Well, folks, it been quite a year, with plenty of ups, a few downs, and no shortage of moments that had us holding our breath or left us scratching our heads -- sometimes both.
One such moment was Sam's bench trial for the "murder" of David Henry "Hank" Archer -- Shiloh to his friends -- which Sam was most definitely not. She was at one time his stepmother, his not-so-secret obsession, and in the end, his executioner.
The decision to send Sam to jail stemmed from some behind-the-scenes drama that limited Kelly Monaco's airtime, but the plot twist that sidelined the character was unimaginative and pretty shoddy. In an age where we have entire channels dedicated to crime solving and popular shows centered around law enforcement and forensics, viewers are pretty savvy and well-informed in basic investigation techniques, so they hold soap opera writers to a higher standard than scribes of days gone by.
Also, most viewers know that someone prosecuted and convicted by the federal government would go to a federal jail, not a state jail. Sam being sent to an overcrowded state prison with convicted criminals to await trial was baffling, and frankly, it would have been more believable if Sam had vanished because she'd been abducted by Casey the alien. This plot twist was almost as bad as Drew's abrupt departure from Port Charles.
The only saving grace with Drew's exit is that the door was left open for his return. This is only underscored by the fact that no one, including Drew's adoptive mother, has bothered to give Drew a memorial service or a plaque next to his son's in the Quartermaine family crypt.
My issue wasn't with Drew insisting on returning the illegal money to Afghanistan, although I would think that something like that might be better handled by the State Department or cleared with the military because it's not like you can walk up to an Afghan bank to deposit money into the country's coffers or an account for the poor without raising questions and creating an international incident. No, my issue was the attempted bait-and-switch with Franco by giving him Drew's memories.
What was that?
Everything about the FrankenDrew storyline was a hot mess, starting with the night of illicit passion between Franco and Kim, and Kim just accepting a handful of memories as proof that the man she had loved and lost returned to her in another man's body. This was a woman who was supposed to be under a doctor's care after an attempted sexual assault, so she had no business having sex with anyone, let alone someone in Franco's position. Instead, Kim was sleeping with FrankenDrew and planning a new life before Liz could change the sheets on her marriage bed.
Granted, Kim was unhinged, but that's just one more thing that bothered me. Kim's grief was used as a blanket excuse for being a lousy friend, sleeping with a man whose brains had been scrambled, and attempting to drug and rape the man that she claimed to love with every fiber of her being.
I haven't lost a child, but I have lost people that I've loved. I know what grief is, and I also know that it never really leaves you. It's like an open wound on your soul. You learn to live with it, but you are always aware that it's there, lurking and ready to overwhelm you.
I realize that people react to grief differently, but Kim went way too far, and she ended up written into a corner. I love Tamara Braun. She's an incredibly talented actress who deserved a better role than Kim Nero. For most of Kim's time on the show, she was a secondary character who had no fire and a pathetic attachment to a man that had left her nearly two decades earlier without a word. It felt like the writers were determined to make her as anti-Carly as possible so that viewers didn't get confused with the fact that she was playing a different role.
It was a mistake because they limited an actress who is really good at the femme fatale role. It was a huge missed opportunity, and as much as I enjoy Tamara as an actress, I hope to never lay eyes on Kim Nero again.
I will miss Billy Miller, though. He was a phenomenal recast for Jason, which I honestly didn't think would be possible. Jason is not an easy character to portray because he has such a strong and unique chemistry with the three loves of his life: Carly, Sam, and Liz. Not only was Billy able to capture that, but he built on it. I loved the new and evolved Jason, and most of all, I loved how he was able to show us what life would have been like if Jason had made different and far less selfish choices.
Billy's Jason made Sam a stronger and more independent woman, which made me like Sam for the first time in a very long time.
I really wish that the writers would have thought outside the box and cast Steve Burton as Drew Cain rather than Jason Morgan. That would have been a much better story, especially if, through Helena's incredibly effective hypnosis sessions, he had been programmed to believe that he was the real Jason Morgan.
Now, to my least favorite storyline of the year. I'm sure that no one will be shocked that dishonor goes to Shank and the Dawn of Day saga we sat through for most of the year.
The storyline started out with a lot of promise. A reformed bad boy turning his life around to selflessly make the world a better place, one community center at a time. In the beginning, I liked Shiloh. I was rooting for him to be the real deal and for Jason and Sam to be wrong for once. Alas, that was not to be. Jason is never on the losing side. Ever.
No sooner had Shiloh opened his home to Kristina and Oscar than Spinelli uncovered that Shiloh was really Hank Archer, the son of one of the men that Sam once swindled by marrying, helping herself to all of his money, then disappearing. As a reminder to everyone, Sam did this to keep her brother Danny enrolled in an uber-exclusive boarding school for special needs kids. That's what is supposed to make it okay.
I've always had an issue with everyone's assertion that Sam didn't really hurt the men that she married and robbed because the men were only interested in Sam as "arm candy." Two children -- Amelia Joffee and Shank -- have now surfaced to get a little payback for how Sam had impacted their lives. The writers were careful to note that Shank was a bad seed before Sam met Daddy Archer, but that doesn't negate Sam's actions. She hurt people and destroyed lives, and her actions made Kristina a target.
Setting that aside, it seemed that once Shiloh was revealed to be someone from Sam's past, all pretense of goodness was gone. In the blink of an eye, Shiloh was smarmy, lecherous, and downright evil. Ripping a page out of the headlines, the writers fashioned Shiloh and the Dawn of Day organization after Keith Raniere and the Nxvim cult right down to the inner circle of women obsessed with their leader, sporting brands and offering deep dark secrets as pledges.
It took out any element of surprise. Worse, there was drugging and sexual assault, some with barely legal women. That's why it was impossible for me to understand how a woman as skilled at conning men as Sam was purported to be would put herself in a situation to be drugged and raped just to find a pledge that Kristina had lied about. From what I saw, the pledge was far more damaging to Shiloh than to Kristina or Alexis because it was obtained under coercion as part of a cult initiation. It's certainly not admissible in court, and it wasn't anything that Alexis wasn't accused of in the papers by Kiefer's parents when the hit-and-run first occurred.
Once Shank was exposed for the dastardly evildoer that he was, and the storyline circled the drain, the writers decided to drag Peter into the mess with an equally preposterous excuse by having Shank threaten to reveal that Peter wasn't Faison and Helena's minion -- Peter had been Helena's partner in crime.
Mind you, everyone knows that Peter was involved with the Jason and Drew memory mapping and switch, and they know that Peter kept Jason drugged and confined to a sanitarium in Russia until he could use Jason to kill Faison. I just don't understand how learning that Peter was higher up the food chain is worse than what he did to Jason.
Not that it matters because, before we knew it, Peter was ordering hits and killing off the hit man to cover his tracks. The die has been cast, so there's no turning back now.
Time to focus on the good.
This time last year, I wrote the following for what I would like to see in 2019: It's time for Nikolas to return home. I'm ready for a recast and for Valentin to be ousted as Prince of Wyndemere. There is no way that Mikkos wanted his bastard son to inherit over Stavros' legal heirs.
Wish granted, which makes this twist my favorite one of the year.
I realize that Valentin hasn't been unseated, but that's only a matter of time. Nikolas is back, and Ava has the codicil. I have every confidence that she will do right by Spencer. In fact, many people have been motivated to help Spencer, including Hayden, who returned to Port Charles to right a wrong with Finn. She told Finn about their daughter.
I'm thrilled that Finn finally knows the truth and that he's been united with his child because Finn is one of the good guys. Hayden had no good reason to keep him in the dark other than selfishness. Hayden said as much when she explained that she'd always hoped that she and Finn would reconcile when she told him about Violet. She gets points for being honest and not trying to justify her actions.
I have no doubt that Hayden will return, since she left Violet with Finn. Will that visit last longer than five minutes? I hope so. I like gray characters like Hayden. They make things interesting.
The standout scene for me was Franco sacrificing himself for Cameron when Shiloh threatened to download Drew's memories in Cameron. You didn't need to understand the characters' histories to understand the significance of Franco's offer, but knowing how much tension had been between Cameron and Franco until that moment only made the selfless gesture that much more poignant. Both Roger Howarth and Will Lipton deserve an Emmy for what unfolded during those harrowing minutes.
Will is hands-down my favorite younger actor. All the kids on GH are wonderful, but Will is perfect as Liz Webber and Zander Smith's son. Sadly, I don't think we will have him for long because talent like that can't be contained to just one show. He's going places, and I can't wait to see where his incredible talent takes him. Until then, I'm going to enjoy every moment he's on the show and hope the writers capitalize on the talent that they have with this rising star.
I also enjoyed the Ryan Chamberlain story. It dragged a bit longer than I would have liked, and the forensics were sloppy, but the twists and turns made up for it. Kiki's murder was shocking, and it changed the direction of Ava's character, which I love to see. If you're going to kill off a core character, then it needs to have a lasting impact like Morgan's death did. Kiki's tragic demise has shaken Ava to her core, and she's still dealing with it. That is soap opera telling at its very best.
Ryan's return was also the stuff of soap operas, and the storyline had it all. There was mystery, intrigue, terror, shock, and the unexpected. Jon Lindstrom gets better with age because I found Ryan far more compelling this time around than in the past. The ending wasn't perfect, mainly because Ryan wasn't properly vanquished, but I did love the showdown between Ava and Ryan, especially when she plunged that knife into his back. Equally as satisfying as seeing Ava prove Ryan wrong was Kevin and Laura's reunion. Laura and Kevin are one of my favorite couples.
There were several stories that pulled at the heartstrings. The revelation that Oscar was terminally ill with a brain tumor was completely unexpected, and I was fascinated by the battle between Oscar and his parents as Kim tried to force Oscar to undergo experimental treatment without his consent. The storyline definitely had its moments, but the minute that Oscar made peace with his parents and went into treatment, the story seemed to lose its punch.
I don't know if it was because there really was no hope for Oscar, but by the time he passed, it felt more like a relief. I was sad and definitely shed a few tears at the end, but I realized that I hadn't shed any along the way except when Oscar learned the truth about his tumor. It was sad, but not like when Maxie was sick and B.J. died or when Edward died. Those were crushing losses.
It was quite surprising when the writers decided to tackle a pregnancy crisis with Carly's out-of-left-field pregnancy by having their unborn daughter diagnosed with spina bifida. I was impressed that the writers were ready to introduce a character with a disability. You would think that a show that centers around a hospital would have more than one or two disabled characters, but all we have are Chet, who is seen maybe a handful of times a year, and Finn, who is in need of a therapy lizard because of anxiety.
By no means was I hoping or wanting for Donna to be born with profound disabilities, but it would have been interesting to see Carly and Sonny navigate the world of raising a child who had some physical limitations. Alas, after a quick surgery, Donna was deemed fit as a fiddle and sent home to grow up in her nursery with an unseen nanny. We've had a couple of brief glimpses of her since, but unless you knew about the storyline, you would have no idea that Carly and Sonny had a newborn let alone one who had faced a scary diagnosis and uncertain future.
The writers do get an "A" for effort because they did tackle a medical story, which I love.
That brings me to my favorite story of 2019 -- Mike Corbin's battle with Alzheimer's.
This one was a gut punch. Both my Oma and my husband's grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's in the years prior to their deaths. It's an awful disease, and it scares me more than the thought of getting cancer. With cancer, at least you have hope. There is none with Alzheimer's. It will steadily rob someone of everything that makes a person who they are until there is nothing left but a shell. It is relentless, unstoppable, and utterly heartbreaking to endure and to watch.
Max Gail shines as Mike. I absolutely love him, and I always end up with tears in my eyes, especially these days as Mike slowly slips further and further away from Sonny -- and from us. I really wish there was a way to keep Mike around, but it's not realistic because there is no miracle cure in real life for this dreaded disease. Perhaps it was my own experience, but I suspect it was more Max's talent and the natural chemistry between him and Maurice Benard that made this story resonate with me. I get Sonny's desperation to find a way to save his father, and I share his frustration and sadness that there is nothing that can be done to save Mike.
It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of Sonny's. I think Maurice is wonderful, but Sonny is somewhat of a jerk. He's controlling, egotistical, violent, and a hypocrite of the first order. He has moments of goodness, but he is not a good man. That said, Mike is one of his moments of goodness. The touching relationship that Sonny and his father have forged since Mike reentered Sonny's life is beautiful to behold, and I genuinely feel bad for Sonny because he and Mike could have shared this closeness long before now.
To make me feel bad for Sonny is quite a feat, which is just one more reason why Mike's story is my favorite of 2019. Another is my fascination with medicine and diseases and how they impact people's lives. I will always be drawn to stories that center around issues like Alzheimer's, cancer, and genetic diseases over mob violence.
Casting once again knocked it out of the ballpark when they found the most adorable child to play Violet Barnes-Finn. Jophielle Love is sheer perfection, and I love everything about this little girl, from her beautiful long locks to her precious lisp. She has incredible screen presence, and I'm in awe of her natural talent. Violet has chemistry with everyone, including Robert Scorpio!
What is with the bowl of green balls in Sonny and Carly's kitchen, and why did it reproduce over at Jax's house in the form of succulents? Should we be concerned? Will people suddenly start behaving strangely? Please, get rid of the creepy flora around Port Charles. It's distracting, not chic.
I love Michael and Sasha's relationship, and Chase and Willow's as well as Lulu and Dustin. They might not all last, but it's nice to see some sweet romances on the show again. To quote one of my favorite movies, "Sometimes, love comes softly." Here's hoping that will be true for one of these couples.
Please, for the love of all things soapy, let Michael to be reunited with Jonah. This story has dragged on for way too long, and there is no good reason for it to continue to. Michael is a wonderful man who will give Jonah a good life. I hate when the bad guys win, and both Nelle and Brad are bad. Also, it feels cruel to let Willow fall in love with a child that isn't hers, especially now when it's so clear just how much she wants to be a mother.
Speaking of mothers, is or isn't Willow the daughter that Nina has been searching for? It appeared that things were being set up for just that back when Nina and Willow were clashing over Charlotte's education and good parenting, but then it was dropped. Now that Sasha has been outed as not being Nina's daughter, can we find out who Nina's daughter really is? I hate loose ends.
Finally, I want Nikolas to make amends as he claims his rightful place on the Cassadine throne and for Valentin to eat some much-needed humble pie while living the life of a townie. I'm going to so enjoy Valentin's downfall. Will he return to his dark ways or make a real attempt at redemption? We shall see this time next year.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below.
Take care and happy viewing,
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