And then the puppet became the puppet master

For the Week of July 23, 2018
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Sharon, Phyllis, Nikki, and Victoria examine the new art in Chancellor Park
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The week of July 23, 2018
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J.T. was an elaborately disguised Nick! But just who was this "new man" behind the mask? Will Nick prove to be more of his father's son than he would want? And how will Victor exact future revenge on his son now that he has a worthy adversary? Plus, Hilary's exit began with a crash in Two Scoops.

Woo-hoo! I am so proud of Nick. I feel like he's grown up right before my eyes. Finally, someone beat Victor at his own game, and that person was the Mustache's very own son. Victor never saw it coming, because he never believed Nick would be up to the task...and honestly, neither did I. Nick pleasantly surprised me by showing that he could dig down into the dirt and steal a page out of Victor's own handbook if it meant regaining custody of his son. Nick showed that he had what it took to reunite his family. After all, Nick is a Newman.

I suspected that the mystery man was not J.T., because we had never actually heard his voice. But I thought that maybe Paul had gotten a doppelgänger to play the part to guilt Nikki, Victoria, Phyllis, and Sharon into confessing. However, the doppelgänger routine must have grown a little old for Y&R, so a good old-fashioned expensive wig and mask were able to do the trick. I never really believed Nick would be able to delve into his dark side (which was Victor's normal side) in order to pull off this kind of stuff. So, hurray for Nick!

And Nick had taken further steps to ensure that Victor would no longer be able to rule the Newman kingdom by creating his own company, Dark Horse International. The name seemed fitting, since Nick had done the unexpected by finally drawing a line in the sand that Victor would not be allowed to cross. If that made Nick more like his dad, so be it. At least he was truly trying to protect his family, while for Victor, his claims of protection were only ever words. With Dark Horse, Nick desired to start a new family legacy that was not based on fear, control, and manipulation. Anyone else would have been so proud of him, but strangely, no one seemed to be -- except Summer.

For the first time in a long time, a soap character sounded entirely rational in explaining the reasons for his recent actions. Nick had reviewed all the interactions with his father throughout the years, both good and bad. I loved the flashbacks of Nick and Victor at different stages in their lives. It just reminded the viewers of how long both Eric Braeden and Joshua Morrow have been on Y&R as father and son. Mr. Morrow was so young when he first started on the show, and he clearly made Nick Newman into his own white knight kind of man.

But then, Nick took it one step further by considering all the bad Victor had done to the rest of his family, which included having Victoria arrested on her wedding day to Billy Abbott. Yeah, that was pretty bad. But Victor went too far when he took custody of Nick's beloved son, and Nick needed to stop the cycle. His plan was very elaborate and intricate. Naturally, Nick had to have the J.T. mask made. You couldn't just buy something that detailed from any costume store. Nick then asked his family to work for Dark Horse to help him make his dream a reality. You would think his loved ones would jump at the chance to make that happen. But, come on, we're talking about the Newmans.

After it was all said and done, only Abby and the off-screen Noah wanted to join Nick at Dark Horse, however Nick had been a busy guy, since he had already enlisted Jack as his executive consultant and a fellow board member. Finally, Jack had a new purpose in life. This should be a new and interesting dynamic between two of my favorite characters. I just hope it doesn't end up wrecking their friendship. Jack likes to take charge, so I hope he remembers that Dark Horse is Nick's company. Jack can help Nick in his crusade for Dark Horse to best Newman Enterprises. That's a goal Jack should appreciate.

Not surprisingly, Nikki and Victoria chose Victor, but Victoria was wise to place conditions on her staying at Newman Enterprises, because she had the upper hand, since both Abby and Ashley were gone. It's probably for the best, anyway. It was hard enough for Victoria to be under Victor's thumb, and she probably wouldn't have played well as Nick's employee. Besides, Victoria and Abby would only have continued their rivalry in a new location. Nick was giving Abby a chance to prove herself, and she'd have a better shot of doing it without Victoria's presence.

Nick was finally his own man, because he had learned from the master. It's too bad Nikki and Victoria were only concerned with covering their own hides. After all, if Nick had created his very own masquerade, that meant J.T. was still dead and buried, which the four ladies had covered up. So, with a deceased J.T., they were still going to be haunted by Victoria's ex from beyond the grave through their own guilt. Oh, joy. Well, at least they knew J.T. had not dug his way through the dirt to terrorize them. But how could they not understand Nick doing anything he could to recover custody of his son? Victor sure has done far worse in the past.

Sadly, Nikki turned back into Victor's head cheerleader, which was rather sickening to watch. She definitely put Victor's needs over those of her own son. So much for motherly love. If Nikki had taken action when Victor had first fought for custody, Nick wouldn't have had to resort to such extreme measures. She only had herself and Victor to blame for what happened. But Nikki's motive was also for self-preservation, which was incredibly selfish.

Actually, it was pretty outrageous that they were upset that Nick had covered up his scheme, when none of them -- Nikki, Victoria, Sharon, or Phyllis -- had trusted Nick enough to tell him the truth about J.T. Their cover-up should prove to be disastrous once J.T.'s fate is finally revealed -- since Victor was still very much on the hunt for the man who had done him wrong several times.

Victor's arrogance got in his way and allowed him to be played by Nick. Because Victor only saw Nick as his weak son, Nick was able to use that to his advantage by planning a sneak attack...and it was brilliant. By pretending to be J.T., Nick had Victor searching for his enemy in one direction, while Victor's adversary was actually hiding undercover right in front of his nose. Victor made the mistake of underestimating his son, and if Nick had his way, there would be no more dancing to his father's tune while dangling on Victor's puppet strings.

But how long will Nick's victory dance last, since Victor had no intention of letting his son win one over on him -- and especially since Nick had dared to put Newman Enterprises in jeopardy? No matter how many times he has claimed that family comes first, Victor's deep devotion has always been to the company he built from the ground up, and Nick had the nerve to put that at risk. Unfortunately, Nick also unwittingly let his dad know exactly where to hit to hurt Nick the most, so you know Victor will find a way to destroy Nick's family, especially his relationship with Sharon -- if Nick didn't do that himself by doing the dirty deed with his ex-wife.

My pride for Nick's actions sure was short-lived. I mean, Phyllis didn't surprise me at all, since I knew it was just a matter of time for her to get bored with Billy. For Phyllis, it's all about the excitement. It has never mattered for her if it's at someone else's expense. But Nick told Sharon she could have time to think, and before she really had the chance, Nick was stripping off his ex-wife's clothes. He could have at least talked to Sharon first to learn of her decision. For Sharon, Nick's betrayal with Phyllis will be like déjà vu all over again. It's rather ironic that for a man who wanted his family back so badly, he found the best way to destroy it. I'm so disappointed.

But Sharon should have been proud of Nick for doing whatever it took to get his family back. Nick needed to prove he was the man who could stand on his own two feet and not let his dad control his destiny and the fate of his family. Sharon should want a man who refused to be led around by the nose, not some wishy-washy wimp who couldn't even make the most basic decisions regarding his loved ones. (Please, don't even get me started on Liam of The Bold and the Beautiful.) Nick actually showed he was more like Victor than anyone had believed when he protected his family at all costs. Sharon needed to decide if this Nick was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. But as Mariah pointed out to her, "Just because something's different doesn't mean that it's bad. Sometimes it's better."

Learning that Billy was gambling again behind her back had Phyllis tossing his keister out -- and Summer might have been the next to go if it hadn't been Summer's condo. Well, at least Phyllis could be comforted by the fact that Billy wasn't cheating on her. I can't blame Phyllis for feeling betrayed, since Billy and Summer had made her feel like an outcast through their "secret alliance." But Phyllis seemed to be more upset that Billy had lied, not that he was gambling behind her back. There was obviously no trust between them to begin with if Phyllis felt the need to hire a private investigator in record time. And theirs was supposedly a love that would transcend all time. Yeah, right. For them, it has always been about hot sex and little more.

I'm not sure Phyllis realized just how much of a sickness Billy's gambling addiction was. If she did, she wouldn't have flaunted a racehorse in front of Billy not all that long ago. There are just so many other activities a couple can do that don't involve gambling. Jack even had to remind Phyllis that gambling was an addiction just like drinking or doing drugs and that lying was a symptom of the illness. Phyllis was ready to give Billy another chance until she caught him at a poker table. This excuse was just too flimsy. She was obviously tired of Billy and was ready for some new excitement with Nick.

Thanks to Dina's scrapbook, it looks like Jack's search for the truth of his paternity may finally be over. It seemed the paternity test results proving Jack was not the son of Phillip Chancellor was the final nail in the coffin. (Sorry, I just had to say it.) But doggone it, Ashley was right -- John Abbott was their father, no matter who their biological daddy was. John Abbott made Jack the man he is today. Jack always looked up to John as his dad, and he still can. John loved and raised Jack and Ashley, which makes him their true father. I don't care what any blood test says.

And thankfully, Jack vowed he would no longer bug Dina for any memories of her past. She was being tormented enough with Alzheimer's without Jack adding to her stress, which would only worsen her condition. Jack still had his mother nearby, and he could focus his love and attention on her while she was still alive and could mentally appreciate it. Time was Dina's enemy, which made it Jack's foe, as well.

A truck plowed into Lily's car as Hilary and Lily were arguing about Hilary being "cool" with letting Shauna seduce Charlie in Hilary's apartment without adult supervision. So, I thought, okay, Hilary will probably lose the baby so that she can be free again to accept the enticing offer of her old, good friend Mark. After all, Mishael Morgan needed a reason to exit, and it's not that much out of character for Hilary to one minute be fixating on her life with Devon and the baby and the next to want to go to the greener pastures of fame and fortune.

Plus, Hilary's message to her GC Buzz viewers almost sounded like a goodbye with her talk of a new journey. So, I was stunned when Hilary was listed as critical in the hospital and was only given a small chance to live. I truly thought she would leave town to leave it open for her to return at a future date. Hilary is such a complex character, it's surprising Y&R would consider killing her off. But Hilary had her day, and apparently her time in Genoa City may be over.

However, the consequences of the accident will continue for Lily, since Charlie revealed to Cane that Lily had run a red light. Lily will forever feel guilty over the death of her brother's child. And poor Devon. Imagine returning home to learn of such heartache due to the loss of his baby and possibly losing the love of his life, as well. If Hilary doesn't survive, Devon has his family and his business, but will they be enough to get him through the tough times ahead, especially if Lily was the cause of his loss?

Other notable (or humorous) items that happened during the week:

I have not been the biggest Mariah and Tessa fan, but that's because of the way Tessa treated Mariah the first time around. Mariah deserved better, but then again, Mariah should never have pursued a woman her brother was interested in. Tessa was not ready to accept that she could be interested in both women as well as men then, but she appeared ready and willing for that on her "first date" with Mariah. Hopefully Tessa won't break Mariah's heart again.

So, was Ashley's sudden turnabout concerning taking her relationship with Neil to the next level due to not wanting to risk their special friendship or to Eileen Davidson's upcoming exit from the show? It would be rather difficult for Neil and Ashley to be in love if Ashley relocates to Berlin for Jabot business. But it's nice to know that she won't be leaving Genoa City because of Neil.

Thank goodness for this day and age of technology. The beginning of Monday's episode of Y&R was preempted in our viewing area, so I wasn't able to watch Nick pull the J.T. mask off during the television coverage. Therefore, I was so grateful that I could catch it online, or I would have totally missed it. Back in "the good old days," that wouldn't have been possible. So, I did get to see "J.T." reveal himself as Nick to Victor later on my computer. Oh, yes, times have most certainly changed.

Until next time, please stay tuned.

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