The secrets and lies that bind

For the Week of August 8, 2022
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Will Nikolas' attempt to protect Ava save his marriage? What secrets will Felicia uncover when she goes digging into Esme's past? How long will Willow keep Michael in the dark, and will Finn shed some light on what's haunting Liz? Love might bring people together, but it's the secrets and lies that truly bind in Port Charles.

Holy parapet, Batman. The smackdown on Spoon Island was a sight to behold, and I loved every blessed second of it.

In real life, I abhor violence. However, in the land of make believe, I'm fine with it, especially when it's directed at someone I dislike as intensely as I do Esme Prince. Esme is a straight-up sociopath with a homicidal streak. She had no problem terrorizing someone by weaponizing her victim's dead daughter, she didn't hesitate to use a powerful -- and potentially deadly -- drug on a teen, she sexually exploited two other teens, and she attempted to kill someone who had the power to expose her evil ways.

Esme deserved everything Ava dished out and more. I don't blame Ava for Esme's tumble over the parapet. Esme would have gleefully shoved Ava over if Esme had had the chance. Ava could have easily claimed self-defense, but it wouldn't have been necessary. Ava was right; Esme's momentum took Esme over the parapet. Whatever Esme's fate is, Ava is not to blame.

Both Maura West and Avery Pohl were spectacular in those scenes. I was completely blown away, and it's a testament to Avery's talent that she shined as brightly as Maura -- who is easily one of the best daytime performers to ever grace our screens -- during Ava and Esme's perhaps final confrontation. I say perhaps because -- as Ava so rightly pointed out -- people have fallen from the parapet and lived to tell the frightening tale, including Ava, who was recently shoved over by Valentin. There is also the assortment of folks who have survived falling out of the castle windows, down the side of the island's treacherous cliffs, and the infamous labyrinth of tunnels throughout the island.

A bloody shoe means nothing, especially on Spoon Island. Esme clearly knew an alternate route off the island because it's how she managed to sneak Oz out of the castle without Curtis and Marshall noticing as they sat watch on the piers. It also didn't escape my notice that Esme was conveniently dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and zip-up hoodie rather than her usual frilly attire and high heels. I'm not suggesting Esme planned to swan dive over the parapet, but she did seem properly dressed for an emergency escape and some time on the lam.

I'm almost certain Esme will live to wreak havoc another day -- and Ava will have another opportunity to slap that smirk right off Esme's smug face. What a truly satisfying slap that was. I'm so ready for round two.

While Esme lays low, Nikolas is seizing the opportunity to keep his beloved wife out of divorce court and possibly jail. Nikolas is right about one thing: if Esme's body surfaces (cue an identical twin named Emse popping up in Port Charles if that happens), then Ava is going to be in big trouble. Instead of listening to Nikolas, she should have called 9-1-1 as soon as Esme went flying. Did Ava learn nothing from what happened to Carly and Nelle?

It's almost the same exact situation. There is absolutely no evidence of murder because it wasn't murder. An autopsy would show that Esme either died of drowning and/or blunt force trauma from the fall. Without a body, there isn't even proof that Esme died. As I said earlier, people have survived that fall, and Esme had every reason to want to disappear. In fact, Esme had been in the process of leaving town when Ava encountered her.

Unfortunately, it's too late for Ava to fess up now, so the best she can do is damage control. Like with Jax when he advised Carly to lie about Nelle's final moments, I think Nikolas' heart was in the right place in trying to protect Ava, but I fully expect Nikolas to take advantage of the situation by playing the hero. He loves Ava, and he's desperate to save their marriage. He thought being honest would score him points when he told Ava about the infidelity -- and it might have if he'd confessed before he had slept with Ava -- but since that didn't work out, Nikolas now sees a path to redemption by saving Ava from murder charges.

I don't think it will succeed, and to be honest, I'm not really sure that I want it to.

I don't buy Nikolas' excuse that he thought his marriage to Ava was over and that Esme seduced him. Both are true, but that's no reason to sleep with your son's girlfriend. Esme succeeded in seducing Nikolas because he was receptive to it. Nikolas was no innocent bystander or victim. He was a willing participant, and he probably would have continued the affair if Ava hadn't taken his sorry behind back.

I question the depth of Nikolas' love for Ava. Esme wasn't just some random chick. She terrorized Ava, and everyone saw how manipulative and diabolical she was, including Spencer. True, Nikolas had no idea that Spencer had seen though Esme's act, but that doesn't matter. The point is, Esme was incredibly transparent to everyone except for Nikolas. That is, until he slept with her. Once Nikolas had that notch on the castle wall, his blinders seemingly fell away. Too late, as far as I'm concerned, because Esme was able to use that infidelity to cut Ava deep during their exchange of words.

I would need to see a lot of groveling and self-reflection/improvement from Nikolas before I'm ready for Ava to take him back.

Speaking of which, Spencer did a pretty good job of redeeming himself in Trina's eyes when he testified in court that he was with Trina when the video was posted. The alibi cost him dearly because Spencer was promptly arrested for his unauthorized day trip to the cemetery to put flowers on Courtney's grave. It was all for naught, though, because A.D.A. Arden proved it was possible to post a video online without actually pressing a button by setting everything up in advance. Ironically, the same process Esme used to record Cam and Joss without actually being in the room at the time.

I've never been impressed with soap opera trials, but this one in particular bothered me because the prosecution's case was so incredibly weak and circumstantial, it's laughable. A.D.A. Arden comes off as a bully, not tough, because she's treating Trina like a delinquent with a long criminal record when the opposite is true. It makes me question not just A.D.A. Arden's ethics but also her agenda. Where is her boss, District Attorney Robert Scorpio? I can't believe he couldn't have his contacts at the WSB unlock that burner phone's secrets.

I love that Trina is finally getting her own story and that Josslyn is for once in the role of being a supportive friend. I'm also thrilled that Trina is the object of affection to not one, but two guys. She's a beautiful, kind, and intelligent young lady who has spent years living in Josslyn's shadow, while every guy in their orbit fell under Joss's spell. It seemed so incredibly unfair, especially when Trina had a crush on Cam, but he only had eyes for Joss.

What I'm not keen on is that Trina is a victim, and from what I can see, that isn't going to change anytime soon. Spencer's arrest, everyone's concern about the verdict, and Portia's fears about Trina's newfound family history of mental illness feels like a whole lot of foreshadowing that Trina is headed for a stint in Spring Ridge alongside Spencer and a not-so-locked-in Ryan Chamberlain. It would definitely be an interesting twist with oodles of potential for exciting drama, I just wish the writers could have found another path there than to have Trina charged with posting revenge porn.

I don't have any illusions about who Trina is going to end up with, either. When everything is said and done, I fully expect Trina and Spencer to fall in love. She's had a crush on him for ages, he's handsome, and he's a dark prince. Rory is sweet, kind, and equally good-looking, but he lacks the edge that Spencer has. On soaps, it's like catnip for the ladies.

Now, let's talk about Elizabeth Imogene Webber-Baldwin portrayed by the incomparable Rebecca Herbst. Liz first graced our screens on August 1, 1997, as the fourteen-year-old runaway daughter of Dr. Jeff Webber and his wife Carolyn. The Drs. Webber were off saving the world, working for Doctors Without Borders in war-torn parts of the world, and they had left their teenage daughter with friends in Colorado. Their other teenage daughter -- the golden child -- was sent to stay with Jeff's stepmother, Nurse Audrey Hardy, widow of legendary Dr. Steve Hardy.

Liz was a smart-mouthed spitfire who carried a chip on her shoulder the size of a mountain. In the very early days, I found Liz entertaining, but not very likeable. All that changed several months later when Liz was walking home from a Valentine's Day dance, and a vile predator struck, violently raping the young teen and leaving her bloody and broken in snow-covered bushes. The young woman who rose from the ashes of that horrific assault quickly became my favorite character, thanks in very large part to Becky's incredible talent.

Through the years, Liz has had her fair share of ups and down, but my love for her never wavered. Liz and Lucky were a supercouple, her tumultuous romance with Jason was infamous, pitting the passionate Liason (Liz and Jason) fans against the equally passionate Jasam (Jason and Sam) fans. Both were fiercely loyal to their pairing, and both firmly believed their gal was Jason's true soul mate. If you were around during those days, you know just how ugly and heated things got, especially the summer of the blackout. My poor eyeballs saw things they cannot unsee.

In the end, both fan bases were wrong. Jason's true soul mate was and always will be Sonny and vice versa.

Liz had a penchant for bad boys -- Jason, Zander Smith, and Ric Lansing, to name a few -- but she managed to emerge from those troubled and toxic relationships, stronger and wiser. I love Liz because she doesn't pretend to be perfect. She knows she's flawed and owns her garbage, but she strives to do and be better.

I've waited 25 years for answers about Liz's childhood and an explanation for Jeff and Carolyn's continued absence from their youngest daughter's life. No visits, phone calls, letters, or even cards, as far as I know. Liz has gotten married (and divorced) several times, suffered heartbreaking miscarriages, given birth to three beautiful boys, had countless brushes with death, faked her death, and even had a son return from the dead. All the while, radio silence from Jeff and Carolyn.

I want to know why, but at the same time I'm terrified of what will be revealed. I don't want Jeff to be thrown under the bus just to give us answers. Jeff was one of the good guys, and my preteen heart skipped a beat whenever Richard Dean Anderson popped on my screen. We were given a tantalizing clue when Liz entered the hospital's stairwell and recalled finding Peter's bloody and unconscious body. The memory triggered a flashback to Liz's childhood and her calling out for her father. Did she stumble on a similar scene with Jeff? I hope not, but the flashback doesn't bode well for Jeff.

However, it made me wonder if perhaps that was why Liz mistakenly determined Peter was dead when he clearly wasn't. It's definitely food for thought. It never made sense to me why a highly trained nurse like Liz had failed to find the pulse of a man who had been knocked unconscious. A repressed childhood trauma might account for the mistake.

As much as I'm looking forward to Liz getting a juicy storyline, I'm a bit bothered that Finn is being positioned to be the hero in her tale. It's the 21st century. Women can rescue themselves, and in this case, Liz unraveling what triggered her recent mental health crisis would be a far more interesting story than Finn rescuing his lady love from the demons of her past.

I want Finn to be Liz's partner, not her savior.

It's so frustrating to watch Liz be in denial about all the red flags. She knows better. This isn't the first time she's had to face difficult things. The woman had to live with the guilt of her toddler being run over and taking him off life support. What could be more traumatic than that? I want Liz to take control of her own life, to tell Finn that something is going on and that she needs to get to the bottom of it for the sake of her boys because they've been through enough in the last few years. I want to see Finn be supportive, not manipulative.

I like Finn, but lately, he's been coming off as controlling and a bit obsessive. It's not a good look for him, and it's certainly not what Liz needs or the way to her heart.

Quite a few ladies are sipping from the river of denial these days.

Folks, I love Willow, and I'm not surprised that she's now facing a serious health crisis. The signs have been there for months, and Carly is holding onto an atomic bombshell that will need a pretty significant catalyst to knock it loose. Most of us have been expecting Willow to receive a devastating diagnosis for her chronic fatigue and random fainting spells, but the pregnancy was a bit of a surprise. It certainly ups the stakes and the drama.

Not only is Willow keeping Michael out of the loop, but she had a painful bone marrow biopsy without his knowledge. She says it's because she wants to spare him needless worry, but I think there's more to it. I suspect a part of Willow knew deep down inside that something was very wrong with her and that Michael would question if the pregnancy might impact Willow's treatment. I don't blame her for worrying about that, but I'm disappointed that she's not giving Michael the opportunity to be a part of the process because, regardless of what Willow decides, Michael is going to be affected.

I have no doubt that Willow will put her unborn child's needs first. Willow already lost a child, and she couldn't bear to go through that kind of grief again. She's perfectly willing to sacrifice herself for her child because she knows Michael would be raising the baby, and their child would grow up with Wiley. Michael loves Willow, but he also loves their unborn child as much as Willow does. By keeping Michael out of the loop, she is denying him the opportunity to prepare himself for the worst.

Willow will get her diagnosis, and Michael will be blindsided. I feel sorry for the guy. When my husband got sick, what got us through that nightmare was being able to lean on each other. I was his advocate, his cheerleader, and his nurse, and he was able to focus on staying strong through endless tests, medical procedures, chest tubes, and a long recovery. I can't tell you how many doctors and nurses told us that a strong support system was key to a good prognosis.

This is no time for Willow to be a martyr. She needs that support system because there's going to come a point in the very near future where she's going to need Michael's strength to lean on. How can he give her that when he doesn't have a chance to brace himself?

Then there's Carly. I'd like to think that Carly would spill the beans about Nina as soon as she finds out that Willow has cancer, but I can't be sure. Nina has a way of bringing out the worst in people, and Carly has never been an angel. I guess it depends on what Terry says once they get the biopsy confirmation that Willow has leukemia. Can pregnant women even receive bone marrow transplants?

I know one thing. We will need to stock up on tissues. Katelyn MacMullen is a wonderful actress, and this storyline has tear-jerker written all over it.

Our other damsel in distress was Sasha.

Sasha has been struggling for quite some time, even though she insisted to everyone that she was fine. She rebuffed advice to talk to a therapist about the loss of her baby, instead bottling everything up inside and throwing herself into her work in the mistaken belief that she could ignore the grief until it went away. When that didn't work, she decided a few pills here and there would help her cope with the stress and make everything better. It didn't. Instead, her life began to spiral.

It's been frustrating to watch Sasha because she's been the master of her own disaster. When she was faced with irrefutable proof that she's floundering -- her breakdown on television and the relapse -- she downplayed everything and pretended it was an isolated incident. No one challenged her. Instead, they enabled her destructive behavior by treating her as if she were made of glass. Brando did finally push back when she refused to go to rehab or therapy, but he immediately backed off as soon as she barked at him.

It was inevitable that Sasha would snap. At the hospital, she was wound so tight, I'm surprised she didn't bounce out of there when she stormed off. The one time Brando decided to give Sasha space was the time when he shouldn't have. I thought for sure Sasha would take Sienna up on the offer of drugs, so I was pretty proud of Sasha for leaving because she sensed that Sienna was up to no good. Unfortunately, Sasha didn't head to the nearest Narcotics Anonymous meeting. She followed Sienna to Smoltz's car, caught the two bottom feeders conspiring, and lost her ever loving mind by picking up a valet sign and smashing Smoltz's windshield.

How did Sasha end up being charged with attempted murder? Did I miss the part where she lunged for Smoltz with that sign? More importantly, how could Dante in good conscience slap a pair of handcuffs on Sasha and march her down to the police station when she was in a near-catatonic state? He should have called for an ambulance and had her taken straight to GH's psych ward.

It was clear that Sasha belonged in a hospital, not behind bars. You don't have to be at the police station to have charges filed against you. How many times over the years have we seen killers and criminal masterminds taken to the hospital and placed under police custody while they were treated for injuries? I don't defend what Sasha did, but she was recently discharged from the hospital after a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

I was horrified by how Dante and Jordan treated Sasha, and the charges are excessive. Did anyone even get Sasha's side of the story? Was Sienna picked up and searched for drugs? Why isn't Smoltz being charged with drug trafficking? After all, the plan had been to do whatever was necessary to expose Sasha's relapse, including supplying Sasha with drugs, if necessary.

I hate heavy-handed writing like this. It's completely unnecessary. If the writers wanted to put Sasha in legal peril, then they should have gone back to the night of Harmony's accident. Felty literally had photos of Sasha with a handful of pills. The only silver lining in this story is the relationship that blossomed between Gladys and Sasha. I never thought I'd say this, but I was so happy to see Gladys arrive at the police station -- and her talk with Sasha was exactly what Sasha had needed. Heck, it was the first time since the arrest that Sasha was actually coherent.

I hope to see more of it in the coming days as Sasha gets the help she desperately needs. Spring Ridge is going to be quite packed at this rate.

Finally, I really hope Felicia's comment to Mac about being in a perfect position to help Sam with her investigation because Felica had no connection to the subject of said investigation was nothing more than a great big red herring. The subject Sam is investigating is Esme and tracking down Esme's mystery nanny.

The only way I will accept Felicia as Esme's mother is if Ryan Chamberlain is not Esme's father. Ryan stalked Felicia, terrorized her, raped her, and nearly killed her and several of her loved ones on quite a few occasions. The idea of Felicia having that man's child is beyond twisted. Also, the timing would be way off, since Esme was born during the time Ryan was believed to have been dead. Felicia was on the show those first few years, and she was most definitely not pregnant with Esme.

However, there were periods when Felicia would leave the girls with Mac and go to Texas to help or take care of her grandmother Mariah. During those times, it's entirely possible that Felicia had a child in secret and gave it up for adoption. I can't imagine her giving up Mac's baby, but I do recall that Felicia had had an affair with Luke Spencer. Luke was, at best, a part-time father, so I could see her thinking their child might be better off being raised by two full-time parents.

If Esme was Felicia's daughter, I hope Esme stays dead and that twin Emse is found instead. Maxie has enough problems with homicidal ex-boyfriends; she doesn't need an evil half-sister.

Random observations

How stupid is Dex to engage in jury tampering in broad daylight outside one of the most popular diners in Port Charles? Where are Jordan and Dante when you need them?

Did anyone else get a chemistry test vibe between Josslyn and Dex? I don't like Dex. Something seems off with him, and I'm not referring to his undercover work for Michael. I have a feeling Dex is playing both Michael and Sonny, and he seemed way too comfortable giving Felty a beatdown.

Are we truly expected to believe that Nina is successfully running a multi-million-dollar fashion magazine while simultaneously learning the ins and outs of operating a five-star luxury hotel? It's even more ridiculous than the idea that Nina was able to keep the magazine afloat for nearly a year while working remotely in Nixon Falls.

Reader feedback

The worst part about Cody for me (and I think he is a terrible character) is that Britt is being written as a complete bitch in order to make Cody look what? Charming? Not working. Cute? Not working. Desirable? Not working. Funny? Not working. Cody is 40 year old man who never got past his bad boy adolescence, which should not be at all appealing to a smart, sophisticated, successful woman like Britt. Dump Cody; Save Britt. -- Trudy

I also applauded the writers for raising the topic of racism in the judicial system. It was a valid concern and a very realistic one for Portia to have. Although it never occurred to me that Esme thought about race. My impression is that the only color associated with the "little people" is green for their lack of money. I think she did it out of jealousy and I also think she knew exactly what the stakes were and would have been happy to turn Trina's life into a smoldering briquette. -- prpleight

Hate Sonny and Nina pairing. Nina always playing the victim. Sonny falling for that. Inexcusable to forget a lifetime and a family for a woman who devastated his family. And she stole Avery! The scene with the bartender was hard to watch. Nina giving orders to staff when she doesn't know who does what at the Metro Court? Nina smirking when Sonny bullied the bartender? Awful. Hope the bartender goes to HR. Or Olivia. How does Sonny appear like a big man treating the guy like that? Not to mention the bartender said the literal truth. -- Anne

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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Two Scoops is an opinion column. The views expressed are not designed to be indicative of the opinions of Soap Central or its advertisers. The Two Scoops section allows our Scoop staff to discuss what might happen and what has happened, and to share their opinions on all of it. They stand by their opinions and do not expect others to share the same point of view.

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