Thursday, January 5, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 086 of 344: I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES



Season 05, Episode 11

Episode 086 of 344

Written by Michael L. Grace

Directed by Nicholas Sgarro

Original Airdate: Thursday, December 8th, 1983

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack questions Tom about whether a lawyer named Cavanaugh is the head of the Wolfbridge group. Mack wants Tom to go back to them as an 'inside' man. Gary asks Cathy to sing for him. She gets upset and tells him she's not Ciji and never will be. Greg gives Abby the coastal variance she needs. They begin kissing, and then notice that Laura is watching them. Val is worried because Karen is acting so strange. Karen tells her she's tired, and continues to take more pills. Detective Nick Morrison posts a policeman on the ranch. Chip tells Diana they need to leave the next day. Diana goes to meet Chip. Chip is hiding in the stable. Cathy walks in and Chip is dumbfounded, thinking she's Ciji. Frightened, he scrambles to get away from her, and falls on a pitchfork. Police and Diana run to the stable when they hear Cathy screaming. Chip's dead.



                Welcome back for another exciting episode of KL.  In this instance, our episode up for discussion today, I’ll Tell You No Lies, served as the first episode on a disk of five during my last visit with My Beloved Grammy, with the last episode on the disk being Forsaking All Others, five gloriously thrilling dramatic episodes in a row, perhaps the very finest way to spend an evening with a loved one.  I only mention this to give my usual caveat about how, if I gloss over some details in this ep or if it seems a little slighter than usual, it’s just because it was the first one we watched out of five, and a lot went down on this disk for all of our characters, so there’s a lot to remember.

                Anyway, when we ended Homecoming, we learned that Diana was hiding fugitive Chip in some random barn on Westfork, and that’s where we pick up this week, as well.  As the episode credits play out, we see Richard Donner’s cousin and one of his men combing Westfork in search of Chip/Tony and Diana, all pissy about it.  Boy, Diana really hates Detective Morrison (although you could argue that she seems to really hate everybody except Chip), and she yells and screams at him about how he has no right to be here and nobody asked him to be here and he’s not gonna find anything anyway; “Just give it up, Morrison,” she says.  One has to wonder what Morrison thinks of this crazy, stupid girl who is so deeply in love with a violent, dangerous sociopath.  Anyway, the scene ends with a cool flourish of style (this week coming courtesy of our most veteran KL director, Nicholas Sgarro) when the characters start to walk away and then the camera pans up to reveal Chip hiding in a tree.




                Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ranch, we have Cathy and Gary continuing to get chummy with each other.  In his continuing efforts to morph Cathy into Ciji, Gary inquires, “You ever think about singing?”  Cathy tells him how she used to sing in a band in high school with a couple of other guys, but, “I don’t think I was very good.”  At this point I became very excited, because while we now officially have Lisa Hartman back on the show, filling the hole in my heart (see what I did there?) that lasted from the last few eps of season four through the first few eps of season five, we haven’t gotten to hear her sing yet, and I miss it.  In truth, my memories are again proving not quite accurate, because I had seasons four through seven all lumped together as one big, beautiful musical sequence and I felt like Ciji/Cathy sang a song virtually every week.  Really, we haven’t had any Lisa singing yet for season five and I feel like we only get one or two songs all year.  Personally I think this is a shame because I love listening to her sing, but it’s not a big thing since, by the time we hit season six, things will have gotten much more musical again and we’ll get lots and lots of songs from her, so be patient.  In truth, even if it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m really not, because this is probably what’s best for the story.  If Lisa was brought back onto the show and then just immediately started to sing all the time and be exactly like Ciji, it would just be too ridiculous.  At this juncture, Cathy is a different character from Ciji with a different life and a different past, and when Gary asks her about singing, she is sorta uncomfortable with the conversation, probably because she knows the next thing that’s gonna come out of his mouth is a request for a duet or something.  As is often the case with KL, I find it remarkable that they’re managing to balance this story that is patently ridiculous and still make it feel pretty grounded and not all that outlandish.  I don’t know how they manage to do it, but they do (although I did laugh aloud at a line Cathy has early in the ep, when she says she has seen pictures of Ciji and, “I don’t think we look all that alike”).



                Meanwhile, Karen is sinking fast.  She hasn’t hit her rock bottom yet (believe me, it’s coming), but she’s walking around acting stoned all the time, unable to focus on conversations, and generally behaving erratically.  In this ep, we have a good scene between her and M.F. where Karen is outside, painting a chair blue in front of her garage.  M.F. comes walking by and gives her some stack of papers to read and then Karen casually sits right down on the chair and, a second later, looks up and says, “I can’t believe I did that.”  It’s actually a rather funny little bit of business, because I think we can all imagine doing the same thing at some point or another.  The beauty of the scene is that at first it’s funny, and you’re like, “Oh, how silly, Karen sat on the wet paint!”  After a moment, though, you realize that this is another sign of her problem, that her mind is constantly cloudy and elsewhere, that she can’t even complete the relatively simple task of painting a chair without sitting on it and making a big mess.  I feel like if this was another nighttime soap, anything and everything involving Karen and her pill popping would be played for BIG EPIC DRAMA ALL THE TIME, whereas here it’s the smaller scenes and the little details that add up to send us the message that Karen is suffering a problem.




                In that same vein, I also love how the problems and drama on KL nicely sneak up on us, unfolding at a comfortable and realistic pace.  I’ve mentioned before how, even though I recognized that it wasn’t a very good show at all, I did watch all seven seasons of the KL ripoff series Melrose Place.  Now, on that series, so much drama would happen all contained within the same episode, unfolding so fast it became comical, and then usually wrapping up or being forgotten just as fast.  On that show, if they were to decide to give one of their characters a pill addiction, they would probably pop their first pill in one episode and then, in the very next episode, be strapped into a chair in a detox ward somewhere, all sweaty and out of control, begging for more pills, and then probably they would be over their pill addiction by the conclusion of that week’s ep.  Here, we’ve seen Karen all stressed out over Diana, having neck pains, and then go to the doctor to get a prescription.  For a few episodes after that, we’ve seen her take her pills, and we’ve gotten the feeling that maybe she’s taking too many, or taking them too often, and we’ve seen her be kinda loopy and not wanna sleep with Mack, and now of course we see her sit on the wet paint.  It’s all unfolding nice and slow, but make no mistake, I’m not saying ‘slow’ in the boring way; the pacing is just perfect.




                The torrid affair of Abs and Sumner also continues this week.  In fact, this is a story I don’t recall going on so long at all; I thought they shagged once or twice and then the show sorta moved on to new business.  What I certainly don’t recall is that Abs seems to be developing some legitimate feelings towards Greg; this doesn’t seem like her usual nymphomaniac style where she just needs it real bad in the hot tub and then she’s able to continue with her day.  If you’ll flash back with me to the middle of season two, you’ll of course recall the fabulous affair Abs had with Richard.  In that instance, she was having fun, but I don’t think there were ever any feelings beyond that, and when it came time for her to cut Richard loose, she was able to do it fairly easily (“I need you,” Richard told her, to which Abs simply replied, “I don’t need you”).  Here, however, I get the feeling that Abs is starting to really feel something and care for Greg, and we get our first real demonstration of it here, when he stands her up for a romantic dinner and a romantic shag.  She’s hanging out in her amazing palace/office/sex dungeon, chatting with Laura, but clearly wanting Laura to get the hell out of there as fast as possible, so we all know what’s up.  In classic Laura style, she simply says, “Abby, if you want me to leave, you can just ask me to leave,” to which Abby replies, “Leave.”  Laura does so, but then hours later Abs is still sitting behind her desk, waiting for Sumner, clearly not happy.

                Where is Sumner?  Why, he’s busy at a lovely Seaview Circle barbecue.  I noted this because I’m pleased to see that, even as the show transitions into a new era of big business, lots of money, and more extravagant lifestyles, we are still getting lovely cul-de-sac get-togethers and barbecues the way we got in the beginning years.  Anyway, Sumner only intends to stop by briefly to talk with Mack (about his own storyline involving that ex-con he hired to investigate the Wolfbridge group; we’ll get to it), but then Lilimae asks him if he’d like a beer and Sumner smiles and says “I’d love one” (which made me think of an interview I read with Devane in which the interviewer asked him some question and then Devane got all ponderous and slowly said, “I think……I want a beer”).  After that, he figures what the hell and decides to stick around the barbecue awhile longer.  Now Abs is fuming, and she finally leaves her office really good and pissed off, but like I said, it’s a different kind of pissed off.  She isn’t pissed because she wasn’t able to get her shag and is going to die if she goes longer than 24 hours without having a penis inside of her (although this is certainly true); I think she’s pissed because she does care for Greg and she was legit excited for him to show up not just for the shag, but also for the good company and conversation.  She is really starting to fall for him, or at least that’s the way I see it (and My Beloved Grammy, too; she’s the one who pointed this out for me and it was only then that I started to notice it).

                Have I mentioned My Beloved Grammy’s disdain for the character of Lilimae?  If I haven’t, this episode would be the perfect time to bring it up, because Lilimae is hardly on her best behavior this week, and it only gets worse in our next episode or two.  Now, My Beloved Grammy always says what a fine actress Julie Harris was and how well she plays the character, but she really dislikes the character and always calls her “a nosy mother,” or “a busybody.”  From season three forward, I’ve always been like, “Come on, Lilimae is awesome,” but I’m starting to see those negative qualities that My Beloved Grammy also sees.  This week, Lilimae is out of control in her disdain towards Ben.  See, Val has Ben over and the two are sorta snuggling up together on the couch, clearly hoping for some alone time, but Lilimae is hanging around, taking up space, sorta staring at them, obviously wishing that Ben would just go away.  When Val gets sorta firm and says, “Mama, me and Ben would like some time for ourselves,” she pretty much just ignores her, and then Ben gets the hint and is like, “Guess I’d better be going home.”  He leaves and Val has a perturbed look on her face; as she starts to march away from the front door, I thought we were going to get a little confrontation scene between her and Lilimae, but instead the scene cut away to something else.




                By itself, that scene probably doesn’t sound like much, and perhaps I’m adding in some opinions based on the next eps we watched, but certainly based on this one alone, we get the sense that Lilimae doesn’t like Ben and doesn’t want him around.  My question is: Why?  Okay, so Ben took Val out on a date, like, way at the start of the season and didn’t immediately tell her that he was a reporter.  But that was many episodes ago, he apologized to her, Val forgave him and got over it, and he’s been very decent to her since then (my appreciation for this character is clearly growing as I rewatch, in case you can’t tell), so why does Lilimae hold that incident over his head and act like he’s the devil?  At first I thought maybe she’s simply jealous, that she wants to have her daughter all to herself, but then I remembered that last season, she was very happy for Val to meet and go out with the incredibly boring Jeff Munson (already forgotten about that character?  I’m not surprised at all), so why the change for Ben?  I theorize that perhaps, after her little month or so sent away to the nuthouse, she’s becoming paranoid that, if Val takes on a serious new relationship, she may grow tired of having her mama hanging around and might want her to move out.

                So that’s the way I see it from Lilimae’s point of view, but let’s take a look at it from the point of view of Val, or even My Beloved Grammy, who dislikes Lilimae so.  Less than three years ago, Lilimae was a homeless bag lady, basically living on the streets or staying at cheap motels as long as she could before the owners would throw her out.  After she moved in with Val, she has been living rent free (I mean, presumably, but I highly doubt that Val would force her destitute mother to pay rent) in a nice house on a nice cul-de-sac.  Okay, she cooks good meals for Val and she also cleans the refrigerator this week, which is lovely, but it’s pretty tactless to act so entitled and make such judgments about who her 40-plus year old daughter gets to date or have over for dinners.  So yeah, we’re not currently witnessing Lilimae’s finest hour; she’s coming off as a bit of a shrew at this juncture.  Remember I’m not criticizing Julie Harris here, who plays her part brilliantly for as long as she is on the series, but rather I am saying that the character is becoming a bit overbearing and unpleasant at this precise point in time.

                Let’s sorta skip whatever is going on with Mack and Wolfbrige this week (don’t get nervous; I will certainly discuss it in the coming episodes as that storyline accelerates in excitement) and talk about the final moments of one Mr. Chip Roberts.  Yes, as we began this episode, I had the strong feeling that it would be Chip’s last, and I was right (well, sorta; he shows up in the next episode as well, but he’s a corpse by that point, so, you know….).  See, Chip and Diana are both getting nervous and fidgety with all these cops hanging around.  How long can Chip stay hiding in a tree and just hope that nobody catches him?  How long can Diana sneak him chicken (which appears to be the only thing they ever serve at Westfork, since that’s the same thing we saw her sneak him last week) and hope that Morrison doesn’t follow her and catch her in the act of housing this fugitive?  So, Chip starts to talk about how they need to get out of here, how Diana needs to go to the bank and withdraw all her money and buy them plane tickets (I can’t recall precisely where they are planning to escape to, but whatever) and then the two will head off to live happily ever after.  The problem, of course, is that Chip is a sociopath and a liar and he is only interested in protecting himself.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he’s gonna take the money and run; why keep Diana around at this point anyway?  I’m gonna go ahead and say that at no point did Chip actually love Diana; she was simply a tool for him to use and it’s been that way since he first met her.  I imagine that at this point, he’s already planning out where to escape to and what to change his name to, but of course Diana is stupid and also mentally ill, so she totally believes that he wants to escape with her to live happily ever after.

                The day in question arrives, so Diana takes all of her money out of the bank and the wheels are in motion for the great escape.  The only problem is that after she gives the money to Chip (that’s right; he just asks her to hand him the cash and she does so and then runs off and says, “I’ll be back tonight”), he immediately goes to work on his solo escape.  He starts creeping around Westfork, looking for a means of escape.  He finds a lovely looking truck in front of a barn and starts going to work trying to get it started.  I’ve been ignoring directorial flourishes of style this week, and I apologize, so let me take a moment to say I enjoy how Nicholas Sgarro shoots this scene, with Chip’s back to us and the camera almost serving as our own voyeuristic eyes, as if we feel we are somehow creeping up on Chip ourselves.  In any case, Chip doesn’t manage to get the truck started, so he disappears into the nearby barn to hide out for a few minutes or a few hours or whatever the hell his plan is.  The only problem is that, at this precise moment, Gary and Cathy are having a little talk that ends with Cathy starting to cry and saying, “I’m not Ciji and I never will be Ciji!”  Then she goes running off, sobbing, and enters the exact same barn that Chip is hiding in.  At this point, My Beloved Grammy spoke up and said, “Omigod, he’s gonna kill Cathy, too,” but that’s fortunately not what happens.  In the heat of the moment, it might seem like that’s what’s gonna happen, but when you stop to think about it, that would just be crummy writing.  Why kill off a Lisa Hartman character, bring her back from the dead, and then just kill off her reincarnation a few episodes later?  I’m very glad that’s not what happens, but rather Chip gets a look at her face, his eyes get all big, he goes, “Ciji,” as he slowly walks backwards and then, wouldn’t you know it, he slow-motion falls onto a pitchfork that stabs right through him, Friday the 13th Part III style, and that’s the end of Chip.  Again, this all sounds pretty ridiculous when it’s written out on paper in this way, but the glory of the show is how well it actually works as it unfolds in front of us.  I love the fact that, in a way, Chip winds up being killed by Ciji.  If he didn’t see Cathy and think she was Ciji, this probably wouldn’t have happened.  The idea that Ciji kinda sorta comes back from the dead to get revenge on Chip is so very sweet, and it’s a much more fitting form of justice than if Chip had simply died after Lilimae hit him with the car.


                I’d also like to take this opportunity to talk about KL’s absolutely perfect timing when it comes to storylines and how they unfold and how they wrap up.  This Chip storyline has been going on since really early in season four (the fourth episode of the season, Svengali, was where he was first introduced) and now here we are in mid season five and it’s coming to its conclusion.  This storyline has been exceptional and gripping and it was just barely almost two seconds away from going on too long and becoming tiring.  So, just as we are seconds away from this story getting old, BOOM, the writers kill off Chip and retire this character.  It’s just perfect, and yet another in my continuing argument that KL is vastly superior to Dallas in every single way.  If this was Dallas, this storyline would have gone on FOREVER and lasted way too long and become unbelievably boring.  You all remember the trial of Jenna Wade?  That shit went on for like 72 episodes, was incredibly dull, moved at the speed of an iceberg melting, and then was abruptly wrapped up OFF SCREEN and in a very forgettable, stupid way, and that’s just one example of Dallas drawing out a story forever.  Here, the writers know if they continue to draw out this Chip stuff any longer, it will become dull, so they kill him, we get the next episode as a kind of epilogue to his storyline, and that’s it; we can all move on to new business.  Perfect, perfect pacing.




                This was a very enjoyable and exciting episode of KL, and the amazing thing is that it was probably my least favorite of the five eps we watched; the show is so good that you can start the disk with this episode and then it just keeps getting better and better as you move forward.  Amazing!  At this point, the season is virtually flawless; we haven’t had one episode that has left me cold or underwhelmed, and indeed it does feel like the show is still constantly improving itself and becoming more exciting and dynamic each week.

                Next up, we will officially conclude the Chip stuff and get Michael Sabatino’s very final appearance (lying in a coffin and not speaking, but it still counts as an appearance) with Denials.

               
               




3 comments:

  1. If I haven't mentioned it yet, it's a nice touch to pay so much attention to the people behind the scenes.

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  2. Absolutely agree, TVFAD. As well as I know this show. I always learn something new reading Brett's blog!

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