly a year back in 2014 and I find it hard to believe that she's the love of Eric's life.
In any event, Eric displayed even more hypocrisy by being totally understanding about Maggie having lied to him about knowing where Nicole was while finding Jennifer's not telling him immediately that Nicole still loved him to be unforgiveable.
He's calmed down a bit and seems to understand why Jen lied, but he hasn't apologized to her for his own behavior or talked to her since she returned the ring, and he's quick to go run after Nicole even though he promised Jen at least 25 times that Nicole was his past and he had no interest in her whatsoever.
I wish this story could have been written without ruining Eric's character, but I guess the writers think him flying off the handle at the woman he claims to love because she knew the truth about his ex proves how deeply in love with Nicole he really is.
Now that Ben's out of jail, he and Tripp are back to giving each other dirty looks and Tripp is desperate to convince Ciara that Ben tried to kill her despite the proof that he was framed for the arson at the cabin.
It certainly looks like Tripp had a hand in setting Ben up. What a waste that would be, if true!
Tripp deserves a stronger storyline than the bad sitcom premise of living with two girls who fight over him constantly.
Getting involved in the effort to free Steve would be a good start, maybe working with his cousin JJ to make that happen, but instead Tripp isn't even allowed to acknowledge that his dad is in jail or that that leaves a hole in his life.
If Tripp did plant that evidence, mentioning that he was acting out because of the loss of his dad would be nice, but it probably will be because he's jealous of Ben and wants to possess Ciara.
The best part of the week of 10-1-18 is that Roman seems to have un-retired from the police force.
Not literally, of course, but fighting Kristen and trying to bring down Stefan is a better story for Roman than dispensing advice from behind the bar in the Pub.
I was especially excited to see him working with Kate. Roman and Kate were an unexpectedly fun pairing back in 2004 or so, and I wouldn't mind a reboot, especially if Hattie is hanging around hoping to get Roman for herself.
I also hope Roman's plan is successful and he brings down both Stefan and Gabi so that viewers don't have to endure anymore of their awful storyline.
Your turn, DAYS Fanatics!
Are you excited about Eric's reunion with Nicole? Who do you hope brings Stefan down? And just how tired are you of the Stefan/Gabi/Abby storyline?
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.