Commentary GH

General Hospital Starts 2023 With A Hard Reset And Mind-Blowing Soap Opera

Please let 2023 continue like this.

General Hospital 2023 Reset

In recent years with only four soaps still around, longtime fans who are passionate about the genre have felt like the juicy, messy goodness of soap days gone by were…well…gone. Occasionally, an episode comes around that takes us back to a golden time for daytime TV and General Hospital delivered that episode on January 4, just its second one of a brand-new year.

GH Is In Reset Mode And We Couldn’t Be Happier

It’s been clear for several weeks now that GH is ready to right some wrongs and start off 2023 with a clean slate after a year of forced pairings and slow-moving stories that made the show feel foreign and disjointed. Characters seemed off, doing things that made no sense while turning into a shadow of their former selves. What went right in 2022 was they left alone what worked — namely Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) and Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart), as well as Dante Falconeri (Dominic Zamprogna) and Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco) — and what went wrong is being swept away and hopefully will stay swept away, a la the ill-conceived coupling of Elizabeth Webber (Rebecca Herbst) and Hamilton Finn (Michael Easton).

What also became apparent on the January 4, 2023, episode of GH is that a character is also getting a complete reset. Esme Prince (Avery Kristen Pohl) does indeed seem to have amnesia, which leaves a world of possibilities for the pregnant and seemingly-irredeemable character. If you want to write a young villainess out of a corner while still keeping her edge, make her forget every horrific thing she ever did. Amnesia may be a soap trope, but it is a soap trope for a reason — because it works.

Everything Suddenly Clicked On General Hospital

The reset was never more apparent than on January 4 when a soap that has spent the better part of a year feeling disjointed with very little continuity delivered punch after punch to tell us it’s still alive and kicking and knows how to deliver the shock, the emotions, and the oh-so-messy moments that have always kept fans coming back for more. Rather than seeming like five different soap operas in just one hour, GH felt like one cohesive drama despite several different but still somehow related storylines.

We had Josslyn Jacks (Eden McCoy) make a major mistake by sleeping with Dex Heller (Evan Hofer) before breaking up with her longtime boyfriend Cameron Webber (William Lipton) after just surviving a Hook attack thanks to Britt Westbourne (Kelly Thiebaud). She quickly realized that mistake and tearfully told a stunned Cam that she just wasn’t in love with him anymore. We could feel Cam’s anger and sadness and even managed to feel a little for Joss no matter how angry we were at her for not thinking to do this BEFORE she had her romp with Dex.

We also had Josslyn and Cam’s BFFs, Trina Robinson (Tabyana Ali) and Spencer Cassadine (Nicholas Alexander Chavez), dealing with their sworn enemy Esme, who lay pregnant in a hospital room confused about who she was and how she ended up as a mommy-to-be. While Nikolas Cassadine (Marcus Coloma) and Spencer scoffed at the memory loss, two women, Trina and Elizabeth, just knew she was telling the truth. Trina was also right about The Hook. How could Esme be running around hooking people while quite pregnant? Elizabeth was also right. All she had to do was tell the police where she had been and she’d be off the hook as The Hook. Smart women make for smart soap opera.

The Piece De Resistance

Speaking of smart women, GH has them in spades and used them as they were supposed to on this one sublime episode. Soap vets Genie Francis and Maura West shined as Laura Collins and Ava Jerome, bonding over their love for and disappointment in Nikolas, Laura’s hapless son who doesn’t seem to know how to stop making mistakes. And his mistakes came to light in a big way when Ava watched that fetal heart monitor being wheeled into Esme’s room. She knew right then and there it wasn’t Elizabeth who was pregnant thanks to Nikolas. It was Esme, the teenager he couldn’t resist who’d been dating his son. Right after that came the well-deserved smack as a shocked and perplexed Laura looked on.

A secret we thought would remain buried for many months more as we watched Esme come up with just one more scheme to escape her tower prison was suddenly brought to glorious light as Esme actually did find a way out. She took a backward swan dive off the parapet on New Year’s Eve and just after midnight emerged from the freezing cold waters below as someone new.

Finally, we have Britt. Poor, poor Britt who was all set to leave town decided to do the noble thing and fight The Hook when she saw her attacking Josslyn on the pier. In the struggle, she never realized she had been nicked by the killer’s weapon of choice. But, when she did, she knew it was over. As a doctor, she knew that poison was coursing through her veins and that her time was up. All she wanted as her life came to a close was for her mother to hold her and that is exactly what Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) did as her brilliant and beautiful daughter died in her arms.

Let us not forget that The Hook is Heather Webber (Alley Mills), a legendary soap sociopath apparently out to kill people who have wronged her secret long-lost daughter, Esme.

Soap Hub staff came up for air at the end of the hour and said to each other, “That was soap opera.” And it was. It’s why we watch, and after a year of so much going wrong, GH showed us it still knows how to get it right. What’s even more exciting is that after all this, by Friday, spoilers indicate we are heading straight into the beginning of the end of the Nina-Willow secret that Carly Spencer has been keeping since spring. The fun just doesn’t stop and this is exactly the way we like it.

General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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