Thursday, February 9, 2017


Episode Title: High Ideals

Season 05, Episode 20

Episode 095 of 344

Written by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman

Directed by Robert Becker

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 16th, 1984

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary freezes the assets of Gary Ewing Enterprises and seals the office. When Val is overcome by pain from her pregnancy, her doctor forbids her to accompany Ben to El Salvador. After Abby orders Cathy off the ranch, Gary tells Cathy that she may stay as long as she wishes. When Gary says that he intends to file for divorce, Abby says she doesn't want a divorce. Later, Gary and Cathy consummate their relationship. When Mack resumes his job on the crime commission upon a request from the governor, Sumner becomes suspicious of Mack's intentions.


                Last time, with …So Shall You Reap, we watched Abby’s entire life turn into pure solid human waste.  Now here we are with High Ideals, ready to see how she deals with this turn of events in her life and, of course, ready to find out what’s going on with everybody else on the series, as well.  Why don’t we just start with Abs, shall we?  This week, we get to see once again that Gary wasn’t kidding when he ordered her off the ranch and out of his life.  If Abs thought Gary was just getting a little heated and he would calm down after some time alone, she was sorely mistaken.  This week, Gary is hard at work with getting the divorce proceedings rolling along, and anytime he happens to see Abs, you can actually see the smoke starting to come out of his ears.  See, early on near the start of the ep, Gary returns to Westfork and is not pleased to see Abby’s car parked out front.  He wastes no time in finding her and demanding to know what she’s doing here and why she hasn’t gotten the hell out already.  Well, Abby’s here to visit the kids (Olivia, who is present and accounted for, and Brian, who continues to be absent and constantly off-screen and I doubt any viewers actually care).  Okay, so she’s checking up on her kids, which is reasonable, but she’s still on Westfork property and that is completely unacceptable for Gary, so he orders her to leave.

                Okay, I’m gonna get into some minor spoiler territory, so either bear with me or just skip ahead by a paragraph or two.  In the back of my mind, I’m quite sure that Gary and Abs get back together again, and I don’t think we even have to wait that long to see it.  I’m pretty sure that, by the opening eps of season six, they are a couple again.  The thing that I simply can’t remember at all is how this turn of events occurs.  Remember I was drinking a lot more the first time I watched these (I loved my vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of lime, mmmmm) and also it was several years ago, so I’ve forgotten lots of the details of the series and how events unfold.  But anyway, watching this current juncture of eps, it’s really hard to imagine Gary forgiving Abs, because he is so damn mad, and justifiably so.  He hasn’t cooled down at all from last week; he still wants her off the ranch, he still wants to be divorced from her, and he still can barely even stand to look at her.  When will this change?  And how?  I’m curious to pay strict attention and find out for myself, because right now it’s hard to believe Gary could ever forgive Abs.

                The betrayal Gary has experienced from Abs (and, by extension, also by Laura and Cathy, who were both telling him lies because of Abby’s manipulations) have turned him into a bit of a bitter, cynical man this ep.  See, we get an early scene of him and Cathy walking along the ranch, going up a big hill or something, kinda pacing real fast, and Gary is just so damn mad.  He’s kinda berating Cathy for something she did (something work related) and she’s like, “Boy, you’re in a mood,” or whatever, and at one point she says how Gary’s gonna have to trust her, and Gary has a really great action-movie-hero line in which he declares, “I don’t trust anybody.”  A moment later, Mack stops by for a visit and Gary is super short and grumpy with him, not too terribly helpful at all.  See, Mack wants to look at, like, all the files from Gary Ewing Enterprises that could possibly relate to the Wolfbridge group somehow, and Gary just says how he has all the files locked up and doesn’t want to touch them now.  We also learn that he has frozen all assets, meaning Abs will have no money to throw around at this point in time.  If she wants to present herself as the head of the company and a big shot, it’s gonna be kinda difficult since she has no money and, um, no phone (yeah, we learn that the phone has been disconnected this week and there’s a humorous scene in which Abs meets with the evil St. Claire and has to act like everything’s cool and St. Claire is all sly and like, “Why don’t you call me when your phones are hooked up again?”).

                I wanna talk about Gary and Cathy, by the way, because with High Ideals we’ve reached another one of those blackouts in my memory, an episode I hardly remember watching and one particular development that I had completely forgotten.  Before I got started with this blog and decided to examine, in exquisite and painful detail, all 344 eps of KL, if you had come up to me and asked, “Do Cathy and Gary ever sleep together?” I would have answered, “No.”  In my memory, they came real close to sleeping together on that ranch a few eps back, they didn’t do it, and that was the end of it.  However, shocker of all shockers, the two do indeed shag, and right here in this particular episode, to boot.  How does this come about?

                While Gary is having a hard time forgiving Abs for her betrayal, he’s making peace with both Cathy and Laura (the Laura one is off-screen, much to my disappointment; it’s just that we get a later comment from Abs in which she says, “You forgave Cathy and Laura; why can’t you forgive me?”), and here we see that forgiveness of Cathy in action.  For instance, she’s still allowed to stay at the ranch as both a worker and a friend.  I think the reason Gary is cool with her is because he knows her betrayal was mostly a manipulation of Abby’s.  He know that Cathy’s had a hard life, is not a rich woman, and that whatever money Abs offered her to keep him good and distracted must have been a fortune to this nice, mixed-up young girl.  In case I haven’t mentioned it yet (I probably have, but there are a lot of damn episodes), I’m just so glad that Lisa Hartman is back on the series, and I’m not even bothered by the inherent ridiculous of Ciji being reincarnated a handful of eps later as this completely new character.  Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but somehow it doesn’t seem ridiculous when you’re watching it, you know?  Also, there’s just such a warmth to Lisa as either Ciji or Cathy.  Even if Cathy has had a messed up life, she just seems like a sweet, genuine, nice person, and if I was Gary, I would like having her around, as well.  I also feel like she seems to come out of the real world; she seems like a real person that I would meet in my daily life, even though at the same time she gets to rock the best of the ‘80s fashions.


                Okay, anyway, let’s get to that shag that I had completely forgotten about.  The scene starts out wonderfully with Cathy slipping into Ciji’s alien dress (we last saw her rocking the alien dress back in Homecoming) and putting Ciji’s album onto the old record player.  As a proud owner of Lisa’s Letterock album on vinyl, it definitely made me smile that this record Cathy holds is clearly the exact same record from real life, with a very simple “Ciji” sticker plastered up on the corner to hide Lisa’s real name.  However, when Cathy puts the needle down, we get to hear a song that does not exist on the real-life Letterock album, or indeed on any real life home media, that fabulous cover of Open Arms.  Oh how I wish there was some version of this song I could just listen to in my daily life, because I would argue that Lisa’s cover of it is superior to the actual original Journey version.  Anyway, that’s the song Cathy starts listening to, she’s rocking the alien dress, she’s looking like Ciji, she stands in front of the mirror and admires herself, and I’m wondering what exactly is going on here.

                At first My Beloved Grammy theorized that this was part of Ray’s wicked plan, that he sent her back to the ranch to become Ciji or whatever, to continue to mess with Gary’s mind.  I’m not sure what the exact benefit of this behavior could be, how it would relate to getting any of Gary’s money or whatever, but in any case that’s not what’s actually going on in this scene.  Rather, Cathy has become convinced that Gary only really loves/loved Ciji and that, to get his love, she needs to embrace that and just become Ciji.  However, Gary comes into the room and he’s mad about this, asking her to take off the ridiculous H.R. Giger dress and stop acting like Ciji.  He screams, “I hate Journey covers!” and takes the record off the player and then Cathy starts to say how she thought this is what he wanted, that he wanted Ciji back from the dead.  The music starts to swell as the two get all close together and Gary says no, it’s not that at all, that at first it was about that, but then it turned into him simply wanting Cathy, Cathy just as she is because that’s the person he cares about.  The two start very passionately making out (I think Gary actually gets on top of her and rolls around and stuff) before we cut to a commercial.  When we return from commercial, my mind is absolutely blown because Gary and Cathy are now lying naked in bed together post-shag.  Like I said, absolutely all of this had disappeared from my mind, so I found myself wondering both how I could have forgotten such an important plot detail and also how long this could last.  Again, here’s a minor spoiler alert, but next season we are gonna get Alec Baldwin added to the cast as Joshua and he pretty much immediately serves as Cathy’s romantic interest; so when does this Gary thing end?  It must be either near the end of this season or the very start of the next one.  I just find it shocking that I totally forgot about all this happening but, again, there are 344 episodes and a lot of stuff happens in that big batch of eps, so I guess I can cut myself a break.

                So what’s going on back at the cul-de-sac with Val and Ben?  Well, as we begin the episode, things are still in order for the two of them to head to El Salvador together, and Val is enquiring about all the things that will be different there from over here.  She wants to know if they’ll have plumbing, running water, electricity, stuff like that.  Ben gives a kinda nice speech this week about how he finds it humbling to go to third world countries (I guess this is when we still used that term before we moved on to the allegedly more P.C. term that I think actually sounds way more condescending and snooty, “Developing countries”) and “Get away from the gadgets and gizmos” and sorta see how other people in the world live.  I’m with Ben here; if I had the money and the resources (I have neither and I’m so poor that I ate my shoes this morning), I would like to go to lots of different countries and see how things are, get away from all the stupid technology that has overrun our world and that we really don’t need all that much.  Again, I stress how much my appreciation of Ben is growing; this character could be such a dud, or such a non-character; he could easily just be a repeat of the dreadfully boring Jeff Munson from last season (I can actually hear all of you as you furrow your brows and say, “Jeff who?”), but instead the writers make him a real character.  I believe he has a past back story and I believe that it’s what has lead him to being the person we see before us today.

                There’s one little secret Val’s keeping, however, and that’s the fact that she’s experiencing some mysterious chest pains.  Will she have a miscarriage?  Well, um, no, and I barely even feel that’s a spoiler because I think any KL fan inherently knows what we have coming on the horizons next season, arguably the greatest storyline in the entire fourteen season run of KL, Val’s babies.  Yes, for all KL fans, those two words, “Val’s babies,” are enough to immediately know what is being discussed, what it means, why it’s so amazing and great and brilliant.  However, if I wasn’t convinced before, I am convinced now that My Beloved Grammy either never watched this series or has simply forgotten everything or never made it all the way to the sheer masterpiece that is season six, because she really seems to believe that Val’s going to have a miscarriage.  Kinda trying to wash my brain out and pretend I don’t know what stuff is coming, I could see why someone would predict that’s going to happen.  After all, don’t these ‘80s nighttime soaps just love to introduce a complicated pregnancy and then kill it off before the baby can actually be born?  Indeed, we’ve already seen KL do this to Karen way earlier in the run (you all remember Small Surprises?), so it’s a sensible prediction to make.

                Val tries to keep these chest pains on the D.L., but it gets a little harder to do that when she’s seeing Ben off in his car and then she immediately collapses in the middle of the street.  Both Lilimae and Ben come rushing over to see what is wrong, and Val tries to dismiss it as nothing, just simple pregnancy pains, no big deal, but of course they are concerned and call the doctor over.  I do think it’s worth discussing Val’s age as a character as well as J.V.A’s age in real life, because that’s one aspect of this pregnancy that nobody seems to discuss.  J.V.A. was born in (allegedly) 1943, which would put her at around 40 or 41 at this point; isn’t it generally kinda considered a risky thing for women over 40 to have babies?  Am I being old-fashioned in that question?  Do I not know what I’m talking about?  Also, is the real-life age of J.V.A. reflected in the character of Valene?  We all know that she had baby Lucy when she was real young, about fifteen, and if we were to track Lucy’s age from over on Dallas, I believe she would be around 23 or so, does that sound accurate?  And if that’s the age of Lucy, that would put Valene at around 38, right?  Am I way off in my math?  Somebody help me, please!

                In any case, the lady doctor comes by to see Val (and I took a look at the IMDb of this actress, Nancy Jeris, pictured both above and below, and am pleased to see that she’ll be back as the same doctor character for two more upcoming episodes not too far into the future) and then declares that she can absolutely not go to El Salvador.  Hmmm, I’m not so sure I’d need the doctor to come by and tell me that, but I’m glad she does.  Ben gets straight with the doctor and asks directly if Val is going to have a miscarriage, and the doctor says, “Probably not.”  Okay, so that’s good news, mostly, but that use of the word ‘probably’ is also disconcerting.  Certainly we get the sense that Val needs to relax and take it easy for awhile, or she could be putting her pregnancy at risk.  Thusly, no El Salvador for her, although Ben is still going to have to go. 

                Let’s talk Mack and Karen for a minute, because I fear I’ve been neglecting them.  Karen is now nicely clean and sober for five episodes straight, having finished melting the drugs out of her system back in Reconcilable Differences.  Now she’s back to being the Karen we love: sharp, smart, quick-witted, and always ready for a healthy confrontation.  This week, Mack gets himself a new job, working for the governor this time, and Karen is deeply unsettled by this and fears that he will be reigniting his vendetta against the Wolfbridge group.  We get another fantastic Sid callback in which Karen says, “I already lost one husband because of his ideals, and I’m not gonna lose another one.”  Yes, this is fantastic, for let us not forget that Sid Fairgate’s entire death was predicated on his belief in doing the right thing, in not letting those pesky mobsters escape from justice.  Now here’s Mack, equally obsessed with the idea of justice, that bad people need to pay for their crimes.  Of course Karen is upset; can you imagine if she managed to find a second husband who is equally as amazing as the first (or, I would argue, even better, not to besmirch the fine legacy of Sid) only to have him die because of the same kinds of principles that killed that first husband?  It would be awful, and so I fully understand why Mack chooses to tell a fib and inform Karen that he’s done with Wolfbridge; he’s dropped his investigation.  At first I was like, “Oh, he has?” but then the two hug and we see the look in Mack’s eyes as he has his head over Karen’s shoulder.  He is not telling her the truth and this could lead to some very bad consequences in the near future.

                The last major plot point I wish to discuss for the week involves Olivia running away from Westfork.  Early in the ep, we see her going through the motions of leaving for another routine day of school, but then she hides behind a big bush when the bus comes pulling up.  The bus driver who probably hates his life and wants to kill himself (especially since he’s driving one of those buses that seem to only exist in movies or television shows in which absolutely all the children on the bus are complete monsters fighting and throwing paper airplanes and carrying on like social deviants; I can recall that none of my daily school bus rides were so exciting or action packed), just honks his horn once or twice and then proceeds onwards, and Olivia begins the long walk all the way to Val’s house.

                The thing is, however, that we don’t know she’s going to Val’s house.  Olivia’s walk really takes up a lot of time this ep, as we keep cutting back to her moving through the mean streets of California, walking through shady corners and back alleys and avoiding creepy characters.  At one point, some guy pulls over and offers her a ride and we fear that she might get in, but she tells him no and continues walking.  The fact that it takes her so damn long to reach Val’s house also serves to remind us of how isolated Gary has managed to make himself from all the cul-de-sac shenanigans.  Westfork really is a huge block of land kinda placed into the middle of nowhere, away from the city and the suburbs both.  It’s easy to forget that wide divide at this point, because in my brain I kinda just assume that Westfork and Seaview Circle are right down the street from each other, but it takes Olivia all day to walk from the former to the latter, so we get a reminder that they are quite far apart.

                Okay, so she gets to Val’s and of course Val is glad to see her.  Much like Gary’s special relationship with Olivia, I would say Val has the same thing.  She took an immediate liking to her when they first met at the start of season two, and they still get along famously.  Sometimes I find myself wondering if Olivia would be happier living in a world in which Gary and Val are her parents and Abs just sorta, you know, goes away.  What do you think, my gentle readers?  In any case, Lilimae calls up Abs to tell her where her daughter is, in a fabulously fast and funny scene that made me laugh aloud.  See, we just begin the scene with Lilimae already on the phone to Abs and in the middle of berating her for being a horrible person.  It’s a fantastically nasty speech, with such memorable comments as “Hussies like you don’t deserve to have children.”  I think what makes this scene so funny is that when we cut to shots of Abs on the phone, she’s not even saying anything, just sorta standing there and listening to Lilimae rather expressionlessly.  All in all, very humorous.


                Abs and Gary both show up at the house to get Olivia, which zooms us into our concluding scene and it’s a fantastic one, as I’m obviously getting used to at this point.  At this point in the saga, the chemistry whenever you put Gary and Val onscreen together is absolutely palpable.  There’s no doubt in any viewer's mind that Gary and Val love each other and are meant to be together, and in this instance, she’s lying in her bed on pregnancy bed-arrest, and when she and Gary speak, she just smiles so wide, clearly so happy to see him.  Of course, things turn awkward due to the fact that both Abs and Ben are also in the house at the same time.  When Abs goes to pick up Olivia and her and Gary both leave at the same time, our final image is Val just beaming from the staircase as Gary goes away, staring at him with all the love in her heart clearly plastered onto her face, and then we get a closeup shot of poor Ben, standing off to the side, just staring at that face, recognizing the look of love in Val’s eyes, and realizing that, deep down, he’s never gonna rank in her heart the same way that Gary does.  It’s really a rather sad final image to go out on, and my heart went out to Ben.  The poor guy is so decent and kind and he’s been good to Val all season, but now it’s become clear who Val truly loves and wants, and it’s of course Gary.


                Oh boy, that was an action packed disk, wasn’t it?  As usual for when we power through a solid disk of five eps, I find myself reflecting on how damn much happens in the course of those five eps.  The show has officially become so dense and so rich and so layered that the changes from one episode to the next can often feel very substantial, yet everything still continues to unfold in such an organic way that it never feels rushed, never feels like the writers are just trying to keep the drama flying at us as fast as possible.  We are now 20 episodes deep into a season of 25 altogether, meaning that our next disk shall tidily finish up the season and leave us on a gripping cliffhanger.  I shall return very shortly with the beginning of that disk, the episode entitled No Trumpets, No Drums.


  1. According to the "Valene Ewing" page on Wikipedia (btw...I love that she has her own page), Val married Gary in 1961 when Gary was 17 and Val was 15. That would mean Val was born in 1946 or thereabouts. "High Ideals" aired on February 16th, 1984. So that would make Val 37 or 38 in this episode. Yes, I am a geek about dates and years and math and stuff.

  2. Joan Van Ark looks amazing in these early 80s episodes. Closer to age 30 than her actual 40.

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  4. Yes. I think Olivia feels punked in this episode. When Abs tells her to say goodbye to Gary/Val et. al., she definitely has this look of why did I end up with Abby as my mother and not Val... like, wouldn't it just be easier right in this moment for Abby and Ben to leave the house and have Val and Gary get back together and raise Olivia??? Sigh.

    There's another great jab from Lilimae when Abby arrives to collect Olivia... she says, "Oh Gary's up in Val's bedroom. He's been up there for half an hour." Val, coming down the stairs, has to correct her and says, "No mama, it was only a few minutes." 🤣🤣🤣 Anyway, the scene up in the bedroom was great. Gary showing his step-fatherly love for Olivia really turned Val on, reminding her why she'll always love him.

    Still, the best moment of episode for me was right when Abs arrives at Val's house. Even in her frantic state, she still takes the time to look back on the cul-de-sac, and in particular, her old former, humble home. It's sorta a loss of innocence moment, as if she realizes now she can never return to that simpler time in her life when she was "just a wife and mother." She enjoys the excitement and power associated with her new life so much that she's made terrible choices that have hurt the people in her life she supposedly loves the most. This is underlined later when she watches Olivia hug Val and realizes that Val will always be the "better" wife and mother. Complex layers. Great writing. And wonderful acting. More Knots quality drama.

    1. Abby’s arrival at Val’s is my favourite bit as well!