My Thoughts on Season Six of KL, Episode By Episode

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  1. Knots Blogger

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    Episode Title: Weighing of Evils

    Season 06, Episode 13

    Episode 113 of 344

    Written by Scott Hamner

    Directed by Lorraine Senna

    Original Airdate: Thursday, January 3rd, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Karen finally agrees to have the operation and checks into the hospital. Abby wants in on Empire Valley, but Galveston tells her to go home and raise babies. Greg wakes up and Galveston is in his room and says that he is dying and it's time for him to forgive and forget. Galveston says his money has more power than being a senator, and Greg craves power. Greg tells Laura his divorce is final. People mob the station wanting to see Joshua, so Abby gives him a regular segment on Reverend Kathryn's show. The detective reports to Abby on Val, but Abby tells everyone he has no leads since Nevada. In Shula, Val goes to a "social" with Parker, but walks out when people tell her he has a girlfriend. Parker tells Val that they broke up, and he kisses her.


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    Welcome back. When we last left off in the closing seconds of Uncharted Territory, Karen had finally told the truth to Mack about her medical condition and her fears about seeking surgery, to which he powerfully and unforgettably responded with, “When the choices are slim or none, you go with slim, always; I won’t let you die.” Omigod, what an episode ending, and thank the good lord above that My Beloved Grammy and I didn’t have to wait a whole week to continue this story, but rather just dove right in immediately with the next glorious KL experience, Weighing of Evils.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m gonna mention it again, so deal with it. For me, one of the most interesting and enlightening experiences of doing this rewatch has been realizing that, even in the midst of this full serialized nighttime soap storytelling, each episode is still managing to stick out as its own individual snowflake. Upon my first viewing of the series, it was such a madcap dash to watch the entire series that the whole experience kinda blended together. I would watch these whole 30 episode seasons in just a couple of days, powering through a shit ton of eps in one viewing, unable to stop myself from watching more. Now, however, holding each and every ep under a microscope and trying to deeply explore all the different facets, I am seeing that even though we’re in an era where you can’t just dive right into the show and take a sample of an ep here or there, the eps are still standing out as unique and special, and Weighing of Evils is no exception. I’ve said that prior eps like Distant Locations and, most especially, Tomorrow Never Knows, almost feel like little 48 minute horror movies, and I’d say this one has the flavor of something like, say, Terms of Endearment, something very dramatic and serious and sad and profoundly well acted by all involved, something that really speaks to the human condition and the way we behave towards other people as well as the way we face the possibility of our own deaths. Let’s just dive right in.

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    Most of this ep is concerned with Karen and her getting ready for surgery, and that’s the absolute best stuff in the ep and the stuff I want to explore the most, so let’s go ahead and save it for later and explore some of the other characters and what’s going on this week. I vote for starting with Val/Verna, who, as we catch up with her, is starting to get pretty comfortably established in Shula, continuing her work as a waitress. I have to say that, aside from the big red flag that we’re gonna further explore this week (the red flag named Parker), I actually think things look rather pleasant in this little town and think Val/Verna could be perfectly happy staying here forever. Am I wrong to see things this way? Obviously I want her returned to California because her friends and family are concerned about her and also because Gary is her one true soul mate and she needs to stay close to him, but at the same time I’m not seeing much bad about her current living arrangement. She’s got a nice job waitressing, which she does well, and I’ll bet the money she makes, particularly through tips, is enough for her to afford that cute little apartment that she moved into last week. She seems to be popular with the regulars at the diner and she seems to get along with the boss, plus the town is just sorta cute and small and seems right up her alley, so I don’t really see why Val/Verna couldn’t continue to live here forever and be happy.

    Another thing I love about this storyline is that I almost feel like we get to branch off into a whole new series whenever we jump over to Shula. Honestly, it seems like this could maybe be the backdoor pilot for some sort of Val/Verna television spinoff, the way that the Dallas episode Return Engagements served as a backdoor pilot into the wonderful world of KL. I just love whenever we cut away from the gang in California and return to Val’s/Verna’s cozy little life here in Shula, and I feel like I can’t get enough of this. I’ve heard some fans say that this stuff goes on for a little too long, but I disagree; I could have easily lived with even more of it. Also, and this might have something to do with this being the first season to clock in at 30 eps (our last season had 25 eps, while the two prior seasons had 22 eps), but I feel like we really have time to move around and breathe and get comfortable in this world; we’re not just rushing along to the next storyline. Do not mistake this for me saying the season is slow or boring in any way, cuz I’m doing the exact opposite. I just feel like the length of the season really gives us time to get into the intricacies of stuff that might have to be moved along faster if this was a shorter season. I like me some deliberate pacing, so I’m a big fan of this.

    The most significant thing to happen to Val/Verna this week is that she officially meets Parker Winslow, the dry cleaner guy that she briefly interacted with in our prior ep. He gave me a sleazy feeling in that ep and that sleazy feeling continues this week, when he formally introduces himself to Val/Verna and invites her to the town social. He doesn’t really do anything particularly lecherous right off the bat, but right away I just get a funny feeling about him, and I think that’s intentional. When we get to the town social, which looks like a fun gathering, we find out that Parker is a bit of a two-timer, at least according to what the other town locals say to Val/Verna. I can’t remember the exact circumstances of how this all comes about, but I believe Val/Verna and Parker are hanging out on a bench, enjoying the meal, when some random people come up and are like, “Hey Parker, where’s that girl that you’re currently cheating on with Val/Verna?” Upon hearing this, Val/Verna marches off and tells Parker that she isn’t interested in being the other woman, but he assures her that that isn’t so, that he actually dumped this girl awhile back and she’s just having a hard time getting over it. Reassured, Val/Verna allows herself to continue trusting Parker, at least for the time being.

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    Oh yeah, and one other very significant thing. Two weeks back, we were introduced to this P.I. character that Gary hired to go find Val. The only problem is we quickly realized he was in cahoots with Abs, with strict orders to report to her and only her about the locations of Val, if and when he finds her. This week, he manages to track her down to Shula, but then he walks into the diner to find her totally in her element, not only waiting tables but also making kissy faces with Parker. It maybe doesn’t sound too incriminating on paper, but I understand what the P.I. would assume when he sees this, as Val/Verna and Parker are looking pretty cozy as they kiss. Hence, he immediately calls Abs and reports on the whereabouts and also tells her that it doesn’t look like Val/Verna will be returning home anytime in the foreseeable future.

    I wanna talk about Greg and Laura real fast since I feel like I’ve been giving them the shaft the last few eps (indeed, I don’t think I even mentioned either of them in the two previous write-ups, even though they were indeed in both eps). For me, Greg and Laura also feel a bit isolated from the rest of the cast at this point, but once again I don’t mean that as a criticism. It’s appropriate with Greg being busy with the senate stuff that he and Laura would be kinda out of the cul-de-sac most of the time, although in all honesty I confess I’m having a hard time figuring out if they’re still in California or hanging out in Washington together; anyone want to help me with that? In any case, Greg actually gets the introductory scene this week, as the ep credits play over footage of him riding his horse and a nice epic sounding musical score. Next, he has a little meeting with Gary in which he tells him he shouldn’t get involved with Galveston, and this is nicely crosscut with a scene of Galveston speaking with Abs.

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    Galveston may carry an aura of authority and old-fashioned masculinity about him and I may find myself liking the character because of Howard Duff’s charisma and the fact that he kinda reminds me of my Grampy, but his true colors certainly start to come out this week in all sorts of ways, most obviously his blatant sexism. Make no mistake, this isn’t that fun old fashioned just-sorta-out-of-touch sexism that a lot of really old men tend to demonstrate even when they aren’t aware that they’re doing so; this is the serious sexism of a man who truly believes women are inferior and need to stay in the kitchen.

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    During his meeting with Abs, I kid you not, he actually asks her why she isn’t at home having babies, and it’s a real wow man moment to see a man speaking with such obvious disrespect towards another woman. He also constantly calls her ‘Cookie,’ which could be endearing, but he’s not doing it in an endearing way; he’s doing it in a condescending way. Fortunately, Abs is able to hold her own against Galveston and give a little hint of how tough she can be when she jumps into her car and says how his ideas are hopelessly out of touch and then, just as she’s got the engine starting and purring along, she says, “And one more thing; don’t call me ‘Cookie.’” Then she speeds away, and we know that Galveston probably has no idea who he’s messing with. He hasn’t seen seasons two through five, but we have, and we are privy to the information that Abs is one woman you do not want to pass off in any way.
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    I guess Laura is gonna continue to get the shaft from me this week, because I’m looking in my notes and all I have scribbled for her is, “Laura’s awful librarian glasses!” Yes, I believe this is the ep in which The Librarian Glasses first make their appearance, and it’s a really quite awful thing to have to witness. What the hell could Laura have been thinking when she got these? What the hell could Constance have been thinking when she agreed to wear them on the show? What the hell was Travilla thinking when he allowed them to film footage of Laura wearing these? What the hell was CBS thinking when they allowed that footage to be aired? What the hell were the opening credits geniuses thinking during season seven when they actually put footage of Laura in The Librarian Glasses into the amazing scrolling squares? It’s truly just a horrible thing all around, but perhaps I should give some context about what I’m so distressed about. Basically, when we catch up with Laura this week, she’s hanging out in Sumner’s office during some big important meeting or other, and she’s wearing this ridiculously huge pair of, like, square shaped glasses that completely take up her entire face and are exceptionally unflattering. My Beloved Grammy and I both almost spit our red wine out onto the carpet when these monstrosities first showed up onscreen, and we both began to question how God could possibly exist if we live in a world in which these glasses could be made and manufactured and in which a beautiful woman could actually put them on her face and then allow the footage of them on her face to be aired on network television. Yes, The Librarian Glasses are so upsetting that I may, in fact, have to renounce my very belief in the existence of God.

    Aside from the introduction of The Librarian Glasses, Laura isn’t too busy this week, but Greg is. Next up, we have him receiving a nighttime visit from Galveston while he’s trying to get some shuteye. This occurs in a hotel, although I am not sure if it’s Greg’s usual California hotel or a different hotel located in Washington. In any case, he wakes up and Galveston is sitting by the bed, totally draped in shadow, being creepy. Now, I’ve never woken up in a hotel room to find a veteran character actor sitting in a chair beside me, but I’ll bet if I did, it would be rather startling. Greg takes it like a champ though and doesn’t seem particularly disturbed by the fact that this man somehow managed to get into his hotel room in the middle of the night. He does, however, seem angry at him and we get the sense that he wants nothing to do with Galveston. We also get some cryptic dialogue about how Galveston can give Greg the power he wants and needs, power that a mere senate seat cannot get him. It’s all very vague, and that’s of course intentional, though I will say that My Beloved Grammy is one sharp cookie (you see what I did there?) and immediately asked, “Is Galveston Greg’s father?” Well, I didn’t answer one way or the other and I don’t plan to answer one way or the other on this blog, but let’s just say we shall be finding out whether or not that is indeed so in just a few short eps.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Let’s explore Joshua and Cathy a bit, and in doing so I am going to expand way beyond the confines of this ep and start talking about the next television season (1985-1986) and that whole producers-switch that Dallas and KL did, so get ready. Anyway, Joshua’s popularity at Pacific World Whatever is really skyrocketing and he’s already starting to get tons of fan letters saying how they love him and how they wanna help find Val and all that good stuff. Because of this, Abs wants Joshua to become, like, a full time sermon-giving guy on one of their shows. I’m unclear as to whether she wants him to preach along with the other reverend (the guy who was the voice of Jon in Here Comes Garfield) or if she wants to replace that reverend with Joshua. In any case, Joshua is like, “Nah, I don’t wanna; I just did that one show one time to be helpful,” but Abs is persistent and says how she got a letter from Sunny Acres Day Camp from a bunch of kids who just love the shit out of Joshua. With this information, Joshua and Cathy actually travel to Sunny Acres Day Camp, where they meet a bunch of kids with down syndrome.

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    I bring this up because I’m having flashbacks (or I guess technically flash forwards, since this particular story takes place during the next television season) of the famous dream season of Dallas, in which Donna and Ray were worried they might be pregnant with a down syndrome baby. You all remember how this went, right? After finding out she might be carrying a, um, special child (which they referred to as "retarded" over and over and over again because it was the '80s), Donna had to consider abortion, and for the only time in Dallas history, they didn’t immediately opt to kill the fetus (oh no, wait, they did, but that came a little later in the season), but rather had Donna and Ray meet with the mom from Gremlins, who explained to them how down syndrome kids rock and are cool and awesome. Anyway, what’s interesting to me is that the 1985-1986 dream season of Dallas was run by none other than Peter Dunne, the genius who runs seasons four, five, and six of KL. That was actually one of the only stories I liked during that season (although I know it was contentious with some fans), but I find it fascinating that we’ve got down syndrome kids running around this week on KL and in less than a year we are going to have a significant storyline involving down syndrome when Peter Dunne moves over to run that season of Dallas. Is Peter Dunne really into down syndrome or something? Perhaps someone else came up with the story on both shows, but I kinda doubt it; I feel like this is something he’s really into, something that’s near to his heart. If he ever responds to that message I sent him on LinkedIn (which he probably won’t because, even though I told him he was a genius and that season six of KL is the greatest season of television ever made, I also said, “I don’t blame you for the dream season of Dallas because they took you away from a significant work of art and put you in charge of the Titanic after it had already scraped that iceberg,” and perhaps he won’t quite understand the humor I am expressing through that little sentiment), perhaps I can finally get an interview with him and ask him if I’m crazy for noticing these things. Until then, I may never know.

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    Anyway, we also get a Cathy/Joshua fight this week because he doesn’t show up to some meeting or other; I forget the exact details of what they’re supposed to do together, but suffice it to say that he doesn’t show. Later he comes to visit her at Isadora’s and they have a rather bizarre but kinda cute little fight in her dressing room in which he actually picks her up and sorta flings her over his shoulder while she pounds on him and is damn mad. Joshua knows that the best thing to do when a woman is mad at you is to force sex on her, so that’s what he does, and their fight quickly turns into a passionate makeout session complete with swelling music in which he declares, “One thing that’s never gonna change is the way I feel about you.” I have to say that at this precise juncture, I am pleased with Joshua for managing to get over his sex issues, at least for the time being. It seems that he and Cathy are both happy as clams to have shags in the back dressing room at Isadora’s, with no need for Joshua to break down into tears of religious guilt or start talking about how their love is sinful. Ah, I like this, and I like Joshua and Cathy being cute with each other. I’d forgotten how easy it was to get sucked into their romance, and again that’s a credit to these brilliant writers, all of whom obviously are getting some special brownie points when they finally make it to Heaven. After all, Joshua has only been on the show for thirteen episodes now (and not even that, since he wasn’t in the premiere ep of the season), yet I totally buy their relationship and their love; it doesn’t feel rushed or inorganic to me even though it very easily could, considering that in the last few eps of season five, Cathy seemed madly in love with Gary.

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    Well, I’d say we’ve pretty much covered everybody except Karen, wouldn’t you agree? Let’s dive right in, since Karen provides the emotional core and the real heart of this ep, along with a real sense of impending doom that I did not remember one bit. See, we start this ep with Karen still doing the whole “I just wanna die” thing, saying how it’s now too late for the surgery since her chances are officially way less than 50%. Even so, Mack gives a tremendous speech that has always stuck in my brain, the kind of speech that comes flying into my brain in the middle of the night when I’m suffering from insomnia and suddenly find myself thinking about KL. In the scene, Karen says how dying is natural, and Mack says, “Death is natural, but accepting death before it comes isn’t natural; fighting death is natural.” Oh God yes, I know I’ve already said we need to give an Emmy to J.V.A this year, but let’s also get one polished up for The Dobsonator here. You know what, f*** it, let’s just go ahead and break the Emmy rules and give absolutely every cast member on the show this season an Emmy, cuz they boring deserve it, and let’s get some Emmys going for all the writers and all the directors and even the guys who brought coffee to the set, because that coffee must have been really damn good if it was able to elicit such incredible performances out of these actors. But seriously, folks, The Dobsonator is on this week, and I almost cried during that speech of his, cuz he’s just so boring good and I love him so much.

    Okay, so Karen agrees to have the surgery, but what surprised me is that we have to wait until the next ep to actually see her go through with it. After, “I won’t let you die” at the end of the last ep, I thought this was the ep where she has her surgery, but actually this ep is all about prep, another example of that fabulously long 30 episode season really enhancing affairs. We don’t need to rush right to the surgery because we’ve got time to let things unfold, so let’s do an entire ep in which Karen merely prepares for the surgery, because you know what? That’s where the real stuff is; that’s where the heart of the show comes from. Other shows would go right for that surgery, saying, “We need to keep it exciting, keep it moving!” On KL, we have time to explore how this surgery is effecting everyone in the vicinity of Karen, most especially her family.

    There’s just so much good stuff here, but let’s start with another scene that has remained seared into my brain since first viewing, and that’s Mack and Sexy Michael in the kitchen, talking about Karen. Sexy Michael says how he’s angry that Karen kept all this a secret from them, but Mack gives another awesome speech where he looks into Sexy Michael’s eyes and kinda holds his shoulders and says, “Listen, you don’t get to be mad at your mother right now.” Oh God, yes, he’s such a good, strong, decent man, and I would marry him on the spot if I wasn’t already engaged to marry Sexy Michael. Speaking of Sexy Michael, even though I recognize that this is an amazingly acted scene with fabulous writing and that I should probably be paying attention to that, I probably was annoying the shit out of My Beloved Grammy this whole scene, because as the dialogue is going on and she’s trying to pay attention, I just kept going on and on about, “Oh f***, look at Sexy Michael and his sexy chest and that sexy gold necklace and oh f***, can you imagine what he must look like naked?!” Sometimes it’s hard for me to focus on the immediate storylines right in front of me when a creature as beautiful and as otherworldly as Sexy Michael is on the screen right in front of me, dripping with raw male sexual charisma.

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    Next up is a really moving scene between Karen and Gary and Abs at Lotus Point. First off, Karen starts by giving a little speech to Abs about how they haven’t always gotten along, but in the end they are still family and always will be. This is obviously tremendous but not as tremendous as what she says to Gary in private, which is thanking him for keeping her secret this long. Yes, oh God, yes, I had almost forgotten that Gary even knew the secret, but he did keep it sacred and behaved like a true friend for Karen all through this time. To think that just about two years ago, Karen was firing Gary from Knots Landing Motors and seemed completely disgusted by his very existence, it’s so beautiful to see that they are truly now and forever will be good, close friends. Omigod, it’s just so deep.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    And let’s just say what this all really felt like to me upon this viewing: Karen is going to die. This is something that flew completely over my head upon first viewing, because I knew well before I ever started watching the series that Karen is the one and only cast member to be in every single episode of the series, all 344, start to finish, there’s not one ep of KL that doesn’t feature Karen. Since I knew that in advance, I think I just viewed all this surgery stuff as good, solid drama, but I didn’t see how expertly the writers are leading us to think Karen will die until this viewing, and it was thanks in no small part to My Beloved Grammy. Way back when we started the series, I believe I told her that Karen is in every ep, but fortunately she must have forgotten that little spoiler I gave her, because she really seemed nervous at this point that Karen would die, and can you blame her? This also causes me to flashback to the death of Sid in early season three and makes me maintain that it was one of the key most important decisions the show ever made. If you’ll recall, Sid was pretty much the main male character on the cul-de-sac in seasons one and two, and you would never watch those seasons and think he was gonna die right at the start of season three. Then the season two cliffhanger had him flying off the cliff, so you’d think they’d probably kill him between seasons, right? Nope, instead he lived through that car crash and was still in the opening for the first two eps of the season and then he died during a risky surgery in the second ep of the season. Gee, sound familiar? Because of that, not only did the show nicely establish the idea that nobody in the cast is safe, that anyone could be killed off any second, but it also caused some real anxiety for My Beloved Grammy watching this ep. The whole time she kept sorta mumbling to herself, “Well, they can’t kill Karen, but then I didn’t expect them to kill Sid, either.” See what I mean? That death has ripple effects that are felt well into the end of the series, and we are seeing them right now. In another show, we would feel that Karen is untouchable, that she is too important a part of the series to be killed off, but then we remember Sid and we start to think that maybe this could actually happen.

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    I didn’t actually cry at the last scene of the ep, but I came close. We end on a scene of pure emotion with Karen and Mack in the hospital room talking about their love of each other. I wish I had put more in my notes so I could give a better description of this phenomenal scene, but I do remember the amazingly cute and touching way that they don’t have to actually say the words, “I love you,” to each other, but rather they just sorta open their mouths to say it and then the other one says, “I know.” Please don’t misunderstand my lack of description for a lack of loving the scene, because it’s quite the opposite. When my notes peter out and I am clearly writing less and less, it only means I am so invested in the world in front of me that I can’t possibly tear my face away from the screen to scribble down a note, not even a brief one, and that’s the case here. Oh my, what a scene, and what a way to end the ep, a tremendous ep that may actually have been the highlight of the disk.

    I loved this ep. Maybe you guys are getting tired of hearing me say that every week (and if that’s the case, I’d highly recommend going back in time to read my thoughts on such turds from the early days as Land of the Free, Kristin, Man of the Hour, or the absolutely retched and unwatchable Silver Shadows, just to prove that I don’t slavishly love absolutely everything KL presents me with), but the bottom line is that this season is a master class on all fronts. You watch one episode and it’s just this incredible quality, better than anything you’ve ever seen, and then that quality just keeps on going upward into the next episode and the one after that and the one after that. So forgive me if I just keep saying I love the eps, because what can I say? I do love them. Even so, I thought this ep stood out especially and was extremely emotional, one of the most powerful we’ve watched in some time (though not quite as reduce-me-to-tears powerful as We Gather Together a few weeks back). This episode really demonstrates what makes KL special and especially what makes it stand out from its contemporaries, and that’s the heart. At its core, the show is about people who love each other and who value each other and that’s exemplified by the relationship between Karen and Mack but also by the relationship of Karen and Gary and, yes, even Karen and Abs, who seem to reach some form of peace before Karen heads off the hospital and, possibly, to her death.

    But will Karen die? I guess we’ll all have to tune in to our next episode to find out, and I’m sure it will be a splendid experience that will change us very deeply and profoundly. Get ready for the fourteenth episode of the season, aptly titled #14 With a Bullet.
     
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    Episode Title: #14 With a Bullet

    Season 06, Episode 14

    Episode 114 of 344

    Written by Peter Dunne

    Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

    Original Airdate: Thursday, January 10th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Karen's surgery goes well. Galveston tells Greg to tell Mack to stop investigating the Tidal Basin murders, but instead Greg tells Mack to look for a connection between the murders and Galveston Industries. Gary's private detective tells Abby that Val has become Verna Ellers from her book "Nashville Junction" and that she seems happy. He says he'll do a fake report, in exchange for sex with Abby. He tells Gary he has no leads and is dropping the case. Galveston has his men bring him Abby's detective. Galveston threatens him, so the detective tells him where Val is. Then another man brings him all of Scott Easton's papers. Abby waits for the detective, but instead Galveston shows up and tells her that he knows where Val is and all about the babies and unless she comes up with a damn good explanation, he's going to tell Gary.


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    Last week I said how I’m still managing to find each and every ep of KL to stand out as its own special and magnificent little 48 minute movie, and that trend continues this week. God, how do the people working on this show do it so well? You’ve got all these long, continuing, epic plots going on all concurrently, and you have to keep everything powering along and going good and exciting, yet they also manage to be artistic and keep each ep special, really standing out. If our last ep was all about high emotions and a feeling of mounting dread as Karen prepared for her surgery, this episode is almost a religious experience, and I do mean that quite literally, since we open up on Mack entering a church and looking up at that big, creepy Jesus statue that always kept me afraid of going into church as a kid.

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    Behind the camera this week, we have KL’s most prolific director, Nicholas Sgarro. I feel like I’ve become so excited by other directors like Nick Havinga and Bill "Green Beret" Duke and, most especially, Larry Elikann, that I’m almost failing to give Sgarro his due. Make no mistake, this guy is great, and he’s definitely got a special place in Heaven for directing more KL eps than anyone ever; I think it’s just the effect of how he’s directed so many that when his name pops up, I don’t generally get all EXCITED like I do when I see Elikann or Duke; I’m more like, “Oh yes, that old trustworthy Sgarro.” However, let’s go ahead and give him an immediate shout out for how he shoots this scene with Mack in the church and how he cleverly runs audio of Karen’s meeting with her doctor over the footage. Oh, such style, and all taking place on the small screen on a network show!

    Oh yeah, and one other thing that we gotta mention regarding this ep: It’s written by none other than the landmark television giant Peter Dunne (pictured below in the only photo I can manage to find of him in the entire internet world), the man who’s dick I currently want to suck really hard because I’m crediting him with saving the show from cancellation with the brilliant triple whammy of seasons four, five, and six after a rather schizophrenic and sometimes hard to sit through third season. Maybe I’m mistaken in giving him so much credit, maybe I’m not, and I’ll probably never know since I can’t time travel back to the set of the show at this point (although dear God, how I want to, if for no other reason than to violently sodomize Michael). Anyway, I’m willing to say maybe Peter Dunne isn’t actually a genius in absolutely all regards considering some of the other credits on his IMDb (such as the dream season of Dallas and the rather awful final season of Melrose Place, a show that was hardly great art at any point in its run), but he was definitely a genius when it came to writing and crafting and understanding KL and all its characters, and his talents really shine this week with an excellent script full of fantastic character moments.

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    So Karen’s in the hospital and she’s about to have her surgery and all that, but what’s Val/Verna up to over in Shula, Tennessee? Well, we saw her making kissy with Parker Winslow last week, and now the kissy continues with Parker yet again (Parker Winslow can’t lose!), this time in the darkened back pantry or broom closet or whatever. Basically Val/Verna goes wandering off into this dark room and is kinda sorta assaulted by Parker, who jumps out at her unexpectedly, and then the two continue to make kissy. This would all be very romantic aside from the fact that Val/Verna is soul mates with one person and one person only, Mr. Gary Ewing, and it’s also upsetting to watch only because Parker continues to give us viewers a funny feeling. After all, is his interest in Val/Verna really just stemming from a human physical attraction or is it from something deeper and more lecherous? Again, we shall have to wait and find out.

    That’s about all that Val/Verna is up to this week, but Greg is busy as a bee with lots of different secret meetings, most notably one taking place in the back of a limo between him and Galveston. We the viewers are definitely starting to get the sense that there’s some sort of crazy past history between these two (like perhaps maybe, just maybe, Galveston is actually Greg’s father) based on the way that they speak to each other, like two guys who have spent time together in the past but don’t really get along much. This scene is similar to the one from our last ep in which Galveston creepily materialized by Greg’s bedside, although the gist of the scene is a smidge different. In that scene, Galveston was saying ominous things about how the senate wouldn’t give Greg the power he wants and needs, something like that, but in the back of the limo, Galveston is telling Greg to get Mack far away from the Tidal Basin murders, to somehow encourage him to get off the case. Greg is like, “Oh yeah, whatever, you’re old and I don’t like you and your guest appearance in a few years on Dallas is gonna suck,” and that pretty much ends the scene. We kinda assume that Greg will go to Mack and do as Galveston asked, but he surprises us by doing precisely the opposite. He comes walking into Mack’s office (the one with the ‘80s rowing machine on the floor, you’ll all remember) and My Beloved Grammy was like, “Ah, here’s where he tells Mack to drop the case.” Instead, he tells Mack to further pursue the case and, indeed, to be even more aggressive in his pursuit. Because of the way things have unfolded between these two over the last year or so, Mack is understandably a little bit reticent to take any advice from Greg, wondering why he’s suddenly showing up at his door to give him advice on a murder case. He’s right to be suspicious since Greg has behaved questionably in the past, but in this case we get the sense that Greg is doing something he believes to be ethical and right, not listening to the orders of Galveston even though Galveston has a distinctive deep voice and a cool moustache.

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    This episode kicks into action movie mode during a delightfully unexpected car chase involving Mack and Jessick and, um, some other guy. I can distinctly remember that there were three guys in Mack’s jeep, but damn it all, I can’t remember the third guy, and I’m not all that sure it’s too important anyway. See, Mack’s driving along, everyone’s happy, he’s like, “Who wants to go get McDonald’s?” and Jessick is like, “McDonald’s makes my ass look fat and I’ll look like that really disgusting fat chick from that super shitty sitcom with Kevin James,” so they decide not to go to McDonald’s and instead have a violent high speed car chase. I love how this comes so wonderfully out of nowhere, how Mack sees this car and is like, “Oh shit!” and then immediately spins his jeep around and goes chasing after this other car, a car with two random dudes inside. The whole time, Jessick is like, “Jesus, why are we having a high speed car chase?” but he gets no response from Mack, who manages to corner the car and then goes running out to violently assault the driver. Seriously, Mack goes to town on this guy, really kicking the shit out of him for something like 72 minutes, even throwing him down against the hood of the car. The guy is quickly abandoned by the other random dude in the car, who goes running off in pants-wetting terror, but just before the scene concludes, as this random dude lies all beat up and bleeding against his car, Mack points at him and says, “Wolfbridge hired him to beat me up!”

    Ah yes, this brings me to a flashback from around, I think, mid season five, in which Karen was waiting for Mack to meet her for her drug rehab counseling and he instead got assaulted in the parking lot by Wolfbridge thugs. Don’t you just love how that can happen so long ago but still play into the plots of the show now? This is a type of storytelling that I have to think was pretty unique to this era of television, something we’d be more used to nowadays with the cable shows and the whole idea of binge watching TV. Seriously, who in 1985 would see this scene and be like, “Oh yeah, I remember that scene!” It feels like it happened so long ago, but it still plays into the plots now, and I like it that way. On another, more base level, I also just enjoy whenever Mack gets really randomly angry and beats people up; it keeps his character so wonderfully unpredictable and, again, so manly. F***, I’m starting to get really turned on by Mack at this point in the series, which is a new feeling. The first time I watched the series, I obviously loved him and cherished him and respected him, but I don’t remember ever finding him sexy upon the first viewing and I’m starting to feel that way about him now. Does this mean I’m growing and maturing or does it just mean I’m really horny? I suppose that’s an issue for me to deal with on my own personal time, preferably with a good psychiatrist.

    Meanwhile, Abs is up to her wicked ways again this week, helping to keep her character fully fledged and fascinating. See, we’ve been watching Abs desperately try and figure out what happened to Val’s babies as well as what happened to Scott Easton, running around in bad hats and acting like a little amateur detective. We have seen that she is not completely cold and heartless, that she does understand the maternal instinct and that she feels awful about what has happened to Val and her babies. Now, on another show, this might lead to a “Abs turning good” storyline in which she goes to the join the rebels like the end of Return of the Jedi or something, but KL is more complex than that, and this week we see her still up to her duplicitous ways.

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    See, that P.I. guy that Abs hired found Val/Verna last week, right? When he found her, she was in the diner kissing Parker and he made the assumption that she had chosen to disappear into Shula and a new life with some new man, which is what he’s told Abs. This week, Abs gives him orders to write a nice, tidy little report that says he failed to find Val and he’ll be moving on to a new case. Abs declares, “I want the case on Valene Ewing closed.” Later, she and the P.I. have a nice little meeting at her office at Lotus Point (where Abs mentions that she was an English major, just like me!), in which he starts to get, well, a little Trumpy. I feel like it’s been a long while since Trumpy rape made its way into KL (I honestly think season one’s The Lie might have been the last rapey episode we’ve seen), but now it’s back. See, the P.I. holds up two files and says, “This one brings Val home, and this one keeps her away.” Abs sorta sighs and clearly makes the assumption that this is all about exploiting her out of money, so she starts to pull out her checkbook and scribble something and is like, “Okay, how much?” However, things get creepy/rapey when the P.I. walks over to her and starts to slowly stroke her face while moaning, “Money isn’t everything, Mrs. Ewing.” Then he goes walking off, leaving both Abs and myself with a genuine feeling of disgust.

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    Ugh, let’s talk about rape for a minute. It’s one of those subjects that is a horrible thing but that is sadly a part of our world, something that happens all the time and is very hard to digest. Back in The Lie, I didn’t enjoy seeing Laura get raped, but I respected the episode for being well crafted and incredibly acted and exploring the subject in a complex way. Here, as that horrible P.I. started to stroke Abby’s face, I honestly couldn’t remember if Abs was gonna get raped, either later in the episode or right here in front of me. As it was happening, I kinda thought we might cut to commercial just as the P.I. started to rape, sorta like the two times J.R. raped people on Dallas and they would just cut to commercial as it was happening (yes, J.R. raped twice, I’m not making this up; once he raped Dr. Goodhead and once he raped that boring British chick that Clayton was obsessed with). All I knew is that I did not want to see it. There is something about the idea of Abs being raped that is just too horrible for me to deal with, and I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it happening to her. She may be wicked and she may be duplicitous, but she’s also really strong and she’s sharp and smart and she’s my girl and I just don’t want to see her get raped. Happily for me, that does not happen. Again, if this was another show, like Melrose Place for instance, I have no doubt that Abs would get raped and the writers would be like, “We need a rape to create good drama!” On KL, the drama comes from continuous unexpected avenues, from the curveballs the writers constantly throw at us and the characters. For instance, the next day, the P.I. shows up to show Abs and Gary his report, and it’s the report that ends with his failing to find Val at all. Also present in the scene (and this is significant for the latter portion of the ep) is Galveston, sorta watching proceedings like a hawk. The P.I. hands the file over to Abs and when she opens it, she sees a little post-it note inside saying, “Meet me at your office at 8:00PM so I can rape you.” I don’t know if Galveston actually sees this note or what, but I think he does, because he gets this sharp look in his eye and we can tell wheels are in motion in his head.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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  5. Knots Blogger

    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Member

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    CONTINUED

    In one of the last scene of the ep, Abs is sitting in her office waiting to be raped, but instead of the rapey P.I. coming to pay her a visit, it’s actually Paul Galveston. Over the last few eps, we’ve seen that these two have a, shall we say, contentious relationship with one another (can we ever forget such dialogue as, “Shouldn’t you be at home making babies?” and “One more thing, don’t call me ‘Cookie’?) and that contentious relationship only escalates here. See, Abs is kinda surprised to see Galveston here and so she asks if he’d like a drink and he’s like, “Another time, perhaps,” and then he launches into this speech where he’s like, “I don’t know what I have planned for you,” but then a second later he shows that he has a lot planned for her. He tells her how he knows where Val is and that his next step is to figure out where the babies are, and once that’s completed, he’s gonna tell Gary absolutely everything. Then he marches off and leaves Abs looking like she’s about to poop her pants.

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    It’s been a few eps since Cathy graced us with one of her fabulous cover songs, but she more than makes up for it in this ep with a rousing rendition of Beat of a Heart by Scandal. Now, I didn’t know this song or this band as we were watching the ep, but after finishing our disk I immediately sped home, running over puppies and old people in my frantic quest to return to my abode and look up this song, and I found the original version by Scandal on YouTube. It has a fabulous ‘80s sound to it but, as usual, Lisa gives us the better version. While Scandal’s music video is basically just one of those boring ‘80s music videos with lots of singing in front of white walls, Lisa’s rendition at Isadora’s is positively stunning, a true ‘80s explosion all around her. I could happily watch this scene on a loop for the rest of time, never moving or getting out of my chair until the time comes for me to finally die and go to Hell. My God, not only do we have the fabulous song which positively drips with ‘80s goodness, but we’ve also got Cathy’s wild electro-shock hair, as if she accidentally stuck her finger in an electrical socket and then had to go onstage right away and wasn’t able to give it a comb, plus we’ve got just about a million star filters going off behind her while the band plays and the people listen to her and it was just one of the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen committed to celluloid.

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    I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I feel like KL is a much more ‘80s show than Dallas, and I obviously mean that in the complimentary way, because the ‘80s are awesome. It’s rather strange to notice this since both shows were on the air all the way through the entirety of the 1980’s, yet I felt that Dallas existed in something of a time warp in which everyone just sorta lived on the ranch or in stuffy offices full of liquor, but there were hardly ever any scenes where we heard a good ‘80s tune being blasted or went to a sexy ‘80s nightclub. Indeed, whenever an ‘80s song did make its way into the series (such as when Charlie and Brad Pitt were dancing around to a cover version of Mony Mony), it would always feel jarring to me and I’d be like, “Oh yeah, we’re watching an ‘80s show; I kinda forgot.” Here on KL, it’s impossible to forget the decade because there is so much ‘80s aesthetic just oozing out of every frame, and I feel like everything great and brilliant about the 1980s is rolled up into one fantastic ball of genius and exemplified through Lisa and all of her fabulous songs and performances. God, don’t you just want to climb into the television screen and live in this world forever?!


    Last thing I’d like to note before we move on to Karen and her surgery: Gary gives a wonderful speech to Abs this week about a man speaking at his recent A.A. meeting. He talks about how this man would always go off and disappear from his family so that he could also disappear into the nearest bottle. He would get black out drunk and wander around for awhile before waking up in some strange new environment and having to figure out where he was, but whenever he would come home, his wife would be waiting to be nice and help him get cleaned up. Gary makes the point that it wasn’t until his wife finally took the kids and left this guy that the man began to see straight and decided to quit drinking forever, but of course the sad irony is that by the time the man was straight and sober, he had lost his family. Gary then goes on to say something about how Val would always do the same for him during his big benders, and then Abs delivers a line that actually made me laugh out loud, in which she asks, “Honey, are you thinking of drinking again?” Um, no, Abs, he’s just telling you a story and making a point, and I think it’s funny how the point seems to go flying over her head. This is a good scene for many reasons. First off, it causes us to pause and reflect on Gary’s drinking and his fantastic sobriety that he’s maintained all the way through season five and now six, but it also makes us reflect on the negative qualities of his marriage to Val. We realize that, in many ways, Val was an enabler for Gary’s drinking because she would always be there to support him afterwards, to make like it was okay. This really opened my eyes and made me realize there are many positive qualities to the union of Gary and Abs. Back in season four, during Gary’s big final bender, Abs was very cold with him and said, “If you want to drink yourself to death, go ahead.” She did not merely stand by to be a good doting wife the way Val probably would, and I think that is one of the primary reasons that Gary truly got straight. If he had been married to Val during that period, he could very well still be drinking at this point in the saga. Also, I just like to have little shout-outs to Gary’s A.A. meetings to help establish that he’s continuing to go to those. We may not see him going to the A.A. meetings on a regular basis, but we know that he is doing so and that’s good information to have.

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    Okay, let’s get back to Karen. Last week she agreed to the risky, scary, could-possibly-kill-her-the-way-it-killed-Sid surgery, and this week she’s ready to go with the surgery. She spends most of the ep in the hospital, getting prepped, and we get a lovely scene between her and some kid in a wheelchair. See, in case I forgot to mention it, one of the big risks of this surgery, in addition to, you know, death, is that Karen may end up in a wheelchair paralyzed forever. This is a scary prospect, but near the middle of the ep, she’s sorta wheeling herself around the hospital, getting used to the feeling of moving in the chair, and she runs into this nice young boy who is also in a wheelchair. At first, when we see him climbing out of his bed and getting into a wheelchair, we think this is supposed to be a sad scene, but then we quickly realize that the boy has a great attitude, that he’s not going to let this wheelchair ruin his life, and that he sorta shows Karen that this doesn’t have to be the end of the world. She’s having a hard time moving her chair around, and he says something like, “For the first month, I broke everything in the house,” and shows her it’s just a period of adjustment, really.

    When the time for the big surgery comes, the tension really rackets up, and My Beloved Grammy continued to make little comments like, “Oh they can’t kill Karen off…..can they?” How pleased I am to see this suspense and excitement really working on her, and how pleased I am to see the show’s sublime magic truly taking control of her (at the end of this disk of eps, she declared, “This is a brilliant series” and I was like, “Yeah, I f***ing know, right?!”). Like I mentioned before, if you manage to wash your brain out of the retroactive knowledge that Karen will be with us until the final episode in 1993, and if you manage to just look at this as its unfolding in front of you, not knowing what lies in the future, it could definitely seem like Karen might die. Again, I remind you that they killed Sid, and not even in the spot where you would usually kill a main cast member, between two seasons, but rather at the very start of the third season, even after going through the trouble of redesigning the opening credits and keeping his name in there. So yes, because of all that, it seems that Karen may die.

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    However, she wakes up from her surgery, so we know that we’ve dodged that bullet (you see what I did there?), but will she be paralyzed? This is an incredible scene and yet another one of those scenes that has ingrained itself into my brain for all time, ever since the first time I watched the series back in college. See, Karen wakes up but is still groggy and unable to speak, so the doctors and nurses ask her to blink if she can understand them, which she does, and then they say how they’re gonna touch her feet and she needs to blink if/when she feels any sensation. Oh God, the music gets scary as the doctor runs that, like, wheel thing over her foot, and no blinking. Is she paralyzed? The KL writing and plotting is so good that it honestly seems like a distinct possibility, that perhaps the next big story for Karen will be adjusting to life in a wheelchair, like Bobby Brady in another brilliant CBS series, The Bradys. However, after a good long moment of suspense in which Karen appears to feel no sensation below her waist, the doctor runs the wheel thing over her foot one more time and we go into a really great closeup of Karen’s eyeballs as she blinks along with them filling with tears. Oh man, such acting, can you imagine having to make your eyes start out dry and then fill with tears all in one extreme, tight closeup? I think I could make myself cry pretty well if I was an actor and it was required for the scene, but I don’t know if I could do it knowing that the camera was in a super duper tight Wayne’s World style extreme closeup and that every detail of my eyes filling with tears would be photographed in microscopic detail, but Michele does it here, adding yet another stunning performance to her many past and future stunning performances. F*** me, yes, it’s all so good.

    [​IMG]

    We actually end on something that should be incredibly corny and eye-rolling, and that is Mack entering the church again to give a great big thumbs up to Jesus. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous when you write it down, and for all intents and purposes it should seem like high camp to witness onscreen, but somehow, God bless it, somehow it works. How does the KL team do it? On what other series could you end an ep with someone giving a thumbs up to Jesus and not have all of America pee their pants in laughter? Why does it work so well here? Why is it maybe one of my top ten episode endings of all time? I don’t know, but all I do know is that this is a stunning ending to a stunning episode.

    Last thing I wanna address before we move on to our next ep is how long this storyline has been going on and how not boring it has been. Over on Dallas right around this time, America was suffering through the absolutely toxic “Jenna Wade murder trial” storyline in which Scooter Warren was the lawyer of her ex-husband or something equally boring. This story went on forever and is absolutely impossible for any living human to sit through (making it even more of a mystery how Dallas could finish at #2 in the rating while KL was #9, again showing that American people generally have no taste when it comes to what they will watch on television), yet this Karen storyline has also gone on pretty long, fourteen eps long, yet somehow it never bored me and it never felt long winded. I know some fans disagree, as I’ve seen some people write that the story went on too long, but I simply disagree. Yeah, it spans nearly half the season, but I was never bored, and in the typical KL fashion, it wasn’t just drama for drama’s sake, but it was drama coming from the inner core of the characters, keeping them interesting and real to us, and I think the pacing was just perfect and that this was the best spot to end this storyine and wrap it up. Give it another two or three or four eps and I would have started to get bored with it, but ending it right here in episode #14 (with a bullet!) was the perfect choice.

    Clearly this episode was a sublime and shining work of genius, so let’s move right along and find out if our next episode can be equally good, as we explore the inside information of our next episode, Inside Information.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
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    Episode Title: Inside Information

    Season 06, Episode 15

    Episode 115 of 344

    Written by Scott Hamner

    Directed by Lorraine Senna

    Original Airdate: Thursday, January 17th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack shows a tape of the Tidal Basin murders to Lila Maxwell's roommate who recognizes Scott Easton and tells Mack he worked for Galveston Ind. Then Karen recognizes one of the men as John Woodside, one of Galveston's aides. Greg tells Laura that his father, Sumner, died as a pilot in the Korean war. Then Galveston showed up at his house, and Greg discovered that his mother and Galveston had been having an affair for years. Then Galveston told Greg that he was really his father. Abby flies to Shula and asks Val to level with her about if she is going to come home. Val doesn't recognize her and thinks that Abby is crazy. Parker overhears and researches Val in the library, and knows that she is really Valene Ewing. Parker asks Val to marry him, and she says yes. Gary tells Abby that Galveston called and said he needed to tell him something about her so Abby tells him that she found Val. Gary catches the first flight to Tennessee.


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    When we last left off, Karen had finally decided to have that risky surgery after putting it off for nearly half the season. After a few moments of unbearable suspense in which doctor’s ran that metal wheel thing over her foot and we briefly thought she might be paralyzed, we realized she was okay and all breathed a tremendous sigh of relief just as Mack entered the church to do a Fonzie-esque thumbs up to Christ. As we pick up with Inside Information, we find Karen in recovery, bored and fidgety as she is forced under house arrest by her doctor’s orders, left with nothing better to do but watch VHS tapes.

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    Speaking of VHS tapes, we actually open this ep with Mack showing some video footage to some chick who was roommates with Lila Maxwell, one of the murdered women in the whole Tidal Basin murder case that I’m really trying hard to pay more attention to this viewing. We open on the roommate watching this video and both My Beloved Grammy as well as myself became immediately very confused because after a moment, the roommate spots an 80s Rapist Beard in the video and points and goes, “I know that man!” She says how he worked for Galveston Industries and she used to see him hanging around and what not, but of course I’m gonna have to remind my lovely readers that we’ve already had two 80s Rapist Beards on the series very recently and both in rapid succession of one another. First off, we had Scott Easton, the man Abs hired to deal with the whole water problem at Lotus Point, and he took care of that as well as taking care of making Val’s babies disappear, all right before he himself disappeared off the face of this earth. Then, right after that happened, a new 80s Rapist Beard was introduced, this one being the guy that Abs found in that weird office building who gave her that cryptic speech about, “Sometimes people get on planes and they never get off.” So, which one is it in this video? Honestly, I didn’t know, but TV.com says it’s Scott Easton, and that makes sense to me, so I’ll go with it, although I continue to question why whoever was working in the casting department decided that two thin white guys with ‘80s Rapist Beards who look exactly alike should be cast during the same batch of eps. Is it just because this was the mid-80s and when they tried to find another actor for that second role, they discovered that absolutely every single living man in the world had an ‘80s Rapist Beard cuz that was just how the world was in 1984-1985? Sounds reasonable to me, so I’ll go with that.

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    Meanwhile, Karen is still lazing around the house, being bored, even getting kinda meta for a moment when she declares to Sexy Michael, “I could only take one more day of soap operas,” a line that made both My Beloved Grammy and myself laugh (also a line that I’m fairly certain you would never hear over on Dallas). Then Mack arrives with a Santa Claus sack of VHS tapes and declares, “I rented every movie ever made,” which immediately signified to me that the little Tidal Basin news footage had probably accidentally made its way into his goody bag and would be viewed by Karen very shortly. I also just liked that line cuz it took me back to another time. By 1985, the home video boom had really started to take off, because even though VHS and VCRs (and, lest we forget, Beta) had been around since the late ‘70s, they didn’t really start to become integrated as this standard part of people’s homes until right around this period, and of course having a VCR attached to your TV would just become a part of the household as we leapt into the early ‘90s (the same time that I was brought into this world, and I can definitely tell you that VHS was a tremendously important part of my own childhood, even though now I look back and realize what a shitty, inferior product it was). This is a small detail, but yet another example of the shifting times as we power along with KL all the way through the late ‘70s and into the early ‘90s. I’m willing to bet that when KL first started in 1979, absolutely nobody on the cul de sac had a VCR, but when we hit that final episode in 1993, I’m sure every single character has a VCR nicely established as a part of their living room.

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    The next Karen/Tidal Basin VHS plot point also confused me, but I’ll try to work it out here. Basically, just as I expected to happen when Mack arrived with all those video tapes, she accidentally puts in the news footage and gives it a good look before seeing something on the tape that gets her very excited and causes her to leap up and rush to Mack’s office. When she gets there, she frantically tells Mack that she knows one of the guys on the tape, that his name is John Woodside and that he was some sort of an aide to Galveston. These are big, long, full seasons we’re dealing with and, if Karen did indeed meet John Woodside at some prior point in this season, I have since forgotten it. Did we see this meeting or is it just being sorta invented and made up right now, in this episode? Honestly I can’t remember, and I confess it’s probably because the whole Tidal Basin thing and its relations to Galveston Industries are the plot point I am having the most trouble following during this sixth season. This isn’t even a criticism, really, because I’ve pointed out incessantly before how my brain often has trouble following long, convoluted plot arcs, but also there’s just so much damn excitement going on elsewhere in this season that my brain is just more focused over on that stuff, on some of my other much loved and much cherished characters.

    Characters like Laura and Sumner, for instance. This week it’s time for a big revelation that I think we viewers have all kinda smelled coming for awhile, and that’s the truth about Sumner and his relation to Paul Galveston. See, he and Laura are still gallivanting around, doing political stuff and hanging out in Sumner’s hotel room a lot (have I ever mentioned how much I would love to live in a hotel?), but Laura is beginning to get frustrated with how Greg keeps her firmly in the dark about so many aspects of his personal life. A few eps ago, she declared to Cathy that she was going to continue seeing Greg, was going to continue sleeping with him, but that “That’s it” and that she wasn’t going to get emotionally involved. However, she’s clearly already in too deep with him, and it’s very obvious that the two love each other already (I’d say it’s been obvious since late season five, actually), but this week she gets angry and gives him this speech about how she’s going to get away from him if he continues to keep secrets from her and generally keep her outside of his personal life. From there, we jump into a tremendous speech, a soliloquy really, something almost out of Shakespeare (although obviously KL is much, much better than anything Shakespeare ever wrote) in which he explains the circumstances of his father’s death and the eventual discovery of his true paternal roots. Follow me along here. Greg says how his father, or at least the man who raised him, was a pilot named Sumner who died heroically doing, um, something with his plane. He then tells Laura about how this man Galveston started hanging around his house a lot and how little boy Greg was thinking, “What’s with this old character actor guy and why is he spending so much time with my mom?” He also reiterates walking in on mama and The Duff Man having a nice afternoon shag, or at least I think that’s what he reiterates, how he heard his mom in her bedroom and thought she was crying but then discovered that Galveston was really riding her and she was enjoying the heck out of it. Then, at the end of the speech, as the music swells, Greg confirms that his true father is, in fact, Paul Galveston, as his mother and him had been carrying on an affair for years and years and years beforehand.

    [​IMG]

    I thought this speech was a highlight of the episode and it also had that ring of authenticity to it that makes me wonder if Devane improvised it himself. Ever since I read that Devane would improvise most of his dialogue and that the rest of the cast would just sorta have to keep up, I’ve been obsessed with trying to spot obvious instances in which he is just improvising. Of course, what I would really like to know is just how much of the dialogue he would make up, because some of the quotes I’ve read (like from Michele, who says he improvised “most of his dialogue” and that she thought the other cast members were “kind of afraid of him”) make it sound like he just made up whatever he wanted, while other quotes make it sound like he would go with the script but just throw in his own little curveballs when he felt like it. In this instance, I’m sure the script for this episode dictated that Greg would reveal the truth about who his real father is, but I have the feeling that it wasn’t written out as this long speech. I’m willing to bet the writers were like, “Okay, Devane, you thought your father was this pilot guy, but it turns out it was Duff, Bob Loblaw, go ahead and make something up but try to hit the general points that are pertinent,” and then they just let him go to town with his little speech to Laura. I could be way off, and perhaps the speech was always written in the script in just such a way, but I have the feeling I’m correct, because it has a real ring of freshness and authenticity to it, as if Devane is really delivering these lines for the very first time. What do you think, my dear readers?

    [​IMG]


    Let’s see, what else is going down on the cul de sac this week. Well, in my notes I notice I wrote, “Cathy + ‘80s Explosion Band Play You’d Better Love Somebody.” I’m sure this song is great because Lisa is singing it, but I confess it has slipped my mind as of this reading, unlike her previous ‘80s explosion song, Beat of a Heart. However, as soon as I pulled up the original version of this song (by Rick Springfield, who also sang Hole in my Heart, which is so very popular with both Ciji and Cathy), it returned to my mind and, as I always say, Lisa outdoes the original. Springfield’s is fine, I suppose, but Lisa’s voice is better and she gives the song more energy. I’m really starting to believe that you could give any song to Lisa and she would improve it from its original, except maybe for those cases where the original singer is just on a higher plateau of vocal talent than any other human, like Karen Carpenter, for instance.

    [​IMG]

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Also, Joshua’s popularity is continuing to grow with that religious show on Pacific World Whatever that, apparently, every single person in the world watches. I’ve never thought of boring, stuffy religious programs in which priests sit in front of a camera and give sermons as being the height of excitement, but apparently the population of California disagrees, because they act like Joshua is one of the Beatles or something, writing fan letter after fan letter to him. However, we are starting to see Joshua make a bit of a transition from that sweet, nice, virginal innocent boy who came into the picture at the start of the season into something a tad more, well, malevolent. Most notably, he appears to be displaying some signs of that old jealousy, a jealousy mixed with hypocrisy. There’s nothing wrong with every girl in California opening her vagina in front of Joshua’s face, yet as soon as he sees Cathy having a very short and innocent conversation with some guy at Isadora’s, he doesn’t appear to like that. I get the feeling that, as we propel forward through this brilliant season, we are going to see Joshua’s shift continue.
    I love all of these characters and they are all super interesting, but let’s finish up by talking about the best storyline going on this week, which is obviously Val/Verna and Abby’s quest to figure out just what the hell is going on with her. The little thirty second preview for this ep is very enticing because we get just the briefest flash of Abs sitting down at the diner and being waited on by Val. The way this comes about is that Abs tells a bit of a lie to Gary (shocking, I know) about how she needs to go out of town to look at some sort of, um, business related, um, thing. In any case, it’s not important since we all know she’s just making up some lie to cover her ass while she disappears to Tennessee for a day. When she arrives at the diner, she finds Val/Verna really in her element, getting along great with all the locals, clearly already a popular girl despite only living in town for a month. Then we the audience get a nice reminder that Val/Verna’s amnesia is pretty damn real and not just an act when she gives the briefest of glances to Abs and then simply says, “Go ahead and sit anywhere you like, darling.” A moment later, she comes up to take Abby’s order and we get a pretty great line, which is her just giving Abs a look and going, “Boy, are you pretty.” I love this, because obviously Abs is pretty, although a word so simple seems almost unfair to the divine, Goddess-like beauty that is Donna Mills and especially Donna Mills during this particular season, where I feel she looks at her absolute most stunning. Abs looks right into the face of Val/Verna and sorta quietly whispers, “Val?” to which she only gets a confused stare back. A minute later, she continues by whispering, “Just tell me if you’re coming home or not,” and it’s probably at this moment that she realizes Val/Verna has officially gone a bit cuckoo, because she has positively no idea who Abs is and positively no idea what she is talking about. I actually distinctly remember watching this moment for the first time, on a break from college and drinking vodka on the rocks in my parents’ basement, sitting there and being like, “This is just the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” and I meant it then and I mean it now. Watching moments like this, you realize you are staring right into the very heart of genius, of art on television working at the very fullest height of its powers.

    The plot only thickens when Abs tries to evacuate the premises and finds her efforts thwarted by Parker Winslow, who has noticed the fancy lady in town and fully intends to give her the third degree. He snuggles up to her car and talks about how nice it is (although both My Beloved Grammy and myself had the same thought at this, which is that this is probably a rental car and not actually Abby’s personal vehicle, but whatever, Parker doesn’t know that) and starts to drop some questions to Abs about what her interest in Val/Verna is. Abs tries to get away and be like, “It’s nothing, you small town hick, get the hell out of my way,” but it’s pretty obvious that this is not what Abs was hoping for. While trying to make a clean escape and leave Val/Verna happy and crazy in Tennessee, she is now being faced with questions; she has gained attention she didn’t want to gain and we all know how bad that can be in a town as small as the fictitious Shula.

    [​IMG]

    The presence of the fancy lady in the sexy rental car coming to visit with Val/Verna sends Parker straight to the library to do a little bit of snooping. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but one of my absolute favorite things in movies or TV shows ever is when people go to the library to look at old newspapers and do research. It takes me back to a simpler, better time, and it also reminds me of movies like The Amityville Horror in which people scroll through newspaper headlines, never bothering to read the full articles, and then gasp in horror when they come to some sort of big, epic revelation. Something pretty similar happens in this scene, although Parker doesn’t have to dig back years and years the way they usually do in the horror movies; rather, he only goes back about a month and he stumbles upon an article with a nice black and white photo of Val/Verna and the headline, “L.A Author Valene Ewing Missing.” Uh oh, what’s he going to do now that he has this inside information?! Obviously what he’s going to do is rush to Val/Verna as fast as possible and propose marriage to her. If I recall correctly, this scene takes place in the super cute and cozy looking apartment of Val/Verna, and Parker comes marching in all full of confidence and swagger and makes his case for why he positively loves Verna Ellers and wants to be with her for the rest of his life. To the collective gasps and cries of “NO! NO!” heard from all 15 to 20 million people watching this upon original airdate, Val/Verna accepts his proposal and we have to wait and see how/if she is going to manage to get out of this. Again, I can remember sitting there and watching this for the first time and being like, “Omigod this show is so brilliant; it never stops being exciting!”

    [​IMG]

    Somebody has to come and rescue Val/Verna from these impending nuptials based on lies and deceit, and happily enough for myself, it appears that that person is Gary, the one true soulmate of Val/Verna. See, when Abs gets back from Tennessee, she’s got her ass covered and is ready to take the wind out of Galveston’s sails, since just earlier this ep, Galveston reminded her that he knew where Val was and was planning on telling Gary. In our final scene of the ep, Abs returns to Westfork and announces to Gary, “I know where Val is,” to which you can positively see the love in Gary’s eyes as his face lights up and he goes, “What?! Where?!” Abs tells him all about it at just the exact precise moment that Galveston comes rolling up his car. He comes walking up to them, all ready to tell Gary what’s going on and get Abs into some serious trouble, only to be hit the revelation that Abs already told Gary and, as of this moment, he has no cards to play, although I have the feeling that will change shortly. Anywho, we also end the ep fabulously with a freeze frame (which I notice they are doing a bit more frequently, and they always choose the most perfect eps to do it with) of Abby's smirking face as she looks at Galveston, basically saying, “Yup, I killed your plan; what are you gonna do about it?” Fantastic ending to a fantastic ep.

    This was maybe not the best ep on the disk we watched (I think that honor would probably go to our previous ep, #14 With a Bullet), but it’s really splitting hairs at this point to try and pick a best ep out of this season. The whole thing is just so consistently brilliant; every disk is a tour-de-force of joy and genius and this ep is obviously no exception. As I so often say, I can only thank God that I don’t have to wait a whole week between eps like people back in the ‘80s did; we are able to do a nice binge watch of five eps at a time, which is obviously like having five consecutive, unbelievably intense orgasms all in one night, except of course much, much better.

    We’ll start a fresh new disk of five eps on our next visit, and we shall be starting with Out of the Past.
     
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    Episode Title: Out of the Past

    Season 06, Episode 16

    Episode 116 of 344

    Written by Neal Bell

    Directed by Bill Duke

    Original Airdate: Thursday, January 24th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Abby decides to lengthen Joshua's segment. She threatens Cathy not to date Joshua anymore, or she will tell him about her affair with Gary and that she murdered someone. Mack can't get a Judge to grant him a warrant for Galveston Industries, so Greg gets Mack the warrant he needs. Karen unwittingly gives Galveston information on the investigation. Gary goes to Val's diner, and recalls how he met her in a diner by helping her out when it was really busy. He tries to talk to Val, who doesn't recognize him and thinks he's crazy. Parker and his friends beat Gary up and tell him to get out of town. Val's confused as to why two people have thought she was Val Ewing. Gary goes back to the diner and helps Val like he did when they first met. For just an instant she recognizes him and says "Gary," but then, confused, runs out, and Gary follows. She insists she's Verna and has never seen him before. She tells Parker she wants to get married right away.

    [​IMG]

    Oh thank heavens we are back. It might be hard for my amazing and loving and devoted readers to get a sense of how timing works out for My Beloved Grammy and I to watch KL eps since I try to put up my essays like clockwork at the same time every week. In real time, however, the gap between our last disk of eps and this particular disk of eps (spanning Out of the Past through The Emperor’s Clothes) was quite possibly the longest ever since we first started doing our KL nights. It took over a month for us to get back together, and let me tell you that it was agonizing. My hands began to shake, I started to wake up in cold sweats, screaming the names of Gary and Val, and my life became a barren, empty wasteland of misery in which all I could think about was one day returning to my friends on the cul-de-sac. Happily enough, just as I was putting a pistol in my mouth and preparing to pull the trigger, My Beloved Grammy called me up randomly out of the blue and asked if I’d like to come over that exact night for another batch of eps, so I of course immediately rushed over, speeding my car and running all the red lights and mowing down a few innocent people in my mad dash to get back into the magical, intoxicating world of KL. I only bring this up in order to point out that we may have lost a smidge of forward momentum when it comes to all the storylines going on, but KL is obviously so good that as soon as we got started again, we were able to remember everything that was going on and slip right back into things. So anyway, let’s go ahead and talk about the first ep on that disk, which is Out of the Past.

    As I think I’ve been saying incessantly, my favorite storyline going on at this exact juncture is that of Val/Verna and her adventures in Shula, Tennessee. That story takes up a good majority of the time this week, but I’d like to start with some of the other characters and what they’re up to and then finish by talking about Val/Verna, so why don’t we go ahead and begin by catching up with Joshua and Cathy. What’s going on with them this week? Well, we are beginning to see an unfortunate metamorphosis in Joshua’s personality, no doubt accelerated by his quick rise to fame over at Pacific World Whatever along with Abby’s gentle manipulations. Joshua was introduced onto the series in the second episode of the season, Calculated Risks, and he was gentle and quiet and wide eyed and innocent, but already that Joshua is starting to seem like some distant memory. Now that he’s got that popular segment preaching on Reverend Kathryn’s show, the power is starting to get to his head and it’s negatively affecting his relationship with Cathy. Indeed, we already saw a little storyline that I think I neglected to mention when it was going on (sorry about that) in which Cathy was gonna go off on tour with her band and Joshua said they would have to break up if she did so.

    Well, this week Joshua is giving one of his sermons on the show, but he sorta cuts it in half and makes it a much brisker affair, which Abs doesn’t like. Honestly, I think I wouldn’t like that either, since I’m fairly certain when you’re dealing with time slots and commercials and all of that, if someone suddenly decides to take something that’s supposed to take up, say, ten minutes, and cuts it down to just five, doesn’t that f*** up your whole day? Now you need to go to commercial five minutes early or move the next program up by five minutes or whatever, right? In any case, Abs speaks to Joshua about it and he says something about how he just wanted to be brisk, but then Abs starts to give this speech about how, when you get some power, there will be people in your life who want to take that power away, or something like that. Clearly she’s talking about Cathy, although it takes a minute for her to finally just say that, at which point she tells Joshua, “Don’t let Cathy ruin your career.” Honestly, I’m having a smidge of trouble understanding exactly why this is a concern to Abs; does this simply lie in the base fact that she doesn’t like Cathy? Most of the time, her manipulations seem to have some motivation which is easy to track, but in this case it sorta seems like she’s just rocking the boat for the sake of rocking the boat. Am I missing something here?

    [​IMG]

    In any case, this leads to a nice little one-on-one between Abs and Cathy at Lotus Point in which Abs tells her to stay away from Joshua and Cathy gets a nice line of, “Have you ever loved anyone?” On paper that might not read, or it might even sound corny, but the way Lisa delivers that line makes it pretty funny, and I like that Cathy is not deterred by Abby’s threats here and is able to dish it out equally well, because when Abs threatens to tell Joshua that Cathy did time for murder and that she was fooling around with Gary while he was married, Cathy just points out that she could tell Joshua it was Abs who hired her to distract Gary in the first place. It doesn’t take long for Cathy to do just that. She’s having a chat with Joshua when he brings up what Abs said to him back at Pacific World Whatever, how maybe he needs to cut Cathy out of his life. At this point, Cathy tells Joshua about her season five shenanigans, before he was on the show. Joshua doesn’t appear to believe her, or at the very least he’s a bit confused, asking why Abs would purposefully hire another woman for her husband to fall in love with. Clearly this relationship is on dangerously thin ice since Joshua basically refuses to believe anything Cathy, the woman who loves him, is saying to him.

    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, Mack is still deeply committed to his investigation of the Tidal Basin murders, a storyline that I’m really beginning to follow along with and understand much better than during my first trip through the KL experience. In this ep, Mack is trying to get a warrant to investigate Galveston Industries. I kinda forgot the exact details of what the warrant is for, but I think it’s just to investigate the entire company, generally, to be allowed to snoop around and find some incriminating evidence. However, the judge tells Mack he doesn’t have enough evidence in the first place to warrant getting a, um, warrant, so he turns him down. Mack is upset, but then help arrives in the form of a certain Mr. Gregory Sumner, who shows up at Mack’s and Karen’s to inform them that they now have their warrant; he pulled some strings and used his powers and voila. Karen is a bit suspicious about what his interest in all this is, why he’s being so helpful, and Sumner is like, “Hey, you wanted your warrant, you got your warrant.”

    There’s also a quick scene this week between Paul Galveston and Karen that I probably should have paid a bit more attention to, only because I’m having a little bit of trouble understanding the exact contents of the scene. Basically Karen goes to pay him a visit and he’s sipping on a gigantic snifter of brandy (which he always seems to be drinking; brandy must be Galveston’s drink of choice just like J.R.’s was a bourbon and branch) and she says something about how Mack is doing an investigation into the Tidal Basin murders. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out if Karen was being threatening to Galveston in that sorta nice way, where you smile and are chit chatty but you are also saying, “Watch out,” or if she was really just making polite conversation and she sorta let this information slip out. In any case, Galveston’s ears seem to perk up at this and I take it to mean that, prior to this, he didn’t recognize how serious Mack’s investigations were, but now he sees that he’s gonna have to start doing something clever to distract Mack.

    [​IMG]

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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    CONTINUED

    Honestly, that’s about it for the non-Val/Verna stuff this week, which is interesting to note. Generally, even if an episode is focusing pretty heavily on one character, there’s still a ton going on with the rest of the cast, but in this ep, they’re not given as much to do since we focus so heavily on the Shula adventures. To be clear, I ain’t complaining; Val/Verna has been in Tennessee for five eps now, and this remains my favorite story going on right now and the one that I remember most from the season. I’m sure I’ve said this already, but I love how Val/Verna essentially seems to wander off into another series for a good chunk of eps, and whenever we cut away to her we get to be part of this other series about the lives of a bunch of friendly folks in a small town in Tennessee. Because of the gloriously huge episode count of the season, it really gives us time to live and breathe with her in Shula rather than just having her drop by for an episode or two. Nope, instead we really get the sense that she is comfortably established here and that, if Abs hadn’t figured out where she was and told Gary about it, she could probably stay living here forever. However, even though Val/Verna is popular amongst the town folks and is a good waitress and gets along with her boss and has a nice apartment, things aren’t all completely sunny, since we’ve got a snake in the grass known as Parker Winslow. You’ll all recall that in our last ep, Parker did a bit of research at the library and discovered who Val/Verna really is. After that, he proposed marriage to her and she accepted, which brings us to where we are now, with the two eagerly planning their wedding ceremony. Now, real fast I do wanna talk about Parker’s motivations. Parker is obviously a sleaze, but I also get the feeling that he’s not entirely motivated by greed in this instance. He was dating Val/Verna before he found out she was a famous author and he did seem to genuinely like her. Still, it was about two seconds after he found that “L.A. Author Val Ewing Missing” newspaper that he went and proposed to her, so I’m assuming that he thinks marrying her will somehow get him a slice of her money, but I just wanna point out that I don’t believe that’s the reason he started up with her in the first place. I’m not saying this as a defense to the character, who I think is slime, but just merely an observation.
    Fortunately, Gary is on the scene pretty quickly as we start this ep to try and rescue Val/Verna. Unfortunately, he has a little recreation of the memorable scene between Abs and Val/Verna from our last show. In similar style, he comes walking into the diner and sees Val/Verna working like a busy bee, and when she gets to his table there’s no glint of recognition in her eyes or nothing like that. Instead, she just takes his order and asks if he’d like some coffee and when Gary says how he believes they know each other, she tells him that’s not so, but get this, she also says something about how, “I’d remember a face as handsome as yours,” which I totally loved. Even in the depths of this bizarre amnesia thing she’s got going on, somewhere deep down inside, within the very core of her soul, Val/Verna is still inherently immediately attracted to Gary even though she doesn’t remember him. By the way, I would be absolutely remiss in my duty if I neglected to mention what happens right before Gary walks into the diner. See, he comes pulling up in the parking lot and then we go into a scene which I’ve never forgotten, and that is a glorious flashback to the first time Gary and Val ever met. This has been a major part of their past history ever since their very, very first appearances way back on Dallas with Reunion: Part One, when Val told Lucy the story of how she saw Gary for the first time and, “He was just about the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.” Oh God, yes, and how I’ve been waiting for the day to come when we would finally get to see this first meeting acted out right before our very eyes, and now that day has arrived.

    In the flashback, we see a young Gary come walking into whatever diner it was that fifteen year old Valene was working in. She’s overworked, the diner is a madhouse, there’s a thousand things going on at once, too many people to keep track of, and her boss is giving her a hard time. She has her back turned to Gary and is sorta yelling at her boss while holding two plates, but then Gary comes up behind her and gently takes the two plates out of her hands. She spins around, their eyes lock, my thighs melt, and we witness what true love at first sight really looks like. From there, Gary starts to go to work helping her out with her tables and then we return to 1985 and leave that flashback behind, but don’t forget about it, cuz it’s gonna be pretty darned important for a scene later in the ep.

    I love the flashback for a multitude of reasons. First off, I love physically seeing this first meeting that we have heard about as a part of Gary and Val’s core histories since day one. I feel like the fact that we are allowed to take a minute and go back in time also adds a feeling of scope and grandeur to the series, really emphasizing the feeling that these characters are real and that their pasts are real, as well. Also, I think it’s just, you know, cool. I think other shows might be content with just telling us about Gary and Val’s first meeting and then leaving it at that, but actually seeing it is so much richer. Finally, it really helps to demonstrate the theme of this episode that’s right there in the title, Out of the Past. In this case, we are seeing something from Gary and Val’s past, and it’s going to be important to see how that past event can affect events within the present day. However, just to show that I’m not a complete groveling sycophant for the show, I do have one small flaw, and that would be the casting of young Gary. Young Val is pretty okay; I can buy that she’s a young J.V.A. (and she’s also a Transmorpher since she appeared during The Dark Years of Dallas as some boring girlfriend of Bobby’s or something), but young Gary doesn’t look much like Shack to me at all, and My Beloved Grammy agreed. This guy’s name is Andrew Fielder and this is his only credit ever. This forces me to wonder if he was actually a real actor or if he was just some friend of someone who worked on KL. Perhaps some Lorimar suit was like, “Can you throw my kid into one of your eps? He really wants to be on TV!” Anyway, I have no idea who he is and no way of knowing where he came from or where he’s gone, but my little micro-criticism of this scene is that he just doesn’t look much like a young Gary. Aside from that, however, the scene is gold.

    Val/Verna doesn’t remember Gary and doesn’t understand why he’s hanging around and bothering her. To the other observers in this little drama, it looks like Gary is kinda a weirdo for showing up to bother the nice waitress and claim that they used to be married. Also, Gary tries to get the boss at the diner to believe him, but he’s not really having any of it, and the doctor he talks to says that Val/Verna seems perfectly fine and happy and he can’t force some sort of psychiatric evaluation on her on the word of one stranger in town. Now, you all know I love this storyline and think it’s amazing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point out some logic holes. All the best works of art have their little flaws, and KL is no exception. The main flaw here is that I don’t know that Val/Verna has any form of I.D. or a social security number or nothing to even prove who she is. I could buy that she’d show up at a little diner and ask for work and the boss would hire her without seeing a social security; I’m willing to believe that he might be paying her under the table for her services. However, now wedding bells are in the air and I’m pretty sure people can’t just show up to get married without having proof of who they are and where they came from and that they are, in fact, who they say they are. So in this case, I’m wondering why nobody is like, “Say, let’s just ask Verna for a picture I.D. to prove who she really is.” If that happened, wouldn’t Gary be able to prove he’s telling the truth? Also, Gary really didn’t come too prepared, did he? He found out Val was here and he just sorta rushed over, but now he’s finding it hard to get anyone to believe him as he goes around claiming that he used to be married to her for years and that they have a daughter in Texas. Why didn’t he grab a quick copy of one of her books to show to people and say, “Look, there’s a picture of her with the name ‘Val Ewing’ underneath it.” Why not bring some pictures of him and her together? Why not bring some reinforcements in the forms of, say, Lilimae or Karen, people who can back up his claim and confirm that Verna is really Val? So yeah, there are certain aspects of this storyline that are becoming a little hard to swallow, but I’m still swallowing it fine because it simply tastes so damn good.

    Later, we start to see some wheels turning in Val’s/Verna’s head during a scene in which Parker is giving her a foot massage. Seriously, ick, I’m just not a foot guy and it feels like, for this one scene, Quentin Tarantino suddenly stepped in as guest director and brought his little foot fetish along with him, because not only does Parker massage her feet, but as they discuss their wedding, he even kisses her feet. Oh barf, I am gonna tell you right here and now that, no matter how deeply in love I might be with someone, I would never ever ever kiss their f***ing feet. But anyway, I’m focusing on a small detail of the scene instead of the big stuff, and that is the fact that Val/Verna is sorta talking out loud to herself and she’s like, “Isn’t it funny that that man called me ‘Valene’ and that’s what that pretty lady called me?” She’s obviously referring to Abby’s little visit to town last episode (“Boy, you’re sure pretty”), and she then ends the scene with the little question, “Who on earth is Val Ewing?” Just to prove that Parker is a complete sleaze and a worthless piece of crap (“A piece of crap! I find him extremely ugly! He emits a foul and unpleasant odor! I loathe him!”), he and his two goons pay Gary a little visit with a bunch of big, like, wooden oars or something. Oh God, did I hate this, and what cowardice it is to watch three guys beat up one guy. Gary still manages to get a few good swings in, but it’s just not a fair fight and he gets beat up a bit with those big oars and then Parker kneels down next to him and grabs him by the shirt collar and says, “Hands off my fiancé!” Oh boy, things just aren’t going too well in Gary’s world lately, are they?

    The best scene of the ep comes right near the end, in which Gary pays Val/Verna another visit at the diner and finds her in a very similar situation as she was the very first time he saw her. As before, the diner is a madhouse and people are screaming at her and her boss is getting sassy. The scene is pretty much exactly the same, and at this point My Beloved Grammy said, “He should come up behind her and take the plates like he did before,” and that is of course what happens. When Gary takes the plates out of her hands, she spins around and they lock eyes and Bill “Cooke” Duke kicks in with some of his trademark brilliance and visual flair as we get these little subliminal flash cuts to the young Gary and Val again. The music swells, Val’s/Verna’s eyes get kinda big, and then she whispers, “Gary,” and we see that, for this one moment, she is remembering. My heart is beating and pounding as if I’ve been doing hours and hours of serious cardio and not just sitting on my ass drinking beer and watching TV, but then the moment shifts when she goes storming out of the diner, returning to her claim that she’s never seen Gary before. Gary follows after her and says how, for a moment there, she was remembering, but she refuses to acknowledge it and asks him to leave her alone. I find it easy to understand Val’s/Verna’s mental anguish in this instance. Somewhere, buried deep down inside of her very soul, she can remember everything about her real life and her true soul mate, but if she allows her mind to remember Gary, that means having to allow her mind to remember all the other details, all the horrible things that have happened to her, the babies that she had and lost, and I think if that happens, she just won’t be able to handle it. So it’s sorta an all-or-nothing thing, and the reason her mind snaps back into Verna mode so quickly is because she’s not ready to take on all those other memories yet; it would just be too painful. Thusly, our final scene of the ep is Val/Verna returning to meet up with Parker and declaring that they need to get married right away.

    [​IMG]

    So that was Out of the Past and obviously it was great, but of course I’m a broken record lately because every f***ing episode of this season is great. I didn’t think about it until I looked it up, but this actually our first Duke episode of the season and I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy his eps and the style he brings. I may have neglected to mention those sorts of directorial details in my writeup, but I noticed lots of cool mirror shots in this one, people speaking to each other while sitting in front of mirrors, for instance, and also those cool shots where someone is sitting in the background and a prominent figure looms in the foreground, like an early shot of Sumner sitting in an office while some guy stands in front of him and holds a file folder. I also liked the use of dissolves that take us from 1985 back to the past when Gary was seventeen and Val was fifteen. Duke always comes through like a champion and I’m deeply saddened to note that we only have three more episodes from him in our future. If this ep has a flaw, it’s just some of those logical holes I brought up, but I love the series so much and this season so much and this storyline so much that it’s not too hard for me to just sorta go along with it.

    Next up, we’ll see if Parker Winslow successfully manages to trap Val/Verna into a marriage as we explore Lead Me to the Altar.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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    Episode Title: Lead Me to the Altar

    Season 06, Episode 17

    Episode 117 of 344

    Written by Parke Perine

    Directed by Ernest Pintoff

    Original Airdate: Thursday, January 31st, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua's ego is getting really big. Joshua tells Cathy she needs to mend her ways and sing in church, not in a bar, and he breaks up with her. Abby's worried that Mack will find out her connection with the babies. Galveston has Jamison and Whiteside sign a confession for Lila Maxwell's murder. A man gets into Mack's car and tells him that he's not aiming high enough in his investigation of Galveston. Gary continues to try and convince Val that she is not Verna. Val makes plans for her wedding, and imagines dancing with Gary in her wedding dress. Gary shows Val her picture on the back of "Nashville Junction." Parker's worried when Val is late for the wedding. She's in her room, staring at her picture on the book cover. Val finally goes to the church. Gary barges in and interrupts the ceremony. Parker wants the Minister to continue, but Gary insists he is going to bring Val home to California.

    [​IMG]

    When we last left off, ominous wedding bells were ringing for Val/Verna as the ultra sleazeball douche bag Parker Winslow had successfully gotten her to agree to marriage. With our last ep, Out of the Past, Gary flew to Tennessee to try and stir up Val’s/Verna’s old memories, but to little success. True, he got her to have that quick sense memory of how they first met and experienced love at first sight, but that was very brief and she quickly returned to being Verna. Now, we begin an episode entitled Lead Me to the Altar, and with a title like that, we should all be feeling deeply uncomfortable about what may be lying in store.

    [​IMG]


    However, as I did last week, I’d like to save the Val/Verna stuff for the end of our discussion and begin by focusing on other characters. Who to start with? Oh gee, let's look at my notes here, let’s start with Cathy and Joshua, who’s relationship is on increasingly thinner and thinner ice due to Abby’s manipulations and Joshua’s inflated ego, not to mention his repressed religious issues. Take my advice and just never date a religious person, and most especially never date a preacher’s son, because it’s just gonna be a whole can of worms that you don’t need to deal with. We’ve seen Joshua have some problems with Cathy singing at Isadora’s in past eps, but it’s starting to become even more of an issue now. See, Joshua now believes it would be bad for his image if he was dating a woman who, you know, sings in a bar (although he uses the word “saloon,” which I appreciate; definitely helps to emphasize his very old fashioned view of the world). I appreciate that Cathy doesn’t even consider compromising herself for him, but rather stands up for herself and her right to sing where she wants to sing and do what makes her happy. At the same time, however, if something like this were happening to me, I would have no patience for it and immediately drop Joshua and go start sleeping with a new person, but Cathy is in love with him and so she’s having a hard time being as cold as I can be. I can appreciate that, and it also goes back to that rather incredible ability Baldwin has already displayed for changing his personality and performance in a way that’s really rather subtle. When he first showed up, I thought he was genuinely cute and sweet, all wide eyed and innocent, and I felt sorry for him, but now that we’re starting to see hints of his darkness; he’s starting to become rather frightening, honestly. Another important Joshua/Cathy thing to note this week is the fact that he does not believe her claim about how Abs hired her in season five. Abs denies this to Joshua and says, “Why would I want my husband to fall in love with another woman?” Later, Joshua tells Cathy that Abs would never lie to him, that he trusts her, and he accuses Cathy of being the one who’s lying. These are some harsh words and so, quite understandably, the two break up for the time being.

    I might actually have a criticism right here, but note that it’s a very small one. I love KL and I love season six of KL best of the entire series and so far, not only is it just as good as I remembered from first viewing, but it’s actually even better and I’m just sitting in awe that a 30-episode season of television can possibly be this amazing, but no art is completely flawless, so I do have one little micro-complaint here, and that is that I’d like to see Cathy doing a bit more, getting more of her own material. It actually feels somewhat like she can only exist if she is firmly attached to some male character, and now that I think about it, the same thing was true of Lisa’s first character on the show, Ciji. Ciji was most firmly attached to the wicked Chip Roberts (although of course her character and her death had a significant ripple effect that ran down through pretty much everybody in the cast, which is a main reason why that storyline was so damn strong). After Ciji came back from the dead in the form of Cathy, she was firmly attached to Gary and the question of whether or not they would sleep together was a continuous thing throughout season five. Then, Gary cut it off with her and two seconds later Joshua moved into the neighborhood and now she’s firmly attached to him. What would it be like if Cathy was completely free of a boyfriend? What if we just got stories about her, you know, sorta doing stuff? I think one of the reasons I’m only just bringing this up is because usually the show will throw in some absolutely fantastic cover song for Lisa to sing and I’ll get so distracted and amazed by it that I won’t notice if her character is kinda not really doing too much aside from singing and fighting with Joshua.

    [​IMG]


    Let’s shift our focus over to a storyline that I remember not following very well but which I believe I’m finding much easier to understand now, that of Paul Galveston and the Tidal Basin murders and all that fun stuff. We can tell that Galveston is getting rather nervous about Mack poking around and asking questions regarding the murders, so now he’s sorta overcompensating and being way too agreeable and helpful to Mack, but it’s all in the interest of covering his own ass, and in my opinion he doesn’t do it very well. At some point (it’s either in this episode or the one right before it), he is speaking with Mack and he gets very serious and says, “If you find out that anyone in my organization is responsible for these murders, you come to me first so I can take care of it,” or something like that, and even though he tries to sound really angry and “Murder is bad” and all that, we can tell that Mack’s not buying it, cuz he just sorta glares at Galveston during this whole speech. Next up, Galveston meets with two of his lackies, including the non Scott Easton ‘80s Rapist Beard. Yes, at this point I’m fairly sure that Easton took a skydive without a parachute out of that plane and we won’t be seeing him anymore, so this ‘80s Rapist Beard (Jamison) is the only one we need to focus on for the time being. Anyway, Galveston, Jamison, and some other guy (TV.com says his name is Whiteside) meet up for lunch and Galveston gives them something to sign and they’re like “What am I signing?” and he’s like, “You just signed confessions to the murder of Lila Maxwell," and honestly the two guys seem to take this pretty well in stride. If my boss took me out to lunch and then abruptly made me confess to a murder, I’d be a bit more perturbed than these two, but perhaps such things as this were covered way back when they signed their contracts. Indeed, Galveston is all calm and is like, “Now now, boys, you know that this might happen when you started working for me.” A second later, we see Galveston pop a couple of pills like Father Merrin in The Exorcist and a little red flag goes up in our brains; could Galveston possibly die?

    When Galveston shows up at Mack’s office with two signed confessions, Mack’s still not buying it, and good for him. Do you see what I mean about Galveston being too helpful? Doesn’t it seem strange that he would hear Mack’s investigating these murders and then immediately show up with two signed confessions from some of his staff? I’m kinda surprised that Galveston thinks this will work, since he’s clearly just using Whiteside and ‘80s Rapist Beard to serve as a distraction from the real bad guy, who is presumably Galveston himself. It’s also worth noting that Mack doesn’t say he doesn’t believe him; he sorta takes the confessions and says thanks and is quiet but we can tell he’s finding this all a little bit suspicious, himself.

    I’m looking through my notes here, and let’s shine a quick spotlight on Greg. We have one of the most earth shattering events in Greg Sumner History with this ep, and I am talking, of course, about his very first cigar. Whenever I think of Sumner, I think of him smoking a big cigar; it seems like this inseparable part of his character, and yet we haven’t seen him smoke a cigar all through season five and now more than half of season six. This week, however, he and Laura are kinda unwinding for the night, sitting around in their robes and getting ready for bed, and he’s enjoying a nice big cigar while relaxing in a chair (taking me back to a better time in American history when a man could enjoy a big cigar in an enclosed environment without a bunch of people wanting to have him murdered). I have been meaning to attempt to count all of Sumner’s cigars as we move through the series, but I had almost forgotten about that goal since it had been some time and we still hadn’t seen him smoke one, but here it is, his very first, so let’s go ahead and start up the Sumner Cigar Counter with Cigar #1. Ooooh, this is all very exciting.

    [​IMG]


    Aside from Sumner Cigar #1, we also have a fabulous line delivered impeccably by Devane that I really really hope was improvised. As I’ve said before, I’ve read that Devane improvised a ton of his dialogue, and I like trying to spot it, if I can. Sometimes it’s just a feeling I get, sometimes it’s a long speech he’ll go on and that feels very natural and spur-of-the-moment, sometimes it’s a funny little extra bit that isn’t strictly necessary to the plot but just adds a little life, and sometimes it’s just a funny little line or joke. In this case, we have a scene of Paul Galveston barging in on Greg and Laura and angrily demanding to know, “What the hell are you doing with Mack MacKenzie?” Without missing a beat, Sumner dryly replies, “We’ve having an affair.” Oh boy, did I laugh at that line, as did My Beloved Grammy. You tell me, my dear readers, does that sound like something that was written in the original script, or does it strike you as something Devane would improvise and make up on the spur-of-the-moment?

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Honestly, that about does it for our other characters this week. This episode is very heavily focused on Gary and Val/Verna; looking through my notes it’s clear that the majority of the action this week is in Shula as Val prepared for her nuptials. As I mentioned before, I have some logical problems with this development, most specifically the fact that I’m pretty sure getting married is a smidge more complicated than just showing up at a church and saying, “Hi, I’m ready to get married.” Pretty sure you need to, you know, prove who you are and where you come from, provide a valid I.D. and social security number, stuff like that. This week, Parker just sorta shows up while Val/Verna is working and is like, “I got us our marriage license!” No questions are asked about how he got a marriage license for a woman who isn’t who she says she is and who has no actual proof that she is Verna Ellers. In any case, it’s just not that big of a deal, and it’s certainly not something I was focusing on upon first viewing; I was just way too enraptured with the drama and nervous about what was going to happen to Val/Verna.

    Okay, I might have one more little logical flaw in this particular ep, and this time it lies with Gary being the only person in Shula who knows what’s going on and is trying to rescue Val/Verna. We get some scenes here and there throughout the ep of other characters being like, “I’d better get to Tennessee and see if I can help” and then usually Abs shuts them down for one reason or another. We actually open the ep with Ben and Joshua saying they’re gonna go there and Abs gives them some line about how Gary has the situation well in hand and doesn’t need outside help. However, I just kinda don’t believe that a character like Ben, especially, wouldn’t just ignore Abs and go off to do his thing. The same goes for Lilimae, as well. When she hears where Val is, she gets very excited and wants to go right away, and then I think Karen or someone says how Val’s not herself and it’s best that just Gary is there. The problem, of course, is that nobody in Shula is believing anything Gary’s saying and, since he’s the only outsider trying to let the truth be known, he comes across as crazy. If he had shown up with Ben and Lilimae and Karen to be his support and affirm what he is saying, he wouldn’t look so nutty, but instead he’s going solo and it’s proving to be a bit of an uphill battle. Again, it’s a little plot flaw that I’m willing to overlook since the drama is this good.

    [​IMG]


    Gary is persistent and pretty smart with his methods of jogging Val’s memories. First off, he starts with the simple method of sending her flowers and a “Good luck on your marriage” note. This might seem odd, but really it’s not, cuz he’s serving to remind her of his own existence and of her previous life with him and the two marriages they had (I’m referring to their nuptials in the Dallas ep Return Engagements as their second marriage, but did they ever actually get an official divorce in all those years between the early ‘60s and 1979? Maybe in reality Gary and Val have only been married once). The flowers scene is nice because they arrive at the diner and Parker tries to grab them real fast and is like, “Oh, I’ll go put them in water,” clearly not wanting Val to see the note, since she’s assuming they came from Parker himself. Then she reads the note and sees they’re from Gary and Parker looks rather dejected. Later he and his two goons show up at Gary’s hotel room and he smashes the flowers against the wall and is like, “We don’t want these!” This scene interests me because as Parker is being threatening to Gary his two goons are sorta going through the room, looking around, clearly on the prowl for something, but what? I assume they’re just looking around for either something to damn Gary with or something that proves Gary’s telling the truth, but whatever it is, they don’t find it and end up leaving empty handed.

    [​IMG]


    Next up is a scene that I had forgotten existed, and I don’t know how the hell that could be, because it’s sublime. It’s the night before the wedding and Val/Verna is all dressed up in her wedding gown, sorta hanging around her cute little apartment and admiring herself in the mirror. Then, in a very ghostly little appearance, Gary just sorta shows up in the mirror. She’s looking at herself and then suddenly Gary is there, standing behind her. This could come off as creepy but instead it comes off as unbelievably romantic, and it only gets more romantic when this really cool and strange music kicks in (it sounds like music coming directly out of a little music box on a nightstand or something) and Gary and Val/Verna start to dance around the room. She’s in her wedding dress, he’s in his tux, the music is beautiful, the scene is very dreamlike and strange, but not creepy, just loving, and it’s a good long scene that really lets you disappear into the moment, and then it’s very rudely interrupted by asshole Parker, who just sorta comes walking in and sees Val/Verna in her dress, which we all know is bad luck. Val/Verna gets real upset and yells at Parker and is like, “You knew I’d be in my dress tonight and you know it’s bad luck to see me and you came over anyway,” and she basically shoves him out and slams the door in his face, not hiding her anger one bit. Of course, I think we all know the real reason she’s upset is not because of a superstitious belief in the groom seeing the bride before the wedding, but rather that she was having this transcendent dream dance sequence with her true soul mate, Gary, and Parker ruined it. How did I forget about this scene? It’s totally trippy and cinematic and romantic all at once, and it so aptly demonstrates the cool arty things KL will do regularly that parent series Dallas would never have even bothered to attempt, and I’m willing to bet the other ‘80s nighttime soaps wouldn’t attempt either. Plus, it’s just beautiful. The more I watch, the more sure I am that Gary and Val are my favorite TV couple of all time. During this long, long period in which the two are split up, I just want them to be together so badly; my heart melts during romantic scenes such as this. It actually makes me believe in the idea of true love and soul mates.

    [​IMG]


    Gary’s last effort to help Val/Verna see the light is also one of his first uses of anything real or practical to try and snap her out of her stupor. In this case, he brings a nice hardcover of Nashville Junction (I don’t know if they’ve put it out in paperback quite yet) with a great black and white photo of Val/Verna on the back. He shows her the cover and says, “Look at this, it’s you.” Even still, Val/Verna continues to resist, only paying the photo the very briefest of glances before mumbling something about how, “That doesn’t mean anything.” Gary gets a bit aggressive and grabs her and looks her firmly in the eyes and says, “You look at me and you tell me that you’re getting married this afternoon.” Then there’s a bit of a dramatic pause and Val/Verna says, “I’m getting married this afternoon.”

    [​IMG]


    Before that, however, we get to see Val/Verna hanging around her apartment all alone in her wedding dress, a private moment in which she looks at the photo and, I think, kinda sorta starts to want to accept the truth. Again, I think her brain is all confused; if she decides to accept the fact of her identity and her long history with Gary, that would also mean having to accept the other horrible things that have happened to her, with of course the most horrible thing being the loss of her babies. I think it makes sense that her mind would continue to try and block this information out. As she sits around, we also keep crosscutting to the gatherers at the church, getting nervous about her absence. I want to give a quick shout out to a character I’ve sorta neglected, Ron Merriwether, the boss down at the diner. This is a small character who I really warmed up to during the course of Val’s/Verna’s stay in Shula. In the last ep, he wasn’t very helpful to Gary at all, but now through small details we are starting to see him having a change of opinion. I noted the way he looks at Parker while they’re at the church, waiting to see if the bride will show up, and I also noted some little snarky things he says to Parker here and there; I get the feeling that he’s starting to smell a rat with this whole operation, starting to think maybe Gary is right and Parker is perhaps holding in some sort of secret.

    In any case, the suspense lasts for awhile and then Val/Verna does indeed show up, quite a bit late but looking nice in her wedding dress. She stands up with Parker in front of the preacher guy and then Gary comes bursting in and tries to stop what’s going on. Actually, he does the cool thing I’ve always wanted to do and waits for the guy to say, “If anyone should have any objection Bob Loblaw,” and that’s when he says how Verna is not Verna, she is Val, and she belongs in California, and so on and so forth. I’ve always wondered about that little “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” thing. Do they really say that thinking anybody will stand up and object, or is it just a formality that you do as part of the wedding tradition? I’ve been to lots of weddings (and they’ve usually been boring and I generally get drunk because I hate weddings) and I’ve never seen anyone object, but there’s always hope.

    KL knows how to milk suspense and how to keep us coming back for more, so they do the smart thing here and simply end on Gary pleading with Val/Verna and her looking at him, having to make a decision, and then a freeze frame on her confused face, not sure what to do. Happily for My Beloved Grammy and I, we just took a small pause to make some popcorn and then we immediately jumped into the next ep, but oh man, imagine being in 1985 and seeing this for the first time and having to wait seven long days to find out what Val/Verna will decide. Oh boy, talk about your agonizing suspense.

    With season six, I almost feel like I could just copy and paste my final thoughts on the eps for every single one, since it basically just boils down to me saying, “Well, that was clearly brilliant.” Lead Me to the Altar was clearly brilliant, as well, but why? Well, I think there’s a real sense of importance and urgency to this ep, a feeling that Gary must rescue Val/Verna and he must do it now, before it’s too late. I felt legit excited watching this even though, in the back of my mind, I could remember how things were gonna turn out. Also, the ep has Sumner’s first cigar (OMIGOD!) and of course the fabulous little dance dream sequence between Gary and Val/Verna that is simply the personification of true love captured forever on film, a moment to make even the blackest of hearts lighten a little bit. Finally, it ended on a fabulous cliffhanger and it would be actually literally impossible for a person to watch this ep and not tune in for the next ep. So yeah, overall super solid.

    Next up we shall see if Val/Verna decides to escape from Shula with Gary or if she’s gonna stick around for a shitty marriage to a shitty man named Parker. The title kinda gives away what’s gonna happen, but in any case, coming up next is Fly Away Home.
     
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    Episode Title: Fly Away Home

    Season 06, Episode 18

    Episode 118 of 344

    Written by Neal Bell

    Directed by Bill Duke

    Original Airdate: Thursday, February 7th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben has a flat tire on the road to Empire Valley. A truck with radio receivers stops to help him. Ben takes one of the receivers and tells Mack that he thinks that Empire Valley is only a cover for something bigger. Mack's men go to pick up Jamison and Woodside, but they're gone. Gary and Parker fight. Val realizes that Parker lied to her, and knows that she is Valene Ewing. She starts to remember Gary, and agrees to go home with him, but thinks that they are still married. At home, she doesn't recognize anyone. Abby tells Gary that Ben needs to take care of Val, and that he has to make a break from her, or they're through. Gary takes Val to the beach and tells her they're not married. She's upset. Abby asks Galveston if Mack will find out about the babies, and Galveston says no, that he will personally tell Gary about his heirs. Later, Abby sneaks into his house and goes through his desk. Galveston comes in and then suddenly has an attack. He asks for his pills, but Abby doesn't help him.

    [​IMG]


    Welcome back. When we last left off in the closing moments of Lead Me to the Altar, we had a cliffhanger worthy of a season finale with Val/Verna staring at two men who claim to love her, one who is a liar and a user named Parker Winslow and one who is her one true soul mate named Gary Ewing. We pick up Fly Away Home with a tiny repeat of the last minute from the last show and then we proceed on to new footage in which we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief as Val/Verna comes rushing out of the church along with many confused guests. I really enjoyed this scene outside of the church that essentially starts our ep. It serves as a conclusion to a story that’s been going on for a good long while now, that of Val turning into Verna and disappearing to Tennessee, and it also has some small character moments I enjoyed. First off, Parker finally lets his true colors hang out when he blurts out something like, “I don’t care about how many books she wrote or nothing,” and with that little slip, everyone knows that Parker has been well aware of Val’s true identity for some time now. After that, we get a quick little fight between him and Gary in which Gary easily takes him down. This I could have used more of, I will confess. I know Parker isn’t a super evil moustache-twirling villain or anything like that, but I thought he was a real slime and he was taking advantage of Val and he and his thugs beat up Gary, so overall I do not like this guy and I would have liked to see more than one quick, simple punch take him down.

    However, the last part of the scene I have no complaints about, and that is Ron (pictured below in a photo I found from a different show), the owner of the diner, shaking Gary’s hand and saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t help you before.” I’m a big believer that a sincere apology can really be a good thing, and this shows that Ron is a good dude who cared about his waitress and now realizes he was doing more harm than good by ignoring Gary. I like the simple handshake between him and Gary and the way Gary just says, “That’s alright.” It’s a nice little moment that makes me sad that we’re leaving this town, because I was starting to dig all the characters that inhabit it. This small moment and the little story we’ve seen developing in the background of Ron becoming suspicious of Parker also demonstrate the amazing ability of KL to have even background or side characters be super interesting. After all, this character of Ron could have easily been nothing, just a small guest actor who’s in a couple of eps as a diner owner, but somehow the writing and directing and acting all fuse together to make even this character very interesting to watch.

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    After this, we say goodbye to Shula forever as Gary and Val fly back to California. I’ve read some fan opinions stating that this Shula story goes on too long, but I don’t agree. If I’m doing my math right, Val is in Shula for around eight eps (she first steps into town in the closing seconds of episode 111, Distant Locations, and now she’s leaving town at the start of episode 118, so I guess that makes a stretch of around seven eps), and I really liked the way that the long season gives the stories an ability to unfold at a much more genuine pace. Nothing feels rushed to me because we really gave Val the time and the stretch of eps to disappear into this town and this storyline. I feel if this was another show (Melrose Place, perhaps?), this entire storyline of Val going crazy and running off to Tennessee would take up all of one and maybe two eps before being unceremoniously wrapped up; with KL and the big 30-episode season, everything is able to unfold at a much more deliberate pace and I like it that way.

    The return of Val to California sorta serves as the nucleus story this week, with all the other stories sorta circling around her. Where to even start? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed an early scene in which Val returns home to be greeted by her friends and family, including Ben. The only problem is that she seems to think she and Gary are married, as evidenced during a positively heartbreaking scene early on in which she cuddles up to his leg and says some memories are coming back and says, “We’ve been in love a long time, haven’t we?” only for a very sad-looking Gary to say, “We’ve had some good times.” Returning home now, she says something like, “It’s gonna take Gary and I a little while to get situated,” demonstrating that she still doesn’t completely remember or understand the state of their relationship at this point. Poor Ben looks so uncomfortable during this passage and my heart goes out to him. The poor guy has really been dealing with a shit storm since he first joined the scrolling squares at the start of season five, hasn’t he? The man just wants to love Val and be a good supporter to her, but it’s very clear that Gary will always be this obstacle, this pink elephant in the room, the man to whom Val’s heart truly belongs.

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    Fortunately, Ben still appears to be gallivanting around with The Desperate Horny Chick, who we haven’t seen in a good stretch of eps. In this instance, they are driving around in his sexy red convertible while she has her legs, like, sprawled up on the dashboard all sexually, really having no subtlety or tact whatsoever. Then the two suffer a blow out and Ben gets very excited about how he can fix a tire in like three minutes or something, but then he pops the trunk and realizes they have a broken tire iron and are, therefore, stranded. Fortunately, a few minutes later a nice truck pulls up and the two trucker guys help them change the tire while The Desperate Horny Chick spreads her vagina in their faces and tries with all her might to get their attention (and let me tell you, there was real venom in My Beloved Grammy’s voice during this scene when she said, “She is just disgusting”). Now, after the truckers finish up with the tire, Ben produces some sort of, um, thing that he stole out of the back of the truck. It’s some sort of high tech science fiction style something or other, I forget what exactly it is, but the fact that the truck was loaded with these things sends Ben’s antenna up. He mentions how it’s odd for a truck loaded with sci-fi devices to be driving this way because, “This road doesn’t go anywhere.” However, we do learn that this road is, like, directly part of Empire Valley, so whatever those dudes are doing with those gizmos, presumably it has something to do with Empire Valley and Paul Galveston.

    Real fast: I like this development just cuz it’s intriguing and I like big secrets and cover-ups and evil wicked organizations that do bad things, but I also like it cuz I’m happy to see Ben doing something. Since doing this rewatch and holding a microscope up over every single episode, the character of Ben has skyrocketed in my esteem; suddenly I find myself loving him. I love the realistic everyman quality he brings to proceedings, I love his dry humor and little sarcastic comments that he’ll make that often sound like they might be improvised and not even coming out of a script, and I love his constant struggle to be good and decent and honest. I felt our last disk didn’t have enough Ben material; that he was sorta around and he was doing stuff but he wasn’t getting much focus. Therefore, I’m pleased that his material seems to be increasing on this disk with more focused stories and more involvement in what’s going on, most particularly with the return of Val to the neighborhood.

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    Meanwhile, we have the continued relationship dramas of Cathy and Joshua, who are broken up for the time being. I wouldn’t exactly be in a hurry to get back with son of a preacher man, by the way, because he’s really starting to show what a narrow mind he has. When Cathy tries to talk to him with some logic about how there’s not just black and white in the world, Joshua responds with, “No, there’s good and there’s evil, and that’s it,” to which she replies, “Singing at Isadora’s doesn’t make me evil.” Good on her for defending her honor against Joshua’s ridiculous religious logic, but bad on her for still hanging around and hoping for him to love her. I get that she’s in love and all that, but come on, there are plenty of nice boys in the world who don’t have horrible, annoying, all-consuming religious problems that make them completely un-fun to be around. Joshua gets to function for the setup to a pretty hilarious moment early in the ep, right after Val has returned home. She’s getting reacquainted with people at the house, and she’s talking to Joshua and says how she can’t remember him all that well, but she knows he’s her brother, and she says something like, “How did you get here?” and then Ben, looking offscreen, sorta sarcastically says, “God.” As soon as Joshua hears that, you can see his ears perk up and he glares at Ben and then is like, “You’re absolutely right, Ben, and God brought Val back to us, so I think we should all sit on the floor and give a prayer to God!” Ben looks pretty reluctant to do this, much as I would be, but nevertheless everyone in the room kneels down and joins hands and does the silent prayer in a scene that I found very humorous and amusing.

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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    However, it’s not all laughs this week, because not too long after that scene, we get one that almost made me cry, but not quite (I haven’t cried since Val in the nursery in We Gather Together). To provide some context, when Gary returns home to Westfork, Abs is not pleased about what he’s been up to the last few days or weeks or however long he was over in Shula, and she tells him it’s time for him to make a clean break from Val and stay out of her life. She points out how he comes running to Val every time she calls, how he’ll drop everything in his own life to go help her and be with her, and she says it needs to stop now. Gary appears to really listen to her, and he’s also probably having some guilt about Ben getting the short end of the stick and the whole “Gary and I need to get situated,” line from Val earlier. Because of that, he takes Val out for a walk on the beach and uses the opportunity to be straight with her.

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    Oh, so much to say about this scene. First off, it takes place at the beach, which we have seen time and time again to be something of a religious place for Val. Indeed, she starts to go on during this scene about her deep love affair with the ocean, about the first time she saw it, all that stuff. I do have one micro criticism about this scene, and that is that Val says how the first time she went to the ocean, she specifically went alone. However, those of us who remember the Pilot should remember that when Val first saw the ocean, she was not alone; she was with Sid Fairgate’s wayward and estranged daughter, Annie. I don’t know if this counts as a plot flaw, because you could argue that Val is still coming out of her Verna state and slowly starting to remember past events, so maybe she just doesn’t remember Annie, but whatever, it’s a tiny little criticism of a great scene.

    The scene gets really sad when Gary finally tells Val the truth. He tells her how they used to be married, but they aren’t anymore, that he can’t be hanging around with her all the time. Rather than a big dramatic performance, Val just makes this kinda sad sound, almost like a squeak, like she has no words to respond, and then she turns her back and goes walking off into the tide for a minute, and it was just a really painful scene to witness. Again, I marvel at the writers’ ability to keep Gary and Val apart for so long and to keep us wanting so bad to see them back together again. I’ve never seen another TV couple like this; usually these “Will they or won’t they?” couples leave me bored to tears or you have to deal with a lot of sloppy logic for why they spend the series apart (Ross and Rachel), but in this case, it just works so well. The fact that Val thought she and Gary were married and now she gets the sad truth also just lends this really painful weight to the scene that made it rather hard to watch; my heart goes out to Val and I just feel so bad for all the pain she’s going through. Amazing scene with amazing acting by both J.V.A and Shack.

    After this, Val continues to act, well, a little nutty. In this case, she seems to go into a sorta manic cleaning mode to deal with her angry feelings, scrubbing the kitchen floor like a madman until Mack comes in to speak with her. Right here, we get yet another great scene with some more fabulous acting, as Mack has to sorta be rough but sorta be loving all at the same time. He says something about, “There are a lot of bad guys in the world, but there are also a lot of good guys, like me or Ben,” or something like that, and I think his words help Val slightly in dealing with her feelings, but you also get the sense that this may be a long road ahead, that Val will not just snap back into being her normal self right away. Again, I like that deliberate pacing; I don’t want to see Val instantaneously change overnight into the same woman she was before she had her babies taken away; I want to see the steps that lead to her returning to normal.

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    The last big important storyline for this week involves Paul Galveston, who continues to hold the threat of the truth about Val’s babies over Abby’s head. Frustrated at the current state of things, Abs busts into his home office late at night to search desperately for any evidence of her own wrongdoing. Fortunately, she finds a handy little notebook in Galveston’s desk which has all the incriminating evidence against her. Perhaps it’s a plot shortcut that all this information is nicely contained in just one notebook and that all Abs has to do is take the notebook, but I’m willing to go with it, especially since the excitement of the scene immediately cranks up to a thousand when Galveston catches her snooping around. He sits down in his chair and says something about how he’s gonna expose Abs and all that, but then he starts to act sorta funny, mentioning how he has this really bad headache and it doesn’t feel normal. We can all smell what’s coming, since just an episode or two ago we saw him pull a Father Merrin and pop some sort of pills. Now, he doesn’t have his pills and Abs is certainly not helping. When Galveston asks her to call his doctor and have him sent over, Abs gets the fabulous last line of the episode when she says, “Call him yourself, Cookie,” and then she just walks out, leaving Galveston to, well, die, I suppose. Or is he going to die? Watching this ep, I had that fabulous experience where I had completely forgotten all these developments and couldn’t honestly remember what would happen in the coming eps. Watching the scene now, I just assumed Galveston was dying, but as we move forward, we’ll see that perhaps it won’t be all that easy.

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    As usual, this was an absolutely fabulous episode of KL directed with style and class by one Bill “Cooke” Duke (and I am very upset to peek at his IMDb and see that he only has a mere two more eps of KL on his resume!). I found that a lot of the best joys of this ep came not from the big stuff, but from the small stuff, little lines or scenes that I appreciated. Obviously I already mentioned the hilarious scene with everyone praying to God, but we also had some funny dialogue from Ben when he gets his flat tire, not to mention the great final line from Abs towards Galveston. I liked that Val does not simply return home and immediately resume normal life, but rather that we see it’s going to take some time to get her back to normal, and I also liked all the good drama flying around, most especially that cliffhanger ending with a possibly dying Paul Galveston. Last of all, this episode really hits hard on emotions with the scene of Gary and Val at the beach, which honestly makes my heart break a little. Overall, an exceptionally solid 48 minutes of KL.

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    Next up, we shall see Val continue her slow process of returning to the Val we all know and love with Rough Edges.

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    Episode Title: Rough Edges

    Season 06, Episode 19

    Episode 119 of 344

    Written by Richard Gollance

    Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

    Original Airdate: Thursday, February 14th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua apologizes to Cathy and says he's making a lot of mistakes as he's never had a girlfriend before, but he's unhappy without her. Galveston's men contact Greg and want to transfer power to him, but he refuses. Meanwhile, Gary's frustrated he can't get in to see Galveston and is told he's away on business. Abby finds Scott Easton's notebook, but the pertinent pages about Val's babies are ripped out. Val starts therapy with Dr. Michaels, but misses a lot of sessions and Karen tries to convince her to go. She hears Lilimae and Ben talking about having her committed, so she yells at Lilimae for abandoning her and calls her a tramp. She hears Lilimae crying, but is unconcerned. Finally Val opens up to her doctor and then feels bad about attacking Lilimae. Ben gives Val a ride home, and she suddenly remembers his beach house and orchids. He is overjoyed.
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    Val disappeared to Shula and turned into Verna for such a good long stretch of episodes that one can easily assume it won’t be a completely smooth reintegration into her normal life, and that’s what the majority of the story for Rough Edges is about. Interestingly, the writers and directors choose to start this episode out in a rather unusual way, with Val back at her little Shula apartment, walking around and seeming happy as a clam. This caused some brief whiplash for me, as we just watched Fly Away Home in which Val, well, flew away home, so to then start this episode and have her back in Shula was a bit off-putting and I could see this opening sequence confusing viewers way back in 1985. However, it’s actually a rather brief scene and then we sorta get out of Shula to reveal that Val is back in California and is talking about her adventures over the past few months with a new psychiatrist, Dr. Michaels. Now, as soon as My Beloved Grammy and I both saw this doctor, we knew we recognized him but we didn’t know why. Well, after a glance at his IMDb page, I’m still not entirely sure what it is I recognize him from so strongly, but my conclusion is that this actor, Charles Aidman (pictured below), has just been in five thousand movies and TV shows, so it must be buried in the back of my unconscious somewhere that I have seen him in something once before, like perhaps two eps of Dallas (Ray’s Trial and The Oil Baron’s Ball, both from 1983) as Judge Emmett Brocks.

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    Okay, I’ll say right off the bat that my favorite scenes from this ep all occur between Val and her doctor, and I am pleased to note that he will be returning one more time a little later this season in A Piece of the Pie. I’ll be curious to see how the Val/Dr. Michaels scenes are filmed when we get to that ep, because here in Rough Edges, they are actually filmed in a rather interesting way. Essentially, Dr. Michaels hardly speaks, so we get to see Val go off on a lot of long speeches about her life, about her time in Shula, about her relationship with Gary, stuff like that. I liked the way the camera would generally just stay on Val’s face as she speaks and we didn’t really see or hear much from Dr. Michaels, who just listens patiently. Even without speaking or doing too much, I do get a sense that I like this doctor; he just seems pleasant and sweet, like he really cares about his patients, and of course it goes without saying that J.V.A is exceptional in these scenes, just as she’s exceptional throughout the entire length of the sixth season. I think some of the hardest acting a person ever has to do is when they are just sitting and talking, not really getting another actor to bounce off of, just having to carry the material all by themselves, and I think J.V.A does a fine job of that here. Mind you, this is all just the first damn scene of the ep; I may be getting a little ahead of myself, but I’m just trying to stress that I liked the unorthodox way this ep started. As we are working our way through this monumental sixth season, I’m noticing that the entire creative team is really having no problem with trying out new things, new styles, with starting episodes in strange or unconventional ways, with having surreal dream sequences thrown in every now and again (not just the start of this ep right here, but also Val flying the kite with Gary back in Message in a Bottle or that awesome dance sequence the two of them shared back in Lead Me to the Altar). To me, this symbolizes that the show has reached a point where, six seasons deep and with more than 100 episodes under their belt, the creative team is feeling the freedom to experiment and kinda do whatever they want with each episode; there’s a rich feeling of possibilities and exciting ideas floating around in a way that I frankly never really felt over on Dallas.

    Honestly, my notes on this ep are very sparse, and that’s not because I was drinking and got dumb or anything like that, but because in many ways this is a rather simple ep with one thing it’s focusing heavily on: Val. The vast majority of this ep is Val with her doctor or something else occurring with Val that forces her to examine her own character. However, there are still of course other stories going on, so let’s focus on those for a few moments, starting with the saga of Gary and Galveston and all that. If you’ll recall our last ep, we ended on a pretty great cliffhanger with Galveston having what appeared to be a stroke, asking Abs to call his doctor for him only for her to respond with, “Call him yourself, Cookie.” Now, I don’t mean to get into spoilers here, but I am fairly certain that we have seen the last of Galveston now, that Fly Away Home represented his last appearance on the series (with the exception of just one more surprise appearance in a 1990 ep entitled My Bullet, an ep I remember being very arty and interesting). However, even if we don’t get to physically see Howard Duff the actor in this ep or the next one, the character isn’t dead yet. This was a surprise to me, because after the ending of our last ep, my memory was that Galveston just died. Nope, instead we have a scene of a bunch of his lackeys gathering around to discuss the state of affairs and helpfully telling the audience that Galveston had a cerebral hemorrhage and is very near death. We are told he could die pretty much any minute but that he could also last, at the very most, one month before he dies. So in any case, the man is at death’s door, and whether it happens right this second or a month from now, it’s inevitably going to happen. Meanwhile, Gary is having a hell of a time trying to get in contact with Galveston. He stops by the ranch, he makes calls, he tries all he can just to go see him, but he keeps getting the runaround from the henchmen, who tell him that Galveston had to fly off somewhere to do something related to business, that eventually he’ll be back. Gary is starting to get suspicious; after all, he and Galveston were getting pretty tight (I believe in this ep, Gary declares that he now sees Galveston as a good personal friend), so for him to suddenly just vanish like this doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, does it?

    I’ll confess that some of these plot points continue to fly over my head, but I also must stress that this is not the fault of the show, but rather the way that my own stupid brain works. Actually, I’m doing a lot better when it comes to following storylines and plot convolutions upon this viewing versus my previous viewing back in college. Back in college, all the stuff with Mack investigating Wolfbridge and then the Tidal Basin murders and how this shit connected up with Galveston Industries, that all went flying over my head and didn’t register at all, since I was probably too busy making another martini. Now I’m following it a lot better, but I still get a little confused with this whole Galveston-in-a-coma-or-whatever thing and how it relates to Greg. See, in this ep, the henchmen are trying to convince Greg that he should take on the power with Galveston about to expire, I guess meaning that he should sorta step in to fill his old daddy’s shoes now, but Greg’s not interested. In fact, there’s some rather fabulous dark humor going around at this juncture with the sheer delight Greg seems to feel towards Galveston’s impending death. Seriously, there’s some funny stuff here displaying how Greg does not care one bit that his father is about to die; he cracks jokes and seems to take such relish in this inevitability. Greg has been with us for roughly a year and a half now, and he’s feeling comfortably established as part of the core cast, but we are also starting to unwrap those different layers of his character, to find out all the different complexities brewing inside. Thanks to the great writing and Devane’s brilliant acting, Greg is quickly elevating up to become one of the most interesting characters on the entire series.

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    Meanwhile, Joshua and Cathy I think get back together in this ep, and the reason I say “I think” is because in looking at my notes, I begin the next episode (The Emperor’s Clothes) by scribbling, “Joshua + Cathy +romantic picnic/are they back together now?” So, based on that, I do believe they get back together in this ep after a nice little speech from Joshua about how he’s never had a girlfriend and this is all new to him. At this juncture, I’m supporting Cathy and not liking Joshua too terribly much. I think Cathy is sweet and wonderful and I love listening to her sing; she could easily do better than some preacher’s son with a ton of religious guilt and repression issues. I believe it was only our previous ep in which Joshua basically said that singing at Isadora’s made Cathy evil, and those are pretty strong words, so I think I’d rather see Cathy dump him and get with a boy who is more on her wavelength, maybe another musician or something, maybe a member of KISS, perhaps?

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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    Joshua’s true colors are really starting to come out in this ep, by the way. It’s kinda amazing to think that he was only introduced to the series at the start of this season, that he seemed like a sweet, innocent, wide-eyed young man, and now he’s making his metamorphosis into darkness and evil, yet none of it feels rushed. Somehow, the way storylines unfold over the course of the season and the way Joshua makes his transition from sweet to nasty all feels very organic, not too fast or too slow. On another series, I do think this would feel a bit accelerated, but here it all seems to be occurring in a very natural way. Anyway, the true colors scene that I’m referring to actually occurs not between Joshua and Cathy, but rather Joshua and Val. See, Val is up late in the kitchen, getting herself a midnight snack or whatever, and Joshua comes down to, presumably, do the same thing. I wish I had transcribed his entire speech to her down, because sitting here now I can’t entirely remember the exact things he says, but basically he starts out by seeming sweet and listening to her talk about her problems, but then he starts to get sorta creepy. Basically, it starts to seem like Joshua wants to hurt Val, that he wants to bring up all her traumas and life problems just to grind some salt into her wounds. The one thing he doesn’t bring up, and it’s very fortunate, is Val’s babies. You get the sense that any second he’s gonna be like, “So Val, do you remember how you had those babies and the doctors stole them away from you and said they were dead?” He never gets that far, but he does bring up some other things, and he seems to be getting some sort of pleasure out of Val’s pain, yet it’s all draped in this act of, “I’m here to listen to you and be your friend.” However, after he’s done, he leaves her all alone in the kitchen and turns the lights off, which is sorta odd, but definitely creates a spooky effect as we see poor Val (POOR VAL!) sitting all alone in the dark.


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    One of the most painful emotional scenes in this ep takes place between Val and Lilimae. When Val gets the idea that people are conspiring against her to get her sent to some sort of mental institution (and it’s more than an idea; the other characters actually are discussing putting her in a sanitarium or whatever), she flips out on Lilimae and attacks her in the living room, saying really horrible and nasty things to her. She says she’s a tramp, a bad mother, that she should be ashamed of herself, stuff like that. While Lilimae certainly wasn’t mother of the year when Val was a young girl, it seemed the two had reached a peace with eachother by this point that was rather lovely to see, so it’s painful to see Val attack her mother and hurt her feelings here. Julie Harris always does a brilliant job of conveying her emotions with her eyes, and this was a good one, since as Val attacks her, we can see the tears start to form in her eyes. When we get to the next scene, Lilimae is in her bedroom, crying real loud, and we see Val sorta stop by the door, listening to her crying, clearly thinking about going inside to apologize, but she chooses not to.



    Why doesn’t Val go inside and comfort her mother? My conclusion here is that she is still having too much trouble remembering exactly who she is and what her life is like. She’s confused by her own relationships with people she only has vague memories of. She’s starting to have flashes of memory thanks to her psychiatric sessions, so perhaps one of those flashes is of something shitty that Lilimae did when Val was small. Because of this, she gets angry and attacks Lilimae, and I do believe she feels bad about it just a few minutes later, but I think she doesn’t have enough memory of events to know how to properly speak to her mother and apologize, at least not yet. I’m trying to view this as if Val is a real person (the way I try to view all the characters) and I’m trying to understand what’s going through her mind, but I also try to see it through the fresh eyes of some first time 1985 viewer who has no idea what lies in the future. Perhaps it would seem like Val is simply going crazier and crazier? Sure, she’s not claiming to be Verna anymore, but she seems to be having a hard time controlling her emotions and she’s acting, well, a smidge odd. Watching this scene, My Beloved Grammy declared that she thinks Val is going to turn really mean and nasty all the time, after all these years in which she was good and kind to everyone. It doesn’t quite work out that way, but it is interesting to see how My Beloved Grammy predicts what might occur in the future.



    I’m kinda sad that we never get an official apology scene between Val and Lilimae, because I would have liked to see that, mostly since I feel so damn sad for Lilimae, but we do get a real great scene of Karen and Val visiting that I greatly enjoyed. In this scene, Karen is being all encouraging and telling Val how things will work out okay, that she’s gonna start to get her memories back and feel more like herself, and then we get a fabulous callback to Karen’s pill popping a season ago. See, she’s talking to Val about the act of burying your problems, trying to ignore them and hope they will go away, and then she says, “I had a drug problem,” and Val looks all surprised, her eyes get all wide, and she’s like, “You did?” It’s kinda a cute reaction, because not only is it just kinda funny that Val has forgotten these details from season five, but also because we get the sense that, in her eyes, Karen is the last person in the world who would have a drug problem. I also love the upfront way that Karen speaks about it, she just nods and is like, “Yes, I had a drug problem.” It’s a good thing to bring up, though, because she is able to make the point that she faced her problems, got over her drug problem, and now everything is okay, showing that we can all persevere. I also like this scene just because I like when past history is brought up on the show. I love how the writers never seem to have a bunch of drama happen and then immediately forget about it and never mention it again. Instead, everything the characters do and experience is added on to their life story and can be brought up again and again in the future. Karen’s pill popping problem was a part of her life and now it’s part of her past, but she’s not gonna just forget about it like it never happened; it’s always gonna be something that shapes her.



    Okay, to the last scene of the ep. Val returns to the caring Dr. Michaels and has one of those real breakthrough sessions. I hope Dr. Michaels didn’t have any other appointments scheduled for the day, because Val seems to take up quite a bit of his time. I’m making that assumption mostly because we have a lot of dissolves in this scene, parts where Val is telling some story and then the frame dissolves and she’s sitting in some new position, telling some new story. Heck, perhaps all of this could occur in fifty minutes, but I feel fairly comfortable saying the dissolves are meant to indicate a large passage of time. So what does Val talk about? She discusses how she went off on Lilimae the other night, how she hurt her feelings and made her cry, how she doesn’t really know why she did it or why she said what she did. My Beloved Grammy’s prediction about Val turning evil is already proving to be not entirely accurate, because we see that Val still has a good heart and she feels bad about hurting her mother. Then she starts to tell stories about Christmas when she was a kid, about stringing up popcorn on the tree with Lilimae, stuff like that. As before, most of this scene is just Val sorta talking into the camera, having to act all by herself, and of course J.V.A delivers. The very very ending of the ep is actually sorta hopeful, one of the more happy endings we’ve had in a good long time on the series. Val goes outside to meet Ben (and I get confused about exactly how long this session lasted because he doesn’t say anything like, “Why were you in there for seventeen days?”) and as she climbs into the car, she says something like, “How are those orchids at your house doing?” We see that Val’s memories of things like Ben’s orchids are rapidly returning, and then if I recall correctly, we actually get a freeze frame ending on Val’s smiling face, indicating hope for the future.



    Even though my notes on this ep were sparse and I didn’t think I’d have all that much to say about it, I continue to surprise myself. Sometimes the things that seem the most simple actually have the most going on beneath the surface, and that might be the case with Rough Edges. I found a lot to appreciate in this ep, not the least of which was J.V.A’s great acting and long soliloquies. In addition to that, we had the creepy scene of Val and Joshua in the kitchen, the super emotional scene of Val calling Lilimae a tramp, the callback to Karen’s drug problems, all sorts of good stuff. One other thing I forgot to note elsewhere is the very look of this ep. For whatever reason, this ep looked especially bright and sunny, and the costumes and hair were especially out of control here. Seriously, it felt like every time we saw Abs, she was rocking a completely new outfit and a completely new hairdo. Additionally, there was a small scene in which Karen and Mack got dressed up to go to an, um, opera or something, and they both looked rather fine in their nice clothes (prompting sex pot Michael to walk in and tell Karen, “You look nice, like a lady in a scotch ad”). So not only do you get good emotional character stuff here, but also some fabulous costumes and bright cinematography. Last of all, I like the slow burn, which KL does so often and so well. I like that the writers don’t rush Val home to California and then immediately try to reset the status quo; instead, we are allowed to slow down for awhile and explore Val’s memories along with her as she tries to regain some semblance of normal life. Overall, quite satisfying.


    [​IMG]



    Next up is the last ep My Beloved Grammy and I watched on our most recent visit. After all this time with Verna and Shula and now these psychiatric sessions and repressed memories coming back to the forefront, it’s now time to get back into the main thrust of the season, that being Val’s babies, with The Emperor’s Clothes.
     
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    Episode Title: The Emperor’s Clothes

    Season 06, Episode 20

    Episode 120 of 344

    Written by Joel J. Feigenbaum

    Directed by Ernest Pintoff

    Original Airdate: Thursday, February 21st, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary wants to shut down construction on Empire Valley until he can talk to Galveston. Galveston’s men try to placate Gary. A Minister marries a mystery woman and Galveston, who is on life support. Val cuts her hand at Empire Valley, so Ben takes her to the clinic in the town of Wesphall. Ben talks to the doctor and patients, who tell him that industrial chemicals from Galveston Industries got into the ground water and caused an epidemic, but that Galveston bought everybody out and paid medical bills. They say that one woman came to town and claimed that Galveston did it deliberately to drive them off of their property. Ben and Mack show them a picture of Lila Maxwell, and they identify her as the woman. Mack finds Jamison, who said that Galveston ordered the murder of Lila Maxwell. Val remembers going in to labor, and tells Karen that she "knows" the babies are alive. Karen asks Mack to consider the possibility of Val's babies being alive.

    [​IMG]


    I’ve gone on at great length numerous times about my love affair with these thirty-episode seasons of KL, how I consistently marvel at the way the writers and directors and everyone else is able to juggle all these separate balls in the air for that enormous length of time. Nowadays, so many of our TV shows clock in at, like, ten to fifteen eps per season, and while that is generally the way to do it, I just love being in the world of KL in which we have thirty episodes in a season and plenty of time to let the drama unfold naturally. To be clear, KL is probably the only show I’ve ever seen in which I feel like thirty episodes per season is done well; at this same point, Dallas was also doing thirty eps in their seasons, but there would always be some arduous and painfully boring stretch in the middle in which absolutely nothing is happening (Jenna Wade’s trial) or in which it’s mostly just scenes of people getting together for lunch or drinks or boring business deals, all filling time until things can get exciting in the last five eps of the season. Here on KL, I feel there’s not a wasted moment, that every ep is building towards something bigger, that the length is really giving us time to explore these characters and their complexities.

    [​IMG]


    What’s my point? Oh yeah, as we dive into The Emperor’s Clothes, we are gonna see the storyline of Val’s babies and what precisely happened to them really returning in a big way, coming back to center stage to be the focus of attention. Now, if this was some modern show with only ten to fifteen eps in a season and they were trying to do a story like this, I just don’t know that it would work as well, because everything would have to be so accelerated; everything would be moving at such a rapid pace that we would have no time to breathe or get to understand our characters. To better illustrate my point, let’s observe that Val gave birth to her twins in the eighth episode of the season, Tomorrow Never Knows. Then the babies “died”/were taken away from her, so we had a few eps of her hanging around the cul-de-sac and being really upset about what happened. Then, in the eleventh episode of the season (Distant Locations) she vanished to parts unknown, hanging around Nevada for awhile before officially settling in Shula, and then she made herself a cozy little life over in Shula all the way until the start of the eighteenth ep of the season, Fly Away Home. The next ep, Rough Edges, primarily concerned itself with Val’s psychiatric sessions and retrieving her lost memories, and now that brings us up to our current ep, The Emperor’s Clothes. So, it’s been twelve eps since Val gave birth to the twins and now, with typically perfect KL timing, it’s time for that storyline to really return to the forefront. Thanks to that great season length, we’ve really had the time to let this stuff unfold, to have the drama come naturally and with perfectly deliberate pacing, rather than having to rush through everything.

    Most of our last ep concerned itself with Val, but The Emperor’s Clothes really concerns itself with everybody in the cast. Thinking on it, I think absolutely every person in those glorious scrolling squares gets some good material to work with this week, so who to start with? For now, I’ll start with Joshua and Cathy, but there’s not quite as much to say about them. We first catch up with them having a romantic little picnic together, leading me to assume that they are officially back together. Of course, perhaps I’m wrong; perhaps they are just trying out the tentative relationship thing, a nice picnic in the park here, a romantic walk there, see if they can get along. Even though things appear outwardly pleasant, there is still some darkness lurking beneath the veneer of this romance. See, Cathy has to get to her band practice or whatever; the band is waiting for her, and if there’s no singer, well, there’s not really any band. However, Joshua cleverly manages to keep her occupied this whole time, doing it in such a subtle way that Cathy doesn’t really seem to notice until later that she completely missed her practice. To her credit, however, she doesn’t just sit idly by and allow this to happen; she confronts Joshua directly about it, saying how she thinks he only wants to be with her so long as they continue to do the things he wants to do. She says how she thinks he deliberately tricked her into missing her practice, that if they’re gonna be together, he’s gotta accept her life as it is, that she likes singing at Isadora’s and so forth.

    In looking at my notes, I see I wrote down something of earth-shattering importance, and that is “Mack’s rowing machine!” Yes, I even wrote it in my notes with that exclamation point, just like that. Thinking back on it, I can’t quite remember the exact contents of the scene in which the rowing machine makes its appearance, but I’m willing to bet that Mack and Jamison were probably having some sort of conversation about the Tidal Basin murders or whatever and that, the whole scene, Mack was working out on his rowing machine on the floor. Why does this amuse me so much? I think it’s just the inherent ‘80s-ness of it all, that he has a rowing machine in his office, that he works out on it frequently all while wearing a full business suit and talking to his partner. I love the silliness of it, I love the whole HYPER MASCULINE vibe this rowing machine gives off; I just love this rowing machine and I wish we could see Mack working out on it in every single episode.

    [​IMG]


    Aside from working out on the rowing machine, Mack and Jamison are also busy with getting some information out of that ‘80s Rapist Beard. Now, one last time just to make it clear, this is the second ‘80s Rapist Beard we’ve seen this season, with the first one being Scott Easton, and I feel fairly comfortable saying with 100% certainty that we have seen the last of Easton, that he went skydiving without a parachute earlier this season and that we shall never be seeing him again. So, for now, this is the only ‘80s Rapist Beard we have to concern ourselves with, and this particular gentleman is the one who was caught on that videotape when Gary Loader got shot or whatever. Okay, so basically at the start of this ep, Mack gets a call from some guy that he, like, doesn’t particularly like all that much but that I think he did some sort of legal favor for once a long time ago. The guy is like, “Hey Mack, I have some good secret information for you, so why don’t you meet me in a creepy warehouse with no working lights in the middle of the night?” Obviously, Mack agrees, since there’s nothing strange about this scenario. Actually, the surprise in this case is that nothing bad happens. As Mack and Jamison headed into that dark warehouse with no guns or nothing to protect them (I’m wondering if Mack is a pro-second amendment kind of guy or if he doesn’t care to have guns around; with all these secret meetings and dudes beating him up in parking lots, you’d think he might start packing heat), My Beloved Grammy declared, “These people are always meeting in creepy dark warehouses,” and she was right. I was expecting that any second, some random thugs would pop out of the blue and start kicking Mack’s ass, but instead he and Jamison just meet up with his old acquaintance and the acquaintance is like, “I got something for you,” and then he presents them with ‘80s Rapist Beard, all tied up and gagged in a chair, utterly defenseless.

    [​IMG]


    The next time we see these guys, they are in Mack’s office (I think) and ‘80s Rapist Beard is doing the whole, “I don’t talk without my lawyer present” thing, but they quickly manage to break him down and he starts to sing like a canary. This is important plot stuff, because ‘80s Rapist Beard finally confirms that Lila Maxwell was, indeed, killed by someone from Galveston Industries, but the real kicker comes when Mack asks where the order for her murder was coming from and ‘80s Rapist Beard says something like, “From the very top.” Yup, basically it was Paul Galveston himself who was ordering to have his own employees killed, but why? We shall continue to explore this mystery a little later in the ep.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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    CONTINUED

    Speaking of Galveston, he’s still kinda sorta around, but not really. We are still having lots of scenes of dudes hanging around a bed with a vaguely human-looking shape in the bed that we are told is Galveston, but the actor Howard Duff is officially out of the picture at this point. However, The Emperor’s Clothes introduces a new character into the mix, although we don’t get to see her face quite yet. Yes, indeed I had some sense memory of Ava Gardner showing up on the series during the sixth season, and quite frankly I didn’t expect it to take this darn long; I thought she showed up right and quick near the start of the season, but here we are in episode twenty and she still hasn’t shown up. This week, however, she arrives, um, sorta. What really happens is we get a lot of shots of some stand-in, a lady all dressed up in black with her face nicely obscured, getting off of a plane, going to visit Galveston on his deathbed, stuff like that. We the viewers don’t know who this person is yet; she’s just a mysterious stranger, but I have the retroactive knowledge from my previous viewing, so when I first saw this mysterious lady make her appearance, I knew it’d be Ava Gardner. The most surprising thing to happen in this regard is that the lady and Galveston, um, well, get married. See, even though Galveston is pretty much a vegetable at this point, his lackeys all gather together and are talking and one of them asks if he is cognizant of the events going on around him and another guy confirms that he is. Seconds later, Ava Gardner’s stand-in comes walking into the frame and some guy produces a Bible and starts to do the “Dearly Beloved” wedding speech and we the viewers are left thinking, “Hmmmm……okay?”

    [​IMG]


    This stuff is still confusing me, to be frank. My brain often gets confused when big business and big money enter the equation, but I guess all this stuff has something to do with the estate of Galveston and where all his money is gonna go. For the last few eps, Galveston has been bugging Greg about how he needs to “take what’s his” or whatever, and then we had his lackeys giving the same speech to Greg, but Greg wasn’t interested. So now we’ve introduced this mysterious woman who is here to marry a man who is less than a month away from death and we’ll just have to keep watching to figure out what all this really means.

    Meanwhile, Ben and Val are starting to get along nicely again after her remembering his orchids last ep, so when we catch up with them now, they are heading out for a nice tour of Empire Valley. Gary meets them there and is very excited to give them the tour of the whole operation, but then Val cuts her hand on a piece of barbed wire and has to be rushed to the emergency room. Actually, I’m exaggerating when I say it that way, because the whole thing plays out in a remarkably mellow and realistic way. Gary sorta holds up the barbed wire so they can squeeze through, but Val accidentally cuts her hand, Ben is concerned about it and says they should take her to a doctor, Val is like, “Oh no, it’s fine,” but Gary agrees with Ben and so they decide to go off to a doctor and aren’t able to really take the Empire Valley tour. When they arrive at the doctor’s office, the doctor proves himself to be a positive fountain of useful information (it reminded me of Chris Farley as the security guard in Wayne’s World; “You know, for a security guard, he had an awful lot of information”). He fixes up Val’s hand real good, and then he starts to tell Ben, ever the inquisitive reporter, about how a few years back, there was this big problem with the ground water in the area, that it was poisoning people and making them sick, that a lot of them moved away, that indeed Galveston Industries even paid people for their troubles and helped them to move away. Hmmmm, suspicious much?


    [​IMG]



    Now, as soon as Ben and Val declared they had to go to the doctor’s, My Beloved Grammy said, “Val’s gonna hear a baby crying and that’s gonna stir up her memories.” My Beloved Grammy’s a sharp cookie, and that kinda almost happens, but not quite. Instead, Ben and Val meet up with a nice lady who has a baby and she also starts to give them lots of information about the area and the strange water problems that have occurred in past years. At one point, I think she even hands her baby over to Val to hold for a moment, and we all think this will be the moment where Val has a sudden flash of memory, but it’s not. Instead, this moment is about Ben continuing to get information. See, the lady with the baby says how there was a lady running around town screaming about how Galveston Industries was evil and intentionally poisoned the water. Ben’s antenna goes up when he hears this. Could this lady have possibly been Lila Maxwell? And could someone have possibly killed Lila Maxwell in order to shut her up? The answer to both questions is, of course, yes, because later they show a picture of Lila Maxwell to this baby lady and she confirms that this is the same woman from some time back screaming about the ground water poisoning. The plot is thickening!

    Later, Val finally has a flashback to the night of the birth, and we get to see some quick clips from Tomorrow Never Knows again, that scary ass scene where Val was all alone in her dark house, sitting in the living room and suffering horrible labor pains. It pains me to say that I can’t precisely remember how Val’s flashback winds up occurring; I don’t think it’s initiated by holding that lady’s baby, but perhaps that planted a seed in her brain that grew later, after she and Ben had left that area. In any case, after having her flashback, Val is more than ready to discuss things with her friends. She talks to Joshua, Karen, and Ben about how she can remember going into labor, how she can remember getting drugged up, and how she distinctly remembers hearing the sounds of the babies crying; she knows for a fact that she didn’t hallucinate that part, no matter how many drugs the doctor may have given her. After hearing this story again, Karen starts to do some research. She begins by talking to Eric and Sexy Michael about the events of that night. You’ll recall that Eric and Sexy Michael were the two that took Val to the hospital and they were the only people around during the birth, albeit hanging out in the waiting room. Karen asks them if they remember hearing anything strange that night, if there were any announcements over the loudspeaker about “Code Blue” or whatever, and they said they didn’t hear anything like that. After they leave the scene, the camera sorta stays on Karen’s face as she contemplates and we all know wheels are turning in her head, prompting My Beloved Grammy to say, “Watch out, Karen’s on the case.” Next time we see Karen, she’s making phonecalls and trying to track down Dr. Ackerman. She says his name at pretty much the precise time that Abs comes walking into her office, causing Abs to get big wide eyes and look super guilty as she wonders why Karen could possibly be trying to track down Dr. Ackerman. Even so, Karen doesn’t seem to notice Abby’s super guilty face, and at this exact moment in time, I think Abs is safe when it comes to how many people know about her involvement (her accidental involvement, I stress) in these missing babies, although I believe Greg is aware.

    Oh yeah, here’s one more little Abs related thing I wish to explore. This is going to demonstrate some pass poor writing on my part, and I apologize for that, but I neglected to bring it up a few eps back, when it actually occurred. Okay, so in Fly Away Home, we had a quick scene of Abs visiting Greg at his hotel room, kinda scared about Val returning home, about the babies, about all that stuff. The two had a little chat and then the scene concluded with them making out against the wall (an awesome shot that I'm fairly certain makes its way into the scrolling squares next season). It was a very strange little scene that I did not remember at all and I bring it up now because I’m not entirely sure that it’s ever gonna pay off. That was two eps ago, it hasn’t been mentioned at all in either Rough Edges or The Emperor’s Clothes, and the whole thing just came and went so fast that I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. All we saw was the two characters making out, but the way the scene cut indicated to me that a shagging was imminent, yet Greg is with Laura now, right? I kinda assumed that he and Laura were officially exclusive since he seems to be developing some deep feelings for her, wouldn’t you agree? I would even argue that Greg is officially in love with Laura at this point, but he’s in love in his strange, mysterious Greg Sumner way. So what to make of him and Abs having a make out and a presumable shag? Will Laura find out? Will she be pissed? Is it ever gonna be brought up again? I guess we have to stay tuned to find out.

    Speaking of Laura, she gets a small but memorable scene in this ep in which she returns home, where she left Daniel and Jason 3 in the capable hands of Cathy. Only problem is that when she gets into the house, she finds two scary Galveston henchmen hanging out in the living room with Cathy and the kids, and then they make some sort of vague threats to her about how Greg had better cooperate with them or else they’ll be paying another visit to Daniel and Jason 3. They leave and Laura apologizes to Cathy, who says how scared she was and how she didn’t know what to do since they just sorta showed up and started hanging around. I’m starting to wonder how cognizant Daniel and Jason 3 are to their mother’s sordid life. I guess Daniel is only like two years old at this point, so he probably doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. Jason 3 is a little older, however (although due to the morphing, he seems to be perpetually trapped at the same age forever), and just last season we had Wolfbridge sending creepy phonecalls out towards Laura’s house, and now we have creepy dudes showing up to hang out with the kids. Does Jason 3 think this sort of thing is normal? Is he concerned about the people his mom is getting involved with? Laura is a great, great character and I love her, but one flaw I continue to note is that she doesn’t seem to get a lot of storylines that are just for her, pure 100% Laura. She’s generally always attached to someone else, first with Richard and now with Greg; she sorta functions as an extension of these male characters and doesn’t get a whole lot of solo stories, which is a bit of a bummer cuz I find her character very interesting.

    [​IMG]

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    The Emperor’s Clothes doesn’t end on a big, grand, epic cliffhanger, but rather a more quiet one, laying a path for the rest of the season. Basically, it just ends with Karen and Mack having a talk and her finally bringing up out loud the possibility that Val’s babies are still alive. Then we have our “Executive Producers” credit and the ep concludes and we all just have to wait for the next one.

    We haven’t seen a bad ep in season six yet, and I predict that we won’t ever see a bad ep in season six because it’s just such a strong year of television. The quality continues here with another excellent episode. If Rough Edges was about taking it slow and giving us some time to live and breathe and explore Val’s character, The Emperor’s Clothes is about getting things revved up again, returning to the storyline that’s been sorta lurking in the background for about twelve eps now, saying, “It’s time for us to really figure out what’s going on with Val’s babies,” and then doing it. The pacing is perfect because we the audience are now completely ready to solve this mystery along with the characters. With ten eps left to go in the season, we know it’s time for things to get super exciting and juicy.

    Next up, My Beloved Grammy and I shall start a whole fresh disk of glorious eps as we explore The Deluge.
     
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    Episode Title: The Deluge

    Season 06, Episode 21

    Episode 121 of 344

    Written by Joyce Keener

    Directed by Bill Duke

    Original Airdate: Thursday, February 28th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua asks to open Reverend Kathryn's show, but then takes up the whole thirty minutes. Reverend Kathryn is starting to become disgusted with Josh's ego. Abby tells Joshua to come up with sermons, and if she thinks he can sustain the show, she'll fire Kathryn. Joshua replies he doesn't need Abby to check his sermons or he'll go elsewhere. Joshua also announces that Cathy will sing on his show, even though she doesn't want to. Karen questions people about the evening Val gave birth, and tells Gary she thinks the twins are alive. Abby overhears. Galveston dies. The mystery woman comes in, and she is Greg's mother Ruth. She tells Greg that she married Galveston and she wants him to take over the company. An old friend comes to see Greg and tells him that Empire Valley is the cover for an international communications center, and that they will monitor and influence all government communications in every country in the world. Greg's still resistant.


    [​IMG]


    Here we are with The Deluge, an ep that served as the first of a whole glorious disk for My Beloved Grammy and I, a disk that spanned from here through For Better, For Worse. I note this not only because I like my readers to have sense of how many eps and which particular eps we watch in a given visit, but also because this whole five-eps-per-disk style that we’ve had going since we started season four seems to consistently work very well, with the five eps always seeming to function as their own mini-seasons within the greater season. In fact, I should say right now that My Beloved Grammy doesn’t really pay much attention to precisely which season we are in or how many eps a season has; I think she herself tends to think of these disks as little mini-seasons, and they work surprisingly well in that regard. For instance, while I’ll go ahead and spoil my thoughts and say right away that I thought The Deluge was a perfectly good episode, the way every episode of season six has been good, it’s also a bit on the slower side and functions more for seed planting and less for any actual growth or payoff, if that makes sense.

    When we last left off with the concluding moments of The Emperor’s Clothes, we could tell the search for Val’s babies was returning to the forefront, as Karen was beginning to ask questions about the delivery and do a bit of sleuthing, and we ended on her asking Mack, “What if Val’s babies didn’t die?” That sets the stage nicely for where we pick up this ep, which opens on Mack and Karen in the kitchen, continuing their discussion of Val’s babies. In typically brilliant KL style, in which there are always a ton of storylines going on at once, we also have Eric enter the scene to inform Karen that a strange gentleman came by Knots Landing Motors (remember that business?) to inquire about purchasing it. I guess he’s been watching the last three seasons and has noticed that what was once a very active setting that we saw in nearly all the eps has receded into the background and basically been forgotten as Karen has become heavily involved in Lotus Point adventures, so why the heck not ask about selling it? Now, if I’m remembering correctly, this early scene with Eric and the mention of the interested buyer is all we get for this story this week, but it’ll continue on for another ep or two and serve as a nice little side story (more on that later).

    Karen schedules an appointment with Val’s lady doctor to get some answers about Val’s babies and the delivery, but we don’t see her quite yet. Once again, it’s seeds being planted; we shall see Karen talk to the lady doctor at a later date (I believe the very next ep), but not quite yet; this week we just see her making some calls. Also, despite talking over her concerns with Mack, Karen mostly keeps it hush hush throughout this ep, only bringing up her concerns to Mack and, later, Gary, although of course Abs hears her talking to Gary and is reminded that this is turning into a legit problem; if she can’t find a way to get Val’s babies back and safely returned to Val, Karen is probably going to uncover the truth of what happened and realize that Abs is kinda sorta partially to blame.

    Oh yeah, and while we are on the subject of the lovely Fairgates, I must bring up a much more important plot development that's mentioned here, and that is Sexy Michael wearing a sexy outfit and heading out of the house saying how he’s going to practice. Now, I’m not entirely sure what practice he’s going to, but I think it’s basketball. I bring this up because this is 1985 and I’m sure team showers and all the boys gallivanting around totally naked and playing grab-ass in the locker room would still be common practice as part of high school sports culture, and you can bet your ass that if I had been alive in this era, I would absolutely have joined these sports purely for the post-game locker room shenanigans. In my notes I jotted, “Michael’s on his way to practice; this means that his team mates probably get to see him naked in the showers!” This is obviously much more important than stolen babies and elaborate Tidal Basin murders and conspiracies to cover up water poisoning, wouldn’t you agree? Somewhere off on the side, in a storyline we don’t get to physically see playing out, Sexy Michael is being all athletic and sexy and sweaty and getting a real work out with another group of young, able-bodied, red-blooded American boys, and then afterwards all these boys get to retire to the happiest place in the entire world, the men's locker room, to disrobe and shower together in their full nudity just as God made them. This means that Sexy Michael’s team mates get to see Michael naked; can you understand the sheer importance of what I am describing?! Can you imagine having the divine pleasure of playing basketball or whatever with Sexy Michael and then getting to see him naked every single day for however long the sports season lasts? How could one focus on doing anything else in their life when something this huge is going on? The mind reels!


    But enough about Sexy Michael and how f***ing smoking hot he must look when he’s totally naked and wet (if only this had been an HBO show and we could have seen full frontal from Michael week after week), let’s focus on some of the less important plot developments going on throughout The Deluge. While Karen is occupied with uncovering the truth about Val’s babies, we’ve also got Gary and Ben having a bit of a shouting match about Val and the babies and all that stuff. To the best of my remembrance, this is the first fight or argument between Gary and Ben, and it aptly demonstrates what a true gentleman Ben is and why he is so rapidly rising in my estimation in terms of his character and his legacy for the show. See, I can’t quite remember how the shouting match starts, but it boils down to Gary kinda blaming Ben for all these recent problems with Val, saying how he knocked her up and then ran out on his responsibility, effectively abandoning her. This is painful to watch (in a good way), because you just know how hard it must be for Ben to hold his tongue during something like this. For all intents and purposes, Ben has been a standup guy with Val and has been nothing if not patient and understanding with her. We the audience know that Gary is the true father of Val’s babies, as does Abs and a few other characters (Mack, if I recall correctly), and Ben could easily just retort with, “You’re the one who knocked her up, a**hole,” effectively blowing Gary’s mind, but he keeps it in, holds in the truth because he knows this is what Val wants. So basically Ben has to let Gary take a big pass in his face and he says nothing, all out of respect for Val; now that’s a good guy.

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    Interestingly, I would say that Mr. Joshua Rush is actually getting the majority of the material this week, as we get quite a lot of developments as far as he’s concerned. For instance, we are seeing his continued rise to power and his quick morph from nice, shy, quiet preacher’s son to egotistical religious extremist jackass. In this ep, the delightful Reverend Kathryn (and I’m not being facetious in any way; I actually really like this small side character and think he embodies all the best aspects of a decent and honorable religious person, since a few of those people actually do exist) is nice enough to give Joshua permission to go on before him and do a little sermon on the show at Pacific World Whatever. The only problem is that there’s a thirty minute time slot and Joshua, well, steals the entire thirty minutes. He gives a great big sermon that’s actually pretty good about how too many people try to find the easy way out, and the general theme of his sermon is “Easy doesn’t do it.” I actually agree with the sentiment, but it’s douchy of him and he completely steals the entire show from Reverend Kathryn, the man who has been working at Pacific World Whatever for something like twenty or thirty years. Now, the TV.com description that I copy and pasted above says, “Reverend Kathryn is starting to become disgusted with Joshua’s ego,” but I’m really not sure if that’s entirely true. We get some shots of Kathryn during this sermon, and he looks concerned, and I think he’s sorta mad that Joshua steals the half hour away from him, but I’m not sure if “Disgusted” is quite the right word, and even after the show is over, he’s not mean to Joshua, but rather gentle. He’s like, “That was a good sermon, but you did sorta steal the whole show away from me.”

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    Knots Blogger Soap Chat Member

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    Later, Abs and Joshua have a little one-on-one and we can definitely see that Abs has started to create a monster. By boosting Joshua’s ego so consistently and always telling him how special and amazing he is, she has allowed him to become somewhat out of control, and now he’s not wanting to listen to anybody. For instance, she offers to fire Reverend Kathryn (which truly hurts me; I don’t want to see this nice man treated so badly), and Joshua is very cavalier and says something about how he can handle these things himself; he doesn’t need the help from Abs. I should take this moment to say that things are playing out quite a bit differently than I remembered. I don’t know if this gets into SPOILER TERRITORY, but whatever; in my mind, I sorta had a very even division where I thought of “season six Joshua” as nice and sweet and “season seven Joshua” as nasty and wicked, but it’s certainly not such a clear divide; you don’t start season seven and suddenly the dude is pure evil. Rather, we have spent the season seeing this change take over him, and I again remind the reader how f***ing much I relish the length of this season. By having thirty episodes in the season instead of, say, fifteen, the way a show would probably do it nowadays, it really gives us the proper space to let storylines unfold organically. So even though Joshua arrived at the start of the season looking fresh-faced and innocent and now he’s starting to turn into a monster, it doesn’t feel inorganic; it feels like it’s a natural progression of the character and really remarkably natural, not rushed at all.

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    This parlays nicely into Joshua’s controlling and domineering relationship with Cathy. In this ep, he tells Abs that he’d like to have Cathy sing on his show (hymns, of course, no Journey or Rick Springfield covers allowed on a religious program), although he doesn’t precisely ask; rather he sorta announces it. When he shares this with Cathy, she says she doesn’t want to sing at Pacific World Whatever, that she’s perfectly happy singing at Isadora’s and doesn’t want to change that. This is just another manifestation of Joshua’s need to control her; in our last ep, we saw him keep her busy with a picnic as a way of keeping her away from practice with her band, and now we see him trying to move her away from the band and the world of Isadora’s in order to sing on a show that he can monitor and control. It’s scary stuff, and personally I would really like to see Cathy be a little more aggressive in her refusal, but she’s still being sorta timid. I guess when you’re in love with someone, it’s harder to stand up to them directly (I’ve only been in love twice), so that’s probably the issue Cathy is having at this moment. If it was me, of course, I’d tell Joshua exactly where he can put his religious program, and then I’d leave him and start sleeping with some barely legal Asian, but that’s me, and me and Cathy are different people.

    Perhaps the most notable thing about this ep is the introduction of a new character played by a gigantic movie star and icon, and that’s done very organically as part of Sumner’s storyline. If you’ll recall, we saw Paul Galveston suffer a stroke in the closing moments of Fly Away Home (“Call him yourself, Cookie”), and then we spent Rough Edges and The Emperor’s Clothes with Galveston in a coma (which is helpful for pinching the pennies, as we just see the vague outline of a body lying in a bed throughout these eps and the producers didn’t have to pay Howard Duff for a guest star performance). Also, in The Emperor’s Clothes, we witnessed the arrival of some mysterious new woman in town, a woman wearing big hats and dark clothes that worked very well for hiding her face and, again, saving the producers from having to pay those big guest star bucks. Later, we saw this mysterious lady getting married to the incapacitated Galveston as he lay dying in his hospital bed. Who is this lady and why is she here and what does she want? We start to get answers to all those questions this week.

    See, early in The Deluge, we see Galveston’s little heart monitor beepy line thing start to beep and make squiggly lines and then the lines turn straight and, since I have watched a lot of ER, I am able to infer that he is dead. Of course, I don’t have to infer too long, because later on, one of Galveston’s little lackeys (My Beloved Grammy and I just refer to him as “Mack-lookalike” because, well, he looks a whole hell of a lot like Mack) tells Sumner that Galveston died. Of course, Sumner is hardly crying over it, as we have seen that he has a, shall we say, fractured relationship with his biological father. Later, Gary heads up to Galveston’s ranch to try and find the guy (he doesn’t know he’s dead yet) and is instead greeted by this mysterious woman, still draped in shadows. However, she quickly emerges out of the shadows and introduces herself as Ruth Galveston, and we see that she is, GASP, Special Guest Star Ava Gardner!

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    Now, I’m gonna take a moment to reveal some things about myself. I talk a real big game when it comes to movies, and I’m always sucking my own d*** for being a pretentious film douche who goes to see old movies in the cinema and Bob Loblaw, but there are still tons of holes in my film douche research, and Ava Gardner here is a big one. I confess that I know the name, I know she’s a big deal, I know she was like this huge movie star, but I’ve never seen a single Ava Gardner movie and I’m not entirely sure why she’s a big deal. Make no mistake; I know that she is a big deal, and I know that the KL folks managing to get her for a handful of eps must have been quite a thing back in 1985, but I just don’t personally really know why she’s a big deal. This reflects badly on me, not her, and certainly when she showed up onscreen, My Beloved Grammy was like, “Wow, Ava Gardner, she must have been a big get for the show.” My Beloved Grammy was born in 1935, so Ava Gardner would have been a movie star during all of her formative years, but embarrassingly I had to look at her Wikipedia page to figure out what her big, important movies were.

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    However, right away I think she fits in well with the proceedings and brings a nice level of sophistication and class to the show. Let’s not forget that the ‘80s nighttime soaps would often attract the talent of these real old-school ladies who had been working in Hollywood for decades (Barbara Bel Geddes over on Dallas and Jane Wyman on Falcon Crest as just two examples that spring immediately to mind), so this seems to be molded in the same style, although I certainly find Gardner much more appealing than Bel Geddes (haven’t seen Falcon Crest yet so can’t comment on Jane Wyman, although one day I’ll watch that whole series and, probably, just wind up concluding that KL is much better). I think Ava brings a real Old Hollywood feeling to the scene; she has that classic, sexy, throaty cocktails-and-cigarettes voice going on and it works very well. Plus, and I have no way of knowing how she actually felt while she was filming this, but I don’t get the sense that she thinks this is beneath her. She seems to be game to be a part of proceedings, and she also interacts well with William Devane as Sumner.

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    Speaking of which, the two are reunited when Sumner visits a funeral home to take one last look at the body of his biological father. He’s all alone in the funeral home, and then Ruth approaches from behind and is like, “Hello, Gregory,” and we learn that she is, in fact, Sumner’s mother, the one who was married to the pilot guy but was screwing Galveston on the side and all that good stuff. Sumner and Ruth spend the rest of the ep together, talking and catching up. It’s a rather fascinating dynamic, but then Sumner is a rather fascinating character, and I particularly love the way we are slowly revealing the different aspects of his life and backstory. All this drama with the truth of Galveston as his father and his mother suddenly showing up in town to marry the man on his deathbed could seem terribly trashy or sensationalistic, but in typical KL style, it still manages to feel bizarrely grounded, and I still am not quite sure how they manage to do it, but I must say it has to be these great actors and the styles they bring to proceedings. I wish I could elaborate better, but I guess it’s that combination of Old Hollywood class that Ava provides combined with Devane’s wonderfully sarcastic and snarky way of delivering most of his lines. The basic gist of their talks is that Ruth wants Greg to recognize his birthright, to seize full control of the Empire Valley project, that this is what Galveston would have wanted, that Greg deserves this, Bob Loblaw. Greg is not swayed, reminding Ruth that, for him, Galveston was just this a**hole dude that his mom was shagging on the side, desecrating the memory of the man he thought was his father, the heroic pilot guy. At this moment, Greg is not interested in his birthright; he’d rather continue to do things his own way, do the senate thing, try to use his powers in that capacity, and so on and so forth.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     

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