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For the Week of July 24, 2017
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Laura's terror turned to rage, Sam's troubling visions opened her heart, and Sonny's desire to retire was repeatedly tested. The lines are blurred between good and evil, and right and wrong.

Ava is running around in flats and leggings, her hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail, as she drowns her sorrows in an endless flow of vodka martinis. Her life's a mess. She was kicked out of the hospital and sent home to live her life with a ravaged face, her baby is terrified to look at her, and everyone knows the role she played in Morgan's death. On top of that, her only real support system is a brother who is facing a trial that could end with him being sent to jail for a long, long time.

It truly sucks to be Ava.

Felix tried to show Ava how to take care of her wounds, but she sent him on his way because she thinks it's pointless to worry about wound care. Her face is disfigured, and putting cream on it isn't going to fix it. After she gave Felix the boot, she asked Julian to leave her alone with her sorrow and bitterness. Oh, and covered mirrors, which she had Julian do before shooing everyone away.

Naturally, the first thing Ava did was rip the sheet off the gigantic dining room mirror to get a gander at her face. Her horribly disfigured face.

It was also the first time that we the viewers got a good look at the extent of Ava's injuries. For weeks, the scribes have teased us with what was lurking beneath the bandages that had people turning away in revulsion when they caught a glimpse of Ava's injuries. Everyone agreed; it was a true penance for all the awful and terrible things that Ava has done over the years.

The build-up was good, especially in the cemetery when Carly told Ava that her face was finally as ugly as her soul. I was eager to see what Ava would have to live with, and at first, I was startled because it was quite intense looking. But once I got used to it, I thought that it looked more like a really bad sunburn with a few raw patches. Awful, to be sure, but nothing a few skin grafts and a guest spot on Botched couldn't fix.

I had expected something tragic. Something that had no hope of being repaired without a bona fide soap opera miracle from a handsome doctor -- like, say, Dr. David Hayward from Pine Valley?

Don't get me wrong; Ava looks dreadful, but that's part of her punishment. Carly was right. Ava was a vain woman. Having that taken from her is karma, but it's not exactly as hopeless as we were led to believe. Heck, her hair and eyebrows are still intact, which is pretty darn impressive, since half her face was singed off.

Sonny's dire warning for Ava not to even think about turning to plastic surgery to restore her appearance was laughable because killing Ava would put a serious crimp in his plans to retire from a life of crime. Sonny is a vengeful man, to be sure, but he's also exceedingly selfish. In the end, it was an empty threat because he will pick a happy life with Carly over killing Ava. Plus, he'll take pleasure in dangling Avery just out of Ava's reach for decades to come.

There were several really standout scenes this week, including the one between Ava and Sam.

Sam continued her downward spiral as the evil apparition of Sonny visits her with increasing frequency to ramp up her paranoia about Sonny's hold on Jason -- and the danger it poses to Jason. Her fear isn't completely unfounded because Jason is Sonny's go-to guy whenever there is trouble. I don't blame Sonny, though, because Jason is forever agreeing to help Sonny, and on the rare occasions when he says no, Jason ends up racing in at the eleventh hour to save the day.

Like Sam, Jason is an adrenaline junkie, and in Port Charles, all perilous roads lead to Sonny, either directly or indirectly. All. Of. Them.

I wasn't surprised that Sam ran to Julian for help, but I was rather shocked when she stayed to assist Ava after learning that Julian had left her aunt alone. It was completely unexpected because Sam utterly despises Ava, and for very good reason. That's why it was so touching to see Sam show some genuine compassion to someone who doesn't really deserve it. Not going to lie, I got a bit misty-eyed when Sam gave Ava a pep talk then helped her on with the plastic burn mask.

I was even able to overlook how dangerous it was for Ava to put that unsanitary thing on her face without so much as a layer of gauze between it and her oozing skin.

With all the craziness -- pun intended -- going on with Sam, she took a moment out to be a decent human being. It was nice to see, especially between two adversaries.

We need more of that in this world.

My absolute favorite scenes this week were the ones between Laura and Valentin. Genie Francis' performances were consistently powerful, but Friday's episode was Emmy worthy.

It all started when Alexis informed Valentin that Spencer, boy genius, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him for killing Nikolas. Valentin thought to buy Spencer off with a signet ring that Mikkos had commissioned for each of his sons, but Spencer wasn't looking for a paltry castoff. He wants it all because he wants Valentin to pay for killing Nikolas.

Things went from bad to worse for Valentin when Spencer shared the details of Nikolas' death with Charlotte. To say that Valentin was furious would be like saying Mt. Vesuvius had a little hiccup that fateful day back in 79 AD.

Basically, Valentin lost his Shih Tzu and spewed venom at Laura for siccing Spencer on poor innocent Charlotte, who can't understand why everyone except Nina hates her Papa.

The truth is, Spencer is entitled to his feelings about Valentin because Ava told the truth about what unfolded on Cassadine Island when Valentin forced Nikolas to relinquish all claims to the Cassadine estate. It wasn't self-defense as Valentin likes to spin it. Nikolas was the one acting in self-defense, and defense of Ava, because Valentin had the gun pointed at Ava and was about to shoot her. Nikolas was unarmed and in a prone position when Valentin shot Nikolas. It was with intent and deliberation.

Here's a clip

However, it appears that history might be in the process of being rewritten because Spencer was kidnapped, and Valentin is suddenly confiding to Nina that there is a really strong possibility that Nikolas is alive and well, and living it up without a care in the world -- or a thought to his grieving son, mother, and sister -- on the other side of the world.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I was falsely accused of murdering someone, I would do everything in my power to prove that they were, in fact, alive. Call me silly, but I wouldn't want a cloud like that hanging over my head while I'm trying to live happily ever after with the person I love.

Valentin might be able to sell that theory to someone like Nina or Nelle, who didn't know Nikolas, but no way will I ever believe that because, even at his absolute worst, Nikolas loved Spencer above all others. Nikolas' devotion to his son was unquestionable.

I've seen a lot of speculation that perhaps Nikolas returned to snatch Spencer because he wants to take his son into hiding, but that doesn't jive with me because I can't see Nikolas traumatizing Spencer by throwing a hood over his head then dragging him through the park only to toss him down a flight of stairs and lock him in a basement. True, it's furnished and seems comfortable enough, but Nikolas would never treat his son like that.

And it's unlikely that Nikolas would then send a picture of Spencer locked in the basement to Sonny.

It's not Sam, either, trying to lure Sonny into a trap, because the abductor's hands were much too large and manly to belong to someone as petite and delicate as Sam. That means Sonny has another enemy hiding in the in the wings. Could it be Julian? Yes, but I doubt it because he's an obvious enemy.

Until I saw that text message, I was leaning toward Valentin as the kidnapper because of the things he said to Laura, his anger over what Spencer did, and the incriminating evidence that fell out of Valentin's jacket. But it seems a bit reckless to send Spencer's mobster uncle a picture of where to find Spencer because the first thing that Sonny will do is contact Spinelli to work his magic on ferreting out who sent the text message.

I can't blame Laura in the slightest for believing that Valentin is behind Spencer's disappearance, which is why her scenes with Valentin are so powerful. I had tears in my eyes as she beseeched Valentin to tell her where he'd hidden Spencer only to switch to rage when she blasted him for killing her son and targeting her grandson. It was gripping, must-see TV.

It didn't end there. To my surprise, Laura had another encounter with Valentin on the piers that quickly turned violent when she spotted a crowbar conveniently lying around and took a swing at the back of his head. Valentin proved to be a true Cassadine because the blow didn't knock him out for more than a heartbeat or two. Luckily for Laura, Jason made a timely appearance and managed to neutralize Valentin.

Meanwhile, back at the police station Nathan gave his sister an ultimatum when he told Nina that if she goes back to Valentin, then he will not help her pick up the pieces when it all inevitably falls apart.

I hope Nina heeds his warning because until the issue of Nikolas is cleared up, Valentin is a ruthless and cold-blooded murderer. Nina deserves better than that.

Charlotte does too. It really irks me how Valentin is so completely dismissive of Lulu yet acts like he only wants the best for his daughter. Isn't a healthy relationship with her mother in Charlotte's best interest? It's great that Charlotte loves Nina, but Nina is not her mother, and as it stands, she's not even her stepmother.

I want Valentin to see how incredibly selfish he's being by trying to keep Charlotte from Lulu because all he's doing is hurting Charlotte. I realize that part of the reason he does it is because he fears that Charlotte will like being with her mother more than with him, but it's a silly fear because Charlotte is obviously devoted to her father.

Opening her heart to Lulu won't make Charlotte love Valentin any less.

Random observations
On what planet is keeping a loaded gun in the hallway closet, on the top shelf and wrapped in a scarf, safe? Scout might not be able to get into that closet, but I imagine Danny could. I'm going to chalk that one up to sloppy writing because someone who was trying to safeguard her family from outside dangers wouldn't be that reckless.

Did anyone else notice that they had a missing poster for Spencer on the police station wall just hours after he vanished? It seems rather quick.

Speaking of Spencer's disappearance, it's downright astonishing that Lila's Kids allows its campers to run willy-nilly all over the park, yet this is the first incident they've had of a child going missing.

I was bummed when Liesl was fired, but it's nice to see her keeping herself occupied plotting against Finn and Hayden. I'm intrigued to see what Hayden's ex-fiancé has to say when Liesl meets up with him.

Reader feedback

Carly is the world's worst mother, IMO. This reminds me of her badgering Michael to "let go of his anger" when he turned his back on Sonny for killing bio dad A.J. with whom Michael was forging a relationship; not only that but Sonny and Carly lied to him. Now she wants Josslyn to forgive and forget because Carly's withdrawal from her Sonny addiction is not working; AGAIN. I really wish that had made Julian a ruthless publisher instead of returning him to the mob; he could have locked horns with Sonny via the press and at the same time Julian would not be breaking the law for a living. -- Eileen

I'm confused about why everyone is going to all the trouble to hide "Man Landers" Identity...didn't we find out that Nathan was Man Landers because someone walked up to him and recognized him at Kelly's because Amy was already using his photo online? If that photo is already out there on the internet...why all the pretend secrecy? -- MandyLV

I have to disagree, Sam will drop Jason 2.0 in a heartbeat, just as she dropped Patrick. -- Kim

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts about the show. I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to email me or leave a comment below.

Until next time, take care.
Liz Masters

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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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