Shoot the moon, son
For the Week of September 7, 2020
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Happiness turned to heartbreak, joy turned to sorrow, and hope flourished where once there was none. Sometimes, to attain great heights, all you can do is shoot the moon and hope for the best.

I know that I give Sonny a hard time because of his lifestyle, but I do love Maurice Benard, especially when he's sharing scenes with Max Gail. Sonny's relationship with his father is one of the most beautiful things on this show, and as the Alzheimer's disease advances, pulling Mike further and further away, the poignant scenes between father and son are especially bittersweet because I know that when Mike's journey ends -- and it will -- we will be saying farewell to Mike and to Max Gail.

Sonny and Mike's relationship wasn't always this good. Sadly, Mike was a pretty rotten father for most of his life, thanks to a terrible gambling addiction that led him to abandon not just one family, but two: Adela and Sonny as well as Janine and Courtney. He had also gambled away all their savings several times over, leaving both wives destitute and in a desperate situation with their children.

Sonny blamed Mike's gambling and abandonment for the difficult and often abusive childhood that Sonny endured, and, of course, for putting his mother Adela in a vulnerable position that made her easy prey for men like Trevor Lansing and Deke Woods. Sonny learned early in life that he couldn't count on his father for anything except to let him down, but that didn't stop Sonny from longing for a close relationship with his father.

It wasn't just Mike who was the problem. Naturally, Sonny had a lot of resentment, and even when he gave Mike chance after chance to prove himself, it was clear that Sonny always expected his father to fail. It wasn't until Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease that both men made an honest effort to put in the work needed to repair their fractured relationship and to make peace with the past. Eventually, both were able to forgive each other -- and themselves -- for the things they each did to hurt the other.

It's bittersweet, but I'm so happy that Sonny and Mike were able to have that kind of resolution before the inevitable end. Trust me, not everyone is that lucky.

I was already deep into my ugly cry when Felix and Carly left Mike and Sonny alone in the barn at the racetrack to talk. Seeing Mike slowly rise from his wheelchair, tenderly nuzzle the horse's muzzle, then look at Sonny with pure joy in his expression as he softly said, "Thank you, Son," was both beautiful and heart-wrenching. But it was that loving kiss on the cheek that Mike gave his son that completely did me in.

If anyone is looking for a reel to submit for the Daytime Emmys, this is definitely it!

The most shocking twist of the week was Neil Byrne's untimely demise after a night of passionate lovemaking with Alexis. Poor Alexis, Neil took la petite mort a tad too literally.

Later, it was revealed that Neil had died of respiratory failure from a drug overdose. Brava to my fellow Two Scooper, Tamilu, who called it on Twitter earlier in the week!

I have no doubt that Cyrus' changes at the hospital are behind Neil's death in some way. See, this is why you don't involve people with the taint of a DEA undercover investigation to be a part of a hospital. I don't care how much money they offer. When Cyrus is taken down, I hope the entire hospital board falls right along with him.

I feel horrible for Alexis, but this storyline suddenly became exceedingly more interesting than a rekindled romance between Alexis and Neil. Joe Flanigan is a great actor, but for whatever reason, the writers just kept pushing the character aside and never really took advantage of his potential, starting with his fascination with all things Russian royalty and his interest in the illegitimate daughter of a Cassadine prince.

Instead, we ended up with Neil and Alexis having a few sessions as therapist/patient until they decided that it just wasn't going to work because they were too attracted to each other to remain professional. Due to a two-year waiting period required to prove that Neil didn't use his position as her doctor to manipulate Alexis into an inappropriate relationship, they played adolescent games until they finally gave in to temptation. It was silly, especially since it was established that Alexis was attracted to Neil before she learned that he was her therapist.

In the land of soap operas, the relationship could have been explored without the lame obstacle.

It would have been far more interesting if the writers had delved into Neil's relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, and perhaps what had driven his daughter into a cult. That's where the story was, not two grown adults sneaking around to avoid any appearance of impropriety because the relationship posed a threat to Neil's medical license.

It's sad that Alexis is getting a storyline at the expense of Neil's untimely death, but at the same time, I'm eager to see how Alexis grapples with this blow. Will it break her and trigger a relapse, or will Neil's death give her a purpose that she had been lacking until that point? I'm really hoping for the latter because a relapse is the predictable path.

I'd love to see Alexis on a mission to get to the bottom of what happened to Neil. Did he have a secret addiction all along, and Alexis just didn't see any of the signs? How exactly did Neil get the drugs into his system? Because if he had popped a bunch of pills or injected himself with something, I would expect there to be some evidence of it in Alexis' bedroom or bathroom. Alexis and Neil had spent the night together, and there was even an intermission as they enjoyed their post-coital bliss, chatting while she rubbed his feet before returning to bed for another round of lovemaking. I doubt that would have been possible if Neil had taken a lethal dose of drugs prior to his arrival.

I wouldn't mind if Alexis enlisted Finn to help her get to the bottom of Neil's death because I love their friendship, and I'd rather see Finn keep Alexis on the path of sobriety than for Julian to step in.

Julian needs to get his own house in order and perhaps perform a few heroic deeds -- or twenty -- to atone for his recent sins.

To start with, I'm not the least bit happy that Julian chloroformed Monica then snatched Wiley out of his bed. It doesn't much matter if Julian had a change of heart and tried to stop Nelle, because his actions had already put Wiley in danger, not just when Julian left the toddler locked in a car by himself near the sketchy piers but by telling Nelle where Wiley was in the first place. If Julian had kept his trap shut, perhaps she might not have grabbed Wiley as she fled to her getaway car.

Wiley should have been safe in bed, not a sitting duck in Julian's car. There's no defending any of that, so I'm not even going to try. A part of me wishes that Leo had woken up and busted his father in Wiley's bedroom. Did it ever occur to Julian that by drugging Monica, he was leaving Leo completely unsupervised in that mansion? Probably not.

Julian wasn't the only fool in this tragic saga. Carly decided to follow Jax's cockamamie advice to lie about her encounter with Nelle at the cliff because Jax worried that -- given Carly and Nelle's acrimonious history -- Carly would be charged with murder for failing to keep a tight grip on Nelle's hand.

Folks, I love Jax, but he's a moron, and Carly is an even bigger one for following his advice.

Like Jax, I'm not a lawyer, but I do watch lots of crime shows. I know that it's easy to charge a person with a crime, but it's a lot harder to convict them of that crime when there is zero evidence to establish that a crime even occurred.

Let's start with the fact that Nelle is/was a convicted murderer who was wanted by the police for attempting to murder another person. Oh, and she kidnapped a child. Now, let's focus on the events that led to Nelle's "death." She was in the process of fleeing the authorities when Carly caught up with her. A fight ensued, which means that Carly had every right to use deadly force to defend herself against a person who has a history of murder.

There is nothing to prove that Carly tried to kill Nelle, and that is what is needed to secure a conviction. Carly attempted to help Nelle, but Nelle's hand slipped out of her grip. There is nothing to suggest otherwise because that's exactly what happened.

Have Jax and Carly learned nothing from the past? Not only did Jax's secret about buying a kidney from Frank Benson on the black market return to haunt Jax and those he cares about big time, but it was the cover-up of Claudia's very justified death that ultimately landed Michael in jail.

I expect this kind of knee-jerk reaction from Sonny, not Jax. When Nina finds out, she's going to realize that Jax can be just as duplicitous as Valentin, which won't end well for Jax. He won't get any pity from me when Nina shows him the door.

The only good things to come out of this mess were the chilling scenes of Carly and Nelle in the kitchen. I know it was a nightmare, but I was riveted.

Despite how it looks, even Carly knows that no body means there's a slim chance that Nelle survived the fall. Nelle's half of the heart pendant necklace was shown near a log as the police searched the area for her. If Nelle's body was not near that necklace, then it can only mean that Nelle somehow managed to get away either on her own or with the help of someone else.

That brings me to good ol' Valentin, who seems to be everywhere these days. Not only is he running ELQ, helping out at Deception, managing Brook Lynn's career, and helping Nelle disappear, but he also finds time to stalk -- err, I mean keep tabs on Nina.

Valentin's conversation with Nina about her long-lost child was fascinating, mainly because of his reaction when Nina informed him that Jax's jeweler might have found a clue. "That's impossible!" he insisted, which seemed odd. I realize that Valentin gave Nelle the false identities for her and Wiley to disappear as part of their deal for Nelle's shares of ELQ, but now I can't help but wonder if perhaps there had been more to his efforts to help Nelle. Does Valentin know that Nelle is Nina's daughter?

I'd like to believe that Valentin has no clue, in part because Nelle isn't Nina's daughter, but at the same time, I can see him deciding to keep that little truth bomb to himself to spare Nina further heartache. What's worse: having a child in the world that you never met or learning that your child is a homicidal sociopath?

I'm still rooting for a plot twist that reveals Willow to be Nina's missing child, and, if Nelle is indeed Nina's daughter, that Willow is Nelle's fraternal twin. Until then, I'm going with the theory that Frank Benson gave Nina's daughter to Harmony and her husband, but he kept the necklace for Nelle to shut her down from asking about her mother.

I know that some feel the separated at birth twin twist is an overused trope, but imagine Nelle's reaction to learning that Willow is her twin. Not only is Willow living the life that Nelle has coveted for herself, but Willow is raising Nelle's son and would very likely have Nina's blessing and devotion. Talk about homicidal rage! Nelle wouldn't know who to kill first: Michael for marrying Willow, Willow for being the good twin, Nina for not searching for Nelle, or Carly because old habits are hard to break -- and Carly left her for dead.

I know that there are those who probably weren't too happy that Michael asked Willow to adopt Wiley, but I wasn't one of them. Michael has said from the very beginning that he wanted Willow in Wiley's life because she has been one of the few constants in his son's life up until that point. Plus, it's clear that Michael is developing feelings for Willow, which is understandable because she's kind, beautiful, great with children, and willing to put everything on the line to help Michael keep Wiley away from Nelle.

Nelle's homicidal tendencies and her attempt to abscond with Wiley are enough for Michael to petition the courts to sever Nelle's parental rights. If Nelle survived that fall, she's a fugitive who is most certainly headed back to jail as soon as she is captured. I can't see any judge deciding that it's in Wiley's best interests for her to remain a part of her son's life, in part because she's going to spend a good chunk of it locked up in prison.

Chase clearly thought the marriage between Michael and Willow was temporary until Michael could secure custody of Wiley, but that was wishful thinking on his part. It's true that Michael and Willow didn't marry for love, but I do believe that they were committed to making the marriage work in whatever way possible for Wiley's sake. Sasha knew that, and she knew that it wouldn't be long before they fell in love with each other, which is why Sasha has been having such a rough time with everything.

Michael is not only handsome, sophisticated, respectful, and filthy rich, but he's one of the good guys and a completely devoted father. How can Willow not fall for a man like that?

I know that Willow only recently learned that her baby had died, but that doesn't change the love that she has for Wiley. She'll always mourn her firstborn, but she clearly has room in her heart to love more children. Wiley is proof of that. Her love for him doesn't diminish the love she had for her biological son or the grief that she feels over losing him.

Wiley is better off with Willow as his adoptive mother than with Nelle in his life. Brook Lynn's vicious attack underscores that Nelle will never change. Even if Nelle resurfaced with amnesia and a completely different attitude, I wouldn't trust it because Nelle is an accomplished liar and manipulative to a Machiavellian level.

I don't recall Nelle mentioning Julian's name during the phone call that Brook Lynn eavesdropped on, but that doesn't mean that Brook Lynn won't figure out that Julian had been Nelle's accomplice in the kidnapping, especially since Brook Lynn knows that Julian is the one who tampered with the brakes on Brad's car to keep Brad from revealing that Julian had known the truth about Wiley's paternity. It was that little bombshell secret that Nelle used to blackmail Julian into marriage.

It won't be hard for Brook Lynn to connect the dots if she hasn't already. Then again, Brook Lynn has other things on her mind these days now that Wiley is home safe. Her music career is in jeopardy, her relationship with Ned is in tatters, and she's showing signs of PTSD from the horrific attack.

I thought it was sweet of Lulu to share her own experience tangling with a serial killer and offering to listen if Brook Lynn ever needed someone to talk to. I know that they will never be friends, but it was a nice gesture.

Meanwhile, to Ned's great disappointment, Olivia opted to fly to Geneva with Robert because she's desperate to see Dante, even though Dante's last words to his mother were, "Ma, stop sending letters."

I don't blame Olivia for going with Robert. I would do the same exact thing if one of my children were in Dante's position. I get Olivia's desperation, but I think she was unnecessarily cruel to Ned by throwing his relationship with Brook Lynn in his face as she walked out the door while his daughter was still in ICU. Ned is a loving father, and he's dealing with a lot. I know that Ned and Brook Lynn will reconcile, but at the moment, Ned doesn't.

For everyone's sake, I do hope that Olivia and Dante have a better reunion than their last. I'm ready for Dante to return home.

Finally, Peter's goose appears to be cooked. Not only does Spinelli have Peter on video, incriminating himself, but Alex Marick has surfaced, and she's eager to reunite with her family. Anna knows that this can only mean trouble for Peter because Anna has long suspected that the memory of Peter's conception, the pregnancy, and his birth had been implanted by her evil twin.

Oh, those evil twins! They sure keep soaps interesting.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, when Anna turned to Valentin for help. Valentin agreed to lend a hand, but only if Anna stopped playing by Alex's rules and set her own trap for Alex. It was a brilliant suggestion but likely to backfire if Alex gets anywhere near Port Charles. That risk probability grows exponentially now that Peter is deliriously happy about his impending fatherhood while simultaneously trying to deal with Spinelli breathing down his neck.

I'm looking forward to seeing Anna and Valentin working together. If anyone can get Valentin to stop obsessing over Nina, it's his first obsession. I'm not really interested in seeing Anna and Valentin explore a romance, but I wouldn't mind a good friendship.

Random observations

Sam, thou doth protest too much, methinks -- when it comes to Brando. That level of animosity is usually reserved for those she's deeply attracted to. It's a pattern that started way back when she first met Jax and the two locked horns over the Dead Man's Hand. She also had an issue with Jason in the beginning, John McBain, Silas Clay, and even Drew when he was Jake Doe. It's like Sam's mating dance.

Valerie Spencer is back! I couldn't be happier, but isn't it a conflict of interest for a detective to be working a case that involves her family?

Is it my imagination, or is the bowl of moss in Sonny and Carly's kitchen getting bigger? It looks as if it has doubled in size since May. Strangely, we haven't seen Dev since then -- coincidence?

I don't get Jordan. She has told Curtis everything about what's going on with Cyrus except that Taggert is alive, even though both Jason and Sonny now know the truth. What's the big deal if she tells Curtis about Taggert, especially since Curtis is so obviously tortured by the idea that he might have saved Taggert if he'd done things differently?

Reader feedback

For all we know, Ryan found a way to escape and messed with Franco's portrait. He obviously holds a grudge against Franco, and he might be planning something big for Ava...yet again. There is never any rest for the wicked. -- lovethosedimples

James Patrick Stuart can sing for me (or read me a bedtime story via Instagram) anytime. -- Missez Premise

I remember Carly telling someone, either Sonny or Jax, that she expected Nelle to retaliate after losing the custody hearing, and that they should be prepared for anything, but nothing ever came of it. Sonny should've had someone watching Nelle 24-7, but he's been too preoccupied, dealing with Mike's situation, to go all "Godfather" on Nelle -- Scrimmage

It might be her off week, but Tamilu had some input for this week's column!

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to leave a comment below or email me. Take care and happy viewing,
Liz Masters

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