*SOME ADULT LANGUAGE, CASTING AND THIS WEEK’S SPOILERS
POVERTY JUST MIGHT BRING LUCKY OUT
Of all the spoilers I have to read through, I missed the one where GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Lucky steals drug money to reduce his $50,000 medical debt. Thank God.
I will never forget the scenes up to and including the one where Elizabeth comes home to a despairing Lucky, hovered over a pile of drugs and cash.
It was GENERAL HOSPITAL’s finest.
While everybody’s freaking out over the latest plot device du jour – Reese is Carly, Carly is Caroline! – and speculating over a possible May Sweeps reversal – Reese killed A.J., not Michael! – this sudden reverting to Spencer type completely took me by surprise.
Luckily, I hadn’t read any spoilers about it. Or I might not have been as favorably impressed.
Before my mind had a chance to process then shut down the knee-jerk outrage – Lucky would NEVER...! – I remembered he was a Spencer, a biological fact THE POWERS THAT BE [TPTB] seem constantly to forget or set aside, to focus too much on Nikolas and Emily, the fairy tale, or Sonny and his mob posse, the Sopranos rip-off.
Or worse, to beat a dead relative – Luke and Lucky hate each other! – to death, an abomination to every long-time fan since the 1970s/80s.
Being a Spencer used to mean something special. It meant you didn’t follow the crowd, you flouted authority, you never trusted the cops, and you skirted every law to protect your family. If adventure called, you followed, mortgage or job be damned.
TPTB forgot that golden rule (of the Spencers and soaps like GH) when they forgot that Sarah Brown’s Carly was the only direct line from Bobbie, refused to use her opposite Bobbie’s brother Luke, Tony Geary. The two or three times Brown and Geary did collide, the scenes surpassed daytime, foraging between the best of primetime, cable and indie on PBS. I’ll never forget when Carly, as Luke lectured and berated her, took his cigar and bit down on it, curious and casual, her dialogue screaming rancor, her demeanor and expression whispering a respectful otherwise.
They kept forgetting, or worsening the neglect. Carly turned Sonny in to the Feds?! Luke beat Lucky down for kicks?! Luke abandons his two children, Lucky and Lulu, with the kind of glee reserved usually for the under-20 bimbo set over at DAYS OF OUR LIVES (Lord, but those walking mannequins cannot act – except Billy Warlock/Frankie – to save their contracts!)?! Something traumatic happens to any of the Spencers and none of the Spencers can be bothered to raise an eyebrow and donate a buck for bus fare, much less react like this is family, family matters and rush over there at the speed of light?!
IMHO, the single worst writing decision for the second recast of Lucky, Greg Vaughan, has been to keep him from Tony Geary’s Luke, and failing that, keeping the father/son duo from reconnecting the way they used to. Anybody who remembered Jonathan Jackson’s debut as Luke and Laura’s pre-teen son, as they went on the run back to Port Charles, will remember that the bond father and son shared could never be broken, could rival that of any of Luke’s current and past love affairs, up to and including Laura.
In many ways, Luke looked up to Lucky, just as much as Lucky did Luke. When Elizabeth’s rape revealed Laura’s, that bond got severed and has never been repaired.
A few interviews indicated that both Vaughan and Geary wished for the family bond again, that Geary even went so far as to go to TPTB and suggest that Luke and Lucky could go off on adventures together, Lucky regain that Spencer sensibility, and that this discord – implausible, ridiculous, from left field – served neither actor, or audience.
For two scenes there, after Lucky recovered from Helena’s gunshot wound, and after Lucky got off his high horse about Luke trying to pull the plug on his only grown son’s life support (ha ha HA!), I almost saw the father and son again, the way Jonathan Jackson and Tony Geary intended.
Lucky even pulled some of Luke’s moves to help his friends out of one jam after another, but before I could say: “Hey, maybe this third Lucky will work out after all— ”
— Luke disappeared in a sidebar story, a harebrained scheme to recover $15 million for himself, er, I mean Nikolas, from Tracy, that plays on again, off again, depending on when Sonny needs to take a bathroom break. And Lucky returns to glowering at his sorry lot in life as a low-income, debt-amassing cop. A Spencer, a cop?!!!
So, it was without much hope that I waited for Lucky’s next incarnation as an ordinary Joe off the street and certainly not the Spencer he should be. At least, this go ‘round, Elizabeth will get to play lead with him.
Then, Lucky learns of a tip that Officer Murphy can’t pursue, and goes running off. Next thing I know, Lucky’s voice orders these two drug dealing thugs to drop it and run off, accompanied by a loaded weapon aimed at them. And then, Lucky sits at a table full of drugs and money, running his fingers through his hair and looking the picture of desperation.
When Elizabeth arrives home, with loaded shopping bags (and I ain’t talkin’ groceries; um, if they’re having money troubles, then why is she always out shopping at these boutiques? Is Jax giving her some on the side?), she freaks out about as much as I did.
In the resultant scene that followed between Rebecca Herbst’s and Greg Vaughan’s characters, I saw the growth from two frivolous, daydreaming teenagers and, as another columnist mentioned over a week ago, a reversal of roles. Before, Lucky always drove the relationship, controlled the breadth and depth, and acted as the strong, moral compass. He had to for the most part, Elizabeth used to be an envious bad girl, then a haunted rape survivor.
But now? Now, Elizabeth took control, demanding – with her stiff demeanor, shaken expression and tremulous voice, steel underneath nevertheless – that Lucky return the drugs and the money, and snap out of it.
Maybe the plot’s thin, sudden, and just another flimsy excuse to showcase Courtney and Jax’s fly-by-night love. Maybe Lucky and Liz need to redevelop their relationship first, before tackling a $50,000 debt and a surrogate pregnancy. Maybe, maybe, maybe, but this is the GH of 2005, and in the year 2005 and beyond, no soap opera can afford to stand still – even for small, getting to know you again, talk to blossom formerly stagnant characters.
Because of plummeting ratings (and for GH, it’s really been bad lately), increased competition on the TV dial, fewer stay-at-home viewers and soaps’ growing irrelevancy, TPTB need to capture attention fast and hold it. They do so with shocking plot turns, constant cliffhangers, a fashion show combined with a catfight or two, some soft porn and a hail of bloody gunfire – and hope in between the “incidents,” the characters the actors portray will light up in these small moments of revelation.
For me, two actors did. Herbst showed me her maturity and confidence, how far she’d come from the precious mannerisms of her youth to the deeply principled, emotionally strong salt of the earth of her adulthood. Vaughan has never looked more like the original Lucky, whether he’s sweating out the illegal and immoral thing he did in the name of preserving his manhood (Luke would’ve done the same, and been proud of him) or insisting, with a child-like hope that nearly crushed me, that he will not rely on the charity of his family, least of all an equally struggling Nikolas.
Even Sonny noticed Lucky finally becoming a man and showing some balls, in an encounter at the hospital, over some mob-related bullshit.
That’s saying something.
THAT SETTLES IT: JOVAN RULES
unexpected turnaround, and despite Evangeline’s snobby tendencies, the
rooting value for ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s surprise, adult couple just went up
several notches. Buh-bye, Nat.
yes, as a matter of fact, he [Spencer] walked me through his
five-bullet-point evil plan to destroy us.” –David to Paige, OLTL,
(did I detect the thwarted cracking up of Paige’s Kimberlin Brown?)
John told Evangeline at the “Woman of the Year” awards dinner on Friday that he never knew a good thing until it went away, clearly meaning her.
I guess, I feel the same about John and Evangeline (JoVan to the warring fan bases). Their break-up helped clarify just how deeply the cop did feel for the lady lawyer, how much she filled up his emptiness, how true Michael’s words were after all, that John needs Evangeline, she’s so very good for him.
She completes him, because she’s so different from him (except in that no-nonsense command for respect). And she’s so good for him because she doesn’t need him the pathetic way Natalie always does, by using tricks and ploys to grab his attention.
In most relationships of the heart, one party must be grounded, for the other to take off. Especially when one of them is troubled emotionally. Many of the real-life couples I know mimic the JoVan dynamic, some taken to the extreme with manic depression. Two manic-depressives do not a happily ever after make, trust me.
John isn’t a manic-depressive, but he is a tormented man, partially scarred by the brutal murders of his father and fiancée (I’m convinced there’s more to his story, though). The one aspect of Evangeline, apart from her arrogance and self-aggrandizing, that always troubled me with John, was her calm, cool normalcy. How, I would wonder inside, could someone so together find anything in common with such a fucked-up basket case with commitment issues like John? And why would she want to hang around such damaged goods anyway with her perfectionist issues? Look how fast she fled R.J., without a backward glance.
It’s what drew me immediately to the lusty emotional connection between John and Natalie (Jolie), their commonalities. They got each other. They came from the same wrong tracks. She supported him wordlessly, when Vangie would just talk too much at him. She never played mind games, whereas Vangie’s expertise is in the mindfuck, and the emotional blackmail.
Nothing heightened such differences more, against JoVan, than the scene following Daniel’s public arrest (and Nora’s public humiliation): Natalie gave John props for a job well done, Evangeline gave John hell for not doing the arrest properly, privately, to spare her best friend.
And yet, when Evangeline chose to walk away from a losing proposition after yet one more compromising encounter with THE NATALIE FACTOR, in a moving musical flashback to her singing that Stevie Wonder ballad to him, I felt about as empty as John looked, walking around like a zombie, snapping at his fellow officers, treating Natalie all of a sudden like she was his kid sister, and such a burden at that.
I suddenly found myself wanting Evangeline and John back together, one of them to cave, ask for forgiveness, smile, laugh and have hot sex on her desk again. I’d yell at John for being an asshole when he stood before Evangeline prior to her “Woman of the Year” fete, basking in her normalcy, yet begging for flagellation, knowing full well he wasn’t and might never be man enough for her.
Evangeline is not the kind of woman to coddle a crybaby. (That’s Natalie’s job.) So she will not allow herself to notice John’s secret, plaintive cries for help, or make the first move anymore. More’s the pity, she will also not allow herself to acknowledge his obvious-to-us, oblivious-to-her hints that HE LOVES HER, NOT NATALIE.
Evangeline gives back his mother’s pearls. He wants to give it back. She tells him to give it to the woman he loves. He tells her he gave it to her. Translation: You are the woman I love Evangeline, not Natalie.
John hotfoots it over to the Palace Hotel in a suit and tie – something he hates with a venom – just for the sight of Evangeline in her moment, using the chance to spy on Hayes as a measly excuse. He heads straight over to her as soon as he can.
They talk, skirting the heartbreak, until John cracks with a reference, generalized, to the adage, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, meaning, I LOVE YOU EVANGELINE, NOT NATALIE.
This week, John’s got another chance to redeem himself with Evangeline and set Natalie straight. The Killing Club psycho takes off with both women, trapping them in a basement, then the Love Center gym, setting the place on fire, leaving them for dead, taunting John to decide which one to save first.
I predict he’ll save Natalie first, out of duty to Cristian, whom he feels he owes (back to his guilt over losing his father in the line of fire, as well as his fiancée). Evangeline will take that as her final message that he loves Natalie, not her.
The sweet agony of that Gone With The Wind-esque misunderstanding should play out nicely in the next three months.
With that, I suggest the writers explore this aversion deep inside Evangeline to accept her worth when it matters, despite the words that aren’t spoken. Why it requires a full-on confession and constant attention for her to finally believe. Conversely, they better take John apart to the innermost layers of why he equates the two deaths of his loved ones with the enforced martyrdom of his eternal loneliness.
Maybe Evangeline’s deeper than I gave her credit for. Or maybe she just balances off better, her normalcy providing safe haven for John, the haven he used to know before the bad guys came and took it away when he was just a child.
But with the confirmed news of David Fumero’s more permanent return as Cristian, Natalie’s one, true love, I’m betting the writers and the actors don’t have to do much more than they’re already doing to confuse the fuck outta me.