All aboard at Dysfunction Junction

For the Week of March 13, 2023
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The ties that bind are unraveling in Port Charles. Can Spencer get Ace out of Spring Ridge? Will the old Esme resurface? Is Nina headed for disaster by going after Carly? All aboard at Dysfunction Junction. Destination: Two Scoops of karma and justice.

Dysfunction is the name of the game on soaps. It's what brings the drama to the party and shakes things up. Let's face it, if everyone did the right thing, we'd get bored watching their lives unfold. Men like Sonny, Victor, and Mason would be in jail; affairs wouldn't happen; a small army of secret love children wouldn't make annual pilgrimages to town; marriages would last more than a few minutes; and no one would ever return from the dead.

I love soap operas because of all those things -- and more. On a soap, you can root for the bad guy with a heart of gold and see the good in a villain's love for their family. Affairs are fodder for heated debates on message boards, and justice can take many forms. It's not always being shipped off to jail or a sanitarium. On soaps, it can be losing a beloved, suffering a catastrophic illness or injury, or spiraling to rock bottom and losing everything. A price must be paid for doing terrible things, but redemption is possible once the debt is satisfied. There has to be a balance between good and evil, and should the scales of justice tip, I prefer that it be on the side of right.

I used to love Nina. Not when she stalked Silas Clay, bullied everyone in his life, and ripped Avery out of poor paralyzed Ava's womb. There was nothing to like about Nina in those days, and what empathy Nina garnered for being trapped in a 20-year coma was soon eclipsed by her evil deeds. I'm a firm believer in giving characters a second chance, and Nina earned it when she was made to spend time incarcerated because of her crimes. Nina's redemption was earned through a brush with death, a few selfless acts, and a journey to be a better person. Eventually, she found what she was searching for -- a charming and devoted lover, and a chance to be a mother to his daughter.

Unfortunately, Valentin was always keeping secrets and lying to Nina. Valentin did it for love and to keep his secrets buried. Valentin loved Nina, and there was nothing that he wasn't willing to do to make her happy, but he took it too far when he enlisted Sasha to pretend to be Nina's long-lost daughter. I knew then that their love would not last because Valentin never fully trusted Nina to love all of him, especially the darkness. Nina tried, though. She forgave him far more times than he deserved.

After Nina ended things with Valentin, she seemed to blossom, and she was in a really good place. Then, the Nelle stuff happened. In the blink of an eye, the bitter and angry Nina was back. She lashed out at people she believed had wronged her, and she justified her selfish choices. Nina's penchant for wishful thinking also reared its ugly head. She engaged in delusional fantasies that led her to firmly believe that her love could have saved Nelle. I doubt it.

Enter Willow. I think we can all agree that Willow has a genuinely kind heart. She is the light to Nelle's darkness. Like Nelle, Willow was raised by someone with a twisted mind who drugged Willow and handed her over to a sexual predator. In every way, Willow's backstory is just as tragic and traumatizing as Nelle's, but Willow took a very different path in life. Willow chose kindness. Nelle was evil, and she killed. Nina always glosses over that as if it's somehow a reflection on her as a mother. It's not. Sometimes, people are just bad seeds.

Back when Nina and Willow tangled over Charlotte -- and I was convinced that Willow was Nina's daughter -- it was clear that Nina resented Willow for making Nina feel inferior as a mother. As time passed and Willow became Wiley's mother, Nina saw that Willow was everything that Nelle could never be -- and that Nina was never able to be because of the coma. It's fair to say, if Nina could have picked any woman on the planet to be her daughter it would not have been Willow.

When Nina learned that Willow was her daughter, she hoped to undo all the cruel words, lies, and viciousness by being the heroine in the story with a lifesaving bone marrow donation. The writers had other plans, and I'm kind of happy that they did because it shouldn't be that easy for Nina. She has been awful to Willow, and being her mother doesn't earn Nina an automatic clean slate. Willow summed it up best when she said that Nina doesn't love her; she loves the idea of having a daughter. Nina hasn't done the work of taking accountability. She wants to blame Carly for the distance between Nina and Willow instead of blaming her own horrid behavior.

Nina hasn't earned the privilege to be a part of Willow's life yet. I was stunned to listen to Nina and Curtis discuss their situations -- Carly keeping the secret about Willow, and Portia's secret -- and actually suggest that they were not the same. What?!? They are exactly the same. Carly thought she was doing what was best for Willow just like Portia was protecting Trina. In doing so, they were also protecting themselves from the backlash they were sure to face for their deception, but neither was acting out of malice. Nina keeps forgetting that Carly owed her nothing. It was Willow who was owed the truth.

That brings me to the next stop on our tour of family dysfunction. Big crybaby Curtis. Curtis is justifiably upset that Portia lied to him about Trina. It was wrong. Portia had numerous opportunities to tell Curtis -- when their relationship turned serious, when they got engaged, when they bought a house, when they picked a wedding date, and the list goes on. Portia remained silent. Nina was right; Portia was afraid of losing Curtis -- and for good reason, judging by his behavior since this bombshell dropped.

Curtis is telling anyone who will listen that he was deeply betrayed and that his brand-new marriage might not last. So much for those "better or worse" vows that he took. Again, I don't blame Curtis for being hurt and angry, but grow up. The most important person in this little Shakespearean melodrama is Trina, not Curtis. He needs to stop running around town, sharing his family business, and go home. It's time to figure things out.

I'd have a lot more empathy for Curtis' righteous indignation if he wasn't running illegal card games in his nightclub's back room with the head of a criminal organization. Portia kept her secret because she was trying to make her marriage to Taggert work. Later, it became about protecting Trina from heartache because Trina loved Taggert. Was it wrong? Absolutely, but at no point did Portia set out to hurt Curtis. He left her all those years ago, so she owed Taggert and Trina the truth.

What does Curtis think will happen if he and Selina should have a falling-out? Selina is not the kind to meekly pick up her poker chips and go home. It will be a blood bath.

Portia deserves a second chance because she's his wife and because Curtis makes it really hard to be honest. Curtis is part of the problem here because he has impossible standards for the people in his life that even he can't meet. Mr. Holier-Than-Thou forgets that he benefitted from a second chance on a couple of occasions, including after he battled addiction. When he learned that he'd been wrong about the role that Jordan and Shawn had played in his brother's death, they both forgave Curtis. No one made him crawl on broken glass and beg for forgiveness.

If Curtis truly loves Portia, he will work on saving his marriage. It won't be easy, and it will take time to rebuild the trust that was lost, but Portia is always going to be a part of Curtis' life, even if they don't stay married. I have little doubt that the DNA test will be in Curtis' favor, so he needs to start acting like a loving father instead of a selfish man-child.

Moving along, we come to the other family disaster known as the Cassadines. Nikolas is in a coma somewhere, Valentin is faking his death, and Victor has 99 problems, including his quest for a mystery destination that hit a roadblock. What's a supervillain to do? I have no idea what Selina is slipping into Victor's drinks to give him performance issues in the bedroom, but she continues to report to Holly. I find it interesting that Selina continues to have a direct link to Holly, but that's a discussion for another day. Right now, Victor's secrets are slowly bubbling to the surface, thanks to the Scooby gang, led by Valentin and Anna, who are plotting Victor's downfall.

Valentin and Anna got a big assist in that endeavor when Eileen spilled the tea about her relationship with Victor and a few of his secrets. It seems that Eileen and Victor are casual lovers, but I agree with Valentin. Nothing that Victor does is casual; it's all strategic. Eileen also revealed that Victor has spent years searching for a mystery place, and he needed the Ice Princess codes to find it. The Lost City of Atlantis or Olympus immediately sprang to my mind, but knowing Victor, it's probably the place where the Ice Princess was mined. Regardless, Valentin and Anna realized that the codes were actually coordinates.

I'm happy to know that we are finally getting to the point of Victor's return, which happened in September 2021. As entertaining as it is to watch Valentin valiantly restrain himself from strangling Lucy in the cabin hideout, I'm ready for everyone to come home, which means that Victor has to go down. With any luck, the writers have a big twist in store that paints all of Victor's actions in a different light. Imagine how shocked we all would be to find out that Victor was busy trying to save the world. Yeah, yeah, I know. When pigs fly.

I don't want to lose Charles Shaughnessy. He's a wonderful actor, and he really makes it hard sometimes to remember that Victor is a bad guy. For example, when Victor ran into Liesl at Metro Court's restaurant, and he invited her to take her anger out on him. It was such a kind moment, which he promptly ruined by propositioning Liesl. However, I do love the way that Liesl and Victor spar. I'm Team Schnitzel all the way, but I wouldn't mind if Victor found love and redemption with the right woman. After his date with karma, of course.

Meanwhile, Mason is turning up the heat on Austin and Ava by threatening to expose their secret about stashing Nikolas in the tack room. Mason is a perfect bad guy. He has absolutely no redeeming qualities, and he thrives on chaos. He slithers around town, lurks in shadows, and loves taunting Austin in front of others. Characters like Mason rarely survive their reigns of terror, but they do make things exciting while they last.

It's time for the writers to give us the name of the woman giving Mason his orders. Is it Austin's mother or Mason's? Could it be Olivia Jerome (a favorite contender on social media) pulling strings from behind bars? If Heather can routinely slip out of D'Archam to hook people, Olivia should be able to run an organization in Pautuck, especially from Pentonville. Olivia is exactly the type of supervillain who would find a way to cause trouble for the people of Port Charles, especially her sister Ava. Olivia hates Ava.

Now, let's talk about the shenanigans at the hospital with Esme. Is she or isn't she faking her amnesia? I do believe the amnesia is real, but I also suspect that her memories are slowly surfacing. Not just because she named her son Ace, but also because she seems to always see herself as the victim. I watched Esme take that leap over the parapet. No one forced her to jump. She didn't hesitate, and Nikolas most definitely didn't make her do it. He was as horrified watching it as I was.

Instead of blaming Nikolas, Esme should have asked herself what kind of mother does that? One who cares about herself more than her baby. The very fact that it never occurred to Esme to consider that indicates to me that the evil Esme is waking up.

Esme not only set a fire to the room in the north tower, but she also took a handful of pills to make it appear that she had overdosed. That was a foolish risk to take. That's on top of taking an ice-cold water plunge from the parapet. I give her a free pass for the first time that she did it, since she didn't know that she was pregnant. At least, I hope not. It was hard to tell when Esme was lying or being honest because she was such a calculating and manipulative person before the memory loss.

The last person that should have that baby right now is Esme. Giving birth doesn't entitle a person to treat a child like a possession, and that's exactly how Esme's decision to take Ace with her to Spring Ridge came off. How is she protecting him by taking him to a jail where there are violent criminals?

The writing has been incredibly heavy-handed regarding Esme. Suddenly, people talk as if she's somehow a victim. She's not. Esme knew exactly what she was doing when she drugged Trina, recorded Joss and Cam, posted that video, and framed Trina. We also saw what happened when Esme paid Oz a visit, and he ended up in a coma, fighting for his life. Don't get me on Esme's role in stalking Ava. Listening to Laura tell Esme that a lot can change between now and the trial made me uncomfortable. Laura's own grandson (Cameron) was one of Esme's victims.

I also don't understand how a judge can say the baby is better off with Esme. If she were nursing the child, I might understand, but there has been no indication of that. Spencer might not be the best option, but he's a better guardian to an infant than Esme is while she's sitting in Spring Ridge, awaiting trial.

Finally, I have to share this. When I write a Two Scoops commentary, I usually talk to Dan J Kroll (the genius who created this awesome site) about the things that I intend to discuss so that he can create one of his fabulous graphics. I also like to bounce things off him, and often this leads to delightfully entertaining conversations. These commentaries are truly a labor of love for those of us at Soap Central.

Naturally, Victor and his erectile dysfunction, um, popped up. I can't share everything that we discussed -- I'm pretty sure it would get us banned from the Internet -- but this was just too good not to.

Dan Kroll: "There's no love in the afternoon for Victor. Or the evening. Or the morning. Ever notice that men with winkie troubles always want to blow s**t up?"

Hahahahaha! So true, my friend. So. True.

Random observations

What does Nina hope to gain by going after Drew and Carly? Has she forgotten that Aurora Media owns Crimson? It takes more than an accusation to charge a person with insider trading. Michael is Carly's son, and he's a part of Aurora Media and ELQ. Why wouldn't she invest in her son's businesses, especially after a divorce? The fact that she lost money should prove that she didn't have insider information, since the objective of insider trading is to make money, not lose it.

I love that T.J. and Molly actually talked about having children. They are the healthiest and longest-lasting couple on the show right now. I love that they've been together since high school, and they both have such tremendous respect for each other. They are an anchor couple, and I hope the writers don't screw things up for them.

Why was Esme's child not in a carrier? I don't care if Esme was being transported to Spring Ridge under armed guard; a child needs to be in an appropriate car seat. Also, what is Esme going to change that baby into after he soils himself and is bathed? Does Spring Ridge supply little baby prison uniforms, diapers, and toiletries?

My heart broke when Cameron announced that he's heading to Stanford for the spring semester because he was offered a full-ride soccer scholarship. I love William Lipton. If he's leaving the show, I wish him nothing but the very best because he's an incredibly talented young man. However, Cameron needs to stay put, even if that means recasting the role. He's a legacy character, and I hate that it feels like he's being replaced by Dex, a.k.a. Generic Jason. Not even Dex's newfound love for cooking is interesting.

Reader feedback

I don't for one second believe Heather is the original Hook. Even if she escaped long enough to kill people, what about the ninja moves she had when attacking Nikolas? That was ridiculous. Not to mention how the original Hook was way smaller with a narrow body. If they're going to pin it on Heather, they need to explain how she was fighting like a ninja on some attacks and not on others. -- Kasi Blake

I can't remember Ava ever really being that smart. But this one's got a lot of issues. Like why doesn't she get Nikolas's cell phone, text Laura a goodbye then drain the battery & chuck in the water so no one can find it in the stables. Send a couple of emails to Victor & his business associates & buy plane tickets to Argentina to throw people off track while she's at it. -- Kathi

Several weeks ago, there was one particular day the show was dropping mentions about "who was Esme's mother and dad". Did anyone else catch the flashback scene between Ryan and Felicia having a fight? That made me wonder if her real mom is Felicia and not Heather. -- Malyndia Arechiga

What are your thoughts about what's going on on General Hospital? Do you agree or disagree with anything that I've shared in this week's column? I love hearing from everyone and reading your thoughts, so drop me a comment in the Comments section below. You can also join us over on the message boards for even more conversation!

Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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