Thursday, December 15, 2016

KNOTS LANDING Episode 080 of 344: ONE KIND OF JUSTICE


Episode Title: One Kind of Justice

Season 05, Episode 05

Episode 080 of 344

Written by David Jacobs

Directed by David Jacobs

Original Airdate: Thursday, October 27th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary and Abby go to Greg's fundraiser and Gary donates money to him. Val introduces Gary and Ben to each other. Greg asks Mack to head up his crime commission. Karen and Eric go to the ranch to see Diana. Diana goes off on Karen and Eric slaps Diana. Lilimae tries to convince both Chip and Diana to testify that he killed Ciji. Janet tells Lilimae that since Chip won't confess and Diana won't testify, they don't have enough to hold Chip and he'll be released the next day. Lilimae decides to try and talk to him one last time and brings Karen to talk to Diana. As they pull up, Chip has already been released and is talking to reporters. Lilimae revs the gas and hits Chip with her car.

 
 


                Ah yes, ladies and gentlemen, now we have come to a very big episode, one of those episodes that burns itself into your brain as soon as you see it and stays with you forever, one of those episodes that I’ve remembered strongly and fondly ever since my first time going through KL start to finish.  I know that this sorta thing is purely by happenstance, but sometimes the exact division of episodes on my bootlegged disks is just perfect.  As I said, there’s generally five episodes per disk, and I know when the producers and writers and directors were making this show, they weren’t even dreaming that someday a person like myself would watch the show divided into five-episode chunks on a bootleg DVD.  But, this is one of those cases where the final episode on the disk, which happens to be One Kind of Justice, just serves as that perfect “last episode” where My Beloved Grammy and I stop for the night and take a break until our next visit.  It really feels like a coming together of all sorts of plot points and a release of other points and it leaves you eager to power through the next disk as soon as possible.  It also serves as a fine example of KL being so amazingly good that you’ll hit random eps throughout a season that feel like they could be season finales; they have all the appropriate things going on that you could place them at the end of a season and make people wait an agonizing series of months to see how events turn out.

                Let’s also note the man behind both the script and the camera for this week’s show, Mr. David Jacobs (the genius pictured below).  I always perk up when I see his name attached as writer and/or director for an episode, because you get the sense that the boss is here and he’s handling affairs this week and that means it’s gonna be an important show.  It hasn’t been that long since Jacobs took the reins on an episode, by the way, as he last contributed as writer and director to the season four finale, Willing Victims.  Then, for the first four eps of season five, we switched back and forth from Nicholas Sgarro (who did The People vs. Gary Ewing and Nowhere to Run) and Larry Elikann (who did Fugitives and Marital Privileges).  Now, with the fifth episode of the season, David Jacobs is here to handle the affairs himself, which means we should all pay strict attention.
 
 

                Okay, so as we pick up One Kind of Justice, Chip has now been incarcerated for a solid entire episode.  I’m not entirely sure how long it’s been, which actually branches off into a larger point I have, which is the sometimes confusing nature of time passing by on the series.   I’m not specifically mentioning it in relation to this series, but all series.  When watching the eps, I generally just kinda assume they are taking place on or around the same day that they aired, although that doesn’t account for time jumps or eps where several days go by or those bizarre missing summers that don’t exist in network TV land.  So anyway, suffice it to say that Chip has been in lockup for awhile, but probably not that long.  Should we just assume a solid week?  Anyway, the cops are starting to get itchy because they can’ t just hold him forever; at some point they are going to need to produce solid evidence that he took Ciji’s life or else they will be forced to let him go.  Obviously Karen is flipping out about this series of events.  After last week when Diana blurted out to her that Chip killed Ciji, she’s on a crusade now to prove that this is the case.  The only problem is that her own testimony would be hearsay; “I know this specific thing happened because my daughter said that the guy told her he did it.”  This might work for gossip amongst friends, but not in a court of law (I mean, at least according to the show; I have absolutely no familiarity with legal matters in the real world in even a small way).  Therefore, Karen is understandably frustrated this week and for reasons that we can all understand.  By the way, let’s stay on Karen for awhile here.  While she remains dear to my heart and will probably always be my favorite character of all time from the series, I did confess that she was grating on me a bit in our last batch of episodes, but of the five contained on that glorious disk, this is probably the episode I was with her the most.  She’s still a little bit, erm, much this week, and I do kinda wanna see Michele return to the more quiet, nuanced, and subtle acting she did back in season three, but whatever, she’s still Karen and I still love her.  In the case of this particular ep, she gets to go off on some tremendous soliloquies that I quite enjoyed and that helped me to understand her better.



                My distaste for the character of Diana has really softened throughout this rewatch, but she’s still hardly a contender for my fave character.  Therefore, throughout the last four seasons, I would often have a bit of trouble understanding why exactly Karen and Diana are so close, and then having to remind myself that they are, indeed, a mother and daughter, and that generally holds a special bond that’s pretty sacred.  I imagine that Karen could sometimes not notice her daughter being a mega-bitch (or just kinda a whiny brat, the way she was in seasons one through three) or perhaps make excuses for it, i.e. “That’s just Diana; we fight all the time.”  So anyway, my point is that a lot of the mother/daughter bonding scenes of seasons past have generally left me feeling a little perplexed, wondering why Karen takes such a special close interest in her daughter when she has two perfectly good sons that she could also talk to (one of whom is really starting to blossom into the fucking sex pot that I know and love; I notice that the wardrobe people are starting to dress him up in tight, super short shorts and I of course 100% approve of this decision).  But anyway, then I remember that Diana is Karen’s first child, which immediately makes her sorta special, and also that she’s her only daughter, and mothers relate to daughters differently than to sons.

                This relates to what I see happening to Karen at this juncture in the series.  I think for most of her life she has thought of her daughter as, shall we say, sassy, and sometimes bratty, but not mentally ill.  Applying my new Diana-is-mentally-ill perspective to the proceedings, I think Karen is finally realizing that this is not some little school girl crush where she falls head over heels for a bad boy who smokes cigarettes and rides a motorcycle (wait a minute, didn’t Diana already do that back in Mistaken Motives with the guy from those Tarantino movies?), but rather, she is out of her mind and now taking to the defense of a murderer.  Karen is starting to realize that she is really losing her daughter and in more ways than one; she is losing her physically now that Diana has run off to live at Westfork, and she is also losing her connection to her because now that Diana is a crazy person, they are coming at the world from two different viewpoints, one perspective which says it’s not okay to murder really awesome lady singers in cold blood and another, much more insane, perspective that says murder is totally okay as long as it’s in the name of love.  Also, you have to figure that Karen’s greatest fear is that her mentally ill daughter will wind up just like Ciji, a lifeless body washed up from the ocean somewhere.  She’s probably starting to picture a future where Chip is released from prison, he and Diana run off to start a life somewhere, and then one day he snaps and decides to bash Diana over the head, as is his wont.   

                Anyway, Karen gets to work early this week telling everyone that Chip is the murderer.  An early scene occurs between her, Lilimae, and Laura in which she states flatly, “Chip is the killer.  Not Richard, not Gary, Chip.”  A little bit later, Karen drives herself up to Westwork (or rather, Eric drives the car for her cuz he can see that she’s fairly stressed and had best not operate the motor vehicle) in another attempt to get Diana to talk to her, and this leads us to a big and very memorable scene from the ep.  I remembered one aspect of this scene very clearly (we’ll get to it), but I’d forgotten about how fabulous the whole scene is, in total.  See, we start with Karen walking up to Westfork and being stopped by Abs.  All she wants to do is get to Diana, try to talk some sense into her, but Abs is blocking her attempts.  From here, Karen gets a fabulous speech that I wish I had transcribed since I’ll probably do a shitty job paraphrasing it, but it’s basically about how she grew Diana inside of her body for nine months and then fed and nourished her from her body and then watched her grow and sent her out into the world and yada yada yada.  She says how that’s a bond you don’t forget and now she can’t stand around and watch her trash her life this way.
 
 

                Diana emerges in the background and starts getting sassy on Karen.  Again, I wish I had transcribed it not because what she says is particularly enthralling, but just because I can’t really remember what she says.  Basically what it boils down to is that she attacks Karen and blames her for all her life problems and says how she should have been nicer to Chip and Bob Loblaw.  It’s a mean and nasty bit of shouting, but it’s not the shouting I care about, it’s the slap.  Ah yes, for as Diana is going off on Karen, Eric starts telling her to shut up and tells her she’s acting like a nasty, shriveled up old cunt (okay, he doesn’t actually say that, but we all know he’s thinking it, right?) and then he marches over to Diana and slaps her right across the face.  Ah, what a gloriously cathartic moment, for Eric acts as the proxy for the audience, who have wanted to slap Diana for 79 episodes now.  This also has to take the cake for Eric’s coolest moment, wouldn’t you say?  Poor Eric is not really a character I think too much about (mostly because I’m too busy drooling over his brother), because he’s basically just the nice brother who gets along well with most everybody.  But here, he really takes the stage to deliver that fabulous slap and it’s a wonderful moment that I’ve always remembered from my first viewing.
 
 

                But what else is going on at the ranch this week?  Well, we get to see Gary riding his horse with his arm muscles all exposed in that cool shot that stays in the opening credits all the way through season seven.  The scene in question is important not just because it shows Shack has been hitting the weights hard, but also because he is riding up on horseback to declare to Abs that he’s ready to take back power of attorney.  Abs smiles and is like, “Oh, that’s great, honey,” but we can tell it bugs her.  If I recall correctly, she does take the news fairly well, as she tells Westmont that she knew this would happen, that it was inevitable, and now she’ll just have to figure out how to deal with it.  She decides that the best way to deal with it is to shag Gary really hard by the pool, under the moonlight.  This is another one of those moments that just makes me want to climb inside the TV and live in this world forever.  Can you imagine anything more divine than living on a big-ass ranch like Westfork, complete with sauna, steam room, hot tub, full gym, and an outdoor pool, and getting to have sex with Donna Mills right beside that pool, under the moonlight?  I would probably just kill myself after doing that, knowing that I had tasted the sweet elixir of life and could never possibly usurp that moment, no matter how long I lived and how hard I tried.  I also think this moment helps to reinforce that fiery passion that Gary and Abs share.  It’s easy to find yourself wondering why Gary would leave sweet, good Val, who always was so loving to him, but then you can only imagine the orgasmic possibilities of constant sex with Abs, who I can only assume must be an absolute freak when it comes to pleasing her man.  I’m willing to bet that sex with Val was more gentle, more quiet, more tender, more like “love making,” while sex with Abs must be an odyssey of pleasures unbeknownst to mere mortal man; the kind of experience that leaves you shriveled up, dehydrated, your nuts like raisins and your penis mysteriously turned upside down.
 
 

                We catch up nicely with our newest addition to the cast roster, the divine Devane as Gregory Sumner, when he throws a political party and invites Karen and Mack to show up.  In addition, he invites Ben, Val, Gary, and Abs.  Now that we have lost Daniel as a setting for the series (I mean, at least I think we’ve lost it; with Richard out of the picture and Laura now working for Gary, I assume the restaurant is going to the same place in the sky that the methanol storyline from season three went), I’m going to really pay attention to see how the writers manage to keep the cast feeling linked together.  That was something that I really noted and appreciated in season four; even though we started to expand beyond the confines of the cul-de-sac thanks to Abs and Gary’s big move to The Beach House, the Daniel restaurant served as a great setting to have the cast gather together and create some drama.  Now that we’ve lost the restaurant, we’ll need a new way to do that, and I think I can see that happening via Sumner.  Here, by throwing this big political party, he manages to capture six of our other core characters in the same place together.  It’s shit like this that I note and appreciate nowadays when I watch this series; it’s so easy to just sit passively and stare at your TV and expect to be entertained, but I really find myself thinking of how hard it must be for the writers to weave all these stories together and keep them feeling both grounded as well as linked.

                Anyway, the political party is a good little scene that stirs up several nice little bits of plot dramas.  Probably the most obvious is of course that moment of awkwardness when Gary sees that Val is here with a new boy.  I’m actually hesitant to even call this “awkwardness,” however; after that glorious scene in the parking lot between the two of them last week, perhaps Gary is simply happy to see his soon-to-be-ex-wife enjoying a lovely evening with a nice gentlemen?  Oh hell, I can’t even kid myself into believing that’s true.  At the core, Gary and Val are true soul mates and even if he can smile and act like it’s cool to see her with Ben, we have to know it’s eating him up inside, just the way seeing Gary with Abs must eat Val up inside, as well.

                There are three scenes I want to note about the political party.  The first is where Sumner takes Karen and Mack offstage and continues the proposal he gave to Mack in the locker room last week (no, not that kind of locker-room-proposal), that he come and join his team and be a member of his political whatever.  He gives a nice speech about the liberals versus the conservatives and we learn that Greg is a Democrat.  I’m gonna really pay attention to this, because I wanna see if this is ever contradicted or if he just sorta shifts at some point and becomes a Republican, which I feel like you just sorta had to do in the ‘80s because Republicans had all the power and it was still cool and trendy to be a rich, white man, whereas nowadays that sorta leaves a bad taste in our mouths.*  Basically, Greg wants Mack to head up his crime commission, and I think Mack says yes (I can’t remember exactly how this scene concluded).

                The second scene involves that moment where Abs and Greg meet up again and she just has to hope that he doesn’t mention the fact that they’ve already met to Gary.  Greg handles this like a pro, which I appreciate as it immediately tells us a lot about his character.  He could easily ruffle some feathers and tell Gary exactly how his soon-to-be-wife behaved last week, but he lets it slide and acts real classy and natural and says, “Nice to meet you,” when he sees Abs.  Also in the scene, we see Gary give over a check to Greg as a political contribution, and considering the wealth he’s coming into this year, we can only assume it must be a very generous contribution.  This tells me that Gary likes Sumner’s politics, feels aligned with them, and wants to support them.  Again, I’m gonna try to pay more attention to this political stuff as I watch through the series again, since I remember a lot of it going over my head upon first viewing.  If at some point this season I start to sound really stupid and like I don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s probably because I am and I don’t.
 
 

                The third scene is a quick but juicy one between Karen and Abs.  I wanna note this scene mostly because of the humorous button on it and the influx in humor that I am starting to see pop up around us.  See, basically the two have a civil enough chat where they sorta try to brush off what happened earlier (Karen storming Westfork and Eric slapping Diana) so that they can get along just long enough to tolerate this party.  You can tell resentment is seething inside Karen, though, because Abs is standing right in front of her and then she looks down and we get this nice closeup of some big, political cake.  We see this cake and we all think Karen’s gonna smash it into Abby’s face, right?  No, instead Karen acts like the bigger person and walks away, but then Abs glances down at the cake, realizes what Karen was thinking of and wanting to do with it, and then gets this great look on her face that my own mere words cannot capture; you must simply see Donna’s face as she does it.  Glorious, simply glorious.



                Laura is busy this week too, not just with working for Gary but also in having to explain to Jason 3 where Richard has run off to.  Now, Daniel is still a little baby who spends most of his time offscreen (making me speculate on who exactly is taking care of him and Jason 3, and I can only assume that Laura has enough money to hire a nanny or something), so she doesn’t really have to worry about chatting with him about his absent father for another couple of years, but Jason 3 is older and has spent his whole life and his two previous incarnations with Richard.  Near the middle of the ep, Laura finds Jason 3 outside, sitting by the pool (and the hot tub; remember the hot tub?) and looking at a photo album.  When she comes out to speak with him, he quickly tries to hide the album under a towel or something.  Laura explains to him that it’s okay for him to look at pictures of Richard, and then she starts to go off on a speech that, only just now sitting here to write about it, do I feel I truly have grasped its meaning.

                See, Laura starts to tell Jason 3 that he can never think his daddy didn’t love him, that wherever he is in the world, he’s thinking about him all the time.  The speech doesn’t go over too well since Jason 3 gets up and declares, “I hate him,” before running away very dramatically.  Thinking about it, I conclude that this is where we realize that Laura has ditched her little Richard-killed-Ciji theory.  At first, she had quite a good argument in her favor in that Richard was insanely jealous of her lesbian relationship with Ciji (he was), he grabbed Ciji by the hair and threw her out of the house (he did that, too), he arrived randomly late at Daniel and looking like a mess on the same night that Ciji died (yeah, that’s also true), and finally that he held her and Jason 2 at gunpoint during Night (yeah, okay, Richard did do that, as well).  Anyway, those are all fine points, but now I think she’s realizing that Richard is not the killer, that at his core he could never be a murderer.  I think now she’s starting to realize that he was just a sad, confused, and rather lonely man who couldn’t handle the responsibilities of his marriage and his family and just had to leave town.  Again, it’s a testament to the power of The Plesh and the way he brought Richard to life that, even now, when he’s not even a part of the show anymore and he left his wife and children to fend for themselves, we still come out feeling rather sorry for him instead of angry at him.  I didn’t lie way back in Pilot when I said Richard was one of the most complex characters, and that holds true even now with him out of the picture and no longer a part of the cast.
 
 

                There’s only one other character to talk about, but I would argue that she is the pivotal nucleus to the entire episode: Lilimae.  We saw her try and visit Chip and appeal to his soul last week, and we see her trying to do that one more time this week.  She gets a chance to sit down and speak with him once again, and Julie Harris delivers another killer speech that I want to go back in time and give her an Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for, but even after this tremendous speech about how he took a life and he must repent for what he has done, Chip remains unmoved.  In fact, this is a great scene for further enhancing just how wicked Chip truly is, because it’s not just that he sits there and listens to her quietly, it’s the way he grins while she’s speaking to him.  Lilimae is really speaking directly from her soul here, amplifying all the different ways Chip has hurt the people around him, but especially her.  She says how she felt they had some connection, like they were kindred spirits, and that’s lost, now, and all the while, Chip just grins.  It’s that nasty, sideways looking grin, too, more of a sneer than a smile, and when her speech is over, he just says how none of this matters to him because he’s going to be out of jail in just a few short hours, a free man.

                Okay, so the episode is going to end with Lilimae hitting Chip with her car, right?  I think this plot point is a good example of how different my viewing of the series the first time is from my viewing now, and I think I mean that in a good way, like hopefully as an example that I have matured in the last few years.  Anyway, during my college years when I started to get really heavy into KL, I watched it almost like a crack addict just desperate for another fix.  I plowed through so many episodes per day, it’s pretty unbelievable.  I would make sure to be back in my dorm room with enough hours left in the day that I could kill five or six episodes per night, and then I would wake up early just to sip coffee and watch more episodes, and I would decline social invitations because I would rather watch KL alone, and I would even totally ignore any friends who might come to visit me and tell them no talking was allowed while I was watching KL (I’m an asshole, I know).  My point is that I was in deep with the show and just eager to see what would happen next, and I remember being gut punched by the concluding moments of this episode, just sitting and gasping in awe and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t believe how that ended!”

                Now, however, I see that David Jacobs is really doing a tremendous job of leaving us all the clues we need in order to logically reach the last couple minutes of the ep.  See, now I recognize the tremendous sense of foreboding as we see how Lilimae behaves throughout this ep.  For instance, there’s an earlier scene in which Lilimae argues with Diana about what’s going on, about Diana’s refusal to testify against Chip and get him the proper justice for what he has done, and just as Diana hops in her car and speeds off, Lilimae shouts, “He’s got to pay for what he’s done; who’s gonna make sure he pays?”  Well, now I’m watching and I can clearly see that all the signs are pointing towards Lilimae doing something drastic, being the one who makes sure Chip pays.  The first time I watched through this, I got none of that; I was just too swept up in the drama and excitement as I would plow through something like six or seven episodes per day, only stopping to go to class or find food or maybe make a trip to the gym.

 

                Okay, I’ve build it up enough, so let’s get to it: The big final scene of One Kind of Justice.  Karen and Lilimae decide to take a ride up to the police station together to see what’s going on.  Their timing is perfect because just as they pull up, Chip is being released from the prison amidst a storm of paparazzi.  Michael Sabatino plays this scene perfectly, and it actually made me flash back to his first appearance in Svengali, when that reporter asked him, “Are you famous, too?” and he responded with, “Not yet.”  I have to wonder if there’s an intentional bookending of events here, because now we see him as this smug, overly-confident bastard getting out of prison a free man despite very obviously being the killer, basking in the press attention and smiling like he is, in fact, famous, just the way he wanted to be right from Svengali.

                We get this slow zoom-in closeup of Lilimae behind the wheel of the car, just glaring at him, and then as Chip steps up in front of the vehicle, she just loses it and hits the gas and plows right through him.  Chip hits the windshield and breaks it and then he tumbles off to the side.  This part is all in regular motion, you see, but then we go into the slow motion just as he starts to fall off to the side and it’s fabulous.  Not only is it slow motion, but we totally lose the sound, like no voices, no words are heard, and all we get is this really spooky and off-putting bit of electronic sounding music on the soundtrack.  Diana is on the other side of the car, screaming and freaking and flailing around, but the slow motion and the music creates this really cool, hypnotic effect.  Even the blue dress Diana is wearing creates this cool effect as she runs in slow motion; like the way it ruffles in the wind becomes rather entrancing.  She’s screaming Chip’s name (we can tell cuz the slow motion makes it really easy to figure out what her mouth is saying) and this one cop is holding her back.  Karen gets out of the passenger side (remember that she was in the car with Lilimae) and screams when she sees Chip lying on the ground, too.  Then, the camera pans past Diana and her cool billowing blue dress and focuses in on Lilimae, still sitting behind the wheel, and the look on her face just totally says, “Yeah, I did it, and I’m glad I did it.”  Maybe that description doesn’t do it justice; it’s not like she’s got a wicked grin on her face or is cackling maniacally; she looks rather stoical, really, but you get the sense that she’s well aware of what she did and she doesn’t feel any regrets about it, and then from there the episode concludes.

 

                What makes this ending so effective, in my opinion, is the fact that, as is always the case with KL, character is coming before drama.  On another show, it would be like, “We need something exciting for the end of the show, so let’s have someone hit Chip with a car.”  In fact, that’s an annoying plot convention that was done a million times on KL ripoff Desperate Housewives (prompting me to wonder if Marc Cherry thinks the only way to possibly kill someone is to hit them with your car) and it was always just irritating on that series, because it would come out of nowhere and just be done for the sake of creating drama.  Here, the drama comes from within, from the characters and their beliefs.  I think that Lilimae, in this moment, truly felt like this was something she had to do.  She saw such a travesty of justice right before her very eyes and, because of her own ethics and belief in right or wrong, she just couldn’t stand by and watch it happen.  Throughout this whole episode as well as episodes prior, we have seen her wrestle with some tremendous emotions, that someone she could have loved and felt close to could betray her in such a way and also just be such a monstrous sociopath.  So, when we finally reach the moment where she rams him with her car, it feels earned, and not just done to make something exciting happen on the show.

                Oh, what a fabulous and glorious episode of KL this was.  I almost feel like I haven’t done it justice in talking about it, but of course the only way to do it justice, as with all eps of KL, is just to watch it for yourself and stare in wonderment at the sheer genius presented before your eyes.  Yeah, this was a pretty perfect episode, and like I said, it feels so big and so important that it could easily be a season finale.  You’re left with so many questions at the end of it.  Is Chip alive or dead?  Will Lilimae go to prison for what she’s done?  Will Karen be in trouble because she was also in the car?  How will Diana react to all this?  Thank God we don’t have to wait long to find out, for all these questions will soon be answered with …And Never Brought to Mind.

 *THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE TRUMP "WON" THE ELECTION, AND NOW I READ THIS SENTENCE AND IT ACTUALLY MAKES ME FEEL PHYSICAL PAIN.

2 comments:

  1. One of the best episodes: humor, Sumner, glitz, fights, slap, great cliffhanger of an ending pinned to a great actress who we have come to expect as a supporting character, which enhances the moment even more.

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  2. Wow, I have never heard a more accurate description of the differences between Knots and Desperate Housewives. (I remember Joan Van Ark saying "We were the original desperate housewives!" multiple times during interviews around that time). I grew bored with DH after 3 seasons because the plot drove the characters instead of the other way around.

    And I respect your lust of Patrick Petersen for obvious reasons...he is a good-looking guy. But I am a Steve Shaw guy. I have always gone after the strong, silent type. :)

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