You guys, I think I’m a little too verklempt for intelligent commentary on today’s episode. So we’re going to mark the occasion with a straight up recap:
We open on Epiphany talking on the phone to someone named Doris about someone named Frank while an extra carries a portrait of Steve Hardy out to display in the lobby.
Meanwhile, Patrick is about to give the new group of interns a tour, as the Chief of Staff is nowhere to be found. Of course, that’s because Monica is right where we left her — at home fighting with Tracy. Suddenly, they both see Alan appear.
(Note that by this point, I am already crying. It just goes downhill from here.)
Carly opens the door to find Jax. Yay, Jax! Across town, Sonny finds Brenda at his door. YAY, BRENDA! She’s still incredibly pretty, but I really need her to cut her hair.
On the Haunted Star, Luke and Laura pull off the hood of the mysterious prisoner and find… *drum roll* Ethan! Yay?
(Yeah, there was a teeny tiny part of me that was hoping it would be Lucky or Stefan. I know. I know! But Ethan’s not a bad surprise either — especially since by the time he left, I had finally stopped completely hating him.)
Audrey appears just as Elizabeth leaves Nikolas’ hospital room. Rachel Ames looks amazing, by the way, and I’m so glad to see her. She explains that she came to see Steve’s portrait, as today would have been his 50th anniversary at the hospital. I immediately start crying again, leading us to…
ANNIVERSARY CREDITS MASH UP!
Elizabeth is ashamed to realize she’d forgotten the dedication of her grandfather’s anniversary portrait, but Audrey understands she’s had a lot going on, what with Nikolas and everything. Liz proceeds to drops a BOATLOAD of Hardy/Webber updates on us, and it’s kind of awesome just to hear all these names again:
ELIZABETH: Grandpa’s General Hospital’s heart and soul.
AUDREY: I know. That he was.
ELIZABETH: Kind of wish everyone could have been here. Sarah’s in Monterey, Mom and Dad are in Asia, Tom’s in Africa. You know that Tommy just graduated from medical school? So, if he’s anything like the Hardys, I’m sure he’s off to practice medicine in some exotic place. We really are scattered, aren’t we?
I hope that Tommy shout out means that we can expect a new Doctor Hardy to be arriving soon?
Elsewhere in the hospital, Patrick is telling the interns about Steve, then explains that the Chief of Staff when he came to the hospital was another great doctor: Alan Quartermaine. Who is at that very moment sitting in Monica’s living room! After confirming that she and Monica really are seeing the same thing, Tracy is immediately and hilariously indignant that Monica faked Alan’s death too. Oh, Tracy. If only!
Alan kisses his sister’s cheek and explains that he’s not quite alive; Monica doesn’t care — she’s never been so happy. But he tells her she’s about to be happier… and then Emily appears!
I ADMIT, I TOTALLY GASPED OUT LOUD.
And okay, I pretty much had no use for Natalia Livingston’s Emily, but I will still be LIVID for the rest of my days at the wastefulness of killing the character off. And the look on Monica’s face here alone is well worth the annoyance of having to deal with NL’s smug smile and baby voice again for an episode or two.
Sonny wants to know what Brenda’s doing there; Carly is wondering the same thing about Jax. Before he can explain, Josslyn comes running in and has an extremely cute reunion with her father in which: 1) he uses Ingo Rademacher’s ridiculous arm-span to demonstrate how much he loves her, and 2) she doesn’t remind me even a little bit of one of the Children of the Corn. Progress!
Luke unties Ethan, and there are some semi-awkward introductions between him and Laura before they explain they were actually there looking for Lulu, not him. Ethan says he was crashing at Lucky’s place while his brother was off in Africa helping orphaned children. I guess Africa is the hip place for Port Charles ex-pats to go hang? Also: REALLY, LUCKY? Don’t you think there are some orphans a little closer to home who might need your help?
Ugh. Anyway, Nikolas apparently called with a message about the family being in danger right before Helena showed up looking for Lucky. Nice to know the phones work in Ireland even if they apparently don’t in Port Charles! Anyway, Hels grabbed Ethan as a consolation prize and “distraction” when she couldn’t get Lucky. Interesting! Oh, and the door has shut and locked, so now they’re all trapped. Oops.
At the Quartermaines’, Monica and Emily joyfully hug, while Tracy… is Tracy:
TRACY: Really, Alan? You couldn’t have brought mother or daddy back from the great beyond? You had to bring Monica’s adopted waif?
Hah! The ghosts explain they’re there to talk some sense into Monica and Tracy, which sets off the usual round of bickering about the house, with everyone joining on on the “Alan gave it to me” refrain. Monica and Tracy shriek a bit about the relish while Alan looks disturbed and Emily just smiles that patronizing smile she was always so good at.
Brenda tells Sonny she stopped by to make sure they could be civil to each other tomorrow at the Nurses’ Ball. Brenda can’t believe Robin’s been gone a year, and they talk about how much they both loved her. Which segues into Brenda mentioning the letter she had asked Robin to give to Sonny after she left town the last time. Damn. I’d nearly forgotten all about that!
Meanwhile, Jax finally explains that due to some clerical error with the divorce papers, they need to sign again and re-file with the state of New York in order for the divorce to be legal. Carly’s surprised, but also not entirely displeased.
Patrick’s interns are asking all about GH history, like the Mr. and Mrs. Intern program and the power tool brain surgery. Patrick reminds them them that the doctors are the brains of the hospital, but the nurses are the heart. Epiphany approves.
Speaking of nurses: Elizabeth thinks her grandfather would be happy that so many members of the family had followed in his footsteps, but she wishes they were all better at staying in touch.
Audrey reminds her that she still has her grams, and Elizabeth admits she doesn’t know what she’d do without her. Aw! There’s still such a lovely connection between these two actresses — if I didn’t know Audrey had been an off-screen car honk for most of the last ten years, I’d think they were still acting together every day. Rebecca Herbst is the MVP of this episode for me by far.
Luke is trying to jimmy the door while Laura fills Ethan in on the whole fake Ice Princess business. She also immediately sees the family resemblance between Ethan and Luke (*sigh* we’re just never getting that parentage retconned away, are we?) and seems touched when he calls Lulu his sister and expresses a desire to help rescue her.
Tracy and Monica bicker while the ghosts roll their eyes. After Tracy makes a dig about Monica’s many, many infidelities — including with Ned, which always weirds me out to remember — Rick Webber appears! There is a horrible goatee eating his face, but it’s still good to see him.
Carly thinks it’s appropriate that their divorce wouldn’t be simple, since it took so many tries for them to get married in the first place. Jax gives some sincere condolences about Jason, which is big of him, considering.
JAX: You know he wasn’t my favorite person, but I always admired how you stood by each other.
CARLY: I’m gonna miss him. You know. I’m always going to miss him. But I’m okay.
JAX: Yeah. You’re doing better than I thought.
CARLY: Who knew that I could stand on my own two feet?
JAX: I did. I’m just glad that you know it too.
OH, JAX. You’re so wonderful. Carly agrees, wondering how they ever let anything get in the way of their marriage. Jax correctly points out that it was Sonny who got in the way.
Cut to Sonny! Who is flashing back to ripping up Brenda’s letter without reading it. Brenda mentions that Michael — of all people — called her when Jason died; she didn’t call Sonny because she didn’t want to make things worse. Okay, sure. I’ll take it.
Sonny admits he never even read her letter. Brenda explains that if he had, things might be very different now. DUN!
Monica and Rick have an emotional reunion, to Tracy’s continued indignation. Rick makes a crack about Alan’s lack of success rate at murdering them and Emily snarks about Monica and Alan’s seedy past from before she was born, with the explanation that there’s a lot of downtime in the afterlife for gossiping. Hah!
And then — AND THEN! — we get this bit of gold:
TRACY: Not that I have any use for Laura whatsoever, but that stunt you and Scott Baldwin pulled kept her catatonic for almost ten years!
RICK: That is not what happened — not at all!
Oh please, oh please, oh please feel free to undo as much of that character assassinating story as you want to, Carlivati!
Rick explains that he’s there to make peace with Alan and, after some prompting, Alan agrees to shake his hand and bury the hatchet. Emily thinks that if Rick and Alan can do it, then Monica and Tracy should too.
Brenda still remembers every word of her letter to Sonny and recites it for him, to wit: she hates how angry and vengeful he is and doesn’t want that around her boy, but she thinks there still might be hope for them because she loves him, and invites him to come to her in Rome, where she’ll be waiting to give their lives together a second chance. Sonny reacts to this by… staring blankly.
Jax says there’s no one like Carly: fearless, complicated, astonishing. Carly, clearly getting more hopeful, wonders if their divorce wasn’t a mistake. Jax’s face kind of freezes. Uh-oh.
Ethan tells Laura that he loves his siblings and knows how much they love her. He also apologizes for any awkwardness his presence might cause for her. Which is very sweet! Laura clearly agrees, and is about to respond when Luke — perhaps remembering what a royal bastard he was when this situation was reversed and Laura’s grown child showed up — takes it upon himself to butt in and loudly assure Ethan that he has nothing to apologize for. And that’s true, but Luke? You certainly do, so please do me a favor and STFU while the grownups in the room have a conversation.
(Okay, so maybe I’m not as over my Luke rage as I’d hoped.)
Laura — the height of graciousness as always — tells Ethan that Lucky and Lulu have talked about him too, and she knows they also love him. Aw! Just then, Helena bursts in with a couple of goons.
Elizabeth invites Audrey back to the house to see the boys, and the two of them head off to look at Steve’s portrait on the way out. Nearby, Patrick is finishing the intern tour with another reminder to always listen to the nurses. Epiphany pipes up with a plug for the Nurses’ Ball before using her Drill Sargent voice to send the baby doctors packing. Hee!
Monica finally relents and gives into the pleading of the ghosts:
MONICA: Tracy, you can stay.
TRACY: Su casa es mi casa?
MONICA: Don’t push it.
Tracy reciprocates by sealing the truce with a handshake, but Emily demands that they also hug. After Rick threatens to keep haunting them until they do it, they finally — and hilariously awkwardly — do:
Jax tries to deflect Carly by pointing out she’s had a couple of relationships since they’ve been apart (apparently, Alexis keeps him apprised of town gossip). But Carly assures him that he’s not the fall back guy; he’s the guy, and any other relationship she’s been in has just been her trying to get over him. Well, okay, then! Take that, endless conversations about how Carly and character-we’re-no-longer-allowed-to-name-but-rhymes-with-Rod-Banning are soul mates!
Brenda tells Sonny that she was positive he was going to come for her in Rome. But he didn’t, and she assumed that was his answer. Well, Sonny thought the divorce papers were her answer. D’oh! Brenda knows about Kate; Sonny admits he loves Kate, but also that she’s gone and may be lost to him forever, just like Bren. Never say never, Sonny!
Helena and the goons have Luke, Laura, and Ethan up on deck. Laura demands to know where Dante is:
HELENA: Did you really think that the bastard son of a gangster would be any match for a Cassadine?
Hah! (And also — hey, watch it, Hels! Don’t be disrespecting Dante!) Helena claims Dante “won’t be a problem anymore,” and that she’s doing all of this to avenge her sons. Speaking of which: time to kill Laura!
Audrey, Elizabeth, and Patrick look at Steve’s portrait. Audrey approves. Elizabeth reminds her that her golden anniversary is right around the corner, and Audrey flashes back to a dance with a very young Steve:
My weeping has gotten out of control, so there’s an extended tissue break at this point. When I pull myself together, Patrick just gets me going again with this monologue spoken over the following scenes:
AUDREY: What’s life, but one person’s story crossing with another’s?
PATRICK: I think about that. Often. Think about if my dad didn’t practice here, would Robin have tracked me down for that first procedure? Would we have got to know each other, fall in love, have our beautiful daughter? This place changed my life. I know I’m not the only one.
ELIZABETH: Think of how many lives have been touched. How many stories have passed through this place in fifty years.
PATRICK: Stories of rivalries. Stories of love. Stories of heartbreak. Stories that left us on the edge of our seats. The thing about all those stories — we never know how they’ll end. Fifty years. it’s quite an accomplishment.
AUDREY: For all of us.
It’s not quite Vicki’s speech about soap operas, but it’s still pretty damn on the nose.
As Patrick speaks: Tracy and Monica stop hugging after they realize they ghosts are gone. Monica wonders what was in that relish? Hah!
Jax tells Carly there’s a part of him that will always love her, but the reason he needs her to sign the divorce papers is he’s engaged to someone else. Meanwhile, Sonny tells Brenda that after this, he’ll always wonder what might have been. Brenda admits there another reason she came by — she’s engaged! Gee, I wonder to whom?
And of course it’s Jax! Yeah. Can’t pretend I’m really overjoyed about that, but I wasn’t really expecting another S&B reunion with his Kate/Connie story still on-going and Vanessa Marcil only back for a short visit. And I figure Brenda/Jax fans are due for their turn to be happy, even if it is clearly only a consolation prize because S&B are once again blocked from each other by circumstance and misunderstandings. Plus, you know they’ll be reunited again some day, because come on. Sonny rules, Jax drools, etc., etc.
(Sorry, Jax vs. Sonny brings out the fourteen year old in me.)
Back on the Haunted Star, Luke tells Helena to kill him instead, as he’s the one who really deserves it. True! But Helena says she isn’t going to kill anyone (causing the henchman behind her to make a hilarious O RLY face) — Laura is. DUN!
Audrey tells Steve he’s her “rock of Gibraltar.” She kisses her fingers and presses them to the portrait, wishing him a happy anniversary. The entire staff breaks into applause, and I have to think Rachel Ames’ reaction here isn’t entirely feigned.
Audrey and Liz start to leave, but Audrey turns for a moment to look back on the busy lobby with a wistful smile. Then she walks out arm and arm with her granddaughter. And… fade to black.
What a lovely episode and a fitting tribute. Thanks, writers. Thanks, show.