Thursday, October 12, 2017


Episode Title: Unbroken Bonds

Season 07, Episode 14

Episode 144 of 344

Directed by Roy Campanella II

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 2nd, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter tells Laura that Greg needs her, so she invites him to dinner. Gary tells Val that he knows the twins are his. She tells him that he needs to respect that she, Ben, and the twins are a family. Gary continues to hang around the twins, so Ben tells Gary it has to stop. Abby gets mad when Gary sides with Karen on a Lotus Point issue. He says that he trusts Karen, and doesn't trust Abby, so he will always side with Karen, and she'd better get used to it. Gary also sleeps with another woman. Jill is in town and tells Karen the Governor wants to know if she'd be interested in being on the State Planning Commission. Karen says yes. Jill is very cool towards Mack, who introduces Gary to Jill. Kenny is arrested for Joshua's murder. Cathy wants to tell the truth, but Lilimae says they will release him if they keep quiet. However, Kenny is charged with the murder.

Welcome to Unbroken Bonds.  Fuck, there’s a lot to talk about this ep, and it’s all good stuff, really good stuff, so let’s just dive right in and get started with Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli.  You’ll all remember how Arthur Fonzarelli brought a six pack over to Linda The Waitress’s apartment and bragged about how he was “there” when Joshua died and “saw the whole thing,” right?  And you all remember how Linda The Waitress went to see Lilimae and when she said something about Joshua killing himself, Lilimae got angry and snapped, “He did not;” you all remember that, right?  Then Linda The Waitress took it upon herself to go to the police and declare that Arthur Fonzarelli killed Joshua, and that glides us nicely right into the very first scene of this ep, which is her at the police station.

Things don’t go so well for Arthur Fonzarelli this week, because Lilimae is holding strong in her resistance against telling anyone the truth of what happened.  Cathy is really plagued with guilt at this point, wanting to just tell the truth and then move on with things, but Lilimae keeps saying how they can’t tell people the truth, especially not at this point when the lie has gone on so long.  Now, I’m of course a proponent of honesty, and this is kinda a prime example of why.  You tell one lie, thinking it’s not a big deal and you’ll be able to move past it, but it snowballs into a million other lies and eventually other people start being hurt by your lies.  In this case, I certainly don’t like Arthur Fonzarelli and I certainly don’t think he’s exactly a great, stand-up kinda guy, but he didn’t kill Joshua and he doesn’t deserve to go to jail for his murder.

My notes are kinda loopy on this ep (probably because I was so gripped), so forgive me if I’m mistaking this ep for the next one, but I’m fairly certain it is in this ep that Arthur Fonzarelli is sent in for questioning and a police lineup and Cathy and Lilimae are both asked down to the station to identify the man.  The police lineup is filled with lots of scary looking dudes, one of whom is Arthur Fonzarelli, and I’m sorry, but for the life of me I can’t remember if either Lilimae or Cathy say, “Oh, yeah, it’s that one guy there, the one who looks like an extra from Grease 2,” or if they choose to just remain silent about the matter.  I’m pretty sure they pick the latter option, just sorta saying, “Oh, we don’t recognize any of these guys,” or whatever, but by the conclusion of the ep, for some reason or other, Arthur Fonzarelli has been charged with Joshua’s murder.

Do I like this storyline?  Well, personally, yes, I do, but I’d be curious to see what other fans think of it.  I know some people seem to have a real problem with season seven and especially with season seven after Joshua’s had his big rise and fall, but so far I think the show is powering along just fine, and that includes this story.  They could kill Joshua and just forget about him, but we all know the show don’t play that way.  We saw how they killed Sid and then spent a whole year dealing with Karen’s grief and working at being a single mom, and I think the same is true here.  It wouldn’t be good drama to have Joshua fall off the roof and die and then just move on and pretend he never existed; we need to deal with ramifications and it’s also not like they invented Arthur Fonzarelli and he’s coming completely out of nowhere now; he was introduced when Joshua was still alive and he was hanging around the big building and stuff right before Joshua took his plunge.

So yeah, I like this story, but it’s actually probably my least favorite story going on right around now because I find all this other shit sooooooo compelling.  Why don’t we start with the triumphant return of the one, the only, J.B. (and that’s “Jill Bennett” for those of you who have already forgotten my abbreviation; it’s not “James Bond”).  God, yes, and I’m so glad I didn’t peek ahead to see when she’d be coming back, because it was so wonderful to be powering through this disk and then be so delightfully surprised when she reemerged.  You’ll all remember that J.B. was hanging around at the start of the season, crushing on Mack, dealing with the stolen baby cases, all that crap, and then she confessed that she had fallen in love with Mack and she left town, but now she’s back!  I think she’s BACK BACK, by the way, that she doesn’t run off for a series of eps again, not until her glorious time on the show finally comes to an end around 1989.  Until then, we can soak up all the J.B. a person could possible need in their life, and I thank God for that, I truly do.

So what’s J.B. up to right about now?  Turns out she’s in town to talk to Karen, but she also makes some sort of mention about how she’s been coming back to town frequently throughout the last arc of eps while Joshua was going crazy and dying.  This time she’s interested in offering Karen a job with the governor’s planning commission, or something like that.  I don’t honestly know what a “planning commission” even is, but I don’t think it’s particularly important.  Perhaps they plan parties, perhaps they plan, like, big important government stuff, perhaps they plan stupid and unnecessary road construction projects that take years and have no actual purpose except to justify more money being given to construction projects (not to say that I’m bitter about how the exact road I take to work every day has been “under construction” for the last 72 years and now that they’ve finally completed it, all that’s changed is the addition of one stupid new stoplight).  Anyway, Karen is very excited about this opportunity, but if I recall correctly, it’s not that she’s handed the job outright; it’s more that the governor is interested in talking to her, but she’ll still have to have an interview and all that good stuff.  This should build more and more over the course of the next few eps, so stay tuned. 

So Laura and Greg have sure been split up for awhile, haven’t they?  Fortunately, in Unbroken Bonds, Laura finally manages to get past the gatekeeper known as Peter Hollister and have a private dinner with Greg, and it’s just lovely to have the two of them back onscreen together, that sizzling chemistry all fired up and ready to go again.  As I sat watching them, I tried to decide who I like watching more: Richard and Laura or Greg and Laura.  God, talk about your Sophie’s Choice decisions (except obviously this decision is much, much harder); how can one possibly pick?  On the one hand, the Laura/Richard dynamic of seasons one through four was my favorite thing about those early years and they were the most fascinating couple on the cul-de-sac throughout those years.  Watching their fights and inner turmoil was just dynamic drama and also superbly realistic and splendidly acted, but now here we are with Laura and Greg and it’s equally good in a totally different way.  In this case, while Richard and Laura always felt dysfunctional, Greg and Laura clearly have a deep and special love for each other and I think the most beautiful thing about their love is how fantastically unplanned it’s all been.  I can’t remember what ep it was, but it was somewhere in season five that Greg took it upon himself to get up close to Laura and her mullet and smell her neck, and then they started shagging, but somewhere along the line, we viewers started to really see that this wasn’t just a couple having a fun shag together, but a couple that loved each other.  Richard was the most fascinating man on the show during the first four seasons, but now I’m willing to say that Greg is the most fascinating man on the show at the moment, and he’s played with such oozing charisma by Devane that, fuck, I just can’t decide.  For now, I’m gonna put that question up on a shelf and not even bother to compare, because they are both so perfect in their own ways. 

I loved seeing Laura and Greg’s little dinner together, which takes place outside on Greg’s absolutely fabulous balcony outside of his absolutely fabulous office in his absolutely fabulous skyrise.  It’s wonderful to see the two together, but Greg is feeling down right now, seeing his life as an absolute failure.  Laura tries to boost his spirits by reminding him of all his good qualities and encouraging him to just dust himself off and try again.  We also have a fabulous exchange where she tries to write off the whole Empire Valley mess as, “You screwed up; it happens,” and Greg responds with something brilliant like, “No, ‘screwing up’ is when you accidentally wear black socks with a brown suit,” and then reminds her how his entire Empire Valley operation was, you know, blown up completely by Gary, which is certainly more than one small screw up.  So while Greg is currently very sad, I am currently very happy to see this fabulous and fascinating couple getting back together and having dinners and chemistry and all that good stuff that makes the series so very good and so very rich.

As much as I love me some Laura and Greg, I have to say the most sizzling and dramatic stuff in this ep comes courtesy of pretty much anything involving Gary, Abs, Val, and Ben.  Oh jeez, where to even start?  I think I’ll start with a small but significant scene that I really appreciated, and it takes place at Lotus Point between Gary, Abs, and Karen.  See, Karen is talking about something or other and Gary says how she’s got his vote and he trusts her and Bob Loblaw, and then Abs give some speech about how he’s not considering anything she has to say and Gary gets so fabulously direct with her and says, “I trust Karen, so she gets my vote every time.”  Ugh, yes, this is all so good.  I definitely feel like the whole Empire Valley mess was the last straw for Gary in terms of Abs and her duplicitous behavior.  Since they first got together officially in 1982, he has put up with a lot of crap from her, probably the worst of which was all the season five shenanigans involving Wolfbridge and Apolune.  After that happened (culminating with Abby’s terrifying experience of hanging out on a nice comfortable yacht for a couple of minutes before Greg came along to shoot Mark St. Claire), Gary kinda sorta forgave her while also making it clear that he didn’t trust her.  Back then (early season six), he kinda laughed at her when she talked about trust and said something amazing like, “Oh Abby, I love you but I don’t trust you,” but he seemed rather jolly about the whole thing.  Now, after attempting to figure out what the hell was going on at Empire Valley, after that big speech he gave about morals and ethics that concluded with, “God, are we different,” I think he’s finally done with her.  He might not be ready to get an official divorce yet, but he’s definitely giving her a mental divorce at this point, and he’s making it very clear to her that there’s no chance of him ever being able to trust her again.

We see that Gary is pretty much done with Abs rather clearly in this ep, because he sleeps with somebody else.  My question is: Who does he sleep with?  It’s a Hispanic looking chick, and for a minute I thought it was his loyal housekeeper, Maria.  Am I crazy?  I don’t mean to do the white guy thing where I can’t tell any dark-skinned person apart (I really don’t have that problem; the issue with Maria comes from the fact that she’s barely ever shown and I think she morphs actresses a few times, as well), but I’m pretty sure this isn’t Maria, that it’s just some random chick.  In any case, I love the fabulously KL way that this is shown, we just have Gary climbing out of bed after shagging this chick, and that’s about it; we don’t need any big dramatic pounding music to say GARY’S HAVING AN AFFAIR!  I don’t know if I’d even call this an affair, and not just because it seems to be a one-time shag and nothing more, but because I’m pretty sure if Abs asked him if he was sleeping with someone else, he would just be like, “Yeah, so?  I don’t like you or trust you anymore.” 

But Gary’s little shag with some chick who might be Maria and might not be Maria is nothing compared to a very pivotal scene that takes place early in this ep at Westfork.  See, he’s having Val over for some reason or other; I think she’s actually taken it upon herself to come see him and ask that he stop sending gifts to Bobby and Betsy all the time, which is something he’s been doing rather frequently for awhile.  However, the big scene which occurs and which I had somehow completely forgotten about (HOW?!) is that when Val asks him to stop doing that, Gary tells her, “I know,” and when Val tries to act confused about it, he says, “I know those babies are mine.”  Ugh, just watch the look on Val’s face and the way these two amazing actors are able to play off each other in the scene.  Don’t we all just want sooooooooo bad for them to get back together?  Can’t we all see that they are each other’s true soulmates and they are made to be together?  And as I’ve blathered on about before, we are now at a point where we are nearly 150 eps deep and Gary and Val truly feel like real people and not television characters; Shack and J.V.A. have been playing these two for so long that it must be like second nature to them at this point.  Val gets very serious on Gary and says how he can’t keep hanging around, that she and Ben have their own family now and he needs to respect that.  She neither confirms nor denies his suspicions, but I think we can see that she knows denying would do know good. Gary just knows they’re his kids, and it’s not just because they look exactly like him and the timing of the one-time-only shag between him and Val back in season five lines up for their birth, but I think he just knows down in his core, in his soul. 

Later in the ep, Ben confronts Gary and tells him to stay away, yet another great scene in an ep littered with great scenes.  The genius of KL is often so profound that I don’t think I am smart or deep enough to even begin to understand it or properly explain it.  How can I properly explain how basically every single character in this situation is relatable and easy to understand, while the complexities of all this drama also remain exciting and captivating and strangely realistic?  What I mean to say by that is, it would be so easy for Ben to be a nothing character (the way he was in my memories, my memories that were completely and 100% wrong because Ben is fucking great and I’m now declaring him a highlight of this era of KL), a guy the writers ship in as merely an obstacle for Gary and Val.  He could so easily have just been a bland “nice guy” meant to fill the role for a little while, but he’s just as complex as anyone on the show, really.  I feel so sorry for him as he tries to build this life with Val and the twins but probably knows, deep down, that while Val loves him, she just has a deep and unbreakable connection with Gary that goes beyond time and space.

But the relationships are so complex that we can’t even just dismiss this as, “Oh, Val loves Ben, but she loves Gary way more.”  I believe that there are all sorts of love, that we can love a lot of people throughout our lives, all in different and special ways.  As of this writing, I have only been in love with one person, and that was a long time ago, but I also love my parents, My Beloved Grammy, the kitty I live with (Connie), my friends, teachers that have affected my life; love is complex and wide-reaching.  Also, the way the writers manage to keep Gary and Val apart for so long doesn’t feel inorganic or contrived like it would on a bland show like Friends, where the constant obstacles thrown up in Ross and Rachel’s relationship were just annoying and stupid and way too drawn out over ten years (why does any sitcom need to be on the air for ten years; can someone please explain this to me?).  With the Gary/Val stuff, it all feels real and true.  Ugh, it’s just so good.

What’s Cathy up to this week?  Well, like I said, she’s involved in all the Lilimae/Linda The Waitress/Arthur Fonzarelli drama, but she also gets to sing not one, but two songs.  I don’t really remember the first one except to say that I wrote in my notes, “Cathy singing a slower song in a hot black outfit with bra showing.”  I’m sure that song was very good and I’m sure her hot black outfit was very hot, but I like and remember her second song better, How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?  Real fast, let me talk about the weird track that my brain and My Beloved Grammy’s brain went on when we heard Cathy sing this song.  As it started, we both were listening and were like, “I know this song; what song is this?”  Then we both became convinced that it was originally an Olivia Newton John song, because it just sounds so Olivia NewtonJohn-ish.  Well, then I went and looked it up and it turns out that it’s a song that’s been sung by, um, everybody, but the first prominent one was Laura Branigan in 1983.  I kinda like Laura Branigan and I am also kinda underwhelmed with her at the same time, if that makes sense.  I think this is due to the fact that my first Branigan song was Gloria, which is just the fucking greatest, but then I went and bought a few of her records on vinyl and, you know, they’re good and all, but they also suffer from that thing where all the songs sorta sound exactly the same, so I don’t think she gets to join the ranks of my favorite artists.  By the way, since I know you’ve all been reading the last 143 essays and wondering, “When, oh when is Brett going to tell us who his favorite artists are?”, I shall tell you now.  They are Carpenters, Blondie, ABBA, Michael Jackson, Olivia Newton John, David Bowie, The Cars, Bette Midler, and, um, well I’m sure there are more but I can’t quite remember right now. 

In any case, obviously Cathy’s rendition of this song is brilliant, and I double checked by listening to the Laura Branigan version and the Michael Bolton version just to confirm that Lisa's is better, and yup, of course it’s better, because her covers are always better than the originals (with the exception of Time After Time, just because that song will always belong to Cyndi).  I do wanna try and get deeper and explore what this song is really saying rather than just compare it to other versions.  Who is Cathy singing about?  Is she singing about Joshua?  If that’s the case, it doesn’t really make much sense, since Joshua spent the last few minutes of his life trying to slice her throat and throw her off a roof (this coming after he threw her into a pile of garbage, of course), so I dunno.  Maybe she’s just singing a song cuz it’s a good song from the ‘80s and maybe it’s not as deep as I’m trying to make it. 

Anyway, enough about all that; how was this ep?  Well, I thought it was great, and maybe you guys should just get used to me saying that, cuz so far I think season seven is pumping along just fine; I continue to fail to see why so many fans act like there’s something horribly wrong with this year.  In the case of this ep, I can immediately point to several amazing scenes in order to prove my case.  Right off the top of my head, you have Cathy singing a great song, you have that sexy crosscutting early in the ep along with the sexy birds-eye angle, you have a stunning Gary/Val scene, a great Ben/Val scene, and a lovely dinner between Greg and Laura.  I think those are more than enough reasons to say that this episode is great and belongs in the pantheon of great television episodes to live on for all time.  So without futher ado, let’s move on to our next ep, the final ep of the disk My Beloved Grammy and I watched, the aptly titled Web of Lies.


Thursday, October 5, 2017


Episode Title:  Aftershocks

Season 07, Episode 13

Episode 143 of 344

Written by Roberto Loiederman

Directed by Alexander Singer

Original Airdate: Thursday, December 26th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Linda goes to the police and says she thinks her boyfriend Kenny murdered Joshua. Lilimae wants to move back in with Val, but Val isn't sure, as she's always so mean to Ben. Ben teasingly says "If she gets out of line, I'll rap her upside the head!" Gary ignores Abby and stays at Lotus Point. Greg gives a press conference saying that Gary blew up Empire Valley because of structural damages. Greg speaks to a portrait of Galveston about how he let him reach back from the grave and manipulate him. Greg says that Coblenz gained control because he was weak, and not mean, hard, or cruel enough to hold them off, because he was not a barbarian like his father. He says, "Congratulations, you've hatched a new breed of barbarian," and he then vows to go even further than Galveston in creating his own empire, and will let nobody and nothing stand in his way.

                When we last left off in the closing moments of All’s Well, things had reached an explosive peak of excitement as Gary finally decided to do away with the entire Empire Valley storyline by blowing it up.  Now here we are with Aftershocks and it’s time to explore the ramifications of this decision.  Aftershocks does the thing the show’s been doing a lot lately that I love so much, and that is pick up directly and precisely at the exact moment where the last one left off.  In this case, after our thirty second preview and brilliantly stunning opening credits sequence, we get to see the big three explosions going off again, but then instead of showing Gary grinning and stopping there, we immediately move into new footage.  Actually, it’s very slightly a Return to the Blue Lagoon situation because this time we don’t see Gary grinning, we just jump into the new footage.  Does anyone notice or care besides me?  Probably not.  In any case, now the entire Empire Valley operation is up in smoke and Greg’s going to have a lot of explaining to do to some very angry people. 

The good news, however, is that Gary appears to be safe, because that hitman with the big James-Bond-at-the-start-of-The-Living-Daylights sniper rifle sees the big explosion and decides to just, kinda, um, go away.  Hmmmm, this part is slightly vexing.  The hitman’s job, assigned to him by Cheesy British Guy, was to assassinate Gary, right?  Why would he abandon this mission as soon as he sees the big explosions?  Is it just because nobody sent him a memo telling him there would be three big-ass explosions and so he wants to double check with his boss to figure out what’s going on?  How much does this hitman know about what’s going on?  Is he as confused as us viewers by the whole operation?  Or does he have all the information about everything?  It seems to me that, with big epic scary confusing conspiracy operations, you wanna assign everybody with just one small thing to do, that way they never know the full extent of the evil they’re involved with (think Trump colluding with Russia to illegally steal an election and ruin our country and you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about, except the bad guys on this series are far more competent at being evil than the Nazis currently occupying The White House).  You hire one guy to, like, make your computer system, and then you hire one guy to rig up the security doors and cameras, and then one guy is your muscle that gets to carry a big sniper rifle and blow people away, Bob Loblaw.  In any case, the hitman slips out of sight and Gary is, at least for the time being, safe.

As Greg, Gary, and Abs look on at the smoking debris of what was the Empire Valley operation, they have a bit of a conversation about what just went down and Greg delivers a line that I’m convinced is meant to be sorta meta.  Abs is going on about what’s gonna happen, stuff like that, and then Greg just says, “I think we can safely say that it’s over.”  Is this line a way of the writers telling the viewers that they’ve blown up the storyline and they are ready to proceed to new business?  I know I’ve been confused by this whole thing pretty much since whenever Cheesy British Guy first showed up on the series (I just double checked; it was late season six and it was The Deluge), and My Beloved Grammy and I are watching the series in a more binge-watchy method, always powering through five eps at a time, moving through the seasons pretty quickly.  I’m trying to imagine, however, how it would feel to watch all this unfold over time originally, watching the show week to week back in the ‘80s.  Okay, so The Deluge was February 28th, 1985, and it was episode 121, right?  Now here we are with Aftershocks and it’s December 26th, 1985 and episode 143; we’ve got a gap of ten months and 22 eps, so yeah, it’s been some time.  Let’s not forget those pesky summers, as well, where you just have to wait months and months for the show to come back.  If I am confused by this storyline watching it now, I imagine it was only more confusing back in the ‘80s, and that’s why I feel Greg’s, “Officially over” comment is the writers reassuring the audience that they’ll be moving on to new business now.

Greg and Laura have been split up and not speaking for way longer than I ever remembered, mostly because I didn’t remember them splitting up and not speaking in the first place.  I remembered Ava Gardner’s little scheme to break them up, but in my memories, they very quickly reconciled and worked things out in the relationship.  Clearly my memories are wrong, because the whole season Laura has been giving Greg the silent treatment while he yearns to have her back.  Fortunately, the destruction of Empire Valley serves as the impetus for Laura to finally pick up the phone and call Greg, wanting to know what’s going on.  However, now there’s a new roadblock.  Ava got shipped off and returned to Africa, but now we’ve got Peter Hollister running around, causing trouble, acting weird and mysterious.  Let’s talk about Peter Hollister, what do you say?

I feel I’ve been brushing over this character, so it’s time to do a review of what he’s been up to so far this season.  He was first introduced in A Little Assistance near the start of the season.  We all remember vividly the way he marched into Greg’s office, sent the other applicants home, and boldly announced that he was the perfect man for the job.  We should also all vividly remember that Abs was the one who told Greg to hire him; clearly she saw that he had spunk and she likes spunk (and I mean that in every possible way).  Since then, though, what’s Peter been up to?  He seems duplicitous, he’s been listening in on Greg’s calls, and we just know he’s not trustworthy, but we’re not sure why quite yet.  In this ep, when Laura calls to say she wants to speak with Greg, Peter tells her how he’ll relay the message, but we know he’s going to do no such thing.  Now why should this be?  Why would Peter want to block Laura from Greg?  At first I didn’t get it, but then I did some thinking.  Laura is probably the smartest woman on the show (which is not to belittle anybody else; I love all of my beautiful lady friends in the cast at this point and they are all smart in their own ways) and I think she’s already managed to see through Peter based on just a few chance meetings.  Perhaps Peter is worried about what influence she could have on Greg if the two of them got back together?  In any case, for the purposes of this ep, Greg and Laura don’t reconcile because Peter never tells Greg that Laura called.

Since Greg Sumner comes from the world of politics, he knows all about gathering for a press conference to tell a big fat lie to everyone, which he does right and quick in this ep ("This was the largest audience to ever witness an explosion, PERIOD!").  He schedules the press conference and then tells everyone that the buildings on Empire Valley were structurally unsound and that Gary blew them all up to, like, save them?  I definitely don’t buy this lie, and I think the press is having a hard time swallowing it; one reporter says something like, “It seems a little odd to blow up the entire operation in order to save the operation,” but whatever, Greg holds to his lie and, for the time being, people continue to go about their business.

The last scene of the ep is Greg giving a real nice Shakespearean soliloquy to the big, epic painting of Paul Galveston that he’s got on his wall (it reminds me of Jock Ewing’s portrait over on Dallas; this definitely feels like a David Paulsen influence to me).  I found this speech a bit confusing, but fortunately My Beloved Grammy helped me out.  Also, let me note that I found this speech confusing not because of the writing or the acting or the actual contents of the speech, but just because I’m dumb.  Everything in the scene is good, and I’m again impressed by Devane’s ability to act against nobody, to just talk to a painting and still make it feel dynamic and compelling.  The speech basically boils down to Greg blaming himself for what happened with Cheesy British Guy and the entire operation, saying how he wasn’t ruthless enough to deal with them, and then he says, “Congratulations, Dad, you’ve hatched a new breed of barbarian,” which I think is the last line of the ep.  Hmmm, interesting.  So does that mean Greg is going to turn evil intentionally?  Personally, no matter how unethical some of the shit Greg does is, I never once think of him as evil, and that’s probably because of Devane’s insanely charismatic and multifaceted portrayal of him, but it’s also the great writing that helps to keep the character fascinating.

Moving on from Greg, we’ve also got sizzling drama down at Pacific Cable Whatever.  We all know Ben is not an idiot (and we all know he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite male leads on the show ever), and let’s not forget that he is also a member of the press, so he’s seeing all the holes in Greg’s little cover story and he’s wanting to further explore them.  Abs, however, tries to keep him from doing so, telling him there’s no story there and that he should lay off.  Certainly, I don’t think Ben is believing any of this for a second.  He probably distrusts Abs even more than he distrusts Greg, and I think he can tell that, whatever the hell was going on over there (don’t ask me), it somehow involved the two of them working together.  If I’m remembering correctly, he doesn’t pursue an investigation into the story quite yet, but I get the feeling that he wants to and he probably will in the future.

Speaking of Ben, remember how it took Lilimae something like a fucking year to finally be sorta nice to him?  Well, after a small period of relative peace (relative peace), Lilimae is back to acting rather cunty towards him all the time, blaming him for Joshua’s death.  See, she keeps saying how Joshua crumbled because Ben took his job away from him at Pacific Cable Whatever, that this is what lead to Joshua’s downfall (random: writing out that sentence about “this is what lead to Joshua’s downfall” immediately makes me think of that amazing Kramer speech from the Seinfeld ep The Doodle in which he describes the manuscript as about, “love, deception, greed, lust, and unbridled enthusiasm,” and then he adds, “That’s what lead to Billy Mumphrey’s downfall”).  Anyway, yeah, Lilimae has been throwing nasty comments out towards Ben for a few eps now, saying it’s his fault Joshua died, saying how he doesn’t even act like a parent to the twins, stuff like that, and I think Val has finally had enough.  See, Lilimae returns to the house, done with harassing Cathy over at The Plant House, only to receive a less than warm welcome from Val. 

Ugh, I just love tough Val.  When I reflect back on it, Val has always been kinda tough and I was just too dense to see it all along.  Let’s flash back to her very first appearance on television ever, in those Dallas eps Reunion: Part One and Reunion: Part Two (click on those links to read my stunningly brilliant thoughts from so long ago on those eps).  When J.R. fucked her and Gary in the ass again, true, she left the ranch in a state of defeat, but she still told off J.R. and said just how she felt about him and refused to take the money he offered her.  I think because Val is generally so sweet and nice to people around her, it sometimes makes it seem like she’s not tough, but she definitely can be, and she displays it right here.  Lilimae comes in, holding her luggage, and Val looms at the top of the staircase, sorta glaring down at her.  She gets all firm and authoritative and reminds Lilimae that she and Ben are married now, that Ben lives in the house with her, and that she can’t go around insulting him all the time.  Lilimae looks wounded and says, “Does this mean I’m no longer welcome here?”  It’s a testament to the skills of both actresses that I continue to love both characters in this scene and understand their points of view.  It’s kinda like I said in an earlier ep (I think the last one) about how even though I can see that Lilimae is being annoying and mean, she’s not annoying me as I watch her.   Her state of emotions are very complex and I can only imagine what she’s feeling and going through right now.  I also think that she knows it’s not Ben’s fault that Joshua died, that really Ben had nothing to do with that at all, but she just keeps saying it as a way of trying to fool herself into believing it’s true.  She doesn’t want to truly admit to herself that her son was a complete psycho; she’d rather try and lay the blame on the feet of someone else.  I think is further exemplified when she’s speaking with Cathy, who is saying how she needs to move on with her life and her career and start to focus on herself, to which Lilimae says, “You will always be Mrs. Joshua Rush.”  Ick, if I were Cathy, that would send shivers of repulsion down my spine, but like I said, I can still understand where Lilimae’s mind is at, so I’m not too harsh or judgmental towards her.

Speaking of Cathy, she gets a fabulous song this ep, entitled You Keep Me Hanging On.  I’ve always enjoyed this song without actually knowing the title, but now I do.  I love the song for many reasons, but mostly it’s the “Wooooah woooah woooah” part that she keeps doing it (just listen to the song and don’t try to imagine how it sounds based on me doing a shitty job of describing it).  I also love the whole sequence in which Cathy gets to rock out with her fabulous ‘80s band while showing off her amazing mullet and wearing this, like, purple outfit with basically nothing on underneath except a bra.  Fuck, Cathy is hot.  I remind you that I could never bring myself to have sex with a woman unless that woman was Donna Mills (she’s the one shining exception to my rule, since she is the most beautiful woman in the entire world and her beauty goes beyond time and space like the deadlights at the end of IT), but if I was gonna have sex with a woman, Lisa Hartman would be a good choice.  She’s hot, she has a fabulous body, she knows how to dress, and she can sing her ass off.  Everything in this scene is just pure good, and that ‘80s explosion that is always going off around Cathy continues to go off here.  Maybe people could call this “dated,” but you all know I hate that word and I would take the obvious ‘80s explosion as a positive quality.  The beauty of film and television is its ability to zoom us back in time, and by watching this scene, you feel like you are right there at the end of 1985 with Cathy and her band.  Mmmm, scrumptious stuff.

Last on the agenda for Aftershocks is Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli.  Last ep, Arthur Fonzarelli boasted about how he was “there” and “saw the whole thing” in the circumstances surrounding Joshua’s death.  He brought this up as a way of pointing out that Joshua didn’t kill himself, but Linda The Waitress has interpreted it to mean that Arthur Fonzarelli murdered Joshua himself.  Honestly, she’s not out of line to think this, as this guy is hardly Boyfriend of the Year material and we’ve already seen him act like a big stupid jerk a couple of times in his brief appearances up to this point.  Linda The Waitress seems very sweet, but she also seems kinda dumb, because the next thing you know, she’s heading into the police station to say Arthur Fonzarelli killed Joshua.

Oh no wait, actually I’m the one who’s kinda dumb, cuz I almost forgot about a big, important scene.  See, somewhere near the middle of the ep, Linda The Waitress pays Lilimae a visit to give her a box of stuff that Joshua left at her apartment.  There’s a lot going on in this scene, but I wanna do a quick shout-out to how this visit is probably helping Lilimae start accepting the truth of her son and his last weeks on this earth.  She’s been running around trying to martyrize Joshua, but now here’s Linda The Waitress saying that Joshua was committing adultery (which is a sin!) with her at her apartment for some time.  So that’s one small detail that’s important to me, but more important is that when Linda The Waitress says, “I just can’t believe he killed himself,” Lilimae snaps at her angrily, saying, “He did not kill himself,” and that actually provides the impetus for Linda The Waitress to take a visit to the police station.

Lots of drama, right?  Actually, doing a bit of reflecting, I would say the title of this ep is accurate, that we are dealing with the fallout of THE BIG DRAMA last ep and this one is more about sorting things out from that and getting some new storylines propelled.  So while it’s not as thrilling as All’s Well was, it’s still a good ep that’s getting us prepared for the next seventeen eps of the season. 

But wait, there's one more thing to discuss before we wrap things up, and that is of course the conclusion of that most glorious year known as 1985.  Yes, this is our last episode of 1985 and when we return for our next ep, it'll be a whole new year, so let's do a quick little summation of what 1985 contained.  Now, I was still not quite alive in 1985 (I was negative five years old), so I had to rely on research, but here's what I discovered.  On January 20th, Ronald Reagan began his second term as President.  Now, I used to be anti-Reagan because he's a Republican and he ignored the AIDS crisis for years while my people were dropping off like flies, but my feelings have radically changed in the last few months and now I'm pro-Reagan.  While flawed, he was a Republican before all Republicans decided to become pure evil/Nazi-sympathizers, so I'll forgive him that, and at least he was a true leader who could comfort the nation when they needed it, like his beautiful speech after the Challenger explosion.  Also, he took Piper Laurie's virginity, so that adds some major cool points to his resume.  

In the world of music, Whitney Houston released her very first album ("Did you know that Whitney Houston's debut album, called simply Whitney Houston, had four number one singles on it?").  Also, Madonna (who I like a lot because I'm a gay guy and that's the law) began her first tour, starting in Seattle (where I'm from!).  Also, a bunch of artists put on that whole "We Are The World" event.  My man Stephen King released his second collection of short stories, Skeleton Crew, while in the movie theater we got the underrated Cat's Eye.  Finally, the top ten shows of the 1984-1985 season were (from #10 to #1)  a tie between Crazy Like A Fox and Falcon Crest, Knots Landing (finally!), Murder, She Wrote, Simon and Simon, The A-Team, Family Ties, 60 Minutes, The Cosby Show, Dallas, and Dynasty

Let’s move right along past 1985 to see what will become of Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli with Unbroken Bonds.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 142 of 344: ALL'S WELL

Episode Title: All’s Well

Season 07, Episode 12

Episode 142 of 344

Written by Alan Goldfein

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, December 19th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben lets Cathy move into his beach house. Lilimae blames Ben for Joshua's death, and decides to move in with Cathy. Kenny, Linda's boyfriend, tells her that he was there when Joshua died. Gary tells Greg he'll sell Empire Valley, and to call off the hit man. He says if anything happens to him, he's left Empire Valley to Mack. Greg tells Coblenz that Gary will sell, but Coblenz tells the hit man to kill them anyway. Gary sends the kids away, and makes Abby dress in coveralls and help him to carry things into the buildings at Empire Valley. Gary has the security guard call Greg. Greg rushes to Empire Valley, and so do Mack and Karen. The hit man is about to shoot Gary, but just then everyone drives up and yells to Gary to watch out. Gary activates a remote control, and all of the structures in Empire Valley blow up. Greg and Abby are furious, but Gary whoops with joy!



                Welcome back to the fantastically fabulous and wonderful world of KL, the world I love so much that I wish I could pull a Pleasantville and climb right into the television and just live in this world forever, having lots and lots of sex with Sexy Michael on an eternal loop for all eternity, preferably on some sort of California nude beach.  Anyway, when we last left off, Gary had entered “1-3” into the top secret door-opener thing and the top-secret door had opened to reveal the top-secret room with lots of top-secret people doing lots of top-secret things and staring at lots of top-secret television screens and top-secret computer counsels.  Well, All’s Well picks up right away where he left off, with Gary still standing in the lair and staring at everything.  I guess nobody got the memo that Gary is supposed to be kept in the dark about all these proceedings, because if I’m remembering correctly, one random white guy comes up to Gary and is like, “Oh hey, Mr. Ewing, wanna see all the top-secret stuff we’re doing down here?” Gary is like, “Uh, yeah, sure, I have no idea what the hell is going on down here,” and then the other guy is like, “Neither do the viewers.”

                Anyway, Gary gets away from Empire Valley and shows up at Val’s house at the same time that the funeral procession is arriving.  The funeral is over and I guess Jonathan has immediately gone home, since he’s nowhere to be seen now.  Again, I appreciate the flow of continuity here, that everything is just proceeding along in one continuous, big, epic story.  You don’t feel that you have ended one ep and begun a new one, but rather that it’s just this gigantic, 30-hour ep that happens to be interrupted every 48 minutes for some stunning opening title sequences.  Honestly, it makes the series feel so ahead of its time because it just works perfectly for binge watching, the type of television watching that is so popular nowadays thanks to the fall of network TV and the rise of cable TV and streaming services.  Whenever My Beloved Grammy and I gather to watch our disk of eps, it always feels like one big movie, not separate little TV eps.  I also wanna reiterate how wonderfully enjoyable it is to know that days of the standalones, of utter crap like Land of the Free or Man of the Hour or Silver Shadows, are now long in our past with no threat of ever returning. 


                Gary comes to Val’s house and quickly apologizes for missing the funeral, but then he immediately yoinks Mack away from proceedings and takes him outside so they can speak in private.  He whips out some blueprints and he and Mack start to go over them together, discussing what exactly is going on at Empire Valley and all the top-secret stuff he discovered.  Also, we get some fabulous KL Rapid Cutting throughout this sequence, because we keep crosscutting from Gary and Mack to Sumner speaking with some lackey in his office, and it’s not even just that we crosscut, but we also have this amazing effect where Gary or Mack will say something and then we will cut to Greg and he’ll, like, finish the sentence for them, if that makes sense.  It keeps hopping back and forth and it’s great.  Another show might be like, “Let’s show the Gary and Mack scene and then we’ll finish that scene up and cut over to Greg and the lackey,” but KL keeps it interesting, cinematic, and visually stimulating.  Oh hey, and while we’re on the subject of Greg Sumner sitting in his office and talking to lackeys, we also have a cigar to add to the Sumner Cigar Counter, bringing us up to Cigar #8.  He smokes this one while talking to Cheesy British Guy about something or other, I think about how he’s working hard to get Gary to sell Empire Valley and he believes that he will do so.  Even so, Cheesy British Guy is not convinced and does not call off his hit man.  By the way, cool sexy tough Gary that I’ve been so in love with for the last two years and some months is really sizzling this ep.  For instance, he marches his cool sexy tough ass into Greg’s office and announces that he has changed his will so that, if he dies, all of Empire Valley will go to Mack, which is bad news for Greg. We’ve all seen how committed Mack gets whenever he sets his sight on investigating something, so what could happen to Greg if Gary dies and Mack officially becomes the landlord of Empire Valley? 

                Meanwhile, over at Val’s house, Cathy is dealing with a lot of grief and weird mixed emotions and she needs some time alone.  Because of this, Ben offers her up The Plant House, which he still owns even though he doesn’t really live there anymore (if I owned a place as amazing as The Plant House, I would never give it up, either).  Sounds lovely, right?  Cathy says she’ll hop right on over there and stay at The Plant House for awhile, but of course Lilimae shows up two seconds later with her suitcase all packed up and ready to go, cheerfully announcing that she shall also be staying at The Plant House to keep Cathy company.  Never mind the fact that Cathy said she needed some time alone; that’s clearly not important.  Now, we can all see what’s going on here, and that is the fact that Lilimae is afraid of Cathy running at the mouth and telling someone the truth about what happened up there on the rooftop.  What would happen if Cathy was all alone at The Plant House and then, say, Laura came over for a visit, perhaps wanting to reignite her lesbianism from back in the days of Ciji, and then after a few glasses of wine, Cathy started talking to her about the whole, “You have become a monster” speech Lilimae gave to Joshua just before he fell off the roof? 

                I have learned to accept the fact that Cathy’s character can often be sorta passive, that she does sorta allow herself to get walked on.  We saw this demonstrated via her relationship with Joshua and how long it took her to finally stand up for herself and tell him his treatment of her was unacceptable, and we see it again here.  If I were Cathy, I would say to Lilimae, “Leave me alone, I came here to The Plant House to be by myself and away from you, I won’t blab about Joshua, just leave me the fuck alone,” but instead Cathy just sorta allows Lilimae to intrude.  When Lilimae is like, “Oh hey, hi, I’m here, too!  Can I stay?”, Cathy just looks sorta annoyed and then is like, “Yeah, sure, it’s fine, you can stay.”  Lilimae is definitely annoying at this point in the saga, but she’s not annoying me, if that makes sense.  What I mean is that I recognize that, in the universe of the series, her behavior is annoying to the other characters around her, but I’m not personally annoyed watching her the way that, say, I was consistently annoyed for four years by having to stare at the toxic bores known as Kenny and Ginger.  See, I recognize what Lilimae’s going through, I can sorta understand the complexities of her feelings and her emotions, so it keeps me from being annoyed with her.  She must feel like a complete and utter failure because of the way everything has gone with Joshua, all the way from his birth to his death, and she doesn’t want his memory soiled by people knowing the truth about what a piece of psychotic shit he was.  I think admitting to what he had become by the end of his life would basically be the same as admitting that she is, in fact, the worst mother of all time. 

                We cut away from Cathy and Lilimae and all that stuff and get reacquainted with Linda The Waitress and her boyfriend, Arthur Fonzarelli.  When we first catch up with Linda The Waitress, she’s alone in her little apartment, but then there’s a knock at the door and it’s Arthur Fonzarelli with a six-pack of shitty piss beer (at first I assumed all six were for him, but then he hands her one and says how maybe it’ll make her feel better).  This is an important scene because the two characters start to talk about the death of Joshua and the circumstances surrounding it and Arthur Fonzarelli lets it out that he was there and he saw what really happened and that Joshua did not kill himself.  He doesn’t say anything like, “He didn’t kill himself because I killed him,” but we can see wheels spinning in Linda The Waitress’ head.  By the way, this whole business about Arthur Fonzarelli being there to see the whole thing is kinda new information; I am almost 100% certain that we didn’t actually see him witnessing the events back in Rise and Fall, but I have no problem believing that he was there.  Earlier in that ep, we established that he was sorta hanging around that area with his buddies, Richie and Potsie and Ralph and the whole gang, so I can buy that he was hanging around the big tall building in the concluding moments of that ep.  I guess maybe it’s a plot contrivance, but it doesn’t bother me.

                Things escalate over in the Gary/Empire Valley storyline when Gary takes a drive and discovers that his brakes have been cut, Sid-style.  During the scene, he is being chased by Cheesy British Guy’s hit-man, who proves himself a far more competent assassin than pretty much anyone in any James Bond movie, since he actually watches and checks to see if Gary dies rather than just cutting his brakes and assuming everything will go according to plan.  So yeah, the hitman follows after Gary and sees that Gary gets out of the situation okay, although it is still an exciting sequence watching Gary’s vehicle go flying down a big hill with no brakes.  Anyway, this is pretty much the last final straw for Gary, who then spends the rest of the ep in full-on spy mode, hell-bent on stopping whatever is going on at Empire Valley at all costs.  First up, Gary sends Olivia and Brian off.  Now might be a good time to mention that we haven’t seen Brian in, um, awhile (and by “awhile,” I mean we haven’t seen him since Finishing Touches in season five, and that was March 8th of 1984).  Where the hell is Brian?  They keep mentioning him and then throwing in lines like, “He’s in the other room,” or “He’s asleep,” but it’s been nearly two years and he’s totally M.I.A.  Did something happen with the kid from Tremors?  Was he a hellion on the set or something?  Next season Brian is gonna morph into BAG, but I didn’t remember this humongous gap of two seasons where Brian is mentioned and never seen.  In any case, it doesn’t particularly bother me because nobody cares about Brian; Olivia is the much more interesting child. 

                Olivia is blossoming nicely into quite the young actress.  Tonya Crowe would be fourteen years old at this point, and I notice that the writers are starting to give her more material to work with, and this ep has some good stuff.  See, as Gary sends Olivia (and, presumably, Brian) off with Maria, the Transmorpher Mexican maid (remember that all rich white people in the ‘80s had to have a Mexican maid, as this was, in fact, the law), he gets very serious on her and says, “I love you,” and Olivia confesses that he’s scaring her by acting so serious.  Then Abs comes walking out and Gary is like, “Tell your mother you love her,” which she does, and then they go speeding off to, I think, Mexico.  Gary doesn’t tell anyone, not even Abs, where he’s sending the kids.  Everything must be very secretive for their protection, you see.

                Gary and Abs head to Empire Valley, where they quickly switch cars with some guy, a nice clever diversion to hopefully confuse and distract whoever might be chasing after them.  Once they arrive within the Empire Valley land, Gary adorns his black spy gear and hands a similar outfit over to Abs.  See, at this moment Abs is dressed in bright red and Gary points out that bright red is generally not the greatest color to wear when sneaking around at night being worried that someone might shoot you.  I love the way that, even as KL is threatening to descend into goofiness by turning into a James Bond movie, they keep the humor there, all mixed in with the strange sense of realism, creating this fabulous cocktail of entertaining genius.  If this was Dallas, all these shenanigans would be played as DEADLY SERIOUS without a hint of irony or humor, but here the ingredients are just right. 

                They infiltrate the base with relative ease and Gary ties up some random security guard that’s hanging around, you know, guarding.  He keeps the guy tied up for awhile while he does some stuff we aren’t privy to (spoiler alert: He’s planting bombs).  While the security guard stays tied up and shouts vague threats to Gary about what’s gonna happen to him, Gary gets his reassurance that nobody else is on the premises.  See, even in the height of all this secret spy stuff, Gary still doesn’t want to hurt a human being, even a potentially evil one who’s mixed up in all this Empire Valley confusion.  Gary’s planning to blow the entire operation up, but he doesn’t want to do so unless he has assurance that there’s nobody on the premises. 

                Meanwhile, throughout all this excitement, the hitman is still hanging around, and now he’s ready to go with a sniper rifle.  As soon as Gary emerges, he’ll blow him away and that will be the end of it for Mr. Gary Ewing, right?  Wrong.  Instead, Gary calls Sumner up to come on over to Empire Valley, at pretty much the precise moment that Karen and Mack are also heading over (they’ve realized this is where Gary must be and they’re rushing out to find him).  Gary, Abs, and Greg all meet up far away from the buildings, and Gary is looking all cool and confident, holding some sort of sexy remote control thing.  Greg is all like, “What the hell’s going on?” and all that good stuff, and then Gary holds up the remote and clicks the button and BOOM, a big explosion goes off like the one that kicks off the opening credits of seasons thirteen and fourteen of Dallas (except obviously much, much better).  But it doesn’t stop there, and Gary’s coolness only increases evermore as he clicks the button again and another explosion goes off, but wait, there’s more!  Gary clicks the remote a third time and there’s one final explosion.  Yikes, that’s a lot of explosions, right?  The best part of the scene is the very ending, which is also the very ending of the ep, and that’s just Gary grinning at Greg and Abs, giving them a face like, “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”  The episode ends right there and, honestly, I loved it, and so did My Beloved Grammy, who cheered and said, “Way to go, Gary.”

                Okay, so Empire Valley is blown up, right?  I know lots of fans really hate this whole storyline start to finish, but I don’t see the problem, aside from it being kinda confusing.  Also, I’m willing to admit that, yeah, maybe Gary blowing the whole thing up is the writers saying, “Okay, yeah, this was getting too convoluted, let’s just blow it up,” but it still doesn’t bother me.  Is this a problem with me?  Am I just being too kind to the show cuz I love it so much?  Honestly, I can’t quite figure myself out; I feel that if something really stupid happened on KL or if a storyline I really hated popped up, I would know so and I would explain why I hate it, but this isn’t one of them.  In fact, I thought this whole episode was terrifically exciting and very entertaining to watch.  If the writers are wanting to flush something out of the series, isn’t having Gary blow it up way better than having him, say, wake up and find Greg Sumner in the shower saying, “Oh, that Empire Valley stuff?  That was a dream; none of that happened”?  Anyway, even if the other fans hate it, I kinda loved this episode and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  It was full of action and excitement and humor and I thought Shack was in top form as Gary went into spy mode and kicked ass and took numbers.  If you disagree with me, go ahead and tell me so, because I’d really like to know why all this stuff is so detested by so many fans.

                Next up, we’ll discuss the ramifications of the three big explosions and the death of Empire Valley with Tremors 2: Aftershocks, erm, I’m sorry, I meant to just say Aftershocks.  Talk to you then!