Rebecca Herbst has handled a variety of storylines during her 25-year run as Elizabeth Webber on General Hospital. For the performance she’s giving in this most recent — and arguably, most challenging story — Soap Hub bestows Performer of the Week honors on Herbst.
Rebecca Herbst – Star of the Week
For a long time now, Liz (Rebecca Herbst) has been grappling with a big issue in her life that has affected her mood, her state of mind, and her relationships. GH finally dug into what traumatic event in Liz’s past has caused all these problems. It turns out that Liz’s parents Jeff Webber (William Moses) and Carolyn Webber (Denise Crosby) sent their daughter away all those years ago because of something powerful that had occurred.
Having decided she couldn’t go on without knowing what had occurred, Liz traveled to California to get into her parents’ home, looking for answers. She was taken aback when her father and mother arrived home unexpectedly. “Yes, mom, it’s really me,” Liz semi-snarked back to her mainly absent mother, Carolyn Webber (Denise Crosby) after laying eyes on her for the first time in a quarter of a century. Liz’s acerbic layer was a callback to the demeanor Rebecca Herbst first brought to her character back in 1997.
As Liz and her parents caught up over small talk about her children’s lives, Herbst brought a simmering anger to her character. She was incensed that her parents keep up on her boys’ lives via social media and not deal with the bigger issue — why had they abandoned her? Why had they not been there for her over the last two and a half decades during which time Liz had been raped, given birth to children, gotten married, been widowed, and so much more.
Liz blasted her parents when they tried to gloss over things and point out she’d done well in life. “All of my joys in life, all of my success have been because me and my drive,” Liz emotionally pointed out to her parents. “It had nothing to do with you.”
The more Jeff (William Moses) and Carolyn tried to emphasize that their work with Doctors Without Borders was important the more Liz grew irate. “I needed parents who loved me…how could you think it was best to cut me loose?” she angrily stated. Liz started to leave but then she turned around and came back, demanding her parents help her remember what she couldn’t recall. Sadly, Liz’s ‘Gram’ — Audrey Hardy (Rachel Ames) — wasn’t on hand to provide support to her but kudos to GH for putting a picture of Audrey on Jeff and Carolyn’s mantle.
Soaps are filled with many absent parents but we soon learned that there was more to Jeff and Carolyn’s decision to not be present in Liz’s life than met the eye. Jeff tried to prevent his daughter from probing too much but Liz recalled telling Dr. Reiko Finn, Jeff’s mistress, to stay away from her father. Liz wouldn’t relent so Jeff came clean. He explained that he’d had an affair with Reiko, who, at the time was married to Dr. Hamilton Finn (Michael Easton), Liz’s current beau.
Liz explained she had memories of something having happened when they were all on the Mariana Islands. Jeff explained that Liz had walked in on Jeff and Reiko in an intimate moment but Liz wanted to know how Reiko had landed at the bottom of the stairs. Jeff claimed that he was responsible for Reiko’s fall. But after Carolyn demanded that the truth come out, Jeff admitted what really occurred — Liz had pushed Reiko down the stairs.
At first, Herbst turned on the anger, blasting her father for lying but then, she flashed back to being at the top of the stairs with Reiko (Mele Ihara). “I did it! It was me!” a horrified Liz (Rebecca Herbst) told her mother and father after recalling the argument.
Suddenly, Jeff and Carolyn went from neglectful parents to Liz’s savior even though Liz had trouble seeing it that way. They put in for a transfer and sent Liz away in the hopes she wouldn’t recall the ordeal. Alas, not everything was as easily fixed. Liz was devastated to learn from Jeff that Reiko needed a blood transfusion after the fall, which led to her contracting Blackwood’s Syndrome, the disease that took her life.
Liz didn’t see her parents’ actions as selfless but rather as selfish. “[Y]ou drugged me, programmed me and then, kicked me out to protect your precious reputations,” Liz lamented. “I hope it was worth it.”
Fans weren’t quite sure what had been deeply troubling Liz over the last year or so and veteran viewers were amazed that Jeff and Carolyn never visited Port Charles in all this time. (Though given that Heather Webber keeps popping up, it’s more understandable why Jeff is staying far away. After all, Heather (now played by Alley Mills) was the reason Jeff packed up his and Heather’s son Steven Lars (Scott Reeves) and left Port Charles back in 1981.)
There are still many questions as to whether or not this was the right way for Liz’s parents to handle matters, if indeed the full truth has come out, and whether or not the timeline tracks. However, there is no denying that Rebecca Herbst turned in a series of dynamite performances as these overdue stories were finally told.
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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