Deep Soap: ‘General Hospital’ Explores Tragedy of Guilty Person in Jail

by | May 21, 2010 at 7:02 AM | Deep Soap

Chad Duell as Michael on General Hospital (ABC)

Chad Duell as Michael on General Hospital (ABC)

Port Charles Justice

There are a few things I can count on in this world. The sun rises in the east.  Puppies are cute. And ‘General Hospital‘ will always, always find a way to make the mob heroic and the police evil.   Now the show is asking me to believe that a tragic miscarriage of  justice occurred because someone was convicted and sentenced for a crime he actually committed.   The entire town of Port Charles has ground to a halt because Michael (Chad Duell) was sentenced to two to five years in prison for killing Claudia (Sarah Brown) by hitting her so hard with an axe handle that she died instantly, then participating in a cover up of what really happened. As the Judge said when he sentenced him, it was the MINIMUM SENTENCE for MANSLAUGHTER according to the guidelines established by the state of New York.  This apparently makes the judge one of two people responsible for Michael’s fate (hint: the other person is neither Michael the killer nor Sonny who orchestrated the cover up!) Even the actual good guys, Dante (Dominic Zamprogna) and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson), have proclaimed him the worst person in the world and contemplated blackmailing him to get Michael’s sentence commuted.  (Wouldn’t that require an appeal which would be handled by a different judge?) The judge had just learned that the entire courtroom was guilty of perjury and that Michael was aware that fleeing the country to avoid testifying was wrong.  He was quite lenient.

Dante is the other person who GH claims is responsible for Michael’s fate.  After months of everyone screaming at him that he is an awful human being because he wants to send his own father to prison, he is now an awful person because he stopped his father from going to prison. Dante made sure that the truth about Claudia’s murder was uncovered, and for that he is branded a liar by Carly (Laura Wright).  I know that she thinks undercover police work is inherently evil but her plan to seek revenge on Dante is over the top.  I almost pulled an Elvis on my TV when Carly and Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) laughed about how Jason (Steve Burton) would surely have killed Dante had he not concocted a scheme to be his prison Daddy.  Granted, Carly’s plan to ruin Dante’s life by getting him to sleep with a beautiful woman doesn’t seem like much of a punishment. But logic has never been Carly’s strongsuit.

Yes, it’s wrong for an 18-year-old with a target on his head thanks to his mobster heritage to be in general population at a maximum security prison.   Diane should have used her legal expertise to argue  that Michael be placed in a protective cell block for vulnerable prisoners, or that due to his brain damage Michael has a diminished capacity and should be sentenced to a medical facility where he can properly treated for his poor impulse control, or, hell make the novel legal argument that since he spent a year in a coma he is mentally a 17-year-old who belongs in juvie. I can’t imagine that the judge would have had any issue with that.   But nobody made any of those suggestions.

It was also stupid of Dante to promise Michael that he would receive a suspended sentence.  How could he possibly know how the judge would react? As a cop he should understand that the judge can reject any plea bargain agreements made by the D.A. and the judge.  I suppose this is supposed to be evidence that Dante has a God Complex just like Sonny.  He is certainly an idiot for lying when Sonny shot him in the chest, but Sonny and Carly had no complaints about that.

You know who else is responsible for Michael’s plight according to Sonny?  Politicians.   If  Sonny were not a mobster, senators and congressmen would be fighting to overturn a sentence that was within standard guidelines because of what Michael has been through. First of all, when is the last time you heard of a politician in an election year help a justly convicted criminal?  Our prisons are full of impoverished 18-year-old’s who are serving longer sentences than Michael is for selling a small quantity of drugs. I have yet to hear of a politician working hard to get their sentences commuted.  Sonny’s probably okay with that though, since he has always been self righteous about the fact that he does not sell drugs.

As for poor innocent Michael in prison, of course he is not just in danger from other prisoners.  The guards have to be out to get him too, to better reinforce the idea that law enforcement is evil.  The show is even hinting — though I would hope they won’t actually go there — that Michael could be sexually assaulted behind bars.  While the thought of Sonny screaming at Dante, “It’s your fault your innocent baby brother got his salad tossed!” is kind of darkly hilarious, the show that made a teen dating violence storyline about everything but the victim is not equipped to handle this issue.  Granted this is coming from someone who would not last an hour in Camp Cupcake, but wouldn’t being a powerful mobster’s son be an asset in prison?  Couldn’t he just threaten to have the family of anyone who came after him murdered?  I suspect the Drew Garrett version of Michael would be making red sauce in the prison kitchen a la Goodfellas and making other prisoners clean his cell.  Thank you GH for reminding me of what a tragedy it is when someone who kills another human being is sent to prison for two years.

However kudos to the dialogue writer for Maxie’s response upon learning that Olivia gave birth to Dante when she was fifteen. “No wonder she looks more like his sister” It’s funny because it’s true.