By Marlena De Lacroix. a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Ever wonder how your emotions are expertly manipulated by soaps? A great example was Thursday’s very unusual General Hospitalepisode in which Sam and Jason wondered what could have been had they made different decisions in their relationship. It had me screaming at the screen in anger at the beginning, but by its conclusion I was having a good cry.
The episode was set in the hospital, as sick Sam and a wounded Jason faced “death,” poisoned by the water almost all Port Charles-ites had drunk which had a fatal element added to it by crazy Jerry Jacks. Sam was the reflective one, as the show introduced imaginary flashbacks of the story of the birth of her healthy baby boy, who in soap reality had supposedly died shortly after birth. (He was given to Tea instead by Todd.) What the hell is this, I shouted at the screen, as the scenes labeled “April” “June” etc. seemed totally out the context of the regular running GH. The scenes felt very strange to watch. Plus, the flashbacks were obviously new scenes shot just for this episode. You know they were new because, just returned from a year’s absence, Kirsten Storms was playing Maxie, though Jen Lilley had played Maxie during the months depicted in these episodes.
But then I started feeling this imaginary episode in my heart rather than in my head. The fantasy story depicting the “what if?” by Sam turned out to be emotionally wrenching. These scenes included Jason and a smiling Sam shown heavily pregnant; Sam’s baby shower attended by Monica and the Davis girls; Sam’s happy delivery of the baby in a hospital (instead of a cheesy motel, the way it happened in soap reality) and Sam and Jason living happily ever after with their two imaginary children. The scenes all seemed specially designed to make you cry. And it worked: I sobbed, especially during a post-birth bed scene in which Sam and her mother celebrated Alexis’ grandmotherhood. The joy and closeness between the two characters was bittersweet, as Alexis remarked that the baby was the first Davis boy. Also a killer was a scene in which Sam and Jason named their baby boy Daniel Edward after Sam’s dead baby and Jason’s grandfather, who had just sent over a college fund as a present.
Bittersweet was the word for this entire episode-long fantasy, which seemed very original (I ask you: has as any soap done this before?) Soaps aren’t supposed to give viewers what they want! Oh, the pathos we felt at what could have been if Sam and Jason’s love hadn’t been ruined by so many wrong decisions, leading to the end of their marriage. So many of those bad calls arose from total circumstance — like Jason having McBain beaten to a pulp, just when McBain was supposed to be transporting new mother Sam and her little boy to the hospital just after the baby’s birth.
Don’t we all wonder what could have been in our own lives, and play those fantasies out in our heads in scenes like these? You have to give it to the creative team at GH and the actors who rose to the occasion and played such moving drama so well. Tears are what soap episodes are supposed to evoke every once in a while.
P.S. Hooray for ABC for promoting the hell out GH’s move to an hour earlier time slot. Some of the previews of this coming week’s on-location sequences (the men of Port Charles saving Alexis from crazy Jerry) seemed like they were straight out of an action-adventure movie. Guns drawn! A big explosion! Sonny’s gonna save Port Charles! Oy vey!
The Young and the Restless: So this week “chairman of the board” Sharon is going to the “nuthouse” for 72 hours. (Btw, Marlena hates that word. She prefers “sanitarium.”) My only question is :after shoplifting, marrying old man Victor, sleeping with corporate manipulator Tucker, and more stealing, what took so long?