Credit: ABC (2), ABC screenshot, Howard Wise/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI

We can’t wait to see what’s inside.

For months, General Hospital had been setting us up to believe that somehow Esme’s mother was Felcia, aka the onetime object of Daddy Dearest Ryan’s affections. But the July 27 episode (recapped here) pulled the rug right out from under us when he admitted that he didn’t even know the real name of the mystery woman with whom the she-devil was conceived.

We were shocked. And beyond that, intrigued. “What kind of woman,” we wondered, “would be the sort that a serial killer could feel like he could be himself around?” Immediately, we started trying to guess her identity. But seeing as it wasn’t that long ago that Ryan replaced twin brother Kevin, she can’t really be someone already in Port Charles. If she was, Ryan would have spotted his lost love during that reign of terror.

Obrecht threatens Victor on island General Hospital

“No thanks, I already have one villain macking on me,” thought Liesl.

Credit: ABC screenshot

If it has to be someone new, that opens up a world of possibilities — one that includes the casting of a much-missed daytime vet, one who can play an enticing riddle wrapped in an enigma. Crystal Chappell (ex-Carly, Days of Our Lives) comes to mind. So does Roberta Weiss (once Flame on Santa Barbara). And Cady McClain (most recently Days of Our Lives’ Jennifer).

Not for nothing, but how much fun for fans would it be to see the real-life marrieds and former As the World Turns castmates throw sparks on screen again?

Could mom be the word for Chappell (left), Weiss or McClain?

Credit: Jill Johnson/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI

Whoever gets the part, Madame X is sure to stir up at least as much trouble as her conniving daughter — probably more. After all, what kind of off-kilter beauty finds herself drawn to the darkness that has always surrounded Ryan? And how sorry will Esme be to discover that perhaps Pop is the lesser of the two evils represented by her parents?

Return to the Golden Age of General Hospital and Love in the Afternoon with the below photo gallery.