How do you know when it’s time to kill off a character? Check out what Digest columnist Carolyn Hinsey has to say about what’s happening across the daytime dial.
When should a soap kill a character off? That depends.
It’s a tough call when the actor dies. I like how B&B’s original Sally Spectra is still floating out there sipping tropical drinks on remote islands (RIP Darlene Conley), and DAYS has been vague about what happened to Stefano DiMera (RIP Joe Mascolo), a.k.a. The Phoenix who always rose again.
But John Aniston was pivotal to the action for over 35 years and made Victor Kiriakis such a beloved, larger-than-life character that I think his absence will need to be addressed. Aniston was 89 when he passed and we had watched him slow down in recent years, so a tribute to both the actor and his character could be a joyous celebration of life. DAYS could start with the montage that aired December 26 after Aniston’s last episode and build from there.
Victor: “I have something to say.”
Vivian: “You can’t object at your own wedding.”
Victor: “Says who? I’ve let you get away with a lot because I don’t listen to most of what you say.”
Cut to his many weddings, bitchfests, loved ones, exes, mistakes.
Victor (to Maggie): “You inspire me to be a better man.”
Those scenes felt different because —unlike most other DAYS characters who have “died” — we know Victor won’t be back. He and John Aniston deserve a heartfelt, meaningful tribute with the whole cast paying their respects.
The same goes for GH’s Nurse Epiphany Johnson. Sonya Eddy’s death at age 55 is a much sadder milestone because it was so unexpected and she had so much life ahead of her. It also struck a chord with viewers because her character was working hard to pass the MCAT exam and become a doctor, an unusual progression on this venerable soap set in a hospital. Epiphany was struggling to succeed and leave her mark on the world which all fans could relate to, and the bemused sarcasm she brought to her job was everybody.
Harmony (making demands in 2022 at G.H. after Willow fainted): “Is there someone who could move her up on the list?”
Epiphany: “Not above me. I’m the head nurse.”
Sigh … grab a tissue and watch her sing “You’re Not Alone” at the 2014 Nurses’ Ball. RIP.
On a brighter note, Britt’s exit was well-orchestrated. From the acceleration of her disease to her mother’s meltdown to Sonny about it (he comforted her which was big of him considering Obrecht once kidnapped his grandson Rocco) to her decision to plan a killer party to see herself out.
Brad: “I designed a cocktail: The Britch.”
Maxie (nixing that): “I know Britt’s likes and dislikes. I’m family.”
Brad: “I’m family too. Chosen family.”
That was an excellent note, considering millions of people spent the holidays with their chosen families while this story was airing. Britt made Brad and Maxie work together which laid the foundation for an entertaining duo going forward, got a boffo photo montage, and shared tender good-byes with Austin, Brad and Maxie before getting the hook and a wrenching good-bye with her “mutter.”
Obrecht (apologizing): “A mother should be someone who inspires you, not someone you have to survive…. [To Britt’s body] Where does that energy go? It can’t just disappear. Godspeed, Britta.”
Watching Nikolas spiral down will ease his exit, too. Laura gave her son an ace speech pleading with him to listen to his better angels but it was too late for the cheating kidnapper.
Laura: “I have to find a way to help Nikolas.”
Ava: “And you came to me?”
Nikolas already “died” in 2016 so here’s hoping he just disappears until the inevitable recast.
Y&R prefers to recast rather than kill characters when their portrayers quit or don’t work out (Summer, Chance) but it also works to just write them off until the original actor comes back (Daniel, Danny Romalotti).
Daniel: “How about I get us a round of drinks?”
Phyllis: “I have to be anywhere but here.”
Summer: “Mom, please!”
The mixture of OG and recast works because longtime fave Phyllis is the glue with both her children. Look at the pretzel Y&R had to twist themselves into for Diane to return after she died on camera.
You’d think B&B’s Sheila would have used up her nine lives by now, but a surprise savior surfaced in a storm.
Bill (to Steffy): “You go to the police? I go to the police.”
Let’s review: In 2018, Taylor shot Bill after he slept with her vulnerable daughter; Steffy convinced Bill not to press charges.
Steffy: “You’re blackmailing me? Threatening my mother’s freedom?”
That unresolved chestnut jumpstarted two stories: It let Sheila off the hook (for now) and showed Finn he doesn’t know his wife as well as he thought he did.
Finn: “You and Bill?!”
Steffy: “My mother thought he took advantage, that’s why she shot him.”
Sheila is a solid villain who has been killed off many times, but this time she shot her own son which makes it hard to see a path forward. The explanation that she had been secretly living with (and loving) Bill when she was parked on Deacon’s couch literally the week before is too farfetched even for a character who cut off her own toe to convince her enemies she had been eaten by a bear (!).
Sheila (toasting with Bill): “A man who truly cares for me.”
Bill: “Are you ready?”
He called the cops, knowing the scheme to get Sheila released by blackmailing Steffy was in his back pocket. It remains to be seen whether letting Sheila live to fight another day will be worth ruining Bill Spencer.
Bill: “I need a woman I can’t hurt.”
Steffy: “What’s wrong with you?”
Hey. It’s only my opinion.