I have to hand it to Arianne Zucker.
Nicole heartbreak had me in tears after little Holly was supposedly killed in an accident.
It's all fake -- Holly is alive and well -- but somehow these scenes were emotional even though I hate this storyline.
A ton of story came out of this manufactured crisis, but viewers were made aware that Holly was alive almost immediately, so what's the point, really?
This is now a story about someone tormenting Holly's large extended family for no apparent reason, and that's never enjoyable.
I don't like seeing all my favorite characters in pain and I can't wait til Holly is discovered to be alive and well!
Everyone is playing the blame game now that Holly is gone, but what gets me is how stupidly the police handled the whole situation.
Hope used to be a smart, strong woman, and this latest snafu makes me feel even worse about the direction the writers have taken her character in recently.
She goes along with everything Ted says and won't hear any criticism, especially from Rafe, and this situation with Holly was caused in part by Rafe's stupidity.
I may not be an expert in police procedure, but I know that district attorneys don't usually go undercover to catch kidnappers and that if a civilian is used in a sting, the cops monitor him and provide backup!
But Hope pinned the blame on Rafe for Holly's "death" because he ignored Hope's orders to let Ted exchange Hector for Holly without any backup whatsoever.
Hope really couldn't see anything wrong with this plan? Really?
Not that Rafe is winning any intelligence contests with this nonsense either, but his choice to go after Ted to make sure the exchange resulted in Holly being returned was the right choice.
Rafe's mistake was just in assuming Holly was dead, and that's a problem made worse by the writers' over-reliance on the coming back from the dead trope.
In the past year or two, five characters have returned from the dead: Will, Kristen, Xander, Jack, and Nicole.
Jack, Xander, and Nicole all returned within months of each other, and Nicole and Xander both supposedly perished in an explosion.
Nicole also once ran Kristen off the road in a similar accident to the one Holly was "killed" in, yet Kristen turned up alive and well with no explanation of how she survived.
Nicole also recently survived an explosion like the one Holly was supposedly killed in.
Yet everyone is shocked Nicole is alive, heartbroken that Holly is "dead", and unable to question for a second whether this accident is as it seems.
This is almost as stupid as Nicole blaming Eric for Holly's "death" because he didn't magically force Chloe out of Stefan's house.
Rex and Sarah are bad enough. Now Nicole's back from the dead, which is a waste of a miracle if you ask me.Victor
That's not to say that there aren't good stories coming out of this mess, but when you live in a world where death is rarely permanent, assuming that a child's death is legitimate without identifying the body as hers seems dumb.
I'm not a fan of Nicole rejecting Eric in favor of Brady over this, either.
The Eric/Nicole/Brady triangle wore out its welcome a long time ago. Eric and Brady have been fighting ever since and we don't need any more of it.
In fact, Brady was supportive of Eric and even encouraged Nicole to forgive and get back together with Eric! This is a marked departure from the past, and one I'd like to see continue.
Eric and Nicole are in need of a new obstacle, not the same one rehashed over and over with the brothers taking different roles in the epic struggle for Nicole's heart.
Another story I could do without is Rafe and Hope's latest relationship woes.
I'm thrilled that Rafe realized his marriage isn't working and took off his ring, but I'm sure it won't last.
My prediction is that Hope will continue to be naive about Ted until she one day stumbles upon his involvement with Xander, but by then it will be too late and he'll hold her at gunpoint until Rafe gets there to save the day and reclaim his wife.
I desperately hope I'm wrong, but DAYS is overly fond of damsel in distress stories and Hope is acting like a lovesick teenager despite denying any interest in Ted. Why else would she confide in him that her marriage was over and ignore his obvious attempts to get her to dump Rafe for him?
The story I'm most on the fence about is Maggie's alcoholism.
I know that alcoholics can relapse even after many years of sobriety, and Maggie has been dealing with more than her fair share of tragedy alone.
But it doesn't seem realistic that Maggie would go from being the town AA sponsor to ordering vodka at a restaurant in a matter of minutes without considering going to a meeting or talking to her sponsor.
Nicole: Maggie, are you drinking?
Maggie: No. I was so upset about losing Holly and I had a moment of weakness and I ordered it. I just wish I could say for sure that I wouldn't have drunk it.
Victor isn't being written properly, either. It feels like the writers exaggerated his worst qualities and eliminated everything that made his love story with Maggie compelling just for the sake of this story.
Maggie has no reason to be jealous of Kate or to be disappointed that Victor dared make a business decision that she disagreed with when she doesn't work for his company. And she should have more empathy for his desire to reconnect with Philip.
After all, wasn't she thrilled when Sarah showed up unexpectedly in Salem after years of little contact?
As for Victor, he's a lot more than just a ruthless businessman who has a sarcastic sense of humor.
No matter how much Victor hates Nicole, there is no way in hell he would do any less than move heaven and Earth to get Daniel's daughter home safely, nor would he have refused to protect Parker and Holly from the cartel in the first place.
But the writers wanted conflict between Maggie and Victor and a drinking story for Maggie, so they wrote Victor out of character to accomplish that.
Meanwhile, most of Salem prepared for a farce of an election!
This is one of those stories that has some great elements but is overshadowed by a ton of unrealistic nonsense.
I commend DAYS for trying to take on issues surrounding immigration, but the election story has gotten sillier and sillier.
There was an awful lot of illegal electioneering going on, with Eve continually harassing certain voters about who they voted for and Jack and Abe arguing about who was less moral right in front of the voting booths!
Some of this, of course, is a side effect of having a too-small budget. DAYS probably couldn't afford a separate set for the polling place or Jack's latest press conference, so everything took place in the Square.
But still, the unrealistic nature of these polling place conversations was distracting. I couldn't get past how obviously fake this was to enjoy the story.
I was disgusted by the way Jack tried to manipulate Kayla into signing a statement saying, in effect, that his rape of her was no big deal.
For once the writers did the right thing by having Kayla be as disgusted as viewers were. But the problem is that Jack's rape of Kayla was used as a plot point just like Chase's rape of Ciara has been.
There was no story around Kayla dealing with an alive Jack being back because of the memories it brought back. She told Jack about the rape he didn't remember, then the whole thing was dropped til JJ brought it up again at the debate.
And to make matters worse, JJ had a nervous breakdown that resulted in him being arrested for breaking a store window when he learned about the rape, yet this history has not been mentioned once even though JJ feels awful about having blurted the secret out and possibly embarrassed Kayla.
Plus, Kayla told one reporter that Jack raped her, but there was no fallout whatsoever for her besides Jack bothering her about signing a statement.
Had either JJ or Kayla had a real story as a result of JJ's statement, that would have been great drama! But instead, it was nothing but yet another instance of the writers bringing up a past rape when its convenient for the plot and then dropping it again.
Meanwhile, Eve and Claire used Claire's recording against Haley and Haley -- like most blackmail victims on DAYS -- did what she was told without as much as a second thought.
JJ was right: Haley should have let Eve play the recording and answer reporters' questions about where she'd got it from. Or, even better, Haley could have turned the tables by appearing at the press conference and stating that part of Eve and Jack's campaign strategy was to blackmail her into confessing to fraud.
This was so obvious! But instead, Haley makes a speech about loving America and adds to the end of it that she is in a sham marriage and the whole town believes that without question.
It was also silly, and has been from the beginning, that ICE was looking for proof Tripp and Haley loved each other and not proof their marriage was legal.
Imagine if clerks investigated whether potential partners were in love before issuing licenses to wed! There would be mass protests based both on the gross intrusion into private affairs and the sheer bureaucracy. involved in enforcing such a policy.
Will's brain tumor story could be moving if not for the sheer unreality of it all, too.
Nobody expects a tumor to shrink after one radiation treatment, nor do doctors give patients results in front of the nurses' station where anyone passing by can hear.
Kayla has an office. We see it frequently. So there was no need for this -- or for Jack's harassment of Kayla, for that matter -- to take place in a public area of the hospital.
I am curious what Kayla found in the files, though. Hopefully, that part of the story will be more interesting than the rest.
Finally, can we please get rid of this Chloe/Stefan/Gabi triangle?
This "hate sex" thing Stefan and Gabi have going on is beyond annoying. Not only do these two keep professing their hatred for each other, but they can't seem to go more than five seconds without falling into bed and then wondering what the hell happened.
They're literally having a hate sex marathon. After a sex session, they start bantering about hating each other and then go for the next round.
Note to whoever thought this is a great idea: it's not. It's terrible, and not entertaining in the slightest.
And why is Stefan sneaking around with Gabi behind Chloe's back when Chloe has had all of one date with him that ended with Holly being kidnapped?
This just makes Stefan look even more sleazy! And I can't for the life of me figure out why we're supposed to care who he sleeps with.
Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics!
Are you loving or hating this fake Holly death story?
What's the best story to come out of this staged accident?
And how long will it be before Hope and Rafe are back together?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives continues to air weekday afternoons on NBC. Check your local listings for airtimes.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.