The best, the worst, and a deadly pandemic

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It's that time of year when our columnists reflect on the year that was and give their picks for best and worst storylines. Throw a log on the fire and grab a warm blanket and your hot beverage of choice -- it's time for the best and worst of General Hospital 2020.

THE BEST AND WORST OF 2020: To read part two of our Best and Worst of GH 2020, click here.

To quote Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

2020 was a year unlike any other, thanks to divisive politics, racial tensions, and a deadly pandemic that shut down the world and put the entertainment industry on the brink of collapse. Soap operas were must-see TV in the early days of lockdown purgatory because they had weeks' worth of episodes in the bank, which allowed them to continue to churn out new content when everyone else was forced to suspend production and go straight to reruns.

However, as the proverb says, all good things must come to an end, and that was true with almost all of the soaps, not just General Hospital. After their stockpiles were depleted, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, too, were forced to air encore presentations. You'd think with decades worth of infamous soap plots, some that even garnered unprecedented ratings, the GH powers that be would capitalize on those benchmark moments by airing these special episodes, but you'd be wrong. Instead, the network re-aired far more recent content featuring the stars of the show.

I appreciate that there are various technical and perhaps legal issues that might make airing episodes from the 60s and 70s more difficult, but certain episodes are part of entertainment history, like Luke and Laura's wedding day and Stone Cates's gripping story as he battled AIDS.

Fans of the show don't want to see recent episodes that we can easily find online. We want to see the episodes that are hard to find. A week dedicated to Luke and Laura, a week dedicated to Stone and Robin's love story, a week showing the events around Emily's murder are the types of themes that I want.

Better yet, if we are ever in a situation where encore presentations are a must, like the holidays, I would love for GH to run a poll on Facebook and Twitter to determine what fans really want to see. It's the 21st Century. There must be a way to create a cache of the show's highest-rated storylines and episodes, ready for reruns, then allow the fans to pick which ones they want to see.

I do give big props, though, to the powers that be for not making COVID-19 a part of Port Charles's reality. Face masks, social distancing, and limited gatherings might be the current banes of our existence, but it doesn't have to ruin our entertainment. It's enough that the dreaded virus has temporarily rendered love scenes to nothing more than sterile teasers.

Now, let's dish about all that was good in Port Charles in the year that was.

The unholy union of Nikolas and Ava!

I'm a Cassadine fanatic. To me, they are the gift that keeps on giving -- and, I imagine, a writer's delight because most of them aren't just evil but also wealthy criminal masterminds capable of untold mayhem and destruction. Oh, and they are Russian royalty! How could you not love writing for a family like that?

My favorite evil Cassadine is, and will always be, Helena. No one can touch her. I hated that her character was killed off when Constance Towers retired, but I understand it. After Elizabeth Taylor and Constance Towers, few actresses could do the role justice. Luckily, our crafty scribes have found ways to give Helena the ability to stir up trouble from beyond the grave, which has given us precious glimpses of my favorite villainess in recent years.

Helena might be dead, but Nikolas is very much alive and back in action. Thank the soap gods. His return paved the way for the writers to finally explore the mad chemistry that he shares with Ava Jerome, reformed bad girl trying to turn over a new leaf. It's taken this couple a few years, a return from the dead, a marriage of convenience, a pesky serial killer, and a deadly bomb to finally admit that they love each other, but it's been worth it. I've been waiting for this ever since Nikolas sat next to Ava on a fast flight out of Port Charles back in 2016.

Initially, I was disappointed that Tyler Christopher didn't reprise the role, but Marcus Coloma has grown into the role -- and on me. He and Maura West managed to recapture the same steamy chemistry that Nikolas and Ava shared while on the run, and they've built on it.

Nikolas' return also cleared Valentin of what I considered to be his greatest sin -- the cold-blooded murder of his nephew -- and it paved the way for Valentin to slowly redeem himself, at least with this fan.

Laura's past returns to haunt her

My next favorite storyline is one that began to unfold only a few short months ago when Cyrus Renault began snooping into an old murder case that had been heavily redacted. The case centered around a teenage Laura Webber, who had been targeted by a sexual predator named David Hamilton (Jerry Ayres). When Laura found out that David had used her to get back at her mother for rejecting his advances, Laura lashed out in hurt and anger. David hit his head and died instantly.

What I love about this story is that the writers have directly pulled from the show's history to craft a very fascinating story in the present and gave several characters a completely unexpected connection. I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, given all the fascinating storylines -- some of them left hanging with loose ends -- that have been written over the five-plus decades that this show has been on the air.

I don't expect Laura's slimy brother Cyrus Renault to stick around long-term, because not only is he Sonny's archenemy, but the man pedals a highly addictive and potent drug, likely using the hospital for distribution, but Martin Grey is another matter. His character has staying power. I look forward to seeing Laura build a relationship with Martin and perhaps learning more about Martin. Something tells me that he has a lot more secrets.

Tale of the half heart pendant necklace: Nelle's final reign of terror

I hate Nelle, but she was definitely good for stirring up trouble and ratings. After Nelle was paroled, she appeared at her recently departed soulless mate's funeral dressed from head to toe in black widow's garb. From that point on, she wreaked havoc -- and revealed that she had the other half of Nina's heart pendant necklace.

After months of speculation, we finally learned that Nelle was Nina's long-lost daughter. Sadly, Nina would never truly be reunited with her offspring because Nelle lost her bid for custody of Wiley, thanks in large part to Nina's truthful testimony, which prompted Nelle to lose what precious little mind she had left.

With the 2020 Nurses Ball as the backdrop, Nelle's final reign of terror nearly claimed Brook Lynn's life when Nelle ruthlessly slashed the songbird's throat then left her for dead. Next, Nelle blackmailed her newly minted groom, Julian Jerome, into becoming her accomplice by kidnapping Wiley. With several in hot pursuit, Nelle fled town, only to find herself cornered by Carly in a clearing.

The two women tangled, but Nelle managed to get away from Carly, only to find herself literally dangling from the edge of a steep cliff. Carly did try to save Nelle, but it was not to be. Nelle plunged to her death, and her body later washed ashore and was identified by Chase. Nelle is truly dead, and the whole storyline had me riveted. It was exciting, frustrating, shocking, and at times nail-biting, but most of all, it was must-see TV.

Carly spent weeks wondering why she was haunted by Nelle, until she found the half heart pendant necklace that Nelle had been wearing that fateful night. In horror, Carly realized that Nelle was Nina's daughter.

I hate that Nelle was Nina's daughter, but the story and how things are playing out is fascinating. Carly and Nina are on a collision course, and no one is going to escape without some serious scratches. I have no doubt that Nina is not only going to find a way to have Carly charged with a crime (Carly did lie to the police about when she last saw Nelle) but also that Nina will make some kind of move to at least get partial custody of Wiley, her grandson.

Where in the world is Holly Sutton?

I'm not the biggest fan of Olivia Falconeri Quartermaine, but I do like her friendship with Robert Scorpio. If things were different, I might even ship them as a couple. However, she's married to Ned, whom I love. I realize that Ned is no saint, but I don't want his mistakes to send Olivia into Robert's arms.

Robert has far more important things to do than play rebound fling. He has to track down Holly Sutton (Emma Samms), who is currently being held prisoner by a mystery villain. I say villain because the person was in cahoots with Olivia Jerome's lackey Winston Rudge (David S. Lee), who was responsible for planting the bomb that killed Morgan. Also, said mystery man is holding Holly prisoner after faking her death.

I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face from the moment that Robert and Olivia ran into Ethan Lovett (Nathan Parsons) in the casino right until they touched down at the airport in Port Charles and parted ways. I love seeing Robert in spy mode, and I'm even more excited by the unexpected twists and turns his adventures take. You never know who is going to show up, so I'm counting down the days until the writers return to this mystery and send Ethan to fetch Robert to help him rescue Holly.

Could Luke be swept up in the drama, too? Remember, Tracy mentioned that Luke had recently taken off on one of his adventures and fallen off the grid.

Farewell, Mike Corbin

My favorite storyline of the year, without a doubt, was Mike Corbin's poignant journey as his mind was ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.

It's a bittersweet story, but it was one that resonated with me on several levels. I lost my own dad two days before Christmas last year, and I've had a few beloved family members who were stricken with this dreaded disease in the final years of their lives. It's awful what Alzheimer's does to a person, but it also steals cherished time with their loved ones.

I felt Sonny's heartache, frustration, dread, and fear, and the inevitable acceptance, because I've been there. Maurice Benard's performances were beautiful, at times raw, and always powerful, especially when he shared scenes with Max Gail. I don't like Sonny's professional choices, but my heart bled for him as he watched his father fade before his eyes and had to come to terms with the reality that he could not save his dad. If Maurice and Max don't pick up Emmys for their work, I will be surprised.

I doubt there was anyone with dry eyes when Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) appeared as a spirit to greet Mike once he drew his last breath. It was the perfect ending, and the way that I'd like to think my loved ones who passed on were ushered into the afterlife.

This story was never going to have a happy ending, but I think the writers did a commendable job of giving Sonny and Mike the opportunity to make peace with their past and each other. I'm going to miss Max's sweet smile, but like I said before, all good things must come to an end.

Time for the worst storylines of the year.

Peter, Peter, Peter

I don't understand why Peter is still around. He ordered hits on Andre Maddox, Drew Cain, and Franco Baldwin, just to name a few. One of those hits appears to have been successful, since Drew's plane went down in the ocean. He framed Sam for a murder that never happened (it was completely justified homicide), and he was responsible for Liesl being disowned by Maxie and shipped off to Steinmauer for his crimes.

To be honest, I don't actually think that Drew is dead, mainly because, in the land of soaps, "no body" usually means the character is not actually deceased. More often than not, they turn up alive and well -- usually during Sweeps. Also, Liesl is far from innocent, so it's not like she didn't deserve a short time-out in Steinmauer. However, what I can't get past is how deceitful Peter is being to Maxie.

I hate that Maxie is once again in a very dysfunctional relationship with a guy who is hiding his true nature from her. Worse, she's pregnant with his child, which means that there will come a day when Peter's crimes catch up with him, and Maxie will be left to pick up the pieces with two small children. I'm not including Georgie in that, mainly because Spinelli has primary custody. However, Georgie, too, will be hurt by Peter's lies because she will see her mom and siblings suffer.

I'm so over Peter that I can't even muster up any sympathy for him that Alex -- not Anna -- is his biological mother. In fact, I can't wait until Anna is freed from the albatross that is Peter that is around her neck. I don't know what's going to happen to Peter, and frankly, I don't give a verdammt, but my fondest hope is that Maxie washes her hands of him when the truth comes to light. And what is that deep, dark truth that Peter is trying so desperately to keep buried?

Peter was Helena's partner in the scheme to abduct Drew and Jason. I'll give everyone a minute to stop laughing.

Helena's only partner has always been the devil himself.

Jason and Sam: a bad romance

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Jason and Sam were the supercouple to beat. They faced so many challenges on their road to happily ever after, including Jason's death, and they overcame them all. At least, it seemed so. Ever since Jason and Sam reunited, they've faced nothing but obstacles, many of their own making, like when Sam infiltrated Dawn of Day to rescue Kristina and bring down Shiloh. Love scenes were few and far between, even before COVID-19.

It took until this year for Jason and Sam to even move in together, even though they've been an official couple since Shiloh was taken down in the summer of 2019. Of course, once the Floating Rib blew up and Sam feared that Danny had perished in the deadly blast, Sam finally realized that she wasn't willing to risk her kids to the dangers of Jason's lifestyle.

I don't understand the writers' reluctance to invest in this couple, given their popularity. It should be a no-brainer.

Also, if Sam is going to have second thoughts about Jason's choices, it would have been a much more compelling story if Sam had struggled with accepting Jason's lifestyle, despite Drew making far different choices when he had believed that he was Jason.

To me, that would have made far more sense because Sam herself is a self-proclaimed danger junkie.

Julian's downfall

Perfection is overrated. I like complicated characters. The more complex, the better. Take Julian, for example. He's done terrible, awful things, but he's also made every effort to turn his life around. Multiple times. He tried and failed, but he never gave up until recently.

Julian set out to prove to the love of his life and soul mate Alexis that he was a changed man by giving up the life of crime, buying a pub, and carving out a nice little life for himself. He didn't win Alexis back, but he did find happiness for a time with Dr. Kim Nero. Recently, we learned that there might have been a little more the two shared -- a son named Andrew. However, Kim also slept with Franco (under very questionable circumstances), so until there's a DNA test, Kim could just be engaging in wishful thinking that Julian is the papa.

Unfortunately for Julian, he won't be around much longer to find out. William deVry is leaving the show. I'm still trying to come to terms with that shocking decision.

Julian's downfall began when Brad spilled the beans to him that Wiley was, in fact, Michael and Nelle's son. Julian wanted to tell Lucas the truth and had fully intended to -- until Brad had threatened to tell Sonny that Julian had known the truth about Wiley from the very beginning. That was a lie, but Brad refused to go down alone. After that, Brad blackmailed Julian into trying to kill Liesl because she knew the truth about Wiley. Eventually, Julian grew weary of Brad's threats and orders, so he tampered with Brad's brakes. Naturally, Lucas was in the car with Brad when it crashed, so Julian has been playing leapfrog in an attempt to keep all the people who keep figuring out the truth from sharing with Sonny.

That is how Julian ended up planting a bomb at the Floating Rib, which killed Dev (Cerci) Corbin and Dustin Phillips, and put Lulu Spencer in a coma. If Sonny and Jason or Cyrus Renault don't kill Julian, the cops will eventually put the pieces together and arrest Julian.

Mind you, none of this had to happen if Julian had just told the truth in the very beginning. No one would have believed Brad's claims because Julian would have nothing to gain by exposing the truth about Nelle and Brad's deception -- and everything to lose. Plus, it's not like Brad has ever been a paragon of virtue and truth.

The whole downfall of Julian has been disappointing. I would have preferred if the writers had skipped Cyrus ordering Julian to plant the bomb and instead had gone straight to Julian seeking out Kim Nero and discovering the baby. Moving to the city to be with Kim and his son would have been a more satisfying ending than having him lick Sonny's boot on the way out.

Chase and Sasha make the ultimate sacrifice

Folks, I hated this storyline. Everything about it was stupid, from Chase and Sasha making themselves martyrs by manipulating Willow and Michael into marriage to Sasha turning into a habitual drug user to escape her heartache over giving up the man she loves. I also find Chase's attitude annoying because he appears to think that he can come clean about the scheme without any repercussions.

This storyline managed to take four characters that I like and turn them all into idiots. I don't get why Willow would still love a man who could betray her trust in that manner. Nor do I understand why she and Michael would even consider giving up what they found with each other just because it was built on a deception neither was aware of. Not only have Michael and Willow done the deed -- and liked it -- but they love being a family with Wiley. Why look back?

I wasn't a big fan of the reasons for Michael and Willow's wedding, but I find myself really resenting how Chase and Sasha keep hiding behind Wiley. Things didn't work out for Wiley because of what Chase and Sasha did. The judge granted Michael custody because Nelle showed her true colors, which was inevitable because Nelle was never good at keeping a lid on it when she was under pressure.

I don't like how weak Sasha has been throughout all of this, I definitely didn't enjoy seeing the deceitful side of Chase, and I particularly dislike how everyone seems to forget Wiley in all of this. How is that child going to feel when his home life is once again turned upside down because Chase and Sasha are unable to move on.

Chase and Sasha made their beds. It's time for them to stop crying about it and get on with it.

Wishes for 2021

I would love to see Valentin do a deep dive into his roots. I want to know who his father is and how Helena had managed to manipulate Mikkos into saving the poor disabled babe rather than committing infanticide. After all, Mikkos wasn't known for having a kind nature. It's time for Valentin to stop obsessing about Nina and to start focusing on himself.

I will never understand why Dante was brought back just as Lulu was written out. It makes me wonder if there is a recast in the works. If so, I want it to be on record that the only recast that I would find acceptable is Julie Marie Berman.

I'd like to see the writers make more of an effort for realism and fairness when it comes to legal matters. Nelle being paroled less than three years after being convicted of murder and attempted murder/murder-for-hire because of prison overcrowding and a heroic act was ludicrous. It would have been more believable if she had had her conviction overturned and been given a new trial because of a technicality.

Also, it's time to free Shawn Butler. I don't care if he decides to move to Hawaii and spend the rest of his days surfing and sipping drinks on a boat. Just. Get. Him. Out.

I love the return of characters like Marcus Taggert and Jackie Templeton. I also appreciate getting visits from characters like Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliott) and Ethan Lovett, and even the creative ways they found for bringing back Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan) and Connie Falconeri (Megan Ward). Please keep them coming.

What are your picks for the best and worst of the year gone by in Port Charles? Share them with me -- and remember that Tamilu will be here next week with her picks. [You can read Tamilu's Best and Worst column here.] Until then, take care, happy holidays, 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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