Episode Title: All’s Well
Season 07, Episode 12
Episode 142 of 344
Written by Alan Goldfein
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan
Original Airdate: Thursday, December 19th, 1985
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Ben lets Cathy move into his beach house. Lilimae blames Ben for Joshua's death, and decides to move in with Cathy. Kenny, Linda's boyfriend, tells her that he was there when Joshua died. Gary tells Greg he'll sell Empire Valley, and to call off the hit man. He says if anything happens to him, he's left Empire Valley to Mack. Greg tells Coblenz that Gary will sell, but Coblenz tells the hit man to kill them anyway. Gary sends the kids away, and makes Abby dress in coveralls and help him to carry things into the buildings at Empire Valley. Gary has the security guard call Greg. Greg rushes to Empire Valley, and so do Mack and Karen. The hit man is about to shoot Gary, but just then everyone drives up and yells to Gary to watch out. Gary activates a remote control, and all of the structures in Empire Valley blow up. Greg and Abby are furious, but Gary whoops with joy!
Welcome back to the fantastically fabulous and wonderful world of KL, the world I love so much that I wish I could pull a Pleasantville and climb right into the television and just live in this world forever, having lots and lots of sex with Sexy Michael on an eternal loop for all eternity, preferably on some sort of California nude beach. Anyway, when we last left off, Gary had entered “1-3” into the top secret door-opener thing and the top-secret door had opened to reveal the top-secret room with lots of top-secret people doing lots of top-secret things and staring at lots of top-secret television screens and top-secret computer counsels. Well, All’s Well picks up right away where he left off, with Gary still standing in the lair and staring at everything. I guess nobody got the memo that Gary is supposed to be kept in the dark about all these proceedings, because if I’m remembering correctly, one random white guy comes up to Gary and is like, “Oh hey, Mr. Ewing, wanna see all the top-secret stuff we’re doing down here?” Gary is like, “Uh, yeah, sure, I have no idea what the hell is going on down here,” and then the other guy is like, “Neither do the viewers.”
Anyway, Gary gets away from Empire Valley and shows up at Val’s house at the same time that the funeral procession is arriving. The funeral is over and I guess Jonathan has immediately gone home, since he’s nowhere to be seen now. Again, I appreciate the flow of continuity here, that everything is just proceeding along in one continuous, big, epic story. You don’t feel that you have ended one ep and begun a new one, but rather that it’s just this gigantic, 30-hour ep that happens to be interrupted every 48 minutes for some stunning opening title sequences. Honestly, it makes the series feel so ahead of its time because it just works perfectly for binge watching, the type of television watching that is so popular nowadays thanks to the fall of network TV and the rise of cable TV and streaming services. Whenever My Beloved Grammy and I gather to watch our disk of eps, it always feels like one big movie, not separate little TV eps. I also wanna reiterate how wonderfully enjoyable it is to know that days of the standalones, of utter crap like Land of the Free or Man of the Hour or Silver Shadows, are now long in our past with no threat of ever returning.
Gary comes to Val’s house and quickly apologizes for missing the funeral, but then he immediately yoinks Mack away from proceedings and takes him outside so they can speak in private. He whips out some blueprints and he and Mack start to go over them together, discussing what exactly is going on at Empire Valley and all the top-secret stuff he discovered. Also, we get some fabulous KL Rapid Cutting throughout this sequence, because we keep crosscutting from Gary and Mack to Sumner speaking with some lackey in his office, and it’s not even just that we crosscut, but we also have this amazing effect where Gary or Mack will say something and then we will cut to Greg and he’ll, like, finish the sentence for them, if that makes sense. It keeps hopping back and forth and it’s great. Another show might be like, “Let’s show the Gary and Mack scene and then we’ll finish that scene up and cut over to Greg and the lackey,” but KL keeps it interesting, cinematic, and visually stimulating. Oh hey, and while we’re on the subject of Greg Sumner sitting in his office and talking to lackeys, we also have a cigar to add to the Sumner Cigar Counter, bringing us up to Cigar #8. He smokes this one while talking to Cheesy British Guy about something or other, I think about how he’s working hard to get Gary to sell Empire Valley and he believes that he will do so. Even so, Cheesy British Guy is not convinced and does not call off his hit man. By the way, cool sexy tough Gary that I’ve been so in love with for the last two years and some months is really sizzling this ep. For instance, he marches his cool sexy tough ass into Greg’s office and announces that he has changed his will so that, if he dies, all of Empire Valley will go to Mack, which is bad news for Greg. We’ve all seen how committed Mack gets whenever he sets his sight on investigating something, so what could happen to Greg if Gary dies and Mack officially becomes the landlord of Empire Valley?
Meanwhile, over at Val’s house, Cathy is dealing with a lot of grief and weird mixed emotions and she needs some time alone. Because of this, Ben offers her up The Plant House, which he still owns even though he doesn’t really live there anymore (if I owned a place as amazing as The Plant House, I would never give it up, either). Sounds lovely, right? Cathy says she’ll hop right on over there and stay at The Plant House for awhile, but of course Lilimae shows up two seconds later with her suitcase all packed up and ready to go, cheerfully announcing that she shall also be staying at The Plant House to keep Cathy company. Never mind the fact that Cathy said she needed some time alone; that’s clearly not important. Now, we can all see what’s going on here, and that is the fact that Lilimae is afraid of Cathy running at the mouth and telling someone the truth about what happened up there on the rooftop. What would happen if Cathy was all alone at The Plant House and then, say, Laura came over for a visit, perhaps wanting to reignite her lesbianism from back in the days of Ciji, and then after a few glasses of wine, Cathy started talking to her about the whole, “You have become a monster” speech Lilimae gave to Joshua just before he fell off the roof?
I have learned to accept the fact that Cathy’s character can often be sorta passive, that she does sorta allow herself to get walked on. We saw this demonstrated via her relationship with Joshua and how long it took her to finally stand up for herself and tell him his treatment of her was unacceptable, and we see it again here. If I were Cathy, I would say to Lilimae, “Leave me alone, I came here to The Plant House to be by myself and away from you, I won’t blab about Joshua, just leave me the fuck alone,” but instead Cathy just sorta allows Lilimae to intrude. When Lilimae is like, “Oh hey, hi, I’m here, too! Can I stay?”, Cathy just looks sorta annoyed and then is like, “Yeah, sure, it’s fine, you can stay.” Lilimae is definitely annoying at this point in the saga, but she’s not annoying me, if that makes sense. What I mean is that I recognize that, in the universe of the series, her behavior is annoying to the other characters around her, but I’m not personally annoyed watching her the way that, say, I was consistently annoyed for four years by having to stare at the toxic bores known as Kenny and Ginger. See, I recognize what Lilimae’s going through, I can sorta understand the complexities of her feelings and her emotions, so it keeps me from being annoyed with her. She must feel like a complete and utter failure because of the way everything has gone with Joshua, all the way from his birth to his death, and she doesn’t want his memory soiled by people knowing the truth about what a piece of psychotic shit he was. I think admitting to what he had become by the end of his life would basically be the same as admitting that she is, in fact, the worst mother of all time.
We cut away from Cathy and Lilimae and all that stuff and get reacquainted with Linda The Waitress and her boyfriend, Arthur Fonzarelli. When we first catch up with Linda The Waitress, she’s alone in her little apartment, but then there’s a knock at the door and it’s Arthur Fonzarelli with a six-pack of shitty piss beer (at first I assumed all six were for him, but then he hands her one and says how maybe it’ll make her feel better). This is an important scene because the two characters start to talk about the death of Joshua and the circumstances surrounding it and Arthur Fonzarelli lets it out that he was there and he saw what really happened and that Joshua did not kill himself. He doesn’t say anything like, “He didn’t kill himself because I killed him,” but we can see wheels spinning in Linda The Waitress’ head. By the way, this whole business about Arthur Fonzarelli being there to see the whole thing is kinda new information; I am almost 100% certain that we didn’t actually see him witnessing the events back in Rise and Fall, but I have no problem believing that he was there. Earlier in that ep, we established that he was sorta hanging around that area with his buddies, Richie and Potsie and Ralph and the whole gang, so I can buy that he was hanging around the big tall building in the concluding moments of that ep. I guess maybe it’s a plot contrivance, but it doesn’t bother me.
Things escalate over in the Gary/Empire Valley storyline when Gary takes a drive and discovers that his brakes have been cut, Sid-style. During the scene, he is being chased by Cheesy British Guy’s hit-man, who proves himself a far more competent assassin than pretty much anyone in any James Bond movie, since he actually watches and checks to see if Gary dies rather than just cutting his brakes and assuming everything will go according to plan. So yeah, the hitman follows after Gary and sees that Gary gets out of the situation okay, although it is still an exciting sequence watching Gary’s vehicle go flying down a big hill with no brakes. Anyway, this is pretty much the last final straw for Gary, who then spends the rest of the ep in full-on spy mode, hell-bent on stopping whatever is going on at Empire Valley at all costs. First up, Gary sends Olivia and Brian off. Now might be a good time to mention that we haven’t seen Brian in, um, awhile (and by “awhile,” I mean we haven’t seen him since Finishing Touches in season five, and that was March 8th of 1984). Where the hell is Brian? They keep mentioning him and then throwing in lines like, “He’s in the other room,” or “He’s asleep,” but it’s been nearly two years and he’s totally M.I.A. Did something happen with the kid from Tremors? Was he a hellion on the set or something? Next season Brian is gonna morph into BAG, but I didn’t remember this humongous gap of two seasons where Brian is mentioned and never seen. In any case, it doesn’t particularly bother me because nobody cares about Brian; Olivia is the much more interesting child.
Olivia is blossoming nicely into quite the young actress. Tonya Crowe would be fourteen years old at this point, and I notice that the writers are starting to give her more material to work with, and this ep has some good stuff. See, as Gary sends Olivia (and, presumably, Brian) off with Maria, the Transmorpher Mexican maid (remember that all rich white people in the ‘80s had to have a Mexican maid, as this was, in fact, the law), he gets very serious on her and says, “I love you,” and Olivia confesses that he’s scaring her by acting so serious. Then Abs comes walking out and Gary is like, “Tell your mother you love her,” which she does, and then they go speeding off to, I think, Mexico. Gary doesn’t tell anyone, not even Abs, where he’s sending the kids. Everything must be very secretive for their protection, you see.
Gary and Abs head to Empire Valley, where they quickly switch cars with some guy, a nice clever diversion to hopefully confuse and distract whoever might be chasing after them. Once they arrive within the Empire Valley land, Gary adorns his black spy gear and hands a similar outfit over to Abs. See, at this moment Abs is dressed in bright red and Gary points out that bright red is generally not the greatest color to wear when sneaking around at night being worried that someone might shoot you. I love the way that, even as KL is threatening to descend into goofiness by turning into a James Bond movie, they keep the humor there, all mixed in with the strange sense of realism, creating this fabulous cocktail of entertaining genius. If this was Dallas, all these shenanigans would be played as DEADLY SERIOUS without a hint of irony or humor, but here the ingredients are just right.
They infiltrate the base with relative ease and Gary ties up some random security guard that’s hanging around, you know, guarding. He keeps the guy tied up for awhile while he does some stuff we aren’t privy to (spoiler alert: He’s planting bombs). While the security guard stays tied up and shouts vague threats to Gary about what’s gonna happen to him, Gary gets his reassurance that nobody else is on the premises. See, even in the height of all this secret spy stuff, Gary still doesn’t want to hurt a human being, even a potentially evil one who’s mixed up in all this Empire Valley confusion. Gary’s planning to blow the entire operation up, but he doesn’t want to do so unless he has assurance that there’s nobody on the premises.
Meanwhile, throughout all this excitement, the hitman is still hanging around, and now he’s ready to go with a sniper rifle. As soon as Gary emerges, he’ll blow him away and that will be the end of it for Mr. Gary Ewing, right? Wrong. Instead, Gary calls Sumner up to come on over to Empire Valley, at pretty much the precise moment that Karen and Mack are also heading over (they’ve realized this is where Gary must be and they’re rushing out to find him). Gary, Abs, and Greg all meet up far away from the buildings, and Gary is looking all cool and confident, holding some sort of sexy remote control thing. Greg is all like, “What the hell’s going on?” and all that good stuff, and then Gary holds up the remote and clicks the button and BOOM, a big explosion goes off like the one that kicks off the opening credits of seasons thirteen and fourteen of Dallas (except obviously much, much better). But it doesn’t stop there, and Gary’s coolness only increases evermore as he clicks the button again and another explosion goes off, but wait, there’s more! Gary clicks the remote a third time and there’s one final explosion. Yikes, that’s a lot of explosions, right? The best part of the scene is the very ending, which is also the very ending of the ep, and that’s just Gary grinning at Greg and Abs, giving them a face like, “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?” The episode ends right there and, honestly, I loved it, and so did My Beloved Grammy, who cheered and said, “Way to go, Gary.”
Okay, so Empire Valley is blown up, right? I know lots of fans really hate this whole storyline start to finish, but I don’t see the problem, aside from it being kinda confusing. Also, I’m willing to admit that, yeah, maybe Gary blowing the whole thing up is the writers saying, “Okay, yeah, this was getting too convoluted, let’s just blow it up,” but it still doesn’t bother me. Is this a problem with me? Am I just being too kind to the show cuz I love it so much? Honestly, I can’t quite figure myself out; I feel that if something really stupid happened on KL or if a storyline I really hated popped up, I would know so and I would explain why I hate it, but this isn’t one of them. In fact, I thought this whole episode was terrifically exciting and very entertaining to watch. If the writers are wanting to flush something out of the series, isn’t having Gary blow it up way better than having him, say, wake up and find Greg Sumner in the shower saying, “Oh, that Empire Valley stuff? That was a dream; none of that happened”? Anyway, even if the other fans hate it, I kinda loved this episode and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It was full of action and excitement and humor and I thought Shack was in top form as Gary went into spy mode and kicked ass and took numbers. If you disagree with me, go ahead and tell me so, because I’d really like to know why all this stuff is so detested by so many fans.
Next up, we’ll discuss the ramifications of the three big explosions and the death of Empire Valley with Tremors 2: Aftershocks, erm, I’m sorry, I meant to just say Aftershocks. Talk to you then!