Naughty and Nice: The Best and Worst of General Hospital 2021 (Part Two)

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It's time for our columnists to take a look back at the year that was and to share their views on the naughty and the nice, as well as their hopes for the year ahead. Liz Masters gives her take on a year filled with mystery, intrigue, joyous reunions, crushing heartbreaks, and a few zombies.

And just like that, 2021 is drawing to a close. It was both the longest year of my life (for personal reasons that are too numerous to list) and the shortest (especially the older I get).

2021 kicked off with a lot of promise, and for the most part, it lived up to it. Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) continues to be a thorn in everyone's side, even from his midwestern purgatory where he's currently languishing and plotting. Ryan Collins (Jon Lindstrom), too, remains stuck in his own prison of "locked-in syndrome," but trouble is brewing on that front in the form of a new intern. Then there's Nina Reeves (Cynthia Watros), who is still desperately clutching to her Nixon Falls fantasy and Sonny, but more on that later.

Let's start with the tale of two Peters.

Folks, there was a time when I liked Peter August (Wes Ramsey). I thought he was an interesting character, in large part because he had turned his bad-boy ways around, but all that changed when he ordered Drew Cain's death, which we recently learned was staged to look like a deadly plane crash in an effort to cover up Drew's kidnapping. Peter only went downhill from there. He manipulated Maxie Jones (Kirsten Storms) like a maestro, framed people for crimes, and murdered Franco Baldwin (Roger Howarth). By the time Dr. Hamilton Finn (Michael Easton) shoved Peter down the hospital steps, Peter's wicked intentions had even extended to his own newborn daughter.

I couldn't have hated Peter more at that point, and I was ready to throw both Finn and Liz Webber (Becky Herbst) a parade for ending Peter's miserable existence.

Peter's crime sprees made so many characters that I like -- Anna Devane (Finola Hughes), Robert Scorpio (Tristen Rogers), and even Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) -- look ineffectual and, frankly, gullible. Robert was literally looking for proof of Peter's nefarious ways, to no avail, even though it was all so easily traceable with today's technology.

It's infuriating because Robert had decades more experience at crime fighting and saving the world as both a super spy and the head of the WSB -- than pipsqueak Peter did at being an arch villain. Maxie, too, was sacrificed at the altar of Peter, blinded by her love for him, even though she should have known better, having once been engaged to evil Levi Dunkleman (Zachary Garred) -- real name Peter Harrell Jr. and just one more reason that Maxie should have been wary of another Peter in sheep's clothing -- and Logan Hayes (Josh Duhon) who, as I recall, also turned homicidal.

I wanted to break something when Peter popped up in Nixon Falls just a few short weeks after I watched him die. I literally screamed with frustration when I saw his smug expression on my television screen. I know it was directed at Nina, but it felt personal. Was I surprised? No, because as soon as Peter vanished out of the freezer, I knew he had somehow survived and that he'd had help.

What did astound me was my reaction to Peter going full evil mode. I found myself actually enjoying him as a villain. He had some good lines, and a zero-flips-to-give attitude that was kind of refreshing. Also, I knew that his fate -- as a true soap villain -- was sealed. He would be vanquished in one way or another because that's the way it goes in the battle of good and evil. As it should. As with any good villain worth their grain of salt, Peter had a new element of campiness and humor to him that made watching him far more palatable.

That brings the writing this year, which I think has been consistently good. Really good.

I've been watching soaps for a very long time. I was a loyal ABC viewer. All My Children and One Life to Live, as well as Ryan's Hope, Loving, The City, and Port Charles became part of my daily viewing lineup. I've been watching since I was in elementary school because it was what my mom would watch. When I grew up, I'd record the daytime lineup and watch during my lunch breaks. I remember the Agnes Nixon and Gloria Monty days, and I know what good writing looks like.

When COVID-19 hit and our soaps were temporarily shut down, ABC aired all the episodes they had on hand until they were forced to go to reruns. Not going to lie, I feared that GH might never recover. I was thrilled when GH returned to the ABC airwaves, but I also knew that the show would have to fight to get viewers tuned back in and, more importantly, keep them. To my great relief, GH returned with guns blazing, and they haven't slowed down. The writers (Chris Van Etten and Dan O'Connor) have done an amazing job of delivering meaty stories, fantastic cliffhangers, and exciting twists and turns, and they've even corrected a few wrongs and tied up several loose ends along the way.

There have been so many times over this past year that I was excited for Monday to roll around or to tune into the latest episode of GH and see what would happen next. I know I drove poor Dan Kroll crazy, sending him excited text messages about something that transpired on the show, always forgetting that GH aired an hour later where he lived. Writing a column for this show has been incredibly easy this year, and I often end up having to cut stuff out to keep them from getting too long.

One of my favorite developments this year was the long-awaited return of Drew Cain, now portrayed by Cameron Mathison. It was a wrong that had needed to be righted because Drew had so much unfinished business in Port Charles, not just with Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco), but also with his twin, Jason Morgan (Steve Burton), and several others. They had hardly scratched the surface of Drew's story when Franco was struggling to remember his brother, Andy. I'm disappointed that Jason won't be around for Drew to form a real bond with, but I don't believe Jason is any more dead than Drew was reported to be. I'm certain that Jason will be back one day in the not-too-distant future.

Until then, I'm content to see what Drew's journey will be. I have loved Cameron since his days on All My Children, so a part of me is really hoping that the writers bring back Rebecca Budig's Hayden Barnes. Rebecca and Cameron have wonderful chemistry on the screen -- and the potential to become a supercouple again with the right story. Of course, there's always Kim Nero (Tamara Braun), the mother of Drew's firstborn and who -- when last we saw -- had a baby boy named Drew, which I'm certain was Franco's son, not Julian Jerome's (William DeVry).

The writers also did a little history cleanup, which I'm very thankful for. I hate dropped plots, messy endings, and gaping holes in storylines, so I'm very appreciative that we got some answers with the return of Victor Cassadine (Charles Shaughnessy). It was Victor who had been helping Peter behind the scenes and the reason that Peter was able to cheat death on several occasions, like his swan dive over a cliff in Nixon Falls.

It was also Victor who fished Nikolas Cassadine (Marcus Coloma) out of the sea and nursed his great-nephew back to health when Valentin shot Nikolas.

It always bothered me that Nikolas had been vague about his time away from Port Charles, and I now understand why. Nikolas couldn't tell anyone about Victor's role in helping him to live under the radar without revealing that Victor was alive. Victor's role in Drew's abduction also made more sense than Peter hiring people to crash Drew's plane into the ocean and his body vanishing. It's not that I don't think a body can vanish when a plane crashes into an ocean, it's more that I couldn't imagine Peter having the resources needed -- or the skill to pull that kind of feat off.

Now, let's discuss soap tropes that I've grown weary of. At the very top of that list (right next to long-lost twins) is killing someone off, only to bring them back a few years -- or weeks -- later. Zombies, the walking dead, whatever you want to call them, Port Charles is overrun with them.

I love a shocking return as much as the next person, and there's nothing like an unexpected death to send someone off the canvas, but enough is enough. I am so incredibly weary of people rising from the dead. That has happened way too much for my tastes in recent history. In fact, it happens so much that, these days, even the people in Port Charles remark on how common it is, most recently when Drew paid Curtis Ashford (Donnell Turner) a visit at the Savoy.

I'm not talking about Drew's situation, mainly because the writers gave us a very plausible explanation for what really happened, and the viewers never saw the scenes of Drew's "death." It had merely been reported. However, that's not the case for several other characters, like Jason, Nikolas, Peter, and even Victor, just to name a few. There is absolutely no logical explanation for Peter tumbling down the hospital stairs during an altercation with Finn, and for both Finn and Liz to declare Peter dead when each -- separately -- checked Peter's pulse. Finn is a renowned scientist and doctor, and Liz is a surgical nurse.

Both Finn and Liz are more than qualified to tell the difference between a dead person and a seriously injured one, even under stressful circumstances. Also, let us not forget that they had spent a considerable amount of time with Peter's body as they schlepped him down to Helena's secret lair under the hospital and shoved Peter into a freezer. It wasn't a ten-minute incident; it was extended, during which time, Peter was very much alive.

In Jason's case, we saw him shot at point-blank range a few years ago, fall dead into the frigid water, and presumably drown. No, there wasn't a body, but we still saw him sustain a mortal injury and sink to the bottom of the harbor.

As much as I enjoy both Nikolas and Victor's returns, neither man should be alive. Nikolas was shot by a man who knew his way around a gun, and he, too, ended up tumbling into the ocean, while Victor -- who had been shot by someone with deadly intentions and experience with a gun -- opted to detonate a self-destruct bomb that leveled Crichton-Clark. Now, Jason is once again presumed killed in a tunnel collapse.

As I said earlier, I don't believe that Jason is really dead, and I doubt that most viewers do, but how many times can a person die on a soap and be revived? Even cats have limited lives. It's become cliché, and it's rather anticlimactic when someone is "killed" and a body isn't recovered.

Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson) must agree, because she almost had a c'est la vie attitude when Drew broke the news to her about Jason's recent demise.

Meanwhile, after chowing down on poisoned scrambled eggs, Peter clings to life like a barnacle -- his umpteenth brush with death in recent months, while in another area of the hospital, the newborn son of Brando Corbin (Johnny Wactor) and Sasha Gilmore (Sofia Mattsson) was declared brain-dead from hypoxia during labor.

I don't understand why it was necessary to kill off another child. I get wanting to delve into medical stories like Donna Corinthos' (Arya and Ayla Dormiani) spina bifida and Leo Falconeri (Easton Rocket Sweda) being on the autism spectrum, but it bothers me how easily children are killed off in a town overrun with zombies. Willow Tate's (Katelyn MacMullen) baby died of sudden infant death syndrome, Michael Corinthos (Chad Duell) was told that his son had died, and now Brando and Sasha's heartbreak with Liam. All within the span of a few years.

It feels like it's too much, and it's not a plot twist that should be in short rotation, especially when real life has been turbulent and stressful because of a pandemic.

It's like salt in a wound, too, when the heart-wrenching scenes of Brando and Sasha learning their son couldn't be saved are juxtaposed with Peter cheating death once again. It's gotten to the point that even if Peter dies, short of an autopsy witnessed by both Anna and Valentin, I'm not going to trust that Peter is really dead.

The writers need to find other creative ways to write characters off. The fact that Monica didn't keel over with a heart attack on Thanksgiving when Drew turned up alive shows just how commonplace it is for this woman to see her sons return from the grave. I imagine she's tired of keeping those memorial plaques in the family crypt updated. I wouldn't blame her if she went to Walmart for a DryErase board and markers to put up instead.

There were two storylines that I just could not get into this year. The first was the saga in Nixon Falls.

Nothing about this storyline appealed to me. Not the bland setting of the Tan-O, which couldn't even entice an extra or two to visit, not "Mike's" complete unwillingness to search his past, not the police finding zero record of the stranger who washed ashore with amnesia, and, apparently, not a single solitary person in the sleepy town having access to the Internet.

Sonny Corinthos isn't a nobody. He's an infamous crime boss who was wanted as a person of interest in the murder of Julian Jerome. More than that, what kind of feeble excuse is it for someone with amnesia to disown his family because no one came looking for him? It didn't jibe with who Sonny is at his core, and if enough of his old self was shining through for "Mike" to whip up Sonny's special sauce, then I would expect him to at least consider the possibility that he had children who needed him.

For them, "Mike" should have made an effort to find out who he was.

I liked Lenny (Rif Hutton) and Phyllis Caufield (Joyce Guy), but even they began to grate on my nerves because they were just cheerleaders for "Mike" and Nina, which was a disastrous pairing from the start. Nina's lie poisoned the relationship, and it was something that I couldn't ignore. It tainted everything, especially because I knew that if Sonny learned the truth, he would never choose Nina over his beloved wife Carly (Laura Wright). Ever.

I didn't like "Mike," and I didn't like Nina, so their romance didn't interest me. The only person that I liked was Phyllis, and the only scenes that I liked were when she said goodbye to Lenny and when she learned the truth about Nina's lies.

That things in Nixon Falls dragged out for nearly a year made everything that much more excruciating to watch -- except the fire. I loved seeing the Tan-O set ablaze. For me, it was symbolic and a nice way to say good riddance to Nixon Falls. Unfortunately, that was not the end. Sonny is now lying to his wife and having hushed conversations with Nina, while Nina is acting like she's somehow the victim. It's one of the reasons that I want Carly to learn the truth about the affair and pop Nina's little bubble of delusion so everyone can get on with their lives.

If Sonny's love for Carly is powerful enough for him to have visions of her and for her to pull him back from the haze of amnesia, it eclipses whatever residual feelings Sonny has of "Mike's" love for Nina. The writers need to pick a lane with Sonny and stop trying to make Sonny and Nina happen. Move on, put his daughter Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) back in charge of Charlie's Pub, and send Phyllis to the hospital.

Word on the street is the hospital has a staffing shortage.

Rounding out my naughty list is the mess that Brook Lynn Quartermaine (Amanda Setton) made of her life. I'm not talking about passing Louise Jones off as her daughter Bailey Quartermaine but rather the scheme to fake a pregnancy and use the imaginary baby as a bargaining chip to get Valentin to sign over the shares of ELQ that she gave him for her own selfish reasons.

What I disliked most about this storyline is the way that Valentin was made to look. This is a man who was so obsessed with having a child that he literally hired a surrogate to carry the baby and kept the child's real mother in the dark for as long as he could. Why wouldn't he get a DNA test the second he laid eyes on his supposed newborn daughter?

I'm also frustrated by Brook Lynn's attitude. She behaves as if her original sin, faking the pregnancy, wasn't a big deal because she's doing good by hiding Louise from Peter, and besides, everything she did was for the family. She fails to grasp that her family, especially her father Ned (Wally Kurth), is going to be crushed when he finds out it was all a calculated and coldhearted lie. At some point, I would like for Brook Lynn to recognize that she's treated like a child because she acts and thinks like one. It's not a cute look.

Edward (John Ingle) and Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) were far cleverer, and they took their lumps without whining about it. Michael embodies the Quartermaine spirit far more than Brook Lynn has to date.

I was torn between my favorite storylines. I really loved the romance that blossomed between several characters. Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner) and Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) are comedic gold, and they always put a smile on my face when they share a scene. Scott being shoved out of a plane in a parachute and crashing -- literally -- Finn and Liz's romantic moment in the woods was hilarious. Scott deserves some happiness after all the grief he's endured losing three children: Karen Wexler (Marie Wilson), Logan Hayes, and Franco Baldwin. I'm happy that he adopted Liz's family as his own, but I'm delighted that he gets some romance, too.

I also am excited to see what will unfold between Valentin and Anna. I feel like their story has been waiting years to be told, but the tale is still in its infancy, so we'll have to see how it all plays out over 2022. The same with Curtis and Portia Robinson (Brook Kerr), as well as Finn and Liz. Romance is a cornerstone of soap operas, and we finally have some couples worth rooting for. But I'm a sucker for action and intrigue.

It's for that reason that my favorite development of the year is the rise of the Cassadines. Not just the dead ones, but Prince Spencer (Nicholas Chavez) is back, too, and he was hit with a bout of SORAS (Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome).

Full disclosure, I love the Cassadines. I always have, and Helena Cassadine (the incomparable Constance Towers) will always be my favorite villainess of all time. Unfortunately, Helena died -- or so they say -- which leaves Victor as the family's patriarch, and he had a warning for his beloved misfits. They need to unite because an enemy is lurking in the shadows, ready to wreak havoc.

I will be stocking up on the popcorn and butter.

Somehow, I don't think Victor was referring to Esme Prince (Avery Kristen Pohl), who has definite links to Ryan Chamberlain and bad intentions. Esme has been keeping herself busy helping Spencer stalk his stepmother, Ava Jerome (Maura West), and undermining Josslyn Jacks (Eden McCoy) and Trina Robinson (Sydney Mikayla), while she bides her time until she can put the next phase of her plan into motion. It's been quite interesting, and Avery is perfectly cast as an evil femme fatale.

I've also enjoyed seeing Nikolas and Spencer butt heads as they work out their problems, but I know that Spencer's fury is merely a bluff. He loves his father deeply, and the minute that he feels Nikolas is in danger, Spencer will be at his side. Until then, it's amusing to watch Spencer call Nikolas out on the error of his ways.

I'm also happy that Valentin has been revealed to be Victor and Helena's son and that Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) is out of jail and starting a new chapter in her life. I'm hoping that Shawn Butler (Sean Blakemore) will be a part of that.

In the last couple of months, it's been the antics of the Cassadines that I've been looking forward to watching the most, and their storylines have overlapped with several others like Drew's return, Peter's downfall, and a couple of unsolved mysteries. I can't wait to see what the coming year has in store for us.

Let the games begin. Here's hoping things kick off with uncovering who the woman that Victor is holding captive is. It's a tossup between Holly Sutton (Emma Samms) -- which I'm hoping for because it broke Robert's heart to lose Holly -- and Hayden Barnes.

A look to the future

A few weeks ago, the writers teased us with Jeff Webber (Richard Dean Anderson), who was so desperate to get in touch with Liz that he reached out to Dr. Terry Randolph (Cassandra James). It's time for Jeff to come home and to explain himself. I've been waiting for this storyline ever since Liz decided to settle down in Port Charles with her beloved grandmother Audrey Hardy (Rachel Ames) back when Liz was a teen. It better not have been a red herring.

If Cameron Webber (William Lipton), Spencer, and Josslyn are all in college, shouldn't Emma Scorpio-Drake be, as well? I think it's time for Emma to enroll in Port Charles University, especially now that Trina's portrayer, Sydney Mikayla, has dropped to recurring status to focus on her real-life education.

Can we please get back to Portia and her secret? I haven't forgotten that when she was faced with her final moments on earth, while trapped in the basement with Jordan Ashford (Briana Nicole Henry), Portia's greatest regret had been keeping a secret from Trina -- and Curtis. It's time to shed some light on that secret.

I talked about the rise of the Cassadines earlier, but I do want to acknowledge the resurgence of the Quartermaines. I'm so happy about that. I just wish that Michael would return to using the last name of Quartermaine. It irks me that Michael returned to using Corinthos. It should have been the price that Sonny paid for killing A.J. (Sean Kanan). It's okay that Michael has forgiven Sonny, but Michael should have honored his father's family by raising his son as a Quartermaine not a Corinthos.

I like the idea of Sonny and Selina Wu (Lydia Look) joining forces and running the eastern seaboard together. I'd like to see the two go up against Cyrus.

Finally, I hope that everyone had a merry Christmas, and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year. Stay safe, and see you in 2022!
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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