They shoot (dead) horses, don't they?

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Greetings once again, Mr. and Mrs. Port Charles! Summer has arrived in full bloom, but how much are things really heating up on our screens? Some storylines have potential, but many others remain cold and repetitive and should have been left to wither amongst the snow-covered ashes of the Haunted Star "somewhere in Greenland." Guest Two Scoops columnist Steve is back with a few thoughts on General Hospital. Let's get started!

Folks, let me start this column with a question for you: in its never-ending "Granny Wars" (Year III) saga, why is General Hospital portraying Nina Reeves as the person guilty of a crime, when the audience knows that Drew and Carly are the ones who committed an actual crime in insider trading? This makes no sense to me.

Reporting a crime is not a crime. Committing a crime is a crime. This isn't complicated. That's why I was a little confused earlier this week when I saw the first promotional clip that our beloved GH posted to its social media outlets. "Will Nina... finally come clean?" the 15-second trailer asked.

The implication had about as much subtlety as an earthquake: Nina somehow did something wrong by having informed the G-men, T-men, and revenuers, too, about someone else's crime, and for that, she must face the music. But back to the question posed in the promo: What, exactly, is there for Nina to come clean about?

With the way GH is framing this storyline, first-time viewers might be forgiven if they tuned in and thought they had entered a bizarro soap world beyond just ordinary evil twins, back-from-the-dead characters, alternate personalities, and other familiar daytime tropes. Forget that. "Welcome to Port Charles: where guilty is the new innocent, innocent is the new guilty, and people with Stage IV cancer can ignore treatment for months and essentially 'thoughts and prayers' their way to recovery!"

Instead of letting this insider trading storyline develop organically, I feel as if the show is essentially telling the audience: "This is who you should root for, and this is who you shouldn't." That's a mistake, because viewers aren't dumb, and Carly and Nina both have fan bases that are passionate about their favorite character. If you're a Nina fan, you likely resent the implication that Carly is somehow the "real victim" in this. And if you're a Carly fan, is it really helping your favorite character if she's written as some tragic bystander when she isn't?

Folks, I know the show does not want me to feel bad for Nina in all this, but I do. She made a rash decision in the heat of the moment, after continued needless goading and harping from Carly, who could have deescalated things long before they reached the boiling point that led to Nina's call to Martin. To borrow one of my favorite lines from Goodfellas: "You insulted (her) a little bit. You gotta little outta orduh yaself. A li'l bit."

Nina isn't a blameless character (for none are), but she isn't some awful person the show seems intent on trying to portray her as, either. Nor is Carly some grandiose victim, let alone the town's guiding light and symbol of virtue. That both are repeatedly written this way is akin to beating or shooting an already dead horse (hence the title of this column).

For her role in this, Nina is bound to pay as heavy a price as the one the actual criminals will have paid. Not in terms of prison time (surely), but Nina has been set up to suffer a fall even bigger than Drew and especially Carly. How far a fall, we can only guess. Whatever happens, I know that Cynthia Watros will do incredible things in portraying Nina's vast emotional palette.

In the meantime, I have to admit that some of the language that GH has adopted for this storyline is bothering me a bit. Some people hate the word "optics," but the way things are portrayed in various forms of entertainment (including soap operas) warrant critique, do they not? This storyline is one such example. In my opinion, the actions and reactions of Drew, Carly, and others in their circle at being forced to take responsibility for their crimes reek of tone-deafness and an ethos of privilege, classism, and toxic entitlement.

While Judge Kim reminded Drew and Carly that no one is above the law, it's worth noting that, in retrospect, Drew and Carly seemed to complain more about charges they were actually guilty of than did Trina, an innocent young Black girl who was decidedly not guilty of crimes that she was accused of, and who had to fight a system of justice that was stacked against her. "I can't believe that Ned would do this!" is a popular refrain I heard one of Carly, Drew, or Michael say on multiple occasions. Only within the past week does it seem that Drew and Carly even care to accept that they're guilty -- let alone show any remorse for their actions.

As for Drew specifically, can anyone take him seriously? Drew's decisions, demeanor, mannerisms, and indeed his entire personality have undergone such a drastic overhaul that he is the complete opposite of the multilayered character the audience got to know many years ago -- first as "Jason Morgan," then later as Drew.

This version of Drew has been an absentee father, following Carly from one room to the next, even as far away as those notorious ocean bluffs in Jacksonville. Seriously, though, I know I give Carly a lot of flak in these spaces, and I realize I'm considered a "Carly hater" (the label isn't quite the insult or flex that some think it is), but she stays involved in her children's lives. Drew, by comparison, often seems to forget that he even has a daughter.

Drew's latest submission for Deadbeat Father of the Year was to ask Dante to be a de facto father for Scout while Drew is serving his prison sentence. Good for Sam for not allowing Drew's whiny tantrum and attempts at deflection to keep her from calling him out for his decision to abandon Scout, all so he can show off his hero complex for Carly. The scene called for an old-fashioned daytime slap, and I was hoping that Kelly Monaco's performance might include one. Drew had that coming.

The past year has not been kind to Drew at all. When Anna and Valentin were forced to fake their deaths, many viewers took exception to how pushy and greedy Drew came across in trying to obtain Charlotte's ELQ shares from Laura. Drew displayed an unmistakable air of giddiness and downright morbid, barely controlled bloodlust for those shares. I'm glad Laura put a stop to Drew, but it doesn't sit well with me that Valentin still hasn't been told about that. Being a bully does not befit certain characters, and this version of Drew is chief among them.

At least Tracy hasn't changed. And what a welcome sight you are, Queen Tracy! Do you ever forget how much you've missed a person until one day, that person crashes the gates and is instantly the same witty, colorful, acid-tongued legend you've always remembered her being? This is how I've felt since Tracy's delightful return to Port Charles. Her interactions with her family at the hospital and in the Quartermaine house (that Alan left to Monica!) has injected a fun breath of fresh air into the show. Here's hoping Jane Elliot's stay in Port Charles lasts awhile longer.

Meanwhile, Tracy's son Ned thinks he's an actual person named Eddie Maine instead of the adopted stage alias Ned used in the 1990s. We already know that Ned doesn't acknowledge Olivia or his family. Question is, will Ned turn his attention back toward his former flame Alexis? Or might Ned start to cast his eye beyond the city limits of Port Charles? Perhaps Las Vegas was shorthand for "Lois Cerullo." Getting Rena Sofer back as Ned's former love and Brook Lynn's mom would count as a big win for General Hospital in its 60th anniversary year.

A wonderful tie-in to the show's anniversary milestone this year has been Elizabeth's promotion to head nurse. Elizabeth began her first day on the job this week with a touching, heartfelt speech to Epiphany's plaque on the hospital's shrine. I loved seeing Elizabeth mix personal life with work life! She went from interacting with close friend Portia to scolding helpless chatterbox and town gossip Amy. In short, it was Elizabeth being Elizabeth! More scenes like these, please, and less of Elizabeth playing a literal board game.

That leads me back to this. Why is Elizabeth still stuck in Groundhog Day with Hamilton (Doctors Without Boundaries) Finn? Folks, I really don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, but this apparent attempt to make these two characters work as a pairing has run its course.

As a couple, Finn and Elizabeth have been a no-go almost from the start. In the past year and a half, Finn has cornered Elizabeth's son Jake in a room, without her knowledge, and tried to bully a confession out of him when it appeared that Elizabeth had a stalker. Finn then repeatedly violated Elizabeth's privacy and direct wishes by going behind her back at virtually every turn. He gossiped about her to anyone who would listen.

Worst of all, Finn tried to take advantage of a woman that he -- and he alone -- had determined was not in her right state of mind until, conveniently, he had the sudden urge to have sex with her in a barn. For me, there is no coming back from that. Full stop. It still irks me that Nikolas, a legacy character of over 25 years on- and off-screen, was called out for behavior that Finn was shown to have done. That isn't being honest with the viewers; it's called gaslighting the audience.

I know the writers had good intentions when they initially decided to try to make Elizabeth and Finn work as a pairing. But surely, there comes a time to admit when a pairing decidedly does not work. When countless online polls suggest that audience approval for a pairing simply isn't there, including one notable Soap Opera Digest magazine poll that showed that over 80 percent of viewers disapproved of Liz and Finn as a pairing, then I have to ask: how many more times can something be run up the flagpole? As the late Ann Richards said, "That old dog won't hunt."

What's more, there's someone in Port Charles that Finn does have nice chemistry with. That someone is Alexis, who's currently spending a lot of her time with Finn's milquetoast, holier-than-thou father, Gregory. Alexis and Finn are still friends, and I've never seen the point of Alexis and Gregory as a potential pairing. Gregory's constant mansplaining routine is a hard pass for me.

Laura is ready to head to Chechnya because she thinks Nikolas might be there. Unless something has changed, we know that Austin's creepy relative Mason (Cousin Clean) has Nikolas. Mason was seen hovering near Nikolas' comatose body after Ava thought she'd killed the once mighty Dark Prince. I would love to see Nikolas back for a number of reasons. Chief among them, the show could use another strong male lead in its middle-aged cast. Throw in his historical ties to the show, and Nikolas is seldom, if ever, dull or boring.

I'm happy that Trina was allowed to express her point of view in her scenes with Curtis this week. I've made no secret that Trina is one of my favorite characters in many years, and I love that she always tries to see the best in people -- whether that's her mom, or separately, her worst friend. Anyway, the world (fictional or otherwise) would be a better place if more people were like Trina Robinson.

Unfortunately, having a heart like Trina has sets one up for disappointment, and Trina's defense of Portia this week to Curtis was presented without the full knowledge of some of dear old mom's latest tricks. Trina doesn't know that Portia was recently cozying up to Trina's abuser Esme. Portia potentially casting her lot with a vengeful snake like Esme is going to backfire in a big way when Trina learns that Portia, a serial liar and hypocrite, tried to ruin her daughter's chance at happiness with Spencer. Amnesia or not, Esme is still the same person who framed Trina for revenge porn. Coddling her is a low blow even for Portia, a woman who lied to countless people for 20 years about Trina's paternity.

Portia's callous disregard of Taggert after the reveal that Curtis was Trina's daughter was almost as galling as the lie itself. Seriously, Portia, you owed that man a face-to-face visit, and you couldn't even send him a text? Instead, Portia stood at the Metro Court pool on Curtis' birthday, grinning from ear to ear after Trina said that Taggert was "doing fine." That was a lie that Taggert told Trina so she wouldn't worry about him, and Portia had to have known that. Portia's response? "That's nice! I'mma check on the cake for Curtis!"

Portia will not have a happily ever after ending with Curtis, nor does she deserve one. I'm not Curtis' biggest fan, but I find the Ashford and Robinson families to be two of the most unique -- and dysfunctional -- parts about General Hospital. Their combined family just got even more interesting with the welcome addition of Portia's handsome younger brother Zeke (played by Gavin Houston).

I'm glad that GH lifted the proverbial curtain a bit to air what was a pretty steamy sex scene when Zeke fell into bed with Jordan. Many people I hear from share a belief that the show can feel allergic to sex (aside from Josslyn and Dex). A well-done love scene was a nice change of pace, especially after Jordan's social life had been kept nonexistent since Tanisha Harper took over the role last year. I'm glad that Jordan is finally open to dating again, even if I suspect that part of her will always be drawn to Curtis. Now, let's get Zeke to have a similar run-in with Elizabeth and start some real fireworks!

With dearly departed Uncle Victor having gone asses to ashes in Greenland last month, GH needs a new villain. Might I suggest that they already have one hiding in plain sight amongst the local gentry? I've had a sneaky suspicion for a while now that Austin and Mason's mystery boss and perhaps even the person bankrolling the mysterious Pikeman company is none other than... Selina Wu.

Selina (or Ms. Wu) is one of my favorite additions to the GH cast in a number of years. Her stealth is part of her strength. Selina commands an air of respect when she steps into a room, but unlike other rival crime bosses who've waltzed into Sonny's territory, our lovely Ms. Wu (portrayed by Lydia Look) does not announce her presence with the blaring of sirens and a parade down Main Street. I never know what Selina has planned, and that's part of the reason I find her endlessly interesting as a character. Not for nothing, but she's also the best-dressed citizen in town.

Elsewhere in Port Charles

It's taken awhile, but Cody has become an imminently more likable character from when he first debuted. The writers deserve credit for turning the character around after a rough start. Cody has good chemistry with Sasha, and I like that he's focused on trying to protect a friend from a career grifter like Gladys instead of whining about his inheritance. Whenever Mac learns that he's Cody's father, those scenes are sure to be can't-miss. John York never disappoints as "Mac Daddy!"

Great to see the super-talented Jon Lindstrom back on-screen as Kevin Collins. Welcome back, Doc! Hopefully, Kevin keeps a busier presence. As I always say, there's never a shortage of people in Port Charles who need his services.

Just one more question: when do Spencer and Trina finally get their long overdue first love scene? Asking for a few thousand or more friends.

Lastly, everyone knows that the world lost a great performer and a great person in Jackie Zeman, who passed away last month. A former co-star once told a story of how Ms. Zeman had fought for all child actors on General Hospital to get free ice cream and other treats when they were on the set. Thanks to Twitter user Alli (@Here4Sprina) for sharing this interview in which Ms. Zeman explained the origins of the story.

That's it from me. Thanks, as always, for reading along. Peace, love, and General Hospital!

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