Thursday, October 5, 2017

KNOTS LANDING Episode 143 of 344: AFTERSHOCKS




Episode Title:  Aftershocks


Season 07, Episode 13


Episode 143 of 344


Written by Roberto Loiederman


Directed by Alexander Singer


Original Airdate: Thursday, December 26th, 1985


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Linda goes to the police and says she thinks her boyfriend Kenny murdered Joshua. Lilimae wants to move back in with Val, but Val isn't sure, as she's always so mean to Ben. Ben teasingly says "If she gets out of line, I'll rap her upside the head!" Gary ignores Abby and stays at Lotus Point. Greg gives a press conference saying that Gary blew up Empire Valley because of structural damages. Greg speaks to a portrait of Galveston about how he let him reach back from the grave and manipulate him. Greg says that Coblenz gained control because he was weak, and not mean, hard, or cruel enough to hold them off, because he was not a barbarian like his father. He says, "Congratulations, you've hatched a new breed of barbarian," and he then vows to go even further than Galveston in creating his own empire, and will let nobody and nothing stand in his way.





                When we last left off in the closing moments of All’s Well, things had reached an explosive peak of excitement as Gary finally decided to do away with the entire Empire Valley storyline by blowing it up.  Now here we are with Aftershocks and it’s time to explore the ramifications of this decision.  Aftershocks does the thing the show’s been doing a lot lately that I love so much, and that is pick up directly and precisely at the exact moment where the last one left off.  In this case, after our thirty second preview and brilliantly stunning opening credits sequence, we get to see the big three explosions going off again, but then instead of showing Gary grinning and stopping there, we immediately move into new footage.  Actually, it’s very slightly a Return to the Blue Lagoon situation because this time we don’t see Gary grinning, we just jump into the new footage.  Does anyone notice or care besides me?  Probably not.  In any case, now the entire Empire Valley operation is up in smoke and Greg’s going to have a lot of explaining to do to some very angry people. 




The good news, however, is that Gary appears to be safe, because that hitman with the big James-Bond-at-the-start-of-The-Living-Daylights sniper rifle sees the big explosion and decides to just, kinda, um, go away.  Hmmmm, this part is slightly vexing.  The hitman’s job, assigned to him by Cheesy British Guy, was to assassinate Gary, right?  Why would he abandon this mission as soon as he sees the big explosions?  Is it just because nobody sent him a memo telling him there would be three big-ass explosions and so he wants to double check with his boss to figure out what’s going on?  How much does this hitman know about what’s going on?  Is he as confused as us viewers by the whole operation?  Or does he have all the information about everything?  It seems to me that, with big epic scary confusing conspiracy operations, you wanna assign everybody with just one small thing to do, that way they never know the full extent of the evil they’re involved with (think Trump colluding with Russia to illegally steal an election and ruin our country and you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about, except the bad guys on this series are far more competent at being evil than the Nazis currently occupying The White House).  You hire one guy to, like, make your computer system, and then you hire one guy to rig up the security doors and cameras, and then one guy is your muscle that gets to carry a big sniper rifle and blow people away, Bob Loblaw.  In any case, the hitman slips out of sight and Gary is, at least for the time being, safe.




As Greg, Gary, and Abs look on at the smoking debris of what was the Empire Valley operation, they have a bit of a conversation about what just went down and Greg delivers a line that I’m convinced is meant to be sorta meta.  Abs is going on about what’s gonna happen, stuff like that, and then Greg just says, “I think we can safely say that it’s over.”  Is this line a way of the writers telling the viewers that they’ve blown up the storyline and they are ready to proceed to new business?  I know I’ve been confused by this whole thing pretty much since whenever Cheesy British Guy first showed up on the series (I just double checked; it was late season six and it was The Deluge), and My Beloved Grammy and I are watching the series in a more binge-watchy method, always powering through five eps at a time, moving through the seasons pretty quickly.  I’m trying to imagine, however, how it would feel to watch all this unfold over time originally, watching the show week to week back in the ‘80s.  Okay, so The Deluge was February 28th, 1985, and it was episode 121, right?  Now here we are with Aftershocks and it’s December 26th, 1985 and episode 143; we’ve got a gap of ten months and 22 eps, so yeah, it’s been some time.  Let’s not forget those pesky summers, as well, where you just have to wait months and months for the show to come back.  If I am confused by this storyline watching it now, I imagine it was only more confusing back in the ‘80s, and that’s why I feel Greg’s, “Officially over” comment is the writers reassuring the audience that they’ll be moving on to new business now.





Greg and Laura have been split up and not speaking for way longer than I ever remembered, mostly because I didn’t remember them splitting up and not speaking in the first place.  I remembered Ava Gardner’s little scheme to break them up, but in my memories, they very quickly reconciled and worked things out in the relationship.  Clearly my memories are wrong, because the whole season Laura has been giving Greg the silent treatment while he yearns to have her back.  Fortunately, the destruction of Empire Valley serves as the impetus for Laura to finally pick up the phone and call Greg, wanting to know what’s going on.  However, now there’s a new roadblock.  Ava got shipped off and returned to Africa, but now we’ve got Peter Hollister running around, causing trouble, acting weird and mysterious.  Let’s talk about Peter Hollister, what do you say?

I feel I’ve been brushing over this character, so it’s time to do a review of what he’s been up to so far this season.  He was first introduced in A Little Assistance near the start of the season.  We all remember vividly the way he marched into Greg’s office, sent the other applicants home, and boldly announced that he was the perfect man for the job.  We should also all vividly remember that Abs was the one who told Greg to hire him; clearly she saw that he had spunk and she likes spunk (and I mean that in every possible way).  Since then, though, what’s Peter been up to?  He seems duplicitous, he’s been listening in on Greg’s calls, and we just know he’s not trustworthy, but we’re not sure why quite yet.  In this ep, when Laura calls to say she wants to speak with Greg, Peter tells her how he’ll relay the message, but we know he’s going to do no such thing.  Now why should this be?  Why would Peter want to block Laura from Greg?  At first I didn’t get it, but then I did some thinking.  Laura is probably the smartest woman on the show (which is not to belittle anybody else; I love all of my beautiful lady friends in the cast at this point and they are all smart in their own ways) and I think she’s already managed to see through Peter based on just a few chance meetings.  Perhaps Peter is worried about what influence she could have on Greg if the two of them got back together?  In any case, for the purposes of this ep, Greg and Laura don’t reconcile because Peter never tells Greg that Laura called.





Since Greg Sumner comes from the world of politics, he knows all about gathering for a press conference to tell a big fat lie to everyone, which he does right and quick in this ep ("This was the largest audience to ever witness an explosion, PERIOD!").  He schedules the press conference and then tells everyone that the buildings on Empire Valley were structurally unsound and that Gary blew them all up to, like, save them?  I definitely don’t buy this lie, and I think the press is having a hard time swallowing it; one reporter says something like, “It seems a little odd to blow up the entire operation in order to save the operation,” but whatever, Greg holds to his lie and, for the time being, people continue to go about their business.




The last scene of the ep is Greg giving a real nice Shakespearean soliloquy to the big, epic painting of Paul Galveston that he’s got on his wall (it reminds me of Jock Ewing’s portrait over on Dallas; this definitely feels like a David Paulsen influence to me).  I found this speech a bit confusing, but fortunately My Beloved Grammy helped me out.  Also, let me note that I found this speech confusing not because of the writing or the acting or the actual contents of the speech, but just because I’m dumb.  Everything in the scene is good, and I’m again impressed by Devane’s ability to act against nobody, to just talk to a painting and still make it feel dynamic and compelling.  The speech basically boils down to Greg blaming himself for what happened with Cheesy British Guy and the entire operation, saying how he wasn’t ruthless enough to deal with them, and then he says, “Congratulations, Dad, you’ve hatched a new breed of barbarian,” which I think is the last line of the ep.  Hmmm, interesting.  So does that mean Greg is going to turn evil intentionally?  Personally, no matter how unethical some of the shit Greg does is, I never once think of him as evil, and that’s probably because of Devane’s insanely charismatic and multifaceted portrayal of him, but it’s also the great writing that helps to keep the character fascinating.




Moving on from Greg, we’ve also got sizzling drama down at Pacific Cable Whatever.  We all know Ben is not an idiot (and we all know he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite male leads on the show ever), and let’s not forget that he is also a member of the press, so he’s seeing all the holes in Greg’s little cover story and he’s wanting to further explore them.  Abs, however, tries to keep him from doing so, telling him there’s no story there and that he should lay off.  Certainly, I don’t think Ben is believing any of this for a second.  He probably distrusts Abs even more than he distrusts Greg, and I think he can tell that, whatever the hell was going on over there (don’t ask me), it somehow involved the two of them working together.  If I’m remembering correctly, he doesn’t pursue an investigation into the story quite yet, but I get the feeling that he wants to and he probably will in the future.

Speaking of Ben, remember how it took Lilimae something like a fucking year to finally be sorta nice to him?  Well, after a small period of relative peace (relative peace), Lilimae is back to acting rather cunty towards him all the time, blaming him for Joshua’s death.  See, she keeps saying how Joshua crumbled because Ben took his job away from him at Pacific Cable Whatever, that this is what lead to Joshua’s downfall (random: writing out that sentence about “this is what lead to Joshua’s downfall” immediately makes me think of that amazing Kramer speech from the Seinfeld ep The Doodle in which he describes the manuscript as about, “love, deception, greed, lust, and unbridled enthusiasm,” and then he adds, “That’s what lead to Billy Mumphrey’s downfall”).  Anyway, yeah, Lilimae has been throwing nasty comments out towards Ben for a few eps now, saying it’s his fault Joshua died, saying how he doesn’t even act like a parent to the twins, stuff like that, and I think Val has finally had enough.  See, Lilimae returns to the house, done with harassing Cathy over at The Plant House, only to receive a less than warm welcome from Val. 




Ugh, I just love tough Val.  When I reflect back on it, Val has always been kinda tough and I was just too dense to see it all along.  Let’s flash back to her very first appearance on television ever, in those Dallas eps Reunion: Part One and Reunion: Part Two (click on those links to read my stunningly brilliant thoughts from so long ago on those eps).  When J.R. fucked her and Gary in the ass again, true, she left the ranch in a state of defeat, but she still told off J.R. and said just how she felt about him and refused to take the money he offered her.  I think because Val is generally so sweet and nice to people around her, it sometimes makes it seem like she’s not tough, but she definitely can be, and she displays it right here.  Lilimae comes in, holding her luggage, and Val looms at the top of the staircase, sorta glaring down at her.  She gets all firm and authoritative and reminds Lilimae that she and Ben are married now, that Ben lives in the house with her, and that she can’t go around insulting him all the time.  Lilimae looks wounded and says, “Does this mean I’m no longer welcome here?”  It’s a testament to the skills of both actresses that I continue to love both characters in this scene and understand their points of view.  It’s kinda like I said in an earlier ep (I think the last one) about how even though I can see that Lilimae is being annoying and mean, she’s not annoying me as I watch her.   Her state of emotions are very complex and I can only imagine what she’s feeling and going through right now.  I also think that she knows it’s not Ben’s fault that Joshua died, that really Ben had nothing to do with that at all, but she just keeps saying it as a way of trying to fool herself into believing it’s true.  She doesn’t want to truly admit to herself that her son was a complete psycho; she’d rather try and lay the blame on the feet of someone else.  I think is further exemplified when she’s speaking with Cathy, who is saying how she needs to move on with her life and her career and start to focus on herself, to which Lilimae says, “You will always be Mrs. Joshua Rush.”  Ick, if I were Cathy, that would send shivers of repulsion down my spine, but like I said, I can still understand where Lilimae’s mind is at, so I’m not too harsh or judgmental towards her.




Speaking of Cathy, she gets a fabulous song this ep, entitled You Keep Me Hanging On.  I’ve always enjoyed this song without actually knowing the title, but now I do.  I love the song for many reasons, but mostly it’s the “Wooooah woooah woooah” part that she keeps doing it (just listen to the song and don’t try to imagine how it sounds based on me doing a shitty job of describing it).  I also love the whole sequence in which Cathy gets to rock out with her fabulous ‘80s band while showing off her amazing mullet and wearing this, like, purple outfit with basically nothing on underneath except a bra.  Fuck, Cathy is hot.  I remind you that I could never bring myself to have sex with a woman unless that woman was Donna Mills (she’s the one shining exception to my rule, since she is the most beautiful woman in the entire world and her beauty goes beyond time and space like the deadlights at the end of IT), but if I was gonna have sex with a woman, Lisa Hartman would be a good choice.  She’s hot, she has a fabulous body, she knows how to dress, and she can sing her ass off.  Everything in this scene is just pure good, and that ‘80s explosion that is always going off around Cathy continues to go off here.  Maybe people could call this “dated,” but you all know I hate that word and I would take the obvious ‘80s explosion as a positive quality.  The beauty of film and television is its ability to zoom us back in time, and by watching this scene, you feel like you are right there at the end of 1985 with Cathy and her band.  Mmmm, scrumptious stuff.




Last on the agenda for Aftershocks is Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli.  Last ep, Arthur Fonzarelli boasted about how he was “there” and “saw the whole thing” in the circumstances surrounding Joshua’s death.  He brought this up as a way of pointing out that Joshua didn’t kill himself, but Linda The Waitress has interpreted it to mean that Arthur Fonzarelli murdered Joshua himself.  Honestly, she’s not out of line to think this, as this guy is hardly Boyfriend of the Year material and we’ve already seen him act like a big stupid jerk a couple of times in his brief appearances up to this point.  Linda The Waitress seems very sweet, but she also seems kinda dumb, because the next thing you know, she’s heading into the police station to say Arthur Fonzarelli killed Joshua.

Oh no wait, actually I’m the one who’s kinda dumb, cuz I almost forgot about a big, important scene.  See, somewhere near the middle of the ep, Linda The Waitress pays Lilimae a visit to give her a box of stuff that Joshua left at her apartment.  There’s a lot going on in this scene, but I wanna do a quick shout-out to how this visit is probably helping Lilimae start accepting the truth of her son and his last weeks on this earth.  She’s been running around trying to martyrize Joshua, but now here’s Linda The Waitress saying that Joshua was committing adultery (which is a sin!) with her at her apartment for some time.  So that’s one small detail that’s important to me, but more important is that when Linda The Waitress says, “I just can’t believe he killed himself,” Lilimae snaps at her angrily, saying, “He did not kill himself,” and that actually provides the impetus for Linda The Waitress to take a visit to the police station.

Lots of drama, right?  Actually, doing a bit of reflecting, I would say the title of this ep is accurate, that we are dealing with the fallout of THE BIG DRAMA last ep and this one is more about sorting things out from that and getting some new storylines propelled.  So while it’s not as thrilling as All’s Well was, it’s still a good ep that’s getting us prepared for the next seventeen eps of the season. 

But wait, there's one more thing to discuss before we wrap things up, and that is of course the conclusion of that most glorious year known as 1985.  Yes, this is our last episode of 1985 and when we return for our next ep, it'll be a whole new year, so let's do a quick little summation of what 1985 contained.  Now, I was still not quite alive in 1985 (I was negative five years old), so I had to rely on research, but here's what I discovered.  On January 20th, Ronald Reagan began his second term as President.  Now, I used to be anti-Reagan because he's a Republican and he ignored the AIDS crisis for years while my people were dropping off like flies, but my feelings have radically changed in the last few months and now I'm pro-Reagan.  While flawed, he was a Republican before all Republicans decided to become pure evil/Nazi-sympathizers, so I'll forgive him that, and at least he was a true leader who could comfort the nation when they needed it, like his beautiful speech after the Challenger explosion.  Also, he took Piper Laurie's virginity, so that adds some major cool points to his resume.  




In the world of music, Whitney Houston released her very first album ("Did you know that Whitney Houston's debut album, called simply Whitney Houston, had four number one singles on it?").  Also, Madonna (who I like a lot because I'm a gay guy and that's the law) began her first tour, starting in Seattle (where I'm from!).  Also, a bunch of artists put on that whole "We Are The World" event.  My man Stephen King released his second collection of short stories, Skeleton Crew, while in the movie theater we got the underrated Cat's Eye.  Finally, the top ten shows of the 1984-1985 season were (from #10 to #1)  a tie between Crazy Like A Fox and Falcon Crest, Knots Landing (finally!), Murder, She Wrote, Simon and Simon, The A-Team, Family Ties, 60 Minutes, The Cosby Show, Dallas, and Dynasty

Let’s move right along past 1985 to see what will become of Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli with Unbroken Bonds.



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