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A Rich Soap Opera Payoff Can Save A Poor Story

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Tanner Novlan

Howard Wise/

Mom’s The Word: Sheila’s return from the dead on B&B rocked Finn (Tanner Novlan) and Steffy’s (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) marriage.

A solid build-up can make us tune in for the payoff — even if we didn’t like the story. 

Sheila coming back from the dead for the 900th time on B&B was a head-scratcher, so the fun was in watching the reaction from the people she had tried to kill. The writers did that soap opera thing where Finn hemmed and hawed to Steffy over two episodes (“It’s incredible, it’s unexpected, it’s exciting, hear me out, it’s real”) before finally spitting out that Steffy had killed a lookalike named Sugar, not Sheila.

Finn: “We found Sheila.”

Steffy: “Sheila is dead.”

Finn: “It wasn’t Sheila’s body. My birth mother is alive!”

Well, ring-a-ding-ding. Steffy was properly horrified, especially when her husband repeatedly referred to his psycho birth mother as “Mom.” Finn said Sheila has changed; Steffy retorted that he’s delusional and told him to choose: Either Sheila or me. As obstacles in a marriage go that’s a good one, but Steffy and Finn have been having this same argument since Sheila shot them both in 2022 and Finn has been on the wrong side every time. What’s different?   

Across town, Hope broke the news to Ridge and Liam. Liam immediately googled Sugar to find out if she was real (a nice nod to this being 2024) while Hope yelled at Ridge for doubting her. 

Ridge: “Sheila is dead.” 

Hope: “She isn’t dead because I saw her.” 

Ridge (arguing): “The morgue, crematorium, nine toes, whatever.” 

Hope: “Sheila was a victim.” 

Hardly. She showed her true colors in the next scene when Deacon took a “faint” Sheila to the ER. She immediately stirred the pot by asking to see Finn’s adoptive mother, doctor Li, and gleefully taunting her. 

Li: “You died!”

Sheila (laughing): “Did I? I’m looking pretty good for a corpse. My wonderful son is the reason I am here. I have a second chance because of Finn. He never wants to be apart from me again. He even called me mom.” 

Salt in the wound… that psycho has learned nothing. Was I the only one rooting for Li to smother Sheila with a pillow? Yes, she brings the drama, but it’s hard to watch a character beat the legal system for 30 years. It’s even harder to watch what propping Sheila has done to Finn and Hope. I’m Team Steffy on that one.

Liam said it best:

Liam: “If Sheila is alive, none of us can relax for the rest of our lives.”

Hope: “Finn doesn’t believe that.”

Liam: “Because he’s an idiot.” 

Y&R’s Jordan cheated death, too, in a story that involved her getting the best of every Newman, Abbott, security guard and cop in the country. Everyone thinks she’s dead but we know Victor has her locked in a cage and is feeding her vodka (to punish her for force-feeding booze to alcoholic Nikki).

Jordan: “I need food, not more vodka.”

Victor: “I decide what you’ll get.” 

Jordan keeps calling him cruel, which is funny since she tried to kill Victor’s entire family. The premise that Jordan was able to kidnap Claire at birth, raise her to hate the Newmans, and return 25 years later to kill them all was faulty, but Claire’s existence has jump-started the Newman/Abbott rivalry. Claire wants to be Harrison’s nanny, but Summer refuses, and the resulting fights between the varied A-listers in Claire’s orbit have been surprisingly entertaining.

Phyllis: “This girl could be a psycho in training.”

Diane: “You and I have both been seen as psychos at different points. This finger-pointing is not a good look for either of us.” 

Phyllis: “This girl tried to kill her family!”

Diane: “She was brainwashed.” 

A debate about psychos between the woman who planted an octopus in Christine’s bed and the woman who stole Jack’s sperm (to make Kyle) makes the retcon more palatable. 

They’ve dropped the ball on developing Claire’s character, however. She walks around Genoa City with a plastic smile offering platitudes, which makes no sense given her tumultuous background. 

Claire: “I want to know everything I missed over the years.”

Victoria: “We have all the time in the world for that.”

Claire: “I love spending every moment we can together. It’s amazing. You’re amazing!” 

Victoria and Claire gushing over each other is not a story. Where is Claire’s anger that Cole and Victoria buried the wrong baby and never tried to look for her? She had a psychotic childhood. She should resent that. 

Maybe Claire will turn when she finds out Victor won’t vouch for her to his granddaughter Summer re: being Harrison’s nanny. We know there’s a dangerous plot afoot involving the caged Jordan but his excuse is that the Abbotts are toxic.  

Victor: “Jack Abbott is a fool and Diane Jenkins is an opportunist. I don’t want anyone in my family to have anything to do with the Abbotts.” 

As outlandish as Jordan and Claire’s story has been, I can’t be mad that the 40-year-old conflict between the Newmans and the Abbotts is still paying off.  

Past history always enhances present story. GH’s Ava moving in with Sonny never made sense (for many reasons, but especially since messing with his son Morgan’s medication contributed to his death) but their cat-and-mouse games have been amusing. I did a double take when GH’s Ava offered to accompany Sonny to Brook Lynn’s wedding, but he didn’t miss a beat. 

Ava: “In case you want a plus-one for the wedding, I did pick out a pretty spectacular outfit. No pressure.”

Sonny: “There is no pressure because you’re not going.”

Sonny brought up the fact that Ava killed Connie Falconeri (oh, that) and reminded her that the Cerullos and Falconeris have long memories. When Ava threatened to move out, he called her bluff. She backpedaled.

Ava: “I don’t get out much. That’s why I made the assumption about Brook Lynn’s wedding. I can give you a ride.” 

Sonny: “Blaze’s mother is coming as my plus-one.”

Ava (through clenched teeth): “That’s very generous of you.”

Blaze’s mother Natalia is no bargain, either. She’s intrusive, rude and homophobic, ordering her daughter to stay closeted “for her career” rather than live her truth and accompany Kristina to Brook Lynn’s wedding.  

Natalia (to Blaze): “I think it is unwise for you to go to such a public event.” 

Why would we want Sonny paired with such an unlikable person? Better to put him back in Nina and Carly’s orbits and have Ava tangle with all of them. 

Marlena, John and Patch teaming up with Maggie to bust Konstantin on DAYS will hopefully reward us for having to watch him slither around Salem for a year. It was tough to see smart Maggie agree to marry the obviously evil Kon Man, but we’ll chalk that up to her being in mourning over Victor.

Maggie: “Everything he said to me was a lie. The man came here to steal my husband’s money and everything else he had — including me. Damn him! He has messed with the wrong redhead. I want him behind bars.”

Patch: “For what? None of this is a crime so far.” 

John: “We’re going to feed him just enough rope to hang himself.” 

It slowly dawned on Maggie that Konstantin planned to kill her, but ole Black Patch aren’t going to let that happen. They give her an ISA device planted in a necklace and set up her cell phone so they could track her. (Finally, a soap opera character is tracking a phone! Note to all writers: What a fun way to bust someone for being in the wrong house, jail, bed.) 

Back at the mansion, Konstantin was all “How did it go with Marlena?” as he innocently arranged flowers.

Maggie: “It’s going to be a wedding to remember…”

Now that’s a good buildup to a rich payoff!  

Hey. It’s only my opinion.