Sins of the mother -- and a few other wicked deeds

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Liz checked into Shadybrook, Sonny took the stand, and Michael revisited Claudia Zacchara's death. Sweeps is in full swing, and wicked deeds are front and center in this week's Two Scoops.

Life imitated GH this week, and I was so down for that.

As soon as GH ended on Wednesday, my sister-in-law, Becky, text-messaged me to tell me that the verdict was in. I replied, "I know! The judge sided with Michael and Willow!" What followed was a brief exchange about whether or not I was day-drinking -- I was not -- and me explaining that Nina gave birth to twin girls -- one good, one bad -- while in a decades-long coma, and things just got real in court when Nina lost visitation with her grandson who is being raised by the good twin that no one knows about -- except for Carly!

I'm certain that GH lured back a viewer the very next day.

Of course, Becky was referring to the Depp/Heard defamation case, which we had both been following since day one. The jury sided with Johnny, so I was two-for-two with verdicts that day. I really should have gone into law.

There are no guarantees in the soap world, but I was hopeful that Michael and Willow would prevail, too. Nina didn't have much of a case, and I just couldn't see the judge thinking it would be a good idea to let someone who has been embroiled in as much family drama as Nina has near a child directly impacted by all that drama. Also, Scott went too far by trying to paint Michael as a ruthless murderer.

I know there are those who like to point out that Sonny isn't any better than Nelle, and he's certainly not better than Nina. I agree. Sonny is a mobster who has killed in cold blood, and he's the head of a criminal organization. He breaks the law every day, and calling him a coffee importer doesn't change that. Sonny and Nelle are murderers, and neither really has any business being around children, let alone raising them.

Nelle slashed Brook Lynn's throat, she tried to conspire with Chase to kill Michael -- and when that failed, Nelle left Michael to die in a car fire -- and she pulled the plug from Zach's kayak so he'd drown. We saw her do the first two things with our own eyes, and she confessed to the latter when she thought she and Michael were about to die in a car crash. It was one of the rare moments that Nelle was completely honest about everything, including that she regretted nothing. Even as she faced certain death, Nelle justified her heinous actions because her mind was irrevocably twisted.

This fantasy that Nina has of how Nelle might have turned out different if Nina had raised her is just that -- a fantasy. Plenty of people suffer miserable childhoods with awful parents, and they don't grow up to be homicidal. Sure, Frank Benson sucked as a parent and human being, but Nelle didn't always hate her father. Before Nelle learned the truth about Frank selling her kidney on the black market, Nelle viewed Carly -- not Frank -- as the villain in the narrative of Nelle's tragic childhood. Frank was just another one of Carly's victims.

Nelle's chief complaint was that she grew up poor, not that she was beaten every day.

Michael isn't a paragon of virtue, either. He grew up the son of a mobster, and both Carly and Sonny gave him a skewered moral system, where mobsters were good, and everyone else -- especially A.J. -- was bad. Growing up, Michael was surrounded by violence, he was kidnapped, shot in the head, and raped. Those are just the highlights.

Michael always forgave Sonny, even when Sonny killed Michael's biological father -- whom Michael had actually developed a close relationship with, despite Sonny, Carly, and Jason's best efforts to keep them apart. Not right away, but in time. However, Michael is a father now. Things have changed for him because it's not just about him anymore, and he's finally been exposed to a different way of life, thanks to the Quartermaines. More importantly, Michael got a second chance with his son.

Losing "Jonah" had a profound effect on Michael, and what Nelle did to Michael is exactly what Madeline did to Nina. Nelle allowed Michael to grieve for a child that was still very much alive, and she did it out of malice, not to protect Wiley, as she liked to tell everyone. That was a self-serving lie that Nelle often couldn't even say with a straight face. Wiley was a prize in a tug of war with Michael. She knew that she was headed to prison, so she made certain that Michael didn't get their son.

You'd think that Nina would have some empathy for Michael and that she would understand why he's so resistant to letting even the ghost of Nelle have a place in Wiley's life. Nina would be the same way about Madeline's role in her children's lives if Nina had gotten a chance to raise her daughters. With any luck, there will be a shift in the paradigm for Nina when she learns about Willow, and she'll finally let go of the anger and resentment she's been holding on to since discovering her mother had lied.

Carly didn't keep Nelle from Nina; Madeline did. Even now, Carly isn't the one stopping Nina from having a relationship with Willow; it's Nina herself. Nina could have had a great relationship with Wiley and Willow if she had stopped punishing everyone for Madeline's betrayal. I get it. Madeline is dead, so Nina can't vent her anger at her mother for not only putting Nina in a coma but for denying Nina the one thing Nina longed for above all else -- motherhood. Carly is a convenient substitute, in part because Carly pushes all of Nina's buttons.

For the same reason that I understand Nina's impotent fury at Madeline, I get why Michael is done with Sonny. It's been a death by a thousand paper cuts. It's not just Sonny's loyalty to Nina over his own family or even the affair. It's everything.

Sonny and Nina deserve each other. They are both delusional narcissists who refuse to take responsibility for the havoc they wreak. Sonny insisting that Nina stay in Port Charles to correct the lies that Michael and Willow are sure to tell Wiley is just one of the many examples of how completely out of touch with reality they both are.

What lies have Michael and Willow told Wiley? They talked in code when Josslyn brought Wiley by the courthouse, and I haven't heard them say a single harsh word about Sonny or Nina in front of or to Wiley. Michael and Willow don't need to lie because the truth will suffice. Nina's history is ugly. She drugged a woman to rip her baby -- Wiley's aunt -- out of the womb, Nina spent time in an asylum, she's been lambasting Willow since the day they met, and Nina told Wiley that the mother he loves isn't his "real" mother. Nina also kept Sonny from his family for months, and she was instrumental in his divorce from Carly.

If Sonny and Nina think that Michael and Willow have plans to share all of that with Wiley now, they are not only delusional, but idiots, too. Michael and Willow want to protect their son, not traumatize him. It's Nina who wants to fill Wiley's head with lies about Nelle. We know this because Nina made her intentions clear when she visited Nelle's grave before the hearing.

Now, let's talk about Carly and her boneheaded decision to keep the results of the DNA test to herself. Did she do it to protect Willow or to spite Nina? I suspect it's a little of both.

Carly owes Nina nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Carly didn't keep the truth about Nelle to punish Nina. Sonny and Jax pressured Carly to keep quiet because they were worried that she would get blamed for Nelle's death. We saw what happened. Carly tried to save Nelle, but would anyone believe that? Unlikely. Nina's reaction when she found out the truth confirmed what they had feared.

I personally thought it was a dumb move because, even on soaps, you are innocent until proven guilty, and nothing pointed to Carly shoving Nelle over the cliff during that fateful encounter. Everything supported Carly's version of events that Nelle had slipped and lost her grip. Regardless, the bottom line is that Carly didn't make the decision on her own or with cruel intentions.

Why isn't Nina mad at Sonny for his role in Carly's silence? He's more to blame than Carly is. Carly was never comfortable with the lie, and she kept second-guessing the decision.

What Nina fails to comprehend is that her silence about Sonny's whereabouts didn't just punish Carly. It endangered the entire family, including Sonny's children, because it created a power vacuum in the underworld. It was a perilous time for Carly, with a lot of uncertainty. Nina was also the catalyst for Carly's divorce from Sonny. Carly has no obligation to go to Nina with the results of the DNA test. You reap what you sow, and Nina sowed a lot of ill will with Carly.

Willow is an entirely different matter.

Carly owes Willow the truth, good or bad. Willow is Wiley's mother, and Willow is the woman Michael loves and is building a life with. Willow deserves to make an informed decision about Nina. If Willow decided to cut Nina out of her life, knowing that she's Nina's biological daughter, that's one thing, but to deny Willow that kernel of truth is wrong. Carly has no right to determine what's best for Willow because Willow is a grown woman. Has Carly learned nothing from her past mistakes?

It's not just about Willow, either. This impacts Michael and Wiley, too, because when the truth comes out -- and it will as surely as the sun rises in the east -- they are going to be caught squarely in the middle. Michael loves his mother, but Willow and Wiley are his future, and his commitment is to them.

Carly's inability to learn from the past has always been one of the biggest issues I've had with her and why I've never been able to fully embrace Carly. She does stupid crap, and she always thinks she knows best. She's too old to be making the same destructive choices, and she can't possibly believe that this secret will remain buried when the police are digging into Harmony's past to find Willow's birth parents. At best, Carly is delaying the inevitable; at worst, she's playing God. Good soapy drama to be sure, but seriously, can Carly just once show some personal growth and learn a life lesson?

Meanwhile, on Spoon Island, Nikolas and Esme bumped uglies in the turret room, and my poor traumatized retinas will never be the same.

I know that Esme seduced Nikolas, but I don't care. Nikolas is disgusting. Not only is Esme young enough to be his daughter and still in her teens, but she is also his son's first love and -- as far as Nikolas knows -- someone that Spencer still cares deeply about. It was nasty and foul, and I really hope Nikolas pays a high price for that vile romp on the floor with the treacherous succubus. He deserves nothing less than to be miserable.

Lucky for me, it looks like that is exactly what Nikolas has in store for his immediate future. Already, Ava seems to have an uncanny knack of saying just the right thing to ratchet up the guilt already plaguing Nikolas for cheating, and Esme is burrowing in like a tick now that she and Spencer have seemingly kissed and made up. As much as Nikolas might hope to keep a tight lid on his infidelity, Esme is not going to go quietly into that good night.

I loved Nikolas and Ava, but I don't have any desire to see her save her marriage now. It's not worth saving. Esme might have worked her wiles on Nikolas, but he let himself be seduced. He was an active participant in the debauchery, and he would have done it again if Ava and Spencer hadn't come knocking. Nikolas knew it was wrong -- he said so repeatedly -- but he did it, anyway. A man in love waits for the one he loves; he doesn't sleep with the first person who showers him with flattery.

Honestly, I saw the writing on the wall when Nikolas refused to send Esme packing the moment Ava issued the ultimatum. I don't know if it was Esme's endless praise, her pitiful tale of woe, or the lure of the forbidden, but Nikolas chose carnal desire over love. Ava deserves better than that. Ava stood by Nikolas when no one else did, including Nikolas' own mother and sister.

Spencer is a different matter. He might be grossed out by his father and ex-lover hooking up, but he's already moved on. His heart isn't going to be broken. In fact, I think he will be delighted because the affair will not only be the end of Nikolas' marriage to Ava, but it will also free Spencer from Esme's sticky tentacles. Plus, Spencer will have bigger worries to contend with because, while he's trying to find evidence that will exonerate Trina of the charges hanging over her head, Trina is moving on with a handsome young policeman named Rory.

Rory is a nice, honest, hard-working young man with a respectable job and a sweet nature -- the exact opposite of Spencer in every way possible. Trina is smitten, but will it be enough to turn her head away from Spencer? Doubtful. A rich bad boy with a royal title is like catnip to a soap opera damsel, and Trina is already halfway in love with Spencer.

I enjoyed the scenes between Taggert and Rory when Taggert put the young man on the hot seat to see if he's worthy of Taggert's little princess. Taggert at his finest.

It's a soap opera, so I fully expect Rory to have a few skeletons rattling around in his closet, trying to break free. However, I like him, and I can't see him hiding a dark side that would spell danger to Trina. He seems like a genuinely sweet guy. Rory is a much better choice than the Cassadine prince. Spencer lost my support when he turned on Trina and defended Esme, his partner in stalking crime.

In other Cassadine shenanigans, Valentin met up with Anna to do some target shooting and to clear the air -- sort of. He apologized for disappearing on her, but he hasn't explained his absences or told Anna about posing as a French sailor to frame Jennifer Smith for the theft of the Ice Princess. To Anna's delight (and mine), Valentin has made it clear that he wants to explore a relationship with her.

I have no idea what Valentin has been doing, how he ended up with the Ice Princess, or where Victor fits into all of this, but I'm beyond ready to find out.

I think Valentin and Anna have tremendous potential, and their chemistry sizzles. Anna is his first love, which helped to shape the man he ultimately became. He was obsessed with her for decades, and even Nina felt threatened by Valentin's feelings for Anna. This story has been years in the making, and the writers have done a fabulous job of redeeming Valentin from the early days when we were led to believe that he had killed Nikolas and lied about Charlotte's maternity. I'm excited to see what is in store for our dynamic duo.

What I don't want is for Valentin to blow things before they've even begun. Anna is his equal. She doesn't need to be protected from the ugly things in the world because it's been her job for the past few decades to face them head-on and take them down. She's not Nina or Brook Lynn. Anna is a trained professional with a keen mind and vast connections. She's probably more capable of dealing with a tricky situation than Valentin is.

Misogyny has no place in this storyline.

Elsewhere in Port Charles, the singles mingled poolside at a charity event where Britt hilariously got drunk on equal parts of alcohol and bitterness. Britt no longer believes in love or in finding the right one. It's a myth. A unicorn. She is ready to throw in the towel and move on with her lonely life, except no one will let her. Maxie thinks Britt should keep an open mind -- and heart -- and Liesl mostly just wants Britt to stop dwelling on what could have been with Jason.

I think my favorite part of the shindig was when Terry asked Brad to intervene during Britt's drunken tirade to the guests, so he whipped out his cell phone and hit record. Classic Brad. I do love Parry Shen, and I'm happy to give Brad another chance. He paid for his crimes, and Brad and Britt are comedic gold.

Another priceless moment was when Britt was knocked into the pool by a parachuter who had literally dropped out of the sky. It turns out the adventurous hunk wasn't a complete stranger.

Cody (Josh Kelly) is a childhood friend of Dante's. What are the odds, right? Cody loves horses, traveling, and making grand entrances. His dislikes include private investigators (based on the sour face he made when he learned what Sam did for a living) and jobs involving the Quartermaine horses.

In other news, the Quartermaines now have horses to keep Annabelle II company.

I am a little disappointed that Josh turned out to be a new character rather than someone from GH's past like Dillon Quartermaine or Lucky Spencer. I think it was a huge missed opportunity, but I won't hold it against Josh or Cody. It's too soon to say if I like Cody or if he's even a good guy. He's handsome, but I get a slightly shady vibe from him. As Sam pointed out, if he hurt his back bad enough that it ruined his career as a stunt rider, then why is he jumping out of planes? Cody's presence in Port Charles doesn't feel random.

What did intrigue me was Cody's exchange with Britt. It's clear that the writers have plans for these two, and that can only be a good thing. I'm with Liesl; Britt needs to stop pining for Jason. She's a beautiful, vibrant woman who spent more time mourning him than dating him.

Life is too short, especially on a soap opera.

Random observations

Did anyone else catch that the DNA test between Nina and Willow said "paternity" test? Just to be clear, when you run DNA comparisons between mother and child, it's called a maternity test. A paternity test is between father and child.

Robert Adamson, who temporarily replaced Chad Duell as Michael, reminded me so much of Billy Warlock (ex-A.J. Quartermaine) that for the first time, I actually saw his A.J. in Michael during the scenes at the courthouse. It was a little eerie.

I love that the judge told Scott that he hadn't done Nina any favors by trying to twist the circumstances of Claudia's death. That hearing was definitely not Scott's finest moment.

I loved it when Drew told Dante that he would not stop Michael from going after Sonny's business if it benefited ELQ. Michael hasn't suggested doing anything illegal to take down Sonny. Dante acts like Michael is going after Sonny with guns blazing. That's Sonny's modus operandi. Instead of crying to Drew, Dante should be trying to help Sonny take responsibility for the things Sonny has done to drive Michael away.

Reader feedback

Original Nikolas was sophisticated and behaved like an adult when he was a teenager. Our current Nikolas' behavior is crude and he acts like a teenager. -- JDF

It occurs to me that Sonny seems to have a pattern of getting involved with women who steal babies, or at least, who go to great lengths to keep their children away from their biological fathers. Carly did that with BOTH Michael and Spencer. Alexis tried, and mostly succeeded in limiting Sonny's contact with their daughter, Kristina. Olivia made sure that Sonny never even KNEW about Dante, that is, until Sonny shot their son -- an undercover cop -- in the chest! We've already talked about Claudia, and of course, we all know about Nina. If Sonny had an online dating profile, I wonder if there's a place to list "baby stealer" in his preferences. -- Scrimmage

Did anyone else think the scenes between Ava & Victor were 'interesting?' He was sympathizing with her a lot over Nik & Esme, which is odd considering that he's been going on and on about strengthening the 'Cassadine bond' to the point that he even counted Esme as part of the family as a way to ingratiate himself to Spencer. -- Bianca Jackson

I love hearing from readers, so drop your thoughts in the Comments section, on the message boards, or on social media. Tamilu is traveling cross-country, so I'll be back next week with more Two Scoops!

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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