By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman
Last week General Hospital reached a very admirable ratings high, scoring 3.3 million viewers, its highest numbers since 2007. The timing for this benchmark is something the show had long been leading up to: the revelation to Dr. Patrick Drake that his wife Dr. Robin is still alive. Of course, this being soap opera, that revelation came right in the middle of Patrick’s wedding ceremony to Nurse Sabrina.
A key to this ratings spike was the fact that Patrick and Robin (“Scrubs”) have long been fan favorites. After all, Robin has been on the show since she was six years old. But the real secret behind the ratings high was that GH did everything it could to prolong the reveal of Robin’s survival.
They gave Robin more than two whole months in town before her existence was exposed to her widower. During that time Robin had to formulate a miracle cure for Jerry Jacks, the same cure she had found for Luke’s plutonium poisoning. Along the way there were many near run-ins between Patrick and Robin. At Halloween, Robin wore a costume to disguise herself at the hospital. In fact, Sabrina’s ex, Carlos, actually ran into Robin in the lab. He recognized her from a picture in Patrick’s house. When Carlos tried to warn Patrick Robin was still alive, Patrick didn’t believe him. Ava also tried to convince Patrick of the fact that Robin was alive, but he didn’t believe her either.
GH upped the ante by slowing down time as Patrick and Sabrina’s wedding approached. Sabrina took forever to choose her wedding gown and finally got her mother’s gown from her visiting cousin Juan. The day of the wedding, Robin came to the church and watched the ceremony from the doorway. The show let almost the entire ceremony (and an entire episode) go by until Emma saw Robin standing, fully alive, in the back of the church.
Dragging out the revelation to Patrick and Sabrina that Robin was still alive created a lot of anticipation for the audience. It also deepened the pain of the situation. After all, there were no villains here Robin was taken from her family innocently, and Sabrina fell in love with the man she knew as a widower. Losing Patrick would be a true tragedy for Sabrina, even though the reunion was a pure thrill for Scrubs fans.
The dragged out drama was rewarding in that it afforded opportunities for some great acting. The moment that Patrick saw Robin, actor Jason Thompson captured perfectly the pain his character was feeling, down to his very soul. Likewise, actress Kimberly McCullough projected both the joy in Robin’s reunion with her husband and the character’s ambivalence about breaking up Patrick and Sabrina. And actress Teresa Castillo did a masterful job of showing Sabrina’s great pain at seeing all her dreams come unraveled.
All in all, this was one of GH’s finest hours. It was soap opera at its best and well worth waiting for.