Sunday Reflections 9: On General Hospital,Your Emotions Are Played With as Sam and Jason Ask “What If?” … On The Young and the Restless, Sharon Heads Off to the Sanitarium

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.

Jason (Steve Burton) and Sam (Kelly Monaco)
What might have been …

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?     

 

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I HATED the fact that they brought back Daisy Carter, the worst villaness in daytime soap history, to surprise Sharon at the sanitarium at the end of thursday’s episode of Y&R!!! UGH!!! I REALLY WISHED that Paul’s son Ricky would’ve REALLY KILLED off that woman(even though I know it sounds really cruel of me to wish death upon anybody, but Daisy is only a fictional daytime soap character after all)!!!

    Marlena says: Few of us are crazy about Daisy!

    • SZima says:

      I agree with Chris! Daisy being back is the worst possible scenario. She’s the Evil That Will Not Die. I wish it would have been Ricky so at least Paul’s name would be cleared of these ridiculous charges.

      Marlena says: Ditto!

  2. SZima says:

    I wasn’t looking forward to the fantasy episode, but it was done nicely with other stories woven in. I assume/hope that Heather is back only to clean up the baby switch story and then she’ll be gone again. I love Robin, but Heather can only be taken in small doses and she’s reached her limit.

    Please, please let it ultimately be someone other than Sonny that saves the day. We need a TRUE hero in PC… John or Jax could fill that role very nicely …NOT Sonny saving the town. The main thing I want to see is Jerry Jacks gone for good! Hate that character!

    Marlena says: I was surprised by liking this episode because I not a Sam and Jason fan and like you was not looking forward to it. I love Heather—her brand of villainy is so delicious I’m ready for more. And of course a criminal is going to save the day with this Jerry Jacks thing–this is still General Hospital after all!

  3. Daniel says:

    Yes, Sonny will save the day, since it is General Hospital, but let’s not forget that the longest running criminal on GH, Luke, is still providing some kind of comic relief and has women fighting over him. And there is Todd, who committed one of the most brutal acts of violence I can remember ever seeing on daytime TV, providing comic relief as well. I guess if the actors are liked enough by the fans, rapists can written as the king(s) of the quick and witty comebacks and all is forgiven?
    That being said, GH is moving in the right direction, as in forward, and I am hoping if the ratings improve they will bring back characters that had been tossed aside because they didn’t fit into the mobster story lines that have been driving the show all these years. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lucy Coe!

    Marlena says: Youe letter is right on: this is daytime where rapists are kings and also kings of comedy. What can we do? I agree GH is moving ahead nicely.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe that characters can be redeemed when they accept what they did and work towards forgiveness and redemption, which I think Todd did, eventually. The same is true for Jack Deveraux, after raping Kayla. I think the problem I have always had with Luke is that he raped Laura but it was reframed as a “seduction”, and the character had nothing to atone for because the writers decided to basically rewrite history almost as soon as it happened.
      As far as mobsters/killers being heroes…obviously viewers respond to these twisted men for some reason and I am not sure how to address that. Viewers fantasy men are cold blooded killers but love their families so they are somehow…dreamy?
      I understand the appeal of a Heather Webber type, because she is a straight up unhinged villain, but if tomorrow she was running a coffee exporting business I don’t think people would respond that well.

      Marlena says: They sure did rewrite history on the Luke and Laura rape, didn’t they? But that seems like centuries ago. You made a very smart remark about Heather!

  4. Bonnie says:

    Marlena, you’re not being paid by the soap press anymore.

    You can say how you really feel. Your “Oh JaSam are so beautiful” almost made me burp up my dinner. That was a gross read. You are a sane woman: you know that Jason and his bloated alter ego Steve Burton bleeds the life out of any female character he is paired with. Liason are disgusting as is JaSam. I’m sorry. I just had to say how I felt about that read.

    Marlena says: Darling! As I said in an answer here, I’m not a Jason and Sam fan. But this episode was an interesting study in the manipulation of our emotions. For me, at least, it succeeded.

  5. Leona says:

    The writers didn’t re-write L&L’s rape story, they just tried to simplify the explanation for people who couldn’t handle complex stories with depth and dimension and shades of gray.

    Marlena says: Thanks, Leona. You are the expert! (Leona is a soap historian.)

  6. Olivia says:

    I disagree that the soaps are experts at emotional manipulation, as I do not think that is true anymore. It may have been true once, decades ago when viewers were not out in the work force, getting college educations and learning how to play the corporate games to advance. The soap viewers today, I think, are watching all of television from a more intellectual place, and being much more guarded with emotional investment. The long time viewers do know when they are being manipulated, appeased, and yes, even treated as pawns for ratings. I find it disappointing to read that while you had problems with the logic of this episode, you feel it was a good thing that you cried at the end? Maybe if the soaps were written to engage us mentally, as Leona so aptly stated in her comment, the numbers of viewers wouldn’t be declining so rapidly. And maybe, just maybe, if some of the soap press would start being more critical and less accepting of being blatantly manipulated, we would be getting those “complex stories with depth and dimension and shades of gray”.

    Marlena says: Honey, do you know who are you talking to?

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