It’s been said that confession is good for soul. In the case of General Hospital’s Franco, his confession to fiance Elizabeth regarding his knowledge of the Jasons’ true identity led to a soul baring moment of honesty, and resolved a conflict that could have later reared its ugly head and disrupt their happiness. But will telling the truth but not the whole truth undo the progress he’s made?
There was a lot to love about the December 18, 2017 episode of General Hospital, specifically if you’re a fan of the Franco and Elizabeth pairing. Last month I opined about creative’s decision to have Franco keep the identity of the Jasons to himself. I laid out my reasons for why I felt he was the undeserving villain of the storyline, and questioned whether Elizabeth would stand by him if or when the truth came out. Admittedly, I was surprised by how the truth would be revealed. I expected someone to discover Franco’s secret and expose him at the most inopportune time – ala soap trope wedding interruptus. So, when Franco opted to come clean to Elizabeth on his own accordance I was stunned.
Franco made a heartfelt confession about what he knew, and opted not to share with the woman he loves. It wasn’t an easy thing for Franco to do — honestly is not his strongest characteristic, hell, it wasn’t one at all. But because he wants to be a better person for Elizabeth, it was something he knew he had to do. In my earlier piece I touched on Franco’s secret hurting the children, but I missed the valid points Elizabeth brought up today. “My biggest one is that Jason is Jake’s father. You purposely sat on information you knew would affect my son’s life? I know you don’t care about Jason, and I know you don’t care how he feels towards Jake, but don’t you care how Jake feels?” In that moment Elizabeth triggered Franco to be honest, not just with her but with himself. His admission was the verbal acknowledgement of the manifestation of his deepest fears and insecurities, and the biggest fear of all – his past will be his undoing. For the rest of his life, Franco’s dark, violent and criminal history will follow him. His victims will never allow him to move forward due to the depths and severity of his depravity. As Franco said before, Drew wasn’t very fuzzy as Jason, but at least he tolerated Franco for Jake’s sake. Franco fears that now that the real Jason is back – the Jason who doesn’t care about the excuse of a brain tumor, and a Jason who exists in a world in which Franco’s bad deeds happened 18 months prior, not six years – could wield a tremendous amount of influence over Elizabeth and the life Franco has come to appreciate.
Franco certainly doesn’t give Elizabeth enough credit for him to believe Jason could snap his fingers and she’d miraculously do as he commands, but then again, he may have had a point. Elizabeth will do what’s best for Jake, and a contentious battle with Jason for custody wouldn’t benefit their son, and to spare him his parents warring, Elizabeth would sacrifice her own happiness to make peace. If you look at it that way, maybe his fears are valid. Franco loves Elizabeth and her children, he described her boys, Jake specifically as “the second-best thing that’s ever happened to me”.
His relationship with Jake is significant because he was the only one to get through to him when no one else could; he is also the foundation of the bridge that led to Elizabeth seeing Franco in a new light. Franco loves that little boy. But he knows Jake will one day learn about the terrible things he’s done to the people Jason loves – Sam and Michael to name a few – and doesn’t want to lose the connection he had with him. He fears Jason will turn Jake against him, and he’ll lose his friend, giving Jason way too much power and underestimating the influence Elizabeth has over her own child – and devaluing his own connection with the young one in the process.
“Our world is bigger than you and your fears.” Elizabeth’s words to Franco were a more than just an attempt at easing Franco’s mind, it was a warning shot. Relationships are exhausting enough balancing the daily minutia of life, work, family and living in general – having to contend with the omnipotent presence of your partner’s insecurities can put an end to an otherwise good relationship real quick. Elizabeth has tried to assuage Franco’s fears before, reminding him repeatedly that he is not his past, that he is not his darkness, that he couldn’t have the capacity to love her and her children the way he does if he was the evil force he believes himself to be at times. Even though it would be exhausting, I think Elizabeth could tolerate his man-pain if she were alone – but she has her boys to think about. And Franco’s actions, deliberate or not, affect their lives too. It’s not fair to her or her boys if she keeps having to play “keep away Franco’s fears” with her Moon Princess Halation as if she’s Sailor Moon trying to purify his darkness. Editor’s Note: Halation is the spreading of light beyond its proper boundaries to form a fog around the edges of a bright image in a photograph or on a television screen.
How much longer will Elizabeth tolerate Franco’s self-destructive tendencies? If today was any indication, he’s on his last chance. When given the opportunity to come clean about any other secrets, we were given an obvious fake out of Elizabeth rebuffing him and “going to tell Jason” about Franco allegedly pushing Drew down the stairs as a child. Once again, Franco fell victim to overthinking and opted to keep that tidbit of information to himself. When Elizabeth finds out, it won’t be the action of a child that is their undoing, it’s his deliberate adult decision to once again withhold information.
I never thought I, Ryan, of the Original Franco Haters Club, would come to enjoy a character I’ve long loathed for so many reasons, but here I am – objectively analyzing the rehab done on the character since former co-head writer Jean Passanante took over the creative team. I do not condone or excuse anything of the awful things the character has done, but I’m at the point where I don’t feel I need to give that caveat when discussing or writing about the present. It’s a given. Franco’s critics talk about the series’ continued attempts at redemption, but I don’t see the attempts – I see a character trying to move on from his past the way so many others have done before. The only difference is, his past is an albatross around his neck, because he can’t be the whitewashed hero that others who’ve done terrible things can be, nor should he.
Breakdown writer Barbara Bloom and script writer Kate Hall delivered scenes that represented everything I’ve come to enjoy about Franco and Elizabeth’s relationship, and the growth of the character over the past three years. Elizabeth and Franco love one another in spite of their flaws — they’re imperfectly perfect together. Franco doesn’t hold Elizabeth to an unattainable standard that she can never meet, he doesn’t treat her like a wilted flower, he doesn’t need her to be damaged or broken, or to be the “precious little girl found trembling in the snow” so he can play her hero. Elizabeth doesn’t want Franco to be anything other than the person he wants to be. She can look past his damage and sins to see the man who’s searching for a love he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of. That is the why I root for them, that is why I am drawn to their love story. General Hospital has a winning formula with Rebecca Herbst and Roger Howarth. Elizabeth and Franco is GH’s Beauty and the Beast, and we all know Belle tamed the beast in the end to find her prince. I’m rooting for the same with Friz.