On the Bridge: A Most Confusing General Hospital Dream Sequence

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

It’s a soap’s absolute responsibility to be clear about what’s going on.  Last week General Hospital presented a mess of a dream sequence about two possible Francos that was so confusing, I couldn’t figure out what supposed to be real and what was not. I’ve rarely been so bewildered in many decades of watching soaps.

Pistol-packing Sam (Kelly Monaco) faces off with delusional Franco (Roger Howarth)

The sequence occurred on a bridge in Port Charles. That much is certain. The rest … well, not so much. Here’s what we were shown:

Franco, who thought he was Jason, had just kidnapped terminally ill (with leukemia) baby Daniel from the hospital. The baby’s mother, Sam, had tried to prevent the kidnapping, producing a gun and firing it at Franco. Evidently she missed, and somehow wound up unconscious on the floor. Meanwhile, Franco had escaped with the child. He took up a position at the railing of the bridge, properly wild-eyed and crazy-acting, and holding the baby as it to drop him over the side.

By this time, we viewers were beside ourselves with fear for the baby’s life. Amid all this alarm, Elizabeth appeared in her hospital uniform.  She stared in horrified disbelief, and then we saw what she was staring at: not one, but TWO Francos, one ostensibly Jason, and the other the real Franco — or was he? There ensued a debate between the two (courageously acted by Roger Howarth) about what to do with the baby. Franco won, but instead of deep-sixing the infant, he ordered Jason to shoot Elizabeth. Jason inexplicably complied, then helpfully took possession of the child as Franco dumped Elizabeth’s lifeless body over the side of the bridge.

Quelle horreur! But not to worry. Cut quickly to Elizabeth, very much alive and carrying out her duties at the front desk of the hospital.  Presumably, some or all of what had just transpired was intended as a dream sequence. But whose dream? And how much of it? Was the baby really kidnapped? What was up with the two Francos? Was the person who was claiming to be Jason the real Jason, who had ostensibly been killed off when Steve Burton left the show last year?   Was the real Jason still alive? If so, this would be a key fact in the ongoing GH narrative. Nous avons été très confus. To put it mildly.

And we weren’t finished. Before the episode ended, the presumed dream sequence resumed. Franco decided to jump off the side of the bridge, his last vile directive urging Jason to dump Danny over the side also.  This was truly scary!  Finally, just as Jason was about to commit this dastardly deed, Carly appeared.  Slowly but surely, Carly talked Franco (calling him” Jason”) out of killing the baby and talked him down from the bridge.

What was the explanation for this muddled exercise?  GH’s creative team actually offered one. Seems Franco had a brain tumor, and thought he was Jason. The dream was his, in which he appeared as both Jason and himself. Later in the week, Patrick operated on him for this tumor.  As the week ended, we assume the operation was successful. Better yet, it had just been discovered Franco is a match for Danny’s bone marrow, thus saving him from leukemia.

At last, a happy ending for the saga of Franco and some semblance of clarity. Maybe. Can we be sure, given the week of clumsy storytelling we had just endured? If only the writers of General Hospital had made clear all along what was really happening during this dream (or was it reality) sequence, maybe the viewers would be happier, too.    

Comments

  1. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate this storyline and the fact that the people at GH actually seem to think audiences are enjoying the ride. So, to be fair, when it’s been on, I often don’t really devote all of my attention to the show the way I do, say, for AMC (how brilliant was the scene between Colby and Cass?) But I digress…

    I’m glad you found it confusing too. I thought maybe it was just that I was not fully paying attention, but… Man, I thought it was awkwardly handled. I usually love weird dream sequences on soap operas–when I got hooked on the genre through AMC back as a kid, I remember all the wacky fantasy and dream sequences. And I have learned by now that Ron Carlivati *loves* his fake out dream sequences (he’s even had ones that have lasted an entire episode before we found out it was a dream–like when Maxie shot Ellie…) But so much crazy stuff has happened on the show lately, that it’s hard to necessarily assume that what’s on screen is a dream just because it’s so out there (I mean we just had the return of the vampires–with Caleb apparently exiting in someone else’s body, and I don’t think that was a dream, though the show’s characters seem to think it was Lucy’s dream, which makes it all the more confusing.) And this whole thing was especially confusing (honestly, I wouldn’t have been all that shocked if it was NOT meant to be a dream.) Add to that some of Roger Howarth’s hammiest acting (I feel for him having to play this, but that was some of the most embarrassing crying I’ve ever seen) and I just didn’t know what to think.

    As for the whole “he had a tumor that made him do it” redemption story… This has NEVER worked for me on soaps. It didn’t work for me when abusive, then murderous Jonathan Lavery on AMC was redeemed via a tumor, and it works even less for me now with an even more villainous character like Franco. I still think they need to just cut their losses–but this team behind the show seems to react, when fans dislike something, by stubbornly sticking to it all the more as if to prove something.

  2. janet says:

    Like you, I was more disgusted by these scenes more than confused. I guess to be confused you have to care, and the only one I cared about on the bridge was Danny ,after I saw Liz was alive.. The ranting and jabbering between himself was of no interest to me. I saw Carley show up as the hero I just shut the show off. I felt sorry for the baby playing Danny. having to listen to the ranting and seeing the make up with the scars. was horrible. If Carley had looked at him, and helped him jump off the bridge I would have actually thought that was carley. this is the women who put a hit on him last month, She could have just taken Danny and left him there. I wasn’t confused I was disgusted. I have to remember to only watch the show from the DVR so what offends me can be FF.

  3. heidi says:

    Another interesting column Marlena!

    I believe RC was trying to do a take on the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind” with a severe schizophrenic episode with Franco on the bridge. It was not a dream with Carly and Dante and Sam and Silas there. Carly did get Danny away from Franco and she was able to hand him off to Sam. They cut away to Liz to show us it was an episode that Franco was having.

    My huge problem with the whole severe schizophrenic episode and story line is that it needs to be set up over a period of time and not just a mention by Patrick that Franco’s tumor could cause schizophrenic behavior. My major problem with it is if you do this kind of story-line do it with a character that we care about and not the vile, evil, and disgusting Franco character because the subtlety is lost on us who can’t wait for someone to take Franco out. That was the first time I was cursing in exasperation at my screen because it was so un-set up and so thrust at us and it took me awhile to process what they were trying to do with the schizophrenia. That is not to say that Roger did a very valiant effort to make it all work. The other problem I had with it was slightly cosmetic… but if we have to explore the severe schizo episode… I would rather not have it done with Franco looking like a freakish cartoon character who had been put through a blender with hydrogen peroxide. A more interesting… choice for a true schizo story line would be with Sonny or AJ or Luke or Duke or someone else. It also just happened totally out of left field and it was not done well and seemed so contrived. Other characters who could carry this off if done correctly would be Tracy or Alexis. So now when Franco wakes up from his surgery he will be a kitten of his former self and we are supposed to believe he is just another person? Well I hope they fix his face and hopefully he will have had his hair shaved for the surgery and it will grow back in a darker shade and he will look less cartoonish… we can only hope!

  4. Kevin says:

    What I don’t get is Frank and Ron’s bizarre fascination with over exposing (the usually wonderful) Roger Howarth.

    He was doing “As the World Turns” (2003-2010) during their reign at “One Life to Live” so it’s not like they worked a lot with him since the bulk of his work on “OLTL” was in the 1990′s when others were in charge.

  5. I wasn’t confused by this sequence, I just thought it bizarre. I actually tweeted that Jason/Franco was arguing with Franco/Jason on the bridge. For me, this was just another example of TPTB trying to make a character work that should have been left in the past when he was killed by Jason. There was no need to make him a Quartermaine, nor to bring him back from the dead. If they had to bring Roger back (and apparently he’d only signed a year contract so it actually wasn’t necessary) why not give him a brand new character to play without the baggage of Franco? The only thing smacked of ‘we want you to like this character, so we’re going to give him a brain tumor, which means he wasn’t responsible for any of the horrible things that he did.’ And then to have Carly talk him down from killing Danny, because he thought he was Jason and the viewers know that Jason was is and always will be the love of Carly’s love was blatant manipulation. When he wakes up is Franco going to start wearing reindeer sweaters and go to medical school the way Jason did before his accident? I rue the day that James Franco decided that he wanted to do a soap opera as some kind of performance art experiment.

  6. Beth CP says:

    Amusing “tweet” that was brought to my attention when this “Doubly confusing double soliloquy” aired:

    “Roger Howarth has no chemistry with himself.”

    And yes, I laughed. And it’s another example of why this story can’t be taken seriously…and I simply fast forward through it.

  7. Tommie says:

    Marlena, I was curious if you had any thoughts on another recent and unusual dream/”flashback” sequence. On “The Young and the Restless, young lawyer Melanie has accused Adam Newman of rape, complete with her own flashback of the alleged crime. I’m used to soap dream sequences, or even alternate perspectives of one event a la “Petrocelli”, but the flashback was confusing if we are to believe Melanie simply has an axe to grind.

    Marlena says: I’m not sure whether or not it was a delusion.

  8. Gold Price says:

    Quelle horreur! But not to worry. Cut quickly to Elizabeth, very much alive and carrying out her duties at the front desk of the hospital. Presumably, some or all of what had just transpired was intended as a dream sequence. But whose dream? And how much of it? Was the baby really kidnapped? What was up with the two Francos? Was the person who was claiming to be Jason the real Jason, who had ostensibly been killed off when Steve Burton left the show last year? Was the real Jason still alive? If so, this would be a key fact in the ongoing GH narrative. Nous avons été très confus. To put it mildly.

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