Episode Title: The Morning After
Season 04, Episode 17
Episode 070 of 344
Written by Diana Gould
Directed by Jeff Bleckner
Original Airdate: Thursday, February 3rd, 1983
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary wakes up at Ciji's and they talk. Abby then threatens her to stay away from Gary. Ciji is upset and asks Laura why everyone hates her and accuses her of things she hasn't done. Ciji finds an article Chip has that says he is wanted in connection for a beating, and his name is Tony Fenice. Chip threatens Ciji not to tell anyone, and she breaks up and fires him. Richard accuses Laura of having an affair with Ciji. Val blames herself for Gary's drinking, and goes to police station when he's arrested. Abby and Westmont are bailing him out, and Abby and Val argue. When Gary wakes up, he overhears Abby telling Westmont to insert a clause in her contract that if Gary's capacity is diminished due to his alcoholism, she will get full power of attorney over his money.
When we last left off in the closing moments of A New Family, a drunken Gary had stumbled his way to the door of Ciji’s apartment and simply asked if he could come in. Now, in The Morning After, we pick up right away with, well, the morning after. Gary is lying in Ciji’s bed, shirtless, hungover, looking an absolute mess, when Ciji enters with a lovely little plate of breakfast for him. Looks like she made him some toast and a nice glass of orange juice! Of course, Gary’s hangover is so bad that he can barely look at food, so instead he pours his orange juice all over the toast (which seemed kinda odd and also kinda rude) and asks Ciji is she has anything he can add to the orange juice, meaning anything with alcohol. When Ciji says she doesn’t have anything, Gary says, in this really interesting way, “I get mean.” This is another example, much like last week with Gary’s “I am a drunk and I did run out on her,” comment, of Gary knowing who he is, knowing what he is, knowing that he is not in a good place, but sorta staying in that same place. He doesn’t tell Ciji “I get mean,” as a threat or even necessarily a warning, but just as sorta like, “This is me, so you should give me some booze before I get mean.” There’s also a sorta sad tone in his voice, like he knows how awful he is to look at, but he’s powerless to help it.
Now would be a good time to ask: Did they or didn’t they? Personally, my vote goes towards nope. Gary showed up and slept off his drunk at Ciji’s place and that is all. Yeah, the fact that he is shirtless at the head of this episode could point to some sexy shenanigans from last night, but I vote for Gary got hot in the middle of the night and took it off, which I understand (this is probably a good time for all my loving readers to know that I sleep naked). However, there’s still a subtle little something here that tells me the writers are sorta leaving it up to our imagination. Gary was so drunk that he probably couldn’t remember anything about the night before, you know?
However, the reason I vote for negative on this debate is because of the character of Ciji. In fact, now would be a good time to mention just how damn tragic her whole saga is. Again, this is something I had sorta forgotten, how sad everything that happens to Ciji is. She is really a very sweet, nice person, and she’s good and kind to everyone around her, and all she really wants is to be a singer and to get along. However, after just a few months in California, her life is unraveling and getting crazy. But anyway, my basic point is that Ciji is too good and too decent to sleep with this drunken mess of a man that is Gary at this point in the saga. So even though the writers kinda sorta leave it up to our imagination, I’m going with a firm no on this one.
Later on, Abs is having a meeting with her lawyer, James Westmont. I don’t think I’ve really mentioned this character or the actor that plays him yet, so here goes. He was first introduced a few eps back in Cutting the Ties That Bind and he’s gonna be around for a total of 24 episodes, making his last appearance in 1984 in Uncharted Territory (season 6, episode 12), so we’ll be seeing quite a lot of him for awhile. Anyway, this was the first episode where he stuck out to me, and I was thinking I sure recognize that actor from something. I looked him up and his name is Clayton Landey (pictured below) and he’s been in lots of stuff, but I finally realized that what I recognized him from was A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, arguably the best movie of that entire series (I’m a huge fan of that series and actually think all seven of those movies are worth watching). In that movie (which also stars Transmorpher Priscilla Pointer, who was Pam and Cliff’s mom on Dallas and played nutty Mrs. Handeleman way back in The Constant Companion), Clayton Landey plays a scummy male nurse who sorta threatens one of the characters after she rejects his offer to shoot up with him. Actually, I always kinda wondered what the point of him being in that movie at all was, since he’s shown as sorta villainous in one scene and then we never see him again. Oh well, that has nothing to do with KL, so let’s move on.
Abs and Westmont are having a little legal meeting when Gary comes in and immediately grabs a drink from the bar and chugs it. Gary still seems somewhat in control of his faculties so we know he has to have a few more belts in him to get back to where he was last week (“WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIVES!”), but I did write in my notes how casual Gary is with this particular drink. At this point, he’s not even trying to hide it from anyone. As we know from back in Bottom of the Bottle, when Gary falls off the wagon, he falls off really hard and really fast; there’s not a lot of tip toeing around it or sneaking drinks behind people’s backs. Rather, he just dives right in and goes into full-on alcoholic bender mode.
Next, we get a rather striking scene that I had actually forgotten about until I saw it jotted down in my notes. Basically, Gary is lurking around the parking lot outside of an AA meeting, thinking about going in, when he runs into some old friend. The friend is like, “Hey, it’s great to see you; where you been?” I like this a lot, because it really has been awhile since we’ve seen Gary go to an AA meeting. I think the last time we saw him at one was early in season two; am I right? This shows the writers paying attention to that which has come before; instead of just sorta forgetting that Gary was being well behaved and going to AA regularly back in season two, they have this character remind us of how much time has passed and how much Gary has fallen since back then, when he was still working on rebuilding his life and having a good marriage to Val (oh wait, I just remembered that he almost immediately cheated on Val with the wife of The Other Paul Rudd, so, um, yeah, maybe my point doesn’t exactly work so well). Anyway, the basic gist of this scene is that Gary is facing a choice: Go into the AA meeting and try to start fixing things, or run off and find the nearest bar.
Well, he obviously chooses the latter, because the next time we see him, he is drunkenly stumbling into Daniel, creating a nasty scene right in front of Val and that glorious ball of fun and excitement, Jeff Munson. This is a big scene, I’d say, because you can see the look on Val’s face, the fact that she really wants to get up from the table and go over and help Gary. J.V.A. does a lot of good acting with those eyes of hers, registering the thoughts going through her head, finally quietly saying that there’s nothing she can do to help him and staying where she is. We faithful viewers know what a tremendous feat of self discipline that was for Val, since Gary is her soul mate and he is standing before her a drunken mess, his life swirling out of control, and you know she wants to help him, but she makes the choice to let him run off.
We sorta miss out on all of Gary’s adventures this week, because we make a bit of a leap. See, we get a fabulous bird’s eye shot of Gary (courtesy of director Jeff Bleckner, who I don’t think is quite as stylish as Bill Duke, but still does provide some fantastic moments of directorial flourish) sitting all alone at The Beach House, being sad and bored, and we all know it’s only a matter of time before he picks up another drink. However, unless I’m forgetting something, we then sorta skip and, next thing we know, Val is receiving a phone call from some reporter about how Gary was arrested for drunk and disorderly and now he’s at the police station. This reporter starts to act slimy and try to receive a statement from Val, but Val is too busy rushing over to the police station to help Gary.
When she arrives, we get an absolutely grand little confrontation between Abs and Val. I wish I had transcribed it down but, again, I was in too much awe, just staring at the screen with my mouth agape as Val gave this incredible, fiery speech to Abs, really letting it fly for the first time all year. The basic gist of it is that she tells Abs that she could never understand the love she felt for Gary, and that she could never understand the hurt she felt when Gary left her for Abs, and she says how Abs is gonna feel that hurt when Gary runs off on her, too. God, there was more to this speech, but I simply can’t remember it all; what I do remember is My Beloved Grammy and I pausing to talk about how fucking amazing that speech was for several minutes. It’s beautiful to see Val finally let it out; she’s been so decent and so kind this whole season, holding in all her feelings and thoughts towards the pairing of Gary and Abs, but now she lets it fly, and it’s glorious.
Okay, let’s move away from Gary and focus on Ciji and Chip for a bit. I think, at this point, we can all recognize that Chip is one bad dude, right? For the first few eps after he was introduced, he was clearly a con artist, clearly a liar, but I think we really started to see that he was legit dangerous when he grabbed Ciji and yelled at her about how, “Nothing is going to interfere with my plans for us!” Since then, we’ve been afraid of Chip, and it gets worse this week, when Ciji discovers an old newspaper article about Chip, AKA Tony Fenice, being wanted in Seattle (hey, that’s where I’m from!) for beating up some old lady. Jesus Christ, what is this? The thing I love the most about this is, unless I’m completely forgetting something from future eps, we never really get to know the exact details of what happened here. I just love the mental image I get of Chip beating the living shit out of, like, someone from the cast of Golden Girls. What were the circumstances that lead to Chip beating up this old lady? How did it come about? The beauty is that we never really know. Oh yeah, I also gotta love how Chip marks the second psycho in a row this season to keep newspaper clippings of himself and his crimes lying around (you’ll all remember Wayne had an Evil Scrapbook of Evil back in the early eps of the season), but the writers manage to kinda cover their bases with this admittedly contrived bit of plotting when Ciji makes a comment to the effect of, “You’re such a narcissist that you would keep something like this.”
Anyway, Ciji stumbles upon this clipping when she’s looking for some song lyrics or whatever, and then she immediately confronts Chip about it. Chip is having a harder and harder time spinning lies to Ciji, but he still tries, saying something about how he never beat up any old lady, that the lady just had it in for him and made up a story to get him in trouble, or something like that. I don’t think Ciji believes him at all, and she gets pretty bold with him (probably angry about him grabbing her and trying to force an abortion on her and all of that) with a fairly direct threat, saying how she’s going to tell people about him and about his true identity as Tony Fenice. Maybe it’s because she’s been around Chip so long and has gotten to know him and slowly realize his true identity, maybe that’s why she’s so bold and upfront in her threat, but it’s a questionable decision, as we shall see in the coming weeks. Oh yeah, and one last thing about this newspaper article that I wanna observe. For the entire rest of the season, My Beloved Grammy kept bringing up the newspaper article and saying how one of the other characters was probably gonna find it and stumble upon the truth, but I believe I am correct in saying that Chip successfully confiscates it from Ciji. In the middle of their argument, he just sorta grabs it back from her and, I’m assuming, destroys it. He would have to be really fucking crazy to continue holding onto it after this, so I’m just imagining that he ripped it up and threw it in the garbage. In any case, it doesn’t show up again in the remaining eps of the season.
While we’re on the topic of Ciji, how are things going with her lesbian affair with Laura? Well, Richard is still suspicious that the two are up to something, and there’s a wonderfully uncomfortable little scene between him and Ciji where he starts to ask some questions. Only The Plesh could make this scene work on so many levels, managing to be weirdly funny and annoying and nasty and mean, all at the exact same time; what a powerhouse of acting! See, even after Laura assures him that she and Ciji are “just friends,” he pays a visit to Ciji’s apartment and gives this speech about how, when men get together, they talk about sports, politics, and women (at least straight men do; the conversations I hear straight dudes having at the gym are so god damned dull they make my ears bleed).
From there, he asks Ciji what women like to talk about, and he gives this laundry list of cliché and slightly misogynistic things that women might like to discuss when they’re in company with each other. The scene quickly unravels until Richard finally leaves, but not before turning around to deliver a KILLER line that I had completely forgotten about and that made me gasp, “Which one of you gets to be the man?” I mean, come on, people! Am I alone in being pretty amazed that this line made it to air on primetime CBS in 1983? Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit by being so shocked by this, acting like 1983 was the dark ages or something; readers who were alive in 1983 please inform me if this sort of dialogue would have been risqué at the time or not, because I’m pretty sure it was. Also, this is the boldest thing Richard has said yet and the most direct implication that Laura and Ciji are lezzing out with each other.
Much like with last week, when we come to the ending of this episode, I’m sorta like, “Oh, it’s over.” In this case, our last scene is an interesting character moment between Val, Karen, and Mack taking place on the beach, that special place that Val loves so much. Basically, this is where Val admits that she has an addiction to Gary, and she has a telling line where she says, “Gary is to me what alcohol is to Gary.” Yup, it’s true. Even now, with him off shagging Abs at The Beach House and leaving her all alone, he is still her soul mate and she still loves him and she always will. It’s a quiet ending, because after Val’s speech, the three characters walk off towards the surf and the episode ends.
So that was The Morning After. If I have to get really nitpicky and super analytical and critical on an episode-by-episode basis, I would say this is a slight step down from A New Family, but I emphasize the word slight. A New Family just kinda surprised me in unexpected ways and I was just like, “God damn, that was a good episode,” when it was over, and this one just wasn’t quite as good, and it lacked a bit of the cinematic punch that Bill “Cooke” Duke brought to that one. However, the plots are kicking along, we had a great conflict between Abs and Val in the police station, we had more information revealed about Chip’s backstory, and we had Richard’s “Which one of you gets to be the man?” line, which is an awesome line that, after this rewatch, I will remember for the rest of time. So yeah, even if it wasn’t as good as the previous ep, it still delivered.
If I was missing Bill Duke in this ep, then it’s good news that he’s back to direct our next one, an absolutely unforgettable KL classic that any and all fans of the series should remember vividly as a major turning point for the entire series: Celebration.