Dear Michael: Joe Pesci would like a word

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Has Michael gone too far already with his plans to destroy Sonny, and can he stop himself? Can Esme be redeemed, and should she be? Can Elizabeth rescue herself without another man's help? Where have all the Spencers gone? Plus, Everybody Hates Sonny! Let's discuss these and other goings-on in Port Charles in this week's Two Scoops!

Greetings, dear readers and fellow Port Charles visitors alike. My name is Steve, and this is my first try Two Scoops, so I hope you'll come along for the ride and stay a bit. Maybe you'll agree with some of what I have to say, or none at all, but either way, we'll be talking about our favorite soap opera in a way that's unique to me and in a format that I've never done before! If you are looking for Tamilu, fear not! She'll be back from her road trip across and around the U.S. of A. in a couple of weeks. And Liz will be here next week with an extra special "Year In Review (So Far)" column that you won't want to miss!

Before I start, perhaps a proper introduction is in order. In case some of you don't know me, I'd like to assure you that I'm not a contest winner. Nor did I get the opportunity to write this week's Two Scoops because I blackmailed our boss with incriminating photos that could send him to Pentonville. I write recaps for Soap Central for General Hospital and Days of our Lives.

I grew up watching ABC soaps, primarily One Life to Live, in the 80s and 90s and stayed with the show until it ended -- yes, both times. I didn't begin to watch General Hospital until 2000 when SoapNet launched. I always loved the special weekend reruns of episodes from years earlier that dove into the show's history, such as Luke and Laura's wedding or the climax of the original Ice Princess story. Fun fact about me: I was born six days after Luke Spencer fought Mikkos Cassadine to save the world from a global freeze. How's that for knowing your soap opera dates and history?

Anyway, the days of SoapNet and its weekend marathons are so long ago now that back then, General Hospital was still on its first Carly, and Michael was practically a baby.

Speaking of Michael being a baby, can anyone reasonably justify his sheer hatred of Sonny, and his determination to put Sonny in the ground -- proverbially, if not literally? That this desire seemed to have developed overnight is equally puzzling to me. I don't know about you, but something seems fishy with this notion that Michael wants revenge this badly against Sonny. Look, I'm not against Michael being mad at Sonny. To be clear, Michael should always hold a grudge against Sonny. But not because his father took another woman to Lovers Lane!

The writers got it right many years ago when Michael disowned Sonny and the Corinthos name as a result of Sonny having killed Michael's biological father, A.J. To that end, Michael should forever hold that against Sonny -- and Ava, too. But Michael's anger now is misplaced and is for all the wrong reasons. Seriously, because Sonny slept with Nina, a person Sonny very clearly has had feelings for for over a year, Michael now wants to destroy Sonny? Hearing Michael actually say to Drew the words, "And then he can die," after Michael spoke of taking Sonny down, left me almost without words.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't get Michael's anger over this. Besides, Michael has no room to talk, nor even a leg to stand on here. As Sonny correctly pointed out when he chatted with Dante a week or so back, Michael essentially stole Willow, a married woman, from Chase. Lest we forget, that was around this time a year ago! Yet suddenly, Michael is so committed to the sanctity of marriage that Sonny sleeping with a woman he cares greatly about is such a cardinal sin worthy of... what? Death? Between what Michael told Drew and his hiring of Dex, a character who seems like a mercenary straight out of a CIA novel, it sure seems Michael wants Sonny to not only be bankrupt and humiliated, but perhaps even six feet under.

That's too much of a stretch for me to believe, which is why I feel like something may be seriously amiss with Michael's head. Will it be revealed at a later date that Michael has been suffering from a convenient brain tumor? Has he been brainwashed somewhere without our knowledge, perhaps by one of Sonny's enemies, or everyone's go-to fall guy, Victor Cassadine? I'm not sure, but as it stands now, we as viewers are essentially being asked to believe that Michael was happier with Sonny being dead than he is with Sonny being alive if it means Sonny has feelings for another woman. Read that again, and tell me if that makes any sense to you, dear reader. It doesn't to me.

There's another point to be made about Michael here, as well. Given how much this show has repeatedly hammered the audience about how Spencer and Nikolas come from privilege, why isn't the same ever said for Michael? Sonny always had unlimited wealth, power, and prestige, regardless of how he obtained it all, when Michael was growing up. Michael's mother didn't exactly have to worry about a roof over her head, either, after Michael was born. And Quartermaines have always been Port Charles's version of the Rockefellers.

There's a line from the great Joe Pesci in Martin Scorcese's film The Irishman that I think perfectly applies to Michael as he continues this dark path toward plotting Sonny's demise. I won't spoil the movie for those who've never seen it, but in the film, Pesci's character says to Al Pacino's character exactly what I imagine he might say to Michael if the two ever met: "Listen. Some people, not me, but some people, they're a little concerned. Some people, not me, they think you might be demonstrating a failure to show some appreciation. (Long Joe Pesci pause for dramatic effect). According to, you know, some people."

Count me in as one of those people. Perhaps Joe Pesci can pay Michael a visit and say the same thing (hey, I can always dream!), because I'm hard-pressed to think of a line that more aptly fits Michael's warped view of Sonny than that.

As for Sonny, there's at least some consistency with how his family has disowned him. This week, Carly told Sonny how horrible it was that she didn't recognize him anymore. Oh, the horror of Carly not getting her way! Listen, I'm not a "Sona" fan, but I find myself increasingly leaning toward sympathy for Sonny. It's not just Michael and Carly who've all but told Sonny to go back to Nixon Falls, either. Josslyn feels the same way because of course Josslyn must agree with her mother on everything! That's New York State law, apparently!

Sometimes I feel like Dante and Brando are Sonny's only real friends right now. Last we saw of Curtis, he was furious at Sonny for not helping him dig up Marshall's private background and medical history. Curtis then later told Nina that she should ask the courts why Sonny "of all people" should be allowed to visit Wiley, but not Nina. Dante and Sonny are close now, and it's nice to see Sonny bonding with his oldest child -- ironically, the son he was introduced to last. Brando has been a loyal friend to Sonny, and I love that Brando thinks Michael is out of line. Dante, for his part, is trying to remain neutral, but he's far more sympathetic to Sonny -- and I suspect Michael will soon make sure that he pushes Dante as far away as he has Sonny because Michael refuses to listen to anyone trying to talk him out of going DEFCON1 with his father.

But beyond Dante and Brando, who is there for Sonny to lean on besides Nina? Brick is paid to be Sonny's friend, as is Frank. Sonny has nice chemistry with Selina, but that's all business, and I believe Ms. Wu would cut anyone's throat if it suited her. Of Sonny's other so-called "friends," Spinelli is too busy doing... whatever that is for Society Setups. Sam may try to be neutral, but she's always going to have Carly in her ear.

One thing that annoyed me when Sonny arrived back from the dead was how holier-than-thou his friends in high places seemed to act toward him. Laura, Anna, and Jordan made three separate talks to Sonny, all basically giving the same speech that while they really appreciated Sonny's help in taking down Cyrus, they had to make it clear that their respective departments were above Sonny's help. Well, isn't that nice?

Sonny isn't completely blameless, by any means, and it takes two people to break up a marriage. If I were him, I would not have been able to forgive Nina at all. But Sonny has always had a mind of his own. I do find it overreaching that people believe Nina is the best thing to ever happen to Sonny. I don't mean any offense to "Sona" fans, but if Brenda Barrett walked through the door to Charlie's Pub or the Savoy, I'd give Nina about a minute before she completely faded into obscurity from Sonny's world. Nina wouldn't be the only one, of course. Carly would, as well, despite what she might have told herself over the years.

Meanwhile, there's Michael's new business cohort at ELQ, Drew. I've always loved Cameron Mathison's work, from Ryan Lavery on All My Children to his frequent contributor status on Good Morning America. Cameron has been a great ambassador of the soap opera art form, and he's been loyal to ABC through the years. That's just one of the reasons why I'm disappointed in the direction the writers have taken Drew. Let me be clear: I never wanted Drew to become a substitute Jason Morgan. Not then, not now, not ever. I'm not even sure Drew was brought back in case Steve Burton chose to leave the show. So, I don't need to see Drew going all Nicholas Cage in Face/Off by jumping out of airplanes and steadily firing two guns simultaneously at a would-be target in mid-air.

But dear reader, I can't be the only one who is bored to tears whenever Drew and Michael discuss "ELQ business." That's what they always call it, as if it's some Bat-Signal code. I get that there are business storylines on every soap, but ones that become specifically boardroom-related have never interested me. I don't live in the business world, and maybe that's why I have a hard time caring one way or another about the future of ELQ. I don't read the Economist every morning when I'm checking the price of Bitcoin, and I hardly follow the stock market.

Valentin can remain in control of the company for the rest of its existence, and I wouldn't care. The only person I feel sorry for in this latest ELQ storyline is Ned, who delivered a standing ovation performance when he told Michael that he'd been the CEO at ELQ when Michael had still been in diapers. Bravo, Ned. Michael's failure to show loyalty and respect to Ned is another reason to dislike Michael at the moment.

Doesn't Drew have more pressing issues than teaming up with Michael to take control of ELQ? Last I checked, Drew was still very much a target of Victor, who is hoping to reactivate Drew's conditioning at some point for reasons we don't yet know. I can't help but think Drew might be wise to spend more time trying to learn about Victor's secretive plans and leave ELQ to Michael, Ned, Valentin, or for that matter, the new horse in the Quartermaine stables.

I used the words "at some point" when describing Drew's conditioning as it relates to Victor on purpose, because whatever Victor has planned, it can't come soon enough. Dear reader, I have a confession: I've watched a lot of soap operas across five different decades, and there have been certain actors or actresses that have made me positively giddy when I see them on-screen. They usually play a role that I can only describe as "deliciously evil." The latest to do this is Charles Shaughnessy, who's been playing Victor since last September. Perhaps it's the Victor character that's so fun to watch, because I loved Thaao Penghlis in the role when he brought it back in 2014.

Victor is always up to something, and my feeling all along has been that it has something to do with the Ice Princess. You will recall the mysterious heat wave that struck Port Charles back in February, of all months -- a heat wave that Victor himself almost went out of his way to reference. I'd hoped that Victor would return in time for May sweeps to reveal his plans and how they involved not only his closest family in Nikolas and Spencer, but also Drew, Anna, Robert, Laura, and the rest of Port Charles's moral majority. Okay, I made that last part up. Regrettably, though, Victor has made only a handful of appearances recently. Here's hoping the devilish Victor will be back on our screens more often, because without him, the show doesn't have quite the same sizzle, and I feel lost.

I'm not the only one who feels lost with this show, of course, and that brings me to my favorite dark prince. Most everyone I hear from thinks that Nikolas is not only lost but that he's lost his mind. Look, I don't condone Nikolas and Esme having sex, but I'm not outraged about it, either. Let's not act as if this sort of moonlight tryst is something that's completely unheard of on soap operas. Men much older than 44-year-old Nikolas have had sex with younger characters for decades. I've seen many viewers on social media and elsewhere refer to Nikolas as a "pedophile" for his exploits with Esme. I find that utterly ridiculous and overblown -- and a little insulting to victims of true pedophiles.

Whether their sex scenes grossed you out or didn't faze you, or you're one of the few who enjoyed it, Nikolas and Esme's secret Spoon Island soiree at Wyndemere was consensual. Esme is legally an adult. I know the wonderful actress, Avery Kristen Pohl, who plays Esme, hasn't revealed her real age publicly -- and for good reason after all of this. But she's an adult. A young adult, yes, but an adult all the same. That's it. Full stop. It may be "wrong" on the surface, but I highly doubt that a little something called Standards and Practices at a network such as ABC would have approved of such a scene if there was a risk of anything more than a few turned-off viewers.

A better question and debate to me is whether Esme can and should be redeemed. To me, that answer is yes. I say this because Ms. Pohl can act. She's done a mesmerizing job playing Port Charles's latest villainess, and she deserves to be given the chance to showcase another side of her character that lies somewhere inside Esme, because I believe there is a heart and soul inside Esme. As has been noted on the show, Esme has never experienced true, conventional love before. I get that Spencer is fixated on Trina, but he has treated Esme like dirt -- and this was well before what Esme did to his friends.

There's also the fact that Esme was abandoned as a child and never experienced the love every child should have. She's not felt true love with Spencer since their arrival in Port Charles, and certainly not with her Hannibal Lecter father, Ryan Chamberlain. I believe there's a person inside Esme that can give and receive true love -- if the writers will allow it. That can't happen until Esme pays for her crimes, though.

The biggest crime, of course, is the way in which Esme violated Josslyn and Cameron's private lives and their sheer innocence by recording them having sex and then uploading it for the entire Internet to gawk at. What Esme did was not only wrong, it was downright cruel, sick, twisted, and borderline evil -- much like Ryan. If Esme is to be redeemed, she has to be sent to Pentonville. Every redemption story that this show and other soaps has ever done has had a character be sent to prison at one time or another for the crime(s) they committed. Esme can't be any different if she is to begin to be truly redeemed.

I have other reasons to advocate for Esme's redemption. One of them is that her father is the most heinous serial killer in Port Charles history. Since it's been hinted that Felicia is Esme's mother, let's start there. If Esme inherited the parts of her genes that are wicked from Ryan, shouldn't she have inherited the opposite genes from sweet Felicia? It doesn't appear likely now, but I suppose the show could also do a 180 and reveal that Mac is Esme's biological father. Whatever the reason, there's been a lot of talk lately about Mac having never had a biological child with Felicia. Perhaps a twist reveals that Esme is a long-lost child that Mac never knew he had with Felicia.

Lastly, on this subject of why I'm in favor of redeeming Esme, I can't speak for everyone, but I think most of us can agree the last thing we want to see is another four years of Nelle Benson 2.0. The writers had a good thing going when it looked like they were going to give Harmony a nice redemption story this past year. I was disappointed that Harmony was made the latest sacrificial lamb in the show's ongoing crusade to make Sam be right all the time. Sam's self-righteousness and her end-all, be-all judgment about everyone she's ever encountered is for another column, though. In the meantime, I'm hoping there's both a proper punishment and then a redemption for Esme at some point. One last thing: Esme's nemesis, Ava, has done worse things than uploading a sex tape. Lest folks forget, Ava killed Connie in cold blood and all but pulled the trigger that killed A.J., too. If Ava can be redeemed, so can Esme.

Am I the only one who's already tired of the Metro Court pool, or for that matter, the Metro Court itself? The pool was a nice addition to the show last summer, but it's suffering from a terrible case of overuse. The set was nice and fresh, but now, everyone's there every day. I counted four of the past five episodes in which the pool was used, and I'm sure that if I went back to the start of May, not two days in a row would pass without us seeing it. As for the Metro Court itself, why does it feel like the only place in town where people live? What happened to the brownstones in town? Let's get those revived.

That leads me to another point. If everyone in town is going to be in one place for so long, can we please, for the love of Edward and Lila, get the Nurses Ball back this year?! I've already given up hope that we'll have a 2022 Nurses Ball, since we're already approaching July, but it would be so nice to see the performances and the whole town there to support a good cause. Think of all the characters and reveals that could bring with it! Besides, who doesn't want to see a surprise guest appearance by Ronn Moss and Player?! Or Lucy ending up on stage in her underwear again -- a tradition no less predictable than the gag of the Quartermaines having pizza for Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, can Elizabeth please rescue herself instead of relying on Finn or any man to rescue her? I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep Finn away from Elizabeth for a while. I don't like that he's constantly shadowing Liz. Finn's intentions are good, but I wonder how Elizabeth found time to breathe as much as Finn stuck to her for months. Sometimes I can't tell who's really stalking Elizabeth: she or Finn?

Speaking of Liz, I'll gladly admit this: Elizabeth Webber is my favorite character on General Hospital, and she has been since I started watching in 2000. She and I are roughly the same age, and that's where any comparison stops. I've seen Liz go through every storyline that's been thrown her way, both good and bad, and Rebecca Herbst always brings her best. She's a joy to watch.

But I have to confess, dear reader. I cannot understand for the life of me why this show has all but completely removed Nikolas from Elizabeth's life and abandoned the supercouple. Nik and Liz were my favorite couple for so many years, and both still care about one another immensely. That was made clear again last month when Elizabeth lied to Finn and said that Nikolas had invited her to spend the night at Wyndemere. I can never be for either "Finn Lizzy" or "Nava" as long as there's a Port Charles where both Elizabeth Webber and Nikolas Cassadine reside. To see them never share a scene together anymore is a crime against soap opera humanity. With Liz at Shadybrook, I'm thinking she would love a visit from Nikolas.

What has happened to the Spencer family, y'all? Luke is allegedly dead, and Lulu has been gone longer than ever now. Then there's Lucky, who apparently is content with being the recipient of Port Charles's annual Biggest Deadbeat Dad award. Why is Cody not a recast Lucky? Josh Kelly would have been perfect for the role. Given what's going on with Elizabeth's mental health, doesn't at least one of Liz's boys need his father?

Someone is stalking Austin? I hope it's Todd Manning coming to confront his doppelgänger! Seriously, I know it will never happen, but I'll never get used to seeing Roger Howarth as anyone but Todd, especially since we were treated to a full year of Todd interacting with Port Charles residents like Carly, Sonny, Michael, Alexis, and Heather "Crazy Calling! Crazy Calling!" Webber. Even as Franco, I just called him "Frodd." That's just the Llanview resident in me coming out.

Would it be possible to have Josslyn and Carly go at each other's throats every now and then instead of Joss always being Carly's mini-me? Of all the characters who deserve to have a hellcat teenage daughter on their hands, Carly deserves it most!

Anna and Valentin have real chemistry. I like that they're taking things slowly, and I find myself investing more in the couple. A drive-in menu with Cary Grant on the big screen? It's refreshing to see something different!

Any scene with Selina Wu is must-watch for me. I can't wait to see what else Lydia Look brings to the character because Selina is quickly skyrocketing up my list of must-watch characters.

What will happen until we meet again in this space, friends? Will Drew, Willow, or Brando talk Michael out of going DEFCON1 on Sonny? Will Esme finally get busted, and by Trina no less? Will Victor finally reveal his big plans? Can Sonny survive not only an attack from his own family, but a mysterious new threat on the West Coast?

Will Liz have a breakthrough at Shadybrook and learn what's truly causing her sleepwalking, and are her parents far behind? Will Chase and Brook Lynn ever admit they're in love with each other, or just do something, anything?

As they say, stay tuned. Thanks for reading and following along on my first Two Scoops column!
Steve

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