There’s always been something about Elizabeth Webber that has held my interest even when I’ve tuned out of General Hospital completely. Since I’m a fairly younger viewer, Elizabeth is one of the first soap characters whose story I’ve followed from the very moment she appeared on the show. I know the history of all the characters and have heard romances and stories told in great rapture by veteran fans, but there’s something to be said about watching a character from their start onscreen.
I’ve experienced all the important moments of her life with her: falling in love for the first time, a horrific rape, various health complications and miscarriages, the birth of her children, the loss of her best friend, and falling in love yet again and again and again. Like a best friend, when Elizabeth loves, I love, when she cries, I cry, and when she stumbles, I wait patiently for her to pull herself together.
Her current storyline has me more emotionally invested in her character than I have been in over a year. I see her struggle as it plays out, and not only do I understand it, but I feel it as well. Her self-destructive patterns are nothing new to her character. As she said herself, when she finds things going smoothly with Lucky, their situation falls to pieces and usually at her bidding. Shouldn’t that be a sign to run in the other direction? This story is messy situation and putting more than a few nicks in her halo and showing how flawed Elizabeth is. At some point, all soap characters make mistakes and struggle to find their way, especially a woman who is seesawing between the man she feels like she should want and the one she really does.
On more than one occasion, I’ve felt the desire (and vocalized it) to reach into my television screen and shake her by her shoulders. She’s insisting that she wants to marry Lucky, but loves Nikolas as well, and finds herself in his arms every time they have a few seconds alone together. On more than one occasion, Lucky has nearly caught them with their pants down, but she continues to chalk it up to an infatuation, failing to see the truth in her actions and her words.
What gets to me most is how she tries so hard to deny herself of what she’s feeling. Elizabeth has and always will be a chronic denier. She focuses so much on what people think about her and how they perceive her, worried about being judged for her choices or outcast by those she loves. Her happiness has always been shoved aside for the happiness of others, so much that her obligation to Lucky outweighs her feelings for Nikolas, who she keeps hurting and hurting with her indecision.
We’ve watched her attraction from Nikolas grow since last spring, a drunken kiss by two friends who were contemplating the possibilities of how things could be, and that kiss led to a searing attraction. If I asked for a show of hands from readers who have drunkenly kissed a long time friend, would those that felt something more than friendship be willing to admit it? Or would you shy away from it because something inside of us says that we’re not supposed to have a sudden attraction to a long time friend? If it wasn’t there from the start, how can it be there now? And does that make it any less real if we feel it on a whim and it doesn’t fade?
Sure, there’s so much wrong with the story, but isn’t that what makes it soapy? Elizabeth is cheating and lying after a similar affair ruined her first marriage to Lucky. Nikolas is betraying every part of his relationship with his brother. And Lucky is left out in the cold as the two people he trusts the most sneak around behind his back, but I still find myself rooting for Elizabeth.
So many people forget that when Elizabeth came to Port Charles, she came as the thorn in her parents’ side, a mother and father that never played a big role in her life. Steven kindly reminded his sister of those issues last week, pointing out the sense of abandonment she must have felt as the lost and most forgotten of her siblings. Elizabeth’s desire to have a family has been seen throughout her character over the years. She came to know the meaning of it through the Spencer’s. They were essentially the family she always wanted, but never had and that void in her own life has led her to want the family she didn’t have for her own children. Add to it that Lucky is just as hungry for the perfect family as she is, his own having broken over time due to his mother’s illness and his father’s philandering ways, and you have two people who want the happily ever after so badly that they’re clinging on for dear life.
As Steven also pointed out, holding onto something so tightly and being as terrified as Elizabeth is of losing it isn’t healthy. It’s natural for her to want to cling to Lucky, the best form of safety she’s ever known. She depends on Lucky to be her hero, to save her from herself, and to love her in all the ways she can’t love herself. Her brother understands her relationship with Lucky and respects what it means to her, but is fearful that his sister loves him more out of obligation than anything else. He’s shedding light on truths that she refuses to recognize because she’s living in such a state of denial. And when Elizabeth’s life gets complicated and messy, she latches onto the tiniest sign of good, setting up camp in the land of denial until it passes.
While I find myself enjoying the angst-filled heartache of Elizabeth and Nikolas, what I enjoy more is getting Elizabeth’s point of view. It’s quite a feat for writers since General Hospital known for downplaying female characters, practically degrading them to the point of no return. I’ve found the moment Elizabeth riles me up over her messy indecisions; she says something that makes me understand it. It takes a little weeding through the tears and the lies to see her point of view, but it’s there, and I’m thankful that the writers have given it to her. It helps that she has a good handful of friends who are acting as sounding boards and not judging her for her decisions, but understanding that while she put herself in this mess, she also has to get herself out of it.
Perhaps her relationship with Nikolas was doomed from the start. What kind of woman runs right into the arms of her fiancé’s brother every second they are alone? Maybe one who has found something no one else has given her, a declaration that has riled a lot of fans. While plot pointed like most things on this show, I enjoyed how they managed to bring Elizabeth’s rape into this story. Do I think they did it well? No, but I see what they were attempting to explain.
Did it mean that past lovers were unwanted? No. We know she loved Lucky, Ric, and Jason. Does it mean she loved them any less? Not a chance. Did it mean she never looked forward to that intimate connection with them? No. We’ve seen Elizabeth initiate sex several times. Did it mean that her relationship with Nikolas is purely about sex? Definitely not.
As a rape survivor, Elizabeth will always carry that evening with her. It’s forever a part of who she is, and it makes sense that some part of her was stilted because of it. To hear her say that Nikolas awakened a part of her and brought it to life, not only meant she gained a bit of her sexuality back, but a lost piece of herself as well. Even her brother recognized it, saying that Nikolas brings back the Lizzie Webber that she once was. And there’s something to be said about how Nikolas makes her throw caution to the wind and how she trusts him enough to let him see this side of her.
How it’s changed her, doesn’t make what she’s done any less wrong, and it’s nearing the time for Elizabeth to pay for her mistakes. Last week, in an attempt to do the noble thing, Nikolas started to pack his bags this week only to be stopped twice by Elizabeth, who was eager to give him a proper send off the second time around. In true soap fashion, Lucky, who believes his brother’s feelings are unrequited, walked into a room to see his fiancé in Nikolas’ arms, finally learning the harsh truth. At that precise moment, whether you love or hate Elizabeth for what she’s doing, every viewer squealed, thinking it was about damned time.
Not realizing they had been caught, Nikolas and Elizabeth continued to make love one final time as they bid one another goodbye, believing they were laying their feelings to rest. As morally wrong as it was, it was romantic and touching, the star-crossed kind of lovers that Guza enjoys writing. They realize they can never be together, but have this one final moment to hold onto it. It was bittersweet when Elizabeth begged Nikolas to find happiness with someone else and he told her to be happy with his brother, all the while never realizing that Lucky was across town, tearing his house apart with a baseball bat as the truth continued to sink in. All the time he had spent placing his beloved on a pedestal was for nothing and the two people he trusted the most have betrayed him in the worst possible way.
I’ve waited anxiously for the fallout, knowing that while she has the best of intentions; Elizabeth still has to pay the price for her indiscretions. The most important thing to me in a soap character has always been the ability to root for them. This is a genre where characters always do bad things – lie, cheat, kill, etc. They are not perfect and by no means should they be. After all, they’re supposed to be human. What I enjoy most is a character I can see something in, maybe some part of myself, and Elizabeth has always been that for me. She has a good heart and while incredibly flawed, she really wants nothing more than to make everyone else in her life happy, even if it means sacrificing her own happiness.
Of course, now that Lucky knows the truth, all happy endings are delayed, including the romantic weekend Elizabeth started planning for them today. Lucky’s wheels are already starting to turn and if the phone conversation with his mother as he held a gun in his hand is any indication, things are about to get really messy. The show ended with Elizabeth telling Steven she had found her way and was ready to be with Lucky while her fiancé stopped Nikolas at the airport and asked him to stay in Port Charles. What does the scorned man have up his sleeve? Is he going to be able to keep himself sober long enough to do anything? And just what will Elizabeth and Nikolas do when he does confront them later this week?
Whatever happens I know that as Elizabeth as always done, she’ll accept whatever punishment life gives her, pick up the pieces, and move on. I only hope that the next time a love triangle rolls around, she makes a choice – hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself anytime soon for her.
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