Days of Our Lives Review: Lani and Eli leave Salem!

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It was a sad day as Eli and Lani, Salem’s only persons of color super couple, left town.

Yes, Salem still has Abe and Paulina, but I don’t put them on the same level as #Elani. These two fought through lies, Gabi’s manipulations, Kristen’s drama, and the loss of a child to finally end up together.

Admittedly, Lani and Eli haven’t always been my favorite couple. I enjoyed Eli from the moment he hit town, but Lani was another story. Her character was questionable at best when she first arrived in Salem. Remember her icky hookup with JJ?

But she’s developed into a heroine we could root for and half of a happy power couple that’s been fun to watch.

That’s what makes it so difficult to lose them. They had careers. They had children. They had extended family that they loved but could make them crazy. But if the theory holds that with every loss comes some small gain, the upside here was the stellar goodbyes!

When Theo mentioned that even Stefano, as heinous as he could be, loved Peter and Kristen just as much as his biological children, I wondered where this was going. It led right to Abe asking Lani to sign adoption papers.

What a beautiful moment. Yes, Lani is already Abe’s daughter in their hearts, but now they’ve made it a legally binding contract that no one can question.

Paulina and Lani shared several warm moments as Lani officially recognized Paulina as her mother. I was pleased that Lani didn’t take anything away from Tamara. Tamara is the mother who raised her, but Paulina spent Lani’s entire existence making sacrifices to protect her, and that’s something a parent does.

But my favorite moment was between Lani and Julie in this Days of Our Lives quote

Lani: If I start to wear down I’ll just ask myself, what would Julie do?”
Julie: What a great notion. Do you suppose we can make that a rule for everybody to follow?

Perhaps even more lovely was Julie’s goodbye to Eli.

Julie lost her son, David, but unexpectedly gained a grandson, and she and Eli have forged a unique bond since he arrived in Salem. The hugs and the dance were only made better by Julie promising Eli that she and Doug would be the houseguests from hell because when they finally visit, they’ll never want to leave.

And how can you blame her if she doesn’t want to miss a moment with her great-grandchildren, one of which is her namesake.

Days shined as they sent off two fan favorites with lots of laughter through tears moments. As much as I don’t want to lose Lani and Eli, this is what I watch soaps to see.

Elsewhere, Chad was grieving Abigail. I hope his grief continues to be this realistic, and they don’t have him jumping into another relationship soon. Billy Flynn is giving a master class performance on living through grief, and I hope that isn’t cut short.

Chad found comfort with both friends and family, the most unexpected being John.

I loved when John shared that he used to get angry when people would try to compare the grief they felt over losing a loved one with his over losing Isabella, despite knowing they meant well. Whoever wrote that line has suffered this kind of loss.

By the end of their talk, it seemed that John should have been a counselor instead of Marlena. Marlena comes across as cold and clinical, whereas John is warm and empathic. His talk with Chad was perfect, if heartbreakingly so.

JJ finally arrived and came to see Chad. Even though JJ admitted to not always being a fan of Chad, the two bonded over their shared loss. They both knew and loved Abigail better than almost anyone else.

Casey Moss looked fantastic. I found myself wishing that he’d stay in Salem for more than just a few episodes.

But I had to wonder why Jack and Jennifer had started making funeral arrangements without discussing it with Chad. I know they consulted him afterward, but Chad was Abigail’s husband. He should be taking the lead in this unless he states otherwise.

And as sad as I was that Missy Reeves didn’t return for this storyline, I’m actually really loving Cady McClain as Jennifer right now. This is the first time I felt like Cady was the real Jennifer.

Elsewhere, Sami interrupted EJ and Belle to have EJ sign their divorce papers. And for all of the contention between Sami and Belle, I adored the shared sister moment when they both rolled their eyes over Marlena deciding to treat Jan Spears. They both know their mother would choose to play hero to her patients than side with them.

Good for Belle for putting the breaks on her and EJ’s tryst once Sami left. Eli was kidding them both when he tried to claim that signing those divorce papers didn’t mean anything to him. He and Sami have serious issues, but in his heart, he still loves his Samantha.

But the best part was when EJ and Belle got defensive with one another, and the verbal gloves came off…

Just because you’re articulate doesn’t mean you’re not petty as hell for calling a conflicted woman a tease.

Belle [to EJ]

When they finally decide to have sex, Belle ended up more conflicted than ever. But that leads to one of the things I find so satisfying about this couple.

I love the way EJ and Belle talk! They talk about what’s going on in their lives. About how they feel. About their relationship. How many other characters do that?

I didn’t expect Belle and EJ to be in this emotional limbo after sleeping together, but it’s a really honest place for them.

I know there are a lot of Shelle fans out there, but I’m just not one of them. Way back when different actors played these characters, I enjoyed them. I like Brandon Beemer and Martha Madison separately, but together I find them dull.

EJ and Belle spark and are fun to watch. They make me want to see more.

At the hospital, the buttinski duo of Brady and Chloe showed up to meet Shawn and Jan’s baby. Brady was quick to agree with Shawn that everything was Belle’s fault.

Is it? Personally, I think there’s enough blame to spread around. Belle could have directed all of her anger toward Jan, considering Jan, with the devil’s help, sexually assaulted Shawn. But I can see where she got blindsided and was left reeling, especially since Shawn didn’t share the whole truth about the incident.

Shawn has kowtowed to Jan at every turn and made little effort to try and pull Belle in as a partner in making these decisions. And when Belle tried to have Jan’s rights as a parent legally terminated, Shawn took Jan’s side. This is a woman who has tried to kill his wife multiple times!

Did Belle file for legal separation to give herself the option of sleeping with EJ without “officially” cheating? Yeah, it sure seems that way. But it appears that a legal document won’t assuage her guilt.

Now that Orpheus has pulled a soap opera paternity switch rabbit out of his hat, it seems Shawn may not be the father after all.

Is there hope for Shawn and Belle? Probably, but I’m not rooting for them. EJ and Belle intrigue me more than any other couple has in a long time. And I wouldn’t mind if Shawn found someone more interesting for him.

Another fun moment was Lucas calling Sami out on kidnapping her baby sister and selling her on the black market. Wasn’t that just the storyline gift that keeps on giving!

And Sami’s reaction was just so…Sami.

Lucas: Your relationship with your sister has kind of been screwed up from the very beginning. You know, ever since she was a baby and you tried to sell her on the black market.
Sami: Are you seriously throwing that in my face right now? How come people can’t just move on from that? That was a long time ago. I was a kid. And they got her back. They did get her back. Now she uses that was an excuse to blame me for everything wrong that ever happens in her life.

But Lucas wasn’t wrong when he pointed out that Sami was the one who brought Jan back for her own gain and set this horrible turn of events in motion for Belle and Shawn.

So yeah, as much as Belle is attracted to and has feelings for EJ, and she’s angry with Shawn, sticking it to her sister by sleeping with her ex is also a bonus.

And did anyone else feel like Sami was adamant about EJ kidnapping her because it gave her an easy out of her marriage?

Elsewhere in the Brady clan, Roman pushed Eric to be more like Sami and express his feelings.

I can see his point. Where Sami has never met a feeling or thought she hasn’t expressed, Eric bottles everything up and wraps himself in guilt and shame. Put the twins together, and they might have the emotional capacity of a normal person.

But just as Eric seemed to be taking his father’s advice, Rafe and Nicole arrived home from the courthouse where they’d just gotten married!

So here are some questions.

What was the rush? Has anyone thought about where these two will cohabitate and what that will mean for Allie and Henry? And does anyone expect that a marriage that took place entirely offscreen has any chance of surviving?

There’s a definite countdown clock on Rafe and Nicole. My guess is that it will end with Nicole cheating on Rafe with Eric, maybe on a conference table, which would be fitting considering Rafe cheated on Ava that way.

What goes around comes around.

Finally, we get to Ben and Ciara “Living in Cin,” which is a cute nod to their fan base.

I was a huge fan of Bo and Hope back in the day, but the Fancy Face nickname has run its course, so I’m glad the new boat got a new name.

But I have to ask, do Ben and Ciara have any clue how to sail? Bo was a Merchant Marine and grew up with his fisherman father. Shawn spent part of his childhood on a sailboat with Bo. But Ciara didn’t, and Ben’s spent more time in an institution than sailing.

I’m guessing I will have to suspend my level of disbelief on this one because it’s not as though any novice can sail around the world.

So what did you think of this week’s Days of Our Lives?

Will you miss #Elani? Were their goodbyes all you hoped?

Are you team #Shelle or team #EJelle?

Is Cady McClain’s Jennifer growing on you too?

Click that SHOW COMMENTS button below and share your thoughts on that and more! Then check back this weekend as the Days of Our Lives round table team hashes out all the happenings from this week in Salem.

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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