"Past the point of no return, no backward glances. The games of make believe are at an end." I have mentioned before that my mother and I are fans of The Phantom of the Opera, and the lyrics of this song sure describe the desperate situation Detective Harding has gotten himself into. I can picture the camera circling around Gerard Butler's Phantom and Emmy Rossum's Christine much like Harding's deadly decisions had him figuratively swirling down the toilet. (I can also almost see my mother drooling over any picture of Gerard Butler, even mental.) It was a shame, too, for a character that had so much more potential. Harding, I mean, not Gerard Butler.
Harding is most certainly beyond the point of no return, and he has practically become as much of a "pitiful creature of darkness" as Marco. Come on, at least Marco has a first and last name. Does the formerly trustworthy detective even have a first name? I had to look it up online. Apparently when he first joined The Young and the Restless, the columnists announced Chris McKenna had been cast as Mark Harding. Has the policeman ever been called Mark at any time by anyone? The poor guy must not have any good friends or a loving family in Genoa City if nobody ever calls him Mark. No wonder the cop turned dirty. You would almost have to feel for him if he wasn't going around, killing people. Our sympathy only goes so far, Detective Harding.
Shoot, once we learned Harding was Courtney's killer, there was no way he could be redeemed. Once we knew the morals of the police detective had vanished, gone also was the humor we had loved between Harding and "Fish." Because how could we, the fans, chuckle any longer at the amusing exchanges between the two adversaries when one of them was a cold-blooded murderer? Sure, we could have accepted that Harding had killed Austin in a rash, accidental-type way. But there was no excuse for wiping out Courtney on the very day she was to marry the man she loved. Courtney became the sacrificial lamb so that the corrupt member of the police force could continue to cover his tracks. And that's what was unforgivable.
Really, Harding showed how much of a coward he was by not accepting responsibility for what he had done to Austin. I am not even addressing the fact of how he had gotten into that situation in the first place. What did he think was going to happen when he became partners with a murderous drug kingpin? I realize all the cop saw was dollar signs but that makes it even worse. Harding couldn't have done a better job of proving the truth of the saying from the New Testament, 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Harding placed the value of the green stuff over his partner and his friends and loved ones. Well, all right, apparently "Mark" didn't have any friends or loved ones, but he had Courtney as a partner. However, greed took over his life and destroyed it.
I questioned when Y&R first brought Harding back to the show this last time if he would wind up being the killer, and now I wonder if his return was solely for that purpose. Was this always in the cards for our once-upon-a-time respectable detective who liked to go toe-to-toe and head-to-head with Kevin? I hope Chris McKenna has a lot of other projects in the fire for his career and that we aren't just going to eventually lose Harding just to finish out what has been a never-ending story. I have enjoyed the camaraderie between Kevin and Harding, and I even suggested, at one time, maybe more could develop between the two characters if Y&R ever chose to go that way -- as Greg Rikaart would have liked. The two obviously enjoyed the battles they engaged in, and I will miss that. They were always great for a laugh or two.
Okay, the writers could say Harding's probable exit was "storyline dictated," but I never really got what that meant. The writers can write anything they want for any character, so that term has never made sense to me. It's the character that is leaving because the writers' use of him or her has run out, pure and simple. Any claim that the reason a person is leaving is "storyline dictated" is for the birds. Why not make Marco the killer, as we had thought all along, since that character won't be able to stay around forever, anyway? I realize Harding as Courtney's killer was done for the shock value, but was it really necessary? Or was it just shock for shock's sake?
The only way Harding could possibly be redeemed would be if he were to save the entire town and get the governor's pardon -- but how would that erase what he did to Courtney? Nothing can wipe the way she died from our memories, and it shouldn't. What Harding did was totally inexcusable. Courtney had trusted him and looked to him to cover her back and vice versa. She never saw he was caught in a trap of his own making until it was too late, and she certainly never deserved to die for his mistakes. Harding needed to pay the price, not Courtney. Justice needs to prevail.
Harding admitted he was the killer of Snowflake's husband and Noah's fiancée, but he never mentioned killing Tobias Grey, so Marco must have done that deed. Marco almost seems to be a pussycat compared to Harding these days if the detective was the one who sent two fine folks to their graves. I have to give Harding some credit for trying to put a stop to the violence. Too little, too late. Oh well. But he did try to give Marco his money back, and he even put a protective detail on Jack and Phyllis. We all know it will be curtains for the detective one way or another though. In the meantime, Marco took matters into his own hands by shooting Harding in the left arm. He figured no one would connect the two if the criminal shot the cop, and it seemed to work. For a while.
Yet Kevin remained suspicious of Harding, and I am surprised the normally savvy guy has taken so long to put two and two together. Kevin has been very close to figuring out Harding was the one behind Austin's and Courtney's deaths. He even realized the detective knew exactly where Summer was positioned when she was asleep at the cabin. Kevin should have fit in all the pieces of the puzzle then. I liked how he reminded Harding that Fen was the one who had drugged the punch. So, in a sense, Fen was the one who started the whole thing.
But wait...how did Harding know Fen was going to drug the punch which put everyone to sleep and which gave the dirty cop the opportunity to kill Austin -- albeit accidentally? (And seriously, just how accidental is clubbing someone on the head with a bookend?) Oh, now I get it. Fen was blackmailed to spike the punch -- and Harding was obviously the blackmailer. Speaking of Fen, I am truly enjoying Max Ehrich's portrayal of Hunter on Under the Dome this season. I like that he's one of the good guys. So far. I can't help but notice he has only been listed as one of the few guest stars each week, although he's regularly been on the show. Was that his choice or the show's? Hmmm....
Since there's sure to be a vacancy on the police force in the near future, the obvious choice to fill it would, of course, be Dylan. Well, in Paul's opinion anyway. They both seemed to have conveniently forgotten about Dylan's hair-trigger temper. And to think just a few short weeks ago, Dylan took the law into his own hands (or fists in this case) and pummeled Joe Clark's face in order to force a false confession out of Joe for Avery's rape. That's the kind of behavior the GCPD wants on its police squad?! Act first and ask questions later? But since Paul decided that was okay and Sharon didn't want to strip Dylan of pursuing his long-time dream of being a cop (and not a cowboy), a cop Dylan will be. Maybe since his dad is all for it, Dylan can just skip the police academy. Nothing a little nepotism won't cure. Still, it seems like a step down for Dylan from his days as the town's superhero, rescuing damsels in distress and kittens in trees. Hey, he can become "Super-cop."
Well, it's a good thing Summer finally remembered seeing Harding in the cabin the night of Austin's death or the Scooby-Doo gang would have never figured it out. Too bad, Summer's memory didn't kick in before Courtney was killed. But at least Summer felt bad about it. When Sharon was updated and learned that Dylan had rushed after Harding, she wanted to find Dylan, but Mariah stopped her. Mariah pointed out that Sharon had no gun or superpowers -- unlike Dylan. Well, okay, maybe Mariah didn't say the "unlike Dylan" part, but she might as well have. Still, a desperate Harding was especially dangerous and on the run.
Kevin located Harding through the security camera on the Athletic Club rooftop, where Dylan confronted him. Dylan expressed his belief that someone else was pulling the strings, and Harding revealed that he had put his life on the line day in and day out for laws and principles he didn't even believe in for pay that barely covered the rent. Gosh, that explained everything. All's forgiven. Harding said he was paid to keep quiet so he wasn't going to tell Dylan anything -- but I thought Harding gave all the money back to Marco. It seems to me he was no longer under any obligation to Jack's look-alike at that point. Honestly, there's no honor among thieves. Or maybe in this case, there was a misguided honor to one demonic doppelgänger. It's no wonder why Harding went so wrong.
Paul raced to the site just in time to rescue his "Boy Wonder" from his former colleague. But the most surprising thing of all was Paul actually called Harding "Mark." I couldn't believe my ears. So, Harding might have had one friend after all. Maybe the detective wouldn't have been so quick to make a deal with the devil if only he had known. But Paul calling Harding by his first name didn't soften Mark at all, and Mark still threatened to shoot Dylan. When Dylan jumped at Harding, Paul fired his gun. Gee, I wonder who Paul shot. Harding's days were numbered, anyway, and I think the countdown has begun. It's just a question now of whether the detective's fate will be with destiny or in prison. It's still too bad he couldn't have been redeemed. It could very well be the end of Harding and "Fish."
Dylan may need to become a cop quickly, anyway, since Jack and Phyllis were still very much in danger from the murderous, malevolent, and malicious Marco. Jack was still the bull's-eye on Marco's target, although Harding had done what he could to protect him. What I don't get is why on earth are Jack and Victor keeping Marco's resemblance to Jack such a huge secret? To protect their families? No, like Phyllis, if their family members knew Marco was the spitting image of Jack, they would be able to prepare themselves in case Marco tried to impersonate Jack. They could then develop their own safe word or password with Jack so they would be able to determine the guy's identity.
Actually, Jack's reason for secrecy was to prevent being extradited to a foreign country where he would have to face charges for killing the cargo ship's crew due to the explosion. So, in other words, he was covering his own rear. Jack was placing his freedom over the safety of his loved ones. Jack, where are your priorities, man? By keeping the secret, Jack was playing right into both Victor's and Marco's hands. John tried to tell him. Jack's disclosure to the cops would go much farther in protecting his family, and he could then take the control away from Victor and Marco.
There's almost no rhyme or reason to this. We know Victor is keeping quiet about the doppelgänger so no one will learn about Victor's role in the whole scheme. Again, Victor has placed himself above the welfare of his wife and children. He did everything he could to stop Jack from spreading the word about the crime lord. To me, it's just not logical the police would not know what Marco looks like by now anyway. Marco was on wanted posters everywhere. It would be easy to research this type of thing. That's why I'm baffled Kevin hasn't figured it out.
Marco only holds the power over Jack as long as Jack doesn't reveal to all that the villain looks exactly like him. Once Jack tells the world, Marco's control is stripped, and he would be forced to leave town or be arrested. That would end Marco's plot to kill Jack and take over his life, which is a silly plan, anyway, since Phyllis already knows Marco resembles Jack. Marco must be pretty delusional if he thinks Phyllis would willingly jump back into bed with him, knowing he was not Jack. Apparently, Marco's ego knows no bounds. He doesn't know Red as well as he thinks he does.
And Sage didn't know Nikki at all if she thought Mrs. Victor Newman would be satisfied with hosting just a small, backyard baby shower. Oh, no, Nikki wanted all the works at the Athletic Club, and believe me, the gala won't be small. All of top society will be there, I am sure. But before the big shebang could take place, Nikki had to confront Ashley and Phyllis so they could all demanded answers from Victor and Jack. Yeah, good luck with that.
After all the scheming and conniving Victor had done to get his hands on Jabot, he was willing to return the company to the Abbotts as long as Jack kept his big mouth shut. Or as Victor put it, it was time to pull the plug on "a business proposition" that had gone bad. Boy, is that an understatement! Victor had brought a rotten, murdering, drug-dealing thug into the lives of his loved ones, but it was just a deal that had gone wrong. Only in Victor's world. On the bright side, at least Victor no longer believed Jack was the brains behind the Paragon Project.
Ashley refused to accept the instant death of the merger after all the drama and misery the partnership had caused, and once she saw the handwritten contract, she noted that it had not been written in blood. Phyllis has never been known for not speaking her mind, and with Jack gone, Phyllis slipped up to Ashley that Victor had unleashed a monster and they were all in danger. No big deal. The clever writing continued when Jack pointed out that Victor had seen enough of Jack's face to last a lifetime. Yeah, Jack's and Marco's both. Jack then had to dash off to come face-to-identical-face with Marco in the cabin. Hurray! Now we know Marisa is on the side of the good guys.
Marisa tricked Marco in the cabin, where Jack found him bound to a chair. Jack didn't do much more with him than to smack him. I have to admit it was pretty entertaining to watch Peter Bergman essentially slap himself. After Jack left, Phyllis found the bound and gagged monster at her mercy, and she made it very clear what she would like to do with him. Her methods involved slitting off some body parts, and she pretty much left which ones to our imagination.
Good for Phyllis! I swear she had more backbone than either Jack or Victor, who only squabbled over which one should kill Jack's double. Each one thought the other should do it. Cowards. I personally would have loved to see Phyllis and Marisa get their own revenge on Marco. He really had it coming. But since they were rational human beings and not dastardly thugs, they waited for the arrival of Jack and Victor. So, what will the foursome do with the notorious drug lord? Will the entire truth about Victor's part in the diabolical masquerade finally come out?
Neil might have played Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes, but it was hard for me to believe he had totally given up on his plan for revenge - especially since Mishael Morgan was getting closer and closer to maternity leave. Maybe if Neil were dressed in white instead of being covered head-to-toe in black, I might have been able to believe his claims of turning his back on vengeance. The sly look he gave the smooching couple at the wedding spoke a thousand scheming words, and I had a funny feeling Mr. Winters wasn't quite finished in exacting his revenge. Actually, Lily should have gotten a clue when Neil said he hoped Devon and Hilary would find the happiness they deserved. The key word being "deserved." Just how much happiness Neil thought the newlywed couple deserved remained to be seen.
And sure enough, Neil decided it would be appropriate to follow the honeymooners on their trip and then to pay Hilary a little visit on her hike. I had to laugh earlier when Hilary told Devon she just wanted to be a normal couple. Yeah, a normal couple with all Devon's millions. But anyway, with his newly adopted motto, "Whatever feels right," in hand, Neil confronted Hilary on her hike, where he claimed their meeting was "fate, coincidence, or a good travel agent." If Hilary believed that, she should contact that same travel agent about maybe buying a bridge.
Hilary's obviously conscience-stricken father-in-law was clearly torn when he almost gleefully announced Devon had cheated on her, and Neil couldn't take the video out of his pocket fast enough to show her. The next thing you know, Hilary was missing, and Devon became a suspect -- I mean "a person of interest" -- in causing her disappearance. You almost have to feel sorry for the millionaire. He has no idea what happened to his wife and probably won't see her again for another couple of months. Well, however long maternity leave lasts. But there's no doubt in my mind she will safely return one day. The angst will continue between father and son in the meantime though.
With Jill nowhere in sight, could Tristan Rogers be on his way out of Genoa City -- and headed back to Port Charles? Those are the rumors flying around right now, but they are just rumors. Could they be true?
I loved that Katherine's past words caused Michael and Lauren to get closer. "I'm going to live until I die." "Yesterday is behind you, and what you do today is what counts." Katherine would be smiling down on them.
Jack had the funniest suggestions of what Ashley and Phyllis could do with the Newman-Abbott business cards, from using them as kindling to shoving them under the leg of a wobbly table. Hey, maybe they could even be used as coasters under the many drinks served at the Athletic Club. Classy!
Victor and I actually agreed on the nepotism Paul showed Dylan by letting him work unofficially as a cop. Of course, we all knew "Dr. Watson" would save the day. It's what superheroes do.
Thankfully, Cane and Lily, as well as Michael and Lauren, are finding their way back to each other. It's nice to see these two normally solid couples be able to persevere and to overcome the obstacles thrown their way. We need some happiness to balance out the drama and tension, and both of these couples are good for that.
I had a marvelous time at the GHFC weekend this year, and it was terrific seeing both Michelle Stafford and Emme Rylan again. The one-time Naked Heiress made sure to take the time to talk with everyone at her event, and our former "Red" was there to greet her fans, even though she was feeling a little "under the weather." They both reminded me why we loved them so much when they were a part of our Y&R family.
Until next time,
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