The winds of change usher in a new year and new beginnings

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Victor's sticky fingers were everywhere, stirring up trouble, but there is a bigger mystery afoot guiding his actions. Could all his seemingly bad deeds be for the greater good? Meanwhile, Tracy returned to Port Charles, bearing the shocking news that Luke Spencer is dead -- and she figured out a closely held secret. It's a new Two Scoops and new beginnings to ring in the New Year.

Well, that was quite unexpected. Luke Spencer is dead. He was allegedly killed in an Austrian cable car accident that made the news as far away as Port Charles. Yet, oddly, no one knew until Tracy showed up that Luke had been among the victims that had perished in the fiery tragedy.

I'm not sure what surprised me more, Tracy's Swiss Miss 'do or the fact that Amsterdam has become the place where Port Charles residents go to lose their stylish groove. I'm looking at you, too, Luke, with that asymmetrical cut.

Before anyone shoots off an email to remind me that it might be Jane Elliot's choice to wear her hair that way, I would like to point out that the show has a hair and makeup department whose job it is to transform the actors into the characters that they portray.

Tracy Quartermaine is not Dutch, and Holland is not stuck in 1922. The Quartermaines are descendants of English aristocrats, and Tracy is an American who transplanted to Holland a few years ago to settle down with her lover and avoid criminal charges for setting Alexis up to get a DWI. Tracy is a wealthy socialite who has always loved the finer things in life, including regular trips to the salon.

Also, I can't imagine Tracy, in her grief, spending that much time on her hair. A ponytail, sure. A single braid or messy bun, absolutely, but not that complicated style. It was just not Tracy's style. Hopefully, Olivia sets Tracy up with a complimentary trip to Metro Court's salon and spa.

Now, let's talk about Luke. I'm going to cut right to the chase -- I don't think Luke is dead. I'm fairly certain that most of you, dear readers, are equally skeptical about Luke's fate. Not just because presumably the Austrian authorities identified Luke's body -- instead of Tracy or an immediate family member -- but also because we later learned that Victor had been behind the "crash."

I think it was telling that Victor used the term "neutralized" rather than "killed" when he talked to the mystery person on the phone about Luke.

Victor is the same man who staged a plane crash to fake Drew's death -- also no body -- that was able to fool the WSB. A cable car accident would be child's play compared to that. Therefore, I suspect that Luke is stashed away with Holly Sutton and Jason Morgan. Victor is amassing quite the collection of Port Charles icons, but for how much longer?

Will anyone take Bobbie seriously and, more importantly, follow up on her theory that the crash hadn't been an accident but rather a deliberate act to take Luke out?

That brings me to Victor and the threat that he keeps alluding to his family about. Is Victor just doing what arch villains do, or is it all an illusion and part of a grander scheme? I ask because Victor told Nikolas during their little tête-à-tête in Metro Court's lobby that sometimes sacrifices had to be made for the greater good. He also said the winds of change were coming, suggesting that Victor might see his actions as a necessary evil to protect the ones he loves.

It's hard to say. Victor has done some terrible things over the years, and he's still actively trying to find a way to turn Drew into a weapon.

The Cassadines do have their enemies, true, but most of them are the good guys in Port Charles. The only villain that I can think of who associated with the Cassadines -- and remains alive -- is Jerry Jacks. Is Jerry the threat lurking in the wings that Victor has hinted at? Possibly. I'm definitely intrigued, and my gut tells me not to take things at face value with Victor. Victor is an enigma wrapped in a riddle and cloaked in mystery.

It's why this storyline is the one that I'm most looking forward to watching unfold in the coming months. For Valentin's sake, I do hope that Victor turns out to have selfless motivations, and his victims are safely stashed on a secret Cassadine compound, being treated more like guests than prisoners.

I've learned one thing from the evolution of Valentin: with time and good writing, even the worst of the worst can be redeemed. Except Peter. He's beyond saving.

Time to chat about Sonny.

Sonny just keeps digging his hole deeper and deeper with Carly, and I'm starting to wonder if he's subconsciously hoping to push Carly to file for divorce so that he can be free to sleep with Nina. It's becoming very clear to me that Sonny is not going to get Nina out of his system until they hit the sheets. Sonny enjoys the chase. He always has, and it's one of the reasons that he and Carly have been married so many times that most of us have lost count, including Josslyn.

What's frustrating about Sonny's current predicament is that he doesn't seem to have any problem finding the right words to explain what he's feeling when he talks to Dante. Nina feels like someone Sonny used to love, while Carly is the future that he wants. Worse, Carly clearly spells out to Sonny what she wants to know -- and hear -- but he stands there and literally says, "I don't know what you want me to say."

That is exactly why I think that Sonny wants Carly to pull the cord and jump. He doesn't want to be the bad guy, and he won't feel guilty about hooking up with Nina because it was Carly's decision to end the marriage.

This whole storyline bothers me. It's not just Sonny's wishy-washiness and Nina deluding herself into thinking that she has any kind of long-term future with a man who runs a criminal empire and kills people, but it truly irks me that Carly's situation with Jason keeps getting thrown in like it's a fair comparison. It's not.

I was not thrilled about Jason and Carly's decision to get married, but I understood it. They both believed that Sonny was dead, and they were in a dangerous situation. Jason and Carly had a history that predated Sonny. They were lovers and they were parents to Michael before Sonny entered the picture. For the last couple of decades, Jason and Carly were also the best of friends. Of course, Jason and Carly would want to make their marriage real, and naturally, it was easy for those old feelings of love to resurface.

More importantly, Carly and Jason were honest with Sonny within days of him returning home. They never lied about what their intentions were when they got married, and they respected Sonny by truthfully answering all of his questions. It was hard and uncomfortable, but they did it.

Sonny and Nina were a fling in Nixon Falls, built on a foundation of lies and spite. For Sonny to even compare what he shared with Nina to Brigadoon is laughable. Tommy wasn't married, and when he realized that he was in love with Fiona, he broke off his engagement and returned to the woods, not knowing if he would make it back to Brigadoon. It was his everlasting love for Fiona that made it possible.

Nixon Falls was more like the mystery of Roanoke, dark and depressing.

Nina is not Fiona. In this storyline, Nina is a liar and manipulator, and she unjustly blames Carly for Nelle's death. Putting aside Nina's nefarious role in Avery's birth, Nina lives in a completely different world than Sonny does.

Please, don't misunderstand. I like Nina, but not in this scenario, because it casts her in a bad light as a homewrecker. Always running into Sonny, their whispered conversations, her watery doe-eyed looks as she plays the victim who lost her soul mate to big bad Carly... it's nauseating. Nina knows what she's doing is wrong, and I'm so happy that Phyllis called Nina out on it and warned Nina to back off.

Unfortunately, it probably fell on deaf ears because I really do think that part of what is driving Nina is the opportunity to inflict more pain on Carly because of Nelle.

Whether Nina wants to admit it or not, she would love nothing more than to see Carly shattered and heartbroken. What Nina fails to understand is that Carly is not the type to go down without a fight, and Carly fights dirty. It's why she's perfect for Sonny and why Carly was able to run things for Sonny while he was bartending and whipping up marinara sauces in Nixon Falls.

I want Nina free of this storyline. Let her pick up the pieces with Austin Gatlin-Holt. It would be a Franco/Nina 2.0.

Folks, Marshall makes me want to punch something. I'm so tired of the circular conversations and vague answers he spews every time someone questions him about where's he's been for the last 30 years. I genuinely feel Curtis' frustration.

I don't know if Marshall is a mobster, an undercover plant for the government (theory not spoiler), or a misunderstood musician, but I do know that he's smarmy and shady.

It's been implied that Marshall was responsible for the violent attack on Joey Novak, even though I can't really see Marshall inflicting that kind of damage on a man half his age without so much as a bruised knuckle to show for it. Now that I know Marshall is in cahoots with a mystery person, he seems even more dubious. I also don't find him the least bit charming with Epiphany. Calling her a doctor even after she told him that she was a nurse comes off as calculated, not endearing.

Marshall pushing Epiphany to join his band without even asking if she has the time, family responsibilities, or the desire to be in a band was pushy and just didn't sit right with me. Epiphany is a nurse at a hospital. That's not exactly a nine-to-five job. I'm definitely down for Epiphany finding love again, but not with someone who is up to no good.

I'm happy that Curtis and Drew are going to be working together to uncover what Marshall is hiding. I'm trying to keep an open mind because I like the idea of the Ashford family expanding, but there are all kinds of red flags with Marshall.

Until then, Curtis and Portia have taken the next step in their relationship. They made love and admitted to each other that they were falling in love. Will it compel Portia to finally tell Curtis -- and more importantly Trina -- the secret that Portia vowed to reveal if she made it out of the basement with Jordan when they both nearly succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, or are the writers waiting to bring Jordan back to burst Portia's bubble of joy?

I love Portia, but it's hard to watch her dispense advice to others and call people out on their garbage when she is holding an apparently earth-shattering secret of her own. I think that's why Portia was so quick to urge Curtis not to dwell on the past but rather look to the future. She's not ready to deal with the past.

I do give Portia props, though, for saying that she prefers to learn from her mistakes instead of wishing that she could go back in time to change things. We all have regrets, but learning from the mistakes of the past can help take the sting out of those regrets.

In other couples' news, Finn and Liz were all giddy to embark on their first official date. Too bad for Finn, Liz doesn't seem quite as ready to let go of Franco as it appeared. She made a show of putting her wedding ring into a kitchen drawer during New Year's Eve, but she evidently retrieved it and has been walking around with it in her pocket. I like Finn and Liz, but I also understand why she's having a hard time letting go of Franco.

Franco didn't die of an illness that gave Liz the opportunity to say goodbye. He was murdered, ripped out of her life in an instant. I couldn't imagine how difficult that would be. Luckily, Finn is a genuinely nice guy who knows all too well about grief. I know he's patient and understanding, but I really don't want the writers to drag this out. Liz and her boys deserve a happily ever after.

Now, time to delve into Brook Lynn's web of lies and the ongoing saga of hiding Louise in plain sight.

It took Tracy all of five minutes to figure out that "Bailey" is Louise. Granted, Tracy had the benefit of knowing that Brook Lynn wasn't actually pregnant because Brook Lynn had called her granny to ask for a black-market baby, but that was some impressive connecting of the dots. I can't understand why Valentin hasn't even surreptitiously run a DNA test on "Bailey" to confirm Brook Lynn's latest story about Chase being the father.

Also, why in the world would Chase risk taking Louise to the hospital to meet Finn, knowing that Peter is in the building? Why wouldn't Chase drop by Finn's place instead? We all know that one look at Louise's cherub cheeks and big blue eyes will be all that Peter needs to recognize his daughter.

I want this story to end. It's time for Maxie to claim her child. My hope is that Peter remains handcuffed to a bed at the hospital because the writers have a murder mystery planned. They certainly have the perfect setup. There are more suspects who want Peter dead than in a game of Clue, and it's time to either kill him off or send him to jail.

Peter has committed far too many crimes not to be locked up behind bars, and I don't mean a minimum-security place like Spring Ridge or the Port Charles Police Station. He needs to be in WSB custody far away from Port Charles. Peter committed international crimes long before he killed Franco, so those crimes should take priority over Franco's death.

At the very least, there should be a small brigade of WSB agents around Peter at all times, and he should be in a supermax federal facility -- all of which have medical facilities. Why they have only one Pentonville guard watching Peter from outside the room baffles me, given Peter's history of violence and escaping.

Brook Lynn is lucky. Most of her family will be hurt that she lied, but she will be forgiven because she not only helped Maxie, but her own heart will be broken when she has to give Louise to her real mother. Ned and Olivia won't be able to stay mad at Brook Lynn while she's grieving the loss of a child. Make no mistake, that is what it's going to feel like for Brook Lynn because she loves "Bailey."

I have a feeling that Chase is also going to be around to help Brook Lynn pick up the pieces. Even Olivia can see that the two are sweet on each other, and since they are both single and ready to mingle, it won't take much to ignite the flame of passion between them. Valentin, too, will be far more understanding and forgiving of all of Brook Lynn's lies, since he, more than anyone, understands what Peter is capable of.

I hate what Brook Lynn did, and I really hope there comes a point when I hear her acknowledge that she should never have faked a pregnancy to get shares of ELQ, but I'm ready to move on. I like the chemistry between Josh Swickard and Amanda Setton, and in the scheme of things, what Brook Lynn did isn't even in the top 50 of a list of bad choices I've seen characters make on this show over the years.

Finally, Esme was a chatty Cathy this week. She talked about her adoptive family -- both parents are deceased, it seems -- and her rocky childhood growing up with unfaithful parents whose marriage ended in divorce. Esme is bitter. Cam empathized, but he also cautioned her about giving in to that darkness. He had firsthand experience that it doesn't end well. I saw those words of wisdom fall on deaf ears.

This is another storyline that I'm looking forward to shifting into first gear. I want to know Esme's connection to Ryan, and I want Spencer to finally grow up instead of acting like a spoiled brat who can't let go of a grudge. Ava was horribly disfigured. She chose not looking like a monster that scared little children and made others shudder with revulsion over helping Spencer win a civil suit against Valentin. It's time for Spencer to let it go and to accept that he more than repaid Ava when he stalked her and made her so afraid for her child's safety that she relinquished custody and prepared to walk away.

I know that Cassadines can nurse their grievances, but Spencer is more than a Cassadine. He's Laura's grandson. He's also Courtney's son, and Courtney was a kind and forgiving person.

I miss the strong bond and special connection that Nikolas and Spencer once shared. I hope that the writers repair this fractured relationship because we need more uplifting stories during these turbulent times.

A few mysteries to unravel wouldn't hurt, either. Let's kick it off with Peter's murder!

Random observations

Sonny's penthouse sure bears an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Zacchara's old place. It looks nothing like the penthouse that I remember from all those years that Sonny and Carly raised Michael and Morgan. Even the front door is in a different location. Must be the same contractor who redid Monica's mansion.

So, Tracy is arrested within 24 hours of arriving in Port Charles, but no one -- not even Dante -- has questioned Sonny about Julian Jerome's shooting? I hate loose threads.

Just to clarify Bobbie's talk with Valentin about the Cassadine brothers: Tony was the first Cassadine brother to arrive in Port Charles back when he went by the name Tony Castle. Mikkos and Victor came along a few months later when Tony (and his lover Alexandria Quartermaine) got their hands on the Ice Princess diamond. Tony and Alex accidentally perished in Mikkos' ice chamber.

Reader feedback

Victor making a deal with the DA for Spencer?

I guess the writers forgot that Robert is the DA, the same way they forgot Sonny's daughter Kristina was managing Charlie's before Sonny hired Phyllis to manage it (when he bought the bar for her). It's bad enough that they think we've forgotten that half the town knew Nik ordered the hit on Hayden and didn't care. -- Lucky Lady

The only thing missing in 2021 was Heather Webber's revenge on Peter for the killing of her son, Franco. What a missed opportunity. It would be great to have the two psychos face off ending with Peter's demise. -- Theresa Watson

(Re: Victor acknowledging his English accent) I noticed immediately. I thought it was amusing; kind of making fun of themselves. It's nice that the writers (directors, producers, etc.) don't take themselves too seriously when they're not driving us all crazy with other ridiculousness. -- Missez Premise

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to leave a comment below or email me.

Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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