Just when I thought the days of a soap opera couple stealing my heart, sucking me in and making me— for a second— look beyond all the back stage shenanigans that are generally much more interesting than anything we're seeing on our screens these days, comes a couple like Days of Our Lives' Philip (Jay Kenneth Johnson) and Stephanie (Shelley Hennig).
My love for this couple certainly didn't happen over night. In fact it has rather taken me by surprise. I'm sure many Daytime Confidential readers and podcast listeners remember me uttering TV Guide Canada's Nelson Branco's trademark phrase "hair model" in the same sentence with Hennig's name on more than one occassion over the past year and a half, and are currently experiencing jolts of anticipated carpal tunnel as they rush to log in to tell, er type me so, but what can I say? Opinions change.
As for Johnson, while I adored him during his first stint on DAYS as teen Philip, I have been highly critical of the Marlon Brando-meets-Maurice Benard style he had been employing to show how good an angry, little Abercombie mobster Phillip could be. All of that began to change around the time Stephanie was kidnapped by the DiMeras.
To pay the Kiriakis clan back for abducting his family's patriarch, Stefano (Joe Mascolo), EJ (James Scott)paid off the seemingly-simpleton Kiriakis gardener Owen (Wes Ramsey) to snatch and grab poor Steph and keep her hidden until Victor (John Aniston) and Philip decided to give up Stefano. A viable feud, not to mention a starcrossed love story was born.
In the grand tradition of DAYS heroines before her, Hennig gave good distressed damsel as Stephanie played physical and mental games with Owen, her twisted–yet–childlike tormentor. I actually believed Stephanie was terrified for her life, and possessed the Kayla Brady-inherited smarts to try to best Owen on her own terms. Even though she failed, Stephanie earned my respect, as did Hennig. For the first time since the actress took over the role, Stephanie Johnson truly felt like Patch and Kayla's daughter.
Johnson, meanwhile wisely reigned in the over-the-top performances he'd been showcasing while trying to establish Philip as some menacing, boy Don. He let Philip's true feelings for the woman he loved come to the surface and fuel his every action, which made the character all the more lethal when dealing with EJ and later Owen. More crimes are committed every day due to that pesky emotion called passion, than over stolen fuels projects. By rooting Philip's wrath in his love for Stephanie, as opposed to corporate shenanigans, DAYS finally began making the Kiriakis vs. DiMera feud Appointment TV.
With Stephanie popping pills and bonding with her cousin Sami (Alison Sweeney) over DiMera hateration, and Philip desperately trying to keep Steph from finding out just how dirty the Kiriakis can get, this storyline has me glued to the tube, and to You Tube as it were. Check out this MVID, courtesy of bfred1963, set to "Me and You" by Kenny Chesney. Who's come a LONG way since "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" I might add!