This Truly Was the Episode I Never Saw Coming
Perhaps Awesome Writer phrased it as though he'd be doing Bob Guza a favor. "Why don't you let me handle this one, Bob? Then you'll have more time to work on your epic Steve Burton fanfiction."
Or maybe he bribed him with a platter of Christmas cookies, with a "I bet Sonny would love these. They're straight from Bensonhurst, via Entenmmans."
Or maybe he distracted all of the other writers with the complete series of Mr. Belvedere on DVD. Not that there's anything wrong with that--I think we can all admit that we'd drop whatever we were doing to watch that immediately.
Whatever charm or trickery Awesome Writer resorted to resulted in an episode where the good outweighed the bad for me. The gravelly-voiced, melodramatic man who does the promos for GH always promises a week that I "won't want to miss" and, judging from today's episode and the DVR description of tomorrow's, this is the week he meant! If he had just specified "The week of December 21st, except you will want to miss the show on the 21st", we all could have been saved a lot of heartache.
Most happily and most importantly, we were given crucial follow up regarding Liz and Lucky's Christmas tree situation. And instead of hearing delightful stories about the hilarious and adorable things Cameron did off-screen, we got to see him being hilarious and adorable!
I was so curious to see how Jonathan Jackson would interact with the boys, because one of the greatest parts of Greg Vaughan's Lucky was how fantastic he was with the kids. I am happy to report that Jonathan Jackson is similarly fantastic (perhaps unsurprisingly, since he has kids of his own, but still). When Cameron ran and hugged him, I felt all warm and happy inside. "This is what it's like when a soap makes you happy," I marveled. "And all it took was a spectacularly expressive child actor."
The cuteness continued as they picked out their Christmas tree, which Cam first wrote of as "weird", because it had a split at the top. Lucky was able to sell him on the weird tree, based on a secret that "Grandma Laura" once told him when he had a weird tree as a child.
Lucky: Can you keep a secret?
Cameron: Is the secret from Mommy? [I die. --Ed.]
Lucky: No, of course not. We don't keep secrets from Mommy.
Mallory: What's that sound?
GH Writers: High five! Get it, because Mommy has secrets from them? High five!
Mallory: I'm kind of sad that not even Awesome Writer knows what it means to be subtle.
Lucky: If you can find a tree that has a split at the top, Santa leaves an extra present. Did you know that?
Lucky: He knows it's a special tree.
Jake, meanwhile, was talking so much that he had to be handed off to Becky Herbst so that Lucky and Cam could continue their conversation. He spoke more in those thirty seconds than his biological father has spoken since 1998!
Speaking of things that happened for thirty seconds...
Even though I knew it was coming, and had seen spoiler pics of this all too brief (and, if I'm being completely honest, totally random, but it made me happy, so I am not going to complain. Or at least I am barely going to complain) scene, I still squealed. Audibly.
Rebecca: Sorry, my boarding pass.
Chad Brannon!!:Here you go...Rebecca Shaw.
Rebecca: Thank you. I guess I'm a little more nervous than I care to admit.
Chad Brannon: Fear of flying?
Rebecca: No, no, it's not that. I've never lived overseas, and I'm changing my whole life
Chad Brannon: Me, too. My company just transfered me to Paris.I've been so crazy packing and planning that I didn't realize until just last night that I don't know a single person in the city.
Rebecca: Me, neither.
Aaron: Well, now you know me. I'm Aaron. I'm sorry, I don't mean to just keep staring at you.
Rebecca: I look familiar, right? Like someone you know?
Aaron: No, not at all. I just...couldn't help noticing. You have the most beautiful eyes.
It was a cute wink at the audience and all of the Zander and Emily fans, and it was nice to see a character leave town alive, as wretched as the character was for most of her time on the show.
Of course, once I got over my major reaction of "Look at you, Chad Brannon, all cute and adorable", I was hit with the sudden realization that we have Aaron and Rebecca. BECAUSE ZANDER AND EMILY ARE DEAD BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS TERRIBLE.
Ahem. As I was saying very sweet, very cute, very much made me miss having Chad Brannon on television regularly.
Jason and Sam saying "I love you" was surprisingly low-key and understated.
Jason: Since Mexico everything's changed.
Jason: And I dont know if you want to hear it, because I don't want you to feel pressure, but with everything that's going on, I think I should tell you. That I love you. I'm just glad that you're back in my life.
Sam: Wow. I love you, too.
I have no real investment in this pairing, and I think that a lot of their issues from their breakup (you know, the hiring thugs to scare children at gunpoint, not intervening during a babynapping, threatening murder. The standard things that happen during breakups) could be addressed and explored more, but that's never going ot happen, is it? At any rate, I thought this was kind of charming, if shockingly short. Since when does a big moment in Jason's day get treated like an afterthought?!
Please brace yourselves for what I am about to say. Are you braced? Okay. I even didn't mind some of the awkward dinner with Sonny, Dominante and Olivia. I know! And what's even more insane is that I especially liked Maurice Benard's performance. It truly is a Christmas miracle!
Maybe it's because he dialed down the stalk a bit, or because he and Dominic Zamprogna have a natural, easy chemistry. Hey, I think I'm going to go with that one, so that I can give DZ most of the credit. That's the ticket! Either way, he's more engaged and pleasant than he's been in a while.
Overall, I rolled my eyes through most of these scenes, rather than weeping with a combination of boredom, sadness and hate, which is an improvement.
Just to prove you that I am still me, I do have complaints.
Hey, Olivia? When you have a huge, life-altering secret about one of the people at the dinner table being the son of the other person at the dinner table, maybe don't make it so obvious.
Between bugging her eyes out to convey that there is something that she is not telling her dinner partners
and sitting so stiffly and uncomfortably away from them that she practically screamed "I am uncomfortable because I have a secret about both of you". Or maybe "I have a contagious, deadly, airborne disease that will kill all three of us if we have physical contact".
You know what's hilarious about all of the reminiscing Sonny and Olivia do about Bensonhurst, and their lives as teenagers, and the wacky shenanigans with the Cerrullos? Nothing. Nothing is hilarious. But EVERYTHING is stale and recycled, because we heard these exact same anecdotes when Sonny was wooing Kate. It's like they said, "Remember when Sonny, and that woman with the great hair, had a thing, and people all over were all, 'Wow, when was the last time Sonny was this enjoyable?' What if, instead of letting him and whatshername have a long relationship, we axed that chemistry and romantic buildup and swapped her out for her cousin. We wouldn't even need to write new scripts!"
And the ham-fisted, "Sonny thinks he can't spend the holiday with his family, but he is totally spending the holiday with his family, he just doesn't know it. Did you catch that?" aspect of this was just ridiculous. I get it, GH. I've gotten it every other time you've done "subtle" allusions to Dominante being Sonny's son. If this continues, I'm going to start taking hostages.
(And somewhere, Bob Guza is thinking, "I've trained her properly after all!")
Speaking of the show's esteemed head writer, raise your hand if you think that for Franco's Christmas Tree of Creepy Stalking, they simply borrowed Guza's own Christmas tree.
Although his probably has more Jason ornaments than this one does.
Tomorrow's episode description: Laura's spirit watches over her family at Christmas Eve; Spinelli has it out with Maxie; Carly won't stop until she has her final present. That could be good! Well, a third of it could be, anyway!