Sunday, April 30, 2017


Episode Title:  Fly Away Home

Season 06, Episode 18

Episode 118 of 344

Written by Neal Bell

Directed by Bill Duke

Original Airdate: Thursday, February 7th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben has a flat tire on the road to Empire Valley. A truck with radio receivers stops to help him. Ben takes one of the receivers and tells Mack that he thinks that Empire Valley is only a cover for something bigger. Mack's men go to pick up Jamison and Woodside, but they're gone. Gary and Parker fight. Val realizes that Parker lied to her, and knows that she is Valene Ewing. She starts to remember Gary, and agrees to go home with him, but thinks that they are still married. At home, she doesn't recognize anyone. Abby tells Gary that Ben needs to take care of Val, and that he has to make a break from her, or they're through. Gary takes Val to the beach and tells her they're not married. She's upset. Abby asks Galveston if Mack will find out about the babies, and Galveston says no, that he will personally tell Gary about his heirs. Later, Abby sneaks into his house and goes through his desk. Galveston comes in and then suddenly has an attack. He asks for his pills, but Abby doesn't help him.

Welcome back.  When we last left off in the closing moments of Lead Me to the Altar, we had a cliffhanger worthy of a season finale with Val/Verna staring at two men who claim to love her, one who is a liar and a user named Parker Winslow and one who is her one true soul mate named Gary Ewing.  We pick up Fly Away Home with a tiny repeat of the last minute from the last show and then we proceed on to new footage in which we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief as Val/Verna comes rushing out of the church along with many confused guests.  I really enjoyed this scene outside of the church that essentially starts our ep.  It serves as a conclusion to a story that’s been going on for a good long while now, that of Val turning into Verna and disappearing to Tennessee, and it also has some small character moments I enjoyed.  First off, Parker finally lets his true colors hang out when he blurts out something like, “I don’t care about how many books she wrote or nothing,” and with that little slip, everyone knows that Parker has been well aware of Val’s true identity for some time now.  After that, we get a quick little fight between him and Gary in which Gary easily takes him down.  This I could have used more of, I will confess.  I know Parker isn’t a super evil moustache-twirling villain or anything like that, but I thought he was a real slime and he was taking advantage of Val and he and his thugs beat up Gary, so overall I do not like this guy and I would have liked to see more than one quick, simple punch take him down. 

However, the last part of the scene I have no complaints about, and that is Ron (pictured below in a photo I found from a different show), the owner of the diner, shaking Gary’s hand and saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t help you before.”  I’m a big believer that a sincere apology can really be a good thing, and this shows that Ron is a good dude who cared about his waitress and now realizes he was doing more harm than good by ignoring Gary.  I like the simple handshake between him and Gary and the way Gary just says, “That’s alright.”  It’s a nice little moment that makes me sad that we’re leaving this town, because I was starting to dig all the characters that inhabit it.  This small moment and the little story we’ve seen developing in the background of Ron becoming suspicious of Parker also demonstrate the amazing ability of KL to have even background or side characters be super interesting.  After all, this character of Ron could have easily been nothing, just a small guest actor who’s in a couple of eps as a diner owner, but somehow the writing and directing and acting all fuse together to make even this character very interesting to watch.

After this, we say goodbye to Shula forever as Gary and Val fly back to California.  I’ve read some fan opinions stating that this Shula story goes on too long, but I don’t agree.  If I’m doing my math right, Val is in Shula for around eight eps (she first steps into town in the closing seconds of episode 111, Distant Locations, and now she’s leaving town at the start of episode 118, so I guess that makes a stretch of around seven eps), and I really liked the way that the long season gives the stories an ability to unfold at a much more genuine pace.  Nothing feels rushed to me because we really gave Val the time and the stretch of eps to disappear into this town and this storyline.  I feel if this was another show (Melrose Place, perhaps?), this entire storyline of Val going crazy and running off to Tennessee would take up all of one and maybe two eps before being unceremoniously wrapped up; with KL and the big 30-episode season, everything is able to unfold at a much more deliberate pace and I like it that way.

The return of Val to California sorta serves as the nucleus story this week, with all the other stories sorta circling around her.  Where to even start?  Well, I thoroughly enjoyed an early scene in which Val returns home to be greeted by her friends and family, including Ben.  The only problem is that she seems to think she and Gary are married, as evidenced during a positively heartbreaking scene early on in which she cuddles up to his leg and says some memories are coming back and says, “We’ve been in love a long time, haven’t we?” only for a very sad-looking Gary to say, “We’ve had some good times.”  Returning home now, she says something like, “It’s gonna take Gary and I a little while to get situated,” demonstrating that she still doesn’t completely remember or understand the state of their relationship at this point.  Poor Ben looks so uncomfortable during this passage and my heart goes out to him.  The poor guy has really been dealing with a shit storm since he first joined the scrolling squares at the start of season five, hasn’t he?  The man just wants to love Val and be a good supporter to her, but it’s very clear that Gary will always be this obstacle, this pink elephant in the room, the man to whom Val’s heart truly belongs.

Fortunately, Ben still appears to be gallivanting around with The Desperate Horny Chick, who we haven’t seen in a good stretch of eps.  In this instance, they are driving around in his sexy red convertible while she has her legs, like, sprawled up on the dashboard all sexually, really having no subtlety or tact whatsoever.  Then the two suffer a blow out and Ben gets very excited about how he can fix a tire in like three minutes or something, but then he pops the trunk and realizes they have a broken tire iron and are, therefore, stranded.  Fortunately, a few minutes later a nice truck pulls up and the two trucker guys help them change the tire while The Desperate Horny Chick spreads her vagina in their faces and tries with all her might to get their attention (and let me tell you, there was real venom in My Beloved Grammy’s voice during this scene when she said, “She is just disgusting”).  Now, after the truckers finish up with the tire, Ben produces some sort of, um, thing that he stole out of the back of the truck.  It’s some sort of high tech science fiction style something or other, I forget what exactly it is, but the fact that the truck was loaded with these things sends Ben’s antenna up.  He mentions how it’s odd for a truck loaded with sci-fi devices to be driving this way because, “This road doesn’t go anywhere.”  However, we do learn that this road is, like, directly part of Empire Valley, so whatever those dudes are doing with those gizmos, presumably it has something to do with Empire Valley and Paul Galveston.

Real fast: I like this development just cuz it’s intriguing and I like big secrets and cover-ups and evil wicked organizations that do bad things, but I also like it cuz I’m happy to see Ben doing something.  Since doing this rewatch and holding a microscope up over every single episode, the character of Ben has skyrocketed in my esteem; suddenly I find myself loving him.  I love the realistic everyman quality he brings to proceedings, I love his dry humor and little sarcastic comments that he’ll make that often sound like they might be improvised and not even coming out of a script, and I love his constant struggle to be good and decent and honest.  I felt our last disk didn’t have enough Ben material; that he was sorta around and he was doing stuff but he wasn’t getting much focus.  Therefore, I’m pleased that his material seems to be increasing on this disk with more focused stories and more involvement in what’s going on, most particularly with the return of Val to the neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, we have the continued relationship dramas of Cathy and Joshua, who are broken up for the time being.  I wouldn’t exactly be in a hurry to get back with son of a preacher man, by the way, because he’s really starting to show what a narrow mind he has.  When Cathy tries to talk to him with some logic about how there’s not just black and white in the world, Joshua responds with, “No, there’s good and there’s evil, and that’s it,” to which she replies, “Singing at Isadora’s doesn’t make me evil.”  Good on her for defending her honor against Joshua’s ridiculous religious logic, but bad on her for still hanging around and hoping for him to love her.  I get that she’s in love and all that, but come on, there are plenty of nice boys in the world who don’t have horrible, annoying, all-consuming religious problems that make them completely un-fun to be around.  Joshua gets to function for the setup to a pretty hilarious moment early in the ep, right after Val has returned home.  She’s getting reacquainted with people at the house, and she’s talking to Joshua and says how she can’t remember him all that well, but she knows he’s her brother, and she says something like, “How did you get here?” and then Ben, looking offscreen, sorta sarcastically says, “God.”  As soon as Joshua hears that, you can see his ears perk up and he glares at Ben and then is like, “You’re absolutely right, Ben, and God brought Val back to us, so I think we should all sit on the floor and give a prayer to God!”  Ben looks pretty reluctant to do this, much as I would be, but nevertheless everyone in the room kneels down and joins hands and does the silent prayer in a scene that I found very humorous and amusing.

However, it’s not all laughs this week, because not too long after that scene, we get one that almost made me cry, but not quite (I haven’t cried since Val in the nursery in We Gather Together).  To provide some context, when Gary returns home to Westfork, Abs is not pleased about what he’s been up to the last few days or weeks or however long he was over in Shula, and she tells him it’s time for him to make a clean break from Val and stay out of her life.  She points out how he comes running to Val every time she calls, how he’ll drop everything in his own life to go help her and be with her, and she says it needs to stop now.  Gary appears to really listen to her, and he’s also probably having some guilt about Ben getting the short end of the stick and the whole “Gary and I need to get situated,” line from Val earlier.  Because of that, he takes Val out for a walk on the beach and uses the opportunity to be straight with her.

Oh, so much to say about this scene.  First off, it takes place at the beach, which we have seen time and time again to be something of a religious place for Val.  Indeed, she starts to go on during this scene about her deep love affair with the ocean, about the first time she saw it, all that stuff.  I do have one micro criticism about this scene, and that is that Val says how the first time she went to the ocean, she specifically went alone.  However, those of us who remember the Pilot should remember that when Val first saw the ocean, she was not alone; she was with Sid Fairgate’s wayward and estranged daughter, Annie.  I don’t know if this counts as a plot flaw, because you could argue that Val is still coming out of her Verna state and slowly starting to remember past events, so maybe she just doesn’t remember Annie, but whatever, it’s a tiny little criticism of a great scene. 

The scene gets really sad when Gary finally tells Val the truth.  He tells her how they used to be married, but they aren’t anymore, that he can’t be hanging around with her all the time.  Rather than a big dramatic performance, Val just makes this kinda sad sound, almost like a squeak, like she has no words to respond, and then she turns her back and goes walking off into the tide for a minute, and it was just a really painful scene to witness.  Again, I marvel at the writers’ ability to keep Gary and Val apart for so long and to keep us wanting so bad to see them back together again.  I’ve never seen another TV couple like this; usually these “Will they or won’t they?” couples leave me bored to tears or you have to deal with a lot of sloppy logic for why they spend the series apart (Ross and Rachel), but in this case, it just works so well.  The fact that Val thought she and Gary were married and now she gets the sad truth also just lends this really painful weight to the scene that made it rather hard to watch; my heart goes out to Val and I just feel so bad for all the pain she’s going through.  Amazing scene with amazing acting by both J.V.A and Shack.

After this, Val continues to act, well, a little nutty.  In this case, she seems to go into a sorta manic cleaning mode to deal with her angry feelings, scrubbing the kitchen floor like a madman until Mack comes in to speak with her.  Right here, we get yet another great scene with some more fabulous acting, as Mack has to sorta be rough but sorta be loving all at the same time.  He says something about, “There are a lot of bad guys in the world, but there are also a lot of good guys, like me or Ben,” or something like that, and I think his words help Val slightly in dealing with her feelings, but you also get the sense that this may be a long road ahead, that Val will not just snap back into being her normal self right away.  Again, I like that deliberate pacing; I don’t want to see Val instantaneously change overnight into the same woman she was before she had her babies taken away; I want to see the steps that lead to her returning to normal. 

The last big important storyline for this week involves Paul Galveston, who continues to hold the threat of the truth about Val’s babies over Abby’s head.  Frustrated at the current state of things, Abs busts into his home office late at night to search desperately for any evidence of her own wrongdoing.  Fortunately, she finds a handy little notebook in Galveston’s desk which has all the incriminating evidence against her.  Perhaps it’s a plot shortcut that all this information is nicely contained in just one notebook and that all Abs has to do is take the notebook, but I’m willing to go with it, especially since the excitement of the scene immediately cranks up to a thousand when Galveston catches her snooping around.  He sits down in his chair and says something about how he’s gonna expose Abs and all that, but then he starts to act sorta funny, mentioning how he has this really bad headache and it doesn’t feel normal.  We can all smell what’s coming, since just an episode or two ago we saw him pull a Father Merrin and pop some sort of pills.  Now, he doesn’t have his pills and Abs is certainly not helping.  When Galveston asks her to call his doctor and have him sent over, Abs gets the fabulous last line of the episode when she says, “Call him yourself, Cookie,” and then she just walks out, leaving Galveston to, well, die, I suppose.  Or is he going to die?  Watching this ep, I had that fabulous experience where I had completely forgotten all these developments and couldn’t honestly remember what would happen in the coming eps.  Watching the scene now, I just assumed Galveston was dying, but as we move forward, we’ll see that perhaps it won’t be all that easy. 

As usual, this was an absolutely fabulous episode of KL directed with style and class by one Bill “Cooke” Duke (and I am very upset to peek at his IMDb and see that he only has a mere two more eps of KL on his resume!).  I found that a lot of the best joys of this ep came not from the big stuff, but from the small stuff, little lines or scenes that I appreciated.  Obviously I already mentioned the hilarious scene with everyone praying to God, but we also had some funny dialogue from Ben when he gets his flat tire, not to mention the great final line from Abs towards Galveston.  I liked that Val does not simply return home and immediately resume normal life, but rather that we see it’s going to take some time to get her back to normal, and I also liked all the good drama flying around, most especially that cliffhanger ending with a possibly dying Paul Galveston.  Last of all, this episode really hits hard on emotions with the scene of Gary and Val at the beach, which honestly makes my heart break a little.  Overall, an exceptionally solid 48 minutes of KL.

Next up, we shall see Val continue her slow process of returning to the Val we all know and love with Rough Edges.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Episode Title:  Lead Me to the Altar

Season 06, Episode 17

Episode 117 of 344

Written by Parke Perine

Directed by Ernest Pintoff

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 31st, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua's ego is getting really big. Joshua tells Cathy she needs to mend her ways and sing in church, not in a bar, and he breaks up with her. Abby's worried that Mack will find out her connection with the babies. Galveston has Jamison and Whiteside sign a confession for Lila Maxwell's murder. A man gets into Mack's car and tells him that he's not aiming high enough in his investigation of Galveston. Gary continues to try and convince Val that she is not Verna. Val makes plans for her wedding, and imagines dancing with Gary in her wedding dress. Gary shows Val her picture on the back of "Nashville Junction." Parker's worried when Val is late for the wedding. She's in her room, staring at her picture on the book cover. Val finally goes to the church. Gary barges in and interrupts the ceremony. Parker wants the Minister to continue, but Gary insists he is going to bring Val home to California.

When we last left off, ominous wedding bells were ringing for Val/Verna as the ultra sleazeball douche bag Parker Winslow had successfully gotten her to agree to marriage.  With our last ep, Out of the Past, Gary flew to Tennessee to try and stir up Val’s/Verna’s old memories, but to little success.  True, he got her to have that quick sense memory of how they first met and experienced love at first sight, but that was very brief and she quickly returned to being Verna.  Now, we begin an episode entitled Lead Me to the Altar, and with a title like that, we should all be feeling deeply uncomfortable about what may be lying in store.

However, as I did last week, I’d like to save the Val/Verna stuff for the end of our discussion and begin by focusing on other characters.  Who to start with?  Oh gee, let's look at my notes here, let’s start with Cathy and Joshua, who’s relationship is on increasingly thinner and thinner ice due to Abby’s manipulations and Joshua’s inflated ego, not to mention his repressed religious issues. Take my advice and just never date a religious person, and most especially never date a preacher’s son, because it’s just gonna be a whole can of worms that you don’t need to deal with.  We’ve seen Joshua have some problems with Cathy singing at Isadora’s in past eps, but it’s starting to become even more of an issue now.  See, Joshua now believes it would be bad for his image if he was dating a woman who, you know, sings in a bar (although he uses the word “saloon,” which I appreciate; definitely helps to emphasize his very old fashioned view of the world).  I appreciate that Cathy doesn’t even consider compromising herself for him, but rather stands up for herself and her right to sing where she wants to sing and do what makes her happy.  At the same time, however, if something like this were happening to me, I would have no patience for it and immediately drop Joshua and go start sleeping with a new person, but Cathy is in love with him and so she’s having a hard time being as cold as I can be.  I can appreciate that, and it also goes back to that rather incredible ability Baldwin has already displayed for changing his personality and performance in a way that’s really rather subtle.  When he first showed up, I thought he was genuinely cute and sweet, all wide eyed and innocent, and I felt sorry for him, but now that we’re starting to see hints of his darkness; he’s starting to become rather frightening, honestly.  Another important Joshua/Cathy thing to note this week is the fact that he does not believe her claim about how Abs hired her in season five.  Abs denies this to Joshua and says, “Why would I want my husband to fall in love with another woman?”  Later, Joshua tells Cathy that Abs would never lie to him, that he trusts her, and he accuses Cathy of being the one who’s lying.  These are some harsh words and so, quite understandably, the two break up for the time being.

I might actually have a criticism right here, but note that it’s a very small one.  I love KL and I love season six of KL best of the entire series and so far, not only is it just as good as I remembered from first viewing, but it’s actually even better and I’m just sitting in awe that a 30-episode season of television can possibly be this amazing, but no art is completely flawless, so I do have one little micro-complaint here, and that is that I’d like to see Cathy doing a bit more, getting more of her own material.  It actually feels somewhat like she can only exist if she is firmly attached to some male character, and now that I think about it, the same thing was true of Lisa’s first character on the show, Ciji.  Ciji was most firmly attached to the wicked Chip Roberts (although of course her character and her death had a significant ripple effect that ran down through pretty much everybody in the cast, which is a main reason why that storyline was so damn strong).  After Ciji came back from the dead in the form of Cathy, she was firmly attached to Gary and the question of whether or not they would sleep together was a continuous thing throughout season five.  Then, Gary cut it off with her and two seconds later Joshua moved into the neighborhood and now she’s firmly attached to him.  What would it be like if Cathy was completely free of a boyfriend?  What if we just got stories about her, you know, sorta doing stuff?  I think one of the reasons I’m only just bringing this up is because usually the show will throw in some absolutely fantastic cover song for Lisa to sing and I’ll get so distracted and amazed by it that I won’t notice if her character is kinda not really doing too much aside from singing and fighting with Joshua. 

Let’s shift our focus over to a storyline that I remember not following very well but which I believe I’m finding much easier to understand now, that of Paul Galveston and the Tidal Basin murders and all that fun stuff.  We can tell that Galveston is getting rather nervous about Mack poking around and asking questions regarding the murders, so now he’s sorta overcompensating and being way too agreeable and helpful to Mack, but it’s all in the interest of covering his own ass, and in my opinion he doesn’t do it very well.  At some point (it’s either in this episode or the one right before it), he is speaking with Mack and he gets very serious and says, “If you find out that anyone in my organization is responsible for these murders, you come to me first so I can take care of it,” or something like that, and even though he tries to sound really angry and “Murder is bad” and all that, we can tell that Mack’s not buying it, cuz he just sorta glares at Galveston during this whole speech.  Next up, Galveston meets with two of his lackies, including the non Scott Easton ‘80s Rapist Beard.  Yes, at this point I’m fairly sure that Easton took a skydive without a parachute out of that plane and we won’t be seeing him anymore, so this ‘80s Rapist Beard (Jamison) is the only one we need to focus on for the time being.  Anyway, Galveston, Jamison, and some other guy ( says his name is Whiteside) meet up for lunch and Galveston gives them something to sign and they’re like “What am I signing?” and he’s like, “You just signed confessions to the murder of Lila Maxwell," and honestly the two guys seem to take this pretty well in stride.  If my boss took me out to lunch and then abruptly made me confess to a murder, I’d be a bit more perturbed than these two, but perhaps such things as this were covered way back when they signed their contracts.  Indeed, Galveston is all calm and is like, “Now now, boys, you know that this might happen when you started working for me.”  A second later, we see Galveston pop a couple of pills like Father Merrin in The Exorcist and a little red flag goes up in our brains; could Galveston possibly die?

When Galveston shows up at Mack’s office with two signed confessions, Mack’s still not buying it, and good for him.  Do you see what I mean about Galveston being too helpful?  Doesn’t it seem strange that he would hear Mack’s investigating these murders and then immediately show up with two signed confessions from some of his staff?  I’m kinda surprised that Galveston thinks this will work, since he’s clearly just using Whiteside and ‘80s Rapist Beard to serve as a distraction from the real bad guy, who is presumably Galveston himself.  It’s also worth noting that Mack doesn’t say he doesn’t believe him; he sorta takes the confessions and says thanks and is quiet but we can tell he’s finding this all a little bit suspicious, himself.

I’m looking through my notes here, and let’s shine a quick spotlight on Greg.  We have one of the most earth shattering events in Greg Sumner History with this ep, and I am talking, of course, about his very first cigar.  Whenever I think of Sumner, I think of him smoking a big cigar; it seems like this inseparable part of his character, and yet we haven’t seen him smoke a cigar all through season five and now more than half of season six.  This week, however, he and Laura are kinda unwinding for the night, sitting around in their robes and getting ready for bed, and he’s enjoying a nice big cigar while relaxing in a chair (taking me back to a better time in American history when a man could enjoy a big cigar in an enclosed environment without a bunch of people wanting to have him murdered).  I have been meaning to attempt to count all of Sumner’s cigars as we move through the series, but I had almost forgotten about that goal since it had been some time and we still hadn’t seen him smoke one, but here it is, his very first, so let’s go ahead and start up the Sumner Cigar Counter with Cigar #1.  Ooooh, this is all very exciting.

Aside from Sumner Cigar #1, we also have a fabulous line delivered impeccably by Devane that I really really hope was improvised.  As I’ve said before, I’ve read that Devane improvised a ton of his dialogue, and I like trying to spot it, if I can.  Sometimes it’s just a feeling I get, sometimes it’s a long speech he’ll go on and that feels very natural and spur-of-the-moment, sometimes it’s a funny little extra bit that isn’t strictly necessary to the plot but just adds a little life, and sometimes it’s just a funny little line or joke.  In this case, we have a scene of Paul Galveston barging in on Greg and Laura and angrily demanding to know, “What the hell are you doing with Mack MacKenzie?”  Without missing a beat, Sumner dryly replies, “We’ve having an affair.”  Oh boy, did I laugh at that line, as did My Beloved Grammy.  You tell me, my dear readers, does that sound like something that was written in the original script, or does it strike you as something Devane would improvise and make up on the spur-of-the-moment?

Honestly, that about does it for our other characters this week.  This episode is very heavily focused on Gary and Val/Verna; looking through my notes it’s clear that the majority of the action this week is in Shula as Val prepared for her nuptials.  As I mentioned before, I have some logical problems with this development, most specifically the fact that I’m pretty sure getting married is a smidge more complicated than just showing up at a church and saying, “Hi, I’m ready to get married.”  Pretty sure you need to, you know, prove who you are and where you come from, provide a valid I.D. and social security number, stuff like that.  This week, Parker just sorta shows up while Val/Verna is working and is like, “I got us our marriage license!”  No questions are asked about how he got a marriage license for a woman who isn’t who she says she is and who has no actual proof that she is Verna Ellers.  In any case, it’s just not that big of a deal, and it’s certainly not something I was focusing on upon first viewing; I was just way too enraptured with the drama and nervous about what was going to happen to Val/Verna.

Okay, I might have one more little logical flaw in this particular ep, and this time it lies with Gary being the only person in Shula who knows what’s going on and is trying to rescue Val/Verna.  We get some scenes here and there throughout the ep of other characters being like, “I’d better get to Tennessee and see if I can help” and then usually Abs shuts them down for one reason or another.  We actually open the ep with Ben and Joshua saying they’re gonna go there and Abs gives them some line about how Gary has the situation well in hand and doesn’t need outside help.  However, I just kinda don’t believe that a character like Ben, especially, wouldn’t just ignore Abs and go off to do his thing.  The same goes for Lilimae, as well.  When she hears where Val is, she gets very excited and wants to go right away, and then I think Karen or someone says how Val’s not herself and it’s best that just Gary is there.  The problem, of course, is that nobody in Shula is believing anything Gary’s saying and, since he’s the only outsider trying to let the truth be known, he comes across as crazy.  If he had shown up with Ben and Lilimae and Karen to be his support and affirm what he is saying, he wouldn’t look so nutty, but instead he’s going solo and it’s proving to be a bit of an uphill battle.  Again, it’s a little plot flaw that I’m willing to overlook since the drama is this good. 

Gary is persistent and pretty smart with his methods of jogging Val’s memories.  First off, he starts with the simple method of sending her flowers and a “Good luck on your marriage” note.  This might seem odd, but really it’s not, cuz he’s serving to remind her of his own existence and of her previous life with him and the two marriages they had (I’m referring to their nuptials in the Dallas ep Return Engagements as their second marriage, but did they ever actually get an official divorce in all those years between the early ‘60s and 1979?  Maybe in reality Gary and Val have only been married once).  The flowers scene is nice because they arrive at the diner and Parker tries to grab them real fast and is like, “Oh, I’ll go put them in water,” clearly not wanting Val to see the note, since she’s assuming they came from Parker himself.  Then she reads the note and sees they’re from Gary and Parker looks rather dejected.  Later he and his two goons show up at Gary’s hotel room and he smashes the flowers against the wall and is like, “We don’t want these!”  This scene interests me because as Parker is being threatening to Gary his two goons are sorta going through the room, looking around, clearly on the prowl for something, but what?  I assume they’re just looking around for either something to damn Gary with or something that proves Gary’s telling the truth, but whatever it is, they don’t find it and end up leaving empty handed.

Next up is a scene that I had forgotten existed, and I don’t know how the hell that could be, because it’s sublime.  It’s the night before the wedding and Val/Verna is all dressed up in her wedding gown, sorta hanging around her cute little apartment and admiring herself in the mirror.  Then, in a very ghostly little appearance, Gary just sorta shows up in the mirror.  She’s looking at herself and then suddenly Gary is there, standing behind her.  This could come off as creepy but instead it comes off as unbelievably romantic, and it only gets more romantic when this really cool and strange music kicks in (it sounds like music coming directly out of a little music box on a nightstand or something) and Gary and Val/Verna start to dance around the room.  She’s in her wedding dress, he’s in his tux, the music is beautiful, the scene is very dreamlike and strange, but not creepy, just loving, and it’s a good long scene that really lets you disappear into the moment, and then it’s very rudely interrupted by asshole Parker, who just sorta comes walking in and sees Val/Verna in her dress, which we all know is bad luck.  Val/Verna gets real upset and yells at Parker and is like, “You knew I’d be in my dress tonight and you know it’s bad luck to see me and you came over anyway,” and she basically shoves him out and slams the door in his face, not hiding her anger one bit.  Of course, I think we all know the real reason she’s upset is not because of a superstitious belief in the groom seeing the bride before the wedding, but rather that she was having this transcendent dream dance sequence with her true soul mate, Gary, and Parker ruined it.  How did I forget about this scene?  It’s totally trippy and cinematic and romantic all at once, and it so aptly demonstrates the cool arty things KL will do regularly that parent series Dallas would never have even bothered to attempt, and I’m willing to bet the other ‘80s nighttime soaps wouldn’t attempt either.  Plus, it’s just beautiful.  The more I watch, the more sure I am that Gary and Val are my favorite TV couple of all time.  During this long, long period in which the two are split up, I just want them to be together so badly; my heart melts during romantic scenes such as this.  It actually makes me believe in the idea of true love and soul mates.

Gary’s last effort to help Val/Verna see the light is also one of his first uses of anything real or practical to try and snap her out of her stupor.  In this case, he brings a nice hardcover of Nashville Junction (I don’t know if they’ve put it out in paperback quite yet) with a great black and white photo of Val/Verna on the back.  He shows her the cover and says, “Look at this, it’s you.”  Even still, Val/Verna continues to resist, only paying the photo the very briefest of glances before mumbling something about how, “That doesn’t mean anything.”  Gary gets a bit aggressive and grabs her and looks her firmly in the eyes and says, “You look at me and you tell me that you’re getting married this afternoon.”  Then there’s a bit of a dramatic pause and Val/Verna says, “I’m getting married this afternoon.”

Before that, however, we get to see Val/Verna hanging around her apartment all alone in her wedding dress, a private moment in which she looks at the photo and, I think, kinda sorta starts to want to accept the truth.  Again, I think her brain is all confused; if she decides to accept the fact of her identity and her long history with Gary, that would also mean having to accept the other horrible things that have happened to her, with of course the most horrible thing being the loss of her babies.  I think it makes sense that her mind would continue to try and block this information out.  As she sits around, we also keep crosscutting to the gatherers at the church, getting nervous about her absence.  I want to give a quick shout out to a character I’ve sorta neglected, Ron Merriwether, the boss down at the diner.  This is a small character who I really warmed up to during the course of Val’s/Verna’s stay in Shula.  In the last ep, he wasn’t very helpful to Gary at all, but now through small details we are starting to see him having a change of opinion.  I noted the way he looks at Parker while they’re at the church, waiting to see if the bride will show up, and I also noted some little snarky things he says to Parker here and there; I get the feeling that he’s starting to smell a rat with this whole operation, starting to think maybe Gary is right and Parker is perhaps holding in some sort of secret.

In any case, the suspense lasts for awhile and then Val/Verna does indeed show up, quite a bit late but looking nice in her wedding dress.  She stands up with Parker in front of the preacher guy and then Gary comes bursting in and tries to stop what’s going on.  Actually, he does the cool thing I’ve always wanted to do and waits for the guy to say, “If anyone should have any objection Bob Loblaw,” and that’s when he says how Verna is not Verna, she is Val, and she belongs in California, and so on and so forth.  I’ve always wondered about that little “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” thing.  Do they really say that thinking anybody will stand up and object, or is it just a formality that you do as part of the wedding tradition?  I’ve been to lots of weddings (and they’ve usually been boring and I generally get drunk because I hate weddings) and I’ve never seen anyone object, but there’s always hope. 

KL knows how to milk suspense and how to keep us coming back for more, so they do the smart thing here and simply end on Gary pleading with Val/Verna and her looking at him, having to make a decision, and then a freeze frame on her confused face, not sure what to do.  Happily for My Beloved Grammy and I, we just took a small pause to make some popcorn and then we immediately jumped into the next ep, but oh man, imagine being in 1985 and seeing this for the first time and having to wait seven long days to find out what Val/Verna will decide.  Oh boy, talk about your agonizing suspense. 

With season six, I almost feel like I could just copy and paste my final thoughts on the eps for every single one, since it basically just boils down to me saying, “Well, that was clearly brilliant.”  Lead Me to the Altar was clearly brilliant, as well, but why?  Well, I think there’s a real sense of importance and urgency to this ep, a feeling that Gary must rescue Val/Verna and he must do it now, before it’s too late.  I felt legit excited watching this even though, in the back of my mind, I could remember how things were gonna turn out.  Also, the ep has Sumner’s first cigar (OMIGOD!) and of course the fabulous little dance dream sequence between Gary and Val/Verna that is simply the personification of true love captured forever on film, a moment to make even the blackest of hearts lighten a little bit.  Finally, it ended on  a fabulous cliffhanger and it would be actually literally impossible for a person to watch this ep and not tune in for the next ep.  So yeah, overall super solid.

Next up we shall see if Val/Verna decides to escape from Shula with Gary or if she’s gonna stick around for a shitty marriage to a shitty man named Parker.  The title kinda gives away what’s gonna happen, but in any case, coming up next is Fly Away Home.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Episode Title:  Out of the Past

Season 06, Episode 16

Episode 116 of 344

Written by Neal Bell

Directed by Bill Duke

Original Airdate: Thursday, January 24th, 1985

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Abby decides to lengthen Joshua's segment. She threatens Cathy not to date Joshua anymore, or she will tell him about her affair with Gary and that she murdered someone. Mack can't get a Judge to grant him a warrant for Galveston Industries, so Greg gets Mack the warrant he needs. Karen unwittingly gives Galveston information on the investigation. Gary goes to Val's diner, and recalls how he met her in a diner by helping her out when it was really busy. He tries to talk to Val, who doesn't recognize him and thinks he's crazy. Parker and his friends beat Gary up and tell him to get out of town. Val's confused as to why two people have thought she was Val Ewing. Gary goes back to the diner and helps Val like he did when they first met. For just an instant she recognizes him and says "Gary," but then, confused, runs out, and Gary follows. She insists she's Verna and has never seen him before. She tells Parker she wants to get married right away.

                Oh thank heavens we are back.  It might be hard for my amazing and loving and devoted readers to get a sense of how timing works out for My Beloved Grammy and I to watch KL eps since I try to put up my essays like clockwork at the same time every week.  In real time, however, the gap between our last disk of eps and this particular disk of eps (spanning Out of the Past through The Emperor’s Clothes) was quite possibly the longest ever since we first started doing our KL nights.  It took over a month for us to get back together, and let me tell you that it was agonizing.  My hands began to shake, I started to wake up in cold sweats, screaming the names of Gary and Val, and my life became a barren, empty wasteland of misery in which all I could think about was one day returning to my friends on the cul-de-sac.  Happily enough, just as I was putting a pistol in my mouth and preparing to pull the trigger, My Beloved Grammy called me up randomly out of the blue and asked if I’d like to come over that exact night for another batch of eps, so I of course immediately rushed over, speeding my car and running all the red lights and mowing down a few innocent people in my mad dash to get back into the magical, intoxicating world of KL.  I only bring this up in order to point out that we may have lost a smidge of forward momentum when it comes to all the storylines going on, but KL is obviously so good that as soon as we got started again, we were able to remember everything that was going on and slip right back into things.  So anyway, let’s go ahead and talk about the first ep on that disk, which is Out of the Past.

As I think I’ve been saying incessantly, my favorite storyline going on at this exact juncture is that of Val/Verna and her adventures in Shula, Tennessee.  That story takes up a good majority of the time this week, but I’d like to start with some of the other characters and what they’re up to and then finish by talking about Val/Verna, so why don’t we go ahead and begin by catching up with Joshua and Cathy.  What’s going on with them this week?  Well, we are beginning to see an unfortunate metamorphosis in Joshua’s personality, no doubt accelerated by his quick rise to fame over at Pacific World Whatever along with Abby’s gentle manipulations.  Joshua was introduced onto the series in the second episode of the season, Calculated Risks, and he was gentle and quiet and wide eyed and innocent, but already that Joshua is starting to seem like some distant memory.  Now that he’s got that popular segment preaching on Reverend Kathryn’s show, the power is starting to get to his head and it’s negatively affecting his relationship with Cathy.  Indeed, we already saw a little storyline that I think I neglected to mention when it was going on (sorry about that) in which Cathy was gonna go off on tour with her band and Joshua said they would have to break up if she did so. 

Well, this week Joshua is giving one of his sermons on the show, but he sorta cuts it in half and makes it a much brisker affair, which Abs doesn’t like.  Honestly, I think I wouldn’t like that either, since I’m fairly certain when you’re dealing with time slots and commercials and all of that, if someone suddenly decides to take something that’s supposed to take up, say, ten minutes, and cuts it down to just five, doesn’t that fuck up your whole day?  Now you need to go to commercial five minutes early or move the next program up by five minutes or whatever, right?  In any case, Abs speaks to Joshua about it and he says something about how he just wanted to be brisk, but then Abs starts to give this speech about how, when you get some power, there will be people in your life who want to take that power away, or something like that.  Clearly she’s talking about Cathy, although it takes a minute for her to finally just say that, at which point she tells Joshua, “Don’t let Cathy ruin your career.”  Honestly, I’m having a smidge of trouble understanding exactly why this is a concern to Abs; does this simply lie in the base fact that she doesn’t like Cathy?  Most of the time, her manipulations seem to have some motivation which is easy to track, but in this case it sorta seems like she’s just rocking the boat for the sake of rocking the boat.  Am I missing something here?

In any case, this leads to a nice little one-on-one between Abs and Cathy at Lotus Point in which Abs tells her to stay away from Joshua and Cathy gets a nice line of, “Have you ever loved anyone?”  On paper that might not read, or it might even sound corny, but the way Lisa delivers that line makes it pretty funny, and I like that Cathy is not deterred by Abby’s threats here and is able to dish it out equally well, because when Abs threatens to tell Joshua that Cathy did time for murder and that she was fooling around with Gary while he was married, Cathy just points out that she could tell Joshua it was Abs who hired her to distract Gary in the first place.  It doesn’t take long for Cathy to do just that.  She’s having a chat with Joshua when he brings up what Abs said to him back at Pacific World Whatever, how maybe he needs to cut Cathy out of his life.  At this point, Cathy tells Joshua about her season five shenanigans, before he was on the show.  Joshua doesn’t appear to believe her, or at the very least he’s a bit confused, asking why Abs would purposefully hire another woman for her husband to fall in love with.  Clearly this relationship is on dangerously thin ice since Joshua basically refuses to believe anything Cathy, the woman who loves him, is saying to him. 

Meanwhile, Mack is still deeply committed to his investigation of the Tidal Basin murders, a storyline that I’m really beginning to follow along with and understand much better than during my first trip through the KL experience.  In this ep, Mack is trying to get a warrant to investigate Galveston Industries.  I kinda forgot the exact details of what the warrant is for, but I think it’s just to investigate the entire company, generally, to be allowed to snoop around and find some incriminating evidence.  However, the judge tells Mack he doesn’t have enough evidence in the first place to warrant getting a, um, warrant, so he turns him down.  Mack is upset, but then help arrives in the form of a certain Mr. Gregory Sumner, who shows up at Mack’s and Karen’s to inform them that they now have their warrant; he pulled some strings and used his powers and voila.  Karen is a bit suspicious about what his interest in all this is, why he’s being so helpful, and Sumner is like, “Hey, you wanted your warrant, you got your warrant.”

There’s also a quick scene this week between Paul Galveston and Karen that I probably should have paid a bit more attention to, only because I’m having a little bit of trouble understanding the exact contents of the scene.  Basically Karen goes to pay him a visit and he’s sipping on a gigantic snifter of brandy (which he always seems to be drinking; brandy must be Galveston’s drink of choice just like J.R.’s was a bourbon and branch) and she says something about how Mack is doing an investigation into the Tidal Basin murders.  Honestly, I couldn’t figure out if Karen was being threatening to Galveston in that sorta nice way, where you smile and are chit chatty but you are also saying, “Watch out,” or if she was really just making polite conversation and she sorta let this information slip out.  In any case, Galveston’s ears seem to perk up at this and I take it to mean that, prior to this, he didn’t recognize how serious Mack’s investigations were, but now he sees that he’s gonna have to start doing something clever to distract Mack.

Honestly, that’s about it for the non-Val/Verna stuff this week, which is interesting to note.  Generally, even if an episode is focusing pretty heavily on one character, there’s still a ton going on with the rest of the cast, but in this ep, they’re not given as much to do since we focus so heavily on the Shula adventures.  To be clear, I ain’t complaining; Val/Verna has been in Tennessee for five eps now, and this remains my favorite story going on right now and the one that I remember most from the season.  I’m sure I’ve said this already, but I love how Val/Verna essentially seems to wander off into another series for a good chunk of eps, and whenever we cut away to her we get to be part of this other series about the lives of a bunch of friendly folks in a small town in Tennessee.  Because of the gloriously huge episode count of the season, it really gives us time to live and breathe with her in Shula rather than just having her drop by for an episode or two.  Nope, instead we really get the sense that she is comfortably established here and that, if Abs hadn’t figured out where she was and told Gary about it, she could probably stay living here forever.  However, even though Val/Verna is popular amongst the town folks and is a good waitress and gets along with her boss and has a nice apartment, things aren’t all completely sunny, since we’ve got a snake in the grass known as Parker Winslow.  You’ll all recall that in our last ep, Parker did a bit of research at the library and discovered who Val/Verna really is.  After that, he proposed marriage to her and she accepted, which brings us to where we are now, with the two eagerly planning their wedding ceremony.  Now, real fast I do wanna talk about Parker’s motivations.  Parker is obviously a sleaze, but I also get the feeling that he’s not entirely motivated by greed in this instance.  He was dating Val/Verna before he found out she was a famous author and he did seem to genuinely like her.  Still, it was about two seconds after he found that “L.A. Author Val Ewing Missing” newspaper that he went and proposed to her, so I’m assuming that he thinks marrying her will somehow get him a slice of her money, but I just wanna point out that I don’t believe that’s the reason he started up with her in the first place.  I’m not saying this as a defense to the character, who I think is slime, but just merely an observation.

Fortunately, Gary is on the scene pretty quickly as we start this ep to try and rescue Val/Verna.  Unfortunately, he has a little recreation of the memorable scene between Abs and Val/Verna from our last show.  In similar style, he comes walking into the diner and sees Val/Verna working like a busy bee, and when she gets to his table there’s no glint of recognition in her eyes or nothing like that.  Instead, she just takes his order and asks if he’d like some coffee and when Gary says how he believes they know each other, she tells him that’s not so, but get this, she also says something about how, “I’d remember a face as handsome as yours,” which I totally loved.  Even in the depths of this bizarre amnesia thing she’s got going on, somewhere deep down inside, within the very core of her soul, Val/Verna is still inherently immediately attracted to Gary even though she doesn’t remember him.  By the way, I would be absolutely remiss in my duty if I neglected to mention what happens right before Gary walks into the diner.  See, he comes pulling up in the parking lot and then we go into a scene which I’ve never forgotten, and that is a glorious flashback to the first time Gary and Val ever met.  This has been a major part of their past history ever since their very, very first appearances way back on Dallas with Reunion: Part One, when Val told Lucy the story of how she saw Gary for the first time and, “He was just about the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.”  Oh God, yes, and how I’ve been waiting for the day to come when we would finally get to see this first meeting acted out right before our very eyes, and now that day has arrived. 

In the flashback, we see a young Gary come walking into whatever diner it was that fifteen year old Valene was working in.  She’s overworked, the diner is a madhouse, there’s a thousand things going on at once, too many people to keep track of, and her boss is giving her a hard time.  She has her back turned to Gary and is sorta yelling at her boss while holding two plates, but then Gary comes up behind her and gently takes the two plates out of her hands.  She spins around, their eyes lock, my thighs melt, and we witness what true love at first sight really looks like.  From there, Gary starts to go to work helping her out with her tables and then we return to 1985 and leave that flashback behind, but don’t forget about it, cuz it’s gonna be pretty darned important for a scene later in the ep.

I love the flashback for a multitude of reasons.  First off, I love physically seeing this first meeting that we have heard about as a part of Gary and Val’s core histories since day one.  I feel like the fact that we are allowed to take a minute and go back in time also adds a feeling of scope and grandeur to the series, really emphasizing the feeling that these characters are real and that their pasts are real, as well.  Also, I think it’s just, you know, cool.  I think other shows might be content with just telling us about Gary and Val’s first meeting and then leaving it at that, but actually seeing it is so much richer.  Finally, it really helps to demonstrate the theme of this episode that’s right there in the title, Out of the Past.  In this case, we are seeing something from Gary and Val’s past, and it’s going to be important to see how that past event can affect events within the present day.  However, just to show that I’m not a complete groveling sycophant for the show, I do have one small flaw, and that would be the casting of young Gary.  Young Val is pretty okay; I can buy that she’s a young J.V.A. (and she’s also a Transmorpher since she appeared during The Dark Years of Dallas as some boring girlfriend of Bobby’s or something), but young Gary doesn’t look much like Shack to me at all, and My Beloved Grammy agreed.  This guy’s name is Andrew Fielder and this is his only credit ever.  This forces me to wonder if he was actually a real actor or if he was just some friend of someone who worked on KL.  Perhaps some Lorimar suit was like, “Can you throw my kid into one of your eps?  He really wants to be on TV!”  Anyway, I have no idea who he is and no way of knowing where he came from or where he’s gone, but my little micro-criticism of this scene is that he just doesn’t look much like a young Gary.  Aside from that, however, the scene is gold.

Val/Verna doesn’t remember Gary and doesn’t understand why he’s hanging around and bothering her.  To the other observers in this little drama, it looks like Gary is kinda a weirdo for showing up to bother the nice waitress and claim that they used to be married.  Also, Gary tries to get the boss at the diner to believe him, but he’s not really having any of it, and the doctor he talks to says that Val/Verna seems perfectly fine and happy and he can’t force some sort of psychiatric evaluation on her on the word of one stranger in town.  Now, you all know I love this storyline and think it’s amazing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point out some logic holes.  All the best works of art have their little flaws, and KL is no exception.  The main flaw here is that I don’t know that Val/Verna has any form of I.D. or a social security number or nothing to even prove who she is.  I could buy that she’d show up at a little diner and ask for work and the boss would hire her without seeing a social security; I’m willing to believe that he might be paying her under the table for her services.  However, now wedding bells are in the air and I’m pretty sure people can’t just show up to get married without having proof of who they are and where they came from and that they are, in fact, who they say they are.  So in this case, I’m wondering why nobody is like, “Say, let’s just ask Verna for a picture I.D. to prove who she really is.”  If that happened, wouldn’t Gary be able to prove he’s telling the truth?  Also, Gary really didn’t come too prepared, did he?  He found out Val was here and he just sorta rushed over, but now he’s finding it hard to get anyone to believe him as he goes around claiming that he used to be married to her for years and that they have a daughter in Texas.  Why didn’t he grab a quick copy of one of her books to show to people and say, “Look, there’s a picture of her with the name ‘Val Ewing’ underneath it.”  Why not bring some pictures of him and her together?  Why not bring some reinforcements in the forms of, say, Lilimae or Karen, people who can back up his claim and confirm that Verna is really Val?  So yeah, there are certain aspects of this storyline that are becoming a little hard to swallow, but I’m still swallowing it fine because it simply tastes so damn good.

Later, we start to see some wheels turning in Val’s/Verna’s head during a scene in which Parker is giving her a foot massage.  Seriously, ick, I’m just not a foot guy and it feels like, for this one scene, Quentin Tarantino suddenly stepped in as guest director and brought his little foot fetish along with him, because not only does Parker massage her feet, but as they discuss their wedding, he even kisses her feet.  Oh barf, I am gonna tell you right here and now that, no matter how deeply in love I might be with someone, I would never ever ever kiss their fucking feet.  But anyway, I’m focusing on a small detail of the scene instead of the big stuff, and that is the fact that Val/Verna is sorta talking out loud to herself and she’s like, “Isn’t it funny that that man called me ‘Valene’ and that’s what that pretty lady called me?”  She’s obviously referring to Abby’s little visit to town last episode (“Boy, you’re sure pretty”), and she then ends the scene with the little question, “Who on earth is Val Ewing?”  Just to prove that Parker is a complete sleaze and a worthless piece of crap (“A piece of crap!  I find him extremely ugly!  He emits a foul and unpleasant odor!  I loathe him!”), he and his two goons pay Gary a little visit with a bunch of big, like, wooden oars or something.  Oh God, did I hate this, and what cowardice it is to watch three guys beat up one guy.  Gary still manages to get a few good swings in, but it’s just not a fair fight and he gets beat up a bit with those big oars and then Parker kneels down next to him and grabs him by the shirt collar and says, “Hands off my fiancĂ©!”  Oh boy, things just aren’t going too well in Gary’s world lately, are they?

The best scene of the ep comes right near the end, in which Gary pays Val/Verna another visit at the diner and finds her in a very similar situation as she was the very first time he saw her.  As before, the diner is a madhouse and people are screaming at her and her boss is getting sassy.  The scene is pretty much exactly the same, and at this point My Beloved Grammy said, “He should come up behind her and take the plates like he did before,” and that is of course what happens.  When Gary takes the plates out of her hands, she spins around and they lock eyes and Bill “Cooke” Duke kicks in with some of his trademark brilliance and visual flair as we get these little subliminal flash cuts to the young Gary and Val again.  The music swells, Val’s/Verna’s eyes get kinda big, and then she whispers, “Gary,” and we see that, for this one moment, she is remembering.  My heart is beating and pounding as if I’ve been doing hours and hours of serious cardio and not just sitting on my ass drinking beer and watching TV, but then the moment shifts when she goes storming out of the diner, returning to her claim that she’s never seen Gary before.  Gary follows after her and says how, for a moment there, she was remembering, but she refuses to acknowledge it and asks him to leave her alone.  I find it easy to understand Val’s/Verna’s mental anguish in this instance.  Somewhere, buried deep down inside of her very soul, she can remember everything about her real life and her true soul mate, but if she allows her mind to remember Gary, that means having to allow her mind to remember all the other details, all the horrible things that have happened to her, the babies that she had and lost, and I think if that happens, she just won’t be able to handle it.  So it’s sorta an all-or-nothing thing, and the reason her mind snaps back into Verna mode so quickly is because she’s not ready to take on all those other memories yet; it would just be too painful.  Thusly, our final scene of the ep is Val/Verna returning to meet up with Parker and declaring that they need to get married right away.

So that was Out of the Past and obviously it was great, but of course I’m a broken record lately because every fucking episode of this season is great.  I didn’t think about it until I looked it up, but this actually our first Duke episode of the season and I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy his eps and the style he brings.  I may have neglected to mention those sorts of directorial details in my writeup, but I noticed lots of cool mirror shots in this one, people speaking to each other while sitting in front of mirrors, for instance, and also those cool shots where someone is sitting in the background and a prominent figure looms in the foreground, like an early shot of Sumner sitting in an office while some guy stands in front of him and holds a file folder.  I also liked the use of dissolves that take us from 1985 back to the past when Gary was seventeen and Val was fifteen.  Duke always comes through like a champion and I’m deeply saddened to note that we only have three more episodes from him in our future.  If this ep has a flaw, it’s just some of those logical holes I brought up, but I love the series so much and this season so much and this storyline so much that it’s not too hard for me to just sorta go along with it. 

Next up, we’ll see if Parker Winslow successfully manages to trap Val/Verna into a marriage as we explore Lead Me to the Altar.