Days of Our Lives Review Week of 11-23-20: A Disappointing Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is over, and so is JJ's visit to Salem.

On Days of Our Lives during the week of 11-23-20, Salemites celebrated one of the fastest, most disappointing Thanksgivings in the series' 55-year history.

Sadly, the most compelling story was mostly off-screen, while the writers wasted viewers' time with things few people cared about.

Jack and Abigail Reconcile/Tall - Days of Our Lives

Thanksgiving wasn't ALL bad.

Doug and Julie invited the family over to celebrate the holiday, there were the usual toasts and tributes to those the Hortons kept in their hearts, and there was plenty of sweet potato pie to go around.

But it wasn't enough to satisfy my appetite for a holiday celebration!

For one thing, too many people were missing... and not just those who are dead or living abroad.

Where were Steve and Kayla, for example? Why wasn't Jack celebrating with them instead of sulking alone in the Pub because Jennifer didn't want him at the Horton house?

Happy Thanksgiving/Tall - Days of Our Lives

Even more egregious: Kate's Thanksgiving was off-screen, while we got to hear about it second-hand when she told Jake how difficult it was to see Allie in so much pain.

THAT would have been compelling drama, especially combined with Lucas and Philip trying to keep the peace while calling Kate out on any nonsense she started with Nicole.

Lucas's sarcasm often provides comic relief at just the right moment, too, and he's had so few interactions with Philip since his half-brother returned that it would have been fascinating to watch them try to be cordial with one another.

And, of course, everyone would have tried to make it as "normal" as possible for Allie by totally ignoring the elephant in the room, inadvertently making it worse.

But unfortunately, the writers didn't think any of that was important enough to put on-screen. Instead, Kate complained endlessly to Jake before leaving for Thanksgiving... then the next scene was her return after the meal was over!

Nothing to Hide/Tall - Days of Our Lives

Obviously, the showrunners' opinion was that Jake and Kate's developing relationship was the important thing. Sorry, but I disagree.

By handling it this way, Days of Our Lives cheated viewers out of a riveting story. Since Kate kept talking about dreading having to go, it set us up to expect to follow her to Nicole's house. 

It was as if the writers fast-forwarded through the good stuff and left us only with the dryest pieces of turkey to chew on during its Thanksgiving episode.

What holiday scenes we did get weren't especially Thanksgiving-oriented, either. 

Besides Kate bringing Jake a Thanksgiving plate, the other main holiday storyline was the goings-on at the Horton House... but that was more about Gwen manipulating Abby and Chad than anything else.

Gwen Manipulates/Tall - Days of Our Lives

This Gwen storyline could be resolved so easily if Abigail would just communicate clearly with Chad.

I'm not even talking about the two of them have it out about Chad's insecurities. But Gwen's plan only worked because she told Chad one thing and Abigail another.

Abby asked Gwen to tell Chad that she had gone to visit Jennifer. Gwen then told Chad she had no idea where Abigail was and attempted to put the idea in his head that Abby was sneaking around with Jake.

Then, Abigail returned and told Chad that she had forgotten to leave a note... but never mentioned that she had left a message for him with Gwen!

If she had, that would have been the end of this, so she conveniently left it out. That was so contrived and silly. The first words out of her mouth should have been, "Didn't Gwen tell you? I asked her to."

The actual Thanksgiving party wasn't much better, either.

Gwen not only manipulated Abigail into inviting her but into attempting to invite Jake... all so that Chad's hackles would be raised.

And then Gwen's plan worked again because of lack of communication. She told Chad that Abby begged her to invite Jake. If Chad had bothered to ask Abigail about it, she could have set him straight about whose idea that was.

But instead, Chad sat around brooding about Abigail sleeping on the couch next to Jake for 30 seconds after her drunken announcement that Jack cheated on Jennifer, while Abby had no idea that he was worried about that.

And now we have Gabi in the mix, too, which is total overkill on the "hate Abby" side. 

Gwen Visits Rolf/Tall - Days of Our Lives

So far, Gabi has done nothing but make snarky comments about Abigail's mental illness and walk in on Jake and Kate. I see no purpose to her return. I'd much rather JJ and Theo stayed a while!

As a result of Gwen's manipulations, very little of the Horton Thanksgiving was about Thanksgiving. It was mostly about Gwen doing her best to make sure Abigail was miserable while pretending to be her best friend.

I was disappointed that JJ didn't catch on, either. He is a far better investigative reporter than Abigail could dream of despite the characters' constant claims that Abigail is brilliant.

JJ has good instincts and usually sees through BS quickly. But this time, he was too busy being infatuated with an uninterested Gwen.

JJ Consoles Abigail - Days of Our Lives

He was standing RIGHT THERE when Gwen asked Abigail not to tell anyone that inviting Jake had been Gwen's idea. But he didn't think that was at all strange.

JJ's only role in this story appeared to be getting starry-eyed about Gwen and encouraging his family to fix their mess.

And before anything could really get going, all of a sudden, he was gone again.

I don't know whether that was because the writers only wanted JJ there for Thanksgiving or because Casey Moss could only make a limited commitment. Still, either way, JJ's abrupt exit was heartbreakingly disappointing.

As with Theo before him, his story seemed just to be getting started when he suddenly left town.

Trying to Fix Things/Tall - Days of Our Lives

The reason he had to go was ridiculous, too. 

JJ and Theo supposedly work together aiding the humanitarian relief effort in South Africa (even though Eric is helping that effort elsewhere in Africa as if there are no distinct countries on the continent.). 

But Theo had a "business emergency," and JJ had to "talk to the people involved in person." This is not Dimera Enterprises -- why is it being treated the same way as a multimillion-dollar corporation?

Either way, I hope both of these guys are back soon. Salem is a less interesting place without them. 

And the only thing to be thankful for here is that JJ at least got an explanation this time! After the fact, the last time he left, someone else mentioned that he had moved to South Africa.

Charlie Comforts Claire/Tall - Days of Our Lives

Before JJ's departure, a lot of time had been devoted to Jennifer's anger at Jack and Jack's anger at Abigail.

Jennifer: Can I help you with anything?
Julie: Oh no. Everything is tidied up, and Doug is cleaning the kitchen, which is one reason I'm grateful for him every year.

This whole irritating storyline feels as if it were made up after the fact. Jack never showed either guilt or any emotional reaction to Kate until this big reveal that they slept together.

And now, everyone is overreacting to everyone else.

Jack could be right that Abigail didn't help anything with the way she handled discovering that letter and be the one responsible for having cheated on Kate. 

Jennifer acted as if Jack told Abigail about the affair and asked her to keep quiet, then was angry that she didn't cooperate.

That was not what happened at all. Jennifer should have been concerned that her mentally ill daughter was drinking while on medication and had behaved the way she did partially because she was severely intoxicated.

And no, Abigail shouldn't beat herself up, and it shouldn't be the end of her relationship with Jack, but some introspection into why she chose to drink when she knew it could interact with her medication would not be unwarranted.

And Jennifer's insistence that she can forgive Jack for the cheating but not the lying is a distinction without any difference, because it wasn't as if Jack was carrying on with Kate under her nose and making up stories about where he'd been. 

He had a one-night stand while Jen was in a coma and neglected to mention it when she came out. Stop treating it like an ongoing affair that makes him "untrustworthy."

Despite these hiccups, Jack and Abigail's reconciliation was easily one of the best scenes of the week, though. I was glad they had an honest conversation and forgave each other, though I wish they'd both resign from the self-hate Olympics.

Meanwhile, the Shawn/Jan story took an unnecessarily dark turn.

Philip Finds a Surprise/Tall - Days of Our Lives

There were zero reasons for everyone to give into Jan's threats in the first place. Shawn is a cop! The whole thing could have been resolved by him arresting her on the spot and then starting the search for Belle.

Instead, this redux of the stupid Lani/Eli/Gabi storyline made the same fatal mistake of giving the evil manipulator power that she simply didn't have.

In both cases, the threats could have been stopped peacefully with minimal effort, but instead, the victims insisted on doing whatever the villain said to "protect their loved one."

And it was totally unbelievable that Jan sneaked Belle into Philip's bedroom without anyone seeing her. And what did she need a gun for if she was just going to drug Belle, anyway?

I'm glad that story is over, though I wish John hadn't been dragged into it.

John has a ready-made defense: his aneurysm causes uncontrollable angry impulses. But I'd much rather Days of Our Lives had continued down a realistic path of Marlena having to cope with caring for her suddenly disabled husband than this nonsense.

And was I the only one who found it weird that Charlie wants to protect Claire from all harm after only one date? (Two if you count that wedding debacle as a date.)

It's way too soon for that and threw up all sorts of red flags. I hope I'm wrong, but I can't shake the feeling that Charlie will turn out to be yet another nice guy who flips to being a violent abuser when he doesn't get his way.

Finally, Rafe came back to town, but the jury's still out on whether this will be worthwhile.

So far, he was treated to a summary of everything that went on with Hope and Ciara and came clean with Roman about why he left.

Hopefully, Rafe will have a better story than that... maybe even one involving getting his out-of-control sister to cut out her nonsense.

Your turn, Days of Our Lives fanatics!

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of Thanksgiving in Salem, JJ's departure, and Rafe and Gabi's returns.

Hungry for more Days of Our Lives chat? Help yourself to our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion every Sunday.

Days of Our Lives continues to air on NBC on weekday afternoons. Check your local listings for airtimes.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Days of Our Lives Quotes

You're a monster just like your father. I wish you'd never come into our lives.

Ciara

Well, darling, if I've learned anything in this life, it's that you cannot force someone to be in love with you. You just have to let it go.

Julie