Episode Title: Homecoming
Season 05, Episode 10
Episode 085 of 344
Written by Allison Hock
Directed by John Pleshette
Original Airdate: Thursday, December 1st, 1983
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary buys Cathy a dress like Ciji's and brings her to get her hair cut like Ciji. He also has her lip sync to Ciji's album. Laura walks in and is angry. Gary says he's doing it because he couldn't help Ciji, but now he has a chance to help someone else. Mary Frances walks in on Greg and Abby, and is upset. She and Eric kiss. Mack tells Karen she's using Mary Frances to replace Diana. Karen continues taking pain pills. Mack is on to something and Tom Jessick is the link. Some men meet with Sumner and tell him to drop Mack, because he's getting too close. Ben goes with Val to bring Lilimae home, against Dr. Bovine's wishes. Diana brings chicken to the barn at the ranch, where Chip is hiding.
There’s nothing like a solid disk of five episodes in a row of KL, and the best of the best is when you watch all five and the fifth and final one of the disk is the very best one of the entire evening. This happened with our first disk of season five, which culminated with One Kind of Justice, and it happens again here with the absolutely spectacular Homecoming. To set the scene a little bit, My Beloved Grammy and I finished up with Money Talks, and then she turned to me and said, “There’s one more left, right?” and I said oh yes, and she said, “Oh good, I wasn’t ready to be done yet.” Yes, it’s very clear that KL has officially sunk its hooks into her just as much as it did for me back in college and is doing to me again even as we speak. The first thing about Homecoming that I got very excited about was the director, one Mr. John Pleshette. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Richard Avery is back….sorta. We don’t get to see Richard in front of the camera until we hit the 200th episode in 1987, but in this instance The Plesh is the auteur behind the camera filming this episode and making it so unbelievably exciting and good. It’s nice to know that he was still around even after his character had been retired from the main cast. The only thing I find vexing/frustrating is that we’re not going to get to see him direct another episode until way into the future when we get to 1989, when he directs Mrs. Peacock in the Library With the Lead Pipe (that would be season 10, episode 12). Why the big long gap? In any case, I won’t fret, because we have been given the gift of him in the director’s chair this week, and it’s a very beautiful thing.
As usual, we’ve got a lot going on this week with everybody, and as has been the pattern over the last few weeks, my favorite storyline of them all belongs to Cathy and Gary. Because of that, I think I’ll save the best for last and discuss all the other characters first. Okay, so what’s going on with Sumner this week? Actually quite a lot, starting with his continuing shagging of Abs. This week, things get awkward when the two are caught red handed by Greg’s daughter, M.F. For all the affairs she has had throughout her life, you’d think Abs would learn a little tact at some point, no? She pulls something in this ep that made me flash back to a certain episode in season three (forgive me, but I can’t remember which episode; there are a lot of them!). It was when she and Gary were just getting started on their affair, you all remember that? And they were at Knots Landing Motors and (boring) Uncle Joe was still on the show. Now, if I recall the scene correctly, Abs was talking to Uncle Joe and then Gary came bursting out of his office with a loudspeaker and was like, “So, Abs, what time are we gonna continue to commit adultery tonight?” Then he saw Uncle Joe standing there and got all embarrassed and Abs had to make up a lie real quick.
Well, this week she and Sumner are finishing up their shag and, for the life of him, he just can’t find his damn sock! They’re both almost fully dressed, but the sock, the sock, where the heck is this sock?! Then Sumner leaves the bedroom and who should be waiting there to greet him? Why, it’s M.F.! Then, a second later, Abs comes running out of the bedroom, all giddy like she just huffed some gas, and she’s like, “Greg, I found your sock!” Of course, M.F. is able to put two and two together and realize what just went on, and she doesn’t like it (oh yeah, now might be a good time to mention that Greg is married to some woman named Jane who we haven’t seen yet and we are told is currently vacationing around Europe).
Why does Abby do this? I’m gonna cut her a break, and I’m gonna do so by expanding on my little nymphomaniac theory from last week. Let me tell you a little personal anecdote about myself, as well. There is nothing in this world I love more than going to any sort of nudist place, like places where you are free to run around without any clothes on and just be yourself, free and in your natural state just as God made you. Specifically, there is a Korean spa near me that I enjoy frequenting that comes fully equipped with big open gang rape showers, sauna, steam, and multiple temperature whirlpools. When I go to this place, I become myself at my very happiest state, and I always stay so long, usually spending the majority of the time sitting in the sauna or steam and sweating so profusely, that by the time I finally leave the spa, I’m all giddy and acting silly as if I’m high or something. I’m not high, but the happy feeling of elation I get from going to this place makes me act like I am, and so sometimes I’ll act a little stupid.
My point? I think the same thing is true of Abs. I don’t think there’s anything in the world Abs loves more than a good screwing, especially one in the middle of the day (has anyone else noticed that she just loves afternoon delights?). So I think after a good long roll in the sack with Sumner, she’s just feeling pretty elated and a little goofy, so she sorta drops her boundaries a little bit and goes running around with a sock in her hand, screaming, “Greg, I found your sock!” She’s still feeling the effects of her nymphomaniac high, that’s all, so let’s all cut her a break. But anyway, Abby’s spurt of excitement over the retrieval of Sumner’s missing sock is enough for M.F. to figure out what’s going on. In classic teenager fashion, she decides that if her daddy can have a fling, she can, too. Next up, we see her trying to seduce Eric, yet another in a continuing string of Eric-related incidents that I had completely forgotten from my first viewing. In this case, the two are in Eric’s bedroom and she asks if he’s “experienced.” For the life of me, I can’t remember what he says, but based on how awkward he still gets when he’s anywhere near a girl he likes, I’m gonna go ahead and declare that Eric’s a virgin, okay? And in any case, he’s still a virgin at the end of this ep because Sumner walks in on the two of them, in a nice parallel to what just happened a few moments ago.
So while Sumner and Abby are getting laid and Eric and M.F. are attempting to get laid, one person who is most certainly not getting laid this week is Mack, who is continuing to cope pretty well with Karen’s strange behavior. This week, the two are snuggling up into bed together when he tries to get a little frisky on her and Karen uncomfortably deflects the behavior. When Mack’s like, “You know, it’s been awhile,” she just sorta nods and says, “Yeah, it has been,” and then sorta scoots to her side. Then, The Plesh does a wonderful thing with his camera because, when Karen falls asleep in the middle of a little speech from Mack, we zoom out to see the prescription pills Karen has been taking sitting on the bedside table and Mack glaring at them. The message is clear, and it’s all done without words, just this simple camera maneuver.
Oh yeah, our big ending for this episode involves the revelation of where Chip is. Turns out Diana has been harboring him at the ranch, because in our final scene we see her take him some chicken and we get to see a bearded Chip (well, not a full-on ‘80s Rapist Beard, but more like a bunch of stubble that’s turning into a beard) hiding out in the stables. Good way to end the episode, as it answers our questions from last week about where Chip is, and I also continue to question Diana’s involvement in this. Okay, so we know she’s harboring him, but does that mean she helped him escape from the hospital? I think that’s gonna remain a mystery for the ages; I’m still not sure if Chip’s little Houdini maneuver was done all by himself or with a little help from his friend and alleged wife, Diana.
Let’s get to my fave portion of the ep, shall we? Gary and Cathy is where my interests most primarily lie at this point, and things start to take a decidedly Vertigo-esque turn this week. See, early in the ep Gary takes Cathy out to a fancy dress place and picks out the alien dress that Ciji wore back in The Best Kept Secret. Now, when I saw this dress here, I knew something wasn’t right with it, that it didn’t look quite as alien as the last time we saw it, and I was right. This particular version of the dress is missing the most alien element of all, and when I say alien, I mean H.R. Giger’s Alien design, the big, like, tubular shaped things that went over the shoulders and down the arms. Those are missing now, but Gary doesn’t seem to mind and is happy to purchase the dress for Ciji.
We all know what’s coming when the two exit the dress shop as Gary looks at her hair and then asks, “You ever thought about changing your hair?” Now, unless I’m recalling inaccurately, they don’t change Cathy’s hair this week, or at least they don’t die it back to what Ciji’s looked like. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Cathy is a platinum blonde like Debbie Harry, whereas Ciji was more of a darker color.
Our best scene of the episode comes right near the end, in which Gary’s got Cathy all dressed up in Ciji’s clothes, and she’s hanging out in the, like, Westfork gym or something and there’s all these mirrors all around her. She takes Ciji’s record and puts it on the player and we get to hear the fantastic If Love Must Go again, the same song she sang at the end of The Best Kept Secret. Cathy starts to look at herself in the mirror and sorta sing along, seeming to like the way she looks/feels. Of course, after a moment Gary shows up at the door and watches her, entranced. Can I just say I love this? I don’t know if it’s just from watching a lot of Vertigo as a kid, but there’s something about this trope that I’ve always loved. Love Vertigo, love Body Double, something about the man obsessed with a woman who looks like someone he loved just totally fits into my wheelhouse. Also, while maybe Gary is being kinda creepy here, can you blame him? I know he didn’t have a physical relationship with Ciji, but I think he held a love for her that was kinda unique and special; now he feels like she has been brought back into his life somehow. Imagine this sort of thing happening to you and how you would react.
Also, this scene is just gorgeously shot by The Plesh and I love that he brings back If Love Must Go, since that was one of my favorite Ciji songs. But the style gets cranked up to a million as Gary looks at Cathy in the mirror, because then we start getting these very off-putting yet also enrapturing flashcuts to Ciji in her alien dress singing from The Best Kept Secret. These are super quick, almost subliminal flashes, and they are very powerful to convey Gary’s current emotional state.
This is just the last time you want someone to walk in on you, but Laura does just that, catching Gary leering like a creep at Cathy, now fully adorned to look like Ciji. She does not like what she sees, and I remind you that Laura was in love with Ciji and the two were having a lesbian affair (yeah, I said it), so you can imagine this being a rather shocking scene to walk in on for her. Fortunately, since she’s Laura and she speaks candidly, she asks Gary to explain what exactly he’s doing with her and Gary gives a somewhat defensive speech about how he feels like he failed to save Ciji when she needed saving, so now he wants to try to help this new chick out. Oh man, that actually reminds me of the very last thing I wanna talk about this week, and that’s Laura. We are seeing Laura enter a different, maybe not as wholesome, period of her character, her “piece of the pie” era. In this ep, she tells Abs that she won’t squeal to Karen or Gary about what Abs is up to with the property she’s handling and all that, so long as she gets a little cut of the action. The beauty of this scene is the calm and reasonable way that Laura explains herself, saying how Karen’s husband died but now she has a great new husband and a business, how Val got abandoned by Gary but now she’s a successful author, how Gary inherited all that money, and so on. Laura is a single woman trying to raise two kids; why shouldn’t she get a little greedy? The sad thing is that Gary did hire Laura to keep an eye on Abs, and now she is betraying him. It’s a testament to the skill of the writers that I don’t feel like condemning Laura, however. I understand that her life is hard and I could understand why she would fall into this line of thinking.
Oh, what a lovely episode; I was practically hugging myself as I watched it, and it’s another instance where, if I hadn’t known that I would be going home to write about all five of these episodes, if My Beloved Grammy and I were just watching them for fun the way we watched Dallas, I would have just asked if she wanted to stay up until 3:00 in the morning and watch a whole other disk of episodes. I just don’t know how someone could be watching the series at this point and not be completely hooked on it like crack or something; it’s so wildly compelling and, most impressive for me considering our seasons are inflating and becoming really big and long, never boring. There’s always something happening and you gotta pay attention to keep up and the characters are just sooooooooo interesting; I can hardly believe it. Also, I continue to admire KL’s ability to remember past events and the things that have built the characters. I love how we get those flashcuts to The Best Kept Secret, which is an episode that feels pretty far away at this point (it’s been over a year, right?), yet the writers and The Plesh are keeping it fresh in our memories by reminding us of it.
I really do wanna know why we have to wait six years to see another Plesh-directed episode. Things get extra bizarre when I look at his IMDb and note that in 1985 he wrote an episode of Dynasty (the episode called The Ball for anyone who follows Dynasty). I suppose you work wherever you work and you don’t need to maintain loyalty to any one show, but in my brain I think of Dynasty (a show I confess I have never watched, although it's definitely on my list along with Falcon Crest) as the enemy of the CBS/Lorimar nighttime soaps, so I think it’s sorta interesting that he went to write an ep for them. My own personal theory about why he’s not back in the director’s chair on KL until 1989, and it’s a theory I came up with myself and have no way to prove or back up (unless I one day interview The Plesh; here’s hoping) is that he and KL just parted ways for awhile as he pursued other avenues of his career, but that he got re-involved with KL when he returned to guest star in the 200th episode. My theory is that after that little return to the show, he was sorta back into the world, not a full-time player like in the first four years of the series, but still sorta around and available to direct. In any case, I enjoy his style this week and I wish he had more KL directorial credits to his name and we didn’t have to wait six long years to see him direct again.
This may have been one of my shorter write-ups and I feel in some ways I haven’t done justice to how great this episode was, but you know what, I’m tired and I wanna finish talking about it. Basically, it was lovely to have The Plesh on as the director this week and I thought he displayed tremendous style throughout, best of all with the zoom-out to the pills and, of course, the scene of Cathy dressed like Ciji. This is one of my favorite scenes in all of KL, and when the episode started I actually wrote in my notes, “Is this the one where Gary dresses Cathy up like Ciji? I hope it is.” Clearly I was not disappointed. This scene has always stuck with me and it’s still a wonderful moment. Also, the final revelation of Chip in the barn and us wondering if he might see Cathy wandering around the ranch at some point, that definitely gives me reason to tune in for the next episode, which will be I’ll Tell You No Lies.