After such serious subject matters as a dying teen, a family dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and a sex cult had succeeded in making me feel really depressed, I was looking forward to General Hospital’s science fiction based memory-mapping story being just silly enough to lighten the canvas. Unfortunately, the story is more creepy than cuddly.
The tale of Franco getting Drew’s old memories has pitted two mothers against each other. Liz is in the role of the matriarch fighting to put her family back together while Kim is in the role of the grieving mother trying to find solace in the past. This is a female-driven story line, just not a very good one.
Let’s talk about Kim first. If the writers thought that they were writing a heighten, soapy version of grief, they were mistaken. At Franco and Liz’s wedding reception, a distraunt Kim decided to drug Drew with the intent of having sex with him so she could recreate the son that she lost. It was brushed off as a moment of weakness. When Julian walked in on Kim attempting to rape Drew, his response was concern…for HER! Even Drew didn’t treat it like a big deal, giving her a mild scolding and then having lunch with her. Why weren’t they more appalled by her actions? Because the writers wrote that these men saw her actions as a stage of grief instead of a crime.
Regardless of how casually GH portrayed it, the incident created the mindset for the audience that Kim would do the same to Franco the moment he became the 2012 version of Drew. Grieving mothers don’t drug men and try to have non-consensual sex with them; they don’t have sex with their friend’s husband and then expect to be given a free pass. Fans who did find Kim’s struggles with her losing her son relatable no longer feel that way. Being a messy character on a soap can be a good thing but in this case, it’s just bad writing.
If Kim were allowed to be the villain, the audience would probably love to hate her as much as they do other devilishly crazy characters such as Heather Webber and Nelle Benson. Kim’s behavior is more narcissism than grief. She’s not thinking about the people who care about her or what’s best for others. However, the writers seem to believe the viewers should sympathize with her plight. “I don’t know how to grieve Oscar and I don’t know how to deny Franco when he remembers everything about me and Drew,” Kim told Julian. Would it have been easier for her to deny “Drew” if those memories came in a less attractive package? Yeah, I’m not buying it.
The issues I have with how Liz is written in this story stems from the writers holding onto the concept of Kim as the grieving mother. Liz reacted to Kim sleeping with Franco the way one would expect, but the follow up has been lacking. Liz should not be saying “I know you’re grieving…” to the woman who had sex with her husband while he is literally not in his right mind.
I like that Liz is determined to help Franco find his way back. Her devotion and willingness to fight for the man she loves is admirable. What’s missing though is Liz’s protective and nurturing side; it’s there, we just can’t see it. As a pal of mine (Hi Carol!) put it, “They’ve turned Liz fighting for her husband into nothing but court orders and mental hospitals”. Seriously, where’s the love?
The heart of the story is the Webber-Baldwin family. Why haven’t we seen any of Franco’s loved ones visit him in Shadybrook? Liz could be checking in on him, making sure he’s comfortable and trying to coax her husband to the surface. Having Franco committed should have been more than just about keeping him from leaving town prior to his court date; it should have been about keeping him safe too. Why is Kim his most frequent visitor? How is it that she’s even allowed to see him when she’s trying to take Franco away from his family?
There are emotional beats missing from this story which Franco’s stay at Shadybrook could have accommodated. Since he can’t go anywhere, it would have been a perfect time for Liz, Cameron, Scott and others to interact with him. He could have been told about all the times he was a hero, been given some art therapy, shown his artwork, brought him family photo albums and been told about how important Bobby is to Drew. I suspect that some of these beats are being saved to be played later for dramatic effect but not playing them now has dumbed-down smart characters. At the very least, someone could attempt to provide Franco with an important detail but get interrupted before the words can come out so it doesn’t look so clueless.
Kevin and Franco’s recent therapy session was a step in the right direction. Kevin cares about Franco and the scenes provided some nice point of view. In the past, the doctor was successful in bringing back Franco’s childhood memories via hypnosis. I’m not sure why Liz hasn’t urged him to tried to do the same in this situation.
Liesl visited Franco once but hasn’t been involved in the story since then. Why isn’t Liz leaning on the mad scientist for help? Liesl used to work at an experimental, evil clinic. She might be able to assist Andre in working out some of the kinks in the procedure that could restore Franco. Plus, it would be fun to see her interacting with others who are close to Franco such as his stepsons and Scott.
Monica’s role in the story is another point of frustration. While I could understand her wanting to know about Drew’s past, it feels out of left field considering it was nothing she pushed while the real Drew was around. Also, she could very easily play her twenty questions with Franco without wanting to keep him as a permanent replacement Drew. Monica is a smart woman and should understand that Franco is not Drew. Her interest in holding onto what remains of Drew might have made more sense if it began after he was declared dead yet even then it would be a hard sell for the audience.
What set this story into motion was Franco making a sacrifice for his family and saving Cameron. Despite the weird premise, that act gave the impression this story would be about the lengths one will go to protect the ones they love. This story should have be all family drama and romance as we watched a mad rush to save Franco. But the focus has been more on Kim and Drew’s offscreen love affair and Oscar (a character no longer even on the show) than on what losing Franco means to his family, in particular Liz and Cameron. Who thought that viewers cared more about the Neros than the Webber-Baldwins?
Despite the story’s many flaws, I am looking forward to the trial. With Tamara Braun’s rumored exit, there may be a shift in the storytelling. It would be nice to see everyone stop excusing Kim’s behavior and fun to watch her go full on Fatal Attraction. I’m curious to see how much courtroom finesse Michael E. Knight’s Martin Grey has as he goes up against Scott Baldwin. I’m also interested to see how much of Liz’s mistakes get brought up and how aggressive she will get during the courtroom battle. Mostly, I hope this is a turning point in the story because it needs to get back on track.