Days of Our Lives really let the fans down this week. It’s hard to put into words how upsetting it was to see such a legend in not just the show, but in the soap genre in general go out one such a mild note. This week we didn’t just say goodbye to Stefano Dimera for the time being, it was forever as Joe Mascolo unfortunately passed just a month ago. Honestly, it wasn’t all bad this last week; there was some fun, a few revelations and such but DAYS viewers were truly looking forward to the final goodbye to a longtime favorite. And it just wasn’t fitting in any way. Though it is sad to say goodbye to Joe Mascolo this way, I’m so very happy to know that soon we will also say our final goodbye to Dena Higley writing at DAYS. Hopefully she’s a woman of her word. Now onto the highlights of this last week in Salem, USA!
Week in Review for Days of Our Lives episodes airing February 6th – 10th.
This was supposed to be Stefano Dimera’s final game of chess with his Salemite pawns, his last hurrah and instead viewers were given a dud. Weeks were spent skipping around a Prague that reminded viewers so much of Salem, discussing entrapment plans in open air cafes where just about anyone could be an informant to an international super crime lord for it all to come down to being a big lie. Yup, that’s right. Stefano wasn’t alive like Shane Donovan had hyped up his close friends into thinking, but there was definitely a convincing enough rubber suit that could pass as him! Granted, the writers had no idea that Joe Mascolo would pass away. He’d been growing weaker for years now and wanted time away from the show, but this is not how you write off a legend. It’s one thing to send Sami Brady to Los Angeles to star in a Lifetime Original Movie about her own life and another to have Joe Mascolo playing Shane as Stefano, not his iconic Italian mobster. Seriously, who okayed this? We need to have a long heated discussion.
For decades, Stefano Dimera was this enigmatic omnipotent presence in this small Midwestern town. He terrorized his enemies, doted on his family and remained untouchable through it all, all powerful. There was an uproar when Hope Brady (not one of his main nemeses) shot him dead over misinformation and had her stone brained boyfriend dump his remains in an demolition site. Among fans, there was this feeling of disrespect on The Phoenix’s legacy, seeing that the writers could just erase him in such a way. That’s why when news came out we’d get some final scenes with the beloved Joe Mascolo, everyone’s expectations for Thursday’s episode were sky high – and then they were quickly shot out of the sky by Friday.
The Prague Caper that roped in a number of fan favorites (and least favorites) felt silly from the start, but fans could appreciate many of the interactions that we’d lost over the years of poor stories. Marlena Evans and Anna Dimera’s scenes were winners from the start and only got better over time as the hunt for Stefano heated up. One of the best parts about the character of Marlena is not just her empathy and humble nature, but also how shady she can be when the time calls for it. The subtle jabs she always threw Anna’s way (Marlena brushing of Anna’s need to set aside time to give her a proper goodbye had me rolling in a fit of laughter) brightened up the storyline. Trained spies and cops and their partners were discussing entrapment plans in open air cafes, all while a criminal mastermind who clearly had a strong hold on the city was about at any given time. Did they not think that they could be found out? The story was just clunky and unbelievable all throughout.
Their final entrapment plan consisted of attending a masquerade ball in what was clearly St. Luke’s because they knew Stefano wouldn’t be able to resist attending. Okay… So all of the players in the story double up and mooned over one another; Steve Johnson and Kayla Brady were all about sweet little nothings in their corner – and I really mean nothing because I have no recollection of what they were talking about. It was cute but that’s about it. Boring as white bread Sonny Kiriakis and Paul Narita reconnected as the only living gays in town while Marlena was Stefano’s bait and Rafe Hernandez threw pre-teen level tantrums about the woman he loved that everyone else knew longer and better than he did. Speaking of Rafe, this Prague storyline also proved to every other DAYS viewer what I’ve been saying for a long time – Rafe is awful. Absolutely terrible, unlikable, unable to root for and annoying. I swear you could see everyone’s patience wearing thin with him each time he exploded about Hope being alone and needing him to save the day for her and how he’s the only one who cares about her plight (that he helped to perpetuate). DAYS has been severely lacking in slaps in recent years and I was hoping for a return this last week, something on the level of Marlena slapping the mess out of Sami Brady on her wedding day in the 90’s. Marlena really should have beaten Rafe like he was her child.
So to sum it up, Stefano couldn’t resist the lure of a masquerade ball and made his presence known (in the form of a stunt man). Rafe and Steve managed to catch him and transport him to a holding cell, all done off-screen because I imagine Joe Mascolo wasn’t in the best condition to do much else than what he did next. The last of The Phoenix we saw had him seated and silent in his prison cell while a handful of his longtime enemies listed their grievances. As expected, Dena Higley’s precious Rafe got the last word with Stefano, a man with whom he didn’t share as colorful as past with as everyone else in the room. It was such a blow to the character of Stefano’s legacy that it all came back down to the bumbling “leading man” no one wants. Marlena’s speech was flawless, so full of emotion including that of triumph; she would no longer be a pawn, she’d be a queen and he’d be put into checkmate. That scene should have been the end. Stefano being silent and defiant until the end, just laughing through his enemies’ complaints was perfect. He didn’t need words. He’d done it all, gotten away with it and would do so again, why waste time arguing and let them have what little victory they thought they had? While everyone chit-chatted, Stefano escaped of course. The story should have ceased right then. One final scene with his Marlena and poof, the Phoenix had flown the coop once more. It would have been an effective, suave and pompous end to Salem’s most prominent resident.
But the next day we learn that Stefano wasn’t Stefano at all, but Shane Donovan in a Big Momma’s House-esque prosthetic suit that only he and Steve knew about. Basically, the once trusted and morally right international agent had been lying for months, sent his friends and family on a wild goose chase in a foreign country all to spring their guilty comrade from jail. Whether or not Stefano was alive, Hope broke into a man’s house and shot him with an unregistered gun – but now that we know he’s actually dead, that Shane was scamming us all, Hope is most certainly guilty. She belongs in prison as well as all of these high ranking cops and spies that will break any law to protect one of their own. How messed up is that? These were all characters you wanted to root for back in the day but no one’s a hero anymore, they’re just as bad as the villains these days.
One of the worst parts of it all is that this was so unnecessary. As mentioned before, how great would it have been just to have Stefano vanish after a final standoff with Marlena. From that, just leave him as the immortal, ever present and all powerful presence that can still pull strings in Salem from afar. But the worst part of all is that this the absolute end for this legendary character as Mascolo left this world in early December of last year. It’s heart breaking and just unfair that this is what the fans are stuck with in the end. Stefano deserved a better send off, Mascolo deserved better and so did the fans. The only bright side to this mess is that Higley promised to never come back to Salem again.