'Days of our Lives' Gets It Right With The EJ/Sami/Rafe Triangle

Galen Gering, Alison Sweeney and James Scott

I don’t ask much from my soap operas anymore, only to be entertained more times than I am not. If I tune in and enjoy the 60 (or 30 one case) minutes of the episode, I’m a happy viewer. Gone are the days my enjoyment of a soap depended on whether or not my favorite couple was together. Gone are the days when I resented ex-couples interacting, fearing it would “ruin” the status of my favorites. It was easy to worry about such trivial issues when there were 10 soap operas on the air. That’s not the case for me anymore.

Maybe it’s because I’m simply tired of the fight. Maybe it’s because, after hosting In The Zone Radio for four years, I’m simply over caring. The real reason is I evolved as a viewer. Call it the transformation of a couple fan into a show fan first. I want good television more than I want my favorites paired together. I’d much rather find 10 storylines to enjoy than allow my hatred of one aspect to ruin an entire show. The enjoyment of the soap as a whole trumped my couple loyalty. That’s not to say I simply accept everything that’s airing on my screen, but the things that bothered me before don’t.

As those who follow me on Twitter (@SourceRyan) know, I’m very critical when necessary, give praise when it’s warranted, and always try to find something positive to comment on. In the coming weeks, I’ll attempt (no promises) to provide commentary on some of daytime’s current storylines, or subjects our readers (or followers) suggest.

It should go without saying, the thoughts and opinions expressed in these columns do not reflect those of TVSource Magazine, SoSource Media, or its advertisers. My opinions are my own.

Days of our Lives: The Simple Brilliance of the EJ/Sami/Rafe Triangle

New head writers Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell have done a good job delivering quality, entertaining soap opera ever since the long running serial returned from its Olympic hiatus.

I’ve been very pleased with the developments in Sami’s love life over the last 9 months. Reconnecting with Lucas was brilliant and expected upon his return. He’ll always be the love of Sami’s life – complicated past and all. Unfortunately for Lucas, while Sami may have loved him, it was her undeniable attraction to EJ that ultimately broke them up.

Supporting EJ through the death of Lexie and “death” of Stefano only brought them closer. Standing by him when he was accused of murder strengthened their connection; teasing that part of Sami that craves danger and adventure. With her relationship to Lucas no longer an issue, it seemed all was right for EJ and Sami to be together. That is until a complication from her past resurfaced in her life – Rafe.

Sami and Rafe didn’t stop loving each other simply because they broke up. The seeds for Rafe returning to Sami’s orbit were dropped shortly before Carrie left, when she suggested Rafe still had feelings for Sami. Inserting Rafe back into Sami’s life complicates everything and I can’t get enough of it.

EJ represents the dangerous, powerful life that she could have. He’s the Dark Knight that tempts her to embrace her dark side. As Mrs. EJ DiMera, there’s a certain status that comes with the title. Sami loves power, she always has (it’s why she loves blackmail). She can say it would be a good thing for her children, but at the end of the day, she wants to be with EJ because she loves the good parts of him. And she loves the perks that come with being with him. The problem is EJ’s penchant for falling back into old patterns, controlling her life and ruining the happiness they’ve build together. That scares Sami.

Rafe represents stability, the White Knight that rushes to her rescue whenever she needs it. He presents the “good” life she so desperately wants for her children. Rafe represents the idea of the man she would want to be with. He’s smart, he’s compassionate, and he wants to protect people from the evils of the world, much like her father does. Sami’s fears with Rafe are the same as they’ve always been – he’ll leave her if things get to rough; a fear that came true when he ended their marriage after her affair with EJ.

I’ve never particularly been a huge fan of the Rafe character, but there’s no denying that Galen Gering is at his best when he’s working opposite Alison Sweeney. He’s got a difficult task – balancing Rafe’s disgust at the thought of Sami/EJ while also trying to hide Rafe’s own feelings for Sami. Gering encompasses the type of leading man protagonist Days of our Lives needs. Over the years, the show has built Rafe up to be the next Roman or Bo Brady, and Gering carries it well.

So many times in soaps we see two women fighting over one man. It’s nice to see two men fighting over a woman. The best part about this story lies with Sami. She’s a conflicted woman torn between two men. Does she tempt fate and go with the man who’s hurt her deeply in the past? Or does she return to the life she once had with a man who loved her more than he loved himself? A character in conflict tends to act on impulses, make irrational decisions and question “what is” in their life. As a lifelong fan of Sami, I want that for her. I want her in conflict. I want her torn between the lives she could have. That’s what makes great soap to me. It’s not about who’s together, it’s the story that gets you to that point. Eventually Sami will need to make a decision and I can’t wait for the day she does.

What really makes the story enjoyable thus far is the balanced storytelling. There is no “must root for” character; you’re given reasons why you may want Sami with one over the other, and then you’re allowed to come your own conclusion. I’ve watched multiple one-sided triangles over the years, weighed heavily in one character’s favor. I don’t get that with this story and I hope it continues.

Rafe pretending to be the father of Nicole’s child certainly complicates any possibility of reconciliation with Sami. Nicole is Sami’s worn enemy; it’s bad enough that Rafe fell in love with Carrie, but to “father” Nicole’s child? That would be a huge hurdle for Sami to overcome, something EJ plans to use to his advantage in every way.  EJ’s plan to use Nicole and her baby as a wedge to keep Rafe and Sami apart is smart, but is that the man Sami wants him to be? Though EJ isn’t the one perpetuating the lie, it’s his habitual need to manipulate and scheme that could inevitably turn Sami against him. Of course Rafe could always come clean, but is his desire to be with Sami stronger than his hatred for EJ? Is it stronger than his desire to protect Nicole?

What do you think? Who should Sami be with? 

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Omar White-Nobles is Executive Editor of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.