Thursday, November 16, 2017


Season 07, Episode 19

Episode 149 of 344

Written by Lynn Marie Latham

Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 6th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): The tabloid has an article about how Joshua tried to kill Cathy. Ben tells her that Sonny works for the tabloid. She breaks down crying and Ben comforts her. Cathy slaps Sonny, who tells her he had to do it, to tell her side of the story. Greg tells Laura that Galveston kept a file on Sylvia, and sent her monthly checks. Greg tells Peter that he can prove his loyalty by working with him to recover Empire Valley and bring down Gary and Abby. Jill continues to investigate Wesphall, but won't tell Mack why. Mack gives her back the key and it upsets Jill. Mack apologizes to Karen and gives her flowers, but she's still angry, and he accuses her of blowing it out of proportion. Val takes Mack's side, saying he didn't use the key and that she shouldn't lose her marriage because of her hurt pride, but Karen insists she feels betrayed.

                In our prior ep, Friendly Enemies, we saw the beginnings of a serious rift forming in the marriage of Karen and Mack after Karen discovered J.B.’s hotel room key in Mack’s pocket.  This rift only grows larger as the subject is expanded upon with this week’s ep, The Key to a Woman’s Heart.  But first, let’s take some time to discuss our other beloved characters on the cul-de-sac (or off of it) and what they’re up to in this ep.

                Let’s start with my least favorite storyline going on right now, which thankfully is coming to an end in this ep.  In Friendly Enemies, Sonny bought Cathy a pizza and then immediately dropped it on the ground, which charmed Cathy enough to go out to dinner with him and confess all of her deepest, darkest secrets, even telling him the truth about what happened up on the roof with Joshua.  This all happened at the precise same moment that Ben and Val were figuring out the truth about Sonny, that he is actually a reporter working on a story about Cathy and Joshua.  The storyline comes to an undramatic conclusion this week when Cathy arrives at Pacific Cable Whatever to do a song and dance number and Ben tells her the truth about Sonny.  Cathy gets real frustrated and says, “I sure know how to pick them,” a line that makes me wonder if it’s meant to be meta.  Is this the writers saying, “Okay, we know it’s stupid to have Cathy finish up a storyline with one bad dude and then immediately give her a new storyline with a new bad dude”?  I appreciate that kind of writing or humor, but if that’s what they’re doing in this case, it doesn’t really excuse it, but only makes it seem lazier.  If you know you’re sending Cathy over the same tracks that she’s walked before in previous seasons, then why do it all?  Doing it and then throwing in a line like, “I sure know how to pick them,” doesn’t help matters.  They should have given her something interesting and new to do following Joshua’s death.

                Despite my harping, there was a small detail in this ep that I really appreciated, proving that KL is so inherently good and so inherently genius that even in the midst of a story I don’t care for one bit, I’ll find something to appreciate.  In this instance, it’s right after Ben gives Cathy the news about Sonny and she retreats to her dressing room for some private time.  As she enters the dressing room, she slams the door hard and a picture falls off the wall.  Cathy’s reaction to the picture falling feels so real and so genuine to me that I am utterly convinced it was a total accident; I don’t think the picture was meant to fall off the wall, but then Lisa slammed the door hard enough to make it fall and it did and it created this fabulously authentic moment that feels super real.  If I ever have a chance to interview her (Lisa, are you out there?), I will ask her about this scene and see if my instincts are correct and if the falling picture frame was a happy accident. 

               Also, after the picture falls, Cathy gets real angry and smashes something against the wall, I think a vase.  This method of expressing anger through breaking material things has been a popular one with the KL characters lately; I think it was somewhere on this disk of eps that we also saw Abs get mad at Gary and smash something against a door after he exited the scene.  I also flash back a few years to our season four finale, Willing Victims, in which Laura realized Richard was gone and she went to town on his kitchen, smashing everything and flinging pots and pans all over the place.  Hell, I can trace this even further back to season two with The Loudest Word; remember when Gary trashed his and Val’s bedroom in a moment of private breakdown?  Clearly the KL gang likes to smash things whenever they get too stressed out or in over their heads.

                Okay, so I really liked that photo frame falling off the wall, but this is still a crap story, and what really seals it as a crap story is the way it, um, well I hesitate to use the word “concludes,” but I guess I’m left with no other choice.  After drawing this out for four eps, the storyline comes to an unceremonious end when Cathy simply pays Sonny a visit at his stupid saxophone club where he’s playing his stupid saxophone and she hits him.  This comes after Cathy has seen the most recent newspapers and has seen that what she told Sonny has now made it into the papers, by the way, and that is part of the reason why she’s so angry.  Anyway, he stops playing his stupid saxophone for a minute so that he can explain how he simply needed to tell the world the truth, or something like that, and then Cathy punches him and walks off.  Ugh, watching this, I was not enjoying it, but I also thought there was going to be more to it than this, but only after finishing this ep and watching the next one and then peeking at Buddy Repperton’s IMDb to see if he’d be showing up again did I realize that this is the end of the story.  Talk about an unexciting way to end things, huh?  What was even the point of this story?  I think I honestly would have rather had Lisa just sit out four eps or so rather than be handed this as her follow-up story to Joshua Rush.  Pretty much nothing about this story worked for me, starting with the way Sonny came out of nowhere, going through the way that Cathy instantly trusted him way too much and told him way too much private information, and finishing up with the boring and anticlimactic way that this all ends. 

                Olivia is still living at the Fairgate MacKenzie house as a pseudo-daughter.  In our prior ep, Karen smiled at Olivia and said, “I had forgotten how nice it was to have a woman in the house,” a line that made both My Beloved Grammy as well as myself pee our pants with laughter.  In what universe was Karen living where it was “nice” to have Diana in the house?  After Karen delivered this humdinger, I said, “It was never nice having Diana in the house,” and My Beloved Grammy shuddered and opined, “No, she was awful.”  Anyway, as we open up this ep, we have a quick scene of Gary trying to reach Olivia, trying to convince her to come back home to Westfork.  Olivia stands strong that she can’t live with Abs anymore, though she doesn’t tell Gary the exact reasons why.  I wanna take a moment to talk about Olivia’s motivations here, by the way.  In another scene from the ep, we get a pretty great firsthand example of how Olivia is starting to act like a little rebel.  As Sexy Michael (wearing a pink shirt that I want to rip off of him using my teeth) drives Olivia to school, she suddenly busts out the makeup kit and starts to go to work on her eyelashes and her lipstick and all that good stuff and, if I recall correctly, she also pulls the classic trick of taking off her modest outfit to reveal her slutty outfit hidden beneath it, all before arriving at school and chatting it up with a cigarette-smoking boy riding a motorcycle.  Yes, it appears Olivia looked at every cliché for how to turn into a teenage rebel and decided to live into all the stereotypes.  I note these things because I think they demonstrate that Olivia’s desire to live with Karen is not purely based on her horror of what her mother has done; I think there’s definitely some self-interest going on here, that she sees this as an opportunity to be bad and escape from the clutches of her mother, who wouldn’t even let her wear the sexy fingernail polish she wanted to.  While I do think Olivia is legit disgusted with her mother and I do think her disgust goes beyond a simple disagreement and more towards something that offends her core being, I also think she’s cashing in on this opportunity to get away from her mother’s prying eyes and start being naughty, maybe even start smoking grass (we’ll have to wait until our next ep to see!). 

                Meanwhile, Gary is making no bones about wanting to stray from his sacred marital vows to Abs and fall smoothly into the warmth of J.B.’s vagina, and this week I think he finally succeeds.  See, Gary and J.B. have been seeing quite a lot of each other as of late, going out to romantic dinners, sitting by candlelight to discuss their lives, heading out to look at sexy 1986 cars for Gary to buy and start racing.  With this ep, they finally make out, and I say “finally” with a smidge of reticence since I’m not entirely sure if they’ve made out before or not, but I think they haven’t.  This is their first, right?  There’s been a lot of heavy flirtation and Gary tried to shag her a few eps back, but J.B. resisted.  Now J.B. can resist no longer and even though all we see is the kiss, the music swells up and it’s a very passionate kiss, so I think we can all rightly assume that Gary and J.B. had a shag mere moments after this.  I real fast wanna highlight something I’ve said before, which is that I don’t even necessarily see this as Gary “cheating” on Abs.  I think that marriage is basically dead and I think that Gary views it that way.  I think, after all the confusing Empire Valley stuff and Gary’s, “God, are we different,” comment to Abs, that he’s finally made a switch in his brain where he can’t love her the way he loved her throughout the previous three seasons or so.  I think she has finally betrayed his trust in a way that’s irrevocable and it’s only a matter of time before they get a divorce.  Because of this, I think Gary’s little affair with J.B. here is more him planning for the future, that this is the woman he might like to leave Abs for, so why not go ahead and get revved up and started with her now? 

                We’ve also got a lot going on this ep with all the drama involving Greg and Peter and Sylvia and, you know, the whole gang.  Laura really gets in on the action this week, because we catch up with her late at night at the Sumner offices raiding Peter’s desk, looking for information.  I’m not entirely sure what she’s hoping to find, but I imagine she’s looking for some sort of proof that he’s a liar, that he’s not who he says he is, maybe a Scrapbook Of Evil like the kind that were so popular amongst Wayne Harkness and Chip Roberts back in season four (although I guess Chip didn’t keep a scrapbook of evil, but he did keep an evil newspaper clipping that helped us realize he was evil).  Laura doesn’t manage to find anything, but she does get caught red handed by Peter, who walks in and calmly addresses her.  I like Peter’s ability to play it cool in any given situation.  In this instance, he could throw a big hissy fit about Laura invading his privacy, but he knows that she’s going to be an obstacle to him and he’d better get on her good side, which he attempts to do.  He invites her to dinner at Sylvia’s apartment and says how she can meet his mother and see where she lives and get to know them a little bit better. 

                Interestingly, Laura agrees to this, and the next time we see the characters, they are all sitting down to a nice dinner together.  Sylvia is serving and she goes on about her life and the dishes she likes to prepare, stuff like that.  This is a fun little scene because you get the sense that Laura is being gracious enough to make polite conversation and enjoy the food with Sylvia and Peter, but you can also tell that she still ain’t buying it.  She doesn’t believe either of these characters are who they claim to be, and she still makes that pretty clear to them in the course of this dinner, yet all without necessarily being rude.  It’s a really strange, cool balancing act and it’s played well by all the actors in the scene.  Again, I stress how much I’m enjoying this particular portion of the stories right now and what a delightful surprise it is.  I can’t put my finger on it exactly, can’t find one specific thing that Sylvia or Peter are doing that’s super compelling, but it’s just a feeling. I love Greg, I love Laura, I like Peter, and I like Sylvia and I just like where this is all going.

                Where it’s going is apparently back to Empire Valley, which is where Greg takes Peter at the end of this episode.  By this point, Empire Valley is no longer a smoking pile of rubble, but rather just a simple, non-smoking pile of rubble.  I’m not entirely sure what is conveyed in this scene, but that is probably the result of my own stupid brain and not the fault of the show or the writing.  Basically, Greg says how his end goal is to take down Gary and Abs and that he needs Peter’s help to do so.  He also continues to seem very trusting towards Peter, and I still haven’t figured out if this is based in his honestly believing Peter’s story or in something more clever and duplicitous. In this ep, he continues to defend Peter to a skeptical Laura, saying how he checked the Galveston files and that there were monthly checks from Galveston to Sylvia for years, which helps to backup Peter’s story.  Even so, I’m leaning towards Greg being clever.  I think he smells a rat, but he’s smart enough to not tell Peter that.  As Don Corelone might say, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”  If Greg can stay close to Peter and earn some form of trust, it might make it easier for him to figure out what’s really going on.

                Last thing on the Peter roster for this ep is a little meeting he has with Abs at some fancy bar.  Again, I think my stupid brain failed to process exactly the contents of this meeting or why Abs is meeting with him, but let’s just assume that Abs wants to get in bed with Peter for some sort of wicked reason.  She feels burned by Gary and left out on all things relating to Lotus Point.  She’s getting bored sitting around Westfork and she needs something to do to keep her entertained.  I do also want to note how, at least as far as this season is concerned, I’m noticing a lot more meetings taking place in big fancy bars and restaurants.  I’m wondering if that’s a Dallas influence bleeding over into KL courtesy of David Paulsen, but then I’m also wondering if I’m merely more inclined to notice these things because of his presence.  What do you guys think?  Oh yeah, and also, one last thing, I am pretty sure the piano player in the background for this scene is playing Karen’s little theme song from way back in season one.  Am I crazy about this?  If it’s not Karen’s theme, it’s some piece of the series score, some bit of music that we’ve heard more than once as part of the music of different eps.  This threw my brain off, because I knew I recognized the music in the background, and I even rewound it so I could hear it again, and at first I thought it was from some famous movie and that’s why I recognized it, but then I realized it was from the show.  I like this little touch, because it’s just cool. It’s cool that a piece of the KL score can be a canon piece of music within the world of the show, a bit of music that might be played on the piano at a fancy bar that Abs likes to go to. 

                Okay, so that pretty much does it for all of our characters except for Karen and Mack, but I’ve been saving them for last because I think their material is easily the best stuff about this ep.  Ugh, it’s all so good, and I don’t even know where to start, except at the beginning.  As we get started with this ep, Karen is still giving Mack the silent treatment in a way that I feel is a bit much.  Mack is trying to communicate with her, bringing her flowers, being loving, trying to be open, and Karen is totally shutting him out at this point.  In the previous ep, I talked about how I’m having a bit of a hard time with Karen right now, and that continues in this ep, although the writing is still so good that I of course can understand both characters.  Near the middle of this ep, Karen is having a heart to heart with Val and Val tells her she needs to forgive Mack and that the mere fact that Mack had a key to a hotel room does not justify destroying their marriage.  Karen kinda sorta agrees with Val, but then she says, “I just feel so betrayed,” and it’s that line that I was able to focus on and understand.  I think Karen knows that Mack wouldn’t cheat, but there’s just something about the inherent secrecy of the room key, of the fact that he held onto it, that is making her feel betrayed and unable to get over it and forgive him.  Perhaps this whole situation could have been easily avoided if Mack had just come home on the day J.B. gave him the key and said, “Karen, you won’t believe this, but guess who gave me a key to her hotel room and an open invite to shag her whenever I wanna!”  If it had been done that way, Karen and Mack could have laughed together about Mack’s powerful sexual charisma and Karen wouldn’t feel betrayed by Mack.  I think it’s the fact that he held onto the key in secret that is really eating at her.

                All this key drama paves the way for a truly magnificent fight between Karen and Mack in their bedroom in the middle of the night.  This is gonna be another instance where I rant and rave about how brilliant a scene is while failing to properly describe it or dictate the incredible dialogue, and that’s of course because I was staring at the screen in awe throughout the whole sequence and barely managed to write anything in my notes except for a few choice bits of dialogue that stuck out to me.  This feels like the kind of fight where the couple starts out by fighting about one specific issue, but as the intensity grows, we come to realize that they are really fighting about deeper issues, issues they’ve probably been holding in and not talking about the last few years.  I say this because Karen makes a sarcastic comment about Mack trying to be cute, “Just like your flirting is cute,” and as they start to yell and scream more, Mack throws out a few choice phrases like, “Miss Self Righteous,” and Karen tells him, “You have the subtlety of a steamroller.”  I think Mack even destroys a lamp, continuing that running theme of damaging your own property in the throes of a fight that I’ve been noticing a lot as of late.  This is my favorite scene of the entire episode, mostly because I loved the realistic way that the fight accelerated and also because I love both characters and I think both actors are at the top of their game playing the scene.  I also love how the fight can be so intense without being scary, if that makes sense.  What I mean is that, yeah, Mack yells and smashes a lamp, but we’re never afraid that he’s gonna start beating on Karen or anything like that.  I also loved how we get a sense of the deeper problems underlying this marriage.  Karen is getting fed up with Mack’s flirting and his little bits of cute behavior while Mack is getting tired of being judged and held to some impossibly high standard (a standard probably set in Karen’s mind by her long marriage to Saint Sid).  I know some fans really seem to revolt on Karen and Mack at a certain point in the series because they think both characters are self-righteous, but I think I disagree.  Doesn’t a scene like this show that the writers know their characters are flawed and are addressing it through their actions and dialogue?

                That’s another thing to love about this scene and this whole storyline, by the way.  As we got revved up with this ep and the thirty second preview showed that we’ve be continuing to explore this whole J.B. key situation, My Beloved Grammy confessed to me that she, “could use a little less adultery on the show.”  I quickly defended the honor of the series by reminding her that Dallas had constant adultery and she never complained about it there, but she did tell me that she didn’t love it over on Dallas, either.  As we got deeper into the ep and witnessed the sublime and amazing fight between Karen and Mack, I pointed out to her that the brilliance of the show lies not in the adultery or in the possibility of the adultery but in the way the characters react.  On another nighttime drama, they would probably have Mack have the affair just because it would make for good drama, but they wouldn’t get deep into his character and explore his midlife crisis in the fabulous way that KL does.  On KL, we don’t even have an affair, but just the possibility of an affair, and that is enough to have this fantastic fight and all these fabulous character moments between Karen and Mack, and that’s what makes the show have that special extra magical kick, wouldn’t you agree?

                I think that’s about all I got for The Key to a Woman’s Heart, an ep that I enjoyed very much and that might be my favorite of the five we watched on this disk (The Confession through A Very Special Gift).  While I don’t like the Cathy/Sonny story, the good news it that this ep ends it, it’s over, it’s done, and we don’t need to think about it anymore.  While I didn’t like the way this ep ended it, I’m just glad the story’s over and we can move on to something else, something hopefully better, for Cathy in her final eleven eps on the series.  Everything else in this ep was good to great, in my opinion.  I enjoyed all the stuff with Abs, Gary, and Olivia, especially the subtle ways that we are seeing Olivia’s bad side manifest itself.  I also greatly enjoyed everything with Peter and Sylvia, but the real great stuff in this ep came via Karen and Mack and their amazing fight, which is a scene for the ages.  I should take a moment to note that Lynn Latham (pictured below) wrote this one, and I continue to be impressed whenever she or her hubby contribute a script.  I know this pair is unpopular with many fans, and I plan to explore that in greater detail during their reign from seasons eight through twelve, but as of this moment, I’m impressed with both of them and think they’ve written some excellent scripts.  I also wonder if having a female writer for this ep is why the Karen/Mack stuff is so good.  Could Latham understand Karen in a special way that made their fight really come alive as it did?  In any case, all the Karen/Mack stuff is clearly the best part of the ep and is good enough that, if everything else in the ep sucked, I would still recommend it.  Fortunately, aside from Cathy/Sonny, this was a solid ep on all counts.

                Coming up next, we explore the final ep on this particular disk, the 150th ep of the series entitled A Very Special Gift. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Episode Title: Friendly Enemies

Season 07, Episode 18

Episode 148 of 344

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 30th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter tells Greg that he's his brother, and brings Sylvia to meet him. Laura thinks Peter is up to something, and is frustrated that Greg seems unconcerned. Abby overhears Laura telling this to Karen, and she asks Peter out for a drink. Gary decides to go into racing. Karen finds Jill's hotel key in Mack's pocket and confronts him with it. He tries to explain that he would never use it, but it made him feel younger, more alive, like life wasn't passing him by, and he hopes Karen will understand. Crying, she says no. Mack's upset that Jill went through his Westfall file without permission. Sonny accidentally drops a tape marked "Cathy #3." Val plays the tape, and hears Sonny's notes about his articles. Meanwhile, Sonny is out to dinner with Cathy. She tells him how Joshua tried to throw her off of the roof, and that Lilimae saved her life. Sonny says he's sorry for what Joshua did to her.

                In our last episode, Alterations, we saw some serious changes taking place in the relationship between Abs and Olivia when Olivia found out the truth about Abby’s knowledge of Val’s babies and that she kept that fact secret.  Thanks to this newfound information, Olivia is going to be staying at Aunt Karen’s for awhile, where she’ll hopefully experience a little less dysfunctional family drama, hopefully.

                That glides us nicely into the very first thing I wish to discuss when it comes to this episode, and that is the relationship between Karen and Mack.  While these two have had a few setbacks since Mack was first brought into the fold in season four, for the most part they have been a strong, stable, and loving couple, but this week, Karen finds the key to J.B.’s hotel room in Mack’s pocket and it causes a pretty serious rift in their marriage.  It should be noted that the key is discovered innocently enough, I believe when Karen is doing some laundry and emptying pockets in preparation; it’s not like she goes snooping through Mack’s clothes and belongings in an attempt to find something incriminating.  After her discovery of the key, she turns to Val for advice in a scene that I found very interesting.  See, Val’s immediate advice to Karen is to either put the key back where she found it or throw it away and to not bother mentioning it to Mack, pretend nothing happened.  Then Karen says, “Could you?” and Val gets kinda quiet and answers, “No.”  This made me reflect back to an earlier Val, a season two Val who somewhat managed to look the other way while Gary cheated on her with Judy Trent.  Do you think Val’s current advice about ignoring the presence of the key stems back to how she would ignore Gary’s adulterous romances in the past?  Do you think Karen is thinking about these past events when she talks to Val about these issues? 

                In any case, it doesn’t take long for Karen to confront Mack, and I appreciated how this scene played out.  We begin with a pretty awkward Fairgate MacKenzie family dinner (or perhaps I should say Fairgate MacKenzie Cunningham Ewing due to the presence of Olivia).  While everyone makes nice dinner chit chat, Karen just sorta sits quietly at her end of the table, not engaging with the others, looking upset.  When all the kids run off, Mack asks Karen what’s wrong and she simply gets up and lays the key on the table as the music gets ominous, all before we cut to a commercial.  I liked the silent way this played out, that Karen is able to show Mack what’s wrong all without having to open her mouth.  On another show, the writers might be tempted to make this a very wordy scene or have Karen doing a lot of speaking about the way she found the key, but here it’s so gloriously simple; she just puts the key on the table and that’s it.

                I also found the next scene very interesting for many reasons, and I must confess that I’m quite tempted to take sides in this argument, but I’ll try not to.  I’ve long extolled the virtues of KL’s ability to keep every character feeling dynamic and multifaceted, for being able to present situations of conflict without presenting one character as right and the other character as wrong.  I think they are still doing a good job of that here, but in terms of my own personal views, I’m definitely agreeing with Mack in this case.  See, basically he tells Karen that he never meant to use the key, that he never even wanted to use the key, but he needed to know that he had the key.  He tells her how he sometimes feels that life is passing him by, that he’s not young and fresh the way he used to be, and that J.B.’s attraction to him helped him to feel young again.  He concludes by asking Karen if she can understand that and she flatly says no and then walks off.  Okay, it was here that I paused the ep and pointed out to My Beloved Grammy that Karen is being quite the hypocrite here.  Let us all flash back to episode three of the entire series, the brilliant Let Me Count the Ways.  In that ep, Karen was tempted to have an affair with the sexy and exciting and unconventional new teacher from Diana’s high school.  She even got herself all dolled up and looking sexy and went to his apartment for an afternoon delight, you all remember that?  Then, when she was at his apartment, she gave a speech that was remarkably similar to the one Mack is giving her now.  She told the teacher that she just needed to know that she was still attractive to men and that it made her feel young again, but that she can’t go through with the affair, and then she returned home to Saint Sid and the kids.  Yup, I’d say it’s pretty much the exact same scenario, wouldn’t you?  Now the situation is reversed and Mack is the one needing a little boost to remind him that he’s sexy, yet Karen is shutting him out and refusing to understand his feelings.  Has she really forgotten all about her almost affair from back in season one?  Yeah, that was six years ago, but it’s still not that long ago and you’d think she’d remember a big event like that, no?  I’m quite sure that she remembers that episode just as vividly as I do, so I have to take issue with Karen being so harshly judgmental of Mack just for carrying around J.B.’s hotel room key.

                I also feel bad for Mack because I feel like he’s put up with a lot of shit since marrying Karen.  This is not to say it’s Karen’s fault or to blame her for the dramas that arise, since I still love Karen and always will until the day I die and dramas are par for the course when you live in a nighttime soap opera, but let’s just go down the list real fast.  As soon as Mack was introduced to the series, he immediately had to deal with Karen going to great lengths to get Sid’s murderers sent to prison, even putting her own life at risk to do so.  Then they dated for awhile and then they got married and Mack immediately had the joy of dealing with Hell-spawn Diana and all the drama with her and Chip Roberts.  Then, once that was over, Karen had her pill popping saga and had to be sent to rehab to detox.  After that, the Wolfbridge stuff really came to a head and lead to Karen declaring that she wanted a divorce from Mack, a story that ran through a good 1/3 of the sixth season, and that brings us right about up to date.  Through all of this, Mack has been a very loyal and loving husband, always by her side, and now I see Karen shaming him for something that is really not that big a deal.  Mack didn’t use the stupid key; all he wanted to do was hold onto it and know that he had it.  I understand his feelings completely and there’s nothing wrong with his feelings.  God only knows what a neurotic mess I will be by the time I am 43 and I am starting to show wrinkles in my face; I’ll probably have a complete nervous breakdown. 

                Anyway, all the Karen/Mack stuff this week is good and bears interesting fruit, but let’s shelve it for the time being since it’s gonna get more interesting in the following eps and lead to some really great stuff.  Let’s go ahead and shift our focus over to Peter and Greg and Sylvia.  Peter surprises me this ep by letting the cat out of the bag right and quick with Greg.  See, the two are sitting in Greg’s office, talking about whatever, when Peter starts to talk about his troubled childhood and what a rough time he had.  Greg has some funny line where he’s like, “All this personal backstory is fascinating, but why are you telling me this?”  From there, Peter just answers, “Because I’m your half-brother.”  Honestly, I was surprised to see him bring it up so fast.  It was only two eps ago that we viewers were let in on this little secret through Peter’s conversation with Sylvia, and I kinda expected them to draw this out a little longer, let the suspense build, let us wonder what Peter is up to, but I prefer it this way.  I like how Peter just gets right to it and then we get to see how Greg reacts to it.

                Let’s talk about that reaction, because it’s positively fascinating and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it.  Basically, he believes Peter right off the bat and tells him he accepts what he has told him as fact.  My question of course is this: Is Greg lying?  Is Greg suspicious of Peter’s claims and just acting super friendly to keep on good terms with him and continue to get more information out of him?  Or does he truly believe him?  We all know that Greg has no great regard for his biological father, Paul Galveston, and we also know that Galveston was a pretty busy guy having a myriad of different affairs with a myriad of different women.  After all, Greg’s very conception and existence is based on Galveston having an affair with his mother while she was married to the fighter pilot daddy guy.  Because of this, it’s not inconceivable that Peter is telling the truth, and perhaps Greg sees it that way, as well.  Laura is immediately suspicious of this claim and makes it clear to Greg, but he continues to act like everything is fine.  Has he got something up his sleeve?  This is the stuff I probably find most interesting throughout this ep, by the way, and my love for Greg Sumner is only growing larger as I make my way through this rewatch.  I always loved the character, but God damn if he’s not one of TV’s best characters ever; what a fascinating and complicated character and played so perfectly by Devane.  Oh yeah, and while we’re on the subject, I should note that we see Greg sucking on a big cigar late at night while sitting on the couch and talking with Laura about Peter, so we all know what that means; it means we have now reached Cigar #11 on the Sumner Cigar Counter.

                The plot thickens over at Lotus Point when Laura asks to have a private conversation with Karen.  She goes into Karen’s office and shuts the door, but the two women forget to watch out for Abs, who remains posted outside of the door, quite literally listening at keyhole.  Thusly, Abs is let in on the little secret about who Peter Hollister really is, or at least who he claims to be.  Abs has been extra frustrated lately with all the different ways her life is turning to shit, including being pretty much voted out of Lotus Point and no longer getting an opinion on any matters in that department.  Add to that the fact that her daughter is no longer living with her and her husband is getting ready to have an affair and you can understand why Abs would be feeling a little unloved this week, a little eager to strike up some new connection with a new person, someone like Peter, perhaps.  Again, nothing much happens in this department within the confines of this ep, but keep watching, because it’s planting some seeds for a possible alliance between Abs and Peter.

                Let’s go ahead and talk about my least favorite storyline going on at this juncture, that of Cathy and Sonny.  Oh snore, this thing is still dragging on, and get comfortable because it’s also gonna drag on into our next episode, as well.  See, early in the ep, through some series of circumstances, Sonny winds up accidentally dropping some cassette tape on the ground that is simply labeled, “Cathy #3.”  Then, through some other series of circumstances that I really can’t remember, the tape winds up in the possession of Val. Oh yeah, actually I think I remember it now.  Ben is the one who finds the tape lying around the studio, and then later when he hears that Val is going off to run some errands, he gives her the tape and asks her to drop it off with Cathy, who is still living at Ben’s Plant House.  Okay, so that’s all fine, but the trouble comes when Val finds herself trapped in traffic and decides to pass the time by listening to the tape, probably assuming it’s some new awesome Cathy cover song.  Instead, she finds that it’s an oral dictation by Sonny discussing all the dirt he’s managed to dig up from Cathy.  Oh no!

                Meanwhile, Cathy is all sick with laryngitis or whatever.  In my notes, when Cathy first showed up and was suffering from a lost voice, I wrote, “Cathy’s voice: Plot point or real life Lisa problem?”  At first I thought maybe Lisa was just sick that week and so they threw in a quick scene about her having laryngitis so that they could shuffle her off for the rest of the ep, but I don’t think that anymore.  Her laryngitis provides the impetus for Sonny to show up at The Plant House and be “charming” with her, so I think that was always written as a part of the script as a plot function.  Anyway, yeah, so Sonny shows up at The Plant House holding a pizza and then he puts on some big production and tries to look like this great, sweet, caring guy, but then he accidentally drops the pizza on the ground.  Cathy laughs at this (and even though I don’t like anything about this storyline, I do like the way Cathy laughs and think she seems very genuine and warm) and then the two decide to go out to a restaurant for awhile.

                Ugh, I just hate this storyline, and I just hate it more the more it goes on.  How stupid is it that Cathy is so immediately trusting of this douchebag?  They go out to dinner and she continues to be completely trusting in a way that simply does not feel organic.  I maintain that the writers should have gone a whole different way with Cathy’s storylines following Joshua’s death, not just immediately repeat the storyline with her getting involved with some new bad dude.  And of course, since she’s known Sonny for all of five minutes, she lets it spill what really happened up on that roof with Joshua.  Sure, Sonny is a nothing character and he’s only been on the show for two or three eps, but he bought her a pizza, damn it, and that means she can trust him with all of her deepest, darkest secrets.  She hasn’t confided in anyone about what Joshua was really trying to do to her right before he died, not even Laura, whom she seems especially close to, but she’s ready to confide in Sonny.  Stupid stupid stupid.

                Also, in terms of basic nighttime drama, isn’t this story just kinda boring?  What is really so bad about a newspaper finding out what really happened?  It would be one thing if Lilimae and Cathy had actually conspired together to murder Joshua and now they were afraid of that being revealed, but all that happened was Joshua went psycho and tried to kill Cathy.  If a newspaper finds out about this, they will run the story, it will be a little scandal for five minutes, and then people will move on to the next exciting bit of news.  Yeah, it will suck for Lilimae to have to explain to people that her son was a psycho, but aside from that, what are the stakes?  Why should we feel nervous or in suspense with any part of this story?  This is clearly the worst storyline going on right now and I just wish the writers had killed it off before it even had the chance to be born; they should have completely scrapped the whole idea of Sonny and Cathy and tried a completely different type of story.

                That’s about all I’ve got for Friendly Enemies.  If I sounded dismissive of this particular ep, please note that it’s not the ep’s fault, but rather my own.  I’m just feeling a little tired and out of it and had a hard time remembering all the events of this particular ep, although I remembered the big stuff. I’d say I liked this ep better than The Confession but not as much as Alterations.  I’m eager to see the Sonny storyline go away but everything else about the ep was pretty good, with the best stuff being the material between Karen and Mack.  Even so, I don’t recall anything in particular leaping out at me about this ep, like I can’t remember anything especially amazing or wonderful or exciting about it, nor can I remember any cool stylistic touches, although I’m sure there were some.  So I guess I’d say that this was a perfectly easy to watch ep, but just a little ho hum.

                Next up, we continue to explore the subject of J.B.’s key with The Key to a Woman’s Heart.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Episode Title: Alterations

Season 07, Episode 17

Episode 147 of 344

Written by Parke Perine

Directed by Linda Day

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 23rd, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): The police decide not to prosecute Lilimae and Cathy, however a story about what happened is in the tabloid that Sonny works at. Peter and his mother discuss her relationship with Galveston, and how Peter is Greg's half- brother. Jill tells Mack that the Governor wants her to work with him, and she'll be moving into the office next to his. She gives him the key to her room at the Bryant Hotel. Mack drives by the hotel, but decides not to go in. Greg calls Abby, and Olivia picks up an extension. She hears Greg threaten to tell Gary that Abby knew all along that he was the father of the twins, and that she knew they were alive. Upset, Olivia asks the MacKenzies if she can live with them, though she won't say why. Abby and Gary go to get her, and she tells Abby that if she doesn't let her live there, she will tell Gary about the twins. Olivia asks her how she could do something like that, and Abby leaves, very upset.more

Welcome to Alterations.  As usual, we’ve got a lot going on and a lot of characters to talk about, so let’s just get started straight away with, say, Lilimae.  Why Lilimae?  Honestly, it’s because the material Lilimae is getting to work with at this juncture is, for me, some of the least interesting stuff going on in the saga at this point, although it’s not my least favorite story at this moment (take a guess on what that might be).  Anyway, as we head into Alterations, the police have decided to drop the whole case against Cathy and Lilimae, probably because they realize it has been stretched out over far too many episodes as it is and they, like the audience, are eager to get it wrapped up and finished with.  Unfortunately, the police dismissing the case does not signify the end of this storyline, because we’ve still got more.  See, near the middle portion of this ep, Lilimae is going through the grocery store, doing her shopping, making me wonder who exactly pays the bills for all the groceries needed at Val’s house.  Val is a big rich book author now, right?  So do you think she just hands a big wad of cash over to Lilimae and sends her off to Safeway whenever they need some groceries?  Or do you think, somehow, someway, Lilimae has managed to save up some money in the last few years?  I highly doubt that, as when she was reintroduced into the cul-de-sac at the start of season three, she was a homeless shopping cart lady using clever methods of deception to get out of paying her hotel bills, and since moving in with Val, she hasn’t done any work that would earn her some money (aside from a brief career as a Vegas lounge singer back in The Rose and the Briar).  In any case, it’s not important, but it’s thoughts like this that fill my head as I watch the drama unfolding onscreen, maybe because, by this point, the drama for Lilimae is not interesting me. 

See, she’s at the grocery store, buying whatever, when she realizes that her face is splashed all over the front page of some trashy tabloid paper along with a headline about Joshua’s death, something about how there is a conspiracy and that probably Cathy and Lilimae killed him.  Never one to cause a scene, Lilimae runs through the entire grocery store ripping the paper out of everyone’s hands.  This scene was very amusing for many reasons, but the thing I noted immediately was how it seems that absolutely everybody in the grocery store is reading this paper.  When have you ever been in a grocery store and seen all the people standing around reading papers?  The only people I ever see doing that are those 900 year old fat white dudes who live in grocery stores and just spend their whole days sipping coffee and reading papers.  Anyway, yeah, Lilimae runs around and rips the papers out of everyone’s hands and, you know, that’s pretty much the scene.  The big mystery here is: Why are these articles being published and who is the person responsible for them?
Well, that leads us nicely into my very least favorite storyline currently going on within the show, and that would be, you guessed it, Cathy and Sonny.  Buddy Repperton was last seen in the closing moments of The Confession giving Cathy a song and dance about how he would be there for her all before he pulled out an evil tape recorder from his pocket and made an evil face for the camera.  In Alterations, we get a little more info on what this guy is really up to.  He is seen early in the ep having a meeting with some newspaper editor, talking about how he’s getting good information out of Cathy about the actual circumstances of Joshua’s death.  The editor (who I really thought I recognized but, when I looked him up, realized he’s a nobody and I’ve never seen him in anything before) seems less than thrilled with Sonny and this story, telling him that he needs to deliver more exciting news than what he’s currently bringing.  Anyway, so far as I can remember, that’s about all we get with Sonny in this episode, and I don’t like it and it’s my least favorite story going on, so let’s move on to some good material.
While I’m underwhelmed by Lilimae/Cathy/Sonny, the good news is that everyone else is getting great material to work with right now, starting with the one and only Greg Sumner.  Oh, such joys Greg brings me every time I look at him.  I love everything about Greg and I love everything about the way Devane brings him to life, but I think what I love the very most is how multifaceted by him.  While we have lots of scenes of him sucking on cigars and sitting around his big office, making some sort of plan, we also get such fabulous bits of comedic gold as him taking care of Laura’s kids for the weekend.  See, looks like Laura’s gonna have to be out of town for a few days, so she leaves Greg in charge of the kids, Daniel and Jason 4.  Yes, that’s right, we have now reached Jason 4.  It looks like Jason 3 (Danny Ponce) made his curtain call earlier in the season with Until Parted by Death, and then of course before him we had Jason 2 (Danny Gellis, who spanned from Community Spirit through Living Dangerously) and then of course the easily forgotten Jason 1 (who was Justin Dana and was only in the Pilot episode).  Well, I’d have to say this is our most jarring Jason morph ever, because I was kinda getting used to having Danny Ponce around and didn’t realize he would be morphing randomly in the middle of the season, but here it is.  Jason 4 is played by Matthew Newmark and he shall keep bringing Jason to life until the immortal character finally leaves the series with Noises Everywhere: Part Two.  His IMDb resume isn’t too impressive, with nothing that really leapt out to me as too terribly interesting.  At the moment, I don’t really have an opinion on Jason 4, but stay tuned because I’m sure I’ll have thoughts later (except probably not, since Jason has never really been a compelling character in any of his myriad of incarnations).

In any case, I love seeing Greg play the homemaker with Daniel and Jason 4.  When we catch up with them, it’s breakfast time and, in lieu of preparing a traditional American breakfast of eggs and bacon and toast, Greg has instead chosen to prepare hot dogs and beans for breakfast.  Devane is in rare form in this scene, being unbelievably funny and charming and charismatic, telling them about how hot dogs and beans are the greatest breakfast known to man, all while juggling a call from Laura and a visit from an amused Karen.  A scene like this really makes me wonder how much improvisation Devane was pulling working with these kids.  Do you think there was even a script for this scene?  Or do you think the creative team just told Devane to act with the kids and do whatever felt natural?  Do you think the kids were just sorta allowed to react to him and make up their own dialogue based on his behavior?  I must know!  Why hasn’t Devane written to me yet requesting to do an interview?  I’m more than ready, Bill! 

Anyway, moving on from the beans and hot dogs, we also have some interesting new developments with Peter Hollister, who is revealed in this episode to be, GASP!, Greg Sumner’s half-brother.  Last ep, we met Ruth Roman as Sylvia Lean very briefly and listened to her and Peter exchange some cryptic dialogue with each other.  In this ep, we catch up with Peter giving Sylvia a bit of a tour through the Sumner offices during closing hours.  There’s nobody else in the offices, just Peter and Sylvia, and as he shows her around the place, we get some key information revealed.  Basically the two are talking about how soon they will be coming into money and Peter says something about how, after Greg finds out who he is, “How can he deny his half-brother his birthright?” or something similar.  Honestly, I’m enjoying all this stuff a lot more than I remember enjoying it upon first viewing.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it back then (remember that when I think back to my first viewing of the series, it’s all a blur of constant brilliance and I just remember feeling very, very happy all the time as I worked my way through the saga), but I just remember thinking it was kinda there, a storyline going on that was mildly interesting but not as interesting as the other stories going on concurrently.  Now, however, I’m finding all of this very compelling, and I think a lot of that has to do with the actors.  I’m not entirely sure why Ruth Roman is a famous actress (although I just did a bit of research and Wikipedia says Strangers on a Train is her most famous role), but I am sure that I find her quite compelling onscreen in much the same way that I found Ava Gardner so compelling last season.  Her husky cigarettes-and-cocktails voice holds a certain old Hollywood feeling that I greatly relish and I just enjoy listening to her speak.  The surprise for me is how much I’m enjoying Hunt Block as Peter Hollister, a character I really don’t remember having any particular feeling for one way or the other.  I don’t know what has changed for me at this point, except to say that I just like the strange, offbeat quality he’s bringing to this character.  I like how Peter manages to seem like kinda a square but also kinda duplicitous and untrustworthy but also kinda likable all at once.  Now that we are meeting his mother and she seems like a pretty normal old lady, it’s only making this character more interesting.  Oh yeah, and one last little thing to note which amuses me: Basically every episode, My Beloved Grammy will mention how much Peter looks and sounds like John Boy and she seems utterly convinced that he is the same actor no matter how many times I assure her that he is not.  Since she keeps saying it, however, I do confess I now notice a little bit of John Boy in Peter Hollister, as well.

Moving on from that, we also have fabulous and sizzling excitement between Mack and J.B., who has announced she is here to stay and has also announced that the governor wants her working hand in hand with Mack, basically working in the same office as him.  Of course, Mack goes on about how he doesn’t like having to work so close with J.B., but we viewers at home should all be very grateful to have as much J.B. in our lives as humanly possible.  Also, a certain key ingredient in our storylines for the coming weeks rears its head in this ep when J.B. gives Mack a key to her hotel room and gives him the open invite, saying how he can stop by anytime.  Okay, get ready for me to go on for seventeen days about all the possible motivations within J.B.’s brain.  So what’s going on here?  When she was first brought onto the show, she was flirty with Mack and then, just before she ran off to disappear for a little while, she confessed that she had fallen in love with him and that she had to return to Sacramento for that reason.  Now she’s back on the scene and seems to be making eyes at Gary, who she hit it off with a few eps back, but here she is giving Mack the key to her hotel room.  What changed?  Is she still “in love” with Mack?  Does she just want to enjoy at least one night of nonstop passion with Mack before allowing him to return to Karen and never mentioning what occurred again?  Or does she just need to get laid and Mack is near her and she thinks he’d be a good lay?  I’d say option three is the least likely, because if she wants a good lay, Gary is right there, ready to go, so why return to Mack?  Anyone got any ideas on this one?
Actually, I’d like to parlay this for a moment to discuss the entire character of J.B. and whether she is a good person or a bad person.  At this exact instant in time, pretending I’m a fresh viewer in 1986 with no possible way of knowing the sweet joys of what lies in the future, I would say that J.B. seems to be a good person and a person of ethics.  I like that she is a strong independent woman with a real job that is important and socially relevant, I like that she seems pretty clear and upfront about her thoughts and her opinions, and I like how she seems to think over her own decisions carefully.  Because of this, I do believe that meeting Karen and seeing the whole Fairgate MacKenzie family together made her decide to stop pursuing Mack, but that still doesn’t help explain why she’s giving him her hotel key now.  I guess, if I have to make a declaration right now at this very instant, I would say that she simply can’t resist his sexual allure.  She’s working with him all day long, she’s smelling that manly cologne or whatever the hell he wears (Dobsonator by Calvin Klein), she’s listening to him make jokes and be super duper charming.  For J.B. to stand idly by and resist Mack’s charms would be just as impossible as putting me in a locker room with a dripping wet and naked Sexy Michael Fairgate and asking me to not immediately sodomize him, for I simply would not be able to control myself.  In this case, I think J.B. just can’t resist the lure of M. “Mack” Patrick MacKenzie.

So she gives him this key, right?  This prompted My Beloved Grammy to get very upset at the very notion of Mack having an affair, saying how he wouldn’t do that, it’s not in his character, he’s too decent, all that stuff.  Obviously she’s right, but we do see Mack driving up to The Bryant Hotel and gazing somewhat longingly at it before getting up out of his car and sorta walking towards it.  Does he go in?  We don’t know because we go to a commercial pretty soon after that, but let’s all wash our brains out and try and decide where we would see this storyline going if it was 1986 and we were watching this first run on CBS.  I definitely would not think the chances were high of Mack having an affair, mostly because I know my KL writing team and I know they wouldn’t throw drama in just for the sake of drama.  On KL, character comes first, and it’s not in Mack’s character to have an affair.  He loves Karen and he tries to be a good husband to her.  Why, then, does he drive to the hotel at all?  For me, it’s easy to understand this, and Mack also helps to explain it himself as we move further through the eps.  Essentially, I think he just needs to know that the possibility is there.  He needs to know that, even though he’s now 43, he can still bring it and still be sexy and charming to pretty young ladies (random: I just looked it up to see how old Teri Austin would be here, and she would be around 29).  I totally understand all of this because I am an insane narcissist obsessed with my own youth and beauty and I have a constant need to feel that, as I go about my day, I am sexy and desirable to nearly everyone I encounter, which of course I am. 

All of these storylines are good, but the very best thing about Alterations is what happens with Olivia and Abs.  Oh yes, I had forgotten all about this, and watching it now, I have no idea how I could have allowed that to occur, because this is riveting stuff.  See, near the midway point of the ep, Greg and Abs are speaking on the phone.  Abs is at Westfork, sitting around and being bored and wondering if Gary will ever come home, and I believe Greg is down at the cul-de-sac taking care of Daniel and Jason 4.  They’re going on about all the drama of the last few months and, at the precise moment that Greg decides to threaten Abs with, “I’ll tell Gary that you knew he was the father of Val’s twins and that you knew they were still alive,” Olivia picks up the phone and hears the conversation go down.  Let me explain how Olivia overhears this so that I can further compliment the brilliance of this scene.  See, Olivia is just hanging out in her bedroom listening to some fantastic new wave music (which seems to be dominating the soundtrack lately and I like it that way) with a friend of hers and they are talking about how positively no one just goes from liking rock to liking new wave.  I enjoyed this little exchange because it reminded me of how teenagers will assign a great deal of importance to things that are really completely irrelevant and stupid like what kind of music you listen to.  I can remember kids saying stuff like, “Well, you can’t like this kind of music and also like this kind of music, it’s unheard of, Bob Loblaw,” and that’s sorta the conversation Olivia is having with her friend.  Then Olivia says something about how some cute boy from school has a sexy new wave album that she wants to borrow, so she picks up the phone to call him and that’s how she overhears the conversation.  I don’t really know how to explain why I liked this bit of business so much except to say that I liked how the writers managed to get Olivia to the phone.  While watching this scene, I was thinking about the new wave music in the background, about Olivia’s conversation with her friend, and then she picks up the phone and hears all the “Val’s babies” business and I’m like, “Oh shit, shit just got real,” and I love how it managed to catch me off guard.  Right after this, we cut to commercial and it’s the perfect place to put a commercial in, because who could possibly not keep watching this?

When we return from commercial, we see that Olivia is sitting quietly, not speaking, appearing to be in shock, and if I remember correctly, her friend just sorta runs off or goes home or something.  I like how we can see that this news clearly rattles Olivia down to her core; this is not just some new information that she is kinda surprised to hear, but rather something that is deeply effecting her way down inside of her, and it makes what happens next make a lot more sense.  See, after this, Olivia decides to run away much like she did in late season five (and we even get a little shout-out to her running away back then through some dialogue, which I appreciated).  We get a pretty creepy little scene where some old fat bald white guy pulls up to the side of the road and asks her if she’d like a ride.  They throw this snippet into the little thirty second preview, probably hoping to make the audience think Olivia might get kidnapped and raped and murdered, but nothing like that occurs since Olivia is smart enough to say no thank you to the creepy old fat bald white guy, who drives away all frustrated because he will have to find someone else to rape.  With him gone, Olivia continues her big trek and winds up at the Fairgate MacKenzie house.

We have a lot of footage of Gary and Abs being all scared and freaked out about where Olivia could possibly be, making phonecalls to other people to try and solve the mystery, but then we go over to the Fairgate MacKenzie house and see that Eric and Sexy Michael are both helping her hide out, although they have reservations about doing so.  Olivia tells them how it won’t be for long, that she just needs a place to stay for awhile, but for one reason or another, it’s not too long before both Mack and Karen know what’s going on and call Abs to tell her what’s up.  However, before moving on to those plot points, I want to pause to discuss the character motivation of Eric and Sexy Michael.  Okay, so I know that logically, they are related to Olivia, right?  Abs is their aunt, so then Olivia would be their cousin.  Even so, people used to marry their cousins all the time and I have to wonder if Eric and Sexy Michael view Olivia as something of a sister figure or if they both really want to fuck her.  Olivia is now fifteen years old and she is clearly starting to turn into a woman right before our very eyes (just wait for our next ep when she starts busting out the makeup kit), so you have to think that Eric and Sexy Michael are noticing the way Olivia is developing, no?  Is part of their willingness to help her out based in their desire to “accidentally” walk in on Olivia in the shower?  I know they’re related and all that, but come on, these are two horny teenage boys and horny teenage boys will fuck anything they can manage to put their penis inside of.
Anyway, let’s move on to other topics because I think it’s becoming disturbingly clear where Brett would choose to focus the stories if he were on the writing staff for the season, but that’s not what the writers do.  Instead, they have Abs get the call that Olivia is at Karen and Mack’s place and sorta throw a hissy fit about how she’s her daughter and she belongs home with her, but when she comes to pick up Olivia, she sees it won’t be quite as easy as all of that.  See, Abs goes up into one of the bedrooms (presumably Olivia is staying in the room that used to belong to demon Hell-spawn Diana back in the early years) and starts trying to convince Olivia to come home with her.  Throughout the ep, Olivia has been all pissed off and declaring how she can’t live with her mother anymore, but she hasn’t told anyone the reasons why, but she lays it all out on the table for Abs here and it’s a fabulous little scene.  She says how she knows the truth about Val’s babies and she knows that Abs knew all about it, knew that they were alive when everyone else thought they were dead.  Ugh, the acting is so good in this scene, reminding me of what an underrated little talent Tonya Crowe was.  I think this is the point in the series where the writers are starting to see what an actress they have on their hands and are writing the storylines accordingly, giving her more material to work with than she’s had in the past.  The other half of the scene is Abs, and of course Donna plays the part perfectly as she realizes how much her daughter knows and how damaging this information could be to her if it got out.

The most important thing that I take away from this scene is the fact that Olivia’s opinion of her own mother has been severely damaged, perhaps beyond repair.  She’s had her little fights and arguments with Abs throughout the last few years, but she’s always looked at her as her mother, yet now she sees precisely how duplicitous Abs truly is and I think it’s changing her very perception of who her mother is.  I’m gonna focus really hard in the coming eps and seasons to see if this permanently shifts Olivia’s view of Abs; will they ever be the same again?  Any KL fan should know what we’re in store for when we hit season eight and Olivia starts to pick up a new vice, and I feel like that’s all being planted right here in this scene; what Olivia has discovered is so crushing to her that she can’t possibly ever love her mother the same way again.  Also, I definitely think it’s worth noting that the tables have turned on Abs at the same exact time that her daughter has clearly inherited her own ability to manipulate and blackmail.  After all, Olivia tells Abs that what she wants is to live with Karen, and if she doesn’t get what she wants, she shall tell everyone in the show about Val’s babies, who the real father is and how Abs knew they were alive.  It’s weirdly beautiful and exciting to see Olivia turn into a mini-Abs while using that ability to strike out against her mother.
Abs makes the walk of shame out of the bedroom and back downstairs and outside, where a bunch of other characters are waiting around to see what she says.  Rather than leave with Olivia as she so boldly declared she would, Abs leaves with only Gary and says, sounding all choked up and emotional and talking kinda slow, “I think Olivia ought to spend some time with her Aunt Karen.”  From here, Gary and Abs get into the car and start to pull away while Olivia looks down from the bedroom window.  Abs looks up at her, all sad and depressed, the car starts to pull away, and then we actually get a freeze frame ending (which I’ve noticed we’ve been getting a lot more of lately) on Abs face and our “Executive Producers” credit and boom, the episode is over.  I really liked this ending and it got me very excited for how things could unfold in the coming weeks.  The episode title is Alterations and I feel like the biggest alteration on display in the ep is right here, and that’s the fact that Abs has to alter her relationship with Olivia based on what she knows and how that could damage everything in Abby’s life. 

So yeah, that was Alterations.  I’d say this was a huge step-up from The Confession, which I enjoyed but had some major problems with, as well.  While I’m still not in love with the Lilimae stuff (just because it’s dragging on so God damned long and I’m eager to see her get new material to work with) or the Cathy and Sonny stuff (just because it’s so unbelievably contrived and stupid), all the other stuff worked great for me.  I liked the little details such as Greg playing father to Daniel and Jason 4, but I also enjoyed the big story beats like J.B. testing Mack’s loyalty to Karen and, most especially, the big developments between Abs and Olivia.  Overall, a solid 48 minutes of KL.
With nothing more to say about Alterations, I suggest we move right along to our next episode, Friendly Enemies.