This piece appeared in Soap Opera Digest on December 16, 1997.

The Son Also Rises
by Kristin Gallagher and Carolyn Hinsey

GH Head Writer Robert Guza, Jr. Returns With A Bang--And A Long-Buried Secret About Nikolas

Nearly 17 months ago, GENERAL HOSPITAL's top scribe, Robert Guza, Jr., checked out of GH to help create SUNSET BEACH. Now, not only is Guza back in the HOSPITAL, he's back with a vengeance. (This is the man who helped create Carly, so he knows a little something about vengeance.) On Monday, December 8, gunfire erupted at a black-tie party at Luke's…and Nikolas fell, shot in the throat by bullets meant for mobster-in-training Jason Morgan. Now, Nikolas is in the hospital waiting to find out if he'll ever speak again, and the rest of the townsfolk are dealing with the aftershock of the shot heard 'round P.C.

"The shooting is only the beginning," promises Guza. "We wanted a cataclysmic event to kickstart our return. But it's the aftermath that is particularly shocking in terms of all the characters."

He's not kidding: Nearly every character on the GH canvas will be impacted by Monday's events. "It affects the Cassadine/Spencer story, it affects Brenda, it affects Alan, it affects Carly, it affects Jason."

"The first line Luke had in this show was 'Welcome to Luke's. From now on, every damn thing around here is going to be different,'" chuckles Anthony Geary (Luke), adding that the line refers "to the audience, to the town and to the show. I love Bob Guza!"

Guza, it seems, will be returning that favor in kind. "I started out on GH writing Luke and Laura stuff," smiles Guza, "so there's always going to be a part of me that is Luke and a part of Luke that is me." Even more important is Luke becoming intrinsically linked to the Cassadines by helping to save Nikolas's life again (remember Nikolas's cliff dive in Switzerland?) by assisting Jason when he performs an emergency tracheotomy on the teen. And this will not sit well with Count Vlad, as Luke calls him.

"Everything is spinning out of control for Stefan and he doesn't like that," agrees Stephen Nichols. "One minute, he's in bed with Katherine, the next, he's in the ER attacking [a bloodsoaked] Luke, because he assumed Luke was involved in Nikolas getting hurt. His priorities change in a matter of moments, from this reconciliation with Katherine to the fact that his son is hurt."

Son???!!! You read that right. While visiting an unconscious Nikolas in the hospital, Stefan reveals to the audience what has long been suspected: Nikolas is indeed his child. "He is my son," allows Nichols, "but it's only revealed to the audience at this point. Only I know it for a fact. Laura knows it's a possibility." And it looks like things will stay that way for a while. "I don't know that it will be revealed to others in the near future," shrugs Nichols, "but it's there now. They've been holding this secret for a long time, and I think they chose a very good moment." (With help from Luke and Laura's portrayers, Anthony Geary and Genie Francis--see sidebar.)

A good moment for us, perhaps, but not for Nikolas. The young Cassadine's recovery will not go as smoothly as planned. "He's out of it for a couple of days and he's not breathing on his own yet, so it's a pretty serious thing," affirms Tyler Christopher (Nikolas). "It's not going to be one of those injuries that will magically go away as so often happens. He was literally dying when he got shot. And now he's on a respirator."

And thinking about Sarah. Alas, she's being kept away from Nikolas by Stefan, who blames her for his injuries. "He was waiting for Sarah to come by [Luke's] when the drive-by shooting occurred," Christopher reminds us. "Sarah's at the hospital the whole time, but she really can't get in to see him until later."

Strangely enough, one of the people who does get in to see Nikolas is Brenda. Why? "Brenda has a huge reaction to what happened to Nikolas," explains Guza. "She's in Luke's club having a good old time when she hears gunfire strafing Luke's. What's her first reaction going to be? She runs to the door, sees a dark-haired, tuxedo-ed figure lying in a pool of blood." Coming next? Brenda's breakdown. "By the end of the week, Brenda will lose it big time as a result of what happened on Monday," confirms Guza.

Another fragment of the fallout from this shooting will be its effect on Carly. Her overzealous interest in Jason's health will trigger a blowout with Tony that will propel him to sue Carly for custody of the baby. By Friday, hints Guza, "Carly does something in desperation that's going to blow up for the next five months."

As usual, Jason is in the dark. He's too busy flying to Paris to make sure Robin's safe. But don't look for a quickie reunion between the ex-lovers. "What broke them up--the notion of Jason opting for a career in the underworld--is going to stay there," assures Guza. "I really want to respect that."

Just as he is respecting GH's history and the wishes of both his actor and his audience. "This job is a cakewalk because everybody is so talented," Guza demurs. "It feels very much like coming home." But, as Luke might say, home ain't never been like this, baby. "We're essentially treating every week like it's sweeps," Guza grins. "I'll do something huge on a Wednesday or a Tuesday. I'd like to set up the expectation that these people are crazy. They'll do anything at anytime, so you can't not watch."

Laura (Genie Francis) and Stefan had sex lo, those many years ago.

Sidebar: Your Secret's Safe With Them

Last year, GH writers (sans Guza, who had devised the story of Laura's secret son, Nikolas) scripted a scene where Luke would have overheard Laura and Stefan discussing their "son" and then gone about his business as if nothing had every happened. Geary and Francis refused to play the scene, and it was rewritten at the last minute.

"If I knew [Stefan was Nikolas's father], I would have to kill him," explains Geary, in character. Hmm. If Nikolas is Stefan's son--and not Stavros's as Laura had claimed--that means a) Laura slept with Stefan and b) Laura has been lying about it to Luke all these years. "[In the untaped scene], Laura would have confronted Stefan with this somewhere in the park, and I would have been hiding in the bushes for five scenes listening to it," continues Geary. "This was material that Luke was just going to sit with; there was no follow-up. They said to me, 'Luke will be in conflict about this.' Conflict--that's a buzz word meaning, 'We don't have anything for you to do, so for weeks you're going to languish around in conflict.' I bring conflict. You don't have to write it for me. Just give me story."

In the end, GH saw the Spencers' side, and re-wrote the scenes. "I have to applaud Wendy [Riche, GH executive producer] for that," praises Geary. "She listened and she responded. And now we have a whole story to play that would have been wasted in one afternoon because they couldn't think of anything else to do that day."


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