Last year around this time, Lucky had been sitting in a Irish graveyard for a month, Sam was raped (maybe! isn’t it exciting not knowing for sure?) on her honeymoon, and Padilla and Maggie “Just Call Me HELL CLOWN” Wurth were the show’s idea of exciting new female characters. I’m not pointing this out to give you all trauma flashbacks or anything. It’s just that if anyone had told me back then that a year later I’d be typing the next sentence without sarcasm, I’d have probably peed myself laughing.
And yet, here we improbably are: you guys, General Hospital has seriously gotten so good and so satisfying that even though I have never smoked, I end every episode feeling like I need a cigarette.
LOOK AT THAT! THAT IS A MAN TALKING TO A DUKE MASK!
In fact, the show is now so amazing that there are often multiple candidates for best line of the day and I honestly cannot choose between them:
Exhibit A – Michael, to his mother, upon her non-ironic conviction that obviously, all criminals deserve prison:
MICHAEL: So justice only applies to people you don’t like?
ME: OH SNAP!
Exhibit B – Sonny vs AJ on who ruined Jason’s life the most:
SONNY: I loved Jason! I respected him. If you don’t like the life he chose, look in the mirror.
AJ: There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I did to my brother. But I gotta tell you man, I didn’t use him. I didn’t put him in harm’s way every single day. And I sure as hell didn’t turn him into a killer. See, that’s all on you, pal. You’re the reason Jason’s dead.
Exhibit C – Michael to Sonny, upon the latter’s AMAZING assertion that no child has ever come to harm because of him, which seriously was about to make my head explode until Michael stepped in to channel my brain directly:
AJ: Really, so no child’s ever been injured around you, Sonny?
MICHAEL: Dad, that’s not completely true.
SONNY: Well, hey, wait a minute. I mean, you gonna call me an animal, like–
MICHAEL: No, I’m just saying things can escalate and people can get hurt, even when you don’t mean–
SONNY: Like who? [Ed. note: no really. He REALLY said that. Really.]
MICHAEL: Like me when I got shot in the head!
Exhibit D – AJ’s reaction to learning the better father Carly chose got him shot in the head, which was just as beautiful as I hoped it would be:
AJ: What, you don’t know that Sonny was responsible for getting Michael shot? The guy that you thought was better that me? Huh? You know, the only thing that’s worse than you as a father, is her as a mother.
And that’s all just from one plot! In the past couple days, we’ve also had drunk Tracy, Ellie finally becoming a little more three-dimensional and making Spinelli a little more of a real boy along with her, and Elizabeth and Sabrina teaming up to get funding for the Nurses’ Ball — which is awesome not only because lonely Liz could use a friend, but also HELLS YES, actual nurses should be the ones spearheading this effort.
And it gave Becky Herbst a chance to do one of the things she does best, i.e. react expressively in the background while other actors ham it up:
(See? She says so much with just her eyebrows!)
Liz and Sabrina’s drunken bonding at the Haunted Star was adorable and also gave Sabrina a chance to become more of a real person. I’m starting to really like her, you guys, despite the contact embarrassment she gives me on a nearly daily basis. Her crush on Patrick is silly, yes. But knowing Robin is a alive and being tortured and desperately trying to get back to her family doesn’t really lend itself to a serious romantic option for Patrick in the meantime, so I’m down with the light-heartedness of it.
Speaking of Patrick, can we talk for a minute about Jason Thompson and how great he’s been at showing the complexity of his continuing grief? It’s all over his face, whether in the bittersweet smile when he watches Sabrina with Emma or the barely hidden panic when Britt brings up sex — like he’s trying to talk himself into wanting something he thinks he should. And don’t even get me started at the devastation as he touched his wedding ring. (Seriously: Jason Thompson’s sad face should be classified as a deadly weapon.)
Hapless Cinderella vs man-eating evil step-sister may not be the most original story in the world, but watching Patrick deal with both Sabrina and Britt has been a nice illustration of the ways in which he’s no longer the same person he was before Robin and Emma. Liz told Britt that marriage and fatherhood had changed him, and now we’re seeing it firsthand. His priorities have shifted; he’s trying to follow the same old script, but the lines have changed on him. For an overall story arc that’s been about as subtle as a brick in the face so far, the actual nuances it’s given Patrick’s characterization have been very thoughtful and well done.
(Please add “thoughtful characterization” to the list of words I never thought I’d be typing without irony in relation to General Hospital a year ago.)