Brando and Sasha say Goodbye Liam GH

ABC screenshot

“These stories… are painful to watch and painful to play.”

Right up until the very end, many of us assumed that General Hospital would let Sasha and Brando’s child live. Despite everything little Liam had gone through — not to mention the increasingly dark prognosis — we told ourselves he would be the recipient of a holiday miracle.

But as the December 17th episode came to a close, Sonny’s late father came to usher the newborn baby to heaven as mom Sasha broke down in tears. The scenes were without question powerful, as were the performances by Sofia Mattsson (Sasha) and Johnny Wactor (Brando). But more than a few in the audience were turned off by the timing.

“Even Britt is shaking her head, knowing it wasn’t right to kill off a baby at Christmas,” tweeted Toby Shields Bell.

If there was one thing nearly every viewer agreed on, it was the quality of the performances. “Give Mattsson and Wactor all the rewards,” wrote one viewer. Even those unhappy about the dark tale unfolding during what should be the happiest time of the year echoed that sentiment. “I know we must have ‘drama’ since it is a soap,” tweeted Lisa, “but good grief, could it be worse timing? Merry Christmas, loyal viewers, here is the most depressing storyline we could create. Superb acting, though.”

Another oft- repeated sentiment was that the show, in essence, killed off the wrong character. It’s no secret that for months, many in the audience have been hoping that one of the many Port Charles residents who’ve vowed to kill Peter would make good on their threats.

Hoping to help viewers deal with the difficult storyline, Wactor took to Twitter for a series of heartfelt missives in response to upset viewers. “I want to thank everyone for being so invested in watching Liam’s journey,” he began. “It’s obviously an incredibly painful storyline that has left many of you with the question, simply put, ‘Why?’ Why tell a story of two new parents with a shaky foundation, but who have hope to maybe be something together, and then take away the greatest gift they’ve ever had before they even get to truly cherish and nurture that gift, their baby boy, Liam?

“Why,” he continued, “this story during one of, if not the, roughest stretches of time in many of our personal lives? Why during the holidays? Especially when General Hospital is [an escape for many of you]. An escape that is expected to provide joy in times of need.”

Brando prepares Sasha GH

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While the actor did not claim to have the answer to those questions, he was willing to share his thoughts on the matter “as a player in telling stories.”

He went on to explain that dramas often tell stories that are “extreme, rare and worst-case scenario. These stories are painful. Painful to watch and painful to play. This story, about Liam, is especially devastating due to the child’s innocence and unfair circumstances.”

There are, however, those in the audience whom Wactor believed might be helped by the grim tale. “Imagine the pain of those families that have suffered these circumstances in their own real lives,” he put forth. “This story is for them. To show them that we see them… perhaps that brings them comfort in some way. Being seen.”

Tragic tales can also serve as a reminder to focus on what’s important, he added, “one of them being life. Our own life and the life of our loved ones. Especially during the holidays. So often we can get caught up in buying gifts and receiving gifts and prioritizing such as the most important part of the holidays when really, the most important is being with those you love and are still with you on these holidays. Life is precious and fragile, and death, although inevitable for everyone, can come unexpected.”

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Ultimately, he concluded, there was no right answer to the question of why the soap opted to tell this tale, let alone during the holidays. “There is just my speculation.” He added that “conversations that are geared toward understanding are far more productive and helpful to everyone than a conversation where the goal is to be right.”

Finally, he thanked fans for watching, their kinds words regarding the performances and the opportunity to have “sparked such fervent conversation with the story. Hope to bring everyone some undisputed joy in the storylines to follow.”

What was your reaction to the incredibly painful storyline and its timing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, then join us in lightning the mood by revisiting past sudsy holiday moments from around the daytime dial.