On Friday's GH, viewers saw Robin bust "Duke" for being an impostor — and the man began to peel off his faux face. Today, it was confirmed that the would-be Lavery is really notorious Port Charles baddie Cesar Faison, played once again by the inimitable Anders Hove. Not enough of a shock for you? At the end of the show, Faison paid a visit to the real Duke, who is very much alive. Head Writer Ron Carlivati spoke exclusively to Digest about pulling off what he aptly calls "a double whammy."
By Mara Levinsky
Soap Opera Digest: Sneaky, sneaky, Ron! Having sat on this secret for weeks now, how excited were you to actually take in Friday's episode?
Ron Carlivati: I was just excited as a viewer watching it because I thought they did such an amazing job. I was not expecting that mask to look so real and the way they did it, the way he just suddenly broke the handcuffs and everything, it really was very exciting and very shocking, I thought. And yes, I saw a lot of buzz over the weekend with people speculating about it. I think they have a very good idea of where we were going, but I still think it's very exciting to watch it play out.
Digest: And I don't think Kimberly McCullough (Robin) or Ian Buchanan ("Duke") could have done a better job with it.
Carlivati: That is the kind of reaction that I look for but sometimes don't get, but when she does the slow, "Oh, my God," with the zoom in on her face, I just thought it was chilling.
Digest: Between Robin's "Oh, my God" and Tracy's "What the hell?" upon seeing A.J., it was quite a week on your show!
Carlivati: I know, "What the hell?" was pretty awesome, too, I must say [laughs]!
Digest: So let's delve deeper into your intentions here. Was the Faison reveal your game plan all along when you brought back the-man-who-would-have-been-Duke?
Carlivati: My thought even before you saw Ian with Kimberly [the first time] was that it had to be Faison that was behind the whole thing and that's who took Robin. I think it's the one that makes the most sense, but because it's the one who makes the most sense, I think the audience was right there with us and they figured that it was Faison. So Frank [Valentini, executive producer] and I talked about, "What can we do in that reveal that will be a little different and not make it so obvious?" And then we came up with the idea of showing Ian, knowing that he was about to be free [after leaving] DAYS OF OUR LIVES [as Ian]. So, then it just became the trick of, at what point are we going to go for it and reveal it? And I felt it couldn't go on so long because I knew people were angry at the way Duke was behaving and I felt that relatively quickly, we had to reward them with this reveal that it was in fact Faison and not Duke.
Digest: Were you worried about it getting out in advance?
Carlivati: The actors have been game and everyone has really been doing their best to keep it a secret. But look, I was trying to signal to the audience from the very first moment, "Luke is the voice of the audience! This is not Duke!" So it teaches you to listen to Luke Spencer [laughs].
Digest: What was the thinking in revealing the real Duke to be alive right away as opposed to, say, making it this week's Friday cliffhanger?
Carlivati: I thought it was important to show him alive the same time we were showing that this wasn't the real Duke because I knew there was going to be a lot of disappointment from fans who felt, "Oh, you dangled the return of Duke Lavery under our nose and then you snatched it back." I didn't want people to be upset and angry. I wanted them to enjoy the story! So we made the decision to do a double whammy and show Real Duke at the end of the day. And you will see in the ensuing days how he was able to appropriate Duke's fingerprints, his memories, etc. Essentially, what you find out is that the backstory Faison told everyone about how Duke was not really Jonathan Paget and he's been in Turkish prison, all of that was a true story. However, Faison intercepted Duke and took on his identity and the reason is because of Anna Devane. Faison felt that the only way to make this woman love him was to have the face of someone that she could love in return, which only leaves a few options, such as Robert Scorpio or Duke Lavery. And Duke was the one who was accessible, so that's what he went with.
Digest: And Robert Scorpio will be joining in the fun later this week, so then you really will have everyone present and accounted for who is critical to this gang!
Carlivati: Right, and it is so much fun to have him, obviously, and in telling a story about Faison, so great to have the other person who is important in their history, Robert, being a part of it.
Digest: It's almost unfathomable to me how all of these pieces have come together!
Carlivati: I feel the same way. It's very exciting to have all these characters to play with and I think, obviously, for the audience who has been there all along, they are going to be thrilled, and also for the newer audience, it's just an exciting story to get on board with.
Digest: Were you excited to get the audience reaction to that Friday cliffhanger?
Carlivati: I was! There was something going on with Twitter. If I'm able to, I like to see what people are saying live during the show. I was so excited for Friday. I was like, "I can't wait to see people's reactions when this happens!" Something happened with the Twitter feed where I wasn't getting any new tweets and it came back like 10 minutes after the show had ended and it was fun to go back and see the exploding heads [laughs]. It's exciting [that the truth is finally out there] and we really run with it. It's a story you won't have to wait for months and months to see unfold. It just goes like gangbusters from today on.