Episode Title: A Man of Good Will
Season 06, Episode 24
Episode 124 of 344
Directed by Linda Day
Original Airdate: Thursday, March 28th, 1985
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Joshua bullies Cathy over wedding plans, and Cathy doesn't show up for the rehearsal. Ben tells Karen to stop feeding Val's fantasy that the twins could be alive, and Mack takes Karen's side and says that maybe they are alive. Nurse Wilson calls Ackerman and tells him to keep Karen away from her. Greg and Gary argue over environmental concerns for Empire Valley. Greg changes Gary's credit report, and a lot of Gary's investors back out. Greg offers to buy Gary out. Laura finds out what Greg did and threatens to tell Gary. A lawyer calls Gary and says that Galveston left him all the land in Empire Valley. The boys want to sell Knots Landing Motors, but Karen won't as it was Sid's dream for them. They tell her it's Sid's dream but not theirs, and they don't like working there. Karen and Eric go to Sid's grave, and Karen says Sid just wanted him to be happy, so she'll hire a new manager.
Ah yes, it’s time to discuss A Man of Good Will and I have a lot to say about it right off the bat. First off, I’d like to point out that this is our very first KL ep written by the husband and wife writing team of Lynn Marie Latham and Bernard Lechowick, and they are essentially going to become the showrunners for seasons eight through twelve, spanning 1986 to 1991. Now, I’m gonna go ahead and do a bit of a retcon on some comments I made way near the start of this blog (I think back in the third episode of the series, Let Me Count the Ways). Way back when, I talked about how I split the series up into certain eras and I said that the Latham/Lechowick era was my favorite of the series. However, now that I’ve re-experienced the sheer joy and brilliance and perfection of the Peter Dunne era of seasons four, five, and six (well, most of six, anyway; we’ve still got a few eps to go and I actually believe he had stepped away from the show by this point), I’m almost certain that this is going to turn out to be my favorite portion of the series. These three years have just been sooooooooo good and I get the feeling that, upon a second watching, seasons eight through twelve won’t hold up quite as well as I may have remembered. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not gonnna thoroughly enjoy the shit out of them; I’m fairly confident that I will; it’s just that I doubt they will be able to completely match the utter genius of seasons four through six. But the fact that these two people are going to have such a strong influence on the show just a few years down the line made me play close attention to this, their very first KL script, and I must say they make an impressive debut here.
We left off last ep with Nurse Wilson trying to call Karen and then getting nervous and hanging up and tearing up the little card that Karen gave her. We pretty much pick up seconds later here, or at least that’s the impression I got, as we open on her making a phonecall to the evil Dr. Ackerman. Basically, the phone call consists of Nurse Wilson telling Ackerman that Karen is snooping around and making her nervous and she wants him to keep her away from her, that she feels awful about what happened. This combined with seeing the Fisher twins back in A Piece of the Pie pretty much officially confirms to us viewers that yes, Val’s babies are alive and yes, they were stolen away from her by Dr. Ackerman. The season finale inches ever closer.
Meanwhile, the wedding bells are still sounding for Joshua and Cathy, although one gets the feeling that it won’t be a terribly joyous occasion, as Joshua has already taken the liberty of vetoing the sexy and awesome dress Cathy wanted and replacing it with a super ugly and old fashioned thing that would be right at home on Little House on the Prairie. The other dress is lovely and sexy and shows off Cathy’s beautiful figure, so of course that’s not acceptable for the wife-to-be of a big religious televangelist. This Puritan-looking outfit that completely covers almost all of her body is much more acceptable, and I almost expected Joshua to bust out a burka and be like, “Here, Cathy, this really completes the ensemble!” Fortunately Cathy is toughening up a bit, and she does not put up with this one bit when she sees this ugly old thing, and she even calls it out for the ugly monstrosity that it is and says she hates it and she’s not wearing it. Again, you go, girl!
In my notes I wrote, “I like that Val is the one giving Cathy advice on this stuff,” and it’s absolutely true. Honestly, I’m a little surprised that none of the other ladies are speaking up on Cathy’s behalf, because Joshua is being pretty blatantly disrespectful to her right now and way more than a smidge controlling. It really seems like a situation in which spitfire Karen would speak up and be super direct to Joshua and tell him to stop being such a controlling asshole, but I suppose I can buy that Karen is a little busy with other matters and too distracted to speak up. The one that I’m having a hard time justifying is Lilimae, who is really allowing Joshua to get away with way too much. I guess you could say that Lilimae is afraid of losing Joshua since he only recently entered her life after so much time away and they have managed to patch up their past issues and get closer. Perhaps she’s afraid that if she starts to tell him how to behave, she might alienate him and lose him again, this time forever. However, I still think Lilimae is allowing him to get away with far too much by not speaking up and putting him in his place.
Cathy winds up taking her stand by not showing up to the rehearsal, a rehearsal that also includes Reverend Kathryn. This really interested me, and it makes me think I should take back that assumption I made earlier that Kathryn had gotten canned from his job at Pacific World Whatever by Abs. The fact that he’s hanging around and helping Joshua with his wedding plans tells me that they are still on fairly good terms, and I feel like they wouldn’t be if he had been booted out the door after something like 25 years working at the station. Of course, perhaps he was booted out and he is just that tolerant and awesome that he’s still able to work on wedding plans with the guy who got him fired. I’m not entirely sure at this point, but I’ll pay attention to see if Reverend Kathryn is still shown working at Pacific World Whatever in the next eps of the season. In any case, Cathy doesn’t show up for the rehearsal and I think that sends a pretty clear message that she’s not happy with the state of things right now.
Oh yes, lastly and most importantly as far as Cathy is concerned this week, we also get a fabulous cover song from her, this time of the Pat Benatar classic We Belong. This was a big surprise to me as I was fairly confident that this song didn’t show up until somewhere in season seven, but here it is now. I’m gonna make a prediction now and say that, of the four glorious seasons that Lisa Hartman is a part of KL, season six has to be the one with the most singing from her, even more than season four which was almost an advertisement for her Letterock album (a brilliant advertisement, of course). Seriously, at this point I can’t even remember how many songs she’s given us throughout this year, from I Can Dream About You to Time After Time to Beat of a Heart to Jehovah and now to We Belong. As I always seem to say when it comes to Lisa’s fabulous covers, I greatly prefer her version of this song to Pat Benatar’s even though Benatar’s is obviously much more iconic. It’s just the sound of her voice, what can I say? Also, I first heard this song here, in this episode, and I didn’t know if it was a cover song or, if it was, who she was covering, so I just sorta thought of it as a Lisa song for a good while until I discovered the original on the radio one day.
Meanwhile, all sorts of exciting conspiracy shit is heating up over in Greg’s part of town, as he gets more heavily involved in this bizarre Empire Valley project. In this ep, he has this amazing techy nerd assistant guy who is, of course, not listed on the IMDb episode page. I really wish he was listed because I really recognized this guy and I have no idea why (I get the distinct feeling that he was in a Seinfeld episode). The guy’s look is perfect, by the way, and aptly demonstrates that the nerdy computer tech stereotype has really not changed much at all in the last thirty years. He’s a white guy, he’s overweight, he’s kinda balding yet still has this long hair that is very unbecoming, he has a big pair of square glasses on, and you just know he’s seen all 79 episodes of Star Trek numerous times (although Next Gen is still two years in the future, but you also just know this guy is gonna get real excited when that starts up and immediately begin having violent debates with his friends about Kirk versus Picard). Anyway, this little character is just yet another example of how everyone in the KL universe, even the most minor people who only show up to provide some exposition, are still interesting and distinctive and feel like real people.
The computer nerd basically shows Greg that, with this fancy, modern, amazing 1985 computer, he has the power to completely fuck over anyone he wants. It all feels very James Bond-esque (but then this whole Empire Valley saga feels rather James Bond-esque to me, and I of course mean that in a good way), and it also calls back to a time when people were starting to use computers, but they still seemed like this weird, scary, science-fiction type thing. First, the nerd demonstrates by typing in Gary Ewing’s name and then immediately getting a big list of information about him and his life and his finances and how he got a huge deal of money after his father died. Then he reveals to Greg that this amazing 1985 computer actually has the ability to completely destroy Gary’s financial stability by fucking up his credit rating, and then Greg is like, “Hey, let’s do it.”
Why does Greg do this? This is perhaps the most “evil” thing we’ve seen him do up to this point (and I put the word in quotation marks because there is just something about Greg and the way Devane plays him that, no matter what he might do, he never ever seems truly evil), and as I sit here reflecting on the ep, I can’t entirely remember the chain of events that lead to this happening. Essentially, it has something to do with how Greg wants to do something or other at Empire Valley and it doesn’t jibe with Gary’s plans and his environmental concerns (Gary is very modern and ahead-of-his-time for being so concerned with the environment; he’s into it about twenty years before it became super trendy) and they have a bit of an argument about it. Sorry to be so vague, but I honestly can’t remember exactly what they fight about, but I do believe this fight is the impetus for Greg to change Gary’s credit score. It doesn’t take long before Gary is alerted to this phenomenon by his banker, and we also get a nice little shout out to J.R. over in Texas when the banker asks, “Has J.R. been up to something with those oil leases?” I’m noting pretty much all direct references to Dallas and the characters over there right now because, at this point, we only have one more season in which the two shows officially exist in the same universe, and then of course Bobby comes back from the dead in 1986 and everything is fucked up beyond repair; after that the two shows pretty much sever ties and I don’t think we ever even hear the names of J.R. and Bobby or any of those folks after we pass season seven of KL, although I shall certainly keep my ears open. But anyway, Gary confirms that, to his knowledge, J.R. hasn’t been doing anything with the oil leases, and then the banker tells Gary how his credit score is plummeting rapidly and he has no idea why.
We get a superbly cute scene between Greg and Laura a little later that made me beam with pleasure. Fuck, this couple is so cute; how did I not notice it upon first viewing? Make no mistake, I loved both characters and I enjoyed seeing them interact, but I don’t remember my heart melting and a big old smile taking over my face every time they were onscreen together, and that’s what’s happening with me now. Why are they so freaking cute? I think it’s just the natural, sparkling chemistry, and I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I get the feeling that Devane’s improvisations and the strange style of humor that he brings to proceedings was legitimately charming Constance and I think that shows in scenes like this. See, in this instance, he is talking to her about how he could have the power to fuck up Gary’s money and assets and all that stuff, although he drapes it in a sorta “I could do this stuff if I wanted to, but I’m not gonna” rhetoric. When Laura says how she wouldn’t support anything that hurts Gary, Greg makes her laugh by talking about how he could fuck up Abby’s credit score, too, and then we get a shot that I love which is actually going to make it into the scrolling squares next season. In it, Greg is holding a cigar (this makes #3 on the Sumner Cigar Counter, by the way) and then he puts the cigar in his mouth for a second and sorta waves his hand cheerfully in front of Laura and then we cut to Laura’s face as she smiles and sorta laughs over it. This is gonna play when we get to Constance’s credit during the season seven opening, and I always would smile when I saw it, and now I know officially what episode it’s coming from.
A little later on, through some circumstances that I can’t entirely remember (again, I’m sorry), Laura finds out what’s really going on, that Greg is using his new power to fuck Gary, not Abby, and she says how she doesn’t approve of it and she’s going to tell Gary about it. This creates a bit of a back-and-forth between the two regarding the ethics of what’s going down, and it actually leads us to our final scene of the ep, in which Laura drives up to Westfork with the intention of telling Gary the truth. However, just as she’s about to spill the beans, Gary gets a phone call with the rather shocking news that when Galveston died, he left all of Empire Valley to him. Essentially, it no longer matters what Gary’s credit score is because he is the full owner of this gigantic property/secret James Bond conspiracy setting. It’s a rather happy and joyous note for the ep to go out on, and I always enjoy seeing eps that end on really happy notes, and this is a good example of that.
However, we’re not entirely done talking about the ep yet, as we’ve still got Karen to discuss. She’s still continuing her pursuit of the truth of Val’s babies, and we do get some dialogue this week between her and Mack in which he states how he’s starting to really believe she could be onto something, along with a more confrontational chat between her and Ben. Similar to Lilimae in our previous ep, Ben is mad at Karen for stirring up old dramas and getting Val’s hopes up that her babies might still be alive. I guess I kinda sorta get where Ben is coming from, but I don’t think Karen is doing anything wrong here. She hasn’t announced to Val what she’s up to, she hasn’t been like, “I’m searching for Dr. Ackerman because I also believe your babies are alive!” She’s kinda doing it on the D.L. and without getting Val too excited about it, without even telling her about it at all, if I’m remembering correctly, so I think she’s in the right. However, this stuff is actually pretty minor in A Man of Good Will. Most of Karen’s story in this ep involves the conclusion of the little mini-storyline that’s been going on with that Texan Transmorpher who wants to buy Knots Landing Motors. While this storyline is perhaps not EXCITING the way Val’s babies are, I really appreciated this little story and found it very interesting to watch. See, basically the Texan is aggressively continuing his pursuit to buy the garage, and whenever Karen tells him that she’s not interested in selling, he raises his offer to something even higher and says, “But that’s my final offer!” By acting disinterested in selling, it seems Karen could really manage to get a nice chunk of money out of this guy, but she remains firm in her refusal to sell, and that’s because of her love of Sid and her memories of him and how important the garage was to him.
I find myself frequently surprised over and over again at how often Sid continues to come up in the show, and I think it’s another fine example of the show having a really rich history in which things happen and are not forgotten. At this point, Mack is comfortably established as Karen’s husband and he’s already been in more seasons and more episodes than Sid ever was, and yet that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about Sid and remember how important he was to the show during those first 33 episodes. Here, Karen tells Mack that Sid built Knots Landing Motors from the ground up, that it was his baby, that he loved it, and that he wanted to turn it over to his children one day, and that’s why she can’t just up and sell it. However, the boys, Eric and Sexy Michael, speak very directly to her and tell her that they just don’t really like working there too much.
This story culminates in a fabulous scene set at Sid’s grave, which we last visited way back in season three with Letting Go. This scene had completely slipped my mind, as I thought Letting Go was the last we saw of Sid’s grave, but nope, here we are now, well over three years since his character died, and we get a scene of Eric and Karen visiting the graveyard and laying some flowers down on Sid’s grave. Karen gives a nice speech in which she tells Eric that Sid just wanted his children to be happy; he wouldn’t want them running the garage out of mere obligation to him, all while feeling unhappy. Therefore, she announces that, while she’s not going to sell, she is going to find some new management to run it. This is smart writing, in my opinion, not just because it does such a good job of recalling past history, but also because it helps to justify why we basically never see the garage anymore (indeed, I’m gonna pay attention to see if we ever get another scene set in within the walls of Knots Landing Motors, because I have a distinct feeling that we’ve seen the last of that setting).
I think that’s about gonna do it for our story points this week, but I do wanna take another quick moment to talk about how impressed I am by this as a debut ep for Latham/Lechowick. I know this duo remain a controversial element amongst many KL fans as well as cast members (on one hand, you have Michele Lee declaring them her favorite writers for the series while J.V.A. has been openly critical of how they treated the Valene character and The Plesh has even gone so far as to call them “awful people”), but I must say that this is ep shows great promise from them. I am especially impressed by how they are able to do such a nice little callback to Saint Sid, a character who died and exited the series long before they were ever involved in any capacity with the show, and then I’m also impressed by the way they keep the current plot developments moving along, most especially with those involving Gary and Greg and the credit score and all that excitement. Honestly, I would be very impressed by these two if I was working behind the scenes and I would absolutely have them write more eps and start giving them more power if they were able to keep up this quality.
Next up, we shall discuss the final ep of this particular disk of eps watched by My Beloved Grammy and myself. We already saw an aborted wedding earlier this season with Lead Me to the Altar, so now we will see a wedding that, hopefully, goes off smoothly (but probably won’t) with the nuptials of Joshua and Cathy in For Better, For Worse.