Written by A. Washington-Beeby
Story Consultant: C. Nathaniel Richardson & Nick Monarco
At Club TBD, Hope and Aiden's date has taken a sudden wrong turn, when Aiden snapped at Hope. Hope is tense after Aiden's sudden outburst. Aiden immediately realizes his reaction to Hope's question was extreme and looks around at the turned heads in his direction. He looks down sheepishly and relaxes, before apologizing.
AIDEN: I'm sorry, Hope. I...I didn't mean to snap, I just...
HOPE: No, no. I get it. I shouldn't have pushed you. I'm sorry.
Aiden relaxes immediately, though Hope is still a bit on edge, she continues.
HOPE: Talking about Bo isn't any easier for me. I think it's still fresh for me, so it probably stings more. Having no idea where he is, what he's doing. It's...it's on my mind pretty much all the time.
Aiden looks down, and reaches across the table to take Hope's hand in his, squeezing it tightly, and smiling, as they both look up at each other.
AIDEN: Why don't I take your mind off it, just for one night. Give you something to smile about again?
Hope smiles warmly, and nods slowly.
Gabi quietly opens the door to Will & Sonny's apartment, hoping to be quiet in case Sonny's home. The lights of the living room are off.
Gabi looks around, unsure how to proceed.
GABI: Sonny? Will?
Gabi sighs in relief, as she makes her way toward her old bedroom door, turning her cell phone light on to guide her way.
Just as she reaches her old bedroom to grab the rest of her things, the door to the master bedroom swings opens, and a shirtless Sonny emerges, fresh from a shower. He's startled to see her and shouts out, startling Gabi in return.
Gabi jumps back, the light from her phone blinding Sonny temporarily, before Sonny darts over to turn the lights on.
SONNY: Gabi, what the Hell are you doing??
Sonny looks annoyed at Gabi, as Gabi stands by her bedroom door, feeling guilty about being caught.
At WXIR, Nicole's special is on the air. She sits on the soundstage, speaking with the firm, professional voice typical to a newsreader, as she begins her program.
NICOLE: Good evening, Salem! And welcome to tonight's special from WXIR. The Walker Report, starring me, Nicole Walker.
As the focus shifts to another camera, Nicole turns to look directly into that camera, as Nicole continues.
NICOLE: Tonight we delve into the most talked-about, most controversial project to hit the city of Salem in a generation: The EnerNext energy project. What is it? Who are the winners, the losers, and how will you be affected by the proposal? Tonight, I'll be joined by three people, each will be affected differently by the plan.
Nicole turns to face Anjelica, who sits, angled to face Nicole, while still looking out toward the cameras. She smiles as the camera captures her.
NICOLE: My first guest tonight is running for state governor, and is no stranger to political world, as part of the storied Deveraux political dynasty. Please welcome Anjelica Deveraux.
Anjelica nods to the camera, smiling politely at the camera, then to Nicole.
ANJELICA: Thank you for having me.
NICOLE: My pleasure.
As Anjelica is being introduced, above the soundstage, Tyler studies the lighting rigs illuminating the soundstage. He carefully looks over the small rig right over where Nick sits on the stage below.
After a moment of carefully looking the wires over the hold up the lighting rig, Tyler pulls out a blade from his jacket pocket, and begins to cut one of the wires holding the rig up.
Below, Anjelica's interview with Nicole continues...
NICOLE: You've stated that you're dedicated to seeing this project through, if you're elected. But there's a lot of talk about its environmental impact, how would you respond to that kind of critique?
ANJELICA: Very simply, I think it's important to note that we are committed to the project, as it stands today, with a new vision and focus on using alternative fuels, while still providing the economic benefits that the previous administration at Titan were hoping to acheive.
NICOLE: Right, but...no formal deviation from the original plan has so far been announced, to my knowledge. Unless you've made some kind of deal behind closed doors?
Anjelica squirms momentarily, something Alex and Will notice as they stand behind the scenes on the set. Will looks over at Alex and points it out.
WILL: Ohhh here we go.
Alex shushes Will, but is simultaneously trying to hold in a laugh.
Back on the stage, Anjelica finds her footing, and responds to the question deftly.
ANJELICA: Actually, this is the first anyone's hearing of it. I am proposing this in this moment, challening the executive team from Titan and EnerNext to lead the charge and build an energy project that will benefit both the economy, and the ecology. As opposed to utilizing fossil fuels, as originally planned, my administration would greenlight the continuation of the EnerNext Salem project only if Titan, as a company policy, commits to a new model that protects air quality in Salem and the surrounding region.
From behind the camera, Will looks on with furrowed brow, as does Alex.
WILL: So...tell me...is she telling the truth this time?
ALEX: I honestly can't tell.
Back onstage, Nicole continues to grill Anjelica.
NICOLE: This all sounds well and good, but you have strong familial ties to the Kiriakis family, and to Titan industries. Your son is head of Public Relations for Titan, and his father is legal counsel for the corporation. Is that not some kind of conflict of interest?
As Anjelica answers Nicole's question, Tyler makes headway above her head, cutting the wires that hold up the lighting rig for the soundstage. His hands are slipping, as the heat from the rig is making his incredibly sweaty.
Tyler wipes his brow, before cutting midway through two more cables, before checking to be sure no one is near his escape route. His hand catches on one of the ends he's cut, cutting his finger slightly.
Tyler grimaces in pain, but stops short of making any noticeable sound, as he clenches his hand, and heads for the door to exit the lighting rig bridge.
Finding it's unlocked, he quietly walks through and shuts it behind him, as the rig begins to slowly give way, thread by thread.
Gabi sets her suitcase by the doorway of Sonny & Will's apartment, as Sonny emerges from his room, pulling a t-shirt over his head. He calls out to Gabi.
SONNY: Gabi, I don't want you to go through with this.
Gabi turns around, annoyed by Sonny's persistence.
GABI: Sonny, I have to do something. I can't just let Nick threaten us and blackmail us for the rest of our lives. I have to take back some control, not just for me, but for all of you, too.
SONNY: Why this? I mean...moving in with Nick is just...feeding you to the wolves.
GABI: And I am the only one who can get close enough to Nick to stop him from throwing us ALL to the wolves. Don't you get it, Sonny? How else am I gonna get the pictures of Sami, Kate, and I trying to drown him unless I have access to Nick and his stuff? How am I gonna keep him drugged up so that we can convince a judge that he's a danger to society so we can lock him back up?
Sonny gets in closer to Gabi, accentuating his point to her.
SONNY: See, THAT'S exactly what I'm worried about, Gabi. I'm worried he will be a danger. To you, Will, Sami, Kate. And to Ari.
Gabi looks down at the ground, relenting from her position somewhat, as Sonny continues.
SONNY: What if Nick is high on those pills and he catches you doing something you shouldn't, and you end up dead?
Gabi remains silent, unable to look up at Sonny, who carries on with his empassioned plea.
SONNY: And how far are you gonna take this, Gabi? He already wants to marry you again. You're going to have to sleep with this man, who tried to rape you, if you keep up with this. Are you seriously prepared to deal with that?
Gabi finally looks up at Sonny, defiantly.
GABI: If it means we're rid of that man forever, I'd do anything.
SONNY: Anything, Gabi? Think hard about that for a minute.
Gabi stares Sonny down, staring unwaveringly at him.
GABI: I have. And yes. Anything.
Hope and Aiden sit at their table at Club TBD, laughing as they finish their meal together.
T approaches with the bill, and he smiles as he lays it on the table.
T: I hope you both had an excellent evening.
HOPE: Thanks, T. Everything was lovely.
Aiden looks Hope's way, and winks.
AIDEN: Especially the company.
Hope blushes and rolls her eyes, as T chuckles to himself, before walking away.
As T walks away, Aiden having paid the bill, Hope and Aiden share a tender moment. The two can't take their eyes off each other.
HOPE: I really have had an amazing evening.
AIDEN: Even though I snapped at you?
Hope laughs, as Aiden reaches into his jacket pocket to pull his wallet out.
HOPE: Even though you snapped at me. I kinda walked into that one.
AIDEN: Well, well. Hope Brady, admitting she was wrong. There's a first.
Hope rolls her eyes, as Aiden drops some bills on the table to cover the dinner.
HOPE: Don't get used to it.
Aiden leans back, holding his hands up in surrender.
AIDEN: Wouldn't dream of it. But...seriously. I did overreact. I just...yeah, you hit a nerve, and...
Hope interrupts, reaching across the table to reassure Aiden.
HOPE: Aiden, you don't have to expla--
AIDEN: No, no. You were...it was wrong of me to fly off the handle like that. It's just...it's been hard on me and Chase with Liv gone...especially hard on Chase. He misses her constantly, and I see that even now. Things weren't good between us at the end and...I just...I guess I just feel guilty about not being there for her at the end.
Hope nods, putting her hand over his.
HOPE: Believe me. I understand. It's been....so hard with Bo gone for so long.
AIDEN: Have you heard from Bo at all lately?
Hope shakes her head. Letting go on Aiden's hand, she looks away at nothing in particular as she responds to Aiden.
HOPE: Nope. Just that the mission's taking longer than expected. He had to...have John Black relay the information to me because he can't communicate directly with me. Or his daughter.
Hope sighs, laughing to keep from crying before continuing on.
HOPE: I just...I think it's time I asked myself some hard questions.
AIDEN: Like what?
HOPE: Whether or not it's time to move on with my life.
Hope turns to look squarely at Aiden, who looks back, unsure how to respond.
The sound from the TV plays in Sheryl's living room as Nicole's special goes to commercial, and Sheryl mutes the volume before turning to Jerome, who sits on the sofa behind her, intrigued by Anjelica's comments.
SHERYL: Well, that's an interesting turn of events.
JEROME: You could say that. You believe this Deveraux woman?
Sheryl chuckles at Jerome's question.
SHERYL: The day I believe a politician during an election campaign is the same day Hell freezes over.
JEROME: But I just...I don't see how Nick is gonna support that. That dude's ego is massive, and he doesn't seem like the type to go along with something that isn't his idea.
Sheryl looks a touch confused by Jerome's statement.
SHERYL: You talk like you've got personal experience to back that up.
JEROME: Never said I wanted to talk about it, though.
Jerome picks up a beer from the coffee table in front of him, and takes a quick sip, punctuating his desire to end the discussion. Sheryl saunters over to the sofa, sitting down next to him.
SHERYL: Fair enough. but as long as he's doing right by the cause, I'm willing to overlook it. From the sounds of it, him taking over Titan could actually be very beneficial to us.
Jerome points to the screen, prompting Sheryl to unmute the TV as the theme music starts up, and the show returns.
Back at WXIR's studio, The Walker Report continues, as Nicole puts on her professional newsreader voice and posture.
NICOLE: Welcome back! With me now is the scientist-turned-CEO of Titan Industries, who has made a splash in the business world with his unexpected promotion to head of the conglomerate. Please welcome Nick Fallon, and a special guest of his, Percy Ruggles.
Nick looks over at Nicole from his seat, sitting next to Percy, with Anjelica moved to the far left during the break so that Nick and Percy sitting closest to Nicole. Nick smiles in his inimitably smarmy way, while Percy loudly greets the home audience.
NICK: Thanks for having us.
NICOLE: Pleasure's all mine. Now...for our viewers at home who may not be familiar with your friend here, tell us more about how Mr. Ruggles is tied to this whole affair.
Nick looks over at Percy and smiles broadly.
NICK: Percy here is my assistant, partner in crime...
Nick turns quickly to look at an unimpressed Nicole.
NICK: So to speak, of course. And he's also been the victim of the old guard at Titan and their insatiable appetite for fossil fuels.
NICOLE: Well that's an interesting thing to me. Percy's home was in the papers a lot not long ago.
PERCY: That is correct, Ms. Walker. The EnerNext Corporation was attempting to force me from my land to construct a oil fracking operation on my land the surrounding properties. As an avid bird watcher, and lover of nature, this was unacceptable to me, and as such, and through great serendipity, Mr. Fallon and I forged a partnership.
Nicole blinks, a spitefully blank expression on her face. After a moment's awkward pause, she continues.
NICOLE: Fascinating, Mr. Ruggles. I see this partnership has been incredibly fruitful for the both of you, then.
PERCY: Oh, it most certainly ha--
Nick and Anjelica both look disapprovingly at Percy, who suddenly feel their glares upon him and retreats within himself.
Nicole immediately turns her attentions back to Nick, beginning her probing interview in earnest.
NICOLE: Nick, your ascent to the top at Titan has been shockingly quick. Do you feel truly prepared for the learning curve you'll have to face in your new job?
NICK: I think so. I think, in order to move up so quickly in the business world requires a certain acumen and quick thinking that'll mean I'm the best candidate for the job.
Will, still stood behind the camera next to Alex, rolls his eyes at Nick's comment.
Alex chuckles at Will's snark, as Abby walks over to them, barely paying attention to them.
ABBY: Hey, guys.
WILL: Hey Abby, how's being Nicole's assitant?
Abby shrugs, as she turns with clipboard in hand, ensuring all's going well on-stage.
ABBY: Well...she's just started treating me like a human, so...that's progress.
Abby looks down at her clipboard, only half paying attention to her cousin's question, as Will and Alex chuckle at her quip, before turning their attentions back to the show.
Above the stage, the cables holding the small lighting rig begin to strain way above Nick's head.
Nicole asks her next question.
NICOLE: So then if you are the best candidate for the job, what are your plans? Specifically, are you taking Ms. Deveraux up on her offer of support provided the EnerNext project moves towards a more environmentally friendly outcome.
NICK: Well, having only just heard her proposal, I'd have to go over it more closely, but suffice to say, we would be pleased if this proposal were to go through. As it just so happens, a number of years ago, I sold an alternative fuel proposal to Titan, and it has been sort off...buried ever since. I think...with the support of Ms. Deveraux's prospective government, we would be able to take full advantage of this technology, providing the Salem region with inexpensive, clean energy.
Above Nick's head, the weight of the lights begin to snap more and more threads of the safety cable. But below, no one notices.
NICOLE: You and Ms. Deveraux seem incredibly in-sync on this.
Anjelica, still sitting next to Nick on the stage, chimes in.
ANJELICA: Serendipity, shall we say.
Nicole responds sarcastically, but maintains her professionalism, she asks her next question, hoping to trip Nick up.
NICOLE: Nick, I'm sure everyone at home finds your story of climbing that corporate ladder very inspiring. I was hoping you could share with us, what transpired that led you to the top?
NICK: Well...it's actually sort of a funny story.
From Sheryl's apartment, Jerome and Sheryl listen closely to what Nick's saying.
NICK: (via TV) See, I was made aware of an eco-terrorist group that had infiltrated the company thanks to some rather...poor hiring decisions....
Sheryl's face drops as Nick carries on.
At the studio, Nick relays his story to Nicole.
NICK: ...As such, I have a very extensive background in IT and indeed in online security, so I had been tracking their movements. Ultimately, I ended up stopping them from implanting a virus that would have devastated the Titan mainframe and completely destroyed the company's records.
NICOLE: Fascinating. The executive board must have been grateful.
NICK: You could say that. I...presented a case to them that they could not refuse.
Nick smirks and chuckles quietly on the screen, as Sheryl gets angrier.
SHERYL: That son of a....
Jerome shushes her, as the segment continues.
NICOLE: (via TV) And were the hackers apprehended?
NICK: (via TV) No.
NICK: Not as of yet. That's...actually...partly why I'm here tonight.
Nick reaches behind him, and pulls out a manila envelope.
NICK: With your permission, I would like to share with your audience, the identities of the hackers right now, in hopes that the Salem PD, and FBI could locate, and catch these guys before they strike again.
Nick looks directly at the camera, smiling as he holds up the envelope.
Behind the cameras, Alex and Will look at each other, intrigued. Abigail looks on, puzzled.
Above the stage, the lighting rig holds in place...for now.
In Sheryl's apartment, Sheryl seethes, trying to suppress her rage, and her fear of being exposed by Nick, who she thought was on her side.