Episode Title: Truth and Consequences
Season 06, Episode 06
Episode 106 of 344
Written by Joyce Keener
Directed by Robert Becker
Original Airdate: Thursday, November 15th, 1984
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val asks Mack to be her birthing coach and Gary tells her he wishes she would have asked him. Val and Gary try to get Karen and Mack back together, but Abby's worried that Val will tell Gary about the babies. Abby asks Scott Easton if the babies can be Gary's heirs and complains about them, but says there's nothing she can do about it. Easton replies, "You never know..." Abby hires Joshua to work at the cable station. Gary tries to use reverse psychology on Karen and tells her to divorce Mack, but to his surprise, Karen agrees and goes to see a divorce lawyer. Cathy has a romantic dinner with Joshua. Ben gives Mack a tape about Gary Loader, who was in prison with Tom Jessick. Greg wins his election to become Senator. Afterwards, Jane tells him that she wants a divorce.
KL is so fucking good that every time My Beloved Grammy and I gather to watch another disk, it’s like this ascension into Heaven in which the show is so unbelievably incredibly divine that it almost makes the prior eps look not as good. Yes, it is indeed true that we got together again and did another disk, this one encompassing this ep right up here and up for discussion now, Truth and Consequences, well through Message in a Bottle, five glorious eps that seemed to get better and better as we went along, and I think I may have to conclude that this was our best disk up to this point. Let’s dive right in and start talking about it.
Truth and Consequences starts out in a way we haven’t seen since way back at the start of season four, with that “Lorimar Presents” logo and then the cheesy narrator saying, “In Knots Landing,” followed by a little recap of the big events from the start of the season. I kinda liked starting with this since it was the first ep of our visit and it was nice to get a little reminder of what went down last time along with listening to that cheesy narrator’s voice (does anyone know the actual name of the guy who would do these narrations?). I do wanna note that I’m not entirely sure if this is the way the ep originally aired in 1984 or if it’s some sort of syndication package re-edit, but I have the feeling it’s true to original broadcast. I think this is just a way of keeping people up to date or helping possible new viewers who might be tuning in.
After that recap, we of course get the glorious scrolling squares and then we begin the episode by actually replaying the last minute of our prior ep, Ipso Facto, starting with Abs wandering into Ben’s office and grabbing that disk and all that stuff. We get to see her reading Ben’s letter to Val with the big revelation of the true father of the twins. From there, we move on to new footage, namely Abs talking to Gary, who expresses some confusion about the way Ben has abandoned Val during her pregnancy even though he is the father (the “father,” is how I should probably write that out). There’s a rather funny little moment where he’s like, “If those were my babies, I could never walk out on her,” and then he just sorta casually strolls off and leaves Abs alone with her eyes all big, clearly horrified at these two events that have just occurred almost simultaneously.
Speaking of Ben, we catch up with him having a picnic with The Desperate Horny Chick from the last ep or two. Okay, I’m just gonna go ahead and admit something here so maybe my dear readers can understand why I keep referring to her as “The Desperate Horny Chick” and have not yet provided a character name or an actress name, the reason being that I don’t know either. I was convinced this character’s name was Kelly, and I was fairly certain I heard that name twice in this ep in reference to her. However, there’s nobody on the IMDb page credited for a character named Kelly, but there is a lady named Lisa Brady who is credited for playing “Cherie” and I feel like this might be the person, and this person has 12 total KL eps that stretch up to The Longest Day in 1985, so it seems most likely, but I’m not entirely sure, and I’m also noticing lately that the IMDb cast pages are often inaccurate or list people who weren’t in eps or leave out people who were.
You know what, who cares? This character sucks, and both myself and My Beloved Grammy agreed on this. Basically, she’s this forgettable looking chick with black hair who follows Ben around constantly even though he’s clearly just not that into her. She first popped up about two eps back coming into his office and spreading her legs open in front of him while he looked bored and annoyed and thought about how much he missed Val. This week, they’ve somehow ended up at this picnic together, which is also located in a very odd spot, namely on the middle of a rocky looking cliff overlooking the ocean with the violent and noisy waves coming in. Not sure if I could enjoy a picnic in such a scenario, probably afraid that I might slip and fall to my violent death at any moment. Anyway, as we are going to see with most of the scenes with Ben and The Desperate Horny Chick, she mostly tries to snuggle up to him and get real close and act cute while he is just kinda disinterested, but I suppose it is his own fault for slightly leading her on. After all, who arranged this picnic? If he’s not into her, why would he agree to have a picnic with her? Anyway, I’m clearly very annoyed by this character, but I don’t think this is really a flaw of the writing or even the actress, whoever she may be; I think it’s just her inherent desperation that rubs me the wrong way.
Meanwhile, the big election is finally just two days away, the election Greg Sumner has been pretty much working towards since we first met him at the start of season five. Appropriately, Greg decides that 48 hours before the election is the perfect time to disappear off the face of the earth and leave everyone real worried about him, including visiting wife Anne Frank (Jane). I like how Greg has something of a lost weekend (even if it’s only one night) that we are not all that privy to. He just kinda vanishes and through most of the ep people are trying to figure out where he is, though he does briefly crash a lovely little dinner get-together between new romantics Joshua and Cathy. Oh yeah, let me expand on that a little bit. Laura goes out of town this week to some sort of real estate thing (she drops some line that implies she’s considering getting back into real estate, which pleased me as it showed the writers doing a good job of remembering their characters’ past histories), leaving Cathy in charge of the house and, presumably, the two sons we hardly ever see anymore, including Jason 3 who, thanks to all that morphing throughout the last five years, kinda appears to never be getting any older. Cathy asks Laura if it’d be okay for her to have Joshua over for dinner and Laura says sure. We get a little hint of this dinner and can see that certain aspects of it are making Joshua uncomfortable, such as the music. He makes some quiet comment about “the dance music” and it reminds us that, being raised with lots of good old fashioned religious shame, he’s probably never even danced before in his life. Before any dancing occurs, though, there’s a knock at the door and what appears to be slightly inebriated Greg shows up, wanting to know where Laura is. Greg looks like he’s drunk here, but I’d say not too drunk, not Gary-in-season-four-WE’RE-RUINING-LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES-drunk, but nicely on his way to that level of drunk. When he finds out Laura’s out of town, he says something weird and funny like, “Bye bye,” and then just walks off.
What has Greg been up to? Why’s he behaving this way? I like the mystery, that all we see is him coming to Laura’s house, not how he spends the rest of the night before and after. My personal opinion is that all the recent stresses in his life have just got him all mixed up, so he disappears to some bar like all red blooded American men used to do to solve their problems, and then probably after getting somewhat sloshed at a bar, he decided to take a nice drive (since it’s still 1984 and I don’t think anyone really gives a crap about drinking and driving quite yet) and go see Laura. Perhaps he’s just looking for a good old fashioned shag, but I don’t believe so; I think he probably wants to talk to her about whatever’s on his mind, whatever he feels he can’t really speak about with his mostly-estranged wife. Speaking of which, Jane is stressing over the missing Greg and pays Mack a visit at The Plant House (remember Mack is still staying there with Ben at this point) to talk it over. There’s still some lingering romantic tension from last week when they kissed in the car, but nothing more really comes of it, and I’m fine with it that way. I always say how much I like that the KL writers don’t do things purely for the sake of the drama; they don’t just throw affairs into the mix to spice things up the way they did over on Dallas, but instead keep it making sense for the characters. In this case, yeah, Jane and Mack kissed, but so what? It’s not a really big deal and we get to move on from it fairly quickly.
I’m also fine with it because I desperately want to see Mack and Karen back together and definitely did not remember them staying apart for so long. Gary and Val have the same feelings and so this week we get to see them sort of team up in a way that’s very cute and endearing in an effort to get Mack and Karen back together again. Their plan? By encouraging Karen to proceed with a divorce with Mack, she will of course realize that this isn’t what she really wants, that she loves Mack, and they’ll get back together. Val mentions how she’s gonna have the hard task of “having to talk bad about Mack,” and I’m with her that that would be hard. What would one even say? Aside from the Wolfbridge stuff that was so contentious between him and Karen at the end of last season, he’s just so damn decent and good and noble and I love him so much. If I was tasked with making him sound bad for Karen, I probably wouldn’t have much to say except, “I think he wears a rug.” The plan instantly backfires, by the way, because a rushing-towards-death Karen immediately agrees that she should divorce Mack as soon as Gary suggests it to her, prompting Gary to now get the big wide eyes and the “oh, shit” look on his face that Abs was sporting just a little bit earlier in this ep.
This little game that Gary and Val are playing only adds fuel to the fire that is Abby’s panic, because now suddenly everywhere she looks, there are Gary and Val hanging out together and looking awful chummy. Early in the ep, Val drives Joshua up to Lotus Point to see about him getting a job as a ranch hand on Westfork. As soon as Abs hears this, she’s like, “Oh no, ranch handing isn’t for you; you should become a get-the-coffee-boy at Pacific World Whatever.” This is mostly setting up the story point that Joshua will be working at the news station for awhile, but it’s also important that Gary and Val are hanging out together. Now that Abs knows Val is harboring Gary’s growing babies in her stomach, you can’t blame her for getting paranoid when she sees how chummy and happy the two look together, but I appreciate the fact that it’s a misunderstanding, that Gary and Val aren’t actually having an affair or talking about getting back together or anything like that; they’re just trying to get their friends back together again.
The central thread running through this ep is that looming election, which moves ever closer with each passing minute. Greg returns to his hotel room in the morning to find Jane sipping coffee and stressing over him. She asks him where he disappeared to and he’s kinda dismissive and is like, “I needed to disappear for awhile, so I did; what’s the big deal?” Later he gets a little more intimate in talking with her when he says something like, “I killed a man and that’s a hard thing to process.” The whole killing-a-man-thing is very politically risky for Greg, and at one point in the ep some assistant of his says, “You’re lucky the election’s in two days; if it was two weeks, you wouldn’t have a chance.” I guess he has a point. With two weeks, people would have time to poke holes in Greg’s boat story or just chew a bit more on the fact that they are electing a man who potentially shot another man in cold blood (I am biting my tongue really hard to not make any jokes about what's going on in our current horrible world with a current horrible, horrible, horrible sexual predator of a man).
By the closing minutes of the ep, it’s pretty clear that Greg’s got this, that he’s the winner and he’s going to go to Washington to be on the senate and all that good shit. He stands up and gives a big political speech in which he says how all three networks have him as the winner (reminding me that we are still two years away from Fox even existing; we are still comfortably in the era of CBS/ABC/NBC and that’s pretty much it). The band plays For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, probably because it’s a public domain song, Greg wraps up his speech by saying how he wants everyone in the world of all colors to join together as one unity of humanity or something, and then from there he returns to his hotel room only for Jane to squeeze out a big fat wet fart right into his face. Actually, maybe that’s not fair. See, as soon as he gets back to his hotel, he’s all exited and like, “Washington, D.C., can you believe it?” and says something like, “I’ve been waiting twenty years for this.” Jane looks less than thrilled and pretty much declares right away that she’s ready for a divorce. She says how she promised herself she would support Greg all the way through this political race until he made it to Washington, and now that he has accomplished that, she “doesn’t want to watch him fall apart.” Greg handles the news a little immaturely because when she says how she’ll leave tomorrow, he says, “Why wait?” and grabs the phone and tells them to send for Mrs. Sumner’s bags and that she’ll be leaving in ten minutes.
As I have repeatedly said, the magic of KL is in the way all the characters are so fully realized and complex, even the guest characters who really aren’t that important in the great big picture. In the grand scheme of things, Jane is an incredibly minor character, and the writers could have easily had this character be a void that just exists to be Sumner’s wife or whatever, but she still feels like a real person and she is still played sensitively and well by Anne Frank. Also, as I always always always say, I understand both people. Greg is having probably one of the best days of his life, finally reaching that senate seat he’s been working two decades for, and then Jane just shits on it a few minutes later and kills his good mood, so that’s kinda crummy. However, Jane is also right that Greg’s behavior as of late has been rather odd, and of course it’s quite obvious the two have been estranged for some time and really don’t have much of a relationship at all. Jane is smart enough to know that, in the world of politics, the political candidate generally needs to present himself as Mr. Happy Family Man with a smiling wife and children, so she was good and decent enough to at least wait until Greg won the election before divorcing him. Anyway, this is pretty much the last we’ll be seeing of Jane, although we do get a surprise appearance in 1990 with Out of Control (I’m just taking a guess here based on my memory, but I’m pretty sure that’s the episode where Greg gets drunk and, like, starts to have visions of all the different people from throughout his life talking to him). For now, Jane is going away and even though I’m not gonna reflect back on all 344 eps of KL and be like, “Oh yes, Jane was such a dynamic character,” I did like her and I liked the way she was portrayed.
Let’s jump to the very last scene of the ep, which is actually very ominous and creepy. I think I forgot to mention it last time, but on our last disk Abs hired this new attorney dude or something (I’m not entirely clear on his job title) named Scott Easton, a creepy looking white guy with a big ‘80s Rapist Beard. He and Abs have gotten a bit cozy pretty fast, and earlier in this ep she opens up to him with the truth about Val’s babies, asking what kind of things might happen moneywise if Gary were to discover that the babies were his, if the babies could wind up getting a good chunk of Gary’s fortune or whatever. At the end of this ep, Abs and Easton are standing around the political rally as everyone’s popping open the champagne, and, regarding the topic of the soon-to-arrive babies, she says something about how, “There’s nothing I can do about it,” only for Easton to make a cryptic comment, “You never know,” and then walk away, leaving Abs looking confused and upset for her freeze frame ending (I’m noticing more freeze-frame endings lately, something that I feel has become rather infrequent post season two).
Boy, what a creepy ending, and My Beloved Grammy immediately got rather upset and was convinced this Easton fellow was gonna kill the babies or something like that. If I haven’t mentioned it, My Beloved Grammy has spent Val’s entire pregnancy convinced that the babies are going to die, and that’s not an unfair assumption to make. I’ve talked before about how the nighttime soaps liked to get the characters pregnant, stir up some drama, and then eliminate the pregnancy from the equation before the birth so they didn’t have to deal with child labor laws and babies running around and all that stuff. I think we had something ridiculous like seven dead fetuses on Dallas (I remember I counted them during our last viewing of the series, but now I’ve forgotten the exact number I landed on), so I can see why she’s going that way. I almost wanted to reassure her that things weren’t going to get that dark, because I think she thought maybe Easton was gonna come at Val with a baseball bat or a wire hanger or something, and I wanted to make sure and tell her it wouldn’t get quite that upsetting, but I held my tongue to let the drama unfold naturally.
So that was Truth and Consequences. Clearly it was good, but I am going to say it was the least engaging ep on the disk we watched. This isn’t really a criticism of the ep so much as a demonstration of how amazing this disk/season is and how the eps seem to ascend upwards in quality as you move along. I will be slightly critical by saying that I’m not sure Robert Becker, helming his fourth directorial effort for KL, is quite up there with the big guys like Nicholas Sgarro, Bill “Green Beret” Duke, and of course Larry Elikann, but he still has plenty of eps left to improve. This is a micro criticism by the way, basically just me observing that I don’t see as many cinematic flourishes and arty touches in Becker’s eps as I do in other people’s eps, but it’s hardly some damning condemnation of this ep, which was overall quite excellent.
In addition to beginning in a different way with that cheesy narrator recap, this ep also ends in a way we haven’t seen in a long time, with a “Next on KL” thirty second preview that shows us a little hint of what’s in store for our next ep. I could take or leave this because as soon as you jump into the next ep, you immediately see the same preview again, but whatever, the preview is for our next episode, Love to Take You Home, so I suggest we move right along and discuss that.