Critical Diagnosis: Week of July 1, 2024 - July 5, 2024 by Jeff Giles

Hello, fellow patients, and welcome back to Critical Diagnosis! I guess I picked a heck of a week to be away — Finn is off to rehab, Liz is free, and Lucky's making his way back to Port Charles. With all that major change in the air, I guess it's a good thing last week was a short one; otherwise, this column might end up setting a record for length. Okay, enough chit-chat — let's dive in.

You're Kinda Screwed, Ava

With Finn's lightning-quick descent into alcoholism behind us, General Hospital can once again turn the majority of its attention to a storyline that involves Sonny — specifically the one focused on whatever the hell the writers are doing to Ava. As I mentioned previously, Ava's been written into corners before and shimmied her way out of them, but this really doesn't look good for everyone's favorite semi-reformed mob boss: After being thrown out of Sonny's penthouse for the role she played in Alexis' disbarment, she's now well and truly in his crosshairs for carelessly blowing up Blaze and Kristina's lives in an atypically thoughtless attempt to humiliate Natalia.

And boy, if it seemed like Finn's life fell apart with a quickness, that was really nothing compared to how speedily the writers slapped Ava on the fast track to Shitsville. When Monday's episode started, Ava was reaching out to Adrian DeWitt so she could supply him with her secret recording of Natalia spouting homophobic garbage. By the end of the episode, the story had already been published and was wrecking lives/livelihoods —  and by the end of the week, pretty much everyone in town knew Ava was the one behind the whole thing.

As with so many GH stories these days, I'm less than thrilled with the fuel driving this, but I have to begrudgingly admit that a number of the individual components make sense and are working fairly well. There's no getting around the fact that the entire story is predicated on the deeply stupid notion that a pop singer was scared into closeting herself in 2024, but if you can set that aside even a little bit, it's hard not to appreciate the way it's being used to gin up drama between a growing list of characters.

We first saw Ava's bombshell go off in the Deception offices, where Natalia was in the middle of being a royal pain in the ass during Blaze's never-ending contract negotiations — to the point that she even suggested rescheduling the meeting after Maxie's phone started going off with news alerts about the company. Those alerts, of course, were related to the Natalia story, which Maxie discovered when she went to turn off her phone;instead of ending the meeting, she told everyone in the room — a crowd that included Lois, Lucy, Scott, and Blaze — about the breaking news.

Blaze was righteously furious, and understandably so. Her response gave Jacqueline Grace Lopez her meatiest material since joining the cast, and she really delivered. Again, the situation the writers have put her character in is ludicrous, but she really sold it here.

The other winner in these scenes was Kirsten Storms. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Whatever flaws the current writing regime might have (and they are numerous), I'll cheerfully give these folks credit for remembering that Maxie should be a fun, dynamic character who is cowed by no one. On a better version of GH, she'd be more of a Blair Cramer type than whatever she's been turned into over the last several years, and the show's failure to make consistently interesting use of her is definitely a disappointment. That said, there's much more of a spark to Maxie's dialogue lately, and Storms is doing what she does, acting as a camera magnet whether she's rattling off memorable lines such as "get with the program or kick rocks" or simply conveying fatigued disbelief like only she can.

It was Maxie, fittingly, who came up with the solution to Deception's immediate problem in the wake of the Natalia story. When Nina came rushing into the office to let them know she'd put a last-minute pause on the next Crimson issue so they could adjust Deception's two-page spread, Maxie pitched the idea of "no one cancels love" and the company logo in white type over a black background. Simple, elegant, and effective.

The thornier issue, at least in the nutty alternate universe where Port Charles currently resides, is what to do about Blaze as the face of Deception in the wake of this deeply silly scandal. Although the writers are working overtime to come up with mildly plausible negative responses to the release of the recording — some of Blaze's fans are pissed that she closeted herself, and some people are also calling for Kristina to step down from the Corinthos-Davis House because she's dating someone who's allegedly ashamed of her own sexuality — the sheen of flop sweat is all over this corner of the story. It's intensely difficult to believe that paparazzi would be parked outside Kristina's apartment over this. It's equally hard to go along with the notion that Blaze would be dropped by her label, or that Deception would get cold feet about pushing forward with plans to use her as the face of the company. I get that these things need to happen because there wouldn't be a story without them, but hey, maybe that's a sign that this shouldn't be a story.

Anyway, while Blaze and Kristina deal with the fallout from Ava's actions, Ava has a growing list of problems of her own, and while I can see some saving graces in the way this is impacting other characters, it's harder to point to any positive feelings about Ava's side of the story. Ms. Jerome is historically a great conniver and someone who thinks several moves ahead, so it's all but impossible to accept the deeply stupid way she handed Adrian that recording and expected to be kept out of everything that came next.

For one thing, Ava had absolutely no reason to think Natalia wouldn't immediately remember where she was and who she was talking to when she said those things — and since the two of them were alone in Sonny's penthouse during the conversation, there was zero plausible deniability for Ava. For another thing, when she met face-to-face with Adrian, Ava opened herself up to all sorts of repercussions if he folded when people started asking him who supplied him with the recording — and that's exactly what happened, twice. After Alexis threatened to sue Adrian, he told her Ava was behind everything, and he did it again — in front of Maxie, Lucy, and Scott, no less — when Nina threatened his job.

Alexis made a beeline for Ava's suite at the Metro Court and vowed to make her pay, then went to Sonny's office, where she found Natalia telling Sonny that Ava was the one who recorded her. After needling Natalia (I like to imagine that Nancy Lee Grahn wrote those lines of dialogue herself), Alexis asked Sonny what they were going to do about Ava, and he told her he was going to make it so her life wasn't worth living, and Diane would make it so Ava never laid eyes on Avery again. Nina, meanwhile, zipped over to Kristina's apartment, where she found sweet, always watchable, increasingly useless Sasha giving Kristina and Blaze a pep talk, and quickly informed all three of them that Ava was to blame.

Ava's sole remaining friend in Port Charles might be Scott. Despite Lucy's threats of no more sex, he went to Ava's suite to talk about her plans to sue for full custody of Avery, regretfully informing her that she's "kinda screwed" — unless Sonny murders someone on camera or has a breakdown in public, it'll be hard to win in court.

It's easy to see where this is going. Although Sonny has been on a fairly even emotional keel for the last few weeks, Scott's warning is a flashing red signal that the writers haven't forgotten about Valentin tampering with Sonny's meds, and this is a golden opportunity for Ava to make history repeat itself and play dangerous games with the mental health of another Corinthos. Given that we know Bryan Craig is returning to the show for an episode, this is bound to involve Morgan in some way; I guess the only mystery left to solve is whether he appears from beyond the grave to warn Ava to quit screwing around or shows up as an apparition to an unhinged Sonny.

Either way, I think it's safe to assume that Sonny will play right into Ava's hands, at least at first. Dante visited his old man during Friday's episode, and his attempts to talk some sense into him were utterly fruitless; after opening the conversation by calling Dante "Officer," he repeatedly refused to listen to reason, threatening to harm his own son before finally making the completely preposterous claim that he's never hurt someone's child the way Ava hurt Kristina, and he gets no credit for that, so he's going to start acting the way everyone thinks he acts anyway. Translation: Sonny will be pushed even further out on the ledge with his friends and loved ones, only to be immediately forgiven once everyone finds out he wasn't being fully dosed with his bipolar medication.

I may barf when that all goes down. For now, this is fine, at least in bits and pieces. I guess.

Now that I'm looking more closely at my notes, I feel like that's really all there is to discuss in-depth regarding last week's GH. Feels weird to only get into a single storyline, but I guess it makes sense, given that this one is starting to take on the shape of an umbrella. I'm sure I'll have more to write about next time — until then, here are your bullet points!

  • Alexis told Nina she's resigning as the editor-in-chief of the Invader, effective immediately
  • Nina promoted Adrian to EIC, only to fire him once the Natalia story broke — but Maxie quickly talked her into keeping him on in exchange for his complete and total obedience
  • We heard a lot about Drew's opponent in the upcoming congressional campaign, a woman named Chelsea Grimes who's clearly a transparent proxy for the repugnant jackass who's trying to worm his way back into the White House
  • Trina and Gio kept inching toward becoming the couple no one wants
  • Carly told Joss about Jason working for the FBI in order to protect her
  • Drew changed his last name to Quartermaine
  • Dex caught Joss as she fell off a stepladder while wearing dove earrings, which was certainly a choice on the show's part
  • Kristina tore into a mostly unrepentant Natalia for being a bigot
  • Taggert remains MIA and utterly unmentioned