The Port Charles Hooker

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A would-be killer is on the loose. Will Ava be the first of many to fall victim to a killer with a deadly hook? Who could the culprit be? Liz Masters is back with Two Scoops of mystery and murder most foul.

Folks, we have a mystery to unravel! To say I'm giddy with joy would be an understatement. I love mysteries, and I especially love mysteries that involve homicidal suspects and high stakes. Seeing a gloved hand reach for a deadly hook in the boathouse and bury it in Ava's side with lethal intent was not just a brilliant Friday cliffhanger, but also a wonderful way to kick off a storyline.

Nikolas was right about one thing; Ava has her fair share of enemies, so there isn't a shortage of suspects. The Quartermaine picnic was chock-full of them, too, starting with good ol' shady Nikolas.

Did I miss something? At what point did Nikolas' lurid tryst with Esme become Ava's fault? Did Ava invite Esme to move into the castle? Was it Ava's idea for Nikolas to cry on Esme's shoulder whenever someone gave him the stink eye? Did Ava put Nikolas' filthy cheating paws on Esme? I could go on, but you get the gist. None. Of. It. Was. Ava's. Fault.

Ava had every right to put her foot down to the diabolical chit who terrorized her and her young daughter taking up residence under Ava's own roof. Ava was completely justified in despising the snide Lolita for framing Trina with a lurid tape of Trina's best friends' most private and intimate moment. Yes, Ava threatened divorce, but Nikolas vowed that Ava was his one true love, and he would do anything to save their marriage.

Nikolas must be taking relationship advice from Sonny because both of them issued an ultimatum, and when the women in their lives didn't meet those demands on their timetable, they slept with other women. Yuck. That's not love.

I'm honestly shocked that Nikolas hasn't even considered the possibility that Esme -- whose body was never recovered after she plunged over the side of the castle and into the ocean -- might have been behind the attack on Ava. I find the fact that it hasn't even so much as crossed his mind highly suspicious. We only have Nikolas' word for it that Esme wasn't found, but do we know for certain that it's true? No. Nikolas has been acting sketchy for quite a while, so who knows if he's telling the truth about Esme.

I can see Nikolas stashing Esme in the catacombs then spiriting her out of town in exchange for her agreement to disappear and never return. It would certainly explain why Nikolas isn't worried about Esme resurfacing to even the score with Ava. However, what Nikolas doesn't know about Esme is that she has another reason to want to stay in Port Charles -- her papa Ryan is at Spring Ridge. Is Nikolas foolishly under the impression Esme is far, far away when, in fact, she's nearer to here?

I suddenly find myself questioning everything about Nikolas. His reaction when Spencer found out about Nikolas and Esme was the stuff of alternate realities. I was stunned that Nikolas accused Ava of intentionally telling Spencer when she couldn't have possibly known Spencer had been standing in the doorway. Nikolas was straight-up gaslighting Ava, not just by accusing her maliciously telling Spencer about the infidelity, but by putting the entire blame for the nasty affair on Ava.

I have no idea what has happened to Nikolas. This is not the Nikolas that I've loved for decades. I no longer see even a hint of the charming prince who had integrity, honor, and respect for the people he loved. Sure, Nikolas had some dark impulses, but the good in him far outweighed the bad because he was the best of Laura, and Stefan had raised him to be better than all the Cassadines.

Even Nikolas' attempt to give Liz an alibi was more self-serving than selfless. He didn't do it for her; he did it for himself because he knows Jordan thinks someone close to Ava tried to kill Ava.

No one on soaps is perfect. All have their faults, and most have spent time on the dark side. Nikolas is no exception, but his love for Spencer has never been in question. Nikolas has always been utterly devoted to his son, and for his son's sake he always strived to be someone Spencer could look up to and emulate. Nikolas was the person that people could turn to for help and count on for support. He was always a champion of the underdog, and he was fiercely loyal to those he cared about. Spencer was everything to Nikolas, and there was a time that Spencer felt the same way about his father.

The writers have destroyed that, and over something stupid. Yes, I said stupid. I can understand young Spencer being bitter about Ava not testifying against Valentin. At the time, Spencer believed his father had been murdered by Valentin because Valentin had shot Nikolas at point-blank range in front of Ava. The problem is that not only was nothing as it seemed -- Nikolas didn't die from the gunshot, but he was gravely wounded and rescued by Victor, who nursed him back to health -- but Ava suffered a disfiguring burn to her face, and Valentin had offered her a lifeline out of the nightmare.

How can Spencer not have empathy for the situation Ava had been in, especially since Spencer, too, had once suffered a traumatizing burn to his face that he feared would leave him disfigured for life? I love Spencer, but I really wish he'd grow up. Ava paid the price for letting Spencer down when he stalked and terrorized Ava and her daughter. They are even, and it's time for Spencer to let it go.

Ava has been more of a constant in Spencer's life than any of Nikolas' other lovers and wives. There was a time Ava and Spencer had a wonderful relationship, and I would love to see them find their way back there. Spencer could do a lot worse than having Ava as a mother figure -- and it would definitely score points with Trina.

As for Nikolas, he needs to do some self-reflection. Nikolas takes no responsibility for his actions whatsoever. He's sullen, spiteful, and petty. His attitude toward Spencer is more like that of a spoiled and petulant older sibling rather than a loving father, and Nikolas has absolutely no respect for his wife. Charm? I don't think Nikolas would recognize the attribute if it walked up and smacked him upside his blockhead.

I don't think Nikolas attacked Ava, but I do think he's a danger to her. I'm certain he's lying about Esme's fate, and I'm pretty sure Esme is the one who took a hook to Ava. It's unlikely Ryan managed to slip out of Spring Ridge because he's not the type to leave his victims alive. If he had managed to escape, Ryan would have abducted Ava and disappeared because Ava is special. He'd want to drag out the torture and terror to pay her back for rejecting him.

It's also unlikely that Victor or Spencer was responsible for the attack on Ava. Spencer was too drunk to walk, let alone attack someone with a hook. Spencer would have ended up with blood all over him. Victor would send someone else to take care of it, and they would have made certain the job was completed. Josslyn would have found Ava dead with the hook still in her side.

There's a possibility that Austin's creepy cousin Mason did it, but I can't imagine Mason taking the time to put on gloves before striking. Also, Austin was hot on Mason's heels, so he would have stopped him. Plus, Mason was also the type to make sure Ava was dead.

Esme, on the other hand, is exactly the type to lash out in a fit of rage and leave her victim to bleed out slowly.

The other prime suspect was Liz, but I just don't see Liz putting on gloves in a fugue state, driving a hook into Ava's side, and then disposing of both the gloves and the hook before wandering into a clearing and bumping into Nikolas. Yes, Liz had an unexplained gash on her forehead, but I think she got that from a wayward branch of a tree that she stumbled into during her walk in the dark. Perhaps Liz even had an encounter with the person (Esme) who attacked Ava, but I'm certain Liz was not responsible for Ava's brush with death.

A large hook seems particularly grisly, and why would Liz sneak up on Ava? If there had been some kind of exchange between the women, that would be one thing, but we didn't see that happen, and Ava had no memory of a strange encounter with Liz prior to the assault.

A few weeks ago, I was pretty miffed at Finn. I didn't like how he went to Terry behind Liz's back to discuss his concerns about Liz. To me, it came off as controlling and manipulative. I haven't kept my desire for this storyline a secret. I've been waiting for it for 25 years. Liz has always been my favorite character, and Becky Herbst is an incredible actress. I have very high hopes for this storyline, and I really want to see Liz be the heroine of her own story. I adore Finn -- I really do -- but I want him to be Liz's partner in this journey, not her savior.

It's the 21st century, and women can save themselves.

When I voiced my frustration about Finn, I got some pushback. His fans reminded me that he cares about Liz, and he sees she's in trouble and in need of help. I was asked how many times he was expected to talk to Liz about his concerns before it was okay for him to go to Terry. My answer -- as many times as it takes. Liz's epiphany in Finn's office is exactly why I felt that way.

I was utterly delighted when Finn apologized to Liz for going behind her back to talk to Terry. I felt somewhat vindicated for feeling as I did. Finn scored major points not just by once again expressing his concerns about what he's observed, but by doing so in a way that didn't put Liz on the defensive. He gave Liz the space she needed to see for herself that she was indeed in trouble, and it allowed her to open up to him about the periods of lost time and troubling flashbacks of her childhood.

Finn struck just the right chord, too, when he assured Liz that together they would get to the bottom of things. That's exactly the kind of healthy relationship I want for Liz.

Now, let's get Jeff and Carolyn Webber to Port Charles. Pronto. I need some real answers. We've been dancing around this storyline for months, and it's time to pick up the pace. One or two scenes a week is just not cutting it for me.

From what I can piece together from the flashbacks, Liz had an issue with a woman who had been spending too much time with Jeff. I don't think the woman was Naomi Dreyfus because Liz and Hayden are pretty close in age. The flashbacks show Liz in her early teens, likely right before she moved to Port Charles. Jeff and Naomi would have been long over by then.

The flashbacks also show Liz and the mystery woman standing at the top of a set of stairs, and we know the memory of finding Peter's bloody body at the bottom of the hospital stairs triggered Liz's first flashback. I suspect the argument between Liz and the mystery woman ended in a fashion similar to Finn's altercation with Peter. The question is, was it an accident, intentional, or something in between? Hopefully, the truth will set Liz free.

The truth certainly helped Valentin.

Valentin finally came clean to Anna about Victor holding Charlotte hostage in exchange for Valentin's cooperation. Anna had started to put the pieces together during her little poolside chat with Victor when he revealed that Charlotte had decided to stay the summer at boarding school to take advantage of a newly donated state-of-the-art equestrian center. Anna immediately realized something was rotten in Europe.

I'm so happy Valentin told Anna the truth because I firmly believe they are stronger together than apart, and I love their chemistry. I know some have had an issue with how Anna has been pressuring Lucy to seduce Victor, but I'm not one of them. Lucy isn't exactly an angel, and Martin did break the law by hiding his assets from each of his wives during their divorces. Lucy has done a lot worse than spy on someone for the greater good, and she's certainly up for the task. Anna wouldn't have pushed Lucy to help if Anna thought Lucy couldn't handle it.

I'm ready to find out what Victor has been up to and who has been posing a threat to the Cassadines. I have no worry that Victor would harm a hair on his granddaughter's head. Victor is obsessed with family, so if push came to shove, Victor would protect his granddaughter with his life, but I don't blame Valentin for not risking it.

There has to be something quite extraordinarily bad lurking in the shadows to compel Victor to use the threat of harming his grandchild as blackmail against Valentin. I want to know what it is and if it will finally lead Robert to Holly. I certainly hope so -- and Luke, too. I'm still convinced reports of Luke's death were greatly exaggerated. Same with Jason. I believe Victor has a small army of the recently departed captive -- except Peter and Faison -- in one of his secret lairs. Those two better stay dead.

That brings me to Britt and Cody, who continue to swing between abject loathing and mutual attraction. Britt's main issue with Cody is his inability to stop badgering her about Peter and Faison. Cody is like a dog with a bone, and I can't blame Britt for getting annoyed. I'm just not sure why she isn't more suspicious of him. It's as obvious as the blue eyes Cody inherited from his mother that he's after more than a history lesson about the infamous criminal masterminds.

Just once, I'd love for Britt to say, "Hey, I'd love to tell you all about the wonderful brother my father killed rather than the idiot brother my father raised." I adored Nathan, and it really irks me that Cody doesn't seem to have any understanding of why his probing questions about Peter and Faison might be so painful for her. Cody lacks both tact and respect, and the more I see Cody in action, the more I dislike him.

I also have a huge issue with Felicia's suggestion that Dominique didn't know she had given birth to a child. I've had two children, and there are signs that no amount of brainwashing can hide. Stretch marks, scars (episiotomy/tearing), swollen/milky breasts, and several weeks of bleeding, much of it heavy. That's if everything goes well during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, Dominique's gynecologist would have noticed if Dominique had given birth when Dominique's eggs were retrieved to create the embryo of Serena that Lucy carried to term.

Also, why would Leopold Taub give Cody to the Bells to raise? Dominique and Katherine Bell had the same father, which means they were paternal sisters. What's the point of taking a child from Dominique only to give the child up for adoption to her sister's family? It makes no sense.

What does make sense -- if Cody is indeed Dominque's son -- is that Mac is the father, and Dominique hid the child from Leopold out of fear that Leopold would hurt Mac's son. Of course, that doesn't explain why Dominique would remain silent once Leopold died and could no longer pose a threat to Cody.

Katherine had blue eyes, too, and I firmly believe that Cody is really Katherine and Mac's son. Katherine's life was a mess, and she had as many enemies as Ava. Katherine had all kinds of reasons for wanting to keep her son out of reach of those evildoers -- chief of which was Helena Cassadine. It makes even more sense that Katherine would claim Cody was Dominique's son to further muddy the waters.

Finally, halfway through the week, news broke that Chloe Lanier is returning, but the details are murky. Will Chloe return as Nelle in ghost form, will Nelle appear in a flashback, or will Nelle return from the dead? It's a soap opera, so anything is possible, including a random doppelgänger wandering into town.

It's highly unlikely that Nelle is alive.

If you recall, Chase is the one who identified Nelle when her body was recovered from the water. He would have no reason to lie about the body being Nelle if it wasn't. Chase was a police detective, and he'd been one of her victims, so if anyone would want her to face justice, it's Chase. I'm certain Nelle is still very much dead, but Nina spends a lot of time at Nelle's grave, and we recently learned that Nelle had a twin, and that twin is now facing cancer and a high-risk pregnancy.

Folks, I'm torn with this storyline. I feel horrible for Willow's situation. It's a woman's worst nightmare, especially a woman who has already lost a child. I completely empathize with Willow's knee-jerk reaction to protect her unborn child by delaying treatment for a few weeks until her baby is not at risk.

What bothers me is Willow's lack of faith in Michael and her lack of respect for his role as the baby's father. I might be wrong, but it really feels like the real reason Willow doesn't want Michael to know about her diagnosis is because she's afraid he's going to insist on her choosing herself over their baby. It's possible he would, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to know what's going on.

It's Willow's body and her choice whether to have treatment or not. Michael can't make her do anything she doesn't want to because he is not her legal guardian. More than that, though, what if Michael respects Willow's decision and offers her support? Why is she assuming the worst?

I also think it's very foolish for Willow be to be working without disclosing her diagnosis to her supervisor. People's lives are on the line, and she is very ill. Granted, the cancer is still in the early stage, but she is not asymptomatic. Willow passed out a few times, and she's been struggling with chronic fatigue. Terry was concerned enough by what she saw in the hallway that she invited Willow into her office to ask if Willow is okay, and Willow's first reaction was to blame her bout of weakness on everything except her untreated leukemia. It seems irresponsible and a little reckless because she's putting the baby at risk by not properly taking care of herself.

Will Willow's brush with the Grim Reaper invoke unexplained visions of her twin? Willow doesn't know Nelle is her sister, but the twins are connected through Wiley. Could their twin link transcend death during Willow's time of need? Possible.

It's also possible Nelle fished Esme out of the water, and together, they have formed a Supervillain League. Nelle creeping around the Quartermaine estate during a picnic and attacking Ava is definitely in Nelle's wheelhouse.

Random observations

I'm thrilled Sam and Dante have decided to take the next step and move in together, but why don't they get their own place for their blended family? If moving into Lulu's home was uncomfortable for Sam, why wouldn't she think Dante might feel a little awkward about living in Jason's old penthouse?

Yup, the writers are definitely exploring Joss and Dex. Poor Cam. Can we please have Emma Drake transfer to Port Charles University and help Cam mend his broken heart?

I like Portia, but I despise the secret she's keeping from both Curtis and Trina. I don't know how she can be worried about Trina's mental health but at the same time show zero guilt over the bombshell she's keeping from those she claims to love most. Both Curtis and Trina deserve better, and when this blows up in Portia's face -- and it most certainly will -- Portia will only have herself to blame. Luckily for Portia, Trina is a good kid, and she will be quick to forgive her mother. Curtis? Not so much.

Carly, just go for it. You're not a teenager. You're an adult woman with grown children and even a grandchild. Drew is single, interested, and a darn fine human being. You could do a lot worse than getting your groove back with Drew.

Reader feedback

Can't believe I'm going to defend Carly...there's a vast difference between Carly keeping the fact that Willow is Nina's daughter and Nina keeping quiet about finding Sonny alive. Mainly it has to do with pain. Nina isn't suffering because she doesn't know that Willow is her daughter. Sonny's entire family and friends on the other hand were in mourning for months believing he was dead. Nina watched all of it. And her pleas about wanting to be able to see Wiley are hollow at best! She could have seen him whenever she wanted if she had brought Sonny home. (I'm not a big Sonny fan myself) Carly and Michael would have rolled out the welcome mat for Nina if she had opened her mouth. Any time Nina has had an opportunity to put Wiley first, she hasn't. I don't blame Michael for not letting Nina see his son. It's one of the few times I agree with him over all. -- John Baker

I think Cody is a terrible character and attaching him to Scottie's family won't change my mind. He is childish and serves no purpose other than to annoy. The way the writers are trying to create a couple between Cody and Britt is disgusting. Isn't it time for women to be able to make up their minds? Can't no mean no? Creating this scenario where Britt becomes so seduced by Cody's charms is ridiculous. A better story would have been for him to try his charms, Britt says no, and they hate each other for evermore! She should have him picked up for stalking her, get a restraining order. Britt is too smart to fall for his nonsense. -- KBee

Is there maybe a little social commentary going on with a couple of these stories? Yes, Dante & Jordan treated Sasha roughly, but is that part of the problem with police not knowing how to deal with mental health breakdowns? Yes, Sasha was destructive, but a counselor could have helped (and maybe would IRL). Also, is Willow's story setting her up to perhaps have to think about an abortion? She can't go through cancer treatments while pregnant can she? Also, how about Alexis talking about journalistic integrity with Gregory? -- Kymba O

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section below.

Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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