Episode Title: Catharsis
Season 04, Episode 05
Episode 058 of 344
Written by Doran William Cannon
Directed by Alexander Singer
Original Airdate: Thursday, October 28th, 1982
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): It's opening night at Richard's restaurant, "Daniel." Gary asks Val to go to Dallas with him for the reading of Jock's will. She says no. Abby hints around for Gary to ask her to Dallas, but he doesn't. When she finds out he asked Val to go, she is furious. Ginger is upset at all of the attention Kenny pays to Ciji while he ignores her career. Joe tells Mack that whatever Karen has planned, it's going down tonight. Karen tells Mack of her plan to catch Wayne buying illegal parts. At Knots Landing Motors, the parts deal is going down. Mack has an informer tell Angelo, who walks in on the deal and is going to kill Wayne and Marshall. Then Mack and the police burst in and let Angelo go. Wayne and Marshall know that Angelo will have them murdered, so they agree to sign confessions about killing Sid. Wayne tells Karen he didn't mean to kill him, they were just trying to scare Sid.more
Hello everybody, and welcome to Catharsis. With a title like that, you know that this episode will serve as an ending of sorts, and in this case, it’s the conclusion of a storyline that first got revved up as early as the start of season two with Chance of a Lifetime. That was the first time we met the mobsters, Roy and Frank, and Gary started to get involved in a dirty business with them. We all remember how those events unfolded over the course of the season, finally leading to the cutting of Sid’s brakes and him taking a plunge off a big cliff in the season two finale, Squeezeplay. Then he died early in season three with Critical Condition and the issues of who cut his brakes along with the fact that there was some evil dude working at Knots Landing Motors who was responsible for Sid’s death was put on the backburner for all of the third season. Now here we are, five episodes deep into season four, and the storyline has returned and the writers are ready to finally wrap it up and put a pretty little bow on it.
Maybe you’ve noticed that my writing style for these little blog entries has shifted a bit as of late. When I first started dissecting all KL eps, I would generally move through the eps in a linear fashion and go from start to finish, often categorizing one storyline as the A story and one as the B story, and then every now and then we would also have a C story. Now I feel like I’m kinda hopping around all over the eps, but that’s because there’s just so much going on in any individual episode now. The show is a true ensemble at this point, and we no longer have, like, a Karen episode one week which is followed by a Laura episode the next week and then a Val episode the week after that. Instead, everyone is featured, everyone’s got storylines going on, and they are going to continue on from episode to episode. Therefore, I have shifted my style of writing to kinda move through the characters and what they do in a given week, focusing on one before moving on to another. If you find this style of writing a bit jarring, I do apologize, but I also confess that I am having a hard time keeping up with all the stories going on at this point.
In any case, before diving into Catharsis in question, I actually wanna take a moment to discuss where this episode falls in terms of time and dates and what was happening this week in CBS Land. I feel like this was a great week to be a soap fan, because you got not one but two eps of KL, and you didn’t even have to wait long to get them. This particular episode aired on Thursday, October 28th, 1982, right? Well, then, the very next night, which would Friday, October 29th, CBS aired an ep of Dallas followed immediately by an ep of Knots Landing, the one and only time that they did a double whammy like that in the entire run of both series. Obviously we will not be exploring that particular double feature quite yet, as we still have Catharsis to get through, but I wanted to note that because I think this is a very important week in KL history and I’m willing to bet it was this exact week that KL finally and officially became popular.
The reason I mention that is because this episode actually begins in an unusual way, a way we haven’t seen since way back in Pilot (and you may recall that when I wrote about that ep, I even questioned whether it began that way upon its original airing or if that was a change for syndication and I have since learned that, no, the little preview at the start of the DVD is not how that first episode originally began) and that is with a little narration of current events transpiring. Usually you put in a KL episode and the first thing you see is the little thirty second preview of the events about to unfold, followed of course by the glorious opening credits sequence. This week, however, we open with the “Lorimar Presents” logo and then that cheesy narrator who I love going, “In Knots Landing,” followed by him providing a little summation of the events so far this season. I wish I had jotted down some of his dialogue in my notes, because it’s corny as hell and God, I love it.
Now, I’m willing to bet that the reason the episode begins this way is because the decision had finally been made at this point to shift KL into being a complete nighttime soap with ongoing storylines that you gotta watch every week or else you will get lost. This was probably done for the consideration of new viewers who might be deciding to tune in, maybe knowing that tomorrow there will be a cool double feature of Dallas and KL, and this way they get a bit up to speed in a way they wouldn’t if we just had the usual thirty second preview.
Okay, so who to focus on first this week? Well, I think I’ll begin with Gary since he’s one of the first characters we see this week and since he’s going to be making a crossover into our tenth Brief Dallas Interlude very shortly. See, Gary is awoken good and early by a letter arriving from Texas telling him that Miss Ellie is ready to hear the reading of the will on the 29th. It was at this point that I double checked the airdate of this particular episode and realized that the reading of the will is only one day away. This is also one of those interesting occurrences where we realize that the episode we are watching is actually taking place on the exact day that it aired.
Gary heads to the cul-de-sac to visit Val, who wishes to hear nothing from him and just asks him to go away. I have to question Gary’s motivation here, because my personal belief is that he just wants to see Val, that he misses her. I think at this point he’s grasping at any straw that gives him an excuse to speak to Val, and in this case the straw is his daddy’s will. Even so, he makes a point when he tells her she should probably come to Texas with him because she might be in the will. He says how his daddy never really liked him all that much (and aren’t you glad that we watched all those Brief Dallas Interludes before the KL Pilot as a way of seeing all this back story acted out before our very eyes?) and thought it was Val who kept him grounded, so it is very possible that whatever Gary is set to inherit may be linked to Val in some way. Well, his words have no effect and Val just asks him to leave. Later on, Abs and Gary have a bit of a fight over Gary going to visit Val, but he gives her the same rhetoric he gave Val regarding his relationship with Jock. Now, if you’re following along, you’ll remember that J.R. paid a visit in Daniel and provided Abs with the secret information that Gary is going to be coming into a lot of money that it is in no way linked to his marriage to Val. Due to her knowledge, she is able to keep it cool and seem really generous and selfless by giving Gary a big speech about how she wants him no matter what, for richer or for poorer, and she’ll be beside him no matter what.
Let’s take another pause to discuss the motivation of Abs. I discussed this with my brother the last time he came to visit town and he said something I found very striking, which is that Abs views Gary as a blank canvas upon which she can paint. I think my brother might have something there, because she certainly displayed an immediate interest in Gary back when she first moved onto the cul-de-sac, and at that point he wasn’t even close to being rich or powerful or successful, and I don’t even remember if Abs knew he was a Texas Ewing right off the bat. So I’m sorta digging this theory that she spotted him and viewed him as something she could shape and change to fit her own agenda; what do you think?
Anyway, in the Gary/Abs camp there is only one other scene of significant note, and it’s a steamy one. This isn’t quite up there with Richard and Abs in the hot tub back in Step One, but it’s still pretty saucy and erotic. It’s also got a link to the previous scene, because we end a scene with Karen punching Mack in the stomach (I’ll get to it) and then commenting that he has a lot of muscles because it hurts her hand, right? Then, from that muscle comment, we cut to extreme close-ups of Gary’s muscles being massaged by Abby’s delicate, sensual fingers. They’re both lying on a bed in, I think, Gary’s new little apartment that Abs bought for him, and they’re naked, and it’s the middle of the day, and they’re sweaty, and there’s just so much of her rubbing his muscles and it’s all quite sexy. While giving the massage, Abs also mentions how she likes making love (her words, not mine) in the middle of the day. In any case, I don’t know that anything plot-related is really established in this scene, but I just liked it cuz it was sexy and sweaty. I also think this must be the period that Shack started hitting the gym regularly because he has really bulked up and we are going to see a lot of his muscles in the weeks to come; I wonder if this was some sort of contractual obligation he required?
Meanwhile, over at the Ward house, Kenny and Ginger actually have something to do this week….well, kinda. They don’t get a major storyline or anything too exciting, but this ep marks the third appearance of Lisa Hartman as Ciji, and Kenny is getting heavily involved in working with her because of that great song from last week that I liked but My Beloved Grammy did not, Hole in my Heart. We get to hear a smidge of the song again this week because Kenny is shown listening to it in his living room, much to the chagrin of Ginger, who says she’s annoyed because he meets Ciji, hears her sing one song, and then is immediately cutting a record with her. She also says how she can sing just as good or better, which is obviously not true. Look, I actually went so far as to say a nice thing about Ginger back in Possibilities (and it hurt me to do it) when she sang that little country song that I kinda dug, but she is not Lisa Hartman, who has a fabulous voice and can sing any type of song beautifully.
Minor spoiler alert, but this is to be the final season of the show featuring Kenny and Ginger. At this point, I’m sure you all know that I won’t mourn when they leave, that they are hardly my favorite characters on the show. However, I am paying a bit more attention to them at this point because I do seem to recall season four being their most active season, when they actually have some storylines and some stuff to do. I’ll pay attention to see if I was right, and I’ll also see if they can actually manage to become interesting the way the other characters in the cast are interesting, although I doubt it. Regardless, we only have to endure seventeen more episodes with them (and I'm willing to bet it's not actually seventeen; that they probably will sit out a whole bunch of eps) before they blow town, something I’m very excited to see.
Oh yeah, there’s a second stylish cut in this ep, this one relating to Kenny and Ginger. Similair to the “muscle to muscle” cut I discussed before, in this case we conclude a scene with Ginger being like, “Don’t you dare put that song on again!” and Kenny ignoring her. He rewinds the tape (it’s a tape and not a vinyl that he’s listening to) and starts up Hole in my Heart again, at which point we cut to Gary sitting on his couch and listening to the last few seconds of the same song. Again, a stylish little edit that I appreciate. On KL’s contemporaries, I highly doubt anyone would bother with a nice transition like that; instead they would just cut from one scene to the next with, like, a boring second unit shot of the exterior of some building.
Richard is moving at warp speed with his restaurant, which we are told is scheduled to open up tonight, so he spends the majority of the ep in the kitchen, chopping food and getting prepared. At this point, he has officially named the restaurant “Daniel,” after his new son, a little detail I appreciated. I like the fact that it’s not “Daniel’s,” but just simply “Daniel;” that’s kinda cool and different. We also get a nice bit of man bonding this week between Richard and Mack, who pays a visit to Richard’s restaurant and tells him to stop filling Karen’s head with crazy ideas. At first the two are a smidge adversarial but then they bond over something food related and before you know it, Mack has an apron on and is helping Richard prepare.
All these stories are kinda secondary to the main focus this week, which is on wrapping up the story of Karen and the mobsters. I feel like I’ve kinda glossed over this story the last few weeks, so let me try to get us up to date. Remember that despite my deep love affair with KL, sometimes I just get kinda dumb and have a hard time focusing on the exact unfolding on the plot. Next season we are going to meet Mark St. Claire and you will watch me struggle to understand what the hell is going on in that storyline. I don’t think this little problem is ever the fault of the show; it’s all me and the way my brain works. The reason I bring it up is because it sorta happened here, where I was kinda following along with this storyline but also getting a bit confused. Perhaps some of this confusion stems from the fact that we are finishing a storyline that was started in season two, and that was a bit of time away and a lot has happened in that gap, so I need to sorta remind myself of what went down back then.
Another part of the confusion on my part is the way the writers just sorta dropped this story for the entire third season. I keep saying “they put it on the back burner,” but really it’s more like they put it up high in a cupboard and didn’t touch it all year before finally pulling it back down for the start of season four. Seriously, after Sid died it was kinda like they just plain forgot that his car had been fucked with by some mysterious evil employee in the closing seconds of season two; I don’t think they mentioned it once, nor do I think they mentioned Roy and Frank and stolen car parts for the entire course of the third season. Then it came back to the forefront in A Brand New Day. I’m not being critical, by the way; you all know how much I like the slow burn of KL and I like that we have to wait until season four to see this story finished, but I do question whether this was planned out in any way. My personal opinion is that when the writers gathered together to map out season four, they were like, “Oh crap, you know we never really finished that mobster storyline, did we?”
Okay, so to get us up to date about what’s gone down the last few weeks, basically Karen has come to realize that the mechanic she thought she could trust, the one she gave Gary’s old position after terminating Gary’s employment with Knots Landing Motors, Wayne Harkness, is actually the man responsible for Sid’s death. Sure, he had a moustache back then, was a bit fatter, and was also, you know, played by a completely different actor, but those are all minor details. In the opening eps of season four, we got the sense that Karen really liked and trusted this guy, even though he seems creepy and untrustworthy. Then she caught him in a convenient lie back in Encounters when he told Karen that he was at the dentist on the day Sid went off the cliff, only to brag to Laura about two seconds later that he hadn’t been to the dentist in years.
Then, Karen started to drop subtle hints to Wayne that she would like some stolen auto parts. Of course, she doesn’t come right out and say it that way, but they have a bit of dialogue about how she wants some really good, cheap auto parts. Basically, she is trying to entrap him, to get him to bring the mobsters out of hiding so they can be caught and brought to true justice. The way I write it almost makes it sound like Karen is going to go all Charles Bronson Death Wish on these mobsters (which would be cool), but that’s not her plan; rather her plan is to get them caught in a dirty dealing so they can be hauled to prison forever, or something.
The exact involvement of Wayne with the mobsters (Roy and Frank, and by the way, Frank made a reappearance back in Daniel and Svengali and, unlike his buddy Roy, they have not hired the same actor from season two and have instead morphed Frank into new actor Hank Garrett) is where I start to get a headache. There was an early scene of them hanging out in front of a lavish pool with some random white lady in a bikini, talking about evil things, but I remain a little unclear about how or why Wayne got involved with them and why he continues to stay involved with them; it’s shit like this that just confuses my poor little brain.
So basically, as we begin Catharsis, Karen has got things arranged so that she can catch Wayne and the mobsters in a deal for stolen auto parts. However, there is some excitement this week which threatens to halt her plans, mostly involving someone following her. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, we’ve seen this mysterious man tailing Karen since, I think, as early back as A Brand New Day. Every time Karen hops in her car and starts driving, this other car revs up and starts to chase after her. I have to say that at no point did I think this car belonged to an evil mobster; I pretty much figured that Mack had hired somebody to tail Karen and keep an eye on her, and I was right, although I really enjoyed the scene in which we discover this.
See, Karen hops in her car and starts to drive, only to realize she is being chased. There’s a high speed car chase (it’s a very TV-show-car-chase, so don’t imagine anything really grand and huge in scope like Bullitt or something) in which Karen tries to lose the car and asks God to keep her safe. Good acting from Michele here, by the way, because something like that could come across as very silly, but she makes it feel real. She speeds to Mack’s office and probably parks the car illegally, since she just sorta hops out, and then she dashes inside. We go to a commercial, and when we return she has found Mack at his office and is like, “I’m being followed, oh no, I’m so scared, omigod!” Then the guy following her shows up at the office and Karen’s like, “You might be crazy, but you’re not crazy enough to do something in front of Mack in this public defender’s office!” It’s at this point that the guy looks at Mack and is like, “You were right; she’s a hell of a driver,” and we realize this is just some dude hired by Mack to tail Karen. By the way, this is the scene that ends with Karen punching Mack before we cut to a sweaty close-up of Gary’s muscles, so now you know the context of that.
After punching Mack and hurting her hand because of his hard stomach muscles, Karen sits down with both Mack and Uncle Joe and admits to all the details of her plan. When Mack realizes what she’s done, he’s mad and tells her that she is performing entrapment on Wayne and that he shouldn’t even be hearing this information. He tells her how if she goes through with this plan, Roy and Frank will be released from jail in about five minutes because of the circumstances leading to their arrest in the first place. He’s angry with Karen and he wants her to go home and stay there and not go anywhere near Knots Landing Motors tonight.
Karen immediately disobeys and the next time we see her, she is indeed creeping around Knots Landing Motors, watching the action go down with Wayne and Roy and Frank. I’m not completely sure what her exact plan is here, because she corners Wayne in a backroom and tells him the deal is off, that these are stolen auto parts, and that she wants him gone and the mobsters, too. But then Roy and Frank, like, sorta catch her and are gonna, like, beat her up or something, when suddenly the garage doors open and the, like, head mafia guy shows up unexpectedly. This is basically the Don Corleone of this ep, and when he shows up to question what Roy and Frank are up to, they are like, “Ah, gee, nothin’, boss, we swear!” But then two seconds after this occurs, the cops swarm the place to arrest Roy and Frank. As for the Don Corleone guy, well, they let him go, but I’m sure they’ll find some way to deal with him later.
I think I understood this development. Basically, if the cops had just shown up right away, there’s no way Roy and Frank would have spilled their guts. They would hang out in jail for a few minutes, saying nothing, until one of their powerful mobster friends was able to get them out, and then they would proceed with their evil lives. But now they are caught with a choice, go with the cops and tell the truth, or go off with Don Corleone and probably, you know, sleep with the fishes and all that. Naturally, they choose the cops and are escorted off the property, but not before Wayne can give Karen a quick little speech about how he didn’t know he was going to wind up killing Sid. He’s like, “I didn’t know his car would go off the cliff like that; I didn’t mean to kill him.” I actually do believe Wayne, and I like this small moment of humanity when the writers could have easily just painted him as a snarling villain. Instead, this little scene gives us a hint of his humanity, that maybe he’s just a guy who got in over his head with some bad people, the same way Gary did back in season two.
Catharsis concludes with a lovely little dinner scene at Richard’s fabulous new restaurant. Apparently busting mobsters makes Karen really hungry, because she is just enjoying the shit out of some strawberries dipped in chocolates. Richard must serve good food because Karen is very complimentary and tells him how delicious everything is. The characters then sorta give a wrap-up on what went down, although there’s a little twist thrown in by Uncle Joe that I’m moderately confused by in which he says how Karen “planned the whole thing.” Planned what, exactly? For Don Corleone to show up? For the cops to show up at the precise moment they did? For most of this storyline, it seemed like Karen was kinda lost, with no real concrete plan, and I think this last minute revelation is supposed to be a little curve ball thrown at us by the writers, but it would probably work better for a viewer who is not dumb like me and is able to follow along with plot points a little bit better. In this case, I’m just kinda like, “She planned what exactly?” and then the episode credits are rolling before I really have time to question it.
So that was Catharis, which also happened to serve as the final episode of that first disk of season four eps My Beloved Grammy and I watched upon our most recent visit together. This was a good “last ep” for a disk because while it certainly doesn’t wrap up all the storylines we have going on concurrently, it does finally finish up the story of Sid and the mobsters. The catharsis of the title refers to Karen, that now she can really move on from this event. We saw her move on emotionally and accept the fact that Sid was truly dead back in Letting Go, but the story would not have been truly finished had we not returned to Frank and Roy and seen them get some true justice.
Watching these eps, I realized something I hadn’t before, which is that using the death of Sid to introduce Karen to Mack is actually pretty sharp writing. Instead of just introducing Mack and saying, “Here’s Karen’s new romantic interest,” the writers sorta begin a new relationship with her by also concluding that old relationship with her first husband. Now that she has accepted Sid’s death and the mobsters have been taken away, here’s Mack right in front of her, nice and introduced to the series, and we are ready to watch their relationship grow. Since Mack is one of my favorite characters on the entire series, I would say I am more excited to watch them develop and become closer than I was by the actual contents of this episode in question.
I also wanna apologize if any of you found my last couple of blog posts to be in any way lacking. Like I said, upon my last visit with My Beloved Grammy, we powered through five episodes spanning A Brand New Day through Catharsis. For whatever reason, despite sitting and watching the show with my notepad and all the usual stuff, I just felt a little distracted by random life events (actually car related, go figure) and I felt I wasn’t completely able to disappear into the show the way I usually am. This is not the show’s fault; in all honesty, the show is firing on all cylinders now and will be for years and years to come; it was just my own mental state that made it hard to completely focus. Therefore, I also found doing these last batch of posts a little more difficult than usual, because the events of the episodes had already become a bit hazy in my mind. So if you thought my writing wasn’t quite up to snuff, I do apologize for that, although perhaps I am just being paranoid and self-critical; perhaps the writing is fine.
Our next KL episode is New Beginnings, but before we get to that, we have another Brief Dallas Interlude, our first since way back near the start of season three, and our last one for a couple years, until 1985. In this instance, airing the very next night, we have Gary visiting Texas to hear the reading of his daddy’s will in the episode entitled, fittingly, Jock’s Will, and I will also be immediately putting up my thoughts on New Beginnings on the same day, as a tribute to how they originally aired. Talk to you then!