What happened: Silas (Michael Easton) was murdered (7/31) before he could tell Kiki (Hayley Erin) that her mother, Ava (Maura West), was alive, disguising herself as a long-lost aunt (Denise Demuccio) and sleeping with her boyfriend, Morgan (Bryan Craig). Scotty grilled Ava as a suspect during the subsequent trial and she blew her cover (8/24). Madeline Reeves turned out to be the real killer; she wanted to forge Silas' signature to have access to Nina's (Slias' ex-wife) money (8/31). Kiki swore Morgan and Ava off once she learned the whole truth from Franco (Roger Howarth; 9/1). Scotty became Ava's lawyer and got her off for killing Connie, having the 1 shred of evidence in his possession: a recorded confession (9/16). The recording was stolen by new district attorney Paul Hornsby (Richard Burgi), who wanted to use Ava as the face of his mob ring while he tries to dismantle Sonny's organization (9/22). Ava finally regained custody of her daughter, Avery, by goading Sonny into threatening her and taping it for the judge to hear (11/10). Nina and Franco moved into Silas' apartment to look after an alcoholic Kiki, who later ran Carly off the road in a druken stupor (11/3); Carly dropped the charges (11/24). Michael and Carly had an intervention with Morgan (11/23) to get him treatment for bipolar disorder, of which he showed signs starting on 9/2.
My commentary: I love a good "who dun it?" murder mystery and a Friday cliffhanger! The clues were well-placed and properly misleading (Morgan, Ava and Nina were all at scene and had motive; the Madeline factor was introduced later), and the investigation and trial didn't go on for too long. 1 of the stand-out moments was when Nina (Michelle Stafford) left for Silas' apartment in a rage after learning he let her stand accused of kidnapping Avery to keep up Ava's 'Denise' rouse. "Once again, he's chosen Ava over me!," she yelled (7/31). The lines were great and I enjoy watching Stafford's 'heat to an exploding boil' anger work. Hell must have frozen over on 8/4, because I felt sorry for Franco when got pegged as the killer in trying to protect Nina. Around this time, there was a lot of excellent dialogue about Ava's flaws and desires (ex. when Silas' ghost haunted her on 8/12); character psychology is a rarity. West rocks everything given to her; she's so emotionally animalistic and convincing. It's awful and ridiculous, for example, that a grown woman would weep like a teenager over her daughter's boyfriend (8/28), but West will break your heart, make you sympathize and...get hot and bothered over it. Ava was speaking to Morgan from behind jail bars, but fogged up the place reminding him of their chemistry (8/27): "...the way I touched you, my breath on your neck, the way I bit your lip when we kissed...you know my body blindfolded and I know yours just the same." Which writer was responsible for that erotica, haha? Kiki finding out that her mom wasn't dead should've been stimulating, but it was underwhelming. The Denise thing was fun at first, but I was glad when it was over. I like that Ava's in a position to be a mob queen again and has a new love interest, but I don't like that it's all at the mercy of a man who's stepping on her neck. I want her to finally be in complete control. It's backwards to me that she sleeping with Paul. It was fun to see her back in action at the 5 families meeting on 9/28 and put little Michael, who's always trying to sit at the big boy table, in his place. As for this custody business, I'm sick of Avery being bounced around and fought over. I'm also sick of it being painted like Sonny is Ava's victim and she's uncompromising, as if the baby wasn't literally ripped and kept from her since birth. I love Carly, but I clapped when she called herself Avery's mother and Ava snapped " You're not her mother...bitch (9/24)."
Lulu, Dante, Valerie & Dillon
What happened: Dillon's film assistant accidentally taped him and Valerie admitting their respective feelings for Lulu and Dante, more importantly that Valerie had sex with Dante (10/2). Knowing the truth, Dillon kisses Lulu and insists he's better for her than Dante (10/9). At the Haunted Star Halloween party, Dillon finds the videoed confessional and plays it instead of the trailer for his movie, pretending (not very well, might I add) it was a fluke (11/2). Lulu gave Dante separation papers; thinking his marriage was unsalvageable, he slept with Valerie again and started a vague relationship with her (11/25).
My commentary: The wimpy, nerdy, yellow-bellied characterization of Dillon (recast Robert Palmer Watkins) deflated any joy I had about having an old Quartermaine back. The wuss-ness hit all-time high when he deliberately broke Valerie's confidence and publicly humiliated Lulu for his own gain, which actually profited him nothing (*Nelson from The Simpsons voice* Ha ha!). On top of that, his method was so disgusting, cowardly and under-handed. How Dillon 2.0's demeanor was shaped kept it from seeming believable that he'd have a chance or could be with Lulu (Emme Rylan). It appears the writers have noticed this and abandoned that ship, but it wasn't for lack of effort. They kept trying to make it sound like Dillon was Johnny. There was all this innuendo about how Lulu lost herself in domestication (8/25) and how they missed their chance together, as if they had this great love and Dillon was the key to reigniting her wildfires. Nope, that's Johnny. Dillon was never that hard up about, connected to or infatuated Lulu. In fact, considering their history-which includes being deceived into unknowingly cheating on the real love of his life, Georgie Jones- it's ridiculous that Dillon would be so obsessed with Lulu now. Dillon wasn't the only guy in this mix to have a personality reinvention. Dante (Dominic Zampronga) has been trashed. Him sleeping with Valerie while drunk and thinking his wife cheated is 1 thing, but doing it again? On a near-happenstance whim? Then, saying to Lulu "How long was I supposed to wait for you [to come around]" as if the separation papers weren't less than 24 hours old and he's the victim instead of her? Speaking disrespectfully to his mother in Valerie's defense (12/10)? Letting Valerie blast Lulu in her own house (11/25)? Not Dante-like at all; this isn't how the character would react in this situation. He's been such an obnoxious douche-bag. Additionally, his emotional shifts were too sudden; quickly having frigid detachment from Lulu, and profound "when I look into your eyes I feel..." affection for Valerie (12/23). It's really off when we know Dante's love for and heartache over Lulu is what caused his initial transgression, not an attraction to Valerie. When Dante's cat was finally let out of the bag on Halloween, it was kind of a dud. I wasn't clutching my chest. Perhaps it was because the scenes were so chopped up and spread out. I wonder what's next for Valerie (Brytni Sarpy) after all of this because they've made Dante her entire story and she isn't in a likable position.
Hayden, Nikolas, Liz, Jason, Sam, Patrick & Robin
What happened: Hayden (Rebecca Budig) woke up from her post-shot-in-the-head coma, lying that she didn't remember her past or recent present (8/3). Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) resumed her Wyndemere residency as a precaution. Jason proposed to Liz (8/14); Patrick proposed to Sam a month later (9/18). Spinelli did a reverse facial composite to see what Jason's face looked like pre-surgery, confirming his identity (11/2). Carly (Laura Wright) had a DNA test done to make sure Spinelli's results weren't flawed. Shortly before his wedding, Jason rescued Carly from her car crash and she showed him the tests. Jason (Billy Miller) tells everyone at the church the news and cancels the ceremony, despite Liz's insistence that they go through with it (11/9). Jason goes to Cassadine Island to get answers from Helena, but she supposedly dies (11/23). At Patrick's urging, Sam files for a divorce from Jason (12/1). Sam (Kelly Monaco) hears Little Jake tell Danny that Liz and Laura have a secret about Jason (11/25). An uneasy confrontation with Laura (Genie Francis) confirms her suspicion that Liz (Rebecca Herbst) knew Jason's identity (12/1). After Jason walks in on Sam cornering Liz about it (12/7), he questions Liz himself and she confesses (12/9). Jason moves out of Liz's house. Conceding to his feeling that Sam's heart still belongs to Jason, Patrick breaks up with her on 12/10 (though they repeatedly say it's mutual). Nikolas starts an altercation with Jason at the Metro Court and he accidentally falls over the terrace (12/22). Hayden tells police that Jason purposely pushed Nikolas with intent to kill. Patrick (Jason Thompson) realizes that Robin's (Kimberly McCullough) been held hostage all this time and rescues her from Jerry Jax with Anna and Robert (12/22). The pair reunites.
Ok, let's get to the Jason/Liz reveals. The Jason reveal was moderately gratifying, while the Liz one was just a little. It was a huge relief that Jason finally knew who he was. The script was good; there were several lines and moments I personally enjoyed. For instance, I hate that Liz is continually written as desperate and delusional, but if you're going to do it, sell it. From "I believe Jake knew too!" as a covering counter to Sam mentioning Danny's draw to Jason, to her pleading with Jason to complete the nuptials as if it would be legally valid, the coo-coo for Coco Puffs was thoroughly illustrated. Carly's interjections, like "your time playing house with Jake Doe is over...For god's sake, Elizabeth, you can't marry Jason; he's married to Sam!," are what we love her for. Regardless of Liz standing in her bridal gown and likely being emotional, Carly blocked her path to Jason and said "Could you give them (Jason and Sam) a minute?" My stomach hurt from laughing. Speaking of such, Nikolas maniacally laughing while in Jason's headlock was gold. It's like the higher the stakes, the less he cares. I'm obsessed with the 'Dark Prince' era. I just wish his motives were better developed; they're kind of paper thin. Patrick and Sam's interactions were intricately done, as he ebbed and flowed between being supportive and fighting for the woman he loves. You wondered if him reiterating that things wouldn't be the same with Jason was him sharing personal wisdom or trying to persuade Sam away. Lastly, my feels always go into overdrive when I see Carly and Sam drop beef and console each other (#CarSam!). Even with all these positives and quality acting, something was still missing. It wasn't harrowing. Everyone in the room had a horse in the race, but only Sam seemed deeply affected and devastated (kudos to Monaco for her performance, by the way). As opposed to sad, shocked and/or confused, Jason came off angry more than anything else. This continued for over a month, as he icily brushed off most of his loved ones...and it was freaking aggravating. Some might say "Well, this is how he was with the first brain injury," but there are significant differences this go round. Jason had frequent flashbacks while he built relationships with the folks who just so happened to be close to him. Yet, reactions from decades ago were recycled and the script was stuffed with inconsistencies. Jason kept saying he "didn't feel" or remember a thing, but there were dozens of recollections, including a vivid hallucination of Robin. He recognized faces without knowing why. He diligently searched to find out who he was and heard nothing but good things about himself, but suddenly he wasn't interested in details and was determined to believe that Jason Morgan was a terrible person. It made sense for him to struggle with his new reality, but it should've been played as 'heartfelt and discombobulated' versus 'cold and fuming.' It didn't formally ease up until Jason gave a much needed redress to Sam for being a jerk and acknowledged her faithfulness, even before she knew who he was (12/21). I adored that conversation for obvious reasons, but also because they had an endearing, amicable conversation about their dynamic: "I don't think I would call it just friendship...do we have to call it anything? Can we just be here...together?," Jason inquired. This reminds me; I lived for the clip after the wedding where Sam delivered Jason's motorcycle and told him he could visit Danny whenever. It was so them and she was giving him space. It was also kind of sexy: "A lot of things are yours, Jason," she said leather-clad with tussled hair. Moist.
Anna, Sonny, Michael & Sabrina
What happened: Sonny's (Maurice Benard) shipments kept being mysteriously hijacked or destroyed. At a meeting with the 5 mafia families of PC, he unsuccessfully threw his weight around to scare the culprit out of hiding (8/5).To lure Sonny to a vulnerable spot, Paul (the hijacker) had TJ (Tequan Richmond) kidnapped (9/3). From a hidden corner, Paul shoots Sonny just hours before his wedding to Carly (9/4). Jason overhears the bullets, takes out the captors and helps get Sonny to the hospital (9/8). Post-op, a blood clot in his brain requires another surgery, which results in paralysis (10/6). Ric (Rick Hearst) is pushed out of going to the next meeting by Michael (Chad Duell), who tries to take up Sonny's affairs (9/25). Ava names Carlos as Sonny's shooter, who Anna claimed was on the run (9/28). The 'CarSon' (Sonny and Carly) wedding finally happens on 10/14. After months of physical therapy, Sonny has some movement in his leg (12/30). Frustrated with how he can't keep Anna's affections and do Nikolas' dirty work, Sloane acts out and gives Paul all the evidence that Anna shot Carlos (9/29). Anna (Finola Hughes) thinks Carlos died, but somehow, he survived (11/24). To deter police from hunting for Carlos and Sloane from interfering with his plans, Paul plants an unidentifiable body and kills Sloane (10/14, 9/29). Paul dangles Carlos in front of Anna, which sparks her suspicions about his intentions. She digs and finds that Sloane is dead and the body was likely faked (12/4). Tests verify that Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) is pregnant (10/8), but the baby is Carlos'. Michael breaks up with Sabrina (12/28) after realizing she wittingly hid the paternity (12/22).
My commentary: The cast did an extraordinary job in the episodes surrounding Sonny's shooting. The emotional leveling was just right and there was an apposite blend of angst and mush. At times, however, reasonable sentiment teetered on Sonny-whitewashing schmaltz. Michael immediately went into Corinthos-heir mode. He was giving guards instructions and talking with mob heads like he never despised Sonny with ever fiber of his being. This, coupled with the random cautionary warnings Sabrina received from people like Lulu and Maxie (who has no connection; 9/9), made me think his dark side would be the reason for their split and Castillo's inevitable exit (2nd maternity leave). Alternatively, the writers took the unimaginative route and scribed in her pregnancy. Again. I wanted to beat my head against the wall. Michael's too young for a kid, it was too early in their relationship, and Sabrina lost a baby just last year. If their network-cousin, Scandal, could successfully hide lead actress Kerry Washington's pregnancy, GH could've pulled something off easily. The consolation prize was that we got the hilarious and devilishly handsome Carlos (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) back and Anna doesn't have to go to prison for murder.
Some final remarks on this bunch: it's about time they brought Lexi Ainsworth back to resume her role as Kristina. It's so nice to see Alexis with all 3 of her daughters. Hopefully, this school suspension storyline will lead to something awesome for the character. Was I the only 1 ticked off at how Ric was treated at the hospital? I know he was Taylor Swift and had really bad blood with Sonny and Carly, but things have been on the upside. I was happy when he stood up for himself, reminding Carly and Michael of how he had more familial pull than they did (9/10). I wish the writers would've thought to get Molly (Haley Pullos) in on that. It would've been incredible to watch her stand up for her father against cousin Morgan, who got physically rough with Ric . They don't do enough with her Corinthos connections. She didn't visit Sonny once on-camera.
Julian & Alexis: I love that Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) keeps rattling Alexis' (Nancy Lee Grahn) cage; it's comic relief. It's a huge problem to me that Julian has no remorse for having Duke killed and doesn't seem to think he should suffer or be punished for it. With any luck, Anna will at last have some sort of justice. Julian's never paid for his crimes against Anna and Duke. It's equally irking that Alexis is so unbothered as well. I know she's still with Julian because the audience loves them, but I can't get over her supposedly being anti-mob and looking the other way, knowing what he's done to both Duke and Ric, her daughter's father. It's laughable that she and Julian both don't want Jason (a hitman) and Sam to reunite, when Julian's done more harm to her family than Jason ever has to his own (12/11). Morgan taunting Alexis about her relationship with him, while having the pair at gun point, was quite funny I must say (9/22). Among their story highlights, Julian found out that his child with Olivia was indeed alive (10/21) and he proposed to Alexis (12/20).
Brad & Rosalie: Rosalie's ( Linda Elena Tovar) looming, earth-shattering secret-or at least part of it anyway- was that she married Brad (Parry Shen) to avoid testifying in a trial that we have yet to hear more about since it came out in August. Did the writers forget about that or nah?
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! If not, here's to this year being better than the last!