Thursday, February 2, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 093 of 344: LEST THE TRUTH BE KNOWN


Episode Title: Lest the Truth Be Known

Season 05, Episode 18

Episode 093 of 344

Written by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman

Directed by Larry Elikann

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 2nd, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ray comes to the ranch and sweet talks Cathy. They sleep together and decide to leave the next day. Cathy says goodbye to Gary and cries about messing everything up. Then Ray decides he wants her to stay and get a piece of Gary's fortune. Cathy tells Gary she was in jail for murder and he hugs her. Ben asks Val to go to El Salvador with him, but she says no as she's pregnant. Mack follows Laura and demands to know about Apolune. Laura says it's Mark St. Claire's company. St. Claire calls Laura and says to sever her ties with Mack and threatens her children. Laura starts to get a lot of hang up calls and becomes very paranoid. Finally Laura tells Mack that she'll tell him what she knows if he'll help her. Laura tells him that Apolune is Abby's company.





                When we last left off in Second Chances, Mack and Eric had cleverly planted a package for the Apolune company at The Beverly Hills Building and all Mack had to do was wear his cool ‘80s sunglasses (the ones that are hiding his swollen, beat up face at the moment) and wait to see who was gonna come and pick up the package.  The revelation that the mail recipient was, in fact, Laura, provided the cliffhanger for the end of our last show, and we pick up Lest the Truth Be Known at that exact same moment, even replaying the last couple of seconds with Laura walking out of the building and Mack saying, “Laura” to himself.  This is a fabulous way to get started, almost making it feel like you could meld both eps together and create your own two-hour experience of KL joy.  From there, we go to a nice overhead helicopter shot of the city freeway as Mack and Laura drive along, and our episode credits play over those, and I have two things I wish to note.  The first is that one of my favorite KL directors, Larry Elikann, is in the director’s chair this week (his last contribution to the saga was Marital Privileges near the start of the season) and I’m excited to see him.  The second is the writers of this particular ep (as well as the next two in a row) are Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman (pictured below).  These names jumped out at me as these are the two guys (I am pretty sure they are a gay partnered writing team) who created the Showtime American version of Queer as Folk.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a big fan of that series (I am, after all, a queer, and I try to support my people) and I think it was a fabulously acted and rather addictive series that felt very nighttime soap most of the time, but with a lot of penises and man-on-man sex scenes thrown in for good measure (that improves everything, of course).  Anyway, I don’t know if these two were, like, officially on the writing staff for the season or if they just got hired on to do these three eps in a row, but I noted their names in the opening and was pretty excited to see them.

                Okay, so what happens after Mack trails Laura’s car for awhile?  Well, it turns out that Laura is on her way to an afternoon delight with Gregory Sumner, the man for the ‘80s.  She arrives at his fancy hotel and comes into the room and the two start making out, getting busy, clearly ready to get naked and commit male-on-female sexual intercourse.  The only problem is that Mack decides to be a boner-killer by bursting angrily into the room and shouting and demanding information, something he enjoys doing quite a lot at this juncture in the series.  He starts demanding to know about who Apolune really is and why Laura’s the one picking up the mail and how it connects to the Wolfbridge organization, all that exciting stuff.

                Way way back in season one (I can’t believe I actually remember this, but it was in my writeup for episode five, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?), I talked about my love of KL’s ability to be both wildly gripping and incredibly well written while also often quite campy, and I even specifically said something like, “In a few seasons we’ll talk about my beloved Kevin Dobson and his ability to go from being a great actor to a master of camp, sometimes all within the same scene.”  Well, that’s all nicely on display in this very sequence, in which The Dobsonator (who, I remind you, is playing probably my third favorite character in the entire run of the series) really gets the chance to ham it up.  He’s still rocking those hilariously large 1984 sunglasses, and then he gets all up close to Laura and he’s like, “Who are these people, Lauuuuuuuurrrrrrra?  I’ve lost everything, Lauuuuuuuuuura, my job, I might be disbarred.  They’ve beaten the hell out of me, Lauuuuuuuuura,” and with that third bizarrely elongated “Laura,” he also pulls off his big sunglasses to show how beat up and ugly his face is, and good makeup, by the way, because his left eye really does look like it’s swollen shut and is pretty nasty to look at.  But anyway, it’s a fabulously campy bit of acting and I love him for it.

                Devane gets to do some pretty solid acting in this scene and also gets the chance to do some yelling of his own.  Obviously he’s pretty irritated with Mack not just for throwing accusations out at him that may or may not be founded in truth, but also for killing his afternoon delight.  He was just seconds away from sliding into Laura’s moist, warm vagina when Mack came in to start screaming and scaring people with his Elephant Man face, and I’d be damn mad, too, if I was blue-balled in such a fashion.  But Sumner also says how Mack needs to keep a cooler head and, in general, not just run around bursting into rooms and screaming things, how he’s gonna have to trust him to work this situation out, shit like that.  Again I stress how interesting it is that Devane has only been on the show since the fourth episode of the season, yet already he feels like such a core, established member of the cast and I just can’t imagine the show without him. 


                Laura spends the rest of the episode in a bit of a paranoid manic mode, and Elikann does a good job of making this feel like a horror movie or a thriller for the majority of the 48 minutes, specifically with the brilliant way that he uses darkness, light, and shadow to make familiar sets look scary and ominous and the way he frames the telephone to seem like a frightening weapon of some sort.  What do I mean by this?  Well, early in the ep Laura and Abs are at the palace office, working on whatever, when the phone rings.  Abs answers it and it’s St. Claire (the campy James Bond villain guy, you all remember), but he’s not interested in speaking with Abs; he wants to talk to Laura.  Elikann really loves his Wayne’s World-style extreme close-ups of faces, and he gets kicked off right here with one of Laura as she answers the phone.  If I recall correctly, St. Claire is sitting in that evil, dark room of his that he enjoys spending so much time in, and in his fabulously droll and wicked way, he just sorta casually asks, “How old are your children now, Mrs. Avery?”  At first I thought the implication here was that the Wolfbridge group was gonna come to rape and murder Daniel and Jason 3, but then St. Claire says something along the lines of, “It would be hard for them to grow up without their mother,” or something, so I think really he’s threatening Laura’s life and not the lives of the children, although I could be misreading that. 

                In any case, this little conversation sends Laura into a paranoid free-fall that causes her to poop her pants every single time the phone rings.  There’s a scene near the middle of the episode in which Lilimae has presumably been babysitting the kids for awhile, because we begin the scene on her standing in the Avery living room (a set that I feel like we haven’t seen in a good long while, maybe not since Richard was still part of the cast) as the phone starts ringing.  She answers, there’s nobody there, she hangs up, and then Laura enters after a busy day of work helping Abs be evil.  Lilimae says something casual about how the phone kept ringing but it must have been kids doing prankcalls, but Laura looks rather panicked and Lilimae asks her if everything is okay.  To set the stage for this fabulous scene, let me just say that Elikann frames it in such a way that the big scary old-fashioned corded phone is set up in the foreground, basically center frame, in complete focus, while Lilimae and Laura are kinda out-of-focus and in the background.  This is what I mean about how he turns the phone into this scary entity this week, and every time it rings we, along with Laura, are like, “Oh shit.”  I also remind you (I brought this up way way back in The Constant Companion) of my deep love affair with old rotary dial corded phones and I think they are just much creepier for scary phone calls.  Among the many things cell phones have ruined in the last twenty years is the creepy phone call, because it was scary to hear that rotary dial phone ring and not know who could be on the other end, but now our stupid cell phones just, you know, buzz and it’s simply not the same effect at all.


                Last thing on Laura for a little while, but we get a little scene of her and Jason 3 this week in which she asks him to always stay around an adult, like his teachers, and not to go off playing alone or anything like that.  Jason 3 (pictured below, and who, due to all his morphing, appears to be the only kid on the cul-de-sac who isn’t aging naturally the way Michael or Olivia are aging; he seems kinda locked in the same perpetual age since around season two or three) is put-off by all this and tries to ask his mom what’s going on, but of course Laura keeps hush hush and doesn’t say, “There’s an evil mafia-type organization that I’ve sorta accidentally gotten into bed with and they called yesterday to make vague threats about your life and mine.”  Instead, she just says she wants him safe and that’s it.


                Meanwhile, in the nearby house of Val + Lilimae, we officially see that Val and Ben are back together.  This was a bit vexing to me at first, since that’s not how I interpreted the conclusion of their big porch talk last week.  If you’ll recall, they spoke about all the drama involving Val growing Gary’s baby/babies in her belly and the scene ended with them sorta hugging and crying and what have you, but I didn’t realize that was supposed to mean “back together.”  However, we begin this scene with Ben very casually hanging around the living room and then when Val comes in, he gives her a nice kiss on the lips and everything is cool, so we can infer that they are back together again.  Ben is still prepping for this trip to El Salvador and my least favorite storyline going on currently.  Make no mistake, this isn’t bad stuff at all; it’s not like the early Kenny/Ginger stuff that was so completely uninteresting as well as isolated from the rest of the cast; it’s just that so much excitement is going on at this point and Ben’s little trip to El Salvaor (which I think winds up taking up, like, two or three episodes) is just kinda blah.  The big conflict here is not just whether he is going to go, but also if Val is going to accompany him.  Personally I’d call it a poor choice for a pregnant woman to go visit some dangerous area of the world, but it’s Val’s choice and not mine (I’m so stupid when it comes to geography and have never taken the time to look at a globe and, therefore, have no actual idea where El Salvador is, but it sounds far away and scary, so let’s just assume it’s bad). 

                Lilimae is starting to mellow out a bit and become the Lilimae that we all know and love (well, My Beloved Grammy still doesn’t love her, but she does always say that Julie Harris plays her perfectly; she just has a distaste for the character inherently).  In this ep, she gets a lovely little scene in private with Ben in which she subtly (subtly by Lilimae standards) tries to discourage him from going to El Salvador.  She says how, yes, she had lots of cool, sexy, exciting adventures back in her youth, but that “I’m living the best part of my life right now.”  She explains how, at a certain point, a person needs to settle down and be able to look at someone in the eyes and “know that they know you.”  I think her little speech gets to Ben, but he still winds up going on his little trip a few eps down the line, so I guess it doesn’t work too well on him.


                Oh yeah, one last little bit related to Ben that I want to talk about, just because it shows thought for the past histories of the characters and it made me happy.  There’s a scene near the middle of the episode in the MacKenzie kitchen between Karen and Val in which Val is discussing how great Ben is, but how she still finds herself thinking of Gary and doing comparisons.  Karen, who is now clean and sober and pill-free and back to being a good friend, casually says how that’s not a big deal and how she still finds herself comparing Mack to Sid.  Yay for Sid callbacks!  Doing a little bit of looking at episode numbers, I realize that Sid has now been dead for sixty episodes (he died back in episode 33, Critical Condition), and it would be so easy for the writers to just stop mentioning him or thinking about him at this point, but they don’t do that.  He was Karen’s husband for like nineteen years, and just because she’s now married to a wonderful new man does not mean she has to stop mentioning her wonderful first husband.  I’ll be curious to see if/when we stop getting references to Sid, but at the moment I’m pleased that he’s not forgotten; he continues to cast a shadow over proceedings even as we nearly finish up the fifth season of the series.


                Meanwhile, the drama is heating up over at Westfork with the arrival to the ranch of Ray.  Who is Ray?  Well, we know that, whoever he is, he’s here because Abs called him in our last ep (you’ll remember it was after she told Cathy to take a hike and Cathy refused to do so, then we finished the scene with Abs picking up her phone and speaking to an off-screen Ray).  Anyway, he arrives in a nice convertible while Cathy is enjoying a ride on a horse, and when she sees him she tries to get away, but we are then treated to a very long and epic chase scene with Ray on wheels and Cathy on hooves.  Seriously, this goes on forever with him speeding along, trying to catch up with her, even plowing right through a fence at one point to continue the pursuit.  I get the feeling that Cathy doesn’t want to see this guy, but I guess Ray doesn’t get the message or he’s just too evil to care, and he does finally catch up with her and get her to chill out a bit. 

                Cut to a little bit later, and we see that Ray is staying at some shitty motel in which Cathy comes to visit him.  I may be misremembering my scenes, but I believe he’s shirtless in this part and I really wish he wasn’t.  This is one very hairy man, the kind of man who strips completely naked and you think he’s still wearing a sweater.  When did we men evolve out of this phase?  It seems like if you were a man in the ‘80s, you were hairy, damn it, and that’s just the way men were made, but I feel like we’re not like that anymore.  Do I just do a better job of picking and choosing my men to get naked with?  Did we become hairless as a natural evolutionary progression like the way we slowly turned from apes into humans?  In any case, the disgustingly hairy Austin Powers chest hair is one of the only aspects of the ‘80s that I don’t absolutely love, and this guy is rocking chest hair that brings me vivid Vietnam-esque flashbacks to shirtless Mark Graison in the shower (ew).


                But enough about his chest hair, what’s the deal with the actual character?  Well, he starts lecherously kissing Cathy like "President" Trump kissing any unsuspecting and unwilling women who makes the mistake of crossing his path and talking about how he’ll never let her go again and then he drops the bomb, “You are my wife, after all.”  Ah, so now another Cathy secret emerges for us to ponder over.  Why/how did she get married to this shitty, ugly guy, and how long has she been away from him?  I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that Ray is the one who actually killed whoever the hell got killed and that Cathy took the fall and went to prison for his crime.  That little plot twist is not revealed in this ep, but I think in the next one, and I don’t even consider that a spoiler since I called it  the moment this guy showed up onscreen.  We also get an uncomfortable scene of the two characters in bed at the motel which helps us to understand who this guy is and where he comes from.  It looks like the two just had a shag (and you can tell because Cathy has some serious rub-burn all over her entire body), and now Ray is getting ponderous, reflecting on how they met and how they got married and all that.  He asks, “How old were you when we first met?” and Cathy answers, “Thirteen,” and at first I said, “Ew,” but then I realized that the two are probably the same age or at least close to it so, presumably, they didn’t hook up when she was 13 and Ray was 30 or something like that (I mean, right?).  During this scene, Ray looks really happy in a creepy and lecherous way while Cathy is gazing off screen and looking super duper sad.  Clearly the reentry into of this man her life (and her vagina) was not something she was hoping would occur, and now that he’s here, she’s not exactly thrilled about it.

                A real fast update on the very hairy man who is playing Ray.  When he came onscreen, I was convinced I’d seen him before, even theorizing that he may have been a Transmorpher, but I was mistaken in both regards.  The actor’s name is Bruce Fairbairn (pictured below) and he’s in some stuff (though nothing after the year 2000, I note), but nothing that really jumped out at me, nothing that I recognized.  I imagine if I was him, this multi-episode guest spot on KL would be the highlight of my career (but if I was any actor in the world and I wound up in a few eps of KL, it would be the highlight of my career).  Okay, moving on.



                Obviously Gary is having some trouble with trusting Cathy now.  After all, in the last few weeks he has learned that she’s been receiving checks from Abs since before he ever met her, that she has lied about where in the world she comes from, and that she spent time in prison for second degree murder.  All in all, not a good rap sheet, and because of the way things are unfolding, Gary can’t just come out and ask her what the deal is.  Instead he acts grumpy and annoyed whenever she is onscreen with him, beginning with a wonderful scene in which a shirtless Gary (you could grate cheese on his muscles at this point) violently working out his aggression on a punching bag all to the tune of, um, classical music on vinyl.  Boy, what was a surprising choice.  I love seeing the vinyl player and the record spinning around as Gary works, but classical?  Who works out to classical?  And this isn’t even that big, booming, exciting classical, but rather the mellow kind that you put on over a fancy dinner where you sip red wine and sample some fine appetizers.  In any case, Cathy walks in on Gary in the middle of his Rocky IV moment and tries to make chit chat with him, but he’s being short with her and it’s clear that something is up.



                Back to Laura and all that drama, which leads us to our exciting conclusion, begging to see more eps as soon as possible.  The next time we see Laura and Abs together at the palace office, Abs happily announces that they are now the proud owners of Lotus Point, “Everything except the apartment that started it all.”  Abs wants to bust out the champagne and celebrate their great fortune, but Laura is not so enthused, mostly because she’s afraid somebody is going to cut the brakes on her car or something and she’ll wind up suffering the same fate as poor Sid so long ago.  Personally, I also think Abs is getting nervous and uncomfortable about these shady people they’re dealing with, but she’s trying to act super happy and like everything is totally normal and fine.

                Greg and Laura meet up a little later in his hotel room and discuss all these developments.  She says how she’s scared, how she’s been getting these weird calls, how she doesn’t know what to do, and Greg says, “I personally guarantee your safety,” to which she smartly responds, “You mean the way you personally guaranteed Mack’s safety?”  Yeah, that’s a good burn considering the savage beating Mack incurred in our last ep.  After this, she marches out of the hotel room and we get a fantastic bit of business that absolutely had to be improvised.  See, she goes walking off and leaves the door open, and there’s this guard posted outside, obviously one of the dudes whose job it is to follow Greg around and keep him protected.  Well, when he awkwardly stares into the hotel room, Greg just unleashes this fury at him and is like, “What’s the matter; are you a little confused?  Forget what your job is?  I’ll tell you what your job is; your job is to close the door!”  The reason I declare that this had to be improvised is because it’s totally unnecessary (in a good way, of course) and the scene could have easily ended with Laura’s little “Mack’s safety” retort and her storming out of the room, but instead it continues for ten or twenty seconds so that Greg can give this little speech.  Also, it just feels like improv because of the way Devane plays it and the confused look on the guard’s face.  I do know that Devane was notorious for improvising all the time and the actors had to work to keep up with his energy, and to me, there’s just no doubt that this is an example of that, and a fabulous one, to boot.


                The episode concludes with Laura finally having enough.  Too many scary rotary-dial phone calls and threats towards her children have put her over the edge, so she marches on over to the MacKenzie house and asks Karen and Mack if she can speak with them.  They are ready to listen and she starts to go on about how she’s sorry for what she’s done, she’s sorry she didn’t come to them sooner, but she’s ready to tell the truth now and she hopes that they will help her.  Mack promises to help her and we end the ep with Abs confessing that Apolune is Abby’s company, and boom, “Executive Producers: Michael Filerman and David Jacobs,” and we conclude the wickedly exciting Lest the Truth Be Known.

                Hell yeah, that was a killer episode.  This disk moved in an ascending order of brilliance, starting with a weaker episode, Reconcilable Differences before moving on to a far-improved Second Chances and now the best of the batch so far.  This one is fabulously tense and exciting and also scary, as I tried to illustrate with those fantastic phone shots and generally dark, almost film-noir lighting.  Plus, the acting remains top notch and that improvised bit with Devane was just killer.  Overall, yeah, pretty damn good start to finish, a fine example of the series working at the top of its game, which, of course, you could say about pretty much this entire fifth season.

                Next up, it’s time for Abs to finally face the consequences of all her evil and wicked behavior throughout the year, as an absolutely epic shit-storm starts to rain down upon her with …So Shall You Reap.

3 comments:

  1. I really had my hate for Laura reaffirmed when she tried to gaslight Karen. What a witch ! Too bad she doesn't get knocked off by Wolfbridge. I'm with Grammy, I hate Lilliemae, too. She and I need to stick together - we are totally outnumbered.

    Mack really laid into Lauuuuurrraaa - but she deserved it. Abby and Laura playing at moguls with gary's money behind his back - karma ! Except karma punks out later. Abby flexing her new gangster muscles and asking WB to "take care of" Mack - what exactly did she think would happen ? Didn't she care if he was murdered instead of just beat up ?
    It tickles me that Sumner prefers Laura's company over Abby;s. Lol.

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  2. I love Ben and I love Val but their whole relationship is a snooze fest. Only time I want to fast forward is when they're on the screen together.

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