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General Hospital: The Undeserved Villain of The Jasoning

Photo Credits: ABC

We’re few months into General Hospital’s Tale of Two Jason aka “The Jasoning”, and the heroes and villains are beginning to take shape as Jason, Patient 6, and their loved ones’ search for the truth. One person being cast as a villain in this story is undeserving of the role he’s being slotted into — Franco Baldwin. Franco should not be the villain in this story. If anything, until recently, he was a victim. It was a cruel twist of fate in a way, for someone who had become known for playing mind games with people, that he was an unwitting participant in another’s.

I’m sure I’m going to catch a lot of hell on social media for this, but I’m willing to deal with it in the hopes it sparks discussion. First, and most importantly, I don’t care to re-litigate the many, many, many crimes Franco’s committed over the years or the polarizing retcon upon his return in 2013. My issues with the character and the rewrite are well documented, and I don’t care to revisit that. Instead, I’m focusing on the character as he exists now, and the attempted growth in characterization under the pen of former co-head writer Jean Passanante.

Franco’s involvement began upon his return to Port Charles this summer. Determined to distance himself from the man he once was, Franco obtained his old artwork in the hopes of destroying it and starting anew. “This so-called art comes from the deepest and darkest parts of my soul. This is the product of a man that I have come to hate, a man that I am — I am no longer that man, but every time I see a brushstroke or a splash of color that may as well as be blood, I am reminded of who I was, and I didn’t go to New York to reclaim these paintings out of pride. I got them back so that I could obliterate them, erase that part of me forever!”

When convinced his work, even his dark past, can have a purpose, he convinces Ava to restore her gallery and let him do an exhibit. While going through pieces at his studio with Elizabeth, she comes across a painting of two boys that catches her eye. He explains the meaning of it, ” When I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend. And he lived in this… this imaginary world that mirrored my real world. And eventually I outgrew it, but…I always remembered him, and I missed him. So I, uh, I made a painting of him and of me, each of us in our own…respective, opposite realities. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Maybe the nicest thing I’ve ever painted is a manifestation of my childhood psychosis.”

Franco says he liked to believe his imaginary friend, “Drew” helped him as a kid. Whether it was with tying his shoe or climbing trees, he was there for him. Elizabeth, ever so insightful, then shared her artistic viewpoint. ” I think I understand why this painting is haunting. It’s an expression of loneliness. You felt isolated as a child, and so you made someone up who would understand you.” Later, while moving into Elizabeth’s, Franco discovered a picture of himself and a young child – one he would later learn is a dead ringer for a young Jason Morgan. That photo was a gasoline trail that would be sparked by a dark secret harbored by his adoptive mother Betsy, and one that would ultimately lead Franco to torch the foundations of his new life with Elizabeth.

In the midst searching for answers about the picture, and after getting none from biological mother Heather Webber, he seeks out Betsy and learns Drew, or Andrew, wasn’t imaginary, he was a real person; the twin Heather Webber once said existed, and Franco believed he was, was given to Betsy to keep out of the hands of the Quartermaines, but she died before she could reclaim Andrew. So, he was raised as Betsy’s son and Franco’s brother. Drew, someone he loved, was ripped out of his life when he, presumably died from a heart condition. In an effort to spare him from the trauma of death, a well-meaning Betsy tells him Drew didn’t exist. On some level that was traumatizing to Franco, and it was the first of what would become the first in series of things he would later endure. But true to form, Franco couldn’t shake his obsession or get out of his own head. When confronted again, Betsy reveals that Drew was given away after an incident between the children left Drew hospitalized.

Confronted with this reality, it shook Franco in his belief that his evil actions could be blamed on his brain tumor. After all, that happened before his tumor, so the evil must be within him, right? This causes Franco to spiral. No longer was his search for the truth about getting answers, but now keeping those answers from Elizabeth and others. He fears she would leave him if she learned he hurt Jason’s twin, so he keeps the news about the twin, his possible involvement in the accident that hurt Drew, and so much more a secret. I would be able to understand and rationalize Franco keeping this to himself to an extent, after all, he’s always feared his darkness wasn’t the result of his tumor, but GH took it a step further than they needed to.

Until now, Franco’s been a pawn in someone else’s games – Betsy lied to him, Heather’s lied and manipulated him for years. I was proud of Franco for opening up to his father Scotty about the twin situation, and even though Scotty has his own fragile relationship with the truth, urged his son to be honest. Franco was haunted by memories of Drew, someone he loved, someone he believed may have hurt and was haunted by what he may have done. He carried his feelings and guilt like an albatross. So when he goes to see Dr. Andre Maddox, a psychologist, like the well-adjusted adult he’s trying to be, it angered me to see Andre prey on him. Andre used his relationship with Franco as a co-worker and doctor to manipulate him just like his mothers. He convinced Franco to keep the twin a secret, even from Elizabeth, and produced a falsified document proving Drew “died”. It was a gross abuse of power, magnified greater when Andre abdicated his responsibility to come clean and left that in Franco’s hands. Why in the hell would GH arm Franco with truth ammunition to villainize him when he didn’t need to be?

The Franco/Jason rivalry drove conflict for years, and what better way to cement Steve Burton as the real Jason than to resurrect that, right? Only it’s undone the very progress the show has made in trying to grow the character, and repositioned Franco back into the role of a psychological terrorist. He’s the gatekeeper to the answers Jason, the man known as Patient 6, and all who love them seek. Yet he destroys the evidence that could help them because of self-preservation. In Franco’s mind, the thought of one Jason Morgan is bad enough, but two? The Jason who’s been town can tolerate being in the same room with him for the sake of Jake, the other still hates him with the fire of a thousand suns. One Jason remembers all the horrible things Franco did, but the other lived them. Both Jasons loved Elizabeth, and Franco fears whoever ultimately doesn’t end up with Sam will go back to Elizabeth, and because she will know what a terrible person Franco is, will leave him to be with one of them.

It’s absurd and infuriating, but also very much in character for Franco. “I love the world that you and I have created, and I’m a little terrified that I’m gonna mess it all up,” Franco told Liz over the summer.  At his core, Franco believes he is undeserving of love, and as a result, is in constant fear of losing the love he does have. He’s terrified he’s going to ruin his relationship with Elizabeth, that he’ll blow up the life they’ve built together. The only love he’s known prior to hers was dark and manipulative and damaging. His relationship with ex-Nina showed him that he has the capacity for love, but his relationship with Elizabeth showed him that he can be worthy of it and have it if he works for it.

Earlier this week I tweeted that Franco’s motivation draws a parallel to the secret Elizabeth chose to keep about Jake Doe being Jason Morgan. Elizabeth believed if Jake Doe knew he was Jason Morgan, he would leave her and go back to Sam. Why? Because she didn’t believe their love would be strong enough to survive the truth. Franco is doing the same thing here. He believes he doesn’t deserve the love of a woman like Elizabeth, and in a twist of fate, his actions here could make a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Imagine how different all of this would be had Franco told the truth, showed Andre’s proof and let the chips fall where they may. The Jasons hate Franco, so anything he says would be met with suspicion. They would still have to find Dr. Maddox and those ultimately behind the project, but Franco wouldn’t be the target of their anger. Instead, they would have had to thank him for helping them reclaim their lives. It would be a huge pill to swallow for everyone who hates him, but he would have done the right thing. It would have cemented that Franco could be selfless and do what was right because it needed to be done. It would have endeared him in the eyes of Elizabeth, and those who love Jason would have to see that maybe Franco is a better person now.

My interest in the storyline is still high, and this is one of the few criticisms I have for it, but I don’t want to see Franco revert back to the awful person he once was. I enjoyed the journey he began with Nina, and have liked seeing him become the man he is with Elizabeth today. The man who wants to be better, the man who wants to move on from his past, the man who wants to someday believe he’s worthy of the love he’s shown. His actions since learning who the real Jason is contradictory to the person who was agonizing over doing the right thing, the one who wanted to keep the news of the believed dead twin a secret as to not inflict any pain. It is my hope that Elizabeth will stand by Franco, and not abandon him the way she was left alone after her secrets were exposed. After all, who better to understand your mistakes than one who’s made the same? That’s why Elizabeth and Franco, whatever your issues are with them being paired together, are so well matched. She understands him in a way no one ever has, and he wants to be better for her.

He’s been underserving of the role he’s been cast in, but it’s one he unfortunately now has to own. He’s hurting others on the slim chance he could be hurt himself. He’s victimizing again the people he apologized for hurting before — Sam, the wife of the Jasons, their children Jake, Danny and Scout, and the myriad of loved ones and friends who are invested in the outcome, including Elizabeth.

Where you do stand in all of this? Share your thoughts below. Even if you disagree you should comment. We encourage diversity of opinions here. Your comments may be featured in the reaction feature to this article.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

  • Patricia Simpson

    I totally agree! I love Franco and agree GH writers put him in an awkward position that did not need to be. This is all on Andre and whoever their boss is , give Liz & Franco their chance, the Jason’s love Sam and there is no place int this story foe Franco & Liz besides the affect it may have on Jake, in the end the writers better keep them together or no more GH for me!

  • Elizabeth_Erwin

    Pairing Elizabeth with Franco is Frank’s revenge on Liz’s fans for going ballistic when he wanted to fire her.

  • Elizabeth_Erwin

    I really wish Roger would have left it. But that certainly cements the stupidity of FV in my mind.

  • Elizabeth_Erwin

    There is a difference between “doing some cruel things” and living life in all its joys to cause pain and suffering of other people. For a significant part of the audience Franco is as redeemable as Charles Manson is.

  • Jagurl

    I see more Liz infatuated in Jason more than love so she will take whatever she can get, reason for the Jake Doe lying saga. Franco knows Liz would be trying to get back one of the Jason, but too bad he don’t realize none might not choose her.. Also why is Liz stuck in the Jason story line for almost half her entire character life on GH, makes no sense.. Franco keeping the secret is stupid all angst, Drew was 3yrs old when Franco supposed push him down the stairs, WTH would he be afraid of Jason now after so many years when he commit so much worse recently. Why is Franco believing Betsy when he sees she and Heather are liars.

  • pam r

    Franco is a loving man now & is insecure in his relationship w/Liz. Remember Carly did a # on his head when they were supposed to get married & she cheated w/Sonny.
    Franco’s head was played w/Heather, Betsy & i believe he never pushed Drew down the steps. Drew may have been evil🙄
    I most definitely want Franco to stay w/Liz & share the loving family life they have created. He needs to stop being afraid that no one loves him & help in the twin investigation. Writers again are making Franco paranoid, when Franco saw BM Jason hugging Liz as he was leaving.
    Also i love that Franco loves & supports Kiki as a daughter. Hoping writers leave Franco to have a normal life w/Liz & work as the fantastic Artist that he is.

  • Jennifer Bald

    I think they should twist the franko storyline and turn him back into Todd Manning now that would be great.

  • Nicholas

    Thank You, my thoughts exactly.

  • Liason4Real

    This! Franco fit with Nina or Ava and not Elizabeth.

  • Liason4Real

    There were rumors RoHo balked at playing Franco and was told to take it or leave it. FV could have killed off Franco last year and had RoHo return months later in a different role, because he had no problem creating ANOTHER role for ME after Silas bombed.

  • Zed Que

    Not RC it was FV he asked Roger what he thought, if he wanted the challenge, the role of Franco..
    Roger could have said no, but he wanted the role, he chose to play Franco.

  • PaganKMcK

    I have to admit, I never really cared for the Franco storyline. It was just to dark for me. I stopped watching GH and have recently started watching again. So. I missed most of the Roger Howarth version of Franco.

    I would like to see some of Franco’s backstory explored. I think he was a victim in the two Jason story and that part of the reason Franco was so obsessed with Jason was because of something that was done to him as well.

  • Stanford Jones

    I agree with everything you said.Think people who watch the show forget that all the characters minus the new Jason have done some cruel things.I would love for them to let Franco’s character evolve.

  • rnbabes

    Sorry but that is who franco should be the Villain of Gh. Why shouldhe be an up right character. He look like one and does a great job being one. He was with the right pairing when he was with Nina they were great together. He needs to be away from Elizabeth I don’t want her to be with a the lowest scum of Port Charles he’s a predator and insecure little boy. Why does Elizabeth have to have a fourth little boy to take care of just like she did with lucky he was a little boy too.

  • Liason4Real

    The best Franco is one that is NOT on my TV screen. RoHo could have played any character from GH’s fifty plus history, but IIC chose to saddle him with a serial killing rapist and that is not something this viewer wants to see paired with Elizabeth Webber.

  • kym colbert

    I am a Franco fan hopefully the writers will decide to have him come clean before it’s discovered.

  • Blink

    Very good read. My problem is that Franco and Liz are never allowed to be the hero in their own story. When Franco was kidnapped, we saw Liz running around pleading with people to help, turning over stones to find him…only to have Sam find a piece a paper and find Franco. Then we have Franco not going to a party, only so whatever Jason can be the one to carry Liz to the hospital and Liz blurts out her gratitude that he saved her, but he didn’t….that would be Nina who got no credit. Then we have Franco’s childhood story hijacked by The Tale of Two Jason. During the Franco and Liz relationship he would fumble and keep things from her, but with one look he was spilling it to her in a nanosecond. Now they have him running around insecure about Jason, when only last month he was urging Liz to go see Jason in the hospital. And the whole idea of why he won’t reveal things to Liz is ridiculous. He was three years old when Drew went down the stairs (since Betsey lies every time she opens her mouth, whose to say that really happened.). And I guess I’m just tired of seeing the glorification of violence and bullying from the supposed victims (The Jasonings) on Franco. It’s not fun to watch especially when he’s not even allowed to fight back. There was a way to tell this story where all players had their own story. Liz could be helping Franco cope with his childhood traumas and the two twins could stay in their world. Too bad we didn’t get that. What we got was Liz/Franco used as fodder.

  • Lois

    I think you’ve done a great job laying out the journey
    Franco has been on and I find nothing to disagree with. I can only hope
    that the writers will not take him backwards. He’s come a long way and stumbles along the way should be expected and forgiven. Like a witness to the crime… he should come forward, but he is not the responsible for causing the damage. I want more to that story of him and Andrew and a reveal of what really happened, because I do not believe Betsy has told the whole truth either.

  • scoma60

    Really good article Ryan. I’m a huge fan of Franco & Elizabeth. They make a loving, passionate yet fun couple. Sadly GH decided to throw Franco under the bus like they did Elizabeth during Lake. So unneeded. I don’t give a flying flip if Franco never told The Jasons diddly squat. They never make any of their life choices with Elizabeth or Franco in mind. It does bother me however that he’s keeping it from Elizabeth. I totally understand Franco’s fear because he has so much self-loathing.
    GH has been dropping crumbs for a year about his childhood. It pisses me off that his childhood traumas have been usurped by the twin mess. While I understand his fear, GH is trying to sell us his theory that nuJason would reunite with Elizabeth. WTH? nuJason has only seethed or barked at Elizabeth for 2 years. How on earth would Franco think he’d flip from Sam to Elizabeth? The other sticking point is Franco believing either Jason is a better man. That’s a crock. Franco may despise himself but he has rightfully called The Jasons on their hypocrisy. They murder for a living.for pity’s sake
    That being said…I feel the truth with cause a temporary riff but Franco & Elizabeth will reunite. Before this lame plot point the were the most loving, devoted & healthiest relationship on the show. I really want Franco to see Kevin to help him through his jumbled emotions of self-loathing, insecurity, & his childhood. Andre was a hack but Kevin would be amazing.

  • Tracy

    Not a Franco fan. It was a mistake to bring him back. I am sick of Liz serving as nothing but a prop for him. I want Liz and her boys set free. I want this show to stop treating Liz and Liz fans as if they do not matter. The show acted like all Liz deserved was Franco. Her lie is small compared to what others have done but she was made the town pariah and only allowed Franco. Now that this lie he told hurts all the people he swore that he changed. Liz will be the twin pariah again if she forgives this. He had a chances to prove he had changed and all he thought about was himself. Franco is a character you can not domesticate. The best thing to do with him, is to let him cause trouble in other people’s stories. The Talk with Ava was spot on they only bring people down. So pair them and let them cause trouble together.