What happened: Silas (Michael Easton) was murdered (7/31) before he could tell Kiki (Hayley Erin) that her mother, Ava (Maura West), was alive, disguising herself as a long-lost aunt (Denise Demuccio) and sleeping with her boyfriend, Morgan (Bryan Craig). Scotty grilled Ava as a suspect during the subsequent trial and she blew her cover (8/24). Madeline Reeves turned out to be the real killer; she wanted to forge Silas' signature to have access to Nina's (Slias' ex-wife) money (8/31). Kiki swore Morgan and Ava off once she learned the whole truth from Franco (Roger Howarth; 9/1). Scotty became Ava's lawyer and got her off for killing Connie, having the 1 shred of evidence in his possession: a recorded confession (9/16). The recording was stolen by new district attorney Paul Hornsby (Richard Burgi), who wanted to use Ava as the face of his mob ring while he tries to dismantle Sonny's organization (9/22). Ava finally regained custody of her daughter, Avery, by goading Sonny into threatening her and taping it for the judge to hear (11/10). Nina and Franco moved into Silas' apartment to look after an alcoholic Kiki, who later ran Carly off the road in a druken stupor (11/3); Carly dropped the charges (11/24). Michael and Carly had an intervention with Morgan (11/23) to get him treatment for bipolar disorder, of which he showed signs starting on 9/2.
My commentary: I love a good "who dun it?" murder mystery and a Friday cliffhanger! The clues were well-placed and properly misleading (Morgan, Ava and Nina were all at scene and had motive; the Madeline factor was introduced later), and the investigation and trial didn't go on for too long. 1 of the stand-out moments was when Nina (Michelle Stafford) left for Silas' apartment in a rage after learning he let her stand accused of kidnapping Avery to keep up Ava's 'Denise' rouse. "Once again, he's chosen Ava over me!," she yelled (7/31). The lines were great and I enjoy watching Stafford's 'heat to an exploding boil' anger work. Hell must have frozen over on 8/4, because I felt sorry for Franco when got pegged as the killer in trying to protect Nina. Around this time, there was a lot of excellent dialogue about Ava's flaws and desires (ex. when Silas' ghost haunted her on 8/12); character psychology is a rarity. West rocks everything given to her; she's so emotionally animalistic and convincing. It's awful and ridiculous, for example, that a grown woman would weep like a teenager over her daughter's boyfriend (8/28), but West will break your heart, make you sympathize and...get hot and bothered over it. Ava was speaking to Morgan from behind jail bars, but fogged up the place reminding him of their chemistry (8/27): "...the way I touched you, my breath on your neck, the way I bit your lip when we kissed...you know my body blindfolded and I know yours just the same." Which writer was responsible for that erotica, haha? Kiki finding out that her mom wasn't dead should've been stimulating, but it was underwhelming. The Denise thing was fun at first, but I was glad when it was over. I like that Ava's in a position to be a mob queen again and has a new love interest, but I don't like that it's all at the mercy of a man who's stepping on her neck. I want her to finally be in complete control. It's backwards to me that she sleeping with Paul. It was fun to see her back in action at the 5 families meeting on 9/28 and put little Michael, who's always trying to sit at the big boy table, in his place. As for this custody business, I'm sick of Avery being bounced around and fought over. I'm also sick of it being painted like Sonny is Ava's victim and she's uncompromising, as if the baby wasn't literally ripped and kept from her since birth. I love Carly, but I clapped when she called herself Avery's mother and Ava snapped " You're not her mother...bitch (9/24)."