Episode Title: …So Shall You Reap
Season 05, Episode 19
Episode 094 of 344
Directed by Alexander Singer
Original Airdate: Thursday, February 9th, 1984
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben proposes to Val and says he'll raise the baby as his own. She accepts. Cathy tells Gary that she killed a man in self defense (but she really took the blame for a murder that Ray committed). She says Abby hired her to divert him from her business dealings, but she fell in love with him. Laura tells the MacKenzies about Apolune and Mark St. Claire. Mack barges into Abby's office, but she denies knowing anything. She tells Westmont if Gary finds out and sues her she would win. She can claim he's mentally unstable because he's been trying to re-create Ciji, a dead girl. Greg gives a press conference saying Abby got the variance and re-instates Mack. Gary confronts Abby, who feigns innocence. He loses it and starts trashing the room and screams at her to get out of his life. Abby runs to Greg's, only to find him in bed with Laura. Abby tries to talk to Gary, but he tells her to contact him through his lawyer.
Back when I was still powering through the early years of KL, the season one through three era, even though ongoing soap opera-like storytelling started to mix in with the foundation starting at season two, episodes were still often pretty self-contained and had a story that would begin and grow and end all within the course of the 48 minutes. Looking back, I now realize that season three’s dreadful Silver Shadows truly marked the very end of that type of storytelling, and since the passing of that episode, we’ve been in the midst of an ongoing, continuous saga that you need to watch week-to-week to truly keep up with. My point? Well, back in those days, I knew and expected that eps would have their own sorta self-contained flavor and be distinct from one to the other, and I feared that when we leapt into the glorious season four, the episodes would start to blend together into a big mush of brilliance and I would have a harder time remembering them and writing about that. Happily, however, I am discovering that all the eps still manage to be distinctive and, even as they explore an ongoing, growing storyline, the eps will individually have their own themes and arcs within the 48 minutes.
This leads us straight into the episode up for discussion today, …So Shall You Reap. The title alone gives us a sense of what this story will be about, someone having to deal with the consequences of all their actions, having to reap what they’ve sewn, having to explain their actions. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the character in question is one Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner (I like using that big, epic name of hers sometimes, but I am of course getting a bit ahead of myself, as by this juncture in the series she would be Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing). All season, Abs has been pulling strings, manipulating people, lying to her husband about everything she’s doing the way a certain "President" lies to America about everything he is doing, and generally being wicked in her official transformation into The Female J.R. So, the dominos have been set up very nicely throughout the course of the year, and now we are going to see all of them start to fall down at the same time. Remember the glorious 1981 movie Body Heat, in which William Hurt said to Kathleen Turner, “Sometimes the shit comes down so hard I feel like I should wear a hat?” Well, Abs had better go get herself some fabulous 1984 hat this week, because the shit is about to come down.
Okay, so it’s obviously an Abs-centric episode, but of course everyone in the cast has something to do this week, because basically everybody has been effected by Abby’s behavior in some way or other. We begin the episode with another direct continuation from our last show’s ending, our second ep in a row to do this. Now I realize you could actually fuse an incredible trilogy together if you were clever and knew how to edit out those pesky episode credits that play at the start; you could fuse Second Chances with Lest the Truth Be Known with …So Shall You Reap and have an incredible three hour block of television drama and it would probably play brilliantly. Anyway, we start in the MacKenzie house with Laura continuing to spill the beans to Mack and Karen. She’s finally had enough after all the scary phone harassment of last ep, so now she’s ready to tell it all, and tell all she does. I don’t believe Laura leaves anything out of her confession, for she is officially ready to wash her hands of Abs and all the lying and cheating she’s been a party to since she first went to work at Gary Ewing Enterprises. I want to take a moment to discuss the character of Laura and why, inherently at her core, she is still a good person and I don’t find myself judging her at all for getting involved with Abs. This is the ep where Laura gives her famous “piece of the pie” speech (is it actually famous or is it just famous in my world in which everything I do or say or think about somehow links back to KL?). To explain the piece-of-the-pie speech, it basically takes place when Laura is sitting on Karen’s couch and has finally confessed everything. We get the sense that Laura and Karen are ready to have peace with each other and be friends again. That’s another thing I had clear forgotten about this season, by the way, that nearly the whole season is spent with Karen and Laura, good friends all the way since Pilot, barely speaking or interacting with each other, basically enemies for the year. It’s so good to see them get back into the state that they are meant to be in, much like it’s been refreshing to see Karen climb out of her pill-stupor and transform back into the Karen we know and love.
Oh yeah, the speech. Well, we actually heard Laura give a semblance of this speech to Abs many many eps ago, more near the start of the season (blanking on the title). It boils down to the fact that when Sid died, he left Karen with a thriving business, when Gary and Val split up, Val was just two seconds away from becoming a very successful published author and an independent and self-sustaining woman. Richard left Laura and what did she get? She says how he left her with a failing restaurant that she had to sell and which she saw essentially no profit from, and she concludes with, “I guess I just wanted my piece of the pie. I saw the chance to take it and I did.” Laura’s candor and ability to be frank about her own feelings and actions is part of what I find so endearing about her. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes and we’ve all done things we are ashamed of. Laura has not spent the season as a moustache-twirling villainous intent on screwing over Gary after he handed her a job; rather she just got sorta sucked into Abby’s wicked ways, and I think it also helps that through the season, we have seen how uncomfortable so much of Abby’s behavior has made her (remember when she asked Abs, “Don’t you feel bad about the fact that people are going to lose their homes?”). It’s another key example of that skilled KL writing that Laura can do things that are unethical and against her own friends, but we don’t judge her or hate her for it, because she is a full-fledged character and on this show, nobody is black or white; there are shades of grey in everyone on screen.
Speaking of shades of grey, now would be a good time to catch up with Cathy and her adventures. Early in the ep, we have her riding horses with Gary, and we get a bit of explanation on the man she killed. She says, “He tried to take what I didn’t want to give,” and I think we can all infer the meaning in that little statement, can’t we? I think I may have gone on one of my perhaps controversial rants back when Lilimae ran over Chip about how I didn’t think there was anything particularly wrong with what she did, and I’m gonna make a similarly bold and possibly controversial statement now. I don’t believe it’s wrong to kill a man who is trying to rape a woman. If you’re walking along and you suddenly come upon some woman being viciously sexually assaulted by a man, go ahead and kill the motherfucker, Charles Bronson-style; I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. Don’t wanna get killed? Then don’t rape a woman. Case closed.
My rant is kinda pointless in this instance, however, because I think we viewers all know that this is a lie, that the truth is that Cathy took the fall for someone that her stupid freckled husband, Ray, actually killed. I believe this twist is revealed a little later in the ep, but I was able to call it early on. Oh, and by the way, Ray is still hanging around this episode, being generally evil and unpleasant. See, I think it was in our last episode that Cathy and Ray were getting ready to leave together when Ray turned the car around and sped back to Westfork and made some vague reference to going back to take what they deserve. I’m not sure what he means by this. Steal some of Gary’s valuable stuff? Find his safe and steal the money in there? Work up some sort of blackmail? In any case, that’s the reason Cathy is still hanging around, but we certainly get the sense that she doesn’t want to be a part of whatever wicked plan Ray is hatching.
Val and Ben are now officially back together, and we open on an incredibly cute scene that actually reminds me of a real life story that I’m going to share in a moment. In fact, what the fuck, I’ll share the story now. When my Grampy (rest in peace) and My Beloved Grammy were first going out and living together (this would be the late ‘80s, probably around season ten in the KL chronology, which is the way I try to track everything throughout human history), one day early in the year of 1989 they were sitting at the table, having breakfast, and my Grampy said, “You know what I’d like to do this year?” My Beloved Grammy asked him what would he like to do, and he said, “I’d like to get married. I wanna get married in the summer. I wanna get married outside. I wanna wear a white tux.” It was as casual as that, and My Beloved Grammy agreed to all of his ideas and went off to work, and she says it was only a little later in the day that she was like, “Wait, did he say that?” So she called him up and she asked if he was serious and he said, “Hells yes, I was serious,” (he may not have actually said, “Hells yes,” but I’m adding that part to make it a funnier story), and that was that. They did indeed get married that summer, it was indeed outside, and he did indeed wear a white tux (and then one year later I came into the world).
This scene really reminds me of that story, because Ben is eating a sandwich Val made for him, he takes a bite of it, and then he says, “Marry me.” Val is like, “What?” and Ben says, “This is the best bacon and avocado sandwich I’ve ever eaten,” and says how he must be married to the woman who made it for him. Val is reticent, and I understand her feelings, mostly since Ben has not even been on the show for a full season yet, but also because, as we all know, Gary and Val are true soul mates and Val will always hold that special love for Gary. Even so, everything about Val and Ben is working for me way better upon this viewing, as I keep reiterating, and I’m starting to find their whole relationship so unbelievably cute, and Ben is such a genuinely nice and good person who treats her well, so I also kinda wanna see them get married cuz, you know, they are cute together.
Fuck, this show is so well written. Think of how easily this story could have been completely boring and dumb. Really, what the writers are doing is planting some obstacles to continue and keep Gary and Val apart from each other, so Ben could have easily just been a plot function and not a real character. The fact that I actually do care about both characters and actually do see how Ben would make a great husband just shows that the writers care, too. They’re not gonna just have some guy come in to fill the suit of being Val’s boyfriend/husband for a little while until they’re ready to get Gary and Val together. Instead we have full characters living full lives and we can understand all the different relationships going on in all those lives.
It’s been awhile since I’ve discussed The KL Rapid Cut (and when I say “awhile,” I think that means I haven’t mentioned it since episode two, Community Spirit, just 92 short episodes ago). You’ll recall that this is when someone says something and then we immediately cut to someone else saying a similar thing. Here, we’ve got Karen and Val sitting at a table and discussing marriage while Ben and Mack do the exact same thing at a different table, so you get to see how Val talks over her feelings of whether or not she wants to marry Ben while Ben tells Mack about how he knew proposing to Val was the right thing to do. I remember there being some clever cross-cutting of dialogue here, but unfortunately I forgot to jot any examples down in my notes (too damn gripped by the characters and the dialogue), so I have no examples to give you at this time. Please forgive me. Anyway, Ben officially proposes to Val beyond a simple “Marry me” with a mouthful of sandwich a little bit later in the episode, when he cleverly puts an engagement ring in a shoebox and then is like, “I bought you a new pair of shoes; they’re Air Jordans since I know how much you love to play basketball!” Val opens the shoes, kinda like, “Oh, what a strange gift to get me,” and then she sees the ring and her eyes light up and she accepts his proposal and it’s all very romantic.
Meanwhile, Gary is still continuing his research into exactly what’s been going down with Abs and all that stuff. He knows that she hired Cathy to distract him, but distract him from what? He gets the information from Laura when he finally confronts her at her house and asks her what exactly Abs has been up to. Laura tells him how Abs has been using his money to start Lotus Point, essentially to screw Karen out of her own monetary rights, and how they’ve gotten in bed with Wolfbridge and how they are the ones running people out of their homes to start a big development, even if it means burning old people’s houses to the ground. Gary is horrified by the news and, I would say, disgusted when he finds out why Laura betrayed him. He asks her how much she’s getting from this little business venture and you can just see how ashamed Laura is when she has to say, “5% of Lotus Point.” Gary gets this very stern look on his face and says, “Thanks, I’ve always wondered what friendship was worth.” Then he storms out, and we definitely feel that it won’t be so easy for Laura to repair her relationship with Gary as it was with Karen.
We really see Abs at arguably her most wicked near the middle of the episode when she’s talking with Westmont about how they should handle this situation if Gary decides to up and divorce her. She’s worried about losing her fortune, and so she tells Westmont how she’s gonna spin the story to make it look like Gary is crazy and she had to take over business to compensate. She’ll use the whole Cathy thing as part of her argument, how Gary became obsessed with trying to bring a dead girl back to life in the form of Cathy, and then she really starts aiming low when she brings up the whole alcoholic angle. If worst comes to worst, she can just say that Gary’s a hardcore alcoholic and can’t be trusted with anything. Oh man, this is some of the nastiest and most below-the-belt stuff Abs has ever talked about pulling and it definitely makes it hard for me to do my “Abs really does love Gary” theory, although I do still stick to that belief. These characters are so complex that I often feel like I can’t properly do them justice, really; I’m not a skilled enough thinker or writer to fully examine the deep intricacies of all these characters, of the way Abs can be so hell-bent on taking Gary’s money or throwing him under the bus to serve her needs while still actually loving him in some other part of her being.
Probably the biggest scene of the whole episode comes right near the middle, when Gary finally loses it on Abs. We know this is coming because we see a hint of it in the thirty second preview and it looks exciting, so we’ve been waiting for it. Basically, Gary comes home to find Abs sitting in front of the fire. They make some idle chit chat until Gary asks her, “What is Apolune?” and when Abs feigns no knowledge of the subject, Gary flings everything off the table in front of him and just starts freaking. He says how Abs lies so damn well it’s scary, then he starts grabbing her clothes and everything from out of the closet and shoving them into her luggage, ordering her to get off the ranch. He gets a good little speech about he wants to forget all about her, how he wants to never see her again, and he concludes with, “I want to forget that I ever loved you.” Ouch, man, and I must confess that, despite it all, there’s something about Donna’s fabulous acting that makes me already starting to feel sorry for her, right here in this scene where the shit first starts to come down on her.
Next up, Abs gets a visit from Ray while sitting on the couch of her palace office and trying to figure out where to go from here. Honestly, I can’t remember the exact contents of this scene, what precisely Ray is after or how Abs is going to give it to him, but I do know that I definitely got a rapey vibe from Ray throughout this scene. Okay, so we know that Cathy never killed no guy who was trying to rape her, that really this mysterious murder that she was incarcerated for was actually committed by Ray. Even so, I’m gonna declare that Cathy has been raped, at least once, and that it was by this guy. I just don’t trust him or his over-freckled body. I think whenever he and Cathy first met, he got a little rapey on her and she was either too young or too dumb to recognize it as such or, I dunno, but in any case I’m sticking to my theory. There’s also a lot of vaguely lecherous behavior in this scene as Abs and Ray talk, the way he sorta sniffs around the place and admires all the expensive stuff, or the way he sips the glass of red wine that Abs was enjoying. Abs is dressed in only a night-skirt during this scene, which adds to a certain rapey tension throughout.
Anyway, the next humiliation occurs when Abs decides to pay Greg a visit at this hotel, and guess what, we get another rose-in-the-teeth moment. In this case, Greg answers the door and Abs has the rose in her mouth and says, “Bonjour, baby.” She doesn’t do “bon soire,” but that’s probably because it’s still daytime and Abs knows her French well enough to know the proper words for how to greet someone that you’re hoping to shag. However, there is no shag for Abs in this scene, as Greg at first gets sorta upset, saying how he is a married man working on his political campaign and he can’t have her just randomly showing up at this hotel room whenever she feels like it. He’s all like, “What if Jane were here?” Of course, Jane’s not here, but somebody else is, which Abs finds out very quickly when she opens the door to the bedroom only to find a naked Laura lying in Greg’s bed, awake and alert and giving her a rather sly look that almost says, “What are you gonna do about it?” This is a truly hilarious moment and My Beloved Grammy, who is not an Abs fan at all (she has said, “Abby is the devil,” and whenever Abs comes onscreen to do something wicked, she’ll say, “Ooooh, I just can’t stand her”), actually laughed and clapped at this fantastic revelation, as yet one more facet of Abby’s life begins to crumble down around her. Now she has lost her husband as well as the man she was enjoying shagging on the side; how can things possibly get worse?
Next up, we have a good scene between Gary and Olivia. It’s good to see Olivia again, because I feel like we had a stretch of eps without either her or Brian, and just as you’re starting to wonder where they’ve gone, she’s back to be a part of the story. Brian’s nowhere in sight this week, but I think we can all agree that nobody really cares about him, right? Gary has a good relationship with both, but it’s he and Olivia that truly have that special bond. Anyway, Gary comes upon her sitting in front of the pond, feeding some ducks. They talk about how, when they moved into Westfork, they named all the ducks and how the ducks have grown and gotten bigger and what have you. Olivia expresses her sadness at the idea of losing Gary from her life and the two hug and, in my opinion, it’s this moment that makes you wonder if Gary will go back on what he said to Abs. Yes, he has been betrayed by her and he’s damn mad about it, but he also truly loves these kids and, since he began shagging Abs, he’s been a rather decent father to them, certainly better than he ever was to the poor, so-rarely-mentioned Lucy back on Dallas. In this moment, I wondered if he might decide to stick it out for the kids, especially for his love of Olivia. No such luck, because the next time Abs comes up to the ranch, Gary is very curt and short with her, saying how if she needs to contact him, she can do so through his lawyer. He orders her to get off the ranch and stay off, and we see that even the love and sadness of Olivia was not enough to cool Gary’s hot rage towards Abs.
The final blow for Abs comes in the very last scene, and it’s a real painful one to watch. So far this ep, she has lost her little partner in Laura, who has gone straight and chosen to tell the truth to everyone on the show. She has lost her afternoon delights with Greg, who would now rather shag Laura. She has lost her sexy ranch home at Westfork. She has lost the love and trust of her husband, who now wants to be divorced from her. Finally, she has lost half of her fortune, half of that amazing Gary Ewing inheritance money. The only thing she has left is her children, which is why the final scene is such a blow. See, Abs arrives at Westfork to finish packing and clearing out her things. She’s leaving the ranch, standing on the front porch, luggage in hand, telling Olivia to get a move on, for it’s time for them to go. At this moment, a crying Olivia runs into Gary’s arms and declares that she wants to stay here, living with Gary, that she doesn’t want to go be with her mother. Abs tries to convince her to come along, but Olivia flat refuses.
We get the sense of a true rift forming between the two, and I’m getting some strong hints for the future, for the next couple of seasons we’ve got looming on the horizons, when Olivia gets a little older and her relationship with Abs becomes so volatile. Am I mistaken to say that stuff is all getting started here? I get the feeling that this is not just Olivia being a brat, that it’s not just a case of playing favorites by saying she’d rather stay with Gary. She really loves Gary as a father (especially since we haven’t seen her real father since way back in the start of season three with The Surprise) and now she’s angered and disgusted by her mother who has driven Gary to this breaking point. Finally, Abs accepts what is happening and sorta asks Gary to keep an eye on Olivia and take good care of her and Gary nods and agrees. Our very final image is Abs, completely alone and degraded, having to drive her car off of Westfork with nobody else in the vehicle with her. We follow the car as it begins to drive off the property and into the distance and boom, that’s when we get our “Executive Producer”s credits and the conclusion of a most fabulous 48 minutes of KL.
Pretty damn good, huh? Like I said, this episode has a distinctive theme of Abby’s world turning to shit, but what’s also impressive is how well served everybody else in the cast is; it’s not just a full on Abs-show. All the other stories this week were equally gripping, yet they all seemed to revolve around this central thesis of Abs getting what’s coming to her. The thing I found the very most impressive about this ep, however, was Donna’s fabulous acting, which managed to make me still feel some sympathy for Abs, despite all the wicked things she’s been doing. Now that’s me, of course; when the ep was over, I asked My Beloved Grammy if she felt even the smallest ounce of sympathy for Abs, and she said no. My Beloved Grammy says a wicked woman is one of the worst things in the world, that Abs has been a liar and a traitor for too long and that she’s finally getting what she deserves. While I absolutely agree with that sentiment, because of the way Donna plays her, that true vulnerability that we see coming out in this episode, the fact that I still believe she feels love for Gary deep down in her heart, the fact that everything goes wrong for her at exactly the same time managed to elicit an empathetic response from me. Abs might do evil things, but she still has feelings. That final blow in which her own daughter wants nothing to do with her was really when I felt the most sympathy. I think for all of Abby’s faults, she’s never shown to be a bad or neglectful mother and she does love her children truthfully and genuinely, so you know to be abandoned by Olivia in this way must just hurt so bad.
Overall, a fabulous episode, and of the five eps watched by My Beloved Grammy and I upon our last visit, I’d declare this one my favorite, for having a real running theme going through its core and managing to weave that theme throughout every character and story we see. I also think this ep, of the five on that disk, is probably the best display of the great acting from the entire cast, because not only do we get all the Abs stuff, but also Laura’s great “piece of the pie” speech, which has always stuck with me. Okay, so that about does it for …So Shall You Reap. Let us now move on to High Ideals.