My Thoughts on Season Six of KL, Episode By Episode

Discussion in 'Knots Landing' started by Knots Blogger, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. Knots Blogger

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    CONTINUED



    However, things start to change in the concluding five minutes of the ep when Greg is visited by this hilariously Cheesy British Guy named John Coblenz. First, let’s give a real fast shout out to the actor playing Coblenz, Madison Mason. It’s always fun when I’m just watching KL and a character shows up and I’m like “Cool, whatever,” and then I later look up that actor’s resume and see how much stuff they’re really in. In this case, Madison Mason is still working to this day, with one of his most recent credits including an episode of Girl Meets World (I didn’t say he was working on good stuff; I just said he was working). Looking through his IMDb, there’s not a ton that jumps out at me, but there’s just a ton of, you know, stuff. The guy just keeps busy. Let’s think what things do pop out at me. Well, he was in a memorable X Files ep (the season six ep called Triangle which is shot like a Brian De Palma film with tons of long cuts and crazy split screen action) as well as my fourth-favorite Omen movie, Omen IV: The Awakening. Anyway, the guy’s not a huge movie star, but he’s a working character actor who keeps busy to this day, so good on him.


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    This character is hilarious, though. I love whenever British people are randomly introduced into anything just to be vaguely evil, and this guy’s perfect. Thank God, however, that I’m watching this with My Beloved Grammy, because she was very helpful after the conclusion of the ep with making me understand the exact gist of this scene. Basically, Greg’s hanging out in his hotel room that he lives in, and he explains that the Empire Valley project is much more than it appears at first glance. At first, you’d think it’s just a simple planned community, but really Galveston’s plan and dream for it was to use to it as a cover to, like, basically keep an eye on what everyone in the world is doing. Really, it’s some sort of epic conspiracy in which they can all keep checking up on people and, like, listening to their phonecalls and f***ing with their credit ratings and, well, basically it’s The Patriot Act, except about twenty years before that was a real thing.


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    The ending of this episode almost made me pee my pants, and it was one of those endings that I’d forgotten about, but as soon as it popped up in front of me, I remembered it vividly and started laughing. The guy gives this great big speech to Greg about how he needs to involved in this project because it’s a big fat deal and then he says, “Everybody is depending on you,” and then there’s a small pause and he repeats, “Everybody,” and then there’s another small pause and, in a tight close-up of Greg’s ponderous face, we get an obvious bit of A.D.R. in which they loop in a third, “Everybody.” So that’s three “Everybodys” in a row, and the fact that the third one is so obviously re-looped, oh God I just love it so. Make no mistake, I’m not laughing at the show; I love the show deeply, down to my very core, but I’m just laughing in a loving way at this obvious bit of dubbing and the over-dramatic way that this cheesy British guy who wandered off the set of a Roger Moore Bond film is saying, “Everybody” not once, not twice, but thrice. It only gets better when he says it two more times at the start of our very next episode! In any case, the third “Everybody” also serves for our “Executive Producers” credit to pop up on the screen and for The Deluge to come to its conclusion.



    Okay, so what did I think of that ep? Well, it was good, but I’m gonna say it was probably my least favorite of the season so far, aside from maybe the premiere ep, Buying Time. Now, before you all gasp and think I’m insulting the ep, let me clarify that season six of KL is so unbelievably brilliant that saying an ep is the “worst” ep is really more like saying it’s the “least good.” They’re all good at this point; we haven’t seen a bad ep in the season. The only reason I’m putting this one kinda low is cuz it’s just not as exciting as the last batch we’ve seen, but that’s also okay. This one is clearly planting seeds with Ruth Galveston, with Cheesy British Guy, with the continuing developments involving Val’s babies, all that stuff, it’s just not quite as immediately awe-inspiring as the other eps this season have been, you know? However, it still has tons of great qualities, including the assured direction of one Bill “Cooke” Duke (in his penultimate episode! Can you believe that after this, we only have one more Duke episode left to watch? How shall I go on?!) and the fine guest acting of Ava Gardner, not to mention those fabulous character moments between Joshua and Abs and, of course, the shouting match between Gary and Ben. So yeah, still good, still solid, still a show on the top of its game, but just a little less visceral and thrilling than our past few eps have been, you know?



    Things should continue to escalate nicely as we continue to explore that whole “Everybody” issue with our next ep, A Piece of the Pie.


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    Episode Title: A Piece of the Pie



    Season 06, Episode 22



    Episode 122 of 344



    Written by Parke Perine



    Directed by Robert Becker



    Original Airdate: Thursday, March 7th, 1985



    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Karen meets with Val's original obstetrician, who tells her that she and her partner were called away to a conference when the babies were born, and that Dr. Ackerman plays in a lot of bridge tournaments. Cathy sings on Joshua's show, and he announces on air that they are getting married. Cathy's upset with him for assuming things and not asking her first. Mack finds an address in some of Galveston's papers. He and Ben go there. Mrs. Fisher invites them in, but says she has no idea who he is or why he'd have their address. Then she has to go check on her twins who are crying. While there, they see a press conference that Greg has called on TV. Greg announces that Galveston was his father, had died, and he's resigning from the Senate and taking over his company. Laura is furious because Greg didn't tell her any of this. Abby tells Greg that she wants a piece of Empire Valley, the "real" Empire Valley.


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    When we last left off in the concluding moments of The Deluge, I was peeing my pants laughing over the Cheesy British Guy saying “Everybody” over and over and over again. Happily enough, this comedy continues right away in the opening moments of A Piece of the Pie, as we pick up directly where the last one ended, with Sumner and Cheesy British Guy continuing their conversation in Greg’s little hotel room that he currently lives in. They talk a little bit more about the whole issue of what Empire Valley really is, and then Greg says, “You say everybody is depending on me; who is ‘everybody?’” To this, Cheesy British Guy replies “Everybody,” and I peed my pants all over again. This, added to him saying “everybody” three times in our last ep, successfully manages to fuse things together so that Cheesy British Guy says “everybody” four times within the space of seconds. I honestly can’t explain why it’s so funny in writing; you just have to see the show and the way he delivers the line (or perhaps I should say the way that the folks in editing managed to re-loop him saying the line just one time so that he says it four times and sounds exactly the same every time he says it).


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    Okay, enough about “everybody.” Let’s talk more about this whole issue of what Empire Valley really is, and then I’ll explore some more developments in the Sumner story this week. Even with My Beloved Grammy sitting beside me and helping to explain these developments, I’m still having a hard time getting a grasp on the whole Empire Valley situation, except for the basic gist that what would appear to be a planned community is really some sort of secret service James Bond-type spy s**t in which Galveston Industries would be able to keep tabs on, um, everybody (it’s becoming hard to even say that word without starting to giggle). As we were watching this, My Beloved Grammy said how it’s interesting to watch these old shows and see how often they are able to accurately predict the future. In this case, what is presented as a bad and scary thing in 1985 is now just the way we live our lives. There was a time when people valued privacy and having parts of their lives that they kept to themselves, but that’s long gone now, as we are all now more than happy to have the government tapping our phones for The Patriot Act or have our entire lives plastered out onto the internet for everyone in the world to see in the form of FaceBook. Nowadays, it seems like people know that the government is watching their every move and they just don’t care. Personally it makes me sad, but whatever, I guess it’s the way the world’s changing.



    It must have been that fourth “everybody” that finally pushed Sumner over the edge, because not too long after his little chat with Cheesy British Guy (reminder: This character’s name is actually John Coblenz), he gives a nice little press conference in which he announces to the world that Galveston was his father, that he has died, and that he is going to ditch the whole moving-to-Washington-to-work-in-the-senate plan in order to continue his father’s legacy with the Empire Valley project. Honestly, maybe it’s just my confusion over the whole Empire Valley thing, but why does Greg really choose to do this? Ever since Galveston first showed up on the series, Greg has been vehement in his hatred and disregard for this man and all he stands for, but after the chat with Cheesy British Guy, he’s ready to do it, but why? I’m sure it’s shown within the series and it’s just my own stupid brain that’s having trouble figuring it out, but I am a smidge confused in any case.



    When Laura finds out that Greg isn’t moving to Washington, she’s livid, and rightfully so. This is the first she’s heard of any of this, she has been working on doing a big move and pulling her kids (Jason 3 and Daniel) out or school in order to move them, and now none of that is happening because Greg has abruptly changed his mind, all without speaking to her about it. First, we have a nice scene of angry Laura at the office, sorta yelling to her secretary or whatever about how angry she is, but then we have an even better scene in which she confronts Greg in her kitchen. He walks in and she rips into him about how pissed she is, and Greg does something that I’m almost positive William Devane improvised (when I interview him one day, I’ll be sure to ask him), he runs over to the refrigerator and opens the door and then hides behind it, letting the door protect him like body armor. It’s really rather cute and makes him seem like he’s not such a jerk for making these big decisions without consulting the woman he loves (and by the way, we have heard him tell Laura he loves her at least once this season, and I believe it was actually in our previous ep). However, the playfulness of this hiding-behind-the-refrigerator-door move keeps him endearing and then, as a viewer, I’m not mad at him, although I think Laura remains pretty pissed.



    As usual by this point in the series, there’s just a ton going on with all the characters in this ep, so let’s move on over to Karen, who is continuing her aggressive pursuit to find out the truth of what happened to Val’s babies. In this ep, she manages to secure a meeting with Val’s original obstetrician, the lady doctor named Dr. Kellin. If you’ll recall, Dr. Kellin was Val’s first doctor and she was lovely and sweet and nice, but then she went off on a vacation or some sort of medical conference or whatever and the evil Dr. Ackerman took her place, forcing Val into premature labor and, well we’ve all seen the eps (hopefully), so we know what went down. In this scene, Karen learns that it’s not uncommon for Dr. Ackerman to fill in whenever Dr. Kellin is absent, and she says how Dr. Ackerman is a professional and very respected and Bob Loblaw. When Karen says how she’s been having a hell of a difficult time getting in contact with him, Dr. Kellin tells her that he’s semi-retired and “bridge takes up most of his time.” As soon as I heard this, I had a vivid flashback to what is about to transpire later this season, but I shan’t spoil that particular development just yet, as we are still a good chunk of eps away from it happening.


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    The babies are the topic of conversation for pretty much everybody this week, as we also get a nice scene of Val having a little psychiatry session with Dr. Michaels, making his second and final appearance in this ep. I must say I’m gonna miss this character, even if he was only in two eps, and it’s another powerful example of how KL so wonderfully manages to make all of its characters, even peripheral ones who are only in an episode or two, seem so real and so interesting. In this case, I just thought Dr. Michaels radiated a warmth and gentleness and if I ever go looking for a psychiatrist, I would be looking for a doctor just like this. The big take-away from this scene is that Val says how she’s been dreaming of the babies, sorta reliving what happened to her on the night of the delivery, her vivid recollection of hearing the babies cry, all that stuff. At this point, it’s very clear to me that Val is absolutely confident in what she heard and what she experienced that night. If I was living in the universe of this show (and God, how I wish I was), I would probably be like Karen and start to really believe Val at this point, as she no longer seems crazy or nutty (she doesn’t think she’s Verna anymore, for one thing); rather, she just seems very firm in her assertion that those babies are alive, that she heard them crying, and that she knows they are out there in the world somewhere.



    There’s a random Val-related scene that I want to address real fast just to use it as an example of why KL is so amazingly good and so amazingly brilliant. I’ve often marveled at the way that, even as the storylines on KL have gotten much more glamorous and dramatic and exciting and soapy starting in season four, the show has never stopped feeling grounded and real, and I think one of the key ingredients in the show maintaining that perfect balance is the way that, even in the midst of all this baby-stealing and big Empire Valley secret spy cover-ups and Ava Gardner showing up in town and all that great drama, they will still take the time to show scenes of the characters just acting like real people. In this episode, we get a terrific scene of Val helping to give Lilimae a perm and then having a grand old time and acting silly and laughing, and it just feels fabulously real. In our next ep, The Forest For the Trees, we are going to see a scene of Mack using a plunger to try and unclog the flooding sink in the kitchen, and that’s another perfect example. Who hasn’t had to deal with a broken sink in the kitchen before? Who hasn’t helped someone try out a new hairdo? It’s all super relatable stuff, so it feels realistic, and then therefore all the more soapy shenanigans going on don’t seem too especially ridiculous; since the world of KL feels grounded, so too does the big season-long drama feel grounded.



    We get a very important development in the Val’s babies storyline this week, and it comes along (perhaps a bit too conveniently; we’ll discuss it) when Mack and Ben decide to pay a visit to a random address that they found in one of Galveston’s files. The house belongs to the Fishers, a nice married couple, although we only meet one half of that couple this week, Sheila Fisher, played by Robin Ginsburg. Real fast, I wanna mention this actress and say that I am shocked when I look at her IMDb page and see that, aside from her KL appearances (IMDb lists her for five eps, but as we’ve learned in recent days, IMDb can no longer be trusted to be accurate about the guest actors of KL and how many eps they may or may not have appeared in), she’s only been in three other things, and her last credit is in 1990. This surprises me because whenever I look at this woman, I find myself thinking that she sure looks familiar and I need to go look her up, but I just kept forgetting to. To see that she only has four credits altogether and that I haven’t seen any of those credits aside from KL was a bit surprising, as she just has a look about her and I was convinced I’d seen her in a myriad of other movies and TV shows.



    I’ll let the cat out of the bag right away: The Fishers have Val’s twins. This is revealed to us in an absolutely brilliant scene that, the first time I watched it, was actually too brilliant for me to comprehend (or perhaps I was just too stupid and vodka-influenced to comprehend it). Follow along, here. Basically, Ben and Mack pay a visit to the house, they knock on the door, Sheila Fisher greets them nicely, they explain how they found this address in a Galveston file and were hoping to find out why that should be, and then Sheila explains that she doesn’t know Galveston and doesn’t know why her name or address would be in any file, but she mentions that perhaps her husband would know. Then we hear a baby crying off-screen and she disappears up the stairs to take care of it, leaving Ben and Mack alone. The TV is turned on and, at this point, that big Sumner press conference comes on with him announcing his true father and his desire to pick up on the Empire Valley project and Bob Loblaw, and this gets Ben and Mack all excited and upset and they’re like, “Oh s**t, we gotta rush out of this house right away!” By this point, Sheila has returned to the room and she’s holding a baby, but just one baby. There’s nothing too surprising or notable about this, because people have babies, right? We already met a lady with a baby a few eps back, when Val cut her hand on that barbed wire and went to the doctor’s office to get it looked at, and of course we saw the lady with the twins that Val made so uncomfortable back in Distant Locations. However, the big kicker comes after Ben and Mack leave and Sheila is by herself. We see her coming down the stairs carrying a baby and we assume it’s the same baby from before, but then she puts the baby down in a high chair in front of the table and the camera sorta zooms out to reveal, GASP, A SECOND BABY! She has twins! Obviously we viewers are meant to be smart enough to know what this means, but honest to God, the first time I watched this ep, and I remember it vividly, I was home from college for some break or other and I was watching this in my parent’s basement while drinking vodka and when the second baby was revealed, I actually said out loud (since I talk to the TV and I talk to myself even when I’m all alone), “Oh, how cute, she has twins, too.” Then the scene switched to something else I didn’t even think about it at all, because that’s how dumb I am. The rest of the episode came and went and I still didn’t manage to put the pieces together, but then after the ep is over and they run the closing credits, instead of doing the credits over that shot of the California landscape, they run them over a picture of the two twins sitting in their high chairs, and I remember thinking, “Gee, that’s a strange picture to put at the end of the ep,” and then a second later the light bulb finally went on in my head and, I kid you not, I actually gasped aloud as I realized what this means. I think this story both aptly demonstrates how exciting it is to watch KL for the very first time and see all these magnificent plot points unfolding before your very eyes as well as demonstrating how very, very dumb I can be sometimes, particularly when I’ve consumed a lot of vodka.


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    TO BE CONTINUED
     
  3. Knots Blogger

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    CONTINUED

    I’ll present a micro-criticism of this development real fast just to be fair and show that I am still able to be a critical person, even when discussing such a sublime work of transcendent art as season six of KL. My criticism is that it’s perhaps a smidge convenient that Mack and Ben just happen to find this random address in some random file of Galveston’s and they just happen to decide to pay the house a visit and the lady that lives there just happens to not unveil her second twin baby while the two gentlemen are in the room and then it just happens that this is the very house and the very family that Val’s babies wound up at. Honestly, if Galveston was as powerful as we were lead to believe he was, he could have had the babies sent off to anybody in the world, right? Why not send them to the complete other end of the world and keep them as far away from Val as possible? Isn’t it a bit too easy that the babies wound up, like, a couple of feet away from where they were originally born? Now, I remind you that this is just me being a critic; this didn’t affect my enjoyment of this plot point and this terrific reveal in any way. Instead, I’m just demonstrating objectively that, yes, this plot point is a little convenient, but I’m not decrying it or saying it ruins the story at all. At this point, I’m so hooked (as anybody watching this season would be), that I’m just honored that I get to watch this and experience it again and I’m not gonna make a big deal over one slightly convenient bit of plotting.



    The last folks we need to talk about in A Piece of the Pie are, of course, Joshua and Cathy, and this is a big one for them in terms of story developments as well as in terms of giving me one of my favorite Lisa Hartman songs ever. To set the scene, Joshua has successfully managed to convince Cathy to sing religious music on his little religious show over at Pacific World Whatever (I’m pretty sure it’s now officially Joshua’s show, by the way, as our last ep had Joshua and Abby discussing firing Reverend Kathryn and he’s certainly not here right now, so I’m kinda assuming he got the axe), and so we get to see her sing a song this week, and I f***ing love it. The song is called Jehovah and is a cover of an Amy Grant song, if I’m not mistaken. Now, just to make this clear real fast in case I haven’t yet, I am not a religious person by any means and I wouldn’t be caught dead in any church of any sort for any reason, but I do believe in God and I do believe in Jesus; I just don’t dig on the organized religion and all the finger wagging and shaming and telling us gays that we’re all going to Hell along with basically everyone that isn’t a straight white man (according to most religions, absolutely anyone who is different is going straight to Hell). My basic point is that religious music is not my bag, baby, and I would never listen to an Amy Grant song by choice, but for some reason this scene of Lisa Hartman singing Jehovah has always stuck with me as one of KL’s most unforgettable moments and one of Lisa’s best songs on the show; I just love the s**t out of it. In fact, for a long time I called this my favorite song that she ever sings on the series, but now I’m not so sure of that, because I forgot just how many songs she actually sings and they’re all just soooooooo good; who could possibly pick a favorite?


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    I think one of my main reasons for loving this song and this scene is the way it’s shot, which is of course brilliant and cinematic, the way all the eps are by this point. Here, we start in a closeup of her singing, shot from the side, but then the camera starts to pan out and it sorta pans over the television equipment that’s filming her, so we are seeing her displayed on the TV, if that makes sense. It creates this cool effect where it seems like there are multiple Cathys singing in the scene, and it’s great, but the cherry on top of the scene is how we keep cutting to Joshua sitting in the corner and glaring while she sings. He is starting to look truly villainous whenever he’s onscreen, and he’s kinda chilling to look at here, honestly, because you can tell he is keeping a careful eye on her every move to make sure she remains under his control. Also, there’s a real sadness to the last few notes of this song, when it slows down and she finishes with a slow repeat of, “And Jehovah, I love you so,” before the music slowly fades out, and Lisa does some great acting here, where we can see a real sadness in her eyes. We know that singing songs like these doesn’t make her happy; she wants to be over at Isadora’s singing Beat of a Heart or Words or any of the other amazing and genius and brilliant songs that we’ve seen her singing throughout the season.



    Last of all, I do think Jehovah is just a really pretty song, although I listened to the Amy Grant original for comparison purposes and she’s got nothing on Lisa’s version. But the song is just pretty, and if I was a more religious type of person, it’s the kind of religious song I would like to sing, and it’s actually a real earworm that gets stuck in your head for a long time. I’ve found myself randomly singing it in public, like when I’m at the gym, and then I have to stop myself before someone else hears because I’m afraid they’ll think I’m some scary religious nut Jesus freak, and I simply don’t have the time to explain to them, “No no, I’m not religious; it’s from KL!” Oh yeah, and also I love how the lyrics are contradictory to what’s really going on in Cathy’s life, how she sings, “You set me free,” but at the same time we keep cutting to Joshua glaring at her and keeping her under his control. At this point, Cathy is anything but free.


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    Right after that terrific song that I could clearly write an entire term paper on, Joshua comes up on the stage in front of the cameras and thanks Cathy for singing and then he boldly announces to all the viewers at home that he and Cathy are going to get married, but any discerning viewer watching Pacific World Whatever’s fine religious programming at home should be able to look at Cathy’s face and see that she had absolutely no awareness of this plan. Once again, Joshua has made some major decision all without her involvement, as if her opinion is of no value at all. Later, Joshua tries to argue that he was trying to be romantic and surprise her with this announcement, but of course that’s not true; he’s just making sure to keep control of her.



    Oh yeah, the very last important development of this ep comes in our final scene, in which Abs meets up with Greg Sumner and declares that she wants a piece of whatever it is that Empire Valley truly is. Perhaps she doesn’t know precisely what’s going down with Empire Valley, but she knows it must be a pretty big deal for Greg to drop his senatorial dreams to stick around California and work on it. We end the ep on a freeze frame of Abs face after this bold declaration, and we can only imagine what could possibly come of this development.



    While I of course enjoyed The Deluge very much since it’s a season six episode of KL and is, therefore, inherently and unquestionably brilliant and ingenious, I still declared it one of the less amazing eps of the season thus far, but A Piece of the Pie is a terrific improvement from that ep. God, this ep is good, and it’s good in so many wonderfully subtle ways. Perhaps after you have watched the entire work of sublime art that is season six of KL, this exact ep won’t particularly jump out at you as one of the season’s best, but it’s just so well put together and so well crafted as its own little episode. We get lots of important new information on Dr. Ackerman and Karen’s pursuit of him and the truth, along with the wonderfully real moments of Val giving Lilimae a perm or Greg hiding behind the refrigerator door, we get the awesome Jehovah song from Cathy along with futher developments in her story with Joshua, and then of course we have the brilliantly subtle (or perhaps just subtle to me upon a first viewing) reveal of where Val’s babies are. Overall, it’s a terrific episode and keeps up the quality of the season splendidly.



    Things should continue to unfold nicely as we jump into our next episode, The Forest for the Trees.
     
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    Episode Title: The Forest for the Trees

    Season 06, Episode 23

    Episode 123 of 344

    Written by Michael Russnow

    Directed by Nick Havinga

    Original Airdate: Friday, March 21st, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua apologizes to Cathy and proposes. She accepts and Abby decides to throw them a party. Karen finds out who the nurse on duty was the night Val gave birth. Karen finds Nurse Wilson and questions her, but she doesn't say anything. Karen tells Lilimae that Wilson is scared, and brings Lilimae to talk with her, too. Gary decides to go ahead with Empire Valley, but asks Mack and Ben for their reports as he doesn't trust Greg. At the engagement party, Greg warns Coblenz about Abby. Joshua announces to everyone that as soon as they're married, Cathy is going to stop singing. Cathy's angry, and he tells her she doesn't need to make scenes to get his attention. Val comforts Cathy and tells her to stand up to Joshua. Abby meets with Coblenz and pretends to know what's really going on, and Coblenz, thinking she already knows, tells her all. Greg tells Coblenz that Abby faked him out, and Coblenz tells Greg to undo the damage.


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    We have reached the point where we have, at this exact point and with this episode included, eight episodes total left in season six of KL. Now, for other shows, particularly shows nowadays where a season consists of ten to fifteen eps altogher, eight eps might seem like a lot to have left, but because of the size of this season and the fact that we have watched 22 eps out of a 30 ep season, with eight eps to go I am starting to feel like the show is really starting to power ever closer to its season finale, that things are starting to get extra juiced up and extra exciting as we begin our final few laps for this brilliant, brilliant, brilliant season of television. The fact that our last ep, A Piece of the Pie, showed us firmly that Val’s babies are alive and living with the Fishers has certainly helped add to that feeling of acceleration as we get started with The Forest for the Trees, directed by a KL director who is quickly rising in my esteem, Nick Havinga (this is his fourth ep after The Block Party, Tomorrow Never Knows, and Message in a Bottle). Let’s dive right in.

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    I talked about Joshua and Cathy last in our previous ep, so let’s talk about them first for this ep. You’ll all vividly recall Cathy singing the amazing song Jehovah in an amazing scene in our amazing previous episode, and you’ll all recall how right after she was done singing, Joshua marched in front of the cameras and announced that he had proposed to Cathy (he hadn’t) and she had accepted his proposal (she hadn’t). This week, we continue to explore this relationship, which started out so sweet and innocent and cute at the start of the season but has rapidly turned rather dysfunctional and disturbing. See, as we get started with The Forest for the Trees, Cathy is still pretty upset with Joshua for, you know, announcing that they were getting married without consulting her about it. It’s just common courtesy, really; if you are stepping out of the house to get a quart of milk from the supermarket, you let your girlfriend know, and if you’re planning to marry your girlfriend in a couple of days, you let her know. If I was Cathy, I’d be pissed off, too, but as we’ve already established, if I was Cathy, I would have dumped Joshua long ago and started having violent sex with Sexy Michael (although I think the character of Michael is supposed to be sixteen years old, so I guess Cathy could get in trouble for sleeping with him, even though in real life the actor Pat Petersen would be eighteen at this point). Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of Cathy being so passive; she puts up a small amount of fight every now and then when Joshua is controlling (like when he sorta tricked her into going out on a picnic with him and missing her band practice), but for the most part, I think she’s allowing way too much crap to go on, only putting up a very mild fight, even with something as important as this unearned announcement of marriage. Even so, Joshua is able to sway her back by apologizing for his behavior, giving her some story about how he thought that spur-of-the-moment announcement would be romantic to her, how he thought she’d be pleased. Then he gives her the standard proposal in which he gets down on one knee and it’s all very conventional and Bob Loblaw, and at this point, she accepts. See, I recognize that perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on Cathy, a character I love just as much as I loved Ciji (perhaps even more, honestly, but that might just be because we spend three seasons with Cathy and we didn’t even have one full season with Ciji), because when you’re really in love with someone, it gets tricky and complicated. I am willing to say that Cathy is in love with the Joshua we met at the start of the season, the one who was sweet and gentle and cute. Now Joshua is starting to turn into this controlling, egotistical monster, but it’s hard to really recognize that something like that might be happening when it’s happening so gradually right in front of you, you know? Indeed, I have never experienced anything like this with a romantic relationship (and I’ve also only been in love twice), but I’ve sorta had it happen with friendships, where you like someone and they are your friend but slowly they start to change, and it’s only after a certain amount of time that you are able to realize this person is not the same person you liked originally, you know?

    But f**k, Joshua is such a dick in this ep. Okay, he’s been a dick for, like, maybe the last ten eps that we’ve seen, but he’s really getting out of control this week. See, after Cathy accepts his proposal, Abs decides to throw them a nice little engagement party since, you know, she’s rich now and that’s all that rich people do is throw parties and drink a lot. Anyway, at this party, Joshua once again makes an ass of himself by boldly announcing that, once he and Cathy are married, she will of course stop singing right away and start popping out babies, since that’s of course what women were made to do. Finally, Cathy shows some balls towards Joshua and tells him in front of everybody that that’s not true; she will continue to sing for as long as she shall live. Joshua interprets this as her “making a scene,” but I’m totally with Cathy on this one; you go, girl!

    Real fast, I wanna make sure it’s clear that when I insult Joshua, I’m definitely not insulting Alec Baldwin, who entered the series at the start of this season and immediately felt established as a core character and an important member of the cast. He has played Joshua perfectly ever since he first showed up at Val and Lilimae’s door, and watching him start to change and become a huge douchebag has been rather fascinating and is a testament to his inherent acting talent, since this is one of the very first things he ever did. Nowadays he’s more known for his comedy roles and his SNL guest spots and he’s a terrific comedic actor (I will take a moment to say that I adore him as the voice of Leonardo Leonardo on the tragically short lived Clerks: The Animated Series), but I’d say Joshua remains my favorite character he has ever played, perhaps simply because I love the show so much so I automatically choose his character from this as his best ever, but also just cuz I think he plays the part perfectly. Also, while I might make fun of the Joshua character and call him a douchebag, please understand that I love watching him and I love seeing this drama unfold; it’s just all so very good.

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    Okay, let’s move on to our other beloved characters. Let’s start with Sexy Michael and a scene that I immediately put away in my Private Masturbation Files for later use. I can’t actually remember what is discussed or established or done in this scene, except that it consists of Ben, Mack, and Sexy Michael returning from a nice California jog and they are all of course wearing shorts. Ben and Mack’s shorts are whatever; I love both characters but I don’t want to violate them, you understand, but Sexy Michael is a whole different story, and he’s rocking a pair of short shorts so short that I kept my eyes opened real wide to see if maybe, just maybe, a little teeny smidge of wiener might pop out. Sadly for me, nothing of the sort happened, but I still got to feast my eyes on Sexy Michael in a pair of short shorts with those perfect legs proudly displayed and that magnificent bubble butt just calling out for attention, begging me, talking to me, saying to me, “Please, Brett, please climb inside of the TV and start putting your penis in me.” Mmmmmm, yeah, that was good, mmmmm, okay, moving on.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    The Sumner Cigar Counter rapidly escalates from one to two in this ep, as we have his second cigar during a lovely fancy schmancy dinner with him and Laura and Karen and Mack and Ava Gardner (Ruth is her character’s name, as you’ll recall, but I’ll probably just keep calling her Ava). Ah yes, this looks fabulous, and again, this is a world I want to live in. I can’t exactly say what character from KL I would most want to be, as I think I would just like to be myself living in the universe of KL, but if I was living in that universe, I would want to be part of the entire package, meaning that I could spend time hanging out on the cul-de-sac and having cookouts with the neighbors but also spend time having fancy dinners at Sumner’s place with Ava Gardner in attendance. One thing I particularly liked about this scene was the way Mack asks to have one of Sumner’s cigars, as well; he’s very cute and says something like, “Can I treat myself to one of these fancy cigars, here?” I like me a man who can enjoy the rich tobacco taste of a fine cigar without being a constant, daily, smells-bad-all-the-time smoker. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a cigar now and then and I enjoy them very much, and I like that we get to see Mack enjoying one every now and then (I can immediately think of at least one other example much later in the series, but I feel like there are a couple more in addition to that).



    Also, I love Sumner’s big open bar on one of those sexy rolling carts and I like how he knows everybody’s drink and he’s respectful of Gary and knows that he drinks nothing stronger than club soda and so he pours him a little warm Perrier. Actually, that’s my only problem with this whole arrangement. One of Brett’s random pet peeves that just irritates the crap out of me is when people have drinks that are really best enjoyed super cold, like Perrier (I love Perrier because I am gay and I must immediately fall into the gay stereotype of loving Perrier), yet they just keep them sitting out at room temperature and then just pour them over ice and call it good, as if that will magically change the taste of the liquid to be cold. Sorry, but all that happens in that instance is that you quickly melt the ice with your room temperature Perrier and then you just have s***ty, watered down Perrier with rapidly melting ice cubes floating around in it. See, when I’m serving people drinks, I put the Perrier in the fridge and then I chill the glasses in the freezer and put a bunch of ice cubes in the glass and then pour the super cold and delicious Perrier over the ice cubes in the chilled glass and you have a drink that’s guaranteed to stay cold for a really long time. I do the same with vodka and gin, but your other liquors are not meant to be served out of the freezer, so those stay room temperature. Oh wait a minute, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Oh yeah, nothing, I’m just babbling on about my love of cold Perrier in a glass, so let’s move on.


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    Last ep, I talked about how KL is so good at showing us those small, realistic little life moments that we can all relate to and how that helps keep the show feeling grounded no matter how outlandish the plots may become. Well, this ep has not one but two examples of that. I already mentioned Mack and the plunger and the broken sink last week, but I’ll bring it up again here. See, Karen mentions how the sink is clogged or whatever, and then later in the ep, while she and Mack are discussing, I think, Val’s babies and all that drama, Mack spends the scene plunging the sink and trying to fix the clog. When did we ever see anything like this over on Dallas? Never, absolutely never. Can you imagine a scene of J.R. talking about how he’s gonna fight for full control of Ewing Oil all while he’s using a plunger to unclog the sink (or, being familiar with J.R.'s less-than-healthy diet, the toilet)? It just would never happen over on that show, but it’s common practice over here on KL. The only other thing I wanna say about this scene is that I really hope the Fairgate MacKenzie family owns two sets of plungers, one for the toilet and one for the sink. If Mack is using the same plunger to plunge the sink that previously was used to unclog Diana’s nasty, bitchy turds from the toilet, well I am just going to have to go off and vomit. So let’s just assume that they have one plunger that lives in the bathroom and is used for toilet related emergencies and then another one that lives under the sink in the kitchen and is used for sink related emergencies, shall we?



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    The other small moment I like in this ep occurs between Val and Cathy. See, Cathy is vacuuming the Avery living room and singing along to some music on her Walkman (remember those?) when Val comes in the front door behind her. She knocks and shouts at Cathy, but Cathy can’t hear her due to all the noise, and then when Val approaches behind her and taps her on the shoulder, she scares her and Cathy screams out. Then, of course, she turns around and sees that it’s only Val and is all relieved and the scene proceeds forward. I was watching this scene and I actually paused (just like I later paused the Mack/sink/plunger scene) to share my absolutely brilliant observations with My Beloved Grammy. I pointed out how they could have easily just done a scene in which Val walks in and Cathy is like, “Oh, hi, Val!” and then the scene unfolds in whatever fashion. However, by throwing in this small little detail with the vacuuming and the Walkman, it just helps it to feel more real, more like a real neighborhood with real people living in it, and it’s those small details that add up to create a realistic feeling throughout the series. Again, if this was Dallas, I feel like the scene would be shot in a very bland way and there would be a knock at the door and the camera would remain stationary as Cathy answers the door and then she’d say “Hi, Val,” and then Val would walk into frame and it would look super boring and dull and it would just not be interesting at all.



    Eric Fairgate is sorta lingering around lately, not being a main cast member (he never gets to be a main cast member, actually), but still being kinda sorta important to proceedings. Remember how two eps back he mentioned that some dude came by Knots Landing Motors wanting to purchase it? That was put on the backburner for A Piece of the Pie, but now it has returned. In this ep, we actually meet the guy who wants to purchase the garage, and he’s a Texan named Boots Connors (great name) and played by Don Hood. As soon as I saw this guy, I became convinced that he must be a Transmorpher because he would have fit in like a round peg in a round hole over on Dallas; he’s Texan and he’s got the accent and the cowboy hat and the whole look and I could easily imagine him sitting down for some sort of boring business deal with J.R. over at the Cattleman’s Club or whatever, and of course, when I looked it up, I discovered I was right. IMDb says he appears in a 1988 ep of Dallas (meaning it would have been deep into The Dark Years by that point) called Marriage on the Rocks. He was also in the Brian De Palma movie Obsession that I sorta love as well as the infamous Brooke Shields movie Pretty Baby (that’s the one where she is twelve but shows her boobs and everything and it’s all very controversial) as well as a Tales From the Crypt I remember enjoying (it’s called The Sacrifice).



    Okay, anyway, this character doesn’t do much in this ep. Basically he shows up at the garage because he is supposed to have a meeting with Karen regarding selling it to him, but Karen never shows up, since she is too busy with, you guessed it, investigating the truth about Val’s babies. Karen makes major progress this week, but it’s still not quite good enough. First she shows up at the hospital to speak with one of the nurses who was on staff the night Val’s babies were born. Oh yeah, this scene also helps to tell us the precise timeline of events unfolding, because even though Val gave birth in Tomorrow Never Knows, an ep that aired November 29th, 1984, here Karen says it was November 24th that Val gave birth, so there you go. Anyway, Karen has to wait around a good long while before managing to speak to the nurse, and then the nurse isn’t all that terribly helpful. Make no mistake, she’s not mean or anything like that, just busy and in a hurry and not able to really remember that night all too well. Karen asks her about the other nurse on duty that night, Nurse Wilson, and this lady (she’s just credited as “Nurse” on the IMDb page and I’m not sure if she actually gets a name in the ep or not) tells her that Nurse Wilson got transferred to another hospital and she might be able to find her somewhere else, or something like that.


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    This leads Karen to a trailer park occupied by Nurse Wilson. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about portraying this black character as living in a trailer park, but then I’ve never been one of those liberals who feels like TV and film need to make sure and keep completely PC at all times, since I really do hate political correctness, but I’m just not sure. I recognize that all people of all colors are just people and anybody, black or white or whatever, can live in a trailer park, but I do wonder if showing this black nurse having to live in a trailer park might not be an instance of that ingrained racism that is prevalent in so many things from the 1980s. But then, of course, maybe she’s just a regular human character like any regular human character and there is no grand meaning to where she lives; indeed, Karen speaks with a white lady who also lives at the trailer park, so I could just be acting like an overly sensitive 21st century PC liberal douche; what do you think?

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    In any case, Karen gets nothing out of Nurse Wilson upon first meeting her, but then she manages to convince a reluctant Lilimae to tag along later. Why is Lilimae reluctant? Honestly, I’m having a hard time completely understanding Lilimae right now. Does she really and truly believe that Val’s babies were born dead and that’s all there is to it? I know Val’s been acting, erm, a little bit nutty throughout the middle portions of this season, but she is so vehement in her assertion that she heard those babies crying that I’m not sure how her very own mother could ignore what she’s saying, but here she’s getting kinda pissy at Karen for doing her investigations, saying how she’s just gonna get Val all upset for nothing, that she needs to let it be. Of course, I see Karen as being a true friend who would go to the ends of the earth for the people she loves, so I can’t quite understand Lilimae’s perspective here, but in any case, she does agree to go meet with Nurse Wilson later. Again, they don’t manage to get much information out of her; mostly she just asks them to go away and leave her alone and stop asking her about dead babies and such, but I think the ladies manage to get to her when they talk about all the emotional turmoil Val has dealt with throughout the season, and then Karen leaves her with her phone number on a card.

    This leads nicely into our final scene of the ep, in which we see Nurse Wilson sitting in her lovely trailer (imagine the amazing cocktail parties you could have in these incredible living quarters!) and calling up Karen’s house. However, when she calls, Karen is out of the house and Val answers, since she’s there for some reason or other. After she answers, there’s this moment of silence and then Nurse Wilson hangs up without saying anything and tears up the card that Karen gave her. Now, this is a great scene and a great ending to the ep, but I do have a question about it. Does she lose confidence and tear up the card because she hears Val’s voice? Or would it not have mattered who answered, whether it be Karen or Mack or Eric or Sexy Michael (if I was trying to call somebody and Sexy Michael answered, I would just be like, “Get over to my place right away so I can do vile things to your body”); did she simply lose her nerve to speak out about the truth? I don’t know that I believe this nurse would really remember Val’s voice after all these months have passed; I’m sure she’s been in plenty of hospital situations and dealt with plenty of people, but My Beloved Grammy said that she hangs up because she hears Val’s voice and loses her nerve. My Beloved Grammy is older and wiser than I am, so perhaps she’s correct in her assertion.

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    I guess that about does it for The Forest for the Trees, another stunning episode of this fabulously stunning season of television. I’m sitting here trying to think if there are any last points I wish to address, and I do just have a few quick ones. One is that we continue to see Eric being weirdly secretive of this new girlfriend he’s got that he still hasn’t introduced anyone to (spoiler alert: She’s black), and that’s gonna come back an ep or two later, and the other is that we see Olivia having a bug up her ass about Cathy’s engagement and Abs throwing her a party. This was a rather lovely callback, because Olivia is pissed about how Cathy and Gary were shagging at the end of season five. See, this season is so huge that season five already feels like a really long time ago, even though it really wasn’t, so I’ve almost kinda sorta forgotten about all the Cathy/Gary stuff from last season, and I appreciate that the writers have not. I like that they’ll make callbacks to things that happened over a year ago, and I like that those events continue to dictate how certain characters like Olivia might react or behave now, at this point in the saga. Oh yeah, and last of all, we do have a pretty key development where Abby talks to Cheesy British Guy and manages to get him to basically spill all this secret information about what Empire Valley really is, and it’s really not all that hard, honestly; all she has to do is sorta pretend like she already knows everything and then Cheesy British Guy is happy to talk. I feel like I might be glazing over this plot point, and I don’t mean to, but I feel like it’s gonna pay off in a big way later on, so we’ll discuss it more at that juncture.


    In conclusion, Nick Havinga is continuing to impress me as one of the best KL directors, right up there with the brilliant Larry Elikann and my other favorites like Nicholas Sgarro and Bill “Cooke” Duke. His contributions to KL this season have been great, most especially the stunning Tomorrow Never Knows, and while this ep might not be quite up there with that entry, it’s still a great 48 minutes of television and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be watching. With this ep under our belt, we have but seven eps left in this season and I can’t wait to discuss them, so let’s move on to A Man of Good Will.

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    Episode Title: A Man of Good Will

    Season 06, Episode 24

    Episode 124 of 344

    Written by Lynn Marie Latham and Bernard Lechowick

    Directed by Linda Day

    Original Airdate: Thursday, March 28th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua bullies Cathy over wedding plans, and Cathy doesn't show up for the rehearsal. Ben tells Karen to stop feeding Val's fantasy that the twins could be alive, and Mack takes Karen's side and says that maybe they are alive. Nurse Wilson calls Ackerman and tells him to keep Karen away from her. Greg and Gary argue over environmental concerns for Empire Valley. Greg changes Gary's credit report, and a lot of Gary's investors back out. Greg offers to buy Gary out. Laura finds out what Greg did and threatens to tell Gary. A lawyer calls Gary and says that Galveston left him all the land in Empire Valley. The boys want to sell Knots Landing Motors, but Karen won't as it was Sid's dream for them. They tell her it's Sid's dream but not theirs, and they don't like working there. Karen and Eric go to Sid's grave, and Karen says Sid just wanted him to be happy, so she'll hire a new manager.

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    Ah yes, it’s time to discuss A Man of Good Will and I have a lot to say about it right off the bat. First off, I’d like to point out that this is our very first KL ep written by the husband and wife writing team of Lynn Marie Latham and Bernard Lechowick, and they are essentially going to become the showrunners for seasons eight through twelve, spanning 1986 to 1991. Now, I’m gonna go ahead and do a bit of a retcon on some comments I made way near the start of this blog (I think back in the third episode of the series, Let Me Count the Ways). Way back when, I talked about how I split the series up into certain eras and I said that the Latham/Lechowick era was my favorite of the series. However, now that I’ve re-experienced the sheer joy and brilliance and perfection of the Peter Dunne era of seasons four, five, and six (well, most of six, anyway; we’ve still got a few eps to go and I actually believe he had stepped away from the show by this point), I’m almost certain that this is going to turn out to be my favorite portion of the series. These three years have just been sooooooooo good and I get the feeling that, upon a second watching, seasons eight through twelve won’t hold up quite as well as I may have remembered. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not gonnna thoroughly enjoy the s**t out of them; I’m fairly confident that I will; it’s just that I doubt they will be able to completely match the utter genius of seasons four through six. But the fact that these two people are going to have such a strong influence on the show just a few years down the line made me play close attention to this, their very first KL script, and I must say they make an impressive debut here.

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    We left off last ep with Nurse Wilson trying to call Karen and then getting nervous and hanging up and tearing up the little card that Karen gave her. We pretty much pick up seconds later here, or at least that’s the impression I got, as we open on her making a phonecall to the evil Dr. Ackerman. Basically, the phone call consists of Nurse Wilson telling Ackerman that Karen is snooping around and making her nervous and she wants him to keep her away from her, that she feels awful about what happened. This combined with seeing the Fisher twins back in A Piece of the Pie pretty much officially confirms to us viewers that yes, Val’s babies are alive and yes, they were stolen away from her by Dr. Ackerman. The season finale inches ever closer.

    Meanwhile, the wedding bells are still sounding for Joshua and Cathy, although one gets the feeling that it won’t be a terribly joyous occasion, as Joshua has already taken the liberty of vetoing the sexy and awesome dress Cathy wanted and replacing it with a super ugly and old fashioned thing that would be right at home on Little House on the Prairie. The other dress is lovely and sexy and shows off Cathy’s beautiful figure, so of course that’s not acceptable for the wife-to-be of a big religious televangelist. This Puritan-looking outfit that completely covers almost all of her body is much more acceptable, and I almost expected Joshua to bust out a burka and be like, “Here, Cathy, this really completes the ensemble!” Fortunately Cathy is toughening up a bit, and she does not put up with this one bit when she sees this ugly old thing, and she even calls it out for the ugly monstrosity that it is and says she hates it and she’s not wearing it. Again, you go, girl!

    In my notes I wrote, “I like that Val is the one giving Cathy advice on this stuff,” and it’s absolutely true. Honestly, I’m a little surprised that none of the other ladies are speaking up on Cathy’s behalf, because Joshua is being pretty blatantly disrespectful to her right now and way more than a smidge controlling. It really seems like a situation in which spitfire Karen would speak up and be super direct to Joshua and tell him to stop being such a controlling a**hole, but I suppose I can buy that Karen is a little busy with other matters and too distracted to speak up. The one that I’m having a hard time justifying is Lilimae, who is really allowing Joshua to get away with way too much. I guess you could say that Lilimae is afraid of losing Joshua since he only recently entered her life after so much time away and they have managed to patch up their past issues and get closer. Perhaps she’s afraid that if she starts to tell him how to behave, she might alienate him and lose him again, this time forever. However, I still think Lilimae is allowing him to get away with far too much by not speaking up and putting him in his place.

    Cathy winds up taking her stand by not showing up to the rehearsal, a rehearsal that also includes Reverend Kathryn. This really interested me, and it makes me think I should take back that assumption I made earlier that Kathryn had gotten canned from his job at Pacific World Whatever by Abs. The fact that he’s hanging around and helping Joshua with his wedding plans tells me that they are still on fairly good terms, and I feel like they wouldn’t be if he had been booted out the door after something like 25 years working at the station. Of course, perhaps he was booted out and he is just that tolerant and awesome that he’s still able to work on wedding plans with the guy who got him fired. I’m not entirely sure at this point, but I’ll pay attention to see if Reverend Kathryn is still shown working at Pacific World Whatever in the next eps of the season. In any case, Cathy doesn’t show up for the rehearsal and I think that sends a pretty clear message that she’s not happy with the state of things right now.

    [​IMG]


    Oh yes, lastly and most importantly as far as Cathy is concerned this week, we also get a fabulous cover song from her, this time of the Pat Benatar classic We Belong. This was a big surprise to me as I was fairly confident that this song didn’t show up until somewhere in season seven, but here it is now. I’m gonna make a prediction now and say that, of the four glorious seasons that Lisa Hartman is a part of KL, season six has to be the one with the most singing from her, even more than season four which was almost an advertisement for her Letterock album (a brilliant advertisement, of course). Seriously, at this point I can’t even remember how many songs she’s given us throughout this year, from I Can Dream About You to Time After Time to Beat of a Heart to Jehovah and now to We Belong. As I always seem to say when it comes to Lisa’s fabulous covers, I greatly prefer her version of this song to Pat Benatar’s even though Benatar’s is obviously much more iconic. It’s just the sound of her voice, what can I say? Also, I first heard this song here, in this episode, and I didn’t know if it was a cover song or, if it was, who she was covering, so I just sorta thought of it as a Lisa song for a good while until I discovered the original on the radio one day.



    Meanwhile, all sorts of exciting conspiracy s**t is heating up over in Greg’s part of town, as he gets more heavily involved in this bizarre Empire Valley project. In this ep, he has this amazing techy nerd assistant guy who is, of course, not listed on the IMDb episode page. I really wish he was listed because I really recognized this guy and I have no idea why (I get the distinct feeling that he was in a Seinfeld episode). The guy’s look is perfect, by the way, and aptly demonstrates that the nerdy computer tech stereotype has really not changed much at all in the last thirty years. He’s a white guy, he’s overweight, he’s kinda balding yet still has this long hair that is very unbecoming, he has a big pair of square glasses on, and you just know he’s seen all 79 episodes of Star Trek numerous times (although Next Gen is still two years in the future, but you also just know this guy is gonna get real excited when that starts up and immediately begin having violent debates with his friends about Kirk versus Picard). Anyway, this little character is just yet another example of how everyone in the KL universe, even the most minor people who only show up to provide some exposition, are still interesting and distinctive and feel like real people.

    [​IMG]



    The computer nerd basically shows Greg that, with this fancy, modern, amazing 1985 computer, he has the power to completely f*** over anyone he wants. It all feels very James Bond-esque (but then this whole Empire Valley saga feels rather James Bond-esque to me, and I of course mean that in a good way), and it also calls back to a time when people were starting to use computers, but they still seemed like this weird, scary, science-fiction type thing. First, the nerd demonstrates by typing in Gary Ewing’s name and then immediately getting a big list of information about him and his life and his finances and how he got a huge deal of money after his father died. Then he reveals to Greg that this amazing 1985 computer actually has the ability to completely destroy Gary’s financial stability by f***ing up his credit rating, and then Greg is like, “Hey, let’s do it.”

    [​IMG]

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Why does Greg do this? This is perhaps the most “evil” thing we’ve seen him do up to this point (and I put the word in quotation marks because there is just something about Greg and the way Devane plays him that, no matter what he might do, he never ever seems truly evil), and as I sit here reflecting on the ep, I can’t entirely remember the chain of events that lead to this happening. Essentially, it has something to do with how Greg wants to do something or other at Empire Valley and it doesn’t jibe with Gary’s plans and his environmental concerns (Gary is very modern and ahead-of-his-time for being so concerned with the environment; he’s into it about twenty years before it became super trendy) and they have a bit of an argument about it. Sorry to be so vague, but I honestly can’t remember exactly what they fight about, but I do believe this fight is the impetus for Greg to change Gary’s credit score. It doesn’t take long before Gary is alerted to this phenomenon by his banker, and we also get a nice little shout out to J.R. over in Texas when the banker asks, “Has J.R. been up to something with those oil leases?” I’m noting pretty much all direct references to Dallas and the characters over there right now because, at this point, we only have one more season in which the two shows officially exist in the same universe, and then of course Bobby comes back from the dead in 1986 and everything is f***ed up beyond repair; after that the two shows pretty much sever ties and I don’t think we ever even hear the names of J.R. and Bobby or any of those folks after we pass season seven of KL, although I shall certainly keep my ears open. But anyway, Gary confirms that, to his knowledge, J.R. hasn’t been doing anything with the oil leases, and then the banker tells Gary how his credit score is plummeting rapidly and he has no idea why.
    We get a superbly cute scene between Greg and Laura a little later that made me beam with pleasure. F***, this couple is so cute; how did I not notice it upon first viewing? Make no mistake, I loved both characters and I enjoyed seeing them interact, but I don’t remember my heart melting and a big old smile taking over my face every time they were onscreen together, and that’s what’s happening with me now. Why are they so freaking cute? I think it’s just the natural, sparkling chemistry, and I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I get the feeling that Devane’s improvisations and the strange style of humor that he brings to proceedings was legitimately charming Constance and I think that shows in scenes like this. See, in this instance, he is talking to her about how he could have the power to f*** up Gary’s money and assets and all that stuff, although he drapes it in a sorta “I could do this stuff if I wanted to, but I’m not gonna” rhetoric. When Laura says how she wouldn’t support anything that hurts Gary, Greg makes her laugh by talking about how he could f*** up Abby’s credit score, too, and then we get a shot that I love which is actually going to make it into the scrolling squares next season. In it, Greg is holding a cigar (this makes #3 on the Sumner Cigar Counter, by the way) and then he puts the cigar in his mouth for a second and sorta waves his hand cheerfully in front of Laura and then we cut to Laura’s face as she smiles and sorta laughs over it. This is gonna play when we get to Constance’s credit during the season seven opening, and I always would smile when I saw it, and now I know officially what episode it’s coming from.

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    A little later on, through some circumstances that I can’t entirely remember (again, I’m sorry), Laura finds out what’s really going on, that Greg is using his new power to screw Gary, not Abby, and she says how she doesn’t approve of it and she’s going to tell Gary about it. This creates a bit of a back-and-forth between the two regarding the ethics of what’s going down, and it actually leads us to our final scene of the ep, in which Laura drives up to Westfork with the intention of telling Gary the truth. However, just as she’s about to spill the beans, Gary gets a phone call with the rather shocking news that when Galveston died, he left all of Empire Valley to him. Essentially, it no longer matters what Gary’s credit score is because he is the full owner of this gigantic property/secret James Bond conspiracy setting. It’s a rather happy and joyous note for the ep to go out on, and I always enjoy seeing eps that end on really happy notes, and this is a good example of that.

    However, we’re not entirely done talking about the ep yet, as we’ve still got Karen to discuss. She’s still continuing her pursuit of the truth of Val’s babies, and we do get some dialogue this week between her and Mack in which he states how he’s starting to really believe she could be onto something, along with a more confrontational chat between her and Ben. Similar to Lilimae in our previous ep, Ben is mad at Karen for stirring up old dramas and getting Val’s hopes up that her babies might still be alive. I guess I kinda sorta get where Ben is coming from, but I don’t think Karen is doing anything wrong here. She hasn’t announced to Val what she’s up to, she hasn’t been like, “I’m searching for Dr. Ackerman because I also believe your babies are alive!” She’s kinda doing it on the D.L. and without getting Val too excited about it, without even telling her about it at all, if I’m remembering correctly, so I think she’s in the right. However, this stuff is actually pretty minor in A Man of Good Will. Most of Karen’s story in this ep involves the conclusion of the little mini-storyline that’s been going on with that Texan Transmorpher who wants to buy Knots Landing Motors. While this storyline is perhaps not EXCITING the way Val’s babies are, I really appreciated this little story and found it very interesting to watch. See, basically the Texan is aggressively continuing his pursuit to buy the garage, and whenever Karen tells him that she’s not interested in selling, he raises his offer to something even higher and says, “But that’s my final offer!” By acting disinterested in selling, it seems Karen could really manage to get a nice chunk of money out of this guy, but she remains firm in her refusal to sell, and that’s because of her love of Sid and her memories of him and how important the garage was to him.

    I find myself frequently surprised over and over again at how often Sid continues to come up in the show, and I think it’s another fine example of the show having a really rich history in which things happen and are not forgotten. At this point, Mack is comfortably established as Karen’s husband and he’s already been in more seasons and more episodes than Sid ever was, and yet that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about Sid and remember how important he was to the show during those first 33 episodes. Here, Karen tells Mack that Sid built Knots Landing Motors from the ground up, that it was his baby, that he loved it, and that he wanted to turn it over to his children one day, and that’s why she can’t just up and sell it. However, the boys, Eric and Sexy Michael, speak very directly to her and tell her that they just don’t really like working there too much.

    This story culminates in a fabulous scene set at Sid’s grave, which we last visited way back in season three with Letting Go. This scene had completely slipped my mind, as I thought Letting Go was the last we saw of Sid’s grave, but nope, here we are now, well over three years since his character died, and we get a scene of Eric and Karen visiting the graveyard and laying some flowers down on Sid’s grave. Karen gives a nice speech in which she tells Eric that Sid just wanted his children to be happy; he wouldn’t want them running the garage out of mere obligation to him, all while feeling unhappy. Therefore, she announces that, while she’s not going to sell, she is going to find some new management to run it. This is smart writing, in my opinion, not just because it does such a good job of recalling past history, but also because it helps to justify why we basically never see the garage anymore (indeed, I’m gonna pay attention to see if we ever get another scene set in within the walls of Knots Landing Motors, because I have a distinct feeling that we’ve seen the last of that setting).

    I think that’s about gonna do it for our story points this week, but I do wanna take another quick moment to talk about how impressed I am by this as a debut ep for Latham/Lechowick. I know this duo remain a controversial element amongst many KL fans as well as cast members (on one hand, you have Michele Lee declaring them her favorite writers for the series while J.V.A. has been openly critical of how they treated the Valene character and The Plesh has even gone so far as to call them “awful people”), but I must say that this is ep shows great promise from them. I am especially impressed by how they are able to do such a nice little callback to Saint Sid, a character who died and exited the series long before they were ever involved in any capacity with the show, and then I’m also impressed by the way they keep the current plot developments moving along, most especially with those involving Gary and Greg and the credit score and all that excitement. Honestly, I would be very impressed by these two if I was working behind the scenes and I would absolutely have them write more eps and start giving them more power if they were able to keep up this quality.

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    Next up, we shall discuss the final ep of this particular disk of eps watched by My Beloved Grammy and myself. We already saw an aborted wedding earlier this season with Lead Me to the Altar, so now we will see a wedding that, hopefully, goes off smoothly (but probably won’t) with the nuptials of Joshua and Cathy in For Better, For Worse.
     
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    Episode Title: For Better, For Worse
    Season 06, Episode 25

    Episode 125 of 344

    Written by Roberto Loiederman

    Directed by Robert Becker

    Original Airdate: Thursday, April 4th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary tells Abby that because he bought the notes when his investors backed out, they now own all of Empire Valley. Coblenz doesn't want Gary as their landlord. Greg takes Gary to meet some of Galveston's men, and they tell him that something big is taking place, and they ask him to join them. Gary tells them to go to Hell. Coblenz implies to Gary that he is a government agent and asks Gary to infiltrate the group. Gary agrees to this. Joshua breaks Ben's Wesphal story on his show, and says that Ben is trying to make a conspiracy that isn't there. Ben is livid. Abby tells Joshua he's losing ratings. Cathy tells Joshua she's not sure if she wants to get married, and they need to decide things together, but decides to marry him. Joshua asks Ben to be his best man because despite what he thinks of him, he considers him family. Joshua and Cathy get married.

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    When we last left off, Gary was teetering on the brink of a total credit score meltdown, due in no small part to Greg Sumner’s interference, but he found quick relief when he got a phone call announcing him as being the sole inheritor of the entire Empire Valley land, courtesy of the late Paul Galveston, who may have been evil, but who certainly seemed to love Gary in a special way. That was how we concluded our last episode, A Man of Good Will, and it’s pretty much how we pick up here with For Better, For Worse. Actually, one of the first things we see in this ep is a very amusing sequence in which Gary, Abs, and the kids are all dressed up in super fancy clothes as if they’re going to the opera, except Gary has taken them to some shitty, greasy burger place for a celebration dinner. The image of this alone is amusing, but add in Abby’s somewhat confused and somewhat annoyed face and you have comedic gold. She assumed that since Gary had just inherited all this land and power, he would be taking her to a fancy schmancy place with Dom Perignon and Beluga caviar, but instead he’s taken her to a place with your choice of hamburger or cheeseburger and vanilla or chocolate shakes. The scene culminates with Gary, who is in fabulous spirits, announcing that he will pay for a meal for absolutely everybody in the place, a nice act of generosity that shows why Gary is my favorite Ewing. I always enjoy him when he’s super happy and cheerful, and I like how he spreads his generosity around.


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    Gary’s pretty busy in this ep, although I once again confess that some of these plot points are sorta flying over my head, despite the help of My Beloved Grammy. Basically, this whole episode is set against the backdrop of Cathy and Joshua’s wedding (which should be sorta “duh” because of the title of the ep), but when Gary is on his way to the wedding, he gets intercepted by Greg, who asks him to take a ride with him. I feel like the timing is a bit strange, as the wedding is close to starting and yet Greg takes him on what appears to be a rather far-off drive, so he can meet some random creepy men in business suits standing in front of a wire fence. Greg’s like, “I want you to meet these men in fancy suits, cuz they’re like a big deal or something, and Empire Valley is a big deal because of some sort of Patriot Act-esque conspiracy something or other, and we want you to join us on this project or whatever.” Gary isn’t into it, telling them to go to Hell and announcing that he will walk himself back to the wedding.



    [​IMG]


    While walking back (and, again, I found myself wondering if Gary was gonna miss the whole thing, as he already took a long drive with Greg and now he’s trying to return to the chapel on his feet), Cheesy British Guy comes pulling up in a limo or something and asks Gary to get in. When Gary obliges, Cheesy British Guy (Coblenz, for those of you who have forgotten, the guy who likes to say “everybody” a lot) goes into this weird speech about how he’s actually a secret government agent…..or something. This ep had a lot going on, and truthfully all the Empire Valley stuff has been a bit hard for me to follow throughout the season. Is Cheesy British Guy really a government agent? I’m not too sure, but I have a feeling that he’s not. He’s just too Cheesy and too British, and I get the feeling that he must be evil. Oh yeah, one little touch that I really appreciated about this scene was that we get a Ciji callback, our first since somewhere in season five, if I’m remembering correctly. Basically, Cheesy British Guy is trying to throw some vague threats at Gary about how he knows everything about his life, that he’s so powerful in his secret government work that he knows all of the secrets of every person, and he says something like, “You became rather obsessed with a singer named Ciji Dunne.” I kinda thought Ciji had been left in the past and would never be mentioned again, so I appreciate seeing that she may be gone, but she’s not forgotten, and then we also get a reminder of how Cathy is, you know, Ciji’s exact twin when Cheesy British Guy mentions how Gary started to pull a James Stewart back in season five by trying to morph Cathy into Ciji.


    [​IMG]


    Meanwhile, over at Pacific World Whatever, Ben is getting real excited as he announces that he’s gonna do a story on Galveston and West Fall (by the way, the TV.com synopsis spells this as “Wesphall,” which just looks weird and is probably not right, and whenever they have said it on the show, I have always heard it as “West Fall” and that’s how I’m gonna refer to it from now on unless I'm proven to be incorrect) and the poisoned water and all that good stuff. Ben says how he has been working on this story for awhile, and he feels almost bad about doing this tell-all five minutes after Galveston dies, as it will seem like he waited until the man couldn’t defend himself. Again, it’s these small little touches that make the characters so rich and so intricate. The fact that Ben says this aloud shows that he’s a decent dude and a man of ethics, that he feels bad about almost kicking a man after he has died, but at the same time the truth must be known. But then Joshua does something evil.

    Before Joshua does this evil thing, though, he sucks Ben’s ass a little bit (but only a little bit) by asking him to be his best man at the wedding. It’s sorta a weird, backhanded compliment, because he says something to the effect of how he may not see eye to eye with Ben on many things, but he still considers him family. Ben, who is proving to be so much funnier than I ever noticed upon first viewing, has this great line delivered with his typical dry humor where he basically says that Joshua has left him no choice, so he’ll have to do it. Still, it seems to be a small moment of peace between the two men, a peace that is abruptly shattered when Joshua goes on his little religious program and immediately uses the whole West Fall story as a part of his sermon. So not only does he take the wind out of Ben’s sails by talking about this story on television first, but he also uses it in this weird twisted way to make it seem like nothing evil or duplicitous was going down at West Fall. Instead, he uses it to point out, “Gee, these people had something really shitty happen to them with the poisoned water and all that, but look at the great positive attitude they all had and how they persevered! And look at how nice Galveston Industries was for helping them relocate and find new homes!” By doing this, Joshua has effectively sabotaged Ben’s story. Why does he do this? I don’t know that I’m even entirely sure. Joshua doesn’t have any particular loyalty to Galveston; in fact, I can’t recall that the two ever even shared screen time together. I think he really just does this to be evil, to show the power he’s getting at Pacific World Whatever, to basically just take a big pass in Ben’s face and say, “I’m doing this because I can.” I don’t mean to get into spoiler territory (if that even applies; is there anyone reading this blog who hasn’t seen the series start to finish at least once?), but I will say that Joshua hasn’t reached the level of evil that we are going to see in the early stages of next season, but he’s getting closer. He’s not just suffering from an inflated ego, not just getting a bit of a big head, but rather becoming a legitimate monster and very unlikable person.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    On that subject, another good deal of the drama in For Better, For Worse concerns whether or not Joshua and Cathy are even going to have a wedding at all. The entire engagement has been, um, rocky, to say the least, starting right away with how Joshua proposed (or didn’t propose) to Cathy, choosing instead to just announce to the television viewers that he and Cathy would be married. After that, he managed to win her back by giving the more traditional, down-on-his-knees-style wedding proposal, but two minutes after she accepted that, he returned to being a controlling douche. First off, he announced to everyone that Cathy wouldn’t be singing at all once they were married, which came as news to the singer in question, and then he went off to the dressing rooms of the recently cancelled Little House on the Prairie, poked around through all the old outfits, and found the most conservative, boring, and unsexy wedding dress he could possibly find, then boldly proclaimed that this would be the dress Cathy would be wearing for the ceremony. Understandably upset about never having her opinions valued, Cathy did a peaceful protest by not showing up for the rehearsal last ep, and this ep she gets much more direct in her anger towards Joshua.

    Cathy tells Joshua that she’s no longer sure she wants to get married, and says she’d be much happier if they could postpone it for a little while. Joshua does something that I positively hate, and the sad thing is that you don’t have to be a psycho douchebag religious televangelist a**hole to pull this move, as regular human people also do it all the time and it’s severely annoying, and that is being like, “We must get married RIGHT NOW, we MUST! Why won’t you marry me RIGHT AWAY?!” Ugh, I hate this, and I hate when anyone does it. Straight people obviously do it all the time, but I’m ashamed to say that my fellow gay people have started to fall into this trap ever since gay marriage became legal in all the states. If you really believe that you are truly and 100% in love with a person, then who gives a s**t when you get married? You could get married tomorrow or ten years from now, but isn’t the whole idea that you are going to be with the person for the rest of your life? So why all this hurry to be married as soon as possible? It’s creepy and a total turnoff, and yet people do it all the time, and Joshua does it here. Cathy makes much more sense as she argues that, by postponing, they will have some time to get things sorted out and see if they can truly be happy together, but Joshua pulls the guilt trip on her about how all these people are coming and are expecting there to be a wedding. Now, for the life of me, I can’t remember precisely how Joshua convinces Cathy to marry him, but somehow he does, because the episode culminates with their wedding ceremony (although, thank God, Cathy shows up wearing the sexy dress that is way more becoming on her, not the one that Dr. James Dobson would pick out for his wife).


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    Oh yeah, I was about to move on to Karen’s big story for the ep and then sorta wrap it up there, but I almost forgot of the weird little mini-storyline with Eric that’s been going for a few eps. I think I’ve neglected to mention this at all in any of the previous eps, but for something like five or six eps, Eric has been sorta sneaking off and being weird and secretive about this girlfriend he has. Karen and Mack have teased Eric about when they are going to get to meet this girl, and it finally happens when Eric shows up to the wedding with her and, GASP, she’s black! Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of this. I guess that in 1985 it would still be sorta a big deal for a white guy to date a black girl, I guess, but was it really that big of a deal? Also, even if it were a big deal, at no point have I ever seen Mack and Karen as being racist people in any way, so I’m not entirely sure why Eric felt the need to hide this black girlfriend for such a long stretch of eps, but I remember this character (Whitney is her name) popping up in a few more eps, so perhaps it’ll be better explained there.

    Now, I said that Karen and Mack get to meet the black girlfriend this week, but that’s not entirely true. Mack does, but Karen’s a little too occupied with other business and isn’t actually able to attend the wedding of Joshua and Cathy. See, she has successfully managed to track down the evil Dr. Ackerman, and it turns out he’s in Las Vegas for a big bridge tournament. Karen heads off and we get a fabulous stock shot of old Vegas (we are about four years away from the beginning of the modern Vegas strip as we know it today being born) and then a whole lot of her hanging around the lobby of some hotel. Which hotel is it? I don’t think they ever tell us, and of course it’s quite obvious that no cameras ever went to Vegas for this little storyline; instead they just used some existing set or space of a different hotel and called it a Vegas hotel, but it’s not a big deal; it’s the storyline that counts. Karen has found out that Dr. Ackerman is playing in this tournament, but then she has a hell of a time getting to him. First, she shows up and finds out that he’s not even staying at the hotel, although the lady at the desk tells her this is hardly unusual, that lots of the players don’t stay at the hotel where the tournaments take place, and she even lets her in on a little secret by telling her that doctors are the cheapest of all and usually find some s***hole to stay in during their visit.

    Karen keeps checking every couple of minutes to see if the lady has seen Dr. Ackerman, and she starts to annoy the lady a little bit, as she keeps reiterating that she hasn’t seen him. However, after a good long chunk of time has gone by and Karen is growing more and more impatient, she finds out that the lady made a mistake and Dr. Ackerman is inside the big secret room where the bridge tournament takes place, but that Karen can’t go in now; she has to wait for the game to end. Now, at this point My Beloved Grammy and I started to rack our brains trying to remember if Karen actually knows what Dr. Ackerman looks like, and we couldn’t quite remember. I feel like maybe maybe Karen saw him at some point in past eps, but I could be mistaken or remembering it incorrectly. In any case, we were both wondering how Karen was going to recognize the man, but it turns out she has a pretty brilliant plan. As soon as the players start filing out of the room, the game completed, she rushes to the pay phones and has him paged, asking him to come and pick up one of the phones or whatever, which he does. He goes walking up to the big wall of pay phones, looking super evil, looking like the kind of guy who would steal your babies from you, and he answers and says, “This is Dr. Ackerman,” and then we get this image of Karen spinning around, holding her pay phone in her hand, and the camera going into a zoom in on her face, realizing that she has found him. What’s going to happen next? Well, I don’t know, because that’s how the episode ends, a pretty great ending that leaves one aching for more, wouldn’t you agree?


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    I feel like we are now at the last lap of season six of KL, as My Beloved Grammy and I now have only one disk consisting of five eps left to watch, and then that will do it for the season. This ep did a great job of moving us closer along to the season finale, building anticipation and excitement, and leaving me wanting to tune in for the next ep. Everything about it was good, from the main story of Joshua and Cathy’s engagement turmoil to Gary at the burger place or speaking with Cheesy British Guy to Ben and Joshua’s rivalry and going right down to Karen’s trip to Vegas; everything works. Coming up next, we’ll get started with that final disk of season six with the bizarrely titled, Four, No Trump.

    [​IMG]
     
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    Episode Title: Four, No Trump

    Season 06, Episode 26

    Episode of 126 of 344

    Written by Melanie Mintz

    Directed by John Patterson

    Original Airdate: Thursday, April 11th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary tells Greg he will be part of Empire Valley, and then lies to Mack, telling him it's a legitimate business. Dr. Ackerman won't talk to Karen, so Mack tells her he'll help her to get evidence. Val sneaks out of Ben's, and then cancels dates with him. Ben's frustrated, and Val tells Karen she's trying to act normal, but feels like she's going crazy because she knows the babies are alive. Karen hires Eric to be the Assistant General Manager at Lotus Point. Abby tells Greg about Scott Easton and the babies, and tells Greg she needs the missing notebook pages. He gives her some pages, but they don't have the information on them. Greg goes to the Fishers and watches them from his car. Ruth makes snide comments to Laura about Greg spending so much time with Abby, and tells Greg that she likes Abby much better.


    [​IMG]


    When My Beloved Grammy and I finished up our last disk of KL eps, Karen had finally managed to successfully track down Dr. Ackerman in Vegas after cleverly having him paged to come to the pay phones. He answered the phone and said, “This is Dr. Ackerman,” and Karen spun around all epic-like and then our ep concluded. Happily, today’s ep up for discussion, Four, No Trump, picks up at literally that exact same second and we just keep on continuing with the scene. I’ve noticed this a lot lately, by the way, where eps end and then the next ep just picks right up in the same scene. By this point, the show is so fully serialized that it’s almost easy to forget about the first three seasons and all those standalone eps contained within, since we’ve now had three solid seasons of the show being a serial in which one must watch every ep in proper order to understand what’s going on. This also prompted a little thought in my brain, which is how easy or difficult it would be to just string a whole ton of eps together and turn them into one giant-ass movie. Could it be done? Would it flow? I dunno, and in any case, it’s not important; Dr. Ackerman and Karen and Val’s babies are important, so let's talk about that. Karen immediately confronts Ackerman and he obviously denies everything, which is to be expected. I think what’s significant in this scene is the fact that he’s clearly nervous and in a hurry to get away from Karen. He tries to present it as, “I’m a big fat important doctor guy and I’m busy and you’re a crazy woman and you’re harassing me and Bob Loblaw,” but Karen can see how sweaty and panicky he truly is. Dr. Ackerman is all like, “Hey, crazy b***h, you know I can’t discuss another patient’s medical information or whatever, so get away from me,” and he quickly evacuates the proceedings, leaving Karen standing alone and looking sly.

    Ah, lovely Karen. While I’m not sure if Karen is still my absolute 100% favorite character on the show the way she used to be upon my first viewing (and this is mostly because on second viewing I am realizing how absolutely everyone in the cast at this point in the series is just f***ing perfect and amazing and bringing all their own special, unique, wonderful qualities of brilliance to their character, so I feel like I really can’t single out just one person and declare them my favorite), God, do I still love her dearly. The thing that I love most about Karen, aside from her inherent decency and goodness, is that she is a force to be reckoned with when she puts her mind to accomplishing something. When she gets serious about doing something, there’s no stopping her, and now that she has declared that she believes Val’s babies are alive and she believes Dr. Ackerman is involved in this whole conspiracy, she is going to attack full throttle and do whatever needs to be done to find the truth. She is not going to half-ass it, she’s not going to go to Vegas and talk to Dr. Ackerman and then immediately give up after he denies everything, no, definitely not, no way.

    [​IMG]

    When Karen returns home from Vegas, she officially has a partner in this investigation via Mack. In the past few eps, we’ve seen Mack express some hesitation about whether Val’s babies could still be alive or not, but I think by this point he believes they are just as strongly as Karen does, and ever the supportive husband and world’s most perfect man, he’s gonna help her out now, too. He also gives her some very good advice when he says what she needs to do now is sorta lay low as far as Dr. Ackerman is concerned. It wouldn’t be wise for her to continue to harass him and chase after him; all that would do is put him further on the defensive. What they need to do now is a lot of research and a lot of connecting the dots, but quietly, without making a big fuss of it, until they are absolutely sure that they are right and that they can prove it.

    Karen’s little trip to Vegas scared Dr. Ackerman enough that he immediately calls up Abs to tell her about who he bumped into after his bridge tournament. He tells Abs that she’d better get Karen off his back or else she’s going to be in big trouble; “If I go down, you go down with me,” he tells her, reminding her of her kinda-sorta involvement in this whole thing. When Abs reminds him that she did not really have any involvement, that she never wanted this to happen, that she just made one simple offhand comment to ‘80s Rapist Beard Scott Easton and then poof, the babies were gone, Dr. Ackerman reminds her that no jury is going to care about that or even believe her, that her hands will look just as dirty as his do.

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    We get a lot of good Abs stuff in this ep, by the way, so let’s sorta walk through the different moments. One of the first scenes involves her getting a phone call informing her that Olivia and Brian were both in a car crash. I guess they were driving with some random white guy for some reason (it was never really clear to me who this random white guy was or why he was driving them, but whatever) and they got in a crash and their car flipped over. We have this brief moment of suspense after Abs gets this phone call but before we confirm that the kids are still alive. Gary and Abs rush to the scene of the accident and Abs is visibly shaken to her core, praying out loud to God that the kids be alright. When they arrive, they discover the flipped over car but, very fortunately, Brian and Olivia are both unhurt (I’m glad Olivia’s alright; I still really don’t give a s**t about Brian and never have and probably never will). We learn that it was a drunk driver who hit them after falling asleep at the wheel, prompting the black cop at the scene to say, “When will people learn that you can’t drink and drive?” I put this in my notes because to me it signified a change in attitudes towards drinking and driving as we move through the ‘80s. Remember way back in Pilot when Diana and Marion Ravenwood got drunk and went swimming in the ocean and then drove back home? In my writeup, I noted how nobody really gave a s**t about the drinking and driving, that they were more concerned with them swimming in the ocean while drunk, and I said how this reflected an older era where we still weren’t that serious about the dangers of drinking and driving. This was also displayed in Bottom of the Bottle: Part One, when a very drunken Gary hopped in his car and sped away from the cul-de-sac and Sid casually said something like, “Oh, he’s probably going to an all night movie,” and, again, nobody said anything about how Gary probably shouldn’t be driving. Well, those eps were 1979-1980, and now we are officially at the precise midpoint of the ‘80s, 1985, and I think this is really the time when things like MADD started to come to prominence and people started to actively speak about and care about the dangers of intoxicated motor vehicle operating. I also note this because it’s not the last time we have a little bit of a “drive sober” message on this disk; there was an ep a little after this one (blanking on which one it was) in which Ben and Mack are drinking giant beers at a bar and then Mack declares how he’s going to order a cab and not drive his car. If these eps were airing in 1980, I feel like nobody would be saying a God damned word about it.

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    The truly significant thing about this scene is that we again see how complex and three-dimensional Abs is, and that when all is said and done, her children will always be the most important thing in the world to her. She sleeps around, she screws people in business deals, she’s always looking out for number one, she’s ruthless, but she loves her children deeply and she cares for them well. We’ve seen this displayed many times throughout the series, always done in such a fabulously subtle way that it sorta sneaks up on you; at this point you think back over Abby’s time on the show and realize how many times we’ve seen her being a good mother to Olivia and Brian. While watching this ep, My Beloved Grammy even said, “Abby’s one redeeming quality is that she’s a good mother.” Okay, so this scene is good for that reason, but it’s also got more going on beneath the surface; I think this scene is something of a wakeup call to Abs, because for that couple of minutes in which she worries that her kids might be hurt or killed, she is able to better understand the way Val must feel at this exact moment.



    There are a significant amount of callbacks to past events on the series in this ep, something I really appreciated, and one of the first callbacks involves Abs sitting down to talk to Greg and telling him about that time back in early season three when her Transmorpher ex-husband stole her kids from her and she didn’t know where they were for several weeks. She talks about how lonely and desperate and awful she felt during this whole time, how all she could think about was wanting them back with her. This scene really made me happy and made me respect KL’s unbelievably talented writing staff all the more. If you’ll recall, way back in season three, when I was still pretty critical about many aspects of the series and things hadn’t yet turned into an insane orgy of amazingness (the orgy of amazingness started in season four and, so far, has still not let up one bit), I really didn’t care all that much for the story of Olivia and Brian being kidnapped by their father. I believe I was kinda sorta indifferent to it, that I said how it was a story, it was whatever, it was fine, but it wasn’t all that compelling. However, by having Abs bring up that story (which, at this point, is over three years in the past) in order to relate it to our current drama with Val’s babies, well, it’s genius. It takes something that has already happened, that seemed to come and go, and that is now in the past, and it uses it to remind us that Abs can actually understand what Val’s going through. The writing is so good that, now, if I were to return to that early juncture of the series and watch again, that story would take on much greater meaning and significance because of what I know is going to come in the future. Amazing, amazing writing.

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    By the way, the reason Abs even tells Greg this story from season three in the first place is because, finally, she decides to sit him down and give it to him straight. She goes to his ranch to meet him and asks to have a private conversation with him in his office, and she tells him everything about Val’s babies, including the real, true father. Let’s compliment the writing some more, because not only does this move the plot forward and give us a new character knowing the truth about what’s going on, propelling us onward to further exciting drama, but it’s also a helpful recap in case some people have missed eps or if maybe they are just starting to tune into the series because their 1985 friends are saying, “You gotta watch KL; it’s so f***ing great and it’s so much better than Dallas.” Rather than just doing some kind of tacky recap or bringing in that cheesy narrator guy I love so much to remind us of past events, they do it organically by having Abs talk to Greg and inform him on everything that’s gone down throughout this season.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    Abby’s main reason for being so direct with Greg is that he has access to the Galveston files and papers that she needs, the ones that could help her find out where the babies are and how to get them. Greg agrees to give her full access to these papers, but only on the agreement that, after she leaves the room, they never speak about this again. Abs grabs a big stack of papers and leaves, but then we linger for a moment with Greg alone and see him open a drawer and, GASP, pull out that ripped out sheet of paper that we saw a little earlier in the season, the one with the address of the Fishers on it. Now, what is Greg’s motivation for hiding this vital piece of information? Let’s keep watching to find out.

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    Meanwhile, what’s going on with Val this ep? Well, the first time we see her, she’s having a fantastic attack of sexuality and horniness that I appreciated seeing. Since I’m all liberal and free-spirited and an “Every human being is a sexual human being” kind of person, I always enjoy it when a television series shows a woman as blatantly and unapologetically sexual, and Val has a fabulous scene this week. Basically, she’s hanging out at Ben’s Plant House and they’re having a nice conversation and she just kinda attacks him. She makes some sort of flirtatious remark that I’ve already forgotten and then she sorta climbs on top of him as he lies on his back on the floor and, well, there you go. It’s really fun to see a horny Val, I must say, and this scene brought me much joy.


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    However, Val starts to act a little strange later on, getting up in the middle of the night to sneak out of Ben’s Plant House. He awakes and catches her and, being a true gentleman, gets up out of bed to drive her home. The next day, he stops by her house because they are supposed to have a date to go to a museum or something, and Val claims she forgot all about it because she was on a big roll working on her third book (you’ll recall that her last two books were Capricorn Crude and Capricorn Crude 2: Capricorn Cruder, and now she’s ready to finish the trilogy with Capricorn Crude With A Vengeance). Ben is cool and sweet and says he’ll leave her alone to work on her novel, but after he leaves, Val walks over to her typewriter and we see that she hasn’t written a word at all. Hmmmm, what’s going on here? My Beloved Grammy hypothesized that Val is uncomfortable and unsure about the way things are heating back up in her relationship with Ben, that after their on again/off again drama, maybe she’s not sure if she wants to be back together or not. I don’t think this is really the issue, however, and as we move through this ep and the final four eps of the season, we learn that Val has been waking up at the same time of night every single day because she feels, deep down in her core, that it’s the babies’ feeding time. She doesn’t know where they are, but that natural maternal instinct speaks to her and tells her that, somewhere in the world out there, her babies are hungry.


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    Let’s talk about what’s going on with Laura for awhile, shall we? Laura’s material this week is really some sparkling stuff, and she’s helped immeasurably by the fabulous presence of Ava Gardner as Ruth Sumner (although, I remind you, I’m just gonna keep calling her Ava because I feel like it). You’ll recall that Ava first popped up (meaning actually showed her face on the series and wasn’t just a stand-in walking around with a big hat covering her face) in The Deluge and we had some good material with her and good banter between her and Sumner, and then she sat out a couple of eps, but now she’s back in a big way and I gotta say, I’m f***ing loving this character. The last time I watched the series, I don’t know that I even really took much note of Ava at all aside from knowing that she was a big deal actress from old movies and that the show getting her was probably a big get at the time. Now, however, I’m loving every single second between Laura and Ava and their instant distaste for each other that they don’t even attempt to hide. See, we first catch up with Laura this ep while she’s out on a shopping spree with Lilimae (and Lilimae got a fantastic new haircut that both My Beloved Grammy and I approved of; My Beloved Grammy said, “She looks much less old fashioned now”) when they just happen to bump into Ava (wearing a fabulous hat), who invites them to go for lunch with her. Laura tries to be like, “No, we’re busy, we gotta go,” but Lilimae smiles all wide and is like “Oooooooooooh, we’d love to go to lunch with you!”


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    From here, we cut to a great scene of the three ladies who lunch, Lilimae smiling and looking chummy with Ava while Laura squirms, looking uncomfortable and annoyed at the whole thing. After awhile, Laura evacuates the premises (after a nice little exchange in which she makes some sort of sarcastic comment and Ava says, “Laura, don’t quip, ladies shouldn’t quip”), leaving Ava and Lilimae alone to share stories, and we get yet another wonderful callback to days long past. See, Lilimae fills Ava in on the full history of Laura and Richard and tells her how Richard was a lawyer who lost his practice, had a mental breakdown, tried to open a restaurant, and then blew town two years ago. This reminds me of how the writers are never afraid to bring up dearly departed characters from past seasons, such as Sid. Considering that Richard pretty much just vanished from town and hasn’t been heard from since, on another show this kind of dialogue would make me think the writers are getting ready to bring the character back, giving us a reminder of their existence before they unexpectedly turn up, but KL doesn’t play that way. This scene really shows that the show has a rich past history and that it never forgets that past history, that the characters will still mention other characters who aren’t in the cast anymore, instead of shuffling them under the rug as if they never existed. God, I love this writing.

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    Our last scene of the ep is a quick appearance by Sheila Fisher, shown out walking the twins in their double strollers, providing a reminder for the audience of where these babies have wound up. As she walks into her house, we see that someone is watching her from a car, and after a second we reveal that it’s Greg, and that’s how the episode ends. This is another one of those great endings where I’m sitting there, I’m watching the show, my eyes are all big and excited and I’m just watching and enjoying the s**t out of it, and then it’s over and I’m like, “Oh, it’s over,” and I mean that in a good way, in the complimentary way, because it simply doesn’t feel like 48 minutes have passed. It’s been so brisk and so entertaining and so packed with information and drama and character moments and I’ve been so thoroughly entertained that it only feels like maybe fifteen minutes have passed, so to realize, “Wow, the ep is already over, that felt fast,” shows that I’m so invested in the proceedings that I lose track of time.

    In my notes for this ep, I wrote, “While a bit more mellow than some eps, still extremely compelling,” and I’ll stick to that. This ep maybe doesn’t have as much HIGH DRAMA as other eps do, but it’s got a lot going on, has fabulous dialogue and witty exchanges, absolutely great costumes and hair, and a whole bunch of wonderful little callbacks to past events, not to mention those great character moments like Abs hearing about Olivia and Brian in a car crash. Since I’m paying attention to airdates and such now, it’s interesting to note that this ep aired on April 11th of 1985 and then there was a big long gap without another new ep until May 2nd of 1985, nearly a whole month of waiting. I say that because I can tell you that, after watching this ep, I would definitely be making sure to tune in for the next ep, whenever it may be, and it would be painful to have to wait that long to see the next ep.

    Fortunately we don’t have to wait that long to talk about our next ep, so let’s move right along and start discussing the David Jacobs-directed A Price to Pay.
     
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    Episode Title: A Price to Pay

    Season 06, Episode 27

    Episode 127 of 344

    Written by Loren Reichman

    Directed by David Jacobs

    Original Airdate: Thursday, May 2nd, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Abby calls Greg for the notebook pages, but he says he'll only give them to her if she gets Gary out of Empire Valley. She can't, so then Greg says he'll exchange them for her broadcasting license and Empire Valley TV station. Jill Bennett goes to Mack's office and says the Governor would like to appoint him to Greg's vacant senate seat. Mack thinks Greg is behind it. Home from their honeymoon, Cathy's alarmed that Joshua wants to live at Val's and she wants to get their own place. Ben proposes to Val, but she tells him she can feel her babies cry at night, and can't marry him with that going on. Ben thinks that Val is losing it, so Mack and Karen tell him about their investigation.


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    The first thing I noted as My Beloved Grammy and I started A Price to Pay was the director of this particular ep, a certain genius named Mr. David Jacobs, the man who created this series and brought it into the world. God created the Heavens and the Earth, but David Jacobs created KL, so I think he actually wins the fight. Anyway, I always note whenever the creator steps behind the camera for an ep, and this is his fourth effort (out of what will turn out to be eight eps) following Willing Victims, One Kind of Justice, and Finishing Touches. I often wonder what prompts him to pick which eps he directs, and I suppose I’ll never know for sure unless I can manage to track down the man and sufficiently harass him enough to agree to an interview.

    There’s a lot going on this week, but let’s start with Joshua and Cathy, who are returning from their romantic (?) honeymoon in wherever, I’m imagining someplace really boring like Utah or some other lame religious place. Joshua doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would take his new bride to some place super fun and awesome like Vegas; he seems more like a guy that would rather go somewhere unbelievably dull where he can, like, be religious and watch 7th Heaven eps all day (even though that show has not been invented yet, but you get my point). Joshua and Cathy actually sat out last week’s ep, which I put in my notes but think I forgot to mention in the my actual summation of the ep. Honestly, I felt there was a hole in the show from these two characters being absent for a week. Is anyone else as big a fan of these two together as I am? When I say “together,” I don’t mean that I’m sitting there on the couch really rooting for this couple and hoping they’ll be together. Rather, I mean that I just find them fascinating in their dysfunction, much the way I found Richard and Laura fascinating throughout the first four seasons.

    Okay, so Joshua and Cathy return from their getaway, and the drama and conflict is of course fairly immediate. The central problem in this ep is that Joshua wants his new wife to go ahead and move into Val’s house and the two of them can live there with Val and Lilimae and just be one great old happy family. Cathy wants to go out and find a place for just the two of them, and of course I agree, but Joshua seems to just be going along under the assumption that of course they’ll stay at Val’s; why wouldn’t they? If I am remembering correctly, I believe he gives Cathy some excuse about how they don’t have enough money yet (even though most people who work in s***ty minimum wage retail jobs are still able to find enough money for a s***ty little apartment and Joshua is, you know, the host of a religious cable show and a bit of a minor celebrity and probably has plenty of money for a nice place), but Cathy isn’t buying it. Also, Joshua does the a**hole manipulative thing where he deliberately twists Cathy’s words around to make them sound all mean and bad, saying things like, “I get it, you don’t wanna live with my mother cuz you think her ass is fat and she should go and kill herself,” and Cathy has to be like, “That’s not what I meant at all.” All Cathy wants is for them to start their new life together free and independent, on their own, not freeloading off of Val the way that, erm, certain family members with names that start with ‘L’ may have been doing for several years.

    Oh yes, and I almost neglected to mention one fantastic scene that occurs between the two in the wee hours of night. Cathy is wearing a nice sexy outfit and Joshua is sitting in a chair and reading. She sorta straddles him and kisses him and is clearly in the mood for a good deep dicking, but instead of giving his wife said deep dicking that she so desperately needs and deserves, Joshua glares up at her, looking all evil, and then says, “Excuse me” in a rather haughty voice. Cathy is taken aback and is all like, “Huh?” and so he repeats himself, “Excuse me,” looking even more evil and even more frightening. Yes, we know have official confirmation that this marriage will be anything but smooth sailing, as the man won’t put out for his wife (because I’m sure God wouldn’t approve) and he’s also trying to force them both to live eternally in the house of Val.


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    Speaking of Val, we’ve got some big developments in her relationship with Ben this week, as well as a fantastically stylish and unique scene between the two of them. Yes, the two have now known eachother for about two years, as Ben first entered the scene right at the start of season five. They haven’t been consistently dating for that entire two years, but they’ve dated quite a bit and, at this point, they are back to being a couple, and this week Ben proposes marriage to her. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard Ben ask Val to marry him, am I right? I’m immediately flashing back to somewhere in late season five when Ben was eating, I think, a bacon and avocado sandwich that Val had prepared for him and he blurted out, “Marry me; this is the best bacon and avocado sandwich I’ve ever had.” That was only a year ago, but amazingly I’m already struggling to remember how all that turned out. Val accepted his proposal, right? And then did the whole engagement get called off after Ben found out the truth about Val’s babies and their father? But wait, that doesn’t make sense, because Ben already knew Gary was the father since Val wasted no time in telling him such as soon as she got knocked up. In any case, the show is packed with characters and drama and a lot of s*** has gone down since the bacon and avocado sandwich and, at this present time, I can’t remember precisely what ended the engagement plans of Ben and Val.


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    Ben’s proposal doesn’t occur until the middle portion of this ep, and before it happens we get a fabulously romantic sequence between the two of them in which Val’s wearing a nice dress and Ben is wearing a studly suit and they dance together at his Plant House to the sweet sounds of Send in the Clowns, which I had forgotten all about (I also read that Michele is the one doing the singing, so good on her). When I think of the fantastically fantastic musical motifs of KL, I usually just flash immediately to Ciji’s or Cathy’s songs, but throughout the series, there are quite a few instances of needle drops in which pre-existing popular songs show up to set a mood (much later in the series, we get some of my sweet, sweet Carpenters with We’ve Only Just Begun, for instance), and I feel like this might be one of the first examples. The song is just one facet of the romance of the scene, however; the other facets are the sheer joy that Val and Ben seem to display towards each other after returning from a romantic dinner at, you know, someplace. Their dance is also slow and romantic and the whole thing is just good, and it’s also one of those instances where we are going to see this scene moved into the scrolling squares next season, so we are going to see the clip before every single episode for an entire year (maybe even two), and I always like to spot those things when we hit an ep and see a shot that’s gonna be part of the opening later. So yeah, good scene.


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    After the song and dance, that’s when Ben proposes marriage, but we don’t get to see Val’s answer. She sorta stares at him in silence for a moment and then we cut to a commercial. When we return, Val is sitting at her favorite place, the beach, late at night, staring at the ocean, watching and pontificating. She’s also holding this small little glass elephant thing, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’re seeing this elephant, no? Later, Val tells Ben that this elephant is significant because she was going to hang it up over her babies’ crib, but just looking at it, we immediately know that it’s symbolic of her absent twins. It’s also significant that Val is out so late, wandering around outside and being restless. At first, I thought this was just because she was surprised by Ben’s proposal or still trying to decide how to answer, but later we find out that she’s been waking up at the same time every night, that she feels in her gut that it’s time for her babies to be fed and that’s what’s waking her up.

    An event of earth-shattering importance occurs in this ep, and it happens so quickly and so inauspiciously that I had completely forgotten it even occurred, and that is the introduction of one Jill Bennett. The eyes of any and all hardcore KL fans should immediately widen when this magnificent character first comes walking into the series, because as soon as you see her, you know you’re in store for some seriously great drama for the next four years. Yes, Jill Bennett is going to wind up being a huge part of the series all the way up until 1989, and by the time she exits the series, oh boy has a lot of s*** gone down, and it’s all getting started right here. I confess that I had actually forgotten that she makes her first appearance here in late season six; I thought we wouldn’t be seeing her until, oh, maybe the middle point of season seven, but I am completely wrong. To set the scene, Mack is hard at work in his office (he’s not working on his rowing machine right now, but rather just sitting at his desk and going through papers) when the doors open and in walks Jill Bennett. As soon as she entered, I actually gasped out loud and then sorta moaned her name two or three times, saying, “Oh, f**k, yes, Jill Bennett,” and My Beloved Grammy was probably confused about why I was getting so excited, but I went ahead and told her to pay attention to this character, that she’s going to be with us for awhile and be very important.


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    Real fast, let’s cover the magnificently splendid actress who will be bringing Jill Bennett to life right before our eyes for four glorious years. She is played by Teri Austin, who is in, you know, stuff, but I’m sure will go to her grave being best remembered for playing this fantastic character. In addition to KL, she also pops up in two really early Seinfeld eps as a girlfriend of George’s (The Stranded and The Revenge) and she also has a brief role in the Brian De Palma movie (one that I don’t actually like very much) Raising Cain. She hasn’t acted since 2001, but that’s because she got out of acting to go run an animal shelter, which I can get behind, as cats are cool. One day, if I’m ever rich and famous and have my own nighttime soap opera going all hot and successful, I will absolutely track her down and give her a call and demand that she come to be part of my series, and I'll pay her several million dollars per episode, because she is so utterly amazing.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
  14. Knots Blogger

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    CONTINUED

    All of this gushing really doesn’t make any sense at this point, since for the purposes of the ep we are discussing at this precise moment, Jill Bennett shows up for one scene, has some dialogue, then exits the scene and isn’t seen nor mentioned for the last batch of eps of season six. I’m just getting all excited because, seeing her now for the first time, I know how much greatness is in store for us. Anyhow, to set the scene, Mack is working in his office one fine day when in walks Jill Bennett with a message from the governor. Turns out he thinks Mack would be just perfect for a seat in the Senate, and she tells Mack how people perceive him as a real good guy, how his quote “flaws” are actually positives in the eyes of the public; that he is seen as a dude who is tough on crime and who doesn’t give up until he has successfully nailed the bad guys. Mack is taken aback by this invitation and doesn’t really know what to say, so he sorta delays it and says how he’ll think about it and Bob Loblaw.


    Uck, I love KL and I love Mack and I love Jill Bennett and these are all things that are very close to my heart, but I confess I didn’t love the very last two seconds of this scene, which struck me as sexist and, well, weird. Now, I don’t know if I’m just being a little p**sy liberal who is oversensitive about absolutely everything and can’t relax and enjoy anything in life (it is highly possible), but as Jill Bennett is about to exit the office, Mack stops her and is like, “The next time the governor sends someone to talk to me, ask him to send someone who isn’t so beautiful,” or something like that. To me, it really comes out of nowhere and then he mumbles something about, “I guess I’m being kinda sexist,” and I’m like, “Um, yeah Mack, you are.” Where does this declaration even come from? Is Mack just bored and horny? Is he just naturally flirtatious with all women, the way I overtly flirt with total strangers even when I’m out on a date with some other boy? Or are the writers planting seeds for future events involving these two characters together? I’m not so sure, but I kinda hated the way that this woman comes to his office just to deliver a simple message from the governor and then Mack has to be like, “You have a vagina and you’re hot!”





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    The last thing on Jill Bennett for now, and this gets us into some slight SPOILER TERRITORY, so go ahead and skip ahead a paragraph or two if you don’t wanna hear it. Anyway, any KL fan should remember that Jill Bennett starts off seeming like a pretty normal and pretty nice human being, but that she slowly morphs over time into a completely homicidal psycho, which is a very beautiful thing to witness, but I digress. My point is that during this scene, in my notes I wrote, “She actually already seems slightly wicked,” and I don’t think I’m wrong in that regard. She sits down in a chair to talk to Mack and she’s just going over the information, but her eyes have a certain glint in them that seem evil, and she also does this thing with her mouth that I’ve always noticed and appreciated in which it stays slightly open and sorta shows her teeth in a way that looks rather deliberate. I don’t know how far in advance the writers were planning (I’m willing to bet that in 1985 they weren’t planning all the way ahead to 1989), but I think it’s interesting that she struck me as slightly wicked right off the bat. I’m gonna keep my eyes open for her next appearance and pretty much all her appearances throughout season seven to see if I continue to have this feeling or not.





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    Meanwhile, we’ve got plenty of drama percolating over at Greg’s ranch. Last ep, Greg gave Abs full permission to go through all the Galveston files she needed to, but then we the audience saw he was secretly holding out on one vital page that had all the answers, keeping it secret. This ep, Abs asks him for that one page and Greg refuses, at least for the moment. He proposes that they work out a deal, that she can have this information if she manages to successfully get Gary to back off of his obsession with Empire Valley. Seems that Gary’s been spending all his time over there, annoying the workers and asking a lot of questions and yada yada yada. Greg doesn’t care for this, as this was supposed to be his big secret government conspiracy operation or whatever and he doesn’t want to share. Can Abs manage to divert Gary’s attentions to other matters? Wait and see.



    Meanwhile, the deliciously wicked Ava Gardner is still hanging around and being amazing, giving Laura some really fabulous material. To explain a little more, we’ve already established that Ava does not like Laura one bit. Laura is sassy, she’s sarcastic, she doesn’t take any crap, and she talks back, all qualities Ava does not care for. Ava is much more interested in her dear son forming a more perfect union with one Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner (sorry, right now she’s Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing), a woman she can understand and get along with, someone who thinks and behaves as she does, someone with her same penchant for evil and manipulations.



    I’m noting that the dialogue, which is always terrific on KL, is positively sparkling whenever Ava and Laura are onscreen together, and not just sparkling but also rather risqué. One of the first exchanges of the ep involves Ava telling her, “You look rather self satisfied this morning,” to which Laura replies, “Self had nothing to do with it,” which made me turn to My Beloved Grammy and say, “God damn, this is some sexy dialogue.” Later, we have a line that all KL fans and Laura fans should remember vividly and think about at least once a day, and that is when the two are at some fancy lunch or dinner or whatever and Ava makes some sort of comment about how she doesn’t know what Greg sees in Laura and Laura, with fabulously quick wit and delivery, just says, “What can I say; I’m great in the sack.” My Beloved Grammy laughed really hard at this particular witticism, as did I. Oh Laura, I love you so, and I always have, but this viewing is really causing this character to skyrocket in my estimation; who else could deliver that perfect line in that perfect way and just be so amazingly unbelievably perfect?





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    Last thing I wanna note on Ava, and it’s a small detail but one I like a lot, and that is her smoking. She smokes three cigarettes in this ep, and I like it. Let’s throw out the quick disclaimer that smoking is bad and it kills you and it makes you teeth brown and all that stuff, but I’ve always liked watching characters smoke in movies. There’s just something about it; it’s fun to watch, and it gives the actors this extra prop to work with. Also, I often find myself wondering when a character is smoking if that was a part of the script, if that was planned out in advance, or if the actor/actress just showed up and wanted to smoke. In the case of Ava, I’m willing to bet she was a real life smoker (mostly because of her great cigarettes-and-cocktails raspy voice, and also cuz I did research and found out she got emphysema late in life cuz of too much smoking ) and I’m willing to bet that she showed up on set and was like, “My character is going to smoke.” This is a big famous actress who’s been working since, like, the f***Ing ‘40s, and I’m pretty sure that she held a lot of sway with things like this, and I’ll bet having Ruth smoke was an Ava-mandated decision; what do you think?



    That pretty much does it for A Price to Pay. Clearly it was quite fantastic, as well as stylishly shot by David Jacobs (I particularly noted one cool bit where he begins a scene with the screen all black but then has Sumner walking away from the camera and into an open door, sorta using the movement of the character to open up the frame and reveal the space). Plus, the writing this week (Loren Reichman) is really quite divine and sparkling with a very special wit. So yeah, yet another incredibly solid season six ep to add to the myriad of solid season six eps we have seen thus far.



    And we’ve only got three to go! Coming up next, it’s One Day in a Row.
     
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    Episode Title: One Day in a Row


    Season 06, Episode 28



    Episode 128 of 344



    Written by Joyce Keener


    Directed by Robert Becker


    Original Airdate: Thursday, May 9th, 1985



    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ruth tells Abby that she will get her the notebook pages, and to keep her TV station. She tells Abby that she is like the daughter she never had. At dinner, Ruth constantly puts Laura down, so Laura tells her off. Later, Laura wants Greg to tell her he loves her, but Greg says everything except that. Greg tells Ruth it's time for her to go back to Africa. Joshua tells Cathy he doesn't want to move out because he can't abandon Val. Val says not to blame it on her. Ben has a reporter check out Ackerman. He finds that Ackerman has gambling debts, and they think that was his motive for agreeing to steal the babies. The reporter gives Ben a list of unethical adoption agencies. Ben and Karen go to one, posing as a couple who wants to adopt, and say they were recommended by Ackerman. When they leave, the lawyer calls Ackerman and tells him Karen came to see him, and she was just as Ackerman described her.



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    We concluded our previous ep, A Price to Pay, with Ava happily inviting Abs to stay for breakfast, and it was immediately clear that she deeply preferred Abs as a potential wife to her son than Laura. With One Day in a Row, we expand greatly on that and get to see a whole lot more of this dynamic, something I found endlessly amazing, but first let’s talk about Gary.



    Gary is starting to become something of a paranoiac this week, but not without good reason. We open the ep at Empire Valley with Gary peering through a gigantic telescope, Craig Wasson-style, and trying to spy on what Greg is doing. Now, what Greg is doing is standing in the middle of the land and having a conversation with, um, some guy. Tell me, am I supposed to recognize this guy? Is there any significance to this guy? Have we seen him before? Is Gary just spying on Greg with his telescope because he feels like it or is there some special, epic significance to the fact that Greg is talking to this guy? I ask all these questions because I did not recognize the gentleman in question; he looked like yet another ‘80s white guy, the kind you couldn’t pick out of a lineup, yet Gary has a look of real concern on his face as he watches this interaction, as if he has caught Greg in the act of doing something bad. It’s like in Licence to Kill when James Bond is spying on Robert Davi and then he sees his girlfriend of the movie show up in the office and he thinks he’s been betrayed. In that instance, we recognize the girlfriend since she’s been a significant part of the movie prior to this scene, but for this particular example, it’s just some white guy and I can’t remember if we’ve seen him before or since.





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    However, a little later Gary is taking a nice drive around and he winds up in a high speed car chase. This car chases him all up and down the road and gets really close up to him and almost crashes into him and Gary just barely manages to avoid being hurt, successfully getting the scary car off of his ass and ditching him. Who is chasing Gary, and why? So far as I can remember, this question remains unanswered throughout this ep as well as the concluding two eps of the season, but I shall pay attention to see if/when it is answered. Honestly, this is quite a mystery to me, and we are reaching a storyline and a juncture that I really don’t have as much memory of. A lot of season six, particularly anything involving Val’s babies or her turning into Verna in Tennessee, remains seared in my brain forever and feels very visceral whenever I think it over, yet all this Empire Valley stuff that’s been popping up in the latter portion of the season is something of a blur, a storyline that I’ve kinda completely forgotten about, so I’m eager to watch it unfold and see how everything develops.



    Now, I’m actually going out of order here, and perhaps that’s why I’m a smidge confused. See, prior to the epic high speed car chase, Gary meets up with, like, his creepy contact or whatever at a car wash. I like this setting, because I think there is something creepy about car washes. I’m gonna share a detail of my childhood with you now, and that is the fact that when I was a little boy, I was terrified of the car wash and would never go through it. My mom would drive to the car wash and before actually sending the car through that gigantic cacophony of cleaning fluids and huge, terrifying rags that attack your car like some sort of monster, I would always get out of the car and wait outside for the whole cycle to be finished. One day, however, I chose to display courage and actually take the journey through the car wash with my mom, but I became very upset and started to cry once we went through, and by then it was too late, for we were directly in the middle of the cycle and I couldn’t just jump out of the car at that point. But oh boy, those big scary spinning rag things that come out to wash your car…..just utterly terrifying. I wonder what it was that caused me to be so frightened of the car wash, but now I’m getting extra reflective and I realize in all my time as a car-driving grown up, I’ve never gone to the car wash. Perhaps I’m too terrified? Perhaps I need to drive my car to the car wash and face my fears and just go through the entire cleaning cycle of terror, but I don’t know if I’m emotionally ready for that kind of thing yet.



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    Anyway, let’s get away from my bizarre childhood issues with car washes and focus on this scene. Gary meets up with the contact in that little area with the windows where you can watch the cars getting cleaned. The contact is wearing sunglasses inside, for some reason. Personally, I think if you wanna look inconspicuous, the last thing you should do is wear sunglasses inside, but then I’m not some secret government agent knee deep in conspiracy or whatever the hell this guy is supposed to be. I liked this scene because it had the right dose of humor to defuse whatever campiness could possibly threaten to overtake this story. Again, KL is just so good at this. I feel like if this was Dallas, and J.R. had to meet some creepy contact in a car wash, it would be played as deadly serious even though it would be kinda goofy, and the fact that everyone is playing it so straight would turn it into camp. Here, though, it still seems grounded, even in simple ways. For instance, Gary walks in and sees the guy wearing sunglasses inside and he’s like, “Your name, um, Bill or whatever?” The guy gives him a little glare to remind him that he didn’t say the secret code, so Gary is like, “Oh yeah, I forgot,” and then he looks at the vending machine and says something like, I think, “They’re all out of lifesavers.” Then the contact says something like, “Try the malt balls.” I might be screwing up their exchange, but you get the gist of it, it’s kinda like, oh gee, look at this, the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. In that one, Bond has this whole secret code exchange he has to do involving cigarettes whenever he meets a new person, and that one goes, “May I borrow a match?” This is followed by the contact responding with “I use a lighter,” Bond saying, “Better still,” and then the contact concluding with, “Until they go wrong.” I’ve always enjoyed that little exchange, and I can’t say the whole vending machine secret code shenanigans work quite as well, but it’s still fun.



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    A little later on, Gary’s paranoia grows quite a bit, and again, I feel he is right to be suspicious. See, he gets to Lotus Point and finds some random guy in his office fiddling with his phone. He’s all upset and asks him what the hell he’s doing and the phone guy is like, “Relax, I’m just updating your phone system,” and he shows him all the cool modern sexy 1985 things that this new phone can do, such as call waiting and group conference. Gary asks him if this new phone gets WiFi or can connect him to FaceBook and the guy stares at him blankly, so then Gary rushes out to find Abs and is all pissed and is like, “Why am I getting a new phone installed when I hardly even use my old one?” Abs tells him she doesn’t know anything about that and that she’s not responsible for the installation of phones or whatever. As soon as this scene occurred, both My Beloved Grammy and I became convinced that there was a bug in the phone, and obviously we were right, although it takes Gary a few more scenes to discover that for himself. See, later on in the ep, he’s hanging out late at Lotus Point, doing whatever, and the phone is looming in the foreground, basically saying, “Touch me, Gary, pick me up, whisper sweet nothings in my ear.” Gary picks the phone up and starts fiddling with it, yanking pieces of it off and peering around inside, looking desperately for that bug, which he eventually finds hidden in, I believe, the area where all the buttons and such are. With this discovered, Gary realizes his suspicions are valid.






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    The last thing Gary related this ep involves his paranoia negatively effecting his ability to shag Abs. You know you’ve got a lot on your mind if you can’t get it up for Abs, and in this instance, they are in bed, getting ready to shag, and you can tell Abs wants/needs it really bad, that she’s gotta have it, yet Gary keeps getting distracted by noises he’s hearing throughout the house. Honestly, I don’t think this is paranoia so much as, you know, hearing noises throughout the house. I think it’s kinda funny that Abs is like, “Relax, put your penis in me,” and doesn’t seem too concerned about these noises, but then the scene concludes with the sound of a cat meowing and we realize that, I guess, it’s been a cat making all these noises the whole time. This causes me to ask some questions, starting with: Do Gary and Abs have a cat? I think cats are great (they’re better than dogs; that’s right, I said it) and I also think cats are awesome to have around when you have little kids. Brian and Olivia would go crazy for a super cute kitty running around the house; wouldn’t you agree? However, I’m willing to bet this cat is a stray and not one that Abs and Gary went and got themselves. They live on a big open ranch with a ton of animals running around, so it seems feasible that stray cats would just sorta show up and hang around the land, and that’s what I think is going on here.



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    Okay, enough about Gary, let’s move on to some other characters, and let’s start with the currently most dysfunctional couple on the series, Joshua and Cathy. You’ll all remember that our last ep concerned itself with these two trying to find a nice apartment to live in. Cathy wants the independence, wants to start her new life with her new husband in a place they can call their own. Joshua wants to stay at Val’s house, although honestly I’m not entirely clear on why. Is it because he wants to keep an eye on her? Is it because he enjoys degrading her and hurting her? Is it because he enjoys the power he has in that house and the fact that Lilimae pretty much lets him speak to anyone any way he pleases without reprimanding him? I think it’s a combination of all those elements, that Joshua enjoys the little power trip he’s found himself on lately and that by staying at Val’s house, he can continue to exercise that power, which might be diluted if he went off to live somewhere else.



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    At this point, Val seems to be one of the only people who is sticking up for Cathy and standing up to Joshua. See, in this ep, while Joshua and Cathy are having a discussion about moving and looking for apartments, Joshua says something akin to, “I can’t abandon my sister Val; she needs me.” At this point, Val is in another room and she calls Joshua in to speak with her, and she has this very serious look on her face and says, “Don’t you blame me,” or something like that. I was reading either the KL Soap Chat forum or perhaps just the IMDb page and a poster wrote something saying that Val was tougher when she was first introduced on Dallas and that she turned weaker for the spinoff, but I disagree. This poster described her as “a spitfire” in her first four Dallas appearances, and I can agree with that, but I think she still has a toughness and a directness now, deep into the KL series. Yeah, she’s sweet and tries to be nice to everybody, but look at how tough she can be with Joshua here. If she was all meek and mild and weak, she wouldn’t speak up to him; she’d be like her mother and just look the other way at his nasty behavior, but instead she is direct and confrontational with him, which I like. Also, let’s be frank here; is it fair to say that Val just plain doesn’t like Joshua by this point? I imagine she’d be fine with him moving out of the house because she’s sick of seeing him and hearing him and listening to his little manipulations. I think she wants him gone and now she sees that it’s gonna be hard to get rid of him and, not only that, but he’s using her as the excuse for why he must stay even though that’s a blatant lie.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

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    In any case, Cathy tells Joshua that they have an appointment to see an apartment the next day or whatever, and he says he’ll be there but, to the surprise of no one in the viewing audience, he never shows up. We get this rather sad little scene of Cathy just waiting at this apartment for him to show up, eventually kinda getting shuffled out the door by the realtor guy, who informs her that he’s got somewhere else to be and can’t be hanging around much longer. This is another Joshua manipulation, one of many that we have seen throughout this second half of season six. Remember when he didn’t want Cathy to sing with her band so he took her on a picnic and, under the guise of being real romantic, kept her sufficiently distracted until he insured that she’d miss her practice? It’s a similar thing here; he knows that if he simply doesn’t show up to the apartment, she won’t sign a lease or give first and last month’s rent or anything like that; she’ll just stand around for awhile waiting for him to show.

    I love Cathy dearly and she’s a great character and she’s played perfectly by Lisa Hartman and I love listening to her sing, but I confess I feel slightly judgmental of her character at this exact juncture. Why? Well, mostly because there were red flags all over the place long before she married Joshua. He was already acting like a controlling psycho during their dating phase, then he continued to act like a controlling psycho when he forced her to sing Amy Grant covers on his stupid little religious show, and then he continued to act like a controlling psycho when he declared that, after they were married, she would no longer be singing at all, and then it only got worse when he wanted her to wear the Puritan wedding dress for the ceremony that even the most conservative and hateful Republican would never ever be caught dead wearing, then he kept pressuring her and trying to rush her into marriage when she was unsure, and this is all before they tied the knot. I get that Cathy is in love and all that, but it’s not like his controlling behavior came completely out of the blue as soon as they were married; there were plenty of signs beforehand. I guess what I’m saying is that I have a hard time feeling too sorry for Cathy, because I feel it was very obvious far in advance that marrying Joshua would be a grave error.



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    Let’s talk about the sheer joy that courses through my veins every single time Ava and Laura are onscreen together, because this ep is just overflowing with juicy goodness. I remind you that we only have one more ep with Ava (it’s our very next one, Vulnerable), and then we never ever see her again, so try to soak as much of this up as you can. This ep, Ava is on a real roll with constantly insulting and degrading Laura. We’ve established that she likes Abs, that she wants Abs to marry Greg, and we know this because she tells her so directly early on. I think Ava sees a lot of herself in Abs; she sees the way Abs operates, how she can be so wicked and is so good at manipulating people and situations to get what she wants, and I think she respects that power. It’s similar to the olden days of the show when J.R. could still pop in for a visit at any time and we saw how much he enjoyed being around Abs. I think wicked people just enjoy the presence of other wicked people; they respect them because they understand them, and that’s why Ava likes Abs so much.



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    In this ep, Ava, Laura, and Greg all go out for a nice fancy dinner together, but it’s ruined by Ava’s constant putdowns. I wish I had written some of these down, because I’m sure they were great, as any scene between Ava and Laura is guaranteed to be sizzling with great dialogue, but I neglected to do so because I was too caught up and enraptured with the sheer genius on display before me. Suffice it to say, Ava finally goes one put-down too far and so Laura gets up to leave, being fabulously confrontational and direct, the way I like her, saying, “You are probably one of the cruelest women I have ever met.” Then she declares that she’s gonna go home and take a bath, to which Greg happily replies, “I’ll join you,” only to be shut down. Laura tells him to stay with his mommy, and good for her. I myself am starting to wonder why Greg is allowing Ava to hang around so much. Have Laura and Greg been able to enjoy a quiet dinner together, one on one, no old movie stars from the ‘40s hanging around and degrading them, even once since Ava arrived in town? We already know Greg doesn’t like his mother too much, and he’s pretty direct about that, but he remains strangely passive about her sorta being at all these functions, always at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no matter what. He’s a powerful man with lots of money; you’d think he could fairly easily sneak Laura off to some other restaurant where they could dine together.

    Later, we have a classic scene involving Laura in the bath, a scene all KL fans should remember. She’s enjoying her little bubble bath (which, by the way, looks positively divine to me, as she’s got the glass of wine and the candles and the whole works; the only thing that could make this bath better is some soft Carpenters playing in the background) when there’s a knock at the door. At first she thinks it’s just Jason 3 and so she’s like, “Go back to bed, Jason 3,” but then the sweet voice of Greg replies, telling her, “Jason 3 is in bed; I know that because I tucked him in myself.” Then they have an amazing banter and she tells him to go away and he says, “I don’t want to break this door down; it would be too theatrical,” and Laura replies in her fabulously droll Laura way, “Not to mention stupid, since it’s not locked.” Oh God, yes, this dialogue; did we ever see an exchange this witty over on Dallas? Anyway, Greg lets himself in and they have a nice exchange about his mommy issues and all that, but what I wanna focus on is how boring kinky and risqué this scene is. I’m not wrong, right? See, Laura’s got the classic TV Bubble Bath going on, in which all the bubbles work to hide any naughty bits from the viewing audience (much like the L-shaped blanket that people always have on TV shows when they are lying naked in bed), but at a certain point Greg reaches his hand under the bubbles and, well, who knows? We don’t know where his hand is going, and we can’t see it, but we know Laura is lying naked in the bath, and I’m smart enough to put two and two together and say that Greg is either fondling one of her breasts or fingering her. I greatly prefer to think he’s fingering her, because it just works for me better, and if that is so, damn is this sexy. Considering this is not a modern cable show on HBO or Showtime where you can have someone jizzing in someone’s face and then rubbing it in like lotion and nobody bats an eye, I think this stuff is all the more sexy. This is a network primetime show in the ‘80s, when we were all super conservative Republicans, so I think this kind of sexuality on TV seems extra special and more subversive than it would nowadays.



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    The last storyline to talk about for this ep, and it’s a big one, is the continuing quest for Val’s babies. This ep, Karen and Ben join forces in a big way to get to the bottom of this mystery, to track down Dr. Ackerman and find out as much as they can about him. To help in their investigation, they ask for the assistance of one of the journalists or interns or something at Pacific World Whatever, played by Molly Hagan. I note this name because I believe she qualifies as a Transmorpher, and a pretty big one. While she never appeared in a standard episode of Dallas, she played the young Miss Ellie (the only version of Miss Ellie I actually liked watching, by the way, as I was not a fan of either Barbara Bel Geddes or Donna Reed) in the strangely brilliant Dallas: The Early Years. That TV movie came out at the exact same moment that Dallas was turning into a gigantic, steaming, smelly pile of shit, and the genius David Jacobs actually returned to write it, and the genius director Larry Elikann directed it, and somehow the movie manages to be kinda amazing and great and far more enjoyable than any episode of Dallas after 1985. Anyway, in that movie, Molly Hagan plays the young Miss Ellie and I thought she did a pretty great job, showing the character as really tough and cool and sassy, which of course goes away completely when she grows up to be a boring old shrew who just rings her hands a lot and draws out the last words of all her sentences and pronounces “J.R.” as “Jar.” In addition to that excellent TV movie that I think everyone should run out and see, she’s also been in tons of movies and TV shows, but usually as small characters. I won’t list all of them, but I will list the one I know her for best, and that is for playing Sister Roberta in the Seinfeld ep The Conversion. She was the nice nun who met Kramer and was entranced by his kavorka (I particularly enjoy a scene where she shows up at his apartment door and says, “I found a new toy I thought you might like,” and then literally hands him a child’s toy).



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    Anyway, Molly Hagan is tasked with doing some research on Dr. Ackerman, and she returns with some good information, such as the fact that he has some pretty bad gambling debts. Karen and Ben believe these gambling debts could provide sufficient motivation for him to steal Val’s babies, as well as maybe other babies. They manage to get a list of adoption agencies that could potentially be less than ethical and so they head to one of these adoption agencies, posing as man and wife, in order to get more information. This is great stuff, by the way, and reminds me that KL is always at its best when they manage to use an enthralling central storyline for the season in order to link the entire cast together. They’ve successfully done it three seasons in a row now. Season four had the Ciji storyline, season five had the Wolfbridge investigations, and now season six has Val’s babies. In all three examples, pretty much everyone in the cast gets heavily involved in the story and it links everyone together.

    I particularly enjoyed seeing Karen and Ben posing as a couple. I feel like we don’t get too much one-on-one with Karen and Ben, do we? Maybe that’s why this example stands out as unique, but they are kinda cute in their little charade, talking to this adoption guy who, at first, seems pretty okay. He makes it very explicit that he’s not into anything illegal or unethical, that this adoption agency goes through the proper channels, all that stuff. However, when they leave, both Karen and Ben agree that it was a bit of a case of thou doth protest too much, that he went a little too out of his way to emphasize how legal and ethical this agency is. Of course, the very last scene of the ep is a mysterious phone call by this adoption guy to Dr. Ackerman. He says something like, “Yes, Karen MacKenzie just visited me; she’s exactly as you described,” and on that note we end the ep.

    Yikes, I really wound up having a lot to say about this ep, huh? Sometimes, eps that seem, on the surface, a little bit less THRILLING than other eps end up bearing the richest fruit, because I found a lot to say and appreciate about this ep. We’ve got two eps left in the season and I feel everyone involved in the series is doing a top notch job of keeping this story moving, building, growing, yet never becoming boring. All this Val’s babies stuff has been going on for quite awhile now and I feel that, on another show, it could easily be going on too long or becoming boring, but that never happens here. In addition, everyone in the cast is well served by this ep, everyone has something to do, there’s a lot of drama going down, but there’s also a lot of wit in the dialogue and exchanges, most notably anything involving Greg, Laura, and Ava.

    Coming up next, it’s our penultimate episode of this massive and epic sixth season, entitled simply Vulnerable.




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    Episode Title: Vulnerable

    Season 06, Episode 29

    Episode 129 of 344

    Written by Parke Perine

    Directed by Nick Havinga

    Original Airdate: Thursday, May 16th, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ruth tells Abby that she'll only give her the notebook papers if Abby will help her get rid of Laura. Laura goes to Greg's one morning, and Abby is there in her robe, so Laura leaves. Abby and Ruth congratulate themselves. Greg tells Coblenz he wants Gary out of Empire Valley. Coblenz also tries to placate Gary, who says he refuses to spy anymore. Karen, Mack, and Ben are working on the case so much that Val feels neglected. Joshua tells her that she scares her friends away because she makes them feel uncomfortable. Ben comes over with flowers for Val, and she apologizes to him and tells him about her conversation with Joshua. Ben storms up to Josh's room, tells him off and punches him. Nurse Wilson finally comes forward and tells Mack that Ackerman had something on her and blackmailed her into doing it. Mack, Karen, and Wilson go to the bridge tournament where Ackerman is. Ackerman runs out and gets into his car. Karen hits him with her truck. Mack tells Ackerman that it's over. Ackerman pulls a gun out of his glove compartment and shoots himself in the head.


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    Welcome to the penultimate episode of season six. By this point, we are nearly finished with what has been a truly breathtaking year, with 28 eps down out of thirty. Vulnerable will speed us along ever closer to our season finale and I think it proves to be a very memorable and wonderful episode all on its own, courtesy of a director who is rising in my esteem, Nick Havinga, giving us his fifth directorial effort on the series after The Forest for the Trees. Let us explore everything that happens in Vulnerable.


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    Who to start with? Well, I’m deeply saddened to announce that this ep marks Ava’s final appearance on the series, and that’s a real shame. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the producers and creative team were all very happy with Ava and would have liked to have her back, but I think she had a stroke in 1986 (actually, I just did my research and it said she had two strokes in 1986) which prevented her from further acting, and then she died in early 1990. What a shame all that is, because what fabulous life and wit Ava brought to the screen inhabiting this fabulous character of Ruth Galveston, and I have to wonder why I don’t remember taking much note of it upon first viewing. I remember that Ava showed up and I was like, “Cool, some old famous movie star, whatever,” but I don’t remember enjoying her banter with Laura and Greg nearly as much as I do now, when I’m positively drooling over it. I would have been very happy to see Ava return again and again and continue to bring this fabulous energy and old Hollywood class to proceedings, but it wasn’t meant to be.

    Ava is busy this ep doing wicked things before she takes off to Africa and leaves the show forever. The basic gist of her story in Vulnerable is that Abs still desperately wants those secret papers from Galveston’s files, the ones that will tell her the location of Val’s babies. Ava agrees to share these papers with Abs on one condition, and that is that she help her get Laura out of Greg’s life. Together the two cook up a scheme that seems, well, seems like it has a huge potential for failure, but it ends up working, so good for them. Basically, it’s early one morning and Laura comes by the ranch to visit Greg, but when she goes inside the house, into his office or whatever, in walks Abs wearing nothing except a simple robe, acting all embarrassed and being like, “Laura, my goodness, have you seen my underwear lying around anywhere?” I dunno, I’d think Laura would be smart enough to see through this little deception, but instead she runs off and hops in her car and speeds away, missing Greg, who comes walking out into the morning air just as Laura’s car is disappearing over the horizon. He asks if that was Laura who just left and both Ava and Abs feign innocence.


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    Now, I don’t believe for a minute that Greg doesn’t see through this ruse, and I am correct. I like the fact that the writers are smart enough not to draw this stuff out, for in our very next episode, we shall see Greg declaring to Laura that this was all a trick and that he sent Ava packing right afterwards. I like the fact that this doesn’t go on forever the way it would on Dallas and that, yeah, Greg can figure out what’s going on. After all, let’s say you wake up one morning, you come outside to find your evil mother and the duplicitous girl you used to shag enjoying coffee together, while at that precise moment the woman you actually love is angrily speeding away like the whole place is about to explode. Not too hard to put two and two together, no? This could have easily been played as, “How long will it take Greg to discover the truth?” Instead, the writers do the smart thing and trust in the intelligence of the character and let him figure it all out right and quick.

    I have a few more things to note on this story beat, and then we shall move on. The first is that I think Abs and Ava are taking a pretty big risk, here. They are planning for Laura to see Abs in her underwear and get mad and dump Greg, but they don’t seem to account for potential word of mouth, for rumors getting spread about what Abs was doing up at Greg’s ranch one morning. What if Laura decided to go ahead and tell Gary what she saw? Let’s not forget, Abs and Gary are married at this point and have been married since early season five. What if a super angry and bitter Laura went to visit Gary at Lotus Point or Empire Valley and was like, “Oh Gary, you’ll never believe who I saw in their underwear this morning”? Would Gary divorce Abs and throw her out of the house? Or has he just sorta accepted that Abs is a village bicycle and a nymphomaniac and she’s probably going to step out on him more than once throughout their marriage? So much to think about!

    Also, I wanna take note that Greg and Abs have shagged at least once this season, and it came and it went and it was gloriously inauspicious, so inauspicious that I can’t even remember the episode it took place in, but it’s somewhere right smack dab in the middle of the season, like I think in that episode fifteen through twenty block of eps, and it was when Abs came to visit Greg at his hotel room home and he shoved her against the wall and started to passionately make out with her (a shot that’s going to make its way into the scrolling squares next season). Okay, we didn’t physically see the shagging; we didn’t have a full on penetration shot as Greg entered her violently, but I think we can all infer what happened after he shoved her against that wall, no? When that happened, I was like, “Hmmmm, I don’t remember this at all,” and that’s because it’s pretty much forgotten and never mentioned again, and I actually like that. You could argue that this is a flaw in the writing; why have Greg and Abs shag in one ep out of nowhere and then never mention it again? I don’t consider it a flaw, though, I think it’s this fabulously isolated sexual incident, it comes and it goes, it’s forgotten. To me, that feels very realistic to how life is (which might reflect poorly on my own life and how I view sex, but those are my own issues). I only bring it up here because it’s kinda funny to think that Abs and Greg had a shag somewhere in mid-season six and, so far as I can recall, it’ll never be brought up again and no other character will find out about it, yet now here we are in late season six and Greg is being tricked by having Abs planted at his place at just the exact right time to send Laura flying out the door.

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    Meanwhile, there’s really fabulous linkage with pretty much everyone else in the cast going on this ep, with pretty much every character being directly involved in the continuing Val’s babies quest. The episode title is Vulnerable and My Beloved Grammy and I were talking about what that title could mean when we got started. At first, I said I think it’s referring to Dr. Ackerman, that he is becoming vulnerable as more and more people start to look for the truth, but about halfway through the ep, we realized the title refers to poor Val (POOR VAL!), who is feeling kinda sad and alone, abandoned by her friends, but it’s all a great big misunderstanding. See, basically Ben, Mack, Karen, the whole gang, they’re all getting so busy researching Dr. Ackerman and adoption agencies and what have you, they keep kinda forgetting about stuff they’re supposed to be doing with Val. Karen is supposed to go out, like, shopping with Val, or something (the details are foggy in my brain), but she never shows up and it hurts Val’s feelings. However, it’s not really that she’s abandoning her friend, which is how it seems to Val, but that she is busy helping her friend, trying to get her babies back. It reminds me of an early Brady Bunch ep in which Marcia wants Mike to win some sort of Father of the Year trophy or something, but in attempting to get him said trophy, she keeps getting in trouble because Mike thinks she’s being naughty and disobedient. Due to all the misunderstandings, the episode climaxes with Mike putting Marcia across his knee and whipping her with a stingray tail like the bad guy from Licence to Kill.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

    We actually open Vulnerable in the s***ty trailer park that Nurse Wilson lives in. She is still reticent and scared to speak with Karen about anything, and at the start of the ep, she is ordering Ben and Karen to get out of here, to leave her alone. Then they call Mack to come and give them some muscle, but by the time he shows up with a cop, the trailer has been abandoned. Her groceries are still sitting in their bags, but they can tell someone packed a suitcase real fast and hit the road. How are they going to find Nurse Wilson now?


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    Surprisingly, Nurse Wilson winds up coming to them. There’s a really terrific scene right before we go to commercial in which Val is over at the MacKenzie house (or should I be referring to is as the Fairgate MacKenzie house?) and she’s just getting up to leave and as she opens the front door, there stands Nurse Wilson, her hand up in the air, clearly about to knock on the door. The music swells, we wonder if Val will recognize this lady from her horrifying delivery back in November, and then we cut to commercial. When we come back, we get confirmation that Val doesn’t recognize this lady, as she’s just like, “Oh hey, how you doing?” and then she leaves the house. Nurse Wilson stays and finally spills the beans to Mack and Karen, confirming that Dr. Ackerman is a really evil man who stole Val’s babies and sent them away someplace. We also find out that Dr. Ackerman has some sort of dirt on Nurse Wilson, that he got her to participate in this baby theft because he threatened to expose whatever this secret is. One thing I really appreciate is that we don’t actually find out what Nurse Wilson’s big secret is; she’s about to tell Karen and Mack and seems embarrassed and then Karen sorta says how it doesn’t matter, what matters is finding the babies. I like the mystery of this as well as the fact that the writers are saying yeah, it doesn’t matter. Whatever Nurse Wilson did, it’s something she regrets and Dr. Ackerman is using it to manipulate her. It makes me wonder precisely what the big secret is, and I just like that little aura of mystery.

    In fact, I really like Nurse Wilson. Again, I had kinda forgotten about this character, yet she’s another beautiful example of KL’s ability to turn every single character interesting. For all intents and purposes, Nurse Wilson could be treated as just a plot function, here to help the characters find the babies. Instead, she comes alive and seems real, and I feel like there’s this whole other person with this whole other life here, and we are just briefly getting a glimpse into her life at this precise moment in time. I also like the fact that this character is never presented as bad and that we get a real sense of her life in this scene. She talks about how hard it was to put herself through nursing school, yet she managed to do it. Honestly, I just marvel at this stuff, because there’s really no reason that we need to know this stuff; a lazier writing staff could just have Nurse Wilson show up to provide exposition and then ship her right back out of there, but the KL writers take the time to give us a little information on her back story and her character history, and it makes everything all the more richer because of it.

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    Joshua is on a real roll of evil this ep, by the way, and he’s certainly not helping Val to feel any less vulnerable or any less depressed about the state of her life. By this point, I’m officially ready to declare Joshua as evil. I can’t put my finger on the precise moment when it happened, as everything has been done so well and so subtly that it was almost hard to notice him changing from good to evil, but I feel now he has arrived at evil. He’s not just egotistical, he doesn’t just have a big head, he isn’t just kinda socially weird; he’s very calculating in the way he manages to degrade Val and hurt her. For instance, in this ep when Karen fails to show up as Val expected her to, Joshua goes on about how all of Val’s friends abandon her, and he lists Karen and Gary and Ben and all these people, and he says how the only real friends Val has are her family, Lilimae and himself. This scene takes place right in front of both Cathy and Lilimae, by the way, and while Cathy speaks up and tells him not to speak to Val in that way (much the way that Val appears to be the only one sticking up for Cathy when Joshua degrades her), Lilimae remains conspicuously silent. I still love Lilimae and always have and always will, but I’m having a hard time liking her as much at this juncture because of the way she stays silent about Joshua and lets him be a tyrant.


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    There’s a fabulous scene later in the ep involving Joshua and Ben, and I do mean fabulous. This scene was so great it made both My Beloved Grammy as well as myself clap and cheer. See, Ben comes over to visit Val and gets word of all the nasty stuff Joshua’s been saying to her and filling her head with. He gets damn mad and marches upstairs and right into Joshua and Cathy’s bedroom (the room where they don’t ever have sex because, you know, Cathy mentioned how she’s not ready to start popping out babies immediately and so now Joshua refuses to touch her, in the grand spirit of all religious fanatics worldwide) to have it out with Joshua. He asks Cathy to leave them alone for a minute and then he totally confronts Joshua and I love it. Again, I wish I had transcribed this speech down word for word so that I could share it with you right now, but I was too stunned and enraptured by watching this amazingness unfold before me, so I just stared and drooled and wrote nothing in my notes. The basic gist of it is that Ben calls him on his bull***t and he says, “I’ve seen the way you work,” and how Joshua manipulates people to get what he wants, all that good stuff. Then Joshua says something mean to Ben (I think it’s something about running out on his responsibilities, how he knocked Val up and then left her all alone) and Ben punches him. We’ve all been waiting to see Joshua get punched for a good long while now, and I found it very satisfying even if it does look a smidge too stagey, but why nitpick when you are being given such a wonderful gift as this scene?

    Before I move on to other business, I want to make sure and note real fast that while I’m starting to hate the character of Joshua, in no way does this reflect on Baldwin’s performance, which is frankly quite stunning considering this is one of his first acting gigs ever. Also, I hate the character in a good way, if that makes sense. It’s not the way I hated Kenny and Ginger for being so useless (and, if we’ll flashback to their departure at the end of season four, I believe I declared that I had graduated to not hating them anymore, which was a big deal for me) and it’s not the way I hate, say, um, Friends or Family Guy or those awful seven and a half hour superhero movies that just keep coming out every two seconds; this is the kind of hatred where the audience is supposed to hate the character. Joshua is evil and nasty and treats people I love very badly, and that’s why I hate him, but this is fully intentional on the part of the writers and Baldwin is playing the part just precisely right.


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    The big quest to find Dr. Ackerman is the central thrust of this ep, and it’s unbelievably compelling and delivers us directly into one of the most exciting and memorable episode endings of the entire series run, at least in my opinion. There have been so many truly wonderful episode endings (with probably the first GREAT ep ending being Laura getting her cigarette lit in The Lie), but this is definitely top ten material right here. In fact, I actually thought we were gonna get this episode a few eps back, when Joshua and Cathy were getting married and Karen tracked Dr. Ackerman down to Vegas. Nope, I was wrong, it was this episode I was thinking of. Basically, after speaking with Nurse Wilson at some length, Karen is doing some brainstorming and she realizes that, whether he’s supposed to be on the run or not, Dr. Ackerman can’t not go to the upcoming bridge tournament. She sorta narrates out loud to Mack and says how people who are addicted to gambling really can’t stop, no matter what’s going on in their lives, so she thinks even though he probably knows logically that he should lay low and keep a low profile, he won’t be able to resist going to play bridge. This is confirmed when we see Dr. Ackerman packing up a bag and getting ready to, I guess, blow town, when his friend calls and leaves a message on his machine saying how he’d better be at the tournament and that they should play together, or whatever. We see Dr. Ackerman stare sorta thoughtfully at the phone, the wheels spinning in his head, and we realize Karen is right; Dr. Ackerman can’t resist the lure of a bridge tournament any more than I can resist the lure of a naked Korean spa packed to the gills with hot young men.


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    Karen, Mack, and Nurse Wilson all successfully manage to track Dr. Ackerman down at, oh, someplace. It’s not really really far away like Vegas this time, but it’s kinda sorta far away. I’m sure they tell us directly at some point where the characters are heading, but suffice it to say that I have forgotten the details and let’s just say it’s kinda sorta far away from where they live, but not too far, like maybe an hour away. Anyway, who cares about that, anyway? Let’s talk about this incredible sequence that leads to this incredible ending. Basically the trio burst in on Dr. Ackerman when he’s right in the middle of some big important hand and when he looks up and sees them glaring at him, he gets pretty scared. He immediately makes some sort of weird, inadequate bet (I don’t know my bridge, so I’m not really sure what he does that’s inappropriate) and then the people around him are all like, “Hey, you can’t do that,” and then he loses his cool big time and is like, “Those people are distracting me!” Then he makes a run for it and manages to make it out to the parking lot. Mack tells Karen to get in the car and cut him off so he can’t drive away, and they crash real good when Karen backs her car right into him. Then, as Karen and Mack loom in front of him and Mack yells, “It’ s over, Ackerman!”, we go into super slow motion (that sorta choppy type of slow motion) as Dr. Ackerman pulls a gun out of his glove box and blows himself away. Obviously this isn’t Boardwalk Empire, so we don’t actually see him pull the trigger and blow his own brains out, but the message is clear and we end on a nice shot of Mack and Karen looking rather horrified right after he pulls the trigger. I actually got real morbid during this sequence and started to wonder what it would really look like and feel like to watch someone shoot themselves in the head, what a hard image that would be to shake off after you’ve seen it.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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    CONTINUED

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    Anyway, what an ending, right? A lot of times I’ll declare a KL ep ending as so good and so exciting that it could function well as a season cliffhanger, and I feel this one qualifies (I believe I also declared that earlier this season with the ending of Lead Me to the Altar). Really, if this was a season finale cliffhanger, it would be pretty terrific, no? You’d still have lots of dangling threads left to tidy up next season and this would remain a very memorable final scene that people could think about all through the summer.


    But thank God this is not the season finale, for we still have one more glorious episode in this most glorious sixth season, a season so good I’m seriously tempted to call it the greatest season of television ever made. Let’s move right along to our season six finale, the aptly titled The Long and Winding Road.
     
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    Episode Title: The Long and Winding Road

    Season 06, Episode 30

    Episode 130 of 344

    Written by Joel J. Feigenbaum

    Directed by Alexander Singer

    Original Airdate: Thursday, May 23rd, 1985

    The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg keeps trying to call Laura, who hangs up on him. He follows her and explains that it was a stunt Ruth set up, so he kicked her out. Greg asks Laura to marry him, but she says she's already married. The police question Karen about Ackerman, while Mack goes to his office and finds Val's file. He sets the alarm off and is arrested. After Mack is out, they find a list in the file that has the names of couples who illegally adopted babies, but there are no addresses on the list. One name on the list, Harry Fisher, rings a bell. The next day at work Karen tells Gary the babies are alive. Mack remembers that he and Ben were at the Fisher's house, and they had twins. Mack calls Karen and tells her to meet him there. Gary goes with her. Harry Fisher rushes home and tells his wife Sheila to pack and that they have to leave on a vacation now. Sheila says she won't leave because she hasn't picked up the prescription for the twin's ear infections. Frustrated, Harry takes one of the twins and goes to pick it up while she packs. Abby receives the notebook pages via messenger. She picks up Val and tells her that she received a mysterious phone call meant for Val. She said they told her that the babies were alive and where to find them. Mack, Karen, Ben, and Gary arrive at the Fishers. Karen and Mack tell Sheila that the babies were adopted illegally and taken from their mother. Sheila says that's not true. Abby drives up with Val, who is surprised to see everybody there. Val hears the baby cry and starts to walk up to the door. Sheila is very distraught. Harry drives up and sees all the people outside of his house. Sheila yells at him, "Harry, they want to take the babies!" Harry speeds off.


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    Welcome to The Long and Winding Road. I confess that I’ve kinda been putting off writing this essay, and while a good reason for that is probably my own laziness and the fact that I’d rather just hang around the house or have sex or go to one of my naked places or do whatever it is that makes Brett happy, I think another part of it is that I’m almost sad to write about this ep because it will mean I’m done writing about season six of KL (pretty much; you’ll still be seeing my “Reflection on Season Six” essay a few days after this one goes up), and it’s been such a divine pleasure to re-explore this season and really get down to the nitty gritty by focusing on each and every ep. Remember that this is episode thirty of a thirty episode season, and it continues to astound me at how amazingly the whole creative crew has managed to keep this season feeling unbelievably brilliant and exciting even when stretched out over the course of so many eps. In any case, let’s dive right in and discuss the season six finale.

    Well, after our usual thirty second preview and brilliantly brilliant scrolling opening credits, we actually get a pretty long recap of the end of last ep. When I say “pretty long,” I mean, oh, maybe two minutes, but it feels kinda long when you just jump from the previous ep right into this one, as My Beloved Grammy and I did. In fact, she actually said, “Oh, why do we need to see all this again?” and I reminded her that, in 1985, it had been a whole solid week since last ep and people probably needed a little reminder of what went down. Also, you could argue that starting an ep with a man blowing his brains out is just a good way to hook those viewers in if they happened to miss last week for some reason, so it works in that regard, as well. In any case, the ep starts up with Karen and Mack staring down Dr. Ackerman as he tries to focus on his bridge game, then also shows us him getting up to escape, the little car crash, and of course the slow motion of him grabbing his gun and buying the farm.

    From there, we jump into the episode credits proper, playing over footage of someone, face unseen, frantically busting through Dr. Ackerman’s house and throwing files and papers everywhere and generally causing a big old mess. They keep cross cutting from this person to shots of police cars rushing to the scene, since whoever it is that broke into Dr. Ackerman’s place also caused the alarm to go off. Once the police arrive and do the usual “Freeze” routine, we reveal that it is, in fact, Mack who has caused this disturbance. Why would Mack be raiding Dr. Ackerman’s place in such an obvious way? Well, I find this easy to justify from a storytelling perspective, which is that he’s simply desperate now that Dr. Ackerman is dead and can’t confess to anything, so he’s just real fast trying to find any evidence in any way that he can, but I also learned of a behind the scenes story that explains this. Apparently The Dobsonator injured his back filming the prior ep and they had to find a way to sorta shuffle Mack out of the story for a portion of this ep, and this is how they do it. Honestly, it works for me and didn’t feel in any way inorganic when I was watching this; I only learned of the real reason after reading the trivia on TV.com.


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    Most of this episode will heavily focus on Val and her babies, but I wanna take a moment to mention Laura and Greg before I move on to all that stuff. After the little scheme hatched by Ava and Abs in Vulnerable, Laura no longer wants to have anything to do with Greg and is refusing to answer his calls or talk to him in any way. However, when he finally does manage to corner her and get her to speak with him (by driving up to her while she’s on the sidewalk and then just abandoning his car for a minute to get out and chase after her, which I found amusing), he does something that I really appreciated from a writing point of view; he tells her that the whole thing was a stupid setup by Abs and his mother. I appreciated this so much because you just know that if this was some other series, the writers would really draw this out forever and make it take an eternity for Greg to figure out what really went down. They would simply make his character dumber for awhile so they wouldn’t have to deal with him realizing he was tricked, but the KL writers do it in a way more organic way. I remind you that all Greg saw last ep as he came walking outside was Abs and Ava sitting together while an angry Laura sped away; it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what was really going on. The writers respect the intelligence of Greg as well as the audience enough to not dumb him down and keep this going on; they just have him go right up to Laura and say, “It was a trick; I know it was a trick.” Yeah, Laura doesn’t believe him and doesn’t take him back, but that’s not my point; my point is that the writers let it be revealed good and quick that Ava and Abs were in cahoots to screw both Greg and Laura. Oh yeah, and one last thing, which is that Greg tells Laura he shipped Ava off to Africa and that’s the last we’ll be seeing of her. I’ll take one quick moment to reiterate how much I enjoyed Ava during her seven eps and I loved the energy she brought to proceedings; if she hadn’t sadly suffered that stroke and then passed away in 1990, I would have loved to see her return to stir up more trouble later down the line.


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    So let’s back to Val’s babies, the story that has provided the nucleus for this entire incredible season. When we first catch up with Val and Ben, it’s a scene that I found positively delightful, because they are at Ben’s Plant House and Val is in bed and Ben is, for some reason, parading around the place in a kilt, playing bagpipes loudly. What the hell is going on here? The sheer strangeness of this image is what made me like it so much, and both My Beloved Grammy and myself actually laughed aloud, and quite uproariously, when we first saw it. I again have to ask: What the hell was I thinking a few years back when I first watched the show and I so callously dismissed the character of Ben as “boring”? We’ve now seen two of his four seasons on the series and he’s incredible. Not only is he fabulously decent and just an inherently good person, but he has this fantastic dry wit about him and often gets these really killer sarcastic lines during the eps, plus he’ll randomly start playing bagpipes for no reason in the bedroom, and it’s astounding. I feel like I oughta send a wine and cheese basket to Douglas Sheehan along with a letter of apology for ever calling his character boring; I was absolutely 100% wrong in that regard and his character has just skyrocketed in my view, because he is so incredible. I also like this bit because it’s just silly and rings true to the way couples will behave in their private lives. One of the keys to a good relationship is to be able to be silly together, so my thighs would definitely melt for a guy that puts on a kilt and does a bagpipe solo performance for me.


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    In any case, Ben only gets to play the bagpipes briefly before the phone rings and he’s interrupted with news of Mack’s incarceration. He leaves Val with some excuse or other and rushes to the police station to deal with this and we get another scene that I found rather fabulous. Basically, Ben sits down and spends several minutes talking to this officer about what he thinks Mack could have been doing at Dr. Ackerman’s place, and then after a certain amount of time has passed, the officer reveals that he’s not holding Mack and that Mack is probably waiting for Ben outside at this precise moment. Ben has this little moment where he says how clever it was for the cop to distract him and try to get information out of him this whole time, and I don’t know why, but I found the whole thing unbelievably cute. I also like how the officer says he’s letting Mack go because he believes, if Mack was breaking into someone’s house, there has to be a good reason. I like this sorta inherent trust the officer shows towards Mack, and it also reminds us that Mack is well respected in the community and can maybe, every now and then, get away with bending or even outright breaking the law if he needs to.

    Meanwhile, Karen is still stuck at the bridge tournament place waiting to find out where Mack has gone. She’s all alone and we are told that Nurse Wilson has fled the scene, probably frightened by the sight of Dr. Ackerman or perhaps by what happened to him. I honestly can’t remember if we ever see Nurse Wilson again and I am far too lazy to pull up her IMDb page and look to see if she’s got more eps to her credit (and we’ve also established that IMDb could very likely be wrong about such things, so it would be a futile waste of time in any case). However, Nurse Wilson is not where my priorities lie at this point; I’m more interested in Mack and Karen and the whole gang, so I’m glad we’re mostly focusing on them now. After awhile, Karen is reunited with Mack and he explains what happened and where he went and then everyone runs off together to go continue their research.

    TO BE CONTINUED
     
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