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Stefano finally comes out of his coma this week, which brings Joseph Mascolo back again as the Phoenix. A few months ago, it seemed unlikely that the actor, who gave a no-holds-barred interview about his exist in Digest’s 5/27 issue, would be returning anytime soon. “They would have to come on bended knee,” he said at the time. But his comeback, he says, “started with the last line of that article and let’s just leave that alone. [Executive Producer] Ken Corday and I have a special relationship. We can scream at each other and love each other and we go back a long time. We have a certain kind of respect for each other. Essentially, I think everybody suddenly realized, ‘Hey, we’re making a terrible mistake here,’ and without anybody saying anything or doing anything, it was just something that happened.”

Dena Higley at the writing helm made a difference, he reports. “We’ve also had a change of writers, which is a big thing as far as I’m concerned. The writing before was really dumb and what they did with the character was really dumb. It was not Stefano. My basic thing here is if we can get Stefano back and try to do it right this time, then it will be fun. I have my fingers crossed because you know a lot of times you can sit down and talk about this stuff, but if it’s not on the page, it’s nothing.”

Story-wise, Stefano starts to come out of his coma and lets EJ and Tony know he’s awake. And he is back with a vengeance. “He’s still sort of semiparalyzed because of whatever they stuck in his head, but he’s already starting to kind of get a little revenge because Stefano is never alone. There are minions all over the world for him, so he’s already put in motion some things that are going to make most of the folks that we know in Salem very uncomfortable.”

Namely Marlena, who is stuck with a needle this week and paralyzed in the same way Stefano was. “Well, she’s No. 1. He starts with her. I mean, talk about being pissed off. He’s really after her, without any question. It’s interesting because it’s a two-sided coin. She has always been an Achilles’ heel for him; he always cared for her.”

Look for Stefano’s return to push John back into Marlena’s orbit, says Higley. “Marlena is Stefano’s main target. This is a threat that brings John and Marlena emotionally back together, then….”

Mini pic of Marlena, with big pic of EJ, Tony and Stefano (in bed). Cap: A Dish Served Best Cold: EJ and Tony visit with Stefano, who comes out of his coma determined to get Marlena.

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SOD: The Phoenix Rises Again! · DAYS: News, Spoilers & Discussion