What's with the doppelganger obsession? Since Ron Carlivati took over as Days of Our Lives' head writer in 2017, nobody seems to be who they claim to be.
Marlena's life was taken over by Hattie Adams (twice!). Adrienne's life was taken over by Bonnie Lockhart. Abigail developed Dissociative Identity Disorder and her alter ego turned out to be a new version of Gabi.
And now that Kristen has been deprived of her Nicole mask on Days of Our Lives during the week of 7-15-19, she's stopped pretending to be her and instead gone back to pretending to be goofy Susan Banks.
When people aren't pretending to be other people, they have amnesia or mental illnesses that turn them into other people! Salem is one scary place to live.
Some of the Kristen and her alter ego story is amusing. Kristen has always morphed into faux Susan at will, often with hilarious results. And actress Stacey Haiduk scores major props for stepping into Eileen Davidson's shoes and taking on more than one role.
But this story would be more tolerable if lookalikes stealing people's identities was not the norm in Salem.
The Kristen-as-Nicole story already required major suspension of disbelief. But once "Susan" showed up, everyone should have realized right away that she wasn't who she claimed to be.
Xander kept glaring at her, making it obvious that he knew who she was, and if that wasn't enough to topple her scheme, her insistence on coming onto Brady should have.
Not only was that out of character, but "Nicole" had tried to come onto Brady only a day or two before. So when faux Susan kissed him, he should have wondered why she reminded him so much of Nicole!
"Susan" slipped up a bunch of times too -- not remembering her partner until Brady prodded her, almost forgetting that she was supposed to be locked in a freezer when Xander shot Marlena... and talking to herself in her real voice in front of Will and Sonny!
The guys noticed that she was ranting about Xander and a mask but somehow missed that she sounded like Kristen, just like Gabi missed the fact that "Nicole" neither looked nor sounded like Nicole when she confronted her wearing the wrestler's mask.
When stories rely on characters being stupid and oblivious, it insults the audience. Most soap opera viewers are not idiots -- do the showrunners think they are?
The overuse of doppelgangers contributes to this problem too. It's not the first time that Kristen has pretended to be Susan in front of Will and Sonny, nor is she the first fake person to hit Salem this year. You'd think that everyone would be wary of "Susan" suddenly showing up and acting strange given what happened last time.
In fact, Salemites couldn't be blamed if they suspected all their friends and loved ones of being fakes every time they acted weird!
Sonny: Will! What are you doing? Didn't your mother ever tell you never to go through a woman's purse?
Will: Well, my mother was Sami Brady. So what do you think?
Will and Sonny's banter with each other was the best part of this silly storyline. Neither one of them missed an opportunity to make a funny comment in response to a serious thought about Susan. It was fun to watch them joke with each other, especially after all the high drama in their relationship over the past several months.
Xander was probably the most misused in this story. Sure, his interactions with fake Susan were funny, but I'd rather have seen him trying to repair his relationship with Sarah, who no longer believes in his transformation now that he was arrested for kidnapping.
Meanwhile, Gabi was determined to prove Xander was up to no good -- until Rafe disapproved.
Gabi is obviously attracted to Stefan, as predicted by Kate, Brady, and most viewers. The more she protests, the more obvious it is she's trying to convince herself.
Nevertheless, I prefer Gabi as detective to the evil Gabi who tried to destroy Abigail's life! And even better, Gabi stood up to Xander, getting out of his grip entirely on her own.
I could have done without her threatening to falsely claim rape -- rape apologism is as alive and well on Days of Our Lives as it was when Stefan's rape of Abigaili was whitewashed. But at least Gabi didn't need a man to save her.
Her conversation with Rafe was fun, too -- until she agreed with him that she should give the briefcase back to Xander.
I'd rather see Gabi blackmail Xander somehow. He's trying to seize control of Titan, Stefan's biggest competitor, so Gabi finding the mask and then forcing Xander to help her with Gabi Chic would put a monkey wrench into his plans!
Besides, it would be truer to character for her to promise to give the briefcase back and not do it.
I have a bone to pick with Rafe, too. It's nice that he understands the rules of evidence, but he's never cared before, and it's irritating when characters change their attitudes just to prolong a story.
Plus, Gabi stealing Xander's briefcase only for no one to discover anything makes the whole thing pointless. And I want this damn story over with already!
Hopefully, Brady will take a peek inside before he returns it. Let's have some movement forward in this story already!
While all this was going on, Hope and Ted reunited.
The only surprising thing about this was that Ciara was cool about it.
It's a soap staple for a new coupling to wreak havoc in the relationship between parent and child, but for once Days of Our Lives didn't go for the obvious.
Bonus points because Ciara didn't want to be a hypocrite and understands that if Ben can change, so can Ted. Most Salem residents have a hard time understanding that bad attitudes are universally bad.
Of course, now we have the problem of Kate being jealous. And when Kate is jealous, her competition needs to watch out!
Kate and Ted bonding over having been kidnapped together is annoying but understandable. This Kristen blackmail plot, though, is demeaning of a woman of Kate's stature!
Kristen's threats to kill everyone Ted and Kate love are just not credible. Kristen has shown herself time and time again to be an incompetent villainess, and now she's worse than ever!
Granted, the Salem Police Department is in shambles thanks to Eve's leadership, not that it was ever fully competent to begin with, so keeping Kristen behind bars where she can't hurt them might be a pipe dream.
But Kristen's schemes are constantly falling apart because she's terrible at evil plans. So what makes anyone think she could pull off killing random members of Kate's family without getting caught?
Besides, no one in Salem is safe until Kristen is caught! She's as crazy as she is stupid and God only knows who she will maim or kill to avoid getting caught.
Kate realized this eventually, so there's that. She plans to double-cross Kristen at some later and presumably safer time, even though no such time exists.
But in the meantime, this blackmail plot means she and Ted have to spend a lot of time together. Eventually, Hope will get suspicious, her new relationship will blow up in her face, and most likely Rafe will have to rescue her from Kristen's clutches, leading to yet another reconciliation.
I would love to be wrong about this. Rafe and Hope are far better characters when they're apart. Whenever they're together, Hope becomes insecure, jealous, and stupid, while Rafe becomes domineering and belittling.
There's nothing entertaining about that, so let's hope the writers don't go for another round of this awful excuse for a couple!
Also, it would be nice if the writers stopped demonizing Aiden!
His character isn't on canvas so there's no real need to mention him at all, and when he is mentioned, it's always about how he was a "bad guy."
In actuality, Aiden was yet another victim of the doppelganger epidemic (though this predates the current writing regime.)
His great "sin" was not trying to kill Hope but lying about the fact that he briefly flirted with the idea before deciding against it. He tried to blackmail Hope into being with him, realized that was a bad thing to do, and left town.
People in Salem seem to find it easier to forgive Ben for killing three people than to forgive Aiden for telling a couple of lies and then leaving town to clear his head, and that's just ridiculous!
Jack-as-bad-guy has well worn out its welcome, so hopefully, that part of his story is on its way out!
It's been going in circles for months. Jennifer tries to convince Jack to be the man he used to be, Jack claims he loves his life even though he's screwed over everyone who loves him, and Jennifer gives up temporarily before deciding to try "one more time."
Jennifer's criticisms of Jack are fun to watch, but enough is enough!
The old Jack might not have had a lot of power and influence, but you know what you did have? Kids who admired you and a wife who loved you. And you never would have traded this for that.Jennifer Horton
I didn't have any hopes that this time around would be any different, and at first, it didn't look different. After their latest fight, Jennifer decided AGAIN that she had to give up on Jack and called
Dr. Shah Henry for another date.
Henry needs to have more self-respect! Jennifer needs to be reminded to call him by his first name and only calls him at all when she's between boyfriends. Why on Earth he would want anything to do with her is beyond me.
Anyway, Jack's decision to take the serum marked an actual turning point in this story! For once Eve's usual tricks weren't working. She couldn't talk him out of it.
I almost felt sorry for her when she left the room in tears. Eve always struck me as more of a damaged person than an evil one, and her desire to have Jack in her life goes far beyond her need to destroy Jennifer.
Eve will likely try to get in the way in a desperate effort to hold onto Jack. Meanwhile, is he telling himself the truth when he claims he wants a relationship with his kids more than he wants one with Jennifer?
I've always thought that JJ was the key to Jack's memories. The two had a special bond before Jack's "death", so much so that JJ lost his mind when his father died.
But now Jack has destroyed that bond through his betrayal of Haley's secret, so even if Jack gets his memories back and returns to being a good guy, it's going to take a lot for JJ to accept him again.
What do you think, Days of Our Lives fanatics? Are you enjoying the latest doppelganger story, or would you prefer Kristen get caught already?
Are you glad Jack wants to get his memories back?
And do you prefer Ted with Hope, Kate, or neither?
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 on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.