Episode Title: Exposé
Season 03, Episode 18
Episode 049 of 344
Written by L. Virginia Browne
Directed by Harvey S. Laidman
Original Airdate: Thursday, April 8th, 1982
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): A publisher wants to publish Val's book, but Gary doesn't want her to since it airs his family's dirty laundry. Val agrees that she won't if Gary will only see Abby at KL Motors during normal working hours. Knowing this, Abby deliberately sets up a meeting at night, and convinces Gary he has to be there. Gary goes, so Val signs the publishing contract. Richard's boss tells him to set up another client party with prostitutes. Unaware that she's taping him, Richard tells a prostitute that his company is only using him as a pimp. The tape is played on the news, and his boss releases a statement that hiring the prostitutes was all Richard's idea and they had no knowledge of it. He then fires Richard.
After a string of schizophrenic episodes in a row ranging from the brilliant (Best Intentions) to the very bottom of the barrel (Silver Shadows), we have now reached the last lap of season three, with only five episodes left to go. Time for things to start heating up and getting real exciting as we prepare for our cliffhanger and big dramatic season finale. I’d say Exposé is sorta the warmup to that last lap, an episode that’s getting lots of things percolating and building up to a boil. While our previous ep, Letting Go, was a sorta cathartic experience and represented Karen finally ready to move on to a new phase of her life without Sid Fairgate, Exposé feels, in many ways, like the beginning of the culmination for season three, yet it also feels like the beginning of season four and everything we have in store for our next year ahead. Read on.
Exposé opens on Val jogging while we run our episode credits, prompting me to ask: Have we seen Val go running yet? I feel like we must have, as we have had nearly fifty episodes of the series at this point, and her running and morning jogs feel like such an inherent part of her character, but as I sat with My Beloved Grammy and got this episode started, I jotted in my notes, “First time seeing Val running?” If anyone has a better memory than me, please write in or leave a comment to tell me when we’ve seen Val go running before this ep, because I feel like we must have.
Anyway, things seem sunshiny and rosy in the first few seconds of the ep, but that quickly changes when Abs hijacks Gary away from Val to take him to yet another, um, business dinner, or something. I thought there was something symbolic as well as literal going on here, by the way, because Val only has time for a quick word with Gary before she is informed that he won’t be home until late, that he’ll be busy with Abby, and then they drive off. There was something about this shot of Gary and Abs in a car together, driving off away from Val, that to me felt very significant. It’s not just two people driving away, you see; the car driving further away from Val is the solid, physical representation of the rift developing within the very marriage of Gary and Val.
Remember Valene’s book from Best Intentions? Well, after ignoring that story for two eps, it’s back at the forefront here this week. Valene is hanging out all by herself when Uncle Joe comes in to boldly announce that she will be a published author, all very exciting news for Val and for the viewing audience at home. However, there is one issue, and that’s the fact that Gary still hasn’t seen the book, and I think we all know how he’s going to react when he sees how Val has taken his real life family from over in Texas and just-barely fictionalized them and added a bit of make-believe to a mostly true story full of scandal and shock.
Preparing for bed, Val insists that Gary read the book, still giving him no clue as to the contents of it, only telling him that he has to read it before she’ll go ahead with publishing it. He’s kinda grumpy and dismissive, tired from working on that methanol storyline and wanting to screw Abby for so long, so he’s like, “Yeah, I’ll read it, whatever.” We cut to later that night when Gary is suffering from insomnia (random interstitial: I can relate as I often have crippling insomnia and have suffered many a sleepless night), so he tosses and turns a bit and then gets up, goes downstairs, plops down on the couch, and opens Val’s manuscript. One thing I found amusing is that Gary immediately furrows his brow and looks real upset, prompting me to wonder exactly how much scandal Val has packed into the very first page of her book. Or is Gary’s heart simply sinking when he looks at the title of the book (A Family in Texas) and starts to get a sneaking suspicion as to what this book could be about? I dunno, but it amuses me more to think that the reader would open to chapter one, page one, and immediately be assaulted with, “J.R. Ewing is an evil bastard who sent Texas good old boys to steal my baby away from me!”
When Val wakes up, she finds Gary waiting for her downstairs, on the couch, the manuscript before him. One thing I appreciated about this scene was that Gary doesn’t necessarily insult his wife’s book; he’s actually pretty gentle, in a way, telling her that for a first time writer, the book is actually pretty amazing, extremely well written, but then he does say that she can’t possibly expect to publish it, that all of his family’s dirty little secrets are laid out and exposed for everyone to see. Val says how the book is fiction, how she just used things she knew about from her own life to create characters, how the majority of the stuff she wrote is made up, but Gary says that with the title A Family in Texas and the author name Valene Ewing, nobody will care about that, adding, “You could change your name but I’m sure the publishers only want it for the scandal value.” That’s the first burn of this scene, and you can see that his comment hurts Val, who says, “I hope they want it because it’s good.” However, Gary is having none of it, concluding the scene with, “You are not publishing this book and that’s final.”
A little later, in the Ewing living room, Val proposes a deal which Gary flippantly agrees to. She says okay, sure, she won’t publish this book of hers in exchange for Gary not seeing Abby anymore. “Okay, deal,” Gary says right away, and at first I was like, “Well, that was easy,” but then Gary starts to go on about, “We can move to a new neighborhood and I can get a new job where I don’t have to see her and Bob Loblaw,” but Val says that’s not what she meant, that he knows what she meant. She doesn’t want Gary disappearing for hours every day to go have business breakfasts, business lunches, and business dinners with Abby, just the two of them, spending more time with her than with his very own wife. The two work out a truce that Gary will only interact with Abby from nine to five during regular business hours in the regular business setting of Knots Landing Motors, and he and Val shake on it. Will he keep his word? Or will he go back on it in about two minutes? I guess we’ll have to watch to find out!
I haven’t mentioned Abs yet this week, but she’s definitely around, and she has some fabulous little character moments where she lets her face do all the acting. For instance, early in the ep when her and Gary are hanging out at her house and discussing methanol and all that, Val comes bursting in to tell them all about how her book is going to be published and Abs is like, “Oh Val, that’s great, it’s such a wonderful book!” However, right before the scene ends, she is sorta turned to face the camera, her back to Gary and Val, and a really wicked smile takes over her face, telling us that she knows what a schism this little book is going to cause for Gary and Val, and telling us that she wants it to happen because she wants Gary oh so badly. It’s a nice bit of quiet acting from Donna, and it continues to build and build from what’s been going on since she first moved into the cul-de-sac while also building towards the culminating moments of this season. I’ll discuss Abby and her motivations even more as we move closer to the season finale and see how things start to play out, because we are gonna see a lot of great little moments from Donna that demonstrate Abby’s complex, albeit wicked, motivations and emotions.
It doesn’t take long for Gary to go back on his word to Val, insisting that some sort of business opportunity came up and he simply has to run off with Abby to go and take care of it, even though it’s now nighttime, well past 5:00PM and regular business hours, so it’s been, as Val points out, less than 24 hours since their deal and already he’s breaking in. This is actually our final scene in the episode, and oh boy was it a good one, one that would definitely guarantee my ass would be on my couch next Thursday to see how things continue to play out with Gary and Val and Abs. See, Val is finally like, “Okay, go, Gary, just go, do whatever you have to do,” and he leaves the house. But then, she marches right over to her cupboard, pulls out that letter from the publishers over in New York, scribbles something on it, and starts to put it back in the envelope to mail it back. Yup, we all know what she’s doing; Gary went back on his deal so now she can go back on hers, and Lilimae enters the scene to confirm this. She asks what Val is doing and Val answer that she’s sending her response to New York, that she’s going to publish her book. The camera sorta closes in on a closeup of Val’s face and she looks dead serious and I like it. She almost looks like a robot, no joy in her face, that Gary breaking his deal so quickly has awakened something new in her, that she’s going to do what she wants to do and needs to do and it doesn’t matter what Gary has to say on the subject.
Now before you think I’m ready to wrap up my thoughts on this ep just because I’m talking about the final shot, fear not, because we still have a juicy Richard storyline going on over here in Storyline B, and I have lots to say on that. I just wanted to get through the Gary/Val/Abs stuff first and then talk about Richard’s story this week, which is again part of a greater whole. Suffice it to say, Richard is not having a good time lately; this season has been kinda a constant gut punch for the poor guy, and it’s all starting to come to a head (just wait for our next ep, omigod!).
Let’s go down the list, shall we? When we began season three with The Vigil, things were actually looking up for Richard. He and Laura were still together, he had ended his affair with Abs, he had a pretty promising new job at a law firm, and all was looking good. However, slowly but surely, things have unraveled for him. Laura drifted into her affair with Scooter (although I note with interest that Richard is still unaware of that and, I think, stays unaware of that forever), Richard slowly started to realize he wasn’t the company lawyer but just the company pimp and party planner, and then a few weeks ago with Best Intentions he found out that Laura was pregnant with his baby but was preparing to divorce him, move out, and leave him forever. Needless to say, the shit is coming down so hard on Richard that perhaps he should start wearing a hat.
It only gets worse this week, however. Poor Richard is alone in his big house on the cul-de-sac with no one to keep him company, so he goes to visit Marni; you remember her? Actually, this is a nice little surprise, because I didn’t remember that Marni, last seen in Secrets, returned for an encore appearance here. In fact, at first I didn’t even recognize her as the same actress or character (remember that it’s been awhile since I watched that one; My Beloved Grammy and I try to get together for a disk of eps as much as we can, but we both get busy and sometimes there are large gaps between viewing and things start to blur in my memory). When Richard first goes to see her and she opens her door and he says something like, “I like your pajamas,” I thought she was just, you know, a whore, that Richard probably knows quite a few whores now because of all his party planning. But then he mentions her name and I was like, “Oh, it’s the same whore from earlier this season,” but then I became convinced she had morphed and was being played by a new actress. Well, I went and looked it up and no, it’s still the same whore and she’s still being played by Stepfanie Kramer, future star of NBC’s Hunter, so there you go, nice continuity.
Anyway, Richard is getting a nice massage from Marni and telling her the secrets of the world, but what he isn’t privy to and we, the audience, are, is that Marni is recording everything he says on a big fat tape recorder that’s just barely covered by a towel or something. Being that men tend to get comfortable with their whores (remember how confessional J.R. would get over on Dallas whenever he paid his own whore a visit?), Richard just tells her everything going on his life, saying that his firm is basically a prostitution ring, that he’s the pimp, that it’s his job to gather whores for company events, even adding, “What the hell, it’s all tax deductible.” We get another nice juicy closeup of that tape recorder just recording away and we know that Richard is going to be in trouble.
Sure enough, it turns out that Marni is, like, an actress or something. Actually, all of this was terribly unclear to me, but I’m inclined to blame myself and my own stupid brain more than the writing. See, the next time we see her, she’s in an office talking to this guy I really recognized (and more on him in a second, as he’s a Transmorpher and a Tangled Knot) and the guy is like, “I assigned you to go undercover as a whore and show what a good actress you are,” and so on. What confuses me is that if she’s really this undercover actress, what was she doing all hopped up on Quaaludes back in Secrets? Is she just a super Method actress? Or maybe was she actually a prostitute who is now trying to go straight and work as an actress? If anyone is less dumb than me and can help clarify what’s going on here, please write in or leave a comment or send an E-mail. In any case, this character is really not all that important in the grand KL scheme so perhaps I should focus less on her and her motivations and more on our main, core cast.
Before I move on to what happens to Richard, though, I wanna talk about this actor playing Marni’s boss guy. Okay, his name is Tom McFadden (pictured below) and I knew I recognized him from something, and it turned out to be A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, in which he played the Meryl Streep lookalike’s dad. However, I note with excitement that he will also be appearing in three more KL eps in 1988, playing Dr. Robert Hayland in Just Desserts, Discovery, and The Perfect Alibi. In addition to that, he played not one, but two characters over on Dallas, playing Jackson’s Partner in two episodes from 1983 (Hell Hath no Fury and Tangled Web) and then playing Doug Snyder in two episodes from 1989 (Cry me a River of Oil and Pride and Prejudice). Tom McFadden, ladies and gentlemen, give this man a special trophy.
Okay, moving on. Richard’s life gets even shittier when he turns on the evening news and sees Marni (or rather one of those shadow silhouettes they do on TV news shows when they don’t want to expose who the person talking is) going on and on about businesses that hire prostitutes to cater their client affairs, and then they play the clip of Richard talking (although they are decent enough to bleep out his name when he says, “I, Richard Avery, am the company pimp”). The music swells, Richard looks all upset, and we all know what’s coming.
Next time we see Richard, he is with his hilarious pipe smoking boss who I love so much and who I am really going to miss when he vanishes from the show (John Lehne, for those who forgot this incredible moustached actor’s name). Anyway, Richard is talking about how they can deal with this little incident, but Moustache unveils the official statement that he’s going to release to the press, completely blaming Richard for everything and saying he was the one getting the whores, that he got the whores from his own personal catalogue of whores, and that he has now resigned because of his embarrassing incompetence. Richard tries to protest but it’s worthless and he loses his job.
Next up, we see where Laura is now living, and I am convinced, utterly convinced, that this is the exact same set used over on Dallas for when Kristin was on that series. Let’s flash back to a drunken Sue Ellen visiting Kristin at her apartment, waving a gun around and being all campy. Close your eyes and picture that scene, alright? Now tell me, is this not the same set? It looks exactly the same! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that Lorimar had a stock bunch of sets they’d like to use over and over again, just like they have a little circle of actors they like to reuse, so I am almost 100% positive that this is the same set from the parent series; what do you all think? Again, I have no real way of knowing except to write in to someone involved with both series, probably getting a response saying, “Get a life, faggot!” Thusly, I think I’ll just remain confident in my notion that this is the same set.
Anyway, Laura is trying to have a nice little visit with Val and, I think, Karen (I’ve kinda forgotten, sorry), when Richard comes bursting in, and I think it’s hear that we start to realize that Richard is coming unglued. He’s not just having a hard time, he’s not just panicking a bit, he’s starting to go crazy. He bursts in and just starts chattering away, basically talking to himself more than anyone else in the room, and he doesn’t provide any context for what he’s talking about, instead just making obscure references to how he could file a lawsuit and what have you. Laura is very confused, saying, “Richard, you’re not making any sense,” and then Richard says how he got fired and he just breaks down and starts crying. This is a rather tender scene, by the way, as Laura holds him and gives him a hug, demonstrating the complexity of their relationship and why they are, still, my favorite couple of the first four years of the show. Laura is mad with Richard, irritated with him, wants to be alone and independent in Kristin’s apartment, but she still holds him and tries to comfort him when he breaks down in front of her.
Okay, so that about does it for our stories this week on Exposé. What else is there to say? Oh, I will note one small, very minor little complaint about this episode, and that is that some of the necessary expository dialogue does come off a trifle hokey and overly-written, if that makes sense. This is really only a problem in the very earliest portions of this episode and it kinda fixes itself as we move along, but it seems like we’ve got a bit too much of characters just narrating stuff and setting up events. I can remember it happening twice, and once is with the Transmorpher/Tangled Knot guy from Nightmare on Elm Street 2, when he’s talking to Marni, and once is a small scene between Karen and Uncle Joe where she sorta narrates, “Gee, I wonder what Val’s book could be about!” However, I also noted that little scene because Karen says something like, “If the book is about the Ewings, Gary will be upset, especially considering that his father just passed away.” I noted this because this is the first time that Jock Ewing’s death is mentioned here on KL, and I’ve been waiting for it. Again, I’m not watching the two shows in tandem; this blog is about KL and only includes Dallas eps if Gary and/or Val show up in them, so it’s hard for me to keep track of what would be going on over in Texas, but I’m pretty sure Jock had been dead for quite awhile at this point, and I’ve just been wondering why it’s taken so long for them to bring it up here (or why we haven’t gotten a scene with Gary getting the news and displaying some upset or emotion or something). In any case, here we are and it’s finally officially been mentioned over on KL that Jock Ewing is dead.
Time to wrap up my thoughts on Exposé. How was it? Well, I thought it was quite good, and I don’t mean to sound flippant or blasé. If I do, it’s only because I happen to know that we’re ascending now, that we’re on a nice straight track of amazingness that will glide us into the season finale and then ever-so-smoothly into the sweet nectar of season four. Of the last five eps of season three, this is probably the least exciting, but it’s doing an excellent job of setting up the dominos, if you know what I mean. It’s setting up a lot of exciting shit to go down as we work our way through the next four eps, a lot of it having to do with Gary, Val, and Abs, but also of course Richard’s impending mental breakdown which I can’t wait to discuss.
In fact, why don’t we just wrap it up for now and when we return, we can discuss that mental breakdown of Richard’s in glorious detail with the television triumph that will be our next episode, the brilliant and Plesh-penned episode called Night.