Tuesday’s episode of General Hospital was the highly anticipated 50th anniversary episode of the series, and not only did it not disappoint, it was a heartfelt tribute to the legacy of the series and to its five decades of fans. Brilliantly written by GH head writer Ron Carlivati, the episode blended surprise returns, humor, drama, suspense … all of which GH is known for … wrapped into a neat one-hour package with a bow on it.
The set-up was what would have been the late, great Dr Steve Hardy (John Beradino) Chief of Staff’s 50th Anniversary running the hospital, and his picture that was going to be hung in the hospital boardroom in his honor. As the episode began, the picture of Dr. Hardy is seen as Nurse Epiphany Johnson (Sonya Eddy) answers the nurses’ station phone with the line: “Hey Doris. How’d you like Frank’s big surprise?” (Clearly a nod to General Hospital creators, Frank and Doris Hursley!)
Meanwhile, Monica (Leslie Charleson) and Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) are going at it one more time, after Monica told Tracy she has “darkened her door for the last time,” and to move out of the Q Mansion. But wait! All of a sudden dearly-departed Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) shows up (he first appeared at the end of Monday’s episode) in the Q living room, and this time not only does Tracy see him, so does Monica! But Alan has brought some back up to stop the feuding ladies in one of the big surprises of the episode … the return of Natalia Livingston as the deceased Emily! Together, Alan and Emily try to get the gals to reconcile, but lo and behold, Rick Webber (Chris Robinson) shows up in the living room too, and attempts to get the gals to stop their in-fighting by making up with Alan! As it turned out, it appeared that the return of Emily, Alan and Rick was part of “Pickle-Lila” induced hallucination, or was it? The segment reached its payoff when Monica and Tracy tried to show the threesome from the great beyond that they could hug and make-up, and in one of the most priceless moments of the episode, Tracy and Monica do their “version” of a hug. Special kudos to the magnificent Jane Elliot here! She was marvelous in those scenes.
Now, how wonderful was it to see Rachel Ames (Audrey) share scenes with her on-screen granddaughter Elizabeth Webber, played by Rebecca Herbst again? And, in a tender moment, Liz recants that all of the Webbers and the Hardys are scattered all over the map, and how much she missed having her family around. Liz went on to explain where all the missing in action characters are, including her sister Sara, dad Jeff Webber, Tom Hardy, and his son Tommy. In these scenes, we were very moved by the performance of Rebecca Herbst, who was given some gems to play with Ames.
One of the more touching moments throughout the entire special episode featured the sublime Jason Thompson as Dr. Patrick Drake, who introduced the new crop of interns to General Hospital and what it means to be a part of the hospital and its staff, while paying homage to the nurses, and Dr. Hardy. Thompson hit all the right notes throughout, ending the anniversary episode with a moving voice-over that was introduced first by dialog between Patrick, Elizabeth, and Audrey. This summed up the meaning of the show General Hospital to its longtime viewers:
Patrick: “It’s going to be a little intimating sitting through those board meetings with the original Chief of Staff upon us. Hopefully, it will inspire us to reach a standard. That’s the plan anyway.” Elizabeth to Audrey: “You and Grandpa had quite a love story, didn’t you?” Audrey: “Well, we all have. What’s life but one person’s story crossing with another?” Patrick: “I think about that, often, and I think about if my dad didn’t practice here, would Robin not have tracked me down for that first procedure? Would we have gotten to know each other? Fall in love? Have our beautiful daughter? This place changed my life. I know I am not the only one.” Elizabeth: “I think about how many lives have been touched, how many stories have passed through this place in 50 Years.” Patrick’s voice-over begins: “Stories of rivalries, stories of love, stories of heartbreak, stories that left us on the edge of their seats. The thing about all those stories is … we never know how they will end. 50 years …. it’s quite an accomplishment.”
In another part of the anniversary story, Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) found none other than Ethan, the returning Nathan Parsons, who was being held captive on the Haunted Star by Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers) and her cronies! In another heart-tugging moment Laura, who has never met Luke’s son Ethan, accepts him into her family. Meanwhile, the search for Lulu continued, but as we saw, at the end of the episode, Helena wants Laura to shoot someone! Is it Luke and Ethan? Or, does Helena want her to kill her own daughter, Lulu? Another great nod to the history of GH by resurrecting the Cassadine/Spencer feud, with Genie Francis back in the fold!
And in another emotional story, Jax (Ingo Rademacher) and Brenda (Vanessa Marcil) returned! Jax showed up at Carly’s doorstep to ask her to sign the divorce papers one more time, due to a filing mix up, because he is engaged to be married to none other than Brenda! In the scenes with Jax, it was Laura Wright, as Carly, who shined. Wright discussed Jason’s death, and her issues trying to find love with other men, and realized she would like to have another shot at love with Jax, only to have it shot down when she learns of Brenda! And meanwhile, Brenda shows up at Sonny’s (Maurice Benard) door, and lo and behold, the letter she sent to Sonny via Robin was brought up! Brenda revealed the details in the letter saying she wanted Sonny to join her, and her son, in Rome. However, now she came to tell Sonny that since she was in town for The Nurses’ Ball in honor of Robin, that she is engaged to Sonny’s nemesis, Jax! And … the stage was set for some fireworks and heartbreaks in the episodes to come!
The final moment of the episode was a chyron card thanking the most important people of all: the fans for sticking with GH for five decades! A beautiful and masterful job well done by executive producer Frank Valentini, head writer Ron Carlivati, and the cast and crew. We are popping open the champagne right now and raising our glass, and all we can say after that milestone and episode is, “Here’s to you, General Hospital!”
OK GH fans, now you read our review and our thoughts on the 50th anniversary episode now share yours! What was your favorite moment of the episode? Do you give it a thumbs-up? Did it showcase the heart and soul of what General Hospital has meant to fan for fifty years? Weigh-in!
And in case you missed today’s golden anniversary episode of General Hospital, watch it below!