Soaps

‘Days Of Our Lives’ Week In Review: Putting In The Work

Bright Spot

Adrienne has to have double mastectomy and chemo.
Adrienne has to have double mastectomy and chemo.

Color me surprised with Adrienne Johnson’s cancer storyline. The fact that it’s still going, still getting airtime is one amazing point but to see it done well and with a basis in reality, it’s refreshing for today’s soap opera world. It’s 2016 and the world has made it through another Ebola scare while the Zika virus hangs overhead in some areas – and soaps are inventing new diseases to bring in doctors with pet lizards to cure them. There’s plenty of scary illness in our everyday lives with cancer being a far-reaching monster near the top of that list. DAYS has been playing this story out very carefully but with a heart and warmth that anyone can appreciate. Hopefully it continues in the same fashion.

Anyone who has read my recaps or tweets know I cannot stand Sonny Kiriakis, for various reasons. Lately he’s come to define the new term of hover child, vanquishing the days of hover parents by inserting himself into every bit of his parents’ lives at nearly 30 years old. When the character doesn’t have much personality including things like hobbies and likes, it sort of makes sense for him to be pushed onto characters that do have personalities but him crowding Adrienne these last few weeks have been too much. That’s why I was absolutely cracking up when Sonny complained about Adrienne barring him from her hospital room. She’s an adult woman, you are her adult child – let her live her life and deal with the situation she’s come into! And shouldn’t Sonny be worrying first about how to run his portion of a multi-million dollar company?

Apparently the doctors needed to run more tests to determine what kind of treatment would best suit Adrienne, so she’ll be saddled to that hospital bed for a while now. Even though he annoys me, the Kiriakises, the Johnsons and Lucas Horton all leaning on each other for support has been amazing to see. These were characters that didn’t even speak of one another let alone share the same scenes for months now. The family feeling has returned to DAYS in the face of this and it couldn’t be more appropriate, more fitting for a story like this.

A nervous Adrienne learned from her doctor that her cancer has moved onto Stage 2, meaning that it hasn’t spread yet to the rest of her body. Hearing that felt like a weight off the shoulders only because we all knew Adrienne had been ignoring her health for so long, her diagnosis could have been much more grim at this point. The doctor’s recommendation is that she have a double mastectomy as well as chemo to fight off the special kind of cancer she has. Instead of scheduling the surgery though, Adrienne makes another run for it. I can understand where she’s coming from though and why she continues to flee. I think on a certain level she’d prepared herself for the possibility of this cancer what with her family history, but it’s different when your family crowds you and sweet talks you when the reality of it all isn’t so sweet. Kayla Brady had to tell Adrienne’s brother, Steve Johnson that he was in as much denial about this diagnosis as his sister. The only support he offered was telling Adrienne it’ll all be fine, something he doesn’t know for sure.

Funnily enough, the only person offering Adrienne real advice and comfort is Kate Roberts. I just about melted when Kate came running to Adrienne’s side after getting an SOS call. Kate’s brand of comfort is different from Adrienne’s family and it’s really what she needs to hear right now; she’s tough on Adrienne while giving her a push forward into action. Thanks to Kate’s words (“You went up against Sami Brady when you thought Will wasn’t right for Sonny. Now, how does cancer compare to that.”), Adrienne schedules her appointment for treatment. But it isn’t without tears. Kate may be a lot of things but she’s always been a champion of other women (if she likes them at the time). This unexpected bond forged by this awful illness is one of the best kinds of surprises story-wise. Not only are these characters in character again but they’re forging new bonds over emotional, heartfelt stories. DAYS is really doing well with this one.

Just don’t bring in a lizard toting doctor or sun-tanned lothario of a doctor to magically cure it. Please!

Reaching Back

After forgetting a lot of even the more recent history (i.e. Kate’s cancer), the show has been seemingly making an effort to utilize it all again. Even the history from before many of us were watching the show has made a return in the form of Dr. Valerie Grant. I’ve mentioned before how big of a fan of Vanessa A. Williams I am (her voice is just so soothing, along with her presence!) and each appearance of her late 70s era character further cements that. She hasn’t had much to do, just slowly integrating her way into Abe Carver’s life (much to Theo Carver’s chagrin) but she’s been steadily teasing fans about a mystery man in her life. One that we learned this last week was not a secret lover – but a secret son!

Abe and Valerie are glowing.
Abe and Valerie are glowing.

Abe and Valerie are enjoying their time reconnecting Christmas shopping this week. There’s a really great, natural chemistry between James Reynolds and Vanessa A Williams that really pops on screen. They weren’t even chem tested during her audition process which makes me think that maybe the casting directors had a hunch this would work. For me, it’s been working just fine. I’d enjoy watching them just hanging ornaments or wrapping gifts at this point, honestly. On this excursion in Horton Town Square, Valerie bumps into Julie Williams, her former almost mother-in-law. From her very first day back in Salem, Valerie seemed to be on edge around Julie which confused the latter. This is probably the longest they’ve spoken since Valerie’s return and over the course of the chat, Julie learns Valerie has an adult son. Unfortunately he won’t be able to make it to Salem to spend the holidays with Valerie. The doctor uses that as a launching point to talk about Julie’s son, David Banning.

Now I’ve only watched DAYS full time for a decade now but I’ve extensive watching of DAYS gone by as well, but never as far back as when Valerie was still in town. This has to be the first time I’ve seen or heard David being brought up – and for anyone who has watched soaps more than once knows mentioning a long gone character can only mean a visit. Or maybe something more. Longtime fans noted that Julie mentioning she and David get on each other’s nerves when in the same time zone was faithful to their relationship in the past too. It was a cute little note to add in. But at this point, the hints of the mystery son, awkwardness around Julie and now mentions of Valerie’s former fiance seems to be adding up to Julie getting a new grandson.

Lamon Archey, a former recurring player at Y&R, is slated to hit screens early next year as Valerie’s son. DAYS hasn’t officially confirmed this yet but basically everyone else has. What’s got fans wondering the most is if his rumored father will make a return to the soap after decades away. From leaked audition reels, fans have learned Eli will be interacting with Gabi to an extent. And you know what this means? Not only will we be getting lots of Williams’ Valerie, but loads of Susan Seaforth-Hayes’ Julie as well as their family ties strengthen on the canvas.

DAYS may only have one African-American family and one Asian-American character on screen, but instead of corralling them together with other people of their kind, they’re expanding their boundaries. It’s 2016, black people don’t only have black friends, love interests, et cetera. Unlike other shows, I feel like DAYS is making some effort to make their minority characters not just the token minority characters. So please, give me more!

As usual, if I missed something you really wanted to talk about or something you felt was important, let’s start a discussion. Comment below, tweet me and let’s chat!

For a look at what’s ahead, check out our Days of our Lives Spoilers.

About the author

Coryon Gray

Coryon Gray joined TVSource Magazine as a staff writer in October 2014. Prior to TVSource Magazine, he's written for and moderated Asian entertainment blogs and forums. On top of writing duties, Coryon is also a panelist for the TVSource Podcast and Soap Countdown Podcast.