Thanksgiving often inspires warm, family stories. Usually, the holiday allows characters to take a break from high drama and celebrate being with one another.
Not in Salem, though.
On Days of Our Lives during the week of 11-21-22, EJ spent Thanksgiving drinking away his pain over his mother’s death, while Chanel’s loved ones had to improvise because she was still in jail.
EJ’s heartbreak led to high drama and plenty of opportunities for Dan Feuerriegel to show off his acting skills. Feuerriegel sold EJ’s devastation as he wandered around disheveled, interested only in numbing his pain and guilt over Susan’s alleged death.
Since characters rarely stay dead in Salem, it was harder to take these scenes seriously, but the acting was still spectacular.
We can add Dan Feuerriegel’s portrayal of EJ to our list of things to be grateful for this holiday season!
The world doesn’t stop when there’s a holiday, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are hard days for people who have recently lost someone. EJ’s grief gave a voice to those struggling and not in the mood to celebrate right now.
Still, the car crash and its aftermath aired on four of five days this week, which was a little much!
This was a welcome surprise for viewers who enjoyed this story, but for everyone else, it made the week drag.
The car crash was more irritating than the aftermath. EJ should have left the chase to Rafe, who showed up at the airfield and stood around making calls while EJ chased Ava down a curvy road, and Charlie told her to drive the car off a cliff.
I hated the Charlie stuff. He was supposed to be a hallucination that only Ava could see; he seemed like a stand-in for the Devil, telling Ava to do worse and worse things and ultimately getting her to commit suicide.
That is if Ava and Susan are truly dead.
Death has become so impermanent on Days of Our Lives that if the actors are still alive, viewers can safely assume their characters will return sooner or later.
While returns from the dead have always been a soap staple, Days of Our Lives takes it to a ridiculous extreme. Whether it’s months from now or five years down the line, Susan and Ava will probably be back.
Knowing that dampens the intensity of grief scenes. It often feels like a waste of emotional energy; we’re focused on how long it’ll be before the dead character pops back up and how they will explain their miraculous survival.
Nobody pulled bodies out of the wreckage; an emergency worker told EJ that nobody could have survived that crash.
We’ve been here twice before in recent memory.
First, Nicole allegedly perished in an explosion at a warehouse — something few viewers believed to be true from the get-go — only to resurface less than a year later. Then, Xander faked Holly’s death in a car explosion to torment Nicole.
Now, Xander is again up to his neck in a plot involving people supposedly dying in a fiery car crash. Color me skeptical.
Are Susan and Ava Really Dead?
Jack also was allegedly burnt to a crisp after falling down an elevator shaft during an explosion in the tunnels, but Rolf was able to bring him back to life. Whenever there’s a deadly accident in Salem and rescue workers can’t recover any bodies, chances are that one or more “dead” people walked away unscathed.
If only real life worked that way!
The best part of this story was the scenes between Rafe and EJ on Friday. These two are usually at each other’s throats, but they were two heartbroken guys sharing a drink over their troubles this time.
Rafe: I have to get back to the station. You sure you don’t want to come?
EJ: Maybe tomorrow.
Rafe: Promise me you’re not gonna get behind the wheel after drinking that.
EJ: My driver is waiting for me down the road.
Rafe: Okay. Be careful. There’s a blind turn.
EJ: Right. I wouldn’t want to end up like my mother.
EJ was a complete mess, drinking out of a flask by the side of the road, disheveled and unshaven. Rafe was mainly compassionate toward him, offering him support and sympathy despite knowing he wasn’t getting the whole story here.
I could have done without Rafe offering not to arrest EJ for his refusal to give a statement (something that is only illegal in television writers’ minds). Still, overall, these scenes were a vast improvement over the usual rivalry between these two.
I disagree with EJ’s assessment that Eric and Nicole were always meant to be together. Even in their Thanksgiving Day argument, Nicole and Rafe had so much more chemistry than Nicole and Eric have displayed recently.
Anyway, could this tragedy be the catalyst for EJ to try to turn himself around?
He’s a tough character to redeem; he orders kidnappings and murders without batting an eye, is often abusive toward women, including ones he claims to love (yes, I mean you, Sami!), and is overcontrolling with his family.
But this is soapland, where anything can happen. Ben went from being a serial killer to a romantic leading man. Years ago, Jack redeemed himself after raping Kayla, and there have been countless other criminals-turned-good-guys. So why not EJ?
He’s unlikely ever to become a fully good character, but losing Susan — even if it turns out to be as temporary as many viewers expect — could inspire him to move from solidly evil and annoying to more of a gray character.
The Rafe/Nicole/Eric/Jada story took several annoying turns over Thanksgiving.
Rafe throwing Nicole’s pie in the trash was one of the low points. If he didn’t want it, he should have given it to a food bank or the Brady Pub. Wasting food to be petty is not a good look! At least that was balanced out by the humor in Li’s disappointment that there was no pie.
The scene between Rafe and Nicole before that, where she asked him if they could eventually be friends again, drove home all the reasons I loved this couple.
I wish Nicole would come to her senses and realize the only reason she wants to be with Eric is that all of Salem keeps telling her that she and Eric are meant to be together. That’s never going to happen, though. Instead, Jada is bouncing back and forth between keeping her baby and deciding to have an abortion.
I’m all for a story about abortion if it’s well done. It’s an important topic, especially with what’s going on surrounding reproductive rights in the United States.
But this story is far from a quality story about abortion. The real story is Nicole’s jealousy of the baby and Jada’s decision to terminate because Nicole pushed her to reconsider.
That doesn’t seem a strong reason, and Jada will likely change her mind again after talking to Rafe or Eric. Let’s hope she doesn’t ping-pong back and forth too much over the holiday season!
It’s hard to fathom Nicole giving Jada this type of advice, especially since it’s all based on Nicole’s fear that Eric would rather be with the mother of his child than with her.
Nicole lost two babies and is unable to carry to term, so it doesn’t seem like she’d be eager to encourage a pregnant woman to have an abortion merely to assuage her own insecurities. This story seems designed to make Nicole the bad guy. Ugh!
It also highlights what’s wrong with Nicole and Eric as a couple. These two don’t communicate. Instead, they keep secrets from each other, jump to conclusions, and end up mad at one another.
Nicole should have stayed for Thanksgiving dinner and talked to Eric later about what this all meant. Instead, she ran away, complained to Abe and Paulina, and then pretended to be surprised when Eric gave her the news. She also didn’t tell him that she’d spoken to Jada about it and is pretending not to be insecure now that he’s told her.
Similarly, Eric should have made more of an effort to contact Nicole once he discovered that Jada wanted to keep the baby. Multiple people told him to talk to her before he got around to doing it.
This doesn’t bode well for their future as a couple. Even if they successfully get past this Jada pregnancy issue, they’re starting with secrets between them. Again.
Kate had the funniest — and truest — line of the week when she told Jada that Eric and Nicole break up and makeup all the time and that Jada can’t take that seriously.
Nicole: i can’t crash his [Eric’s] family’s Thanksgiving dinner!
Abe: I’d think they’d be happy to see you.
Nicole: What am I supposed to say? ‘Oh I overheard you telling your dad you’re done with me?’ Besides, he should be reaching out to me. I’m the one who ended my marriage to be with him/
Paulina: Okay, now that part I agree with! This is on Eric.
Abe: Now is not the time to stand on pride.
Paulina: Maybe not, but if the boy is gonna break up with her, he’s gonna have to make the first step.
Abe: We have no idea if that’s what Eric is planning.
Paulina: You should go and talk to him, Abraham.
Paulina: Yeah, you. You know, you’re basically his uncle.
Abe: What would I say?
Paulina: Well, you could start off by telling him he’s being a big dummy!
Abe: I don’t think that’s my place.
Paulina: Why not? Nicole’s like a daughter to you, right?
Abe: Yes. Yes, she is. And while I would do almost anything for you [Nicole], I just don’t think I should interfere in this.
Abe and Paulina’s scenes with Nicole on Thanksgiving were one of the week’s highlights. Days of Our Lives needs more scenes of friends supporting one another.
Thankfully, Paulina listened to Abe and Nicole and didn’t get involved. While it would have been fun for Paulina to put Eric in his place, Abe was right. It wasn’t their business, and they needed to stay out of it.
Paulina cannot protect either of her daughters right now. Lani is doing time for a crime that was more or less self-defense, and Chanel is headed in the same direction.
That’s likely why Paulina was so adamant about standing up for Nicole. Since she couldn’t do anything for Chanel, she needed to be a surrogate mother to a woman in need.
Chanel had a nice Thanksgiving when Abe pulled strings so that he, Allie, and Paulina could bring her food at the police station. It would have been better if he had contacted a judge to expedite the bail hearing, though — something Belle ought to be doing. Belle is asleep at the wheel, as usual for Salem attorneys.
Thankfully, Paulina realizes that Chanel’s professor had all the power in the relationship and that Chanel acted in self-defense. But that doesn’t explain why Paulina covered up the death on the rooftop instead of hiring a lawyer and letting the security tapes exonerate Chanel when this originally happened.
Sarah is finally onto Xander’s involvement in Susan and Bonnie’s kidnappings, while Xander has confided in Gwen about his guilt. Does anyone NOT see where this is going?
Xander bouncing back and forth between Sarah and Gwen doesn’t sound entertaining. How about doing something new?
Finally, who else cheered when Johnny and Wendy got the better of Rolf? Rolf’s magical memory drugs are an overused device, so it was about time someone stopped him from using them to protect his secret.
Gabi insists she’s in love with Li and wants Stefan and Chloe at her wedding so that she can rub their noses in it. But who else thinks Stefan will regain his memories or Wendy/Johnny will stop the marriage to announce the truth?
This is Days of Our Lives’ usual pattern, so why would they do anything else this time?
What did you think of Thanksgiving in Salem, Days of Our Lives fanatics? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!
Don’t forget to check on Sunday for the latest Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Days of Our Lives streams exclusively on Peacock. New episodes drop on weekdays at 6 AM EST / 3 AM PST.
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.