Jonathan Jackson Burns Down Port Charles
"You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent." — Addison DeWitt, All About Eve, 1950
Jonathan Jackson is an arsonist.
How else can one describe the blazing inferno the actor set off on today's episode of General Hospital where Lucky (Jackson) directly confronted his lifelong love Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and his brother Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) about sleeping with each other behind his back?
Jackson elevated his performance to epic proportions that might as well have been from the stage of a Greek tragedy, Tennessee Williams or August Wilson play in this episode. It wasn't just good; it was electrifying. After Monday's performance, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences should just put an Emmy for Jackson on layaway and call it a wrap.
From the moment Lucky caught Liz and Nik doing the funky chicken in flagrante delicto, GH's writers and Jackson ratcheted up the tension with a high wire act of jangling nerves, a virtual cat on a hot tin roof. Alone, Lucky was a hot mess, trashing the house he had shared with Elizabeth (formerly the home of his parents, Luke and Laura), oddly confiding both police secrets about the investigation into Claudia's death and his own emotional turmoil to Jason (Steve Burton), and generally was a emotional wreck, careening all over the place like a pinball.
On the other hand, whenever Lucky was with Elizabeth or Nikolas he was cold and detached, imbuing just enough of Jackson's trademark sincerity (some would say over-earnestness) to knock the two cheatin' hearts off-kilter. Whether prodding and poking Elizabeth about her feelings with not-so-subtle rage boiling beneath the surface, or asking Nikolas to stay in Port Charles instead of flying off to France, Lucky kept non-suspecting viewers guessing. What was he planning? How much revenge would he take and in what deliciously twisted form?
GH could have played this cat-and-mouse game for weeks or months on end to draw out (or diffuse) the tension, or they could have had Lucky concoct a cockamamie, convoluted scheme which would have likely threatened the patience of everyone involved. Instead, the writers wisely cut to the chase. On the Friday January 22 episode, Lucky walked in on Elizabeth andNikolas sharing a moment and detonated a cliffhanger bomb of epic proportions:
"You don't love me, Elizabeth. If you did, you wouldn't be screwing my brother behind my back."
In what can only be described as emotional brutality, Lucky ripped the two cheaters to shreds, Elizabeth being the target of his rage much more than Nikolas. Lucky called her everything but a child of God and effectively branded him a true Cassadine, Prince Cain to Lucky's betrayed Abel. Through it all, Jackson was magnificent in every conceivable way.
While Lucky didn't appear drunk, Jackson's bloodshot eyes made it impossible to tell the difference between Lucky's inebriation or his raging hurt and anger. Every choice word he said was practically (and sometimes literally) spat venomously. At any minute, Lucky looked like he could have beaten both Nikolas and Elizabeth half to death in that living room. As Lucky repeatedly called Liz out for "screwing" and "nailing" his brother (we ain't talking about carpentry, folks), Jackson looked like he was barely in control of himself in the same way that Kim Zimmer frequently has described how she lost herself in her legendary character Reva during the infamous "Slut of Springfield/Fountain Scene" on the late, departed Guiding Light.