Thursday, June 21, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 178 of 344: MY TRUE LOVE


Episode Title: My True Love

Season 08, Episode 18

Episode 178 of 344

Written by Lynn Marie Latham

Directed by Lorraine Senna

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 15th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Paige tells Karen she'd better worry about Anne's intentions with Mack. She then packs and goes to stay with Peter. Anne tells Mack that he's the only man she ever loved, but didn't tell him she was pregnant, because she found out her father paid him $5,000.00 to leave her. Mack says that isn't true. She says she's afraid she'll fall in love with Mack again. Karen is jealous of Anne's looks, and they talk uncomfortably while waiting for Paige. Anne says Paige did this to bring her and Mack back together and she is snide to Karen. Olivia goes to AA with Gary, and apologizes to Brian. Abby still wants to postpone the divorce, but Gary says no. Jean has Ben bug Greg's office. They hear Peter ask Greg where he sent Sylvia on vacation, but Greg won't tell him. Then Jean calls and says she wants Ben to break into Greg's computer.





                Welcome back to the wonderful world of KL.  I must confess that, yes, I still love KL and always have and always will, but sadly it’s already becoming very clear to me that season eight is going to wind up ranking very low on my list of all fourteen seasons and I’m finding it rather difficult to muster up the energy and enthusiasm necessary to write about these eps.  I bring this up to once again provide a little context for the way I am doing these writeups, so follow me along here.  My Beloved Grammy and I gathered and watched a whole disk of eps, spanning The Unraveling through A Plan of Action.  After this, we parted and I began to work on writing about those eps, but then My Beloved Grammy and I wound up gathering and watching another ep of disks (Survival of the Fittest through Deadly Combination) before I was finished writing about our previous batch.  So now here we are and I’m sitting to write about My True Love, but then I will have a rather heavy load of seven whole eps left to discuss, all because I allowed myself to get behind and we watched more eps before I was prepared to do so.  Will this negatively affect my writing or my ability to remember all the nitty gritty and details?  I guess we’ll find out cuz I’m gonna start writing about My True Love now.



                I wanna make sure and devote a lot of special attention to our newest character, Anne Matheson, and the fabulously fabulous actress who plays her, Michelle Phillips, but I think I’ll try to cover the other story beats first and then save the best for last.  Okay, so what’s going on in the cul-de-sac right now?  Well, you should all vividly recall our last three or four eps and all that heavy focus on Olivia and her predilection for nose candy.  After Bobby Briggs beat the shit out of B.A.G in the concluding moments of No Miracle Worker, Olivia seemed to finally and fully reject her coke habit and choose the path of a better life.  One might be tempted to wonder if this path to sobriety will continue as we move forward, but I’m happy to say that we open our episode in question at an AA meeting with Gary in attendance and Olivia coming to join him.  Ah, such bliss.  Since I seem to be bitching so much about my problems with season eight in general, I’d like to take a moment to say that I love this, and I love it for more reasons than I can probably even express.

                First off, I always love seeing Gary at AA or having some sort of dialogue about his AA visits to help remind us that he still goes to the meetings regularly.  I flash back to the very final seconds of season one when Gary made the bold announcement, “I’m Gary and I’m an alcoholic,” and then I think of the voyage we have been taking with Gary since that defining moment.  We’ve seen him have his ups and downs with AA (such as becoming the sponsor for The Other Paul Rudd and then almost immediately starting to shag his wife) and we’ve also seen him fall off the wagon once (“WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES!”), but then we hit season five and Gary started to become all cool and responsible and self-actualized and a model citizen.  Now here we are in season eight and, as I look at Gary sitting calmly in his AA meeting and showing his support for a fellow alcoholic (this one’s name is Margorie and she hasn’t had a drink in eight months and sixteen days, so you go, girl!), I just want to climb into the TV and give Gary a big old pat on the back and say, “Good job, Gary, you haven’t had a drink since season four and you’re doing great!”  So yeah, I love this scene for what it shows us about Gary’s continued growth, but then I love it more when the music swells and Olivia comes walking in and Gary looks over at her and you can tell he’s super proud.  The meeting is kinda crowded so Olivia isn’t able to sit next to him, but she sits a few rows behind him and then Gary has this smile on his face that is super cute and I love it and I want to write poetry about it. 



                Gary’s busy this ep because, after his AA meeting, he also takes the time to speak with Abs about their impending divorce.  He tells her that now that he’s lost the senatorial race and Empire Valley has stopped being a storyline on the show, he’s ready to be officially divorced.  I’d say he’s right to get the wheels moving, since he first asked Abs for a divorce at some point in mid to late season seven and now here we are in mid to late season eight and they are still legally married.  Anyway, we quickly see that just because we saw some whole new layers to Abs character in the last batch of eps, that doesn’t mean she can’t switch right back to being calculating and wicked again, and she does it quickly here.  See, another reason Gary wants to get this divorce rolling is cuz he wants to marry J.B., but Abs gives a lovely little speech here that is, in truth, probably very accurate, starting with, “J.B. is nothing more than a brunette Valene.”  She continues by telling Gary, “Of course being with J.B. was exciting, but not because you were with her, but because you were cheating.  Cheating turns you on, not J.B.”  Even though I just praised Gary for all his growth and conquering his demons throughout the last few seasons, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few flaws in his character, and yes, this love affair that he has with cheating on people is one of his less admirable traits and I’d say Abs is correct to call him out on it.  Will Gary wind up cheating on J.B. just as he cheated on Abs and Valene before her?  I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don’t remember, and maybe, just maybe, Gary will be a really excellent husband this time around.  Oh yeah, and also, the scene ends with the soon-to-be-ex-couple discussing the settlement Gary has arranged and Abs saying, “I’ve very nice, but it’s not enough.”  Clearly Abs is going to want something more, but just what that something might be remains a mystery throughout the confines of this ep.



                Meanwhile, Peter Hollister is still on the show, so I suppose we must talk about him even though he’s not doing anything too terribly interesting at the moment (and I’m gonna make a rather glass-is-half-empty prediction and say Peter won’t be given anything too interesting to do for the rest of his time on the series, which shouldn’t be lasting much longer).  The only thing I can really think of to talk about here is that, I think, Paige officially goes to move in with Peter.  She arrives at his apartment eager to avoid her mother, telling Peter how she was going to check into a hotel, but then she thought she’d hit him up and see if she could stay with him.  Peter says how it’s fine if she wants to stay with him, and then some truly awful music (sounding both saxxy and yet tinny all at the same time) comes blasting out of the soundtrack while Paige and Peter exchange a rather pathetic bit of “sexy” dialogue.  See, Paige asks if he’d mind her sleeping on the couch, and he says, “No, but I think you’ll find my bed more comfortable.”  Then they start making out.  Can I go ahead and make a bold declaration and say that it’s impossible for any scene with Peter in it to be sexy?  I’m not calling Hunt Block an ugly man, because he’s not, and when he has taken his shirt off in the past, we’ve seen clearly that he’s been hitting the gym on a regular basis, but there’s just something totally unsexy about this character, and I’m starting to find it rather funny how seemingly every woman in town is eager to spread her legs open in front of Peter.  Perhaps it’s just that thing about power being the best aphrodisiac?  Peter is hardly in the same league as, say, someone like Sexy Michael, and yet all the women are wanting to shag him, so I must conclude that it’s the fact that he’s a senator and has power.  Anyway, this scene is not sexy, but then neither were any of the other Peter shag scenes, including that silly one from way earlier this season in which he and Abs shagged and the entire sequence kept cutting to EXTREME CLOSEUPS of their various body parts.  Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and call it right now: I am ready for Peter to leave the show.  Whatever interest he provided for me back in season seven (and I do remember finding him interesting throughout that year), that interest has now expired and I’m just waiting for this character to be retired.



                Speaking of characters being retired, where the hell is Ruth Roman lately?  I’m glad you asked, because this ep answers that question for us….sort of.  Basically, we are having a scene with Sumner hanging out on his ranch or whatever, and some character brings up Sylvia Lean and how she’s Peter’s mother and whether she’ll be around at some point, to which Greg replies, “Peter’s mother is permanently not available for comment.”  When I heard this line, I immediately jotted in my notes, “Huh?  She’s just gone?”  A little later on, we get a few more details from Greg and he says that, basically, Sylvia just wanted to go away and so she went away.  Boy, is this ever some clumsy writing.  Sylvia’s been around since the second half of season seven and she was getting a fairly large chunk of material to work with in season eight, most especially with Peter poisoning her for, you know, a few eps and then just, you know, not poisoning her anymore (not to imply the writers were just desperate to fill up time on the show or anything like that), and then she hung out at Westfork for a little while, and then she gave that note to Olivia, and then she just sorta stopped showing up on the series.  Now we just have this tossed off bit of dialogue from Greg about how she’s gone and she won’t be coming back, and uck, I don’t like it.  What really happened here?  Ruth Roman is maybe not A GIGANTIC MOVIE STAR, but I’d say she’s a known actress and was probably something of a get for the series.  Was she supposed to be in more eps and then she didn’t renew a contract or something?  Did she get sick and wasn’t able to finish the season?  Why on earth would you give this character so much material for roughly a solid year and then just ship her out inauspiciously and then, several eps later, throw in a quick line about how she’s gone and won’t be coming back?  It’s shit like this that is really annoying me as we move through this year, because I know for a fact that if the master genius of television Peter Dunne was still running the show, this kind of crappy storytelling would not fly.  Peter would be able to find some way to organically ship Sylvia out of the series or build a really great drama out of her leaving the proceedings; this is the man who ran seasons four through six, when the show was brilliant and perfect and could do no wrong, and he would never allow this kind of shitty storytelling to pass by under his watch.

                Nor is this the only bad storytelling that Greg is getting sucked into this ep.  The ever toxic Jean Hackney is still hanging around, hellbent on polluting everything that is good and pure about KL with her ridiculous dialogue and stupid-as-hell story.  At this point, you all should remember that we viewers have been clued in on the fact that Hackney wants Ben to kill Greg, but I don’t believe Ben is aware of that fact quite yet (when it comes to putting the pieces together for this Hackney storyline, Ben is moving very, very slowly).  In this ep, Hackney gives Ben the assignment to put a bug in Greg’s home office (like a Nixon/Watergate bug, not like a spider or a cockroach), and of course no scene with Hackney would be complete without some truly wretched dialogue.  In this case, I kid you not, we actually begin a scene with her and Ben walking through a park and poor Doug Sheehan being forced to spit out this line of “dialogue”: “You’re the woman with a thousand faces and a million disguises.”  You can tell I really hated this line because I wrote it down in my notes and then added, “Or some such nonsense.” Seriously, this is bad.  Every single scene with Hackney is bad, but this is really really really incredibly bad (oh yeah, and since I know you were all wondering what ridiculous outfit Hackney was wearing in this scene, I shall tell you that it appears to be some sort of purple leather zip-up jacket and a pair of blue gloves that don’t even match the color of her outfit) and I again find myself feeling sorry for Doug Sheehan as I watch this unfold before my eyes.  After three years of finding Ben to be a remarkably amazing and wonderful character that I adore watching, it hurts me to see him being handed such pure human feces as his main storyline for his last year on the show, and I find myself really watching his performance and trying to figure out what’s going on.  Okay, so the way he delivers that “thousand faces/million disguises” line really makes it sound like Sheehan can barely get this dialogue out without having to vomit, and so it creates this weird effect where I can’t tell if he’s giving a bad performance or if the disgust in his voice is supposed to register the character’s disgust.  I’m gonna have to say I’m leaning for the former option; I think it truly hurt Sheehan to deliver this dialogue and I think you can tell he’s gritting his teeth and tightening his sphincter as he tries to say these words out loud.  I keep saying this, but I feel I must stress again how much happier I would have been if Ben had just run off with Cathy and left the show at the end of season seven.  Would our memories of Ben have been tainted by the fact that he cheated on Val and then blew town?  Perhaps, but at least we would have three solid seasons of him being a great character and we would never have had to hear the words “Jean” or “Hackney” for the rest of the series’ run.  Also, even if the whole cheating/blowing town thing did sully our esteem for Ben, it couldn’t sully it any worse than this storyline, which has been dragging on for an agonizing eighteen eps and counting, is already doing.



                Ugh, I guess I have to talk about this, so here we go.  Hackney wants Ben to put a bug in Greg’s office, and even though she’s “the women with a thousand faces and a million disguises,” it seems Ben is the only person who can handle this assignment since he’s currently on Sumner’s payroll and has easy access to his home and office.  Anyway, the scene where she gives Ben his assignment comes and goes and then we don’t really see Ben too much until we hit the final ten minutes of the ep.  We catch up with him playing the piano in the living room in the loving company of Val, but then the phone rings, he picks it up, and Hackney (dressed in a humongous brown suit thing that would be right at home in Mike Brady’s wardrobe) tells him, “They’ve gone,” obviously meaning Sumner and Laura.  Then we get another example of the writing forcing characters I love to act stupid and oblivious, because Ben pauses for a second and then does a terrible job of making it sound like he was on the phone with a magazine salesman, delivering this way-too-long little speech about how, “I have so many magazines I can’t deduct them from my taxes, and by the way, I don’t like people who canvass for magazines.”  Okay, so that sucks because he does a terrible job of making it seem like a magazine salesman was on the phone, but what sucks even more is that after this bizarrely angry tirade he delivers to nobody, Val is just sitting right near him and is like, “Did you ever have a chance to read my final draft?”  Okay, so you’re gonna tell me that Valene doesn’t notice her husband acting like a complete psycho to a “magazine salesman” on the phone?  She just lets it come and go and doesn’t say, “Gee, Ben, what’s up your ass?”  I’ll cut her a small break because at least she puts up a protest when Ben abruptly grabs his coat and announces he must head to the office immediately.  Still, it’s not enough.  I believe Valene is a smart woman and I believe she would be way more observant about her husband’s weirdo behavior as of late, but that would overly complicate the story, so instead the writers keep her acting stupid, a problem that I predict we will be encountering a lot throughout the Latham/Leckowick era. 

                Anyway, Ben goes to Sumner’s ranch and manages to make it past the butler guy and then we get a long scene of him fiddling with Sumner’s computer.  Honestly, isn’t Ben’s plan already shot because he had to awkwardly saddle his way past that butler?  If this bug is discovered, couldn’t Greg easily find out who planted it because the butler would tell him, “Yeah, Ben showed up real late at night for some reason and was acting super weird and made a beeline for your office and didn’t want me to come with him”?  Okay, but whatever, let’s not think too much about that and instead focus on Ben putting the bug in the office, a scene that lasts for fucking ever and is then repeated in the opening moments of our very next ep, so we have to watch it twice (I will at least point out that, when they repeat it, they do shorten it down fairly significantly so it isn’t quite as long).  After a few hiccups and little flirtations with Ben failing in his mission, the bug is successfully installed and we’re all getting ready to breathe a big sigh of relief when, GASP!, the doorknob to the office starts to turn!  This is our big cliffhanger for the next ep, but it’s far from one of the best we’ve ever seen.  The blaring music on the soundtrack doesn’t help much, either. 

                I clearly hate everything involving Ben and Hackney and all this gibberish, so let’s end on a positive note by talking about something I have absolutely no complains about, and that is the glorious arrival to the series of Michelle Phillips as Anne.  Technically, she arrived in the last two seconds of our previous ep, but this is really the ep that introduces her to us, and she’s just perfect.  I’ll go ahead and spoil my thoughts (or at least my memories of my thoughts) and say that Anne was one of my favorite characters upon first viewing and I loved the humor she brought to proceedings and thought she was one of the best aspects of the later years.  Due to my fond memories, I immediately light up whenever she is onscreen, but I’m also already noting that this season eight version of Anne is a little different than the Anne we will have in seasons twelve through fourteen (and, I think, a little smidge of season eleven, as well).  During that era, Anne is mostly a comedic character, having funny dialogue and getting into adventures and shenanigans with her friends and lovers. Here, as she’s first introduced, I don’t know that she comes off as funny.  In fact, the immediate impression I get is that we are being introduced to another Abs, a hot older blonde who is set on stealing a husband away from his wife.



                It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Anne is going to go after Mack, because it’s very obvious right away.  When we first catch up with them in this ep, they’re in that hotel room in New York (even though obviously nobody from the production went anywhere near New York to film any of this footage and it’s all set-bound) and she says something about how great Mack looks and then she sorta sighs his name out, “Marion Patrick.”  Just the way she delivers that line tells us that she’s getting wet just by being in the same room as Mack.  We also get a nice little hint of her manipulative nature right and quick, because when Mack says how they need to get on a plane at four, she says how she needs to take care of all these different something or others and they should take a later flight, and Mack agrees.

                I do want to say there are still stupid aspects to this story, most notably the fact that it was completely unnecessary for Mack to fly out to New York only to meet Anne and, um, fly back to California?  Why on earth couldn’t he just call Anne and say, “You ought to fly out to California and see Paige”?  Why must Mack fly all the way to the big apple only to then head to the airport and fly back?  It’s pretty obviously a plot contrivance designed to keep Anne and Mack together for as long as possible, but even so, I’m still willing to go with it.  In any case, the two hang around New York for a little while and get some drinks and Anne goes on about how Mack is the only man she ever loved, an exchange of dialogue that both My Beloved Grammy and I found a bit perplexing.  Surely Anne must know that Mack is married to Karen, right?  But she goes on and on about her love of Mack and how much she wants him to slip it inside of her to the point that it seems like perhaps she doesn’t know Mack is now married.  Also, Mack has plenty of opportunities to jump in and be like, “I’m married, so you should probably stop hitting on me constantly,” but he does not.  Anyway, I’m excited to see Anne and I’m glad Michelle Phillips is on the scene now, but I’ll save more thoughts on her for later, since she’s going to be hanging around and getting lots of storyline attention throughout this latter portion of season eight.



                I think that’s all I have to say about this ep.  I’m not even sure what to say in wrap-up as far as whether this ep was good or not.  Clearly it had many aspects that bothered me and clearly I still detest the Hackney storyline, but I think I’m just starting to get used to being underwhelmed by season eight.  This ep is only okay, but I’d say it comes off looking worse for following on the heels of the excellent The Unraveling and No Miracle Worker.  We’re done with the excitement of Olivia on coke, so now we’re returning to proceedings a bit more standard, characters getting divorced, characters shagging each other, characters attempting to shag other characters, all that stuff.  It’s alright and perfectly watchable but, as seems to be the case with the majority of season eight, also heavily flawed. 

                Shall our next ep prove better than this one?  Tune in for my next writeup, which will be all about the episode called Never Trick a Trickster. 



               

Thursday, June 14, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 177 of 344: NO MIRACLE WORKER


Episode Title: No Miracle Worker 

Season 08, Episode 17

Episode 177 of 344

Written by Bernard Lechowick

Directed by Kate Tilley

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 8th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack flies to New York to see Anne. Under house arrest, Olivia sneaks out and does drugs in the barn. Olivia locks herself in the bathroom, so Abby chops the door down and finds drugs which Olivia tried to flush. Olivia makes calls, and tells Brian that her friends will bring her homework to his school. Abby catches Olivia stealing money from her purse, and they fight. Olivia trashes Abby's room, and Abby has to restrain her. Olivia gives Brian an envelope and tells him it's her homework to give to her friends. Lilimae brings Brian to school, but comes back with Olivia's "homework." It is actually money. Upset, Olivia says she had to give it to Brian, or her friends would beat him up. Abby rushes to Brian's school, but he's already been beaten up. Abby brings him home and forces Olivia to face her bruised and bloodied brother. Upset, Olivia runs to the chicken coop and gives Abby all of her drugs.





                Welcome back.  When we last left off, Abs was boldly declaring to Olivia that she wasn’t going to lock her out of the house; she was going to lock her in the house and keep her on a strict house arrest.  This plot development pretty much propels us through No Miracle Worker, which wisely focuses the majority of its attention on all this drama between Abs and Olivia.  As with our last ep, I feel like there’s not a whole lot to say about the other characters, but I’ll start with Mack and Anne.  Actually, Mack and Anne are about the only characters besides Olivia and Abs to get any attention this week, so once I’m done with them, I’ll just glide right over to Olivia and her coke.

                Okay, so last ep the grumpy old man Winston came to the Fairgate/MacKenzie house and confirmed that Paige is, indeed, Paige.  He also confirmed that her mother is still alive and well and living in New York, prompting Karen to tell Mack he should fly to New York to see her and tell her about Paige.  My Beloved Grammy and I were both immediately confused by this; wouldn’t a simple phone call be more than sufficient?  Why must Mack fly all the way to another state in order to meet his old ex-lover from twenty years ago and tell her that her daughter’s alive?  I get that it’s big news, but you call the person on the phone, you tell them you have big news, you give them the big news, and you’re done.  Is it perhaps just the fact that it’s been so long since Mack’s seen her?  Has it been so long that he thinks it would be inappropriate to reintroduce himself into her life without a little gentleness?  Now this is starting to make more sense to me.  In any case, not all that much happens with Mack and Anne this ep, and we don’t even physically see Anne until two seconds before the ep ends, but the basic gist of it is that Mack flies to New York to see her, even returning to the big, epic, scary mansion where their entire romance once started.  We are treated to a Sepia Toned Flashback, although in this instance the creative team is recycling flashbacks we’ve already seen.  See, this flashback is the one in which Young Mack is sitting by the pool and Young Anne is in the pool, trying to pretend like she’s naked under the water.  Then she sorta lifts herself up out of the water in this slow motion shot, water dripping off of her, and for just a second we think we might see some boobage, but then we reveal that she’s wearing a top.  I can’t remember what prior ep this comes from, but it’s somewhere in the eighth season.  I don’t mind seeing it again, however; if these are Mack’s flashbacks and memories, it makes sense that he would keep remembering the same incidents over and over again.  When we return to 1987 and Mack knocks on the door of the mansion, it is answered by the butler we saw in a previous ep (his name is Philip), before Mr. Winston shows up and announces to Mack that Anne is not here and he has no idea where she is.

                A little later, Mack calls Karen and explains that Anne is actually on a trip in the Caribbean and that she changed her plans without telling anybody.  Now I guess Mack just has to hang around and wait, leading us to an interesting scene in his hotel room between him and Winston.  I rather enjoyed this little window into Winston’s life as he makes an attempt to give Mack some form of apology.  He talks about how, “To someone like you, someone from my generation must seem from a different planet,” to which Mack replies, “Some of my best friends are from other planets.”  Then Winston adds how things were done different back in the olden days, how societal norms change, Bob Loblaw.  It would be hard to apologize to someone for taking the love of their life away, but Winston goes for it here and I’d say it’s pretty genuine.  This doesn’t make me like the character, but I appreciate his complexities and that the writers don’t just pen him as a one dimensional old villain. 


                We finally get to see Anne in the last two seconds of the ep, in Mack’s hotel room.  There’s a knock at the door and he answers to find Anne standing there, declaring, “Daddy told me you were here,” and that’s pretty much how we end the ep.  It’s our first sighting of the fabulous Michelle Phillips, who I remember enjoying very much my first time watching the series and I’m eager to see if I feel the same way this time.  However, I think I’ll save my thoughts on her for our next ep, when she gets a lot more attention, more than a door opening and her delivering one line of dialogue.



                The only other aspect worth noting in all this Mack/Anne business is a real hint of jealousy and insecurity coming from Karen.  There’s a scene in this ep that I had forgotten about, but which came right back at me as soon as I saw it again, and that is Karen and her sweater.  See, we catch up with Karen and Val hanging out in Karen’s bedroom, where Karen is positively horrified to find that a sweater which used to fit her perfectly fine doesn’t slide on quite so smoothly anymore.  She declares, “I’m fat!” and Val asks if the cleaners shrunk it.  When Karen says this used to be a big sweater, Val asks, “Have you gotten to be a big girl?”  This is a funny line that made me smile, but I also feel sorry for Karen when she says how she’s afraid to weigh herself.  Now might be a good time to get super personal and start talking about some aspects of my own life and how they help me relate to this scene and Karen’s feelings.  I’ve had my share of issues with weight and body image throughout my life, and I used to be a pretty big boy, peaking somewhere near the end of high school, when I was over 200 pounds.  Then, after college, I went on this diet and lost a shit ton of weight and was going to the gym all the time and was super skinny.  As soon as I lost my weight, people couldn’t shut up about how good I looked and how handsome I was (see super sexy picture below for an example), and it is a rather interesting feeling after so many years without anyone really making any comments on such things.  Of course, I got a little nutty and obsessed with my weight and my diet and ended up hitting a bottom of 120 pounds (which is not a lot) when the doctor told me I need to eat more and said she thought I had a minor eating disorder.  Okay, so since then I have eaten more, but now I know I’ve gotten fatter, and even though I know I was way too skinny beforehand, it still bums me out to gain any weight and, much like Karen, I’m too afraid to step on the scale myself.  The point of my long and boring personal story is that I can relate to Karen and her body image issues.  She’s worried about her husband going off to a see the former love of his life, she’s looking at her own body for any sign of imperfection, and she’s thinking too much about her weight and this sweater that used to fit her.



                This stuff is all good, pretty interesting and compelling and well acted, but the real stuff that everyone remembers from this ep is Abs and Olivia, so let’s return over to them.  Honestly, in my memories, this entire ep is all about Abs and Olivia, never cutting away from them for anybody else, although obviously that’s an inaccurate recollection.  It’s just that all this material is so compelling that it sticks in the memory more than anything else going on, starting right away, as soon as we begin the ep.  See, we all saw Abby’s attempts last ep to clear the house of all drugs and drug related paraphernalia, but Olivia remains two steps ahead of her, as she’s actually got a secret coke stash hidden away in the barn, or at least one of the barns (I don’t know how many barns Westfork actually as), so late at night, when nobody else is awake, she sneaks out to get her little coke fix that she so desperately craves.  However, Abs quickly catches her as she’s attempting to climb back into her bedroom window and slide into bed.  Now, this scene mildly confused me, but it’s not a big thing.  Basically, Abs can tell that Olivia’s already been outside even though Olivia is saying she was about to go outside just this moment, hoping to take a nice walk.  Then Abs grabs her robe and starts going through the pockets and such and we get a closeup of Olivia slipping the baggie of coke out of her pocket and hiding it.  The first time I watched this, I didn’t understand and thought the closeup was showing us Abs discovering the coke in her pocket, but it’s not that at all, so my bad.  In any case, even though Olivia manages to get the coke out of sight right and quick, Abs is sharp and decides she’s going to spend the night with her daughter, sleeping in the same bed and keeping an eye on her, leading us to the very best scene of the ep.



                We return to Westfork a little later that night to discover Abs sleeping alone, Olivia having snuck off into the bathroom for some midnight coke.  Abs knocks on the door and tells her to unlock it, which Olivia refuses to do.  Again, my memories prove slightly inaccurate because I was 100% convinced that we actually see Olivia doing the coke, that we see her breaking it up into different lines and actually snorting it up her nose, but that’s not accurate.  We can tell that she’s working with the coke and then she will lower her head down out of frame and we hear her snort before her head returns back into frame, so we definitely get the picture with what’s happening, but it’s not quite as explicit as I had remembered.  Anyway, Olivia just wants to finish doing her lines and go back to bed, but Abs has other plans, plans involving a hammer to the bathroom door.  Oh, what sweet bliss this scene is, as Abs starts smashing through the door like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  Olivia has enough time to toss her baggie into the toilet and flush it, but she doesn’t count on the baggie floating, so once Abs gets into the bathroom, she quickly discovers what Olivia was hiding.  From there, she goes to work taking the door off its hinges and declares, “You want to get high, you let us watch you get high.” Ooooh baby.



                What a glorious scene.  Everything is firing on all cylinders in this scene, although obviously the best part is Donna’s acting.  Her frustrations are palpable and you truly feel sorry for her as she tries to stop Olivia from using.  This prompted My Beloved Grammy to say, “This is the first time I’ve ever felt sorry for Abby since we started watching the show.”  These are bold words from her, although I have had several moments of sympathy for Abs throughout the last years, mostly in those moments where she lets her guard down and shows her true emotions.  That’s what we’ve got going on here and that’s why it works so well.  I can actually remember watching this scene for the first time back in college and finding it so amazing and so exciting that I immediately ran upstairs and found my friend and forced him to come back to my room and watch the scene with me, which he did even though I’m sure he didn’t particularly care about the show or this scene from the show.

                Brian is figuring fairly prominently in this storyline, which makes it a glaring oversight that I have barely talked about him or the new actor playing him, Brian Austin Greene (BAG.).  When Brian and Olivia first made their way to the cul-de-sac back at the start of season two, Brian was played by the kid from Tremors, who played him from Hitchhike: Part One in 1980 through Finishing Touches in 1984, racking up 26 appearances (at least according to the not-always-accurate IMDb). Then we entered this weird period through all of seasons six and seven in which Brian might occasionally be mentioned but we never, ever saw him, not once.  I wouldn’t really notice or care about this development were it not for the fact that My Beloved Grammy would constantly bring up, “Where the hell is Abby’s other kid?”  Like I said, he remains offscreen for an entire two year period, and sometimes I wouldn’t really notice, but sometimes it would stick out more, like when Gary was getting ready to blow up Empire Valley and he was shuffling the whole family out of the state and yet we still didn’t see Brian.  Then we started season eight and Brian officially morphed into BAG with the episode Past Tense.  In my notes for that ep, I even scribbled down “Note that Brian has morphed into BAG,” but then I forgot to talk about it when I wrote about that ep.  In any case, here’s BAG and he’s here to play Brian until the end of season ten in 1989, so we’ll be seeing him fairly frequently until he decides to move to West Beverly.  I will need a few more eps with this Brian to decide which one I prefer, but right now I’ll venture a guess that I like BAG more than the Tremors kid, because he seems sweeter.  Tremors Brian seemed like kinda a brat, being introduced playing that annoying horn constantly and just being irritating.  This Brian is a lot nicer to Abs and to Olivia, trying to make them both feel better, which in turn makes me feel kinda sorry for him.  Abs doesn’t sit him down and have a nice long talk about the exact problems Olivia is dealing with, so I feel the kid is probably pretty confused when he walks into his sister’s bedroom at night and finds his mother busting down the bathroom door with a hammer. 

                I finally bring up Brian because Olivia ends up using him to further her means of getting more coke.  See, she tells him how she wants to do all of her homework in great secret so that Abs will be pleased when she finds out, and she says how she needs Brian to pick up textbooks from her friends, except her friends are actually Bobby Briggs and the textbooks actually have coke cleverly slipped into the spine.  As soon as Brian arrives with the books, Olivia carefully removes the baggie of coke and she’s set for, well, at least the next couple of hours.  This ruse doesn’t last long, however, because later we get a fabulous scene of Abs dropping Brian off at school and then starting to cry behind the wheel.  The scene would be fabulous enough if it was just Abs crying, since I love all these new layers to the character that we are witnessing visa vis this storyline, but then Brian returns to the car and tries to comfort her by being like, “Look, Olivia’s doing all her homework and everything!”  He shows her the “homework” that he is supposed to deliver to the friends, but Abs sees that it’s an envelope filled with money.  Uh oh! 



                Abs takes the money from Brian and says how she’ll deliver it herself, but the problem of course is that Bobby Briggs is waiting for his money and he’s not gonna be pleased when Brian doesn’t deliver.  Abs returns to Westfork, where Lilimae is hanging out with Olivia and boring her with stories about what a trotline is, and barges in demanding to hear an explanation for this money.  See, she assumes that Olivia was having Brian deliver the money in order to return with drugs, but really Olivia owes Bobby Briggs a lot of money from working with him as a salesperson.  From here, we cut to a little scene of Bobby Briggs roughing up Brian.  There’s some style here, as most of the violence is implied when Bobby Briggs pulls Brian into a school-bus and slides the door shut.  We can imagine that Brian is not having a great time in that bus, but we don’t get all the gory details. 
                We do, however, see the aftermath, in which Brian returns home with his face all bruised and ugly.  Abs grabs Olivia and forces her to look at her brother and see what her drug use has caused to happen.  This is the big emotional climax, as Olivia goes running off to the barn, grabbing her stash and handing it all over to Abs.  She’s crying and all out of sorts and the acting is very good from both actresses, as always.  One thing worth noting is that my copy of this ep appears to be a smidge shorter than the originally aired version; if you watch the CBS version from 1987, after Olivia hands the drugs over, Abs hugs her and the two sorta slide onto the ground and stay in this big dramatic embrace for a few seconds before we cut to Mack in New York.  The SoapNet version cuts before the hug occurs, which is a shame, because I do think that added a nice touch of finality to this storyline.



                Okay, so it looks like seeing her baby brother all beat up and bloody was all Olivia needed to fully renounce her habit.  Her handing the drugs over pretty much finishes this storyline, although I’ll pay attention to see how events play out in the coming eps.  I’m thinking really hard right now and I’m fairly certain Olivia behaves herself for the rest of her time on the series and never slides back into her coke habit, but I’ve been proven wrong before.  For now, let me just say that this is still a highlight storyline of the series, and it arrives like a cool breeze of air on a hot day.  With so many stories going on that I am not interested in (Paige and Sexy Michael) or that I just flat-out dislike (Hackney), having a story this good arrive in the middle of the season is a real tonic.  There’s a lot to love about this stuff, starting off with how it humanizes Abs and continues to keep her character interesting.  This is Abby’s seventh year on the series, and for most other shows, by this point, her character would be established as being one certain way and the writers would stick to that.  With KL and the writing of Abs, the writers are always keeping us on our toes, showing Abs being duplicitous and wicked but then surprising us by showing a very human side of her here.  Also, I just think it’s ballsy that the show tackled teenage drug abuse in 1987.  I would be curious to know what the reaction to this was upon first airing; I know the ratings right here are not what they used to be, but the show is still in the top 30, so I’m sure it’s getting plenty of viewers.  Did people talk about this story?  Did it seem cutting edge at the time?  I have to imagine it did.  If I have a complaint, it’s that this all felt much faster than I remembered.  If you had asked me to tell you based on memory how long this storyline spanned, I would have said something like ten eps, but it’s really more like four.  I actually think there’s enough dramatic weight to this material to stretch the story out way longer, and I kinda wish they had since I find it so compelling.  But no, when looked at in the grand scope of the season, this actually doesn’t go on nearly as long as I had remembered, but I think it could have.

                Because of the strength of the Abs/Olivia storyline in this ep, I think I’m gonna go ahead and declare No Miracle Worker to be the best ep of season eight thus far, and I have the feeling it will remain the best one when all is said and done.  Now it’s time to shift the attention away from cocaine and over to a potential romantic triangle between Karen, Mack, and new arrival Anne.  Next up, we shall discuss the romance of Mack MacKenzie and Anne Matheson with My True Love.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

KNOTS LANDING Episode 176 of 344: THE UNRAVELING


Episode Title: The Unraveling

Season 08, Episode 16

Episode 176 of 344


Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 1st, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mr. Winston flies into town and confirms that Paige really is his granddaughter. Paige is upset to see him. Karen convinces Mack he needs to fly to New York and tell Anne that Paige is alive. Paige cooks a romantic dinner for Peter. Jill admits to Gary that Peter is her brother. Gary thinks she means she is Galveston's daughter. Gary asks Jill to marry him. Abby demands Olivia give her all of her drug paraphernalia, but Olivia gives her baking soda. Gary invites her to AA, but Olivia refuses. Gary tells Abby they'll have to wait until she hits bottom. Abby finds out that Olivia has drained her and Brian's bank account, has been skipping school, is failing all of her classes, and didn't pay her tuition. Out of money, Olivia decides to sell drugs, and her dealer hits her when she uses them instead. Abby takes Olivia's house and car keys and puts her under house arrest.





Welcome to 1987 and a whole fresh batch of exciting KL eps to sink our teeth into.  I wanna go on a long and pointless rant real fast about how much I like it when the eps just happen to coincide with January 1st, the start of a brand new, fresh year full of possibilities and excitement.  I don’t think a year in history could possibly be bad if it started with an ep of KL on the very first day.  I’m also pretty sure this is the first time we’ve seen this occur in six years, that the last time was the season two ep Step One, airing January 1st, 1981.  Now, aside from one very memorable scene in a hot tub, that ep kinda sucked and had one of the worst/creepiest ending sequences in all of KL history (Karen and Diana dancing around in KISS makeup and singing some stupid song together).  Happily, this ep proves to be a large improvement over that season two ep, but I’d also say it proves to be a large improvement over a lot of our more recent season eight eps, mostly thanks to one very significant and very exciting storyline involving Olivia and Abs.  In fact, I’ll be kinda frank and say that, really, probably most or all of the non Olivia/Abs stuff in this ep is just okay, nothing too special and nothing too terrible, just perfectly fine and dandy, but the Olivia/Abs stuff is so strong that it elevates the entire episode upwards. 



Since I care so much more about what’s going on with Olivia and Abs and so much less about what everyone else is up to, I’m gonna just sorta zoom through the other characters real fast and then put the majority of my focus over on Abs and her daughter, and I’ll probably wind up doing the same for our next episode, as well.  Let’s go ahead and get started by talking about Paige and Sexy Michael and the whole Fairgate/MacKenzie/Matheson clan.  Okay, so when we last left off, Paige was giving Sexy Michael the cold shoulder and, rather than taking a look in the mirror and realizing that he could easily have sex with absolutely any man or woman in the entire universe if he wanted to, Sexy Michael instead chose to act like a 12 year old girl and mope around and blame Karen for his problems and use words like “love” towards Paige ad nauseam.  I don’t know why I continue to be so bored and disinterested by this story, but I am, and I also feel I can’t properly explain why I’m so annoyed with Sexy Michael, a creature so divine and so beautiful that it’s really just plain wrong for me to dare to criticize anything about him, since he exists at a level so far beyond us mere mortals.  In any case, in this ep I think think think think we pretty much finish up the lovey dovey drama with these two characters, although perhaps they hook up again a little later down the road; I honestly can’t remember.  Like I said, I think this might be it for them, as we see Sexy Michael approaching Paige for a little candid conversation and saying, “Just tell me one thing; why did you sleep with me?”  Paige’s response?  “Because you were there.”  Ouch!  I’d say that’s definitely more than a bit cold, and honestly, I’m having a hard time understanding how Paige could actually have Sexy Michael’s penis inside of her not once, but several times, and then just write it off as, “Oh yeah, you were there.”  If I had sex with Sexy Michael, I can tell you right away that I wouldn’t be ignoring him and saying things about how I only slept with him cuz he was there; I would be begging to continue sleeping with him for the rest of my life and desperately worrying that at any moment he might realize he is far too beautiful for me and run off with someone more on his level.  Paige must think she’s pretty hot shit, because after knowing a divine pleasure that most of us can only dream of, she casually dismisses this sexual relationship as no big deal.



That’s hardly all Paige is up to in this ep, however.  You’ll all recall how our last ep ended with Mack calling the wicked Winstons and learning about how Anne is actually alive and played by Michelle Phillips (well, Mack learned that she was alive, but I suppose he doesn’t know she’s played by Michelle Phillips yet, since he and we don’t actually meet this character until our next ep).  That was our big cliffhanger for our last ep, the shocking reveal that Anne is actually alive.  As we pick up with this ep, Karen and Mack are talking in the living room about how to handle this situation, and then a little later Paige comes in and they have a bit of a fight.  Let me just take a moment to say that, as much as I love Karen and always have and always will, I really wish Michele was showing the same subtlety and natural talent that was well on display for all of season three.  Right now, I’m starting to get a little tired of the overdramatic way that Karen likes to make pronouncements, and this scene has a good example of it.  See, Paige comes walking in and then Karen gets the very dramatic, very somber tone in her voice and says, “Paige, you had to know we’d find out about you.”  That line is, you know, okay, but then she raises her voice way more and says, “YOU HAD TO KNOW WE’D FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR MOTHER!  WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?!”  You all see what I mean?  Does anyone else remember when Karen was a little more mellow a little more frequently?  The scene gets worse when Karen feels the need to yell even louder and then grabs some, like, red thing (it honestly looks like a hemorrhoid pillow) and blares, “WHAT COLOR IS THIS?  BECAUSE IF YOU SAY IT IS RED, THEN IT MUST BE BLUE! I feel like we’re getting way too much of the “WHAT IS AN A.P.B.?!” Karen right now, and I wonder/doubt if it’s ever gonna go away. 



Fortunately Mack enters the scene to act a little less nutty, and he just quietly says, “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”  Karen says how she doesn’t believe anything Paige says, Bob Loblaw, and she goes marching off (even doing a total prima donna head thrust as she makes her exodus) and leaves Paige and Mack alone, at which point Paige continues to lie, telling Mack how she made up this story only because “I knew how you felt about her and I didn’t want to jeopardize your marriage to Karen.”  Well, we can all clearly see that this is a lie, but then the lies keep coming as Paige declares that her mother didn’t care when, “I told her about my stepfather, about all the horrible things he did….in private.”  Mack is pretty perfect in this scene and I love the way he manages to keep nice and balanced, because he says how if this whole stepfather business is true, “I’ll tear him apart limb for limb,” but then he adds, “If you’re lying to me, if you’re telling me things that aren’t true to cover up your lies, nobody does that to me, nobody.”  In an interesting contrast to Michele’s hyperventilating overacting at this juncture, I actually think The Dobsonator does a swell job of taking what could be an incredibly corny bit of dialogue and making it seem genuine and grounded in reality.  I also like how at first you think Mack is going to be fooled by Paige’s new lie, but he quickly shows that he’s not that stupid and that she’s going to have to go about earning his trust back.

A little later, Paige is dressed in a sexy green leather outfit and heading out the door when Mack stops her and says there’s someone here to see her, and it’s her evil, wicked grandfather, Mr. Winston, who the hell cares what his first name is.  We go to a commercial just about here, as Karen says, “Mr. Winston, this is the woman who claims to be your granddaughter,” but when we return from that lovely 1987 commercial break, we see Winston asking, “Paige, why did you do this?”  Ah, so we now have official confirmation that Paige is Paige, just like she says.  Then we get a decent little confrontation between her and Mack in which she confesses that she hates how he never went after her mother, never rescued Anne from the evil grandparents, never came looking for his daughter, to which Mack says, “I never even knew you existed,” to which Paige starts sobbing and saying, “That’s what I hate the most!”  Then she starts crying on Mack’s shoulder.  I would say I like Paige a lot more whenever she’s not crying and I do not think crying is one of Nicolette’s strong suits, so here’s hoping the writers don’t keep asking her to do it.



Also, now that Paige has dumped Sexy Michael (bad choice), she quickly shifts her attentions over to the far less sexy, rather bizarre looking Peter Hollister, randomly showing up at his apartment to cook a fancy dinner complete with candlelight.  He shows up looking tired and slightly put off (he probably just got the memo that he won’t be returning for the ninth season), but Paige declares how he’s not gonna believe how good her pasta primavera is and says to prepare himself for a seven course meal.  Jesus!  There’s a little exchange of dialogue that made me smile, in which Peter says, “This could take all night,” and then Paige sorta hops into his lap and says, “So could dinner.”  Oh my!  In any case, I’m still not too terribly interested in this development or this story.  In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and take the time to say I don’t really care about Peter at all anymore.  Like I said, he’s about to be shown the exit door (and actually, I misspoke slightly because he just barely bleeds into season nine, making his final official appearance on the series in the fifth episode of the season, There Are Smiles), so it’s not like I’m going to have to talk about Peter too much more once we’ve finished up this eighth season.  I believe that somewhere within the massive season seven run, I declared that I like this character a lot and that I like the energy he brings to proceedings and Bob Loblaw.  I’m not entirely sure when those feelings went away, but it may have started when we concluded the whole senate storyline from the start of the year and started to turn our attention to Peter poisoning Sylvia (and where the hell is she now, by the way?).  Right now, Peter is existing and he’s moving around and he’s getting some focus of the attention, but I just kinda don’t care.  He’s not a bad character like Hackney is, and he plays the part fine, but it’s just sorta blah.  I also wonder if part of the problem is the slow drip drip drip of information that’s been going on since the start of season seven.  It took so damn long to finally figure out precisely who Peter is and precisely what he’s up to, and I feel like by the time we’ve finally got all that squared away, he’s just about ready to leave.  For now, I’ll hold off on further thoughts until we get closer to his last appearance.



Tangentially related to Peter: In this ep, J.B. finally tells Gary the truth about how Peter is her brother.  This goes over fine, although I think that Gary misunderstands slightly.  If I’m following the proceedings alright, I think that Gary believes J.B.’s story, but he takes it to mean that she is Galveston’s daughter.  I’m having a hard time keeping track of who all knows the real truth about Peter not even being kinda sorta related to Galveston in any way, shape, or form.  So far, I’m pretty sure the only people to know the truth are Peter, J.B., Sylvia, Greg, and Abs (remember her clever blank paper trick?).  Also, in this ep, Gary decides to marry J.B., which is pretty exciting.  The most exciting part is that I can’t remember if the two actually wind up getting married, but I know we’ve still got J.B. until we are deep into the tenth season, so that’s about two more solid years with her, so I’m betting they will get married somewhere in those two years.  Let’s find out!

Okay, that’s enough about the less interesting stuff.  Now, you understand, I still find this stuff kinda interesting, although obviously a pretty far cry from how interesting I found seasons four through six, but I’m saying it becomes significantly less interesting when put up against the epic and fabulous Olivia/Abs story.  Okay, so we all know Olivia is having a bit of trouble with the nose candy, right?  And we all saw how she crashed her car while she was driving with Lilimae, right?  Then we all saw how Lilimae handed some cocaine to Abs and, rather than saying, “Let’s sneak into the bathroom and snort this together,” she declared that she had found it in Olivia’s car.  Then Abs caught Olivia trying to buy some coke last ep, and that brings us nicely up to date.  As we start this ep, Abs and Olivia are arguing in Olivia’s bedroom, and I gotta say Olivia’s excuses are stretching credibility more than just a little bit.  When Abs says, “I saw you buying drugs,” Olivia says, “I was only doing it so the other kids would think I use it; they all say I’m too straight.” Does she honestly think this crappy lie is going to fool Abs?  Probably not, I guess, but that’s because Olivia is deep into her addiction, in which you’re just lying your ass off constantly in your obsessive quest for more coke. 



Right away, this is clearly the best story going on, and it starts just as soon as the ep starts.  See, Abs is being a clever girl, but Olivia is already several steps ahead of her, having planned for this moment.  Abs orders Olivia to show her all her hiding spots where there might be coke, declaring how, even though she already searched her room, “I’ll search it again, and this time you’ll think a bomb went off.”  So then Olivia makes her circle around the room and pulls coke (or what we and Abs think is coke) out of a myriad of hiding spots.  She starts with a big boot positively stashed with delights, and I note with interest that it’s not just coke.  She also has caffeine pills (which feels slightly weird and Saved by the Bell-ish) and, I think, even some pills?  Basically, by the time she’s done emptying her stash, there’s a nice little collection of different things piled up, and am I completely crazy or did I also see a needle?  It is very possible that I’m hallucinating this needle, and it also doesn’t help that the picture quality is less than perfect on my copies, but I even paused the image of all the crap Olivia has dumped and I am pretty sure I see at least one needle.  Jesus, what all is Olivia doing to her body besides filling in with massive amounts of white powder?  In any case, Abs takes all the paraphernalia out of the bedroom and seems satisfied, but then later we hear Olivia on the phone with a friend, declaring how she filled most of those bags up with baking soda, knowing her mother would search her room again.  Ooooh, clever coked out girl!




This is only the first confrontation of the ep, but it immediately sets the tone for brilliance.  I love everything this storyline for as long as it goes on (which is not long enough, in my opinion), but obviously the first important bit of business is the tremendous acting from the two ladies.  I’ve said how much I like Olivia since pretty much the moment she arrived at the cul-de-sac.  Back then, she was mostly just a cute little girl that would occasionally have a few lines in eps, but didn’t do all that much.  Now it’s seven years later and she’s really blossomed into an important character and Tonya’s acting chops show that she can hold her own.  While a lot of this stuff threatens to become over-the-top, I feel it stays nicely grounded because I believe in Tonya as a real teenager with a real drug problem.  Also, while it goes without saying that Donna is always perfect as Abs, this is some of her finest work.  I love seeing Abs kick into mother lion mode and be harsh with Olivia in the name of helping her.  I also love how Abs stays sharp and watchful over Olivia, not being easily fooled.  This is demonstrated even in small ways, like the way Olivia is very slowly emptying her boot of all her drugs and Abs just grabs it from her and starts emptying it herself, or the way she stands next to her afterwards and says, “There’s got to be more.”  We are also seeing a fabulous new side to Abby’s character, as her mission here is not to sleep with some senator in order to get a business deal or screw someone out of money they deserve or whatever else she might be doing in another ep of the series.  Instead, we are shifting our focus strictly to Abs trying to save Olivia before her problems get even more out of hand, and we are focusing on Abs strictly as a mother and I really like that.

Over the course of the ep, Abs comes to realize that Olivia’s problem is even more serious than it first appeared.  This starts when she gets a phonecall from some richie rich clothing store, saying they are sorry that they weren’t able to return Olivia’s clothes for cash.  Turns out that Olivia showed up at this store wanting to return a whole ton of clothes and get some cash back, but the store doesn’t play that way.  Oh, by the way, I like how this is shot, and even though I’ve bitched throughout the season about how everything looks and sounds way cheaper than it used to, the directors still consistently throw some stylistic flair into the eps.  In this case, Abs gets the call from the department store, and then as the lady on the phone is describing what happened, we see it play out in front of us, like we see Olivia trying to return the clothes and being told no, only we can’t hear her dialogue, since the lady on the phone is speaking over it, you all follow?  I don’t know if they filmed a whole big Olivia-trying-to-return-clothes scene and then cut it out and then decided to sorta cleverly use it for different purposes within this sequence or if it was always planned out that way, but in any case, I like it.  I also like it later in the ep when Abs pays the high school a visit and finds out that Olivia still has several unpaid tuition fees on her record, and I like the next scene where she finds out that Olivia sold Brian’s little pocket TV for coke money, and I really like the next scene where Abs finds out that both Olivia and Brian’s bank accounts have been drained.  Jeez, how did Olivia manage to get Brian’s money out of that account? 



Meanwhile, Olivia is hanging around the high school and going to work for Bobby Briggs (pictured below), who is only allowed to exist in movies or TV shows if he plays a teenaged kid selling drugs to other teenaged kids.  Actually, I got pretty excited when I saw Bobby Briggs on the show, and I love how he is in many ways very similar to the way he’ll be in a few short years on Twin Peaks.  In this case, dressed in a leather jacket and wearing sunglasses, he tells Olivia how if she wants some of his drugs, she’ll need to give him some cold hard cash.  She says that she doesn’t have any cash, so he offers her a “sales job.”  At first, Olivia says no, prompting Bobby Briggs to say, “You rich kids can always find money somewhere, right?”  Later, Olivia’s resolve crumbles as we see her agreeing to work for Bobby Briggs, but then sneaking off into a back alley to steal some of the coke for herself.  Unfortunately for her, Bobby Briggs quickly catches her and takes the coke back and then shoves her against a wall, all while that stylistic device I liked so much from earlier returns with another character piping dialogue over the soundtrack (in this case, it’s a cop giving a lecture about teenage drug use at some sort of seminar Abs is attending).



My other favorite scene in this ep is a grand conversation between Abs and Gary.  Ever the wise and seasoned recovering alcoholic, Gary says how Olivia is supporting a coke habit now, a word which frightens Abs.  Then Abs has one of her fabulous moments of naked emotion when she just says, “I don’t know what to do,” and then Gary sorta sighs and says, “I don’t know what to do, either,” and then he adds, “I know it’s awful, but Olivia may have to hit rock bottom before she realizes what kind of trouble she’s in.”  These are wise words, and Gary of course knows that of which he speaks.  I think it’s obvious that Gary’s rock bottom was waking up on a beach in 1983 all hungover and lying just a few short dashes from Ciji’s dead body.  Will Olivia suffer a similar fate?  Watch on! 

Oh yeah, and the very last thing I wanna talk about with this episode before wrapping it up: Urine.  Once again, KL doesn’t shy away from talking about their characters’ urine and I continue to appreciate it.  Everybody in the world goes pee and poop, yet these bodily functions are hardly ever seen or talked on network TV, and especially not in this era, so I really like the scene where Abs orders Olivia to give her a urine sample and Olivia declares, “This is really gross,” to which Abs retorts, “You’re right; this is really gross.”  Anyway, Olivia gives the sample, but before giving it to her mother, we have a quick scene of her telling Brian that she needs some bleach right and quick because she spilled something on the carpet.  Later, she passes the drug test and I didn’t understand why, but My Beloved Grammy helpfully said how you can use bleach to mess with the results of a urinalysis (apparently My Beloved Grammy does a lot more coke than I do). 

That oughta about do it for this ep.  If my enthusiasm seems lesser as of late, I apologize for that and I want to stress that I think all the Abs and Olivia material is stellar this ep and it’s only gonna get more stellar in our next ep, the classic No Miracle Worker.

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