Episode Title: A Change of Heart
Season 05, Episode 08
Episode 083 of 344
Written by Joel J. Feigenbaum
Directed by Robert Becker
Original Airdate: Thursday, November 17th, 1983
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val tells Ben about sleeping with Gary. Ben is upset and leaves. Karen's still upset over Diana and is having back pains. Mack convinces her to go to the doctor, and she gets pain pills. Gary finds out that the Ciji look-alike is Cathy Geary, and he follows her. Abby tells Westmont that she is going to develop Lotus Point, and buys the apartment's management, H & O Management, so she can continue to send Karen checks, and Karen will never know. Laura gets Westmont drunk to see what Abby's up to, and he tells her about H & O. Gary receives his inheritance. Diana gives a deposition that Chip 'accidentally' killed Ciji, but then he wakes up from the coma. The police handcuff him to the bed. The police decide to move Chip to County Hospital, but when they go to his room to get him, he's gone.
When we last left off, there was a shit-ton of stuff going on with all of our beloved characters, and our very last image from prior episode Sacred Vows was Gary staring wide-eyed and gape-mouthed at the room service lady who was a complete doppelganger for Ciji. Now, as we pick up with A Change of Heart, we are going to expand a bit upon who this lady is and what she’s doing in the show.
But first, I wanna address a quick issue I had watching this episode, with the reminder that it’s not the fault of the show or this episode at all, but just a technical issue. I am forever grateful to the beautiful soul I found on YouTube who sold me copies of seasons 3-14 of KL through the mail. There is a special place in Heaven for this lady, who always sent me my disks promptly and efficiently and was always available when I was ready for more. If it hadn’t been for her, I would still be stuck on the freeze-frame image of Sid’s panicked face as his car plunged off a cliff, wondering if he was going to live or die. If it wasn’t for this wonderful soul, I would never have this deep love affair with KL; I would have seen none of the brilliance and genius to come after poor Sid went off that cliff. I also wanna note that, in the case of almost every episode she sent me, the quality is excellent. It’s clearly recorded off of SoapNet reruns from video, but it’s still very watchable. However, every now and then, very rarely (I would say maybe five episodes out of all the eps I got from her), I’ll hit one with really bad sound, and A Change of Heart was one of those. The sound for this entire episode was very tinny and hollow and hard to understand. Watching with My Beloved Grammy, I had to turn the sound on the TV almost all the way up so we could hear it, and I kinda had to strain my ears to focus (apparently my 81 year old Beloved Grammy has way sharper ears than me, though, cuz she was able to make out the dialogue just fine and even helped me to understand some lines that I didn’t catch). So anyway, if at any point I seem either dismissive or sorta less detailed with this ep than I usually am, it’s simply cuz the quality was poor and it was sorta hard to hear what was going on, though fortunately the quality bounces back with our very next one and, as I said, this is an extremely rare problem that we’re not gonna encounter very much.
So anyway, we open A Change of Heart with Diana giving her testimony to Detective Cheesy. This is where Chip is finally and officially incriminated for what he has done in the eyes of the law, because Diana confirms that Chip did, in fact, kill Ciji, and that he did it in the name of love, for her. We the viewers know that this is not true, that this is a lie Chip made up to save face with Diana, but whatever, I don’t think the cops are particularly interested in why Chip did it, just in the fact that he did it. During this scene, Mack watches in an intense closeup through that tinted glass window thing that they have at cop stations. One interesting touch I noticed is that we get to see a single tear roll down Mack’s cheek as he listens to Diana talk, which to me speaks volumes about the quality of his character. Even though Diana is an annoying brat who has really been a pain in Mack’s asshole since he was first introduced on the series, his heart does still go out to her as he recognizes that she is in love, very confused, and of course deeply mentally ill.
We all knew what was coming last week when we saw Chip’s hand twitch, and the writers don’t let us down this week, because Chip does indeed come out of his coma about two seconds after Diana is finishing up with her testimony. So she’s finally gone and named him as the killer of Ciji, and that’s the precise moment that he decides to wake up and return to the world of the living. This is confirmed in a blackly funny scene in which Diana returns to his hospital room to find him sitting up in bed, grinning like a total creep, and happily exclaiming, “Hi, hon!” Diana gets a big dramatic closeup and we all know that she’s immediately deeply regretting what she has just done. A few seconds later, when she’s trying to find the gentle way to explain to Chip what happened, police bust in and handcuff him to the bed (with just one lousy handcuff instead of two, however; they’ll come to regret this decision in the final scene of the ep).
Karen makes a very questionable decision this week, but I gave it some thought and think I understand where she’s coming from. As I think I mentioned before, Karen is still my favorite character and probably always will be, but she is probably going through my least favorite phase of her character at this point; she’s so manic and out-of-control lately that Mack deserves major kudos for his patience in dealing with her. See, the weird thing she does this week is choosing to go speak with Chip at the hospital. Why? Eh, I’m not exactly sure why, and again this might have been the fault of the bad sound and the fact that I had a hard time following the dialogue. I think her main goal is to try and get him to release his hold on Diana, maybe get a divorce or an annulment or something. At first, I was just like, “What is Karen thinking?” Obviously Chip is a demented sociopath and he’s not going to be swayed by her coming to speak with him, no matter what she says. Also, didn’t she understand after Diana’s, “I’m never coming to you for anything ever again” speech back in …And Never Brought to Mind that Diana wants nothing to do with her? The reason I softened on Karen after a minute is because I think it’s the fact that Diana went and testified against Chip that is making her think she can mend fences with her daughter. If Karen just randomly, out of the blue, decided to go and speak with Chip, it wouldn’t make any sense to me, but I think she’s seeing signs that Diana is snapping out of her insanity and might be ready to start acting like a normal person again (which, in the case of Diana, would mean acting like a spoiled, whiny brat). However, whatever she hoped to achieve visiting Chip clearly falls flat, because he’s having none of it.
On the Chip/Diana subject, I’m still having a hard time believing that the two are truly married and I find it interesting that nobody else on the show is questioning it. We never saw the nuptials and, in the world of television and especially television soaps, don’t you have to sorta assume that, if you don’t see it, it didn’t happen? How many times does someone die mysteriously offscreen only to be brought back from the dead, for instance? So in this case, we only have Diana’s word to go on, her story that she and Chip stopped in Vegas to get married. Has she produced any paper documents to prove this? Why am I the only one questioning it?
Anyway, Diana/Chip also get to serve as the big cliffhangers in the final scene of this ep, in which Diana comes bursting into the hospital room along with several police officers only to discover that, GASP, Chip is gone! That’s right, there’s nobody in the bed and just that one little handcuff dangling from the bedpost. The camera goes into closeup on Diana’s face and she actually grins a bit, which makes me question exactly what we’re supposed to take away from this final image. Did Diana help him escape? Her grin looks almost wicked, as if she’s saying to herself, “Oh great, it worked!” Or is she just grinning because she still has a twisted feeling of love for Chip and she’s simply happy to see that he has escaped? How the hell did he escape, anyway? Maybe I sound critical, but I actually like the fact that we don’t know. I think a person as clever as Chip could easily find a way to escape if chained to one very weak hospital bed by one little handcuff. Maybe he somehow got hold of a paperclip from a nurse or something and pulled a Sarah Conner to bust out? In any case, I like the mystery.
That’s what Diana and Chip are up to this week, but everybody else is busy, as well. We get an early scene that’s a complete highlight of the series but also of all of television history in which Mack and Michael are playing basketball and Michael is wearing the shortest pair of short shorts and a half cut off ‘80s t-shirt that exposes his entire lower belly area. My Beloved Grammy got pretty uncomfortable when I started violently masturbating to this scene, but I simply couldn’t control myself when I saw skinny twink boy Michael dressed up in this attire, which is perhaps the greatest wardrobe decision in all the history of costuming. My God his body is so slim and perfect, and that belly button. This wardrobe also announces to me that the producers and directors are starting to realize what a specimen they have on their hands as well as what audience they are catering to. The creative powers behind the scenes must have known they had an active gay audience watching, and they are starting to give us the greatest of gifts by dressing their twinkiest twink of all twinks in these types of costumes.
But wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the other characters and what they are up to this week. Mack finally convinces Karen that she needs to go to the doctor and talk about her problems. She’s been acting very strangely the last couple of weeks, not just in being manic and over-the-top and not as good of an actress as she usually is, but also that she keeps getting headaches and backaches and her vision is even starting to blur occasionally. She’s also being a rather crappy wife and not really giving Mack the time of day in any regard. My Beloved Grammy told me that she also counts Karen as her favorite character, but that she feels Karen isn’t treating Mack right, and I agree with her. It takes some persistence on the part of Mack in which Karen is like, “No, I don’t need to go to the doctor, I’m fine,” but finally she says she will.
Karen’s doctor (pictured below and who, based on my research, is actually a Transmorpher and played two different characters over on Dallas; he played Mitchell in the 1980 episode Second Thoughts, the Reverend who married Lucy and Mitch in End of the Road: Part Two in 1981, and then the Reverend who married Pam and Mark Graison during the dream season in Blast From the Past) gives her an examination and then decides she’ll be happier with some pills. Again, due to the poor sound quality of this particular ep, I either didn’t catch what kinds of pills he gives her or perhaps he simply didn’t say it. In any case, even without having seen the series once before, I think a person would watch this scene and know that it can’t possibly go anywhere good. It would be boring storytelling if Karen was simply given a prescription for pills, took the pills, felt better, and then eventually stopped taking the pills. Indeed, My Beloved Grammy, ever sharp and ever vigilant, immediately declared during this scene, “Now Karen’s gonna get hooked on pills, oh boy.”
Meanwhile, Val and Ben decide to pay Lilimae a nice visit at the sanitarium. I notice I haven’t mentioned Ben in awhile and that’s because, well, he’s boring. Even so, he gets a good scene here that I had forgotten about after he and Val return to the cul-de-sac. See, Val’s all upset and mixed up (but upset and mixed up while wearing a rather fabulous pair of big ‘80s shades) about what she had to do to her mother, so then Ben tells her that, when he was a kid, his dad had a mental breakdown and set the house on fire. Therefore, his own dad had to go to a sanitarium for awhile, but now he’s all better and really sharp and it’s all good. I noted this scene because I liked how Ben manages to relate to Val and make her feel better, but I also question if we ever get a mention of either of his parents again. Do we? I’m pretty sure we don’t, and since he confirms right here and now that his dad, at least, is still alive and well, that seems a tad odd to me (but then I remembered that we never see tons of the characters' parents and it seemed a little less strange to me).
The big relationship drama is that Ben finds out about Gary and Val this week, or at least that’s what the plot description from TV.com says. In truth, I don’t remember a scene of Ben finding out the two slept together, but perhaps I can blame that on the poor sound again? See, they’re having a nice fancy dinner, but Val’s mind is clearly elsewhere. When Ben gets irritated with her lack of conversational skills tonight, he gets up to leave and she walks after him and explains that she’s upset cuz Gary and Abs just got married. Ben then delivers a line that will be haunting him over the next four years when he says, “So what? That’s all in the past.” Oh jeez, Ben, how little you know about the star crossed lovers that are Gary and Val. A note on Ben before I move on. I make fun of him for being boring, but when I said to My Beloved Grammy that he’s boring, she said, “No, I like him, Val needs boring right now.” That’s a good point, I think. With all the relationship drama and turmoil that Val has had with Gary over the last four seasons (hell, forget last four seasons; since she was fifteen fucking years old and first met him at that diner she was working at), it must be very appealing to find a man who is just a nice, sweet guy, who cooks her nice meals and treats her right. And actually, even though we are only a few episodes deep with Ben, he’s improving in my eyes from first viewing. Douglas Sheehan actually has a way of delivering his lines that I kinda like, making them feel grounded and like they’re coming from a real person. While I will say he’s easily my least favorite character in the main cast at this point, he’s not as bad as, say, Kenny and Ginger circa seasons two and three, for instance. He’s perfectly adequate, but just a little underwhelming.
But if you wanna talk about two character who are the exact opposite of underwhelming, you need look no further than Abs and Sumner, who continue their delicious flirtation this week and almost, but not quite, start to get busy. See, they’re having another one of their little meetings in Abby’s sex office and then the two lean in for a kiss when the door bursts open and in walks Laura. Abs and Sumner back away from each other real fast but we see the look in Laura’s eyes and we know that she’s smart enough to see what’s going on. Laura’s a great still-waters-run-deep character and Constance is able to say a lot while saying very little, a rare feat of acting that’s difficult to pull off.
Speaking of Laura, she starts to pull some positively J.R./Abs maneuvers this week when she gets Westmont all nice and liquored up at the office and manages to get him to spill the beans on exactly what is happening with Abs and Lotus Point and all of that. Now, this is the sorta corporate intrigue/big business dealing stuff that often flies right over my head, but fortunately My Beloved Grammy was able to help me along here. I paused and asked her what exactly Abs was up to with all this Lotus Point stuff, and she explained it to me. Basically, Abs learned that she had some property on Lotus Point, but that due to the property also being left to Sid, that meant Karen was also entitled to half of it. Okay, so Abs decided to just go ahead and buy the entire Lotus Point management outfit, so that way Karen continues to get her checks, but really the checks are coming from Abs. Laura manages to figure out this information when she gets Westmont drunk and loosens his tongue. What’s she going to do now that she has this information? We’re going to have to wait and find out.
For the topic of A Change of Heart, I have saved the best for last. My favorite storyline this week (and next week, and the week after that) is Gary’s quest to find Cathy. We start on him making some phonecalls to hotel management, trying to figure out who exactly the mysterious room service lady is. He finds out that she came from a temp agency, so he goes to speak with the temp agent guy. Now, while watching this ep, the actor who plays this temp agent didn’t exactly stick out to me. However, I looked at his IMDb and started having heart palpitations when I saw that he was in landmark cinematic masterpiece Critters 2: The Main Course, playing the greasy, disgusting, dog-food-eating guy who winds up getting eaten by the crites right after they hatch out of their eggs. The entire Critters franchise is near and dear to my heart and may, in fact, be the series I watched the very most when I was a small child, and I happen to think Critters 2 is a dynamite sequel that’s almost, but not quite, as good as the original. One last thing, the actor (Douglas Rowe) is actually a Tangled Knot as he will be back in 1985 for One Day in a Row (season 06, episode 28), in which he plays Greene, so I’ll keep my eyes open when we get there. Anyway, moving on.
At first, the guy from Critters 2 doesn’t wanna give Gary any information, but then Gary slips him some money (I think it’s a hundred?) and the guy is more than happy to talk. He directs Gary to some restaurant where Cathy is working, but she’s busy pouring coffee and taking orders and doesn’t really feel like chatting. Ever the stalker, Gary then waits outside the restaurant for her to get off shift so he can continue to harass her. She still doesn’t bite, so the next time we see her, she’s in a grand ‘80s gym working out with other sexy and sweaty hard bodies. God yes, when I think of 1983, I immediately think of people working out. Fitness was very trendy in the ‘80s with the Jane Fonda Workout and all that stuff. I love working out at the gym and I wish the people at my gym looked as good as Lisa Hartman or the random extras pumping all around her. This is yet another instance where I just wanna pull a reverse Purple Rose of Cairo and climb into the TV and just live in this world forever.
Honesty, not too much happens with Cathy and Gary this week. I name this as my favorite part of the ep more because of where it’s gonna lead in the next few eps. This week, Gary mostly tries to get her to speak to him and she wants him to leave her alone. She also makes some vague mention of, like, “Did someone send you?” It’s this weird cryptic thing that hints that she has some sort of bad past history, but we’re not sure what. In fact, at this point My Beloved Grammy opined that she predicts Cathy will turn out to be Ciji’s twin sister who has some sort of wicked backstory. Is it ridiculous that Cathy is now here being played by the exact same actress who played Ciji? Well, yeah, kinda, but that’s part of the joy of the whole thing. Of course it’s ridiculous that one character could be killed and a few eps later, here she is, back as a totally different character. But camp and silliness, as I’ve said from day one of this blog, are part of what make KL so appealing. While it was certainly more realistic than Dallas (and certainly much, much, much better written), there is still plenty of stuff we’ve seen before or will see in the future is silly or a little outside of the realm of plausibility. For me, the remarkable thing is that it doesn’t feel ridiculous or completely unrealistic. Somehow, in the world of KL, when even the most goofiest things are happening before our very eyes, it still feels rather grounded in a pretty cool way, and I think that’s a testament both to the great writing and also the great actors who make their characters feel like real people. Since we can believe in the realism of characters like Karen, for instance, when strange or silly things happen around them, they don’t feel all that silly, all things considered.
That about does it for this ep. Like I said, bad sound kinda tampered my enjoyment of this ep, but I’m sure one day when all 344 episodes come out on BluRay digitally remastered and with a 3D James Cameron restoration, this ep will come alive in a new way for me. Even with the bad sound, I still enjoyed this and found a lot of good points to talk about. Every character stays busy busy busy this week and the ongoing saga just continues to kick along. While I don’t recall as many cool cinematic flourishes as I’m starting to get used to, that might also be a result of the bad sound, so you know, what are you gonna do?
Next up, we will continue to further explore this Ciji-reincarnation known as Cathy with Money Talks.