General Hospital's Year in Review 2022: Part I

For the Week of December 26, 2022
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As 2022 draws to a close, it's time to look back on the year that was, and all the hits and misses. First up, Liz Masters checks in with her favorite and not-so-favorite moments in this special Two Scoops of naughty and nice.

2022 was quite the eventful year. We had a few surprising twists and turns, betrayals, a return from the dead, and a mystery lady with a killer hook.

This time last year, Peter August (Wes Ramsey) was running amok, Victor and Nikolas Cassadine were stirring up trouble, Brook Lynn was passing off Maxie's baby as her own, Sonny Corinthos and Nina Reeves had returned from their sojourn in Nixon Falls, and the writers had begun to tease Jeff Webber's long-awaited return.

A year later, Peter is dead -- no resurrection for him; Esme is locked in a tower at Wyndemere, awaiting the birth of her child with Nikolas; Victor is on the hunt for the Ice Princess; Sonny and Nina are playing house at his old penthouse; and Jeff Webber finally showed up to explain himself.

Let's kick things off with the naughty list.

Written in the stars

I love soaps. In their heyday, I watched all the ABC soaps, but GH has always been my very favorite. I have been watching since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I will continue to watch until I turn to dust -- or ABC does the unimaginable. I watch because I love the characters and the stories, in that order. Writers have come and gone -- some were incredible, others not so much -- but the characters and their families have remained a constant, with a few exceptions. It's for that reason that I don't like when writers mess with character history or the characters themselves just to create drama.

Such was the case with Dr. Jeff Webber. Don't get me wrong, Jeff had a lot to answer for, but all of that seemed to have taken a back seat to the sordid tale of what precipitated the abandonment of this daughter. A story with oodles of potential turned into a stupid plot twist, where Jeff had an affair with Hamilton Finn's wife, which indirectly led to Reiko's death.

It wasn't about Elizabeth and her two neglectful parents, but rather about Finn's wife and Jeff's lecherous ways. Apparently, after leaving Port Charles, Jeff turned into a serial cheater. He had an affair with Hayden Barnes's mother early into his marriage to Carolyn, he cheated on his wife with Reiko Finn, and it was implied that there were others in between. Worse, somehow, Reiko stopping Elizabeth from leaving a stairwell to tell Carolyn and Finn about the affair became Elizabeth's sin when Reiko accidentally fell and bonked her head hard enough to bleed so bad that Reiko needed a transfusion of blood. The blood at the hospital was tainted with a deadly virus that killed Reiko.

Viewers like me who loved Jeff from his first stint on the show (1976 - 1981) were expected to ignore everything that we knew to be true about him and accept that he'd lost his moral compass soon after marrying Carolyn. As for Carolyn, she stayed with a man who was unfaithful -- repeatedly -- and she ultimately chose him over her own daughter. Heck, Carolyn was an active participant in burying the memories in Elizabeth's mind before shipping the vulnerable teen off to the United States to stay with friends.

I was hoping for a better story, and to this day, I have absolutely no idea why Finn and Reiko were inserted into it. Not only did it make Finn look significantly older than Elizabeth, but are we honestly to believe that Reiko never mentioned working with an American doctor named Jeff Webber to her husband? The biggest sin, though, was the hack job on Jeff. Jeff left Port Charles to protect Steven Lars from his crazy and obsessive mother, so why would he abandon his teen daughter? And why would Jeff stay married to a woman he clearly didn't love?

This storyline was a huge missed opportunity.

Revenge porn

Esme decided to kill two birds (Trina and Josslyn) with one stone when she pressured Spencer, Trina, Cameron, and Josslyn into spending a weekend at Sonny's cabin to give Spencer a great send-off before he served time for the crimes that both he and Esme had committed. Spencer -- ever the gallant prince -- fell on his sword for Esme so that she wouldn't have to go to jail, too. She repaid him by recording his best friends having sex for the first time. Esme also drugged her rival for Spencer's affections, and she framed poor Trina for posting the intimate moment between Cam and Joss on the Internet.

All very soapy and dramatic, but also tawdry. Sexual exploitation is never easy to watch under any circumstance, and I felt particularly bad for Josslyn and Cameron because they were still teens when this happened. That was a huge mark against this storyline for me. The other was the ridiculously flimsy evidence against Trina. It was downright laughable that the burner phone wasn't brushed for fingerprints or DNA because if it had been, they would have found Esme's grubby prints all over it. Esme was not wearing gloves when she dropped the phone into Trina's bag.

The investigation was a farce, and it wasn't a good look that the police always seemed to be a day late and a dollar short. Trina and Josslyn uncovered more witnesses than the police did, and Curtis was the one who saved a key witness from dying. To keep Trina from certain conviction, Portia violated a slew of HIPAA and criminal laws to wake Oz up from a coma so that Oz could be dragged into court and vindicate Trina, but no one so much as raised an eyebrow about the circumstances of Oz's sudden recovery.

I'm not a lawyer, but I am confident that even I could have successfully defended Trina against the prosecutor's case.

An affair to remember or forget?

The year started out with Sonny telling Carly that he wanted to work on their marriage, even though he had feelings for Nina. Carly was not keen on competing for her husband's affections, especially since she gave up Jason the instant that Sonny returned home. Desperate, Sonny resorted to ultimatums. He told Carly to meet him on the Haunted Star at a certain time, and if she didn't show, then he would know that their marriage was over, and she had chosen to divorce him.

Naturally, Carly didn't show. She was busy at the hospital, checking on Dante, who had been injured in the line of duty. You know who did show? Nina. Within minutes, Sonny and Nina were hitting the sheets and bumping uglies, but they were not alone for long because Carly showed up in time to catch the two in the act. What did Sonny do? He blamed Carly for being late, and he had the audacity to say that he did not want a divorce.

I loathe Sonny and Nina's affair. Sonny and Nina live in their own world, where they perceive themselves as the victims at all times. Sonny is always reminding Carly that she chose to divorce him, even though he was the one who was both emotionally and physically unfaithful. When Nina jumped to the conclusion that Willow and T.J. were having an affair because Nina had seen the friends hug a few times, Sonny defended Nina, even though none of it was true. The same thing happened when Nina assumed that Carly and Brick were sleeping together. Sonny and Nina are the masters of projection because they view everyone's actions through the prism of their own sins.

I used to like Nina, but ever since she ended up in Sonny's orbit, that has changed. Sonny and Nina seem to bring out the worst in each other, and I can't understand how Sonny could love a woman who once ripped his newborn daughter out of her mother's womb and kidnapped the infant. It's unfathomable to me.

Sonny and Nina's attitudes seem to be, "If you love us, you will be happy for us, even if we make you miserable." I'm disappointed in Sonny, too. For all his talk over the years about the importance of family, he was quick to throw them to the wolves when it came to his wants. At this point, I don't want Sonny and Nina to break up. I want them to move to Sonny's island and live far away from all those they've hurt. Maybe Sonny can work his magic and give Nina that baby she's longed for. That should keep them busy.

Love Story

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." ~ Jennifer Cavalleri, Love Story

That, of course, is complete poppycock. Love means always having to say you're sorry, especially when you're wrong.

Willow has leukemia, and she's pregnant. When she first found out about the cancer, she opted not to tell Michael. At first, Willow opted not to tell Michael because she was waiting for biopsy results. Then, she decided to postpone telling Michael until she was in her second trimester and could safely undergo treatment without hurting the baby. What followed were weeks of Willow looking like she hadn't slept in months, periodically fainting or swaying from dizzy spells, and lying to everyone around her who expressed concern about her health. It seemed like Willow's first trimester dragged on for endless months, and when she finally hit the benchmark, Willow found out that her cancer had metastasized, and she would need a bone marrow transplant.

Willow was forced to come clean to Michael when Nina put a bug in his ear that Willow was carrying on an affair with T.J. Willow explained that T.J. had been the one to initially suspect that she had cancer, so T.J. had been her confidant during the first trimester of pregnancy. Michael barely had time to process that Willow had leukemia when she implored him not to tell anyone. Willow worried that someone might let it slip to Wiley that she was sick.

Folks, Willow makes me want to scream.

Not only is it absolutely ridiculous to think that any adult, let alone those who love Wiley, would traumatize the child by talking about Willow's diagnosis in front of him, but she is denying Michael a critical support system when he needs it most. Being the caretaker for someone who is gravely ill takes a toll on a person. It's scary, stressful, and incredibly hard. Additionally, Willow's silence is downright careless and dangerous. She needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant, and as far as she knows, she has no family around. You don't have to have a biological connection to be a bone marrow match, so she is wasting precious time by not having friends tested as possible bone marrow donors.

I know that all of this is intended to set Carly up to be lambasted and become the town pariah when the truth finally comes out that Carly has known for months that Nina is Willow's mother. I'm no great fan of Carly's, but the writing has made Willow so unlikeable that I find myself blaming Willow more for her predicament than I do Carly. I don't defend Carly's silence, but I can't defend Willow's, either.

Also, I've lost loved ones to cancer. My son-in-law's father just learned that his cancer has metastasized. You can't hide the ravages of cancer and the treatment. Wiley knows something is wrong with his mother, whether he vocalizes that or not, and Willow pretending that everything is okay isn't protecting him.

Now, let's move on to the Nice List.

The French lieutenant's woman

Long, long ago, when Valentin and Anna were spies in training, Valentin fell in love with Anna, but she rejected him because he was disfigured. It sent Valentin on a long and twisted path -- much of it dark and dangerous -- that ultimately landed him in Port Charles with a handsome new face and a second chance to win the heart of his first love.

It's taken years for Anna to see Valentin as anything other than the enemy, but a little persistence and a whole lot of redemption did the trick. Simply put, Vanna (Valentin and Anna) are now the hottest couple on daytime. The chemistry between James Patrick Stuart and Finola Hughes sizzles off the chart, and their love scenes are everything that's been missing the last few years between lovers on a soap opera.

I love them, and Vanna are my favorite pairing on the show. It's nice to see Anna in a relationship where she can be herself and doesn't have to make excuses for why she feels drawn to save the world. Valentin is more than up to the task of being her partner, and he understands her probably better than anyone else save for Robert Scorpio. With Anna, Valentin strives to be a better person, which is a far cry from how he was during his relationship with Nina. With Nina, Valentin always seemed to revert to trickery to keep her because he never felt truly worthy.

I like the shift in Valentin, and I love how easy Valentin and Anna seem together. I look forward to their many adventures together -- and their steamy love scenes.

A family affair

Esme is a very bad vixen, but to be fair, she comes by it honestly. Her father is serial killer Ryan Chamberlain, and her mother is the infamous Heather Webber, wreaker of havoc and a killer in her own right. With genes like that, is it any wonder that Esme has done nothing but scheme, lie, and dabble in a little poisoning?

Alley Mills is the latest actress to take on the role of unstable Heather Webber, and boy, did she ever understand the assignment. Usually, there's a transition period for me when a role is recast, but not this time. Alley hit the ground running, and she has done a phenomenal job. The scenes between Heather and Ryan when they talked about their fling in the woods that resulted in the conception of Esme were both creepy and compelling.

Is Esme doomed? Well, she did try to kill Oz Haggerty, and she framed Trina for the revenge porn that Esme had made and posted online. A price has to be paid for that, and Jordan is determined to make certain that Trina is avenged. Redemption might be possible, but it is highly unlikely. It's far more probable that Esme will be picking up her parents' mantle, especially since she's carrying Nikolas' child.

Soap operas need an evil adversary for the "good" people to vanquish. Look at how many hours of nail-biting suspense both Heather and Ryan have provided over the years. The evildoer plays a necessary role, and Avery Kristen Pohl is fantastic as Esme because she manages to insert just enough vulnerability in Esme that a part of you thinks there might be hope for salvation. There isn't. Esme is diabolical, and she takes pleasure in manipulating people because she's quite skilled at it. It's what makes her so dangerous.

I loved this twist, and I find myself looking forward to seeing what the writers have in store when Ryan and Heather team up to rescue their daughter.

The Case of the Sea Krait Hook

I love a great mystery, especially when there are intentional clues dropped by the writers. A killer is on the loose in Port Charles, and I'm hooked! (Pun completely intended)

This has been my favorite storyline of the year. Each attack has yielded tantalizing clues. When Ava was attacked, we saw that the would-be killer wore a cape of some kind and took the hook from the Quartermaine boathouse. That means she was able to move about without raising suspicion, which indicates she's familiar to some and perhaps considered trustworthy. Brando's murder revealed that the intended victim had been Josslyn and that the killer had evolved because she had dipped the hook in a deadly venom. Diane's attack confirmed the suspicion that the killer was a woman. Oz's murder was slightly different because the writers used it to clear Dex and throw suspicion on Esme, since she had been at the scene of the crime. Rory's murder yielded an earring, but there are still a lot of questions about what exactly transpired in the exotic animal smuggler's apartment.

The writers have done a fantastic job of building this mystery. Go to the message boards, soap Twitter, and the Two Scoop comment section, and you will see a lively discussion about who the Hook might be. We are all engaged and having fun playing Sherlock Holmes. Viewers are scouring the scenes, looking for a woman wearing jangling bracelets or a necklace that might explain the distinctive sound each of the victims heard during the attack. Now, we will be looking for a woman who has a preference for hoop earrings.

The pacing for this story is also wonderful. Yes, it's unfolding slowly, but not too slow. Every couple of weeks, there is progress, and as sad as it was to see Brando and Rory go, it raised the stakes and guaranteed a bigger payoff for when the killer is finally revealed.

The person who thought up this storyline deserves a big raise.

My wish list for 2023

Please, bring Jason home. It's time. We all know he didn't die in that tunnel collapse on Cassadine Island because a body was never found.

Resurrect Luke Spencer, too. I'm no fan of Luke's, but I can appreciate his contributions to GH, and he deserved better than an off-screen death.

Do. Not. Ruin. Vanna.

Carly needs to do her penance, but afterwards, I want her to take control of her life, move out of Sonny's old mansion, buy the Port Charles Grill, and get her groove back.

Ava should wash Nikolas out of her hair by helping Finn mend his broken heart.

I'm really hoping that Emma Drake transfers to Port Charles University and notices what a great guy Cameron is. Josslyn did Cameron dirty, so she deserves all the misery headed her way because of Dex. I get a bad vibe from Dex, and I suspect he's playing both Michael and Sonny.

Finally, thank you all for taking time out to read my Two Scoops. I feel honored to be a part of such a wonderful community of soap opera fans who love the show -- and the genre -- as much as I do. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. Don't forget to head down to the Comments to let me know your thoughts. I always enjoy reading them.

Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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