The revenge game

For the Week of January 29, 2024
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Nina has declared war on Carly and Drew, but will that backfire on her, too? Now that Esme has returned to the path of darkness, can she be stopped before she hurts anyone else? Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but in Port Charles, it's always delivered piping hot.

If you're watching soaps to see people making good healthy choices, then, my friend, you are in for a huge disappointment. That never happens on soaps unless it leads to mayhem and destruction down the road. It's why it's important to try to keep an open mind about all the characters. If you do, and you watch long enough, you might even find yourself liking a character that you once loathed. Good writing can do that, and I've had it happen to me a time or two over the years.

This week, news broke that head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O'Connor have been let go. Patrick Mulcahey and current script editor Elizabeth Korte have been tapped as the new head writing team, and we should start seeing their work in early spring. If you follow these columns, you'll remember that Tamilu and I addressed some of the issues plaguing GH in our 2023 Year-in-review columns. Did this changing of the guard come as a complete shock? Not really.

If you're on social media or visit any soap message boards, you will have noticed a decided uptick in complaints about the direction of the writing and the characters, especially over the past six months. There will always be those ride-or-die fans who will defend their favorites to the bitter end and push to have their soap rivals booted, but the vast majority of viewers tend to understand that these things ebb and flow. Your favorite will go through dark times and make absolutely abysmal choices -- some that you might even find reprehensible. But if you're lucky, the writers will give them redemption and allow the character to learn and grow from their dastardly actions.

Unfortunately, that balance has been missing lately, and so has the romance. As soon as a couple finds happiness, they are relegated to the background, or trouble begins to brew and the relationship starts to unravel, often to the point where viewers lose interest and are over them. I'm looking at you, Finn and Liz. I've tried to give this reconciliation a fair chance, but it's just not sparking my interest. They need to move on and find their true soul mates, but that is a tall order when there hasn't been love in the afternoon for decades.

This week highlighted the problem in a big way. Robert and Diane finally decided to date, they made love, and things were going wonderfully until suddenly they were at odds because Diane is best friends with -- and attorney to -- the man that Robert wants to send to jail once and for all. I honestly thought that these two went into the relationship understanding exactly who they were and what it would take for their relationship to work. It's not like they are two kids navigating their first relationship, yet we have been subjected to weeks of these two bickering about Sonny as if Robert and Diane had just realized that they are on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Also, I took issue with Diane suggesting that Anna and Sonny were the same. Anna was a superspy who spent most of her adult life saving the world. Were there some falls from grace a time or two over the years? Absolutely, but the good that Anna did far outweighed any of the bad. Sonny has been and always will be a criminal. He's done great things, too, but unlike Anna, he's done far more bad than good. Don't get me wrong, Sonny definitely has his good points, but he's no gatekeeper of evil. He's a mob boss, and organized crime is not a victimless enterprise.

That brings me to Sonny's wife. Nina is in revenge mode once again, having declared war on Drew and Carly for ousting her from Crimson. Yes, I know that she turned down Valentin's offer to start a rival magazine and poach Crimson's staff, but I'm not going to hold my breath that she will stick to that decision. All it will take is one heated exchange with Carly to trigger Nina into launching Clover. (Now that song is stuck in my head.)

I don't know what made Nina think that she would get to keep her position at Crimson after what she did. I know everyone is quick to point out that Drew and Carly were guilty of the crime, but that doesn't absolve Nina of wrongdoing. She acted out of spite, not a sense of justice. Nina herself has gotten away with crimes, like that nonsense in Nixon Falls. But for Sonny's intervention at court, Nina would have been convicted and gone to jail. Additionally, she recently erased evidence of a felony to protect Charlotte. Her hands are not clean, so she has no room to point fingers at anyone, especially when she's also married to a mobster.

Rather than accept that being booted from Crimson is the price for her folly, Nina marched to the nearest bathroom mirror and declared war on Drew and Carly. It bothers me that she continues to see herself as the victim, even though what she did was dirty and underhanded, and it left a child (Scout) brokenhearted. Not even seeing how much her actions hurt Sonny and Willow seemed to spark any regrets. She still feels justified in what she did, and she'd do it again if she could find a way not to be exposed as the rat fink. Those who don't see the error of their ways are doomed to repeat them.

I've seen the argument that Carly has zero fashion experience and no sense of style. However, I'd like to remind everyone that there was a time that Carly and Laura ran Deception together, and Carly has managed several successful businesses over the years. Additionally, Nina had even less experience than Carly when she took over Crimson. Julian Jerome hired Nina as the editor in chief because he was hoping that she'd run it into the ground, so he could use it as a tax write-off. It was Maxie who saved Crimson by giving Nina a fashion makeover and teaching her everything about the business.

In fact, most of the entrepreneurs on the show have embarked on businesses that they have zero experience in, and they've inevitably gone on to succeed with little effort and plenty of time to spare for their soapy shenanigans. Carly at the helm of Crimson while running Bobbie's is no more preposterous than Nina juggling the magazine while learning the ins and outs of running a five-star hotel in just a few short months.

I loved the scene when Carly sauntered into the office as Drew announced that she was Nina's replacement. I have no issue with Carly helping to give Nina a little comeuppance because I considered it good soapy karma to see Nina standing in the very shoes that Carly stood in when Carly learned that Nina had bought her half of Metro Court. Turnabout is fair play. However, I was bothered by the way that Drew pressured Carly into staying on as editor in chief, even though she clearly didn't want to. His intensity was off-putting and came off as desperate and borderline manic. It was not a good look, and I'm surprised that Carly wasn't alarmed by it.

Drew's desire for a little payback is understandable, but it's unclear if this is where Drew's vengeance ends or if it was just the beginning. Given his recent behavior, I'm afraid it might be the latter.

Esme is another one who is hellbent on revenge. Nikolas took Ace, and she's determined to get her son back, punish Spencer and Trina, and -- I assume -- make a clean getaway. There's a lot to unpack, starting with is she or isn't she a better version of her old self. The answer is no, she is not. The diabolical vixen is back to her old self and quickly making up for lost time. Did Laura not warn Kevin that Esme's memories might have returned? That's the only thing that would explain why Kevin walked into that office with his guard down. Despite that, I was pretty shocked when Esme clobbered him over the noggin with that ugly sculpture from Alexis' credenza because it was completely unnecessary.

Esme had Kevin believing that she was willing to accept his help. As a master manipulator, Esme could have easily sent Kevin on his way and made a quick escape before anyone was the wiser. The fact that she was so sloppy about things suggests that Esme won't be on our television screens for much longer. I don't think Dante and Chase will find Esme in Toronto. The letter was either an attempt to send the police on a wild goose chase, or poor Nanny Maggie is Esme's latest victim.

While it might have seemed that Heather was trying to protect Esme from herself by coming clean to Laura about the return of Esme's memories and warning her that Esme had a hit list, I suspect that Heather only wanted Esme locked up in Pentonville so they could escape and disappear together. Heather always plays the long game, and she's clever enough to understand that Esme's days as a free woman are numbered because her amnesia not only shielded Esme from the law, but it also kept her diabolical nature buried. After braining Kevin, Esme's fate seems all but sealed.

This is exactly why I don't think Esme was fit to be around Ace once her memories had returned. Nikolas is no saint, but he is a loving father who would never hurt a baby. Esme loves Ace, but not enough that she wouldn't risk his life to save herself. She proved that when she took a swan dive from Wyndemere's parapet in her third trimester. Even now, she's more interested in plotting against Spencer and Trina than in salvaging the life that she's built for herself and Ace. That's not putting Ace first; it's putting herself first. Children need more than love.

Heather loved Steven Lars, but she put him in plenty of dangerous situations during the first years of his life when she went off the rails, plotting vengeance against her perceived enemies. It's why Jeff took his son and left town. I can't fault Nikolas for doing the same thing.

With Nicholas Chavez's final airdate slated for Wednesday -- January 31 -- I am trying to think of all the many ways that Spencer can be written out. Tabyana Ali will be sticking around, which can only mean that something terrible happens to Spencer -- almost certainly thanks to Esme. Esme is not likely to kill Spencer, since she's obsessed with him, but I wouldn't put it past her to kidnap him and make it appear that he's dead. This way, Esme gets to keep Spencer in her clutches and hurt Trina in one fell swoop. For Esme, that's a win-win.

There's also the possibility that Spencer sacrifices himself to save Trina -- which he would do without hesitation -- and he's presumed dead only to return in a few months with one heck of a story to tell. As much as I hate the idea of Esme causing trouble for Spencer and Trina during their sojourn in Paris, I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. It's sure to be exciting. There is speculation on social media that Chavez might not even return to GH, but I am not ready to even think about that yet.

Folks, I love Laura. She is the reason that I started watching GH after school with my mom a million years ago. However, her loyalty and defense of Amnesia Esme has annoyed me to no end, especially when she found out that Spencer handed Ace over to Nikolas. I was so frustrated that she dismissed Spencer's concerns about Esme and tried to enlist Dante to scold him about doing something that turned out to be legal. Where was her loyalty to Spencer and Nikolas? As much as I hated seeing Kevin fall victim to Esme, a part of me took perverse pleasure in Laura finally having her eyes opened to the truth. She owes Spencer a huge apology.

I have a sinking feeling that Molly will soon be in the same boat with Alexis because there is no way that Kristina's pregnancy is going to end with happy tears and Molly and T.J. taking their newborn home. Between the speed with which this storyline is progressing and Alexis reminding us in every other scene that there are no laws in New York that could compel Kristina to give the baby to Molly and T.J. at birth, it's almost a certainty that this surrogacy arrangement will blow up in everyone's faces.

Molly, T.J., and Kristina are all smiles now, but it didn't escape my notice that Kristina was already talking to the baby the very day that she underwent the procedure. I noticed too how easily she lied to Molly when Molly asked about the text message from Blaze. Individually, these things might not seem significant, but together, they are red flags for this viewer. I realize that some might not see any harm in Kristina bonding with the baby, but the truth is that it can be a slippery slope with someone who's going through their first pregnancy and intends to relinquish the baby at birth. I also understand that Blaze made it clear that she didn't want to go public with the relationship, but Molly isn't the public. She's Kristina's sister and the mother of the baby that Kristina is carrying.

I hope I'm wrong. I pray that the new writers change course and surprise everyone with a happy ending and a closer relationship between Kristina and Molly. However, it's a soap opera, and -- as I pointed out in the first paragraph -- soap characters are not known for making the best choices. The odds are far greater that Kristina will fall in love with the baby and decide to keep it. I hate that Molly and Kristina's relationship will pay the price for this disaster in the making, especially since I'm still trying to warm up to this new version of Kristina.

Random thoughts and observations

Why was Taggert not at Trina's bon voyage party? He wasn't even mentioned. It's shameful how he's been cut out of Trina's story. Newsflash: biology doesn't trump love.

Run, Martin, run. Get as far away from Lucy as you can and stay away. I hope Lucy and Scott go down in flames. I just can't stand Lucy's immaturity and stupid plot to get back at Tracy, and I'm so happy that Tracy is onto them. Go, Tracy!!

Why would Curtis' doctor use an unsanitary safety pin to test the bottom of Curtis' feet for possible sensation instead of a pen or even a set of sterile tweezers? Now, that might be a malpractice suit in the making.

I want Anna to take Laura's job offer. Anna needs a purpose, and crime fighting is right up her alley. Plus, I think Dante, Chase, and Anna make an awesome team.

Reader feedback

I loved that they brought back BJ!!! Her death IMHO was the best storyline in GH history. While I'm not a crier, I start crying every time I see Felica coming out of the stairwell and seeing Bobbie's face. I've mentioned this to my husband numerous times over the years. However, this time, I was able to show him why GH is an important show. It's been almost 30 years since BJ died. Yet, the women on the show today are still the same ones that were there 29 years ago. We had Felicia, Laura, Lucy, Anna and the woman they were honoring Bobbie. (That's two aunts, a stepmom and her adopted mom.) Then, to bring back BJ. GH hit it out of the park. No other show could pull that off. No other show could tug at our heart strings so hard with a 30 year gap in storyline. GH is so rich in history! -- Terry

The Elizabeth rape story was another great GH story arc that spiraled into the Luke and Laura history. I started watching GH because Jackie/Bobbie had red hair like mine and I loved her as Lana on OLTL - then they killed her off. In those days Red Heads were not exactly acceptable commodities on TV or in society as resembling beauty. I'd like to think Jackie was a part of changing all the blonds are more fun mania in the 70s. Just loved all the Bobbie clips - the Emmy's need to give her a special Emmy - her incredible performances should have been acknowledged during the BJ's Heart story. Both Jackie and Tony were robbed of those Emmys. -- Zeivah

I'm not usually a big fan of depressing episodes, but I have to admit, Laura Wright has been amazing carrying the dramatic load during this storyline surrounding Bobbie's death. For the last couple of episodes, it's seemed like every member in the cast has taken their turn doing scenes with Carly, paying their respects to Bobbie through her, and sharing their grief with her, and Carly's been right there, crying with every one of them! -- Scrimmage

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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