Double toil and trouble x 56

For the Week of April 8, 2019
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A montage of General Hospital turning 56 and Gail's memorial
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Does it feel like Shiloh is being set up to kick off a whodunit murder mystery? Trouble is afoot at Dawn of Day, but across town, Ava is preparing for an epic showdown with a one-handed phantom, while Lulu is taking time off to regroup in Paris. Things are changing behind the scenes and on our screens, so it time to turn and face the strange.

If I were to pick theme music for Shank these days, I'd select the ominous beats of Jaws because it's starting to look like death is stalking him. Someone is going to kill Shiloh, it's just a matter of when and who.

The hidden cameras, the nervous way that several women act around Shiloh, the fact that some have clearly and very publicly expressed a burning desire to kill the *ahem* mesmerizing cult leader, and the revelation that he is the keeper of everyone's deepest and darkest secrets. So many motives, so many possible suspects.

I really hope that I'm right, and we will, in fact, get a real mystery. One where the writers already know who the murderer is, but we don't. One where our soap scribes plant clues along the way that allow us to play a nail-biting game of Whodunit as a suspenseful buildup reaches a spectacular big finale where the crime solver (likely anyone except Jordan) gives us that Hercule Poirot moment where everything -- including all those critically important clues that were dropped -- is spelled out to a room full of suspects, including the killer.

It's been ages since I've seen a good mystery on a soap. Some of the best spirited debates that I've had with other fans of the show were about who killed Luis Alcazar, and the identity of the Text Message killer -- ironically, another Alcazar. People love unravelling a mystery and playing armchair detective, and soap operas can be the perfect vehicle to satisfy that desire with a little creativity and a good villain that everyone wants to see dead.

I don't want to know who the killer is, and I don't want anyone else to know. Film several endings, so even the "killer" doesn't know who it is until the audience finds out. And most importantly, make the killer someone of consequence. It can be a justified homicide in the end, but make it matter, so that viewers are left saying, "Wow! I did not see that coming. Not. At. All."

Like I said, Shank's situation at DOD is a perfect setup for a really good murder mystery.

Folks, Kristina is a coward. A yellow-bellied, chicken-livered, spineless, little weasel who should be disowned by her family when they find out that she didn't even have the cojones to ante up own deep, dark, scandalous secret to join Shiloh's band of merry sycophants. No, she sold out one of her loved ones.

With family members like that, who needs enemies? Certainly not anyone in Kristina's family, that's for sure. Shiloh should take note; Kristina's loyalty is a fickle thing.

And what did Kristina get in exchange for selling out a loved one? Did she get any show of good faith from Shiloh by being offered so much as a slightly guilty secret? Nope, she got a bill for $10,000, so that she can take the next step. As she herself said, Shank mentioned nothing about this small fortune prior to asking her for the key to her destruction, or in Kristina's case, another's destruction.

Most people would take a moment at that point to question why Shank would neglect to mention such a large sum of money if that was one of the requirements to join the elite Trust. Only a con man or someone with an incredibly poor memory would fail to mention that, and Shiloh doesn't strike me as the absentminded sort. Kristina didn't even bat an eye. She raced over to Charlie's Pub and asked Julian to front her $10,000.

Let that sink in for a moment. $10,000. 00. From Julian. The man that Kristina insisted was the devil incarnate. The scum of the earth. And he actually gave it to her.

When this is all done, Kristina better never ever say an unkind word about Julian again.

I realize that some will say that Julian shouldn't have given Kristina the money, but I disagree. She's an adult and an employee. I doubt that he would have given Kristina the money if he didn't trust her to repay it, and I also doubt that he would have given her the money if he'd had an inkling that it would drag her deeper into danger. He trusts her judgment -- fool -- and Kristina knew that. That is why she went to him. Well, that and because she knew that Julian's love for Alexis, and Sam, would make him more apt to help Kristina.

Kristina could give Shiloh lessons on manipulation, which illustrates just how strange things have gotten. Kristina should be smarter than this. She really should be.

That brings me to Sam, who is vexing me to no end these days. I couldn't believe that Jason, of all people, had to rein her in when it comes to Danny. I never thought that I'd see the day where Sam is more of a danger to her son that Jason is. That's when I realized that Sam is starting to fall for Shank's nonsense because it was clear that Sam honestly didn't think that the guy that she needs to rescue Kristina from might put Danny at risk.

Has Sam not picked up on the young mothers and children that Willow said Shiloh likes to surround himself with? Speaking of which, where exactly is Shank keeping those mommies and kiddies because, other than one pregnant teenager, I haven't seen any suggestion that Shiloh is fixated on children.

Moving on, I don't think that Sam is attracted to Shank. At least, I hope not because Sam is supposed to be an expert con artist, and Shiloh is creepy, smarmy, and a borderline stalker. Most of Shank's philosophies can be found on the slips of paper found in fortune cookies, so there is really no reason for Sam to fall for any of Shank's platitudes. The fact that there are moments when she appears to be under his spell baffles me because, like I said, Shiloh isn't even that good.

I was also a bit taken aback by Sam's audacity at volunteering Grandma Monica, who also runs a hospital, to babysit the kids while Sam infiltrates the cult. What about taking some of your millions in the bank and hiring a nanny to care for the kids while you work? That's what most working parents do.

If Sam is going to be working like this, she should invest in proper childcare instead of depending on others to pick up the slack for free. Also, the last time that I checked, Scout has a father who might like to spend some time with his daughter so that she can perhaps spend some time with her dying brother. Even if Drew doesn't want to take Scout, Sam should at least consider calling dad before grandma.

Unfortunately, it does appear that Oscar's end is nigh. Or is it? I can't forget that he had that experimental treatment, and there's been lots of talk about how the tumor might change Oscar's personality. A part of me wonders if Oscar will wake up from his coma, cured and vastly different. It's possible, but the bittersweet scenes at the footbridge seemed so very final to me. It really was as if Oscar was saying goodbye not just to Josslyn, but to the audience, as well.

Next week should tell us, but the fact that Jordan clearly needs a new kidney combined with Oscar's grim prognosis point to this storyline getting a lot sadder in the days ahead. I've read comments suggesting that Oscar couldn't possibly be a kidney donor because of his cancer, but if that cancer didn't spread to his kidneys, and if the treatment that he received was localized strictly to the tumor, then it is feasible that he could donate a kidney to Jordan. It's a soap opera, so there is some wiggle room.

Now, time to talk about Michelle Stafford's exit. I. Am. Stunned.

I'm not one to get mad at actors for making career choices. It's their life, not mine. They have to do what is best for them and their families. I wouldn't want a bunch of strangers weighing in about where I should and shouldn't work, so I'm certainly not going to do that to someone. I wish Ms. Stafford all the best and much success.

That said, what about Nina?

To me, it seemed like they were setting Willow up to be Nina's long-lost daughter. Each time that I see Willow these days, I check for that dang half-heart necklace, that's how certain I am that they are mother and daughter. The friction between them, Willow's low opinion of Nina's parenting style, and Willow's sparse family tree all pointed to a big reveal down the pike, but what now? Will that be scrapped? I really hope not because I like Willow, and she's going to need her mother soon when she finds out that her son died a few hours after leaving the hospital.

Then there is Valentin and his horrible secret. That needs to come out. Will the writers use that as a reason to drive Nina out of town? Those scenes when Nina learns how Valentin deceived her must be with Michelle Stafford. I've been waiting for that confrontation from the day that it was revealed that Valentin and Sasha had been in cahoots. It wouldn't be fair to any other actress to have to step into the role before those scenes play out.

Of course, they must recast. Nina has so much more story to tell. Some have suggested that GH hire Gina Tognoni, but I doubt that she would want to fill another role being vacated by Michelle. Also, I would prefer Gina as a Hayden Barnes recast far more than as Nina Clay.

Nina leaving town for a bit to find herself would make sense, then she could return a whole new person -- literally.

Lulu leaving town does not make sense. Not at all.

If you have kids, you know that it's not that easy to pull your kids out of school at the last moment then jet off to Europe for an extended vacation. Well, okay, if you are rich, it might be, but even then, I'm pretty sure you are still legally required to make certain that your child's educational needs are met. Heck, I had to provide a doctor's excuse if my kids missed more than two consecutive days.

It also didn't make sense for Dante to return only to leave the way that he did. Why didn't Dante sit down and have a real talk with Lulu like he did with Anna? That would have made sense, and it would have made his decision for him to seek treatment feel like a family decision. Then, Lulu packing up Rocco to live in Wales, while Dante undergoes deprogramming treatment at a nearby facility, would have made absolute sense.

Instead, a brainwashed Dante is off in Wales while his traumatized wife is in Paris. How does any of that help a family heal? I feel like Emme Rylan is paying an unfair price for her ex-costar's choices. I don't blame Dominic Zamprogna; I blame the powers that be. They should be invested in the stars on the show, not the ones who have left. Obviously, Dante is still needed, so it's time to recast if Dominic isn't available.

I know that some feel that Scoops Falconeri (credit for nickname to Scrimmage) has become a useless character, and while I do agree the investigative journalist thing was silly, I did enjoy Lulu when she was running the Haunted Star. Lulu needs to get back to her roots, not take a trip overseas.

Frankly, Laura is the last person who should be giving anyone, especially her daughter, marriage advice, given Laura's situation with Kevin. And Lucy, like a shark scenting blood in the water, is right there, ready to devour Kevin once again.

There was a time that I absolutely loved Kevin and Lucy together. They were fun and quirky, and they made their dysfunction work. However, I got tired of Lucy waxing poetic about her "Doc" one minute then hopping into the sack with Scott the next. Like Kevin, there came a point when enough was enough. I applauded Kevin for finally getting off that old rickety merry-go-round of adultery and moving on. I was thrilled when he found romance with Laura because I felt that they had each found someone who put them first after years of being stuck with spouses who had consistently put their own needs ahead of everyone else.

As far as I'm concerned, Lucy lost her chance for a relationship with Kevin after the fourth or fifth time that Kevin forgave her for cheating on him with Scott. If anyone should appreciate the definition of insanity, it's Kevin, which is why he ultimately ended his marriage to Lucy. I don't blame Lucy for hoping that this time things might be different, because she and Kevin do have a lot of history, and she's single right now. I imagine that she's quite lonely, and Kevin is a sweet guy. And, despite his stupid decision to try to rehabilitate his brother, he is also a genuinely well-meaning person. There's a reason that women have fallen in love with Kevin, including his current wife.

Laura is upset, and even though Kevin was wrong to keep Ryan a secret from everyone -- not just his wife -- I do believe that Laura understands why he did it. It wasn't about not trusting Laura. He was right. Laura would have insisted that Kevin turn Ryan over to the authorities.

I am certain that Laura will forgive her husband, and Kevin will happily go back to her. Kevin was very clear to Lucy when he told her that he loved his wife. He clearly wants to save his marriage, which is why he agreed to move into a furnished condo that was for sale. He doesn't want to put down any roots because his roots are at home with Laura.

Although a part of me couldn't help but wonder if Ava might suggest to Laura that they work together to set a trap for Ryan, who everyone knows is still very much alive and minus one right hand. I'm all for girl power, and I would love to see Ava and Laura work together. Maybe that will help Laura heal a bit and give Ava cover for a justified homicide when she kills Ryan once and for all.

Finally, on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, General Hospital celebrated its 56th anniversary, and they took the opportunity to pay homage to Gail Baldwin, who was portrayed by the lovely and elegant Susan Brown. Everyone loved Gail, and I was no exception.

In fact, Gail is one of the reasons that I started to like Monica.

Back in those days, Monica had been a lot like a young Carly, so the end always justified the means to her. Monica was selfish, manipulative, and vindictive. When Gail found out about the "affair" between her husband and her teenage foster daughter, Monica was painted as a Lolita who had taken advantage of a gullible man. It was a very different time, and it was incredibly easy to believe the worst about Monica. I didn't blame Gail for feeling betrayed and angry by what Monica had done.

However, that was only the beginning of the story because, through Gail, who was a psychiatrist, after all, we started to understand things from Monica's perspective. Here was this young orphaned girl who had found a mother figure that she had absolutely adored and respected. This wonderful woman opened her heart and her home to Monica when no one else had even given her a glance, and everything was perfect. Except that it wasn't, because there was a viper in their midst who had filled Monica's head with sweet little lies, manipulating her desire to be loved and accepted, then warned her that she would end up back in the orphanage if Gail were to ever find out.

As a young viewer, that story was profoundly important because it showed me how insidious a sexual predator could be. By the end of that storyline, I understood that Monica had been a victim in every sense of the word and that the trauma of that event had shaped who she became. I recall how much I had loved Gail for embracing Monica as a daughter in the end and that their bond had been strengthened by the nightmare. It was a beautiful moment.

In those days, it seemed that soaps tackled important social issues in a way that resonated more deeply. It was seldom a peripheral character that was impacted by horrible personal traumas, but rather, core characters.

I was a bit disappointed that we didn't hear more about Monica's relationship with Gail. Instead, the writers focused on rehashing the Lesley/Monica rivalry. Did we really need to hear Lesley call Monica a "slut"? It wasn't funny, and it made Lesley look petty and a little bit like a mean girl.

The scavenger hunt seemed a little odd, too. I know it was meant to serve as a vehicle to reflect on the poignant moments from the past that highlighted the best of GH's 56 years, but they could have achieved that just fine, and squeezed in a few more clips, by having Gail's loved ones share those stories with each other as a group standing around rather than scampering through the hospital like kids on an Easter egg hunt.

I don't want to make it sound like I hated the episode, because that is far from the truth. I enjoyed the episode as a whole, and I got all weepy from the moment that they said, "For Gail!" in unison until Franco sprinkled glitter on Scott. Seeing the Stone Cates plaque prominently displayed by the main staircase and hearing Scott talk about his relationships with both Lee and Gail were touching tributes. But the gut-punch was the end, when Scott walked over to the wall of remembrance, removed the black cloth from Gail's photo, then had his own private moment.

It was perfect. Even now, my eyes are filled with tears as I type this. There was real love in that scene, and Scott honors Lee and Gail's legacy by continuing to grow as a character all these years later.

I've seen some pushback on message boards and social media suggesting that GH was a bit tone deaf this week by having Franco -- a man who put a rapist directly in Michael's path and who drugged Sam then manipulated her naked body to make it appear that he had sexually assaulted her -- have a talk about the birds and the bees with Cam.

Franco is definitely guilty of each and every one of those things, and numerous heinous murders. But it was also determined by respected doctors and the legal system that Franco was not responsible for his actions because of a brain tumor.

I will admit that it's a pretty lame excuse that likely wouldn't work in real life, and I didn't like Franco much back then, but that is what was written, and I try to keep an open mind. I didn't warm to Franco for a long time. Much like Franco's recovery, it was a journey. My forgiveness happened slowly, as his cognitive abilities improved along with his understanding of his actions. To me, it seemed that he showed genuine remorse for the things that he did, he's tried to make amends as best as he can, and there's an ongoing effort on his part to be a better person. He may not always succeed, but he tries.

I don't think that it was tone deaf for a stepfather to talk his stepson about respecting women. It was a good talk, and it let Cam know -- whether he acknowledges it or not -- that there is an adult male who wants to help him and be there for him. That's more than I can say for Lucky, who broke that promise to Cam years ago.

Has Franco been redeemed? I think so. He hasn't committed any murders, and he was going to therapy until Ryan messed with him. I like Roger Howarth, so perhaps I'm predisposed to forgive him, but there have been characters that I've never liked that I concede have found redemption. Luke Spencer springs immediately to mind.

For me, it's not a prerequisite to like a character in order to acknowledge their redemption. It just helps speed the process.

Random observations

I understand why poor Josslyn had to frantically look about to figure out which footbridge she was on. They do all truly look alike in soap land.

Did I miss something? Lesley told Monica that they both ended up with the men that they were meant to; Monica with Alan, and Lesley with Rick. Except, that's not what happened. Rick left town with Ginny, and when he returned, he was killed in the attic by Scott (rewrite) when Laura was flooded with repressed memories of another murder in the attic the afternoon that she caught Rick with a lover.

Thank you, writers, for sparing the viewers from having to watch Maxie shoot down Chet. I love this guy. He's handsome and hard-working, and he's overcome tremendous challenges -- being related to Amy. Please, cast him a love interest!

The soap opera geek in me loves it when I hear references to my beloved All My Children and One Life to Live, so I chuckled when Margaux expressed a preference for Pine Valley over Llanview, and Kevin referenced his colleague, Marty Saybrooke.

You'd think that being mayor would have its perks, but poor Laura had to pay $250,000 for Kevin's $150,000 bail, at least according to the receipt that she was emailed.

Reader feedback

I wish the writers wouldn't make Kristina so stupid. She is too old and experienced too much to be written as a naive dummy. Sonny actually asked her a great question when he asked, "Don't you want to be more than a follower?" For a moment it seemed like it registered. -- JDF

I loved that Felicia, and especially Mac held Kevin's feet to the fire over his reckless decision to hide Ryan's survival from the authorities AND from his former victims, while secretly treating him, and for his responsibility in the deaths and assaults of his brother's latest victims. Their forgiveness won't be forthcoming anytime soon, and rightfully so! -- Scrimmage

I love Valentin, but I also think the writers are doing his character a disservice with the Sasha story right now. He is smart and could be more of a Scorpio type rather than a scoundrel. He can emote so many feelings without saying a word! -- lovethosedimples

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

Take care and happy viewing,
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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