Episode Title: Unbroken Bonds
Season 07, Episode 14
Episode 144 of 344
Written by Diana Kopald Marcus
Directed by Roy Campanella II
Original Airdate: Thursday, January 2nd, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter tells Laura that Greg needs her, so she invites him to dinner. Gary tells Val that he knows the twins are his. She tells him that he needs to respect that she, Ben, and the twins are a family. Gary continues to hang around the twins, so Ben tells Gary it has to stop. Abby gets mad when Gary sides with Karen on a Lotus Point issue. He says that he trusts Karen, and doesn't trust Abby, so he will always side with Karen, and she'd better get used to it. Gary also sleeps with another woman. Jill is in town and tells Karen the Governor wants to know if she'd be interested in being on the State Planning Commission. Karen says yes. Jill is very cool towards Mack, who introduces Gary to Jill. Kenny is arrested for Joshua's murder. Cathy wants to tell the truth, but Lilimae says they will release him if they keep quiet. However, Kenny is charged with the murder.
Welcome to Unbroken Bonds. Fuck, there’s a lot to talk about this ep, and it’s all good stuff, really good stuff, so let’s just dive right in and get started with Linda The Waitress and Arthur Fonzarelli. You’ll all remember how Arthur Fonzarelli brought a six pack over to Linda The Waitress’s apartment and bragged about how he was “there” when Joshua died and “saw the whole thing,” right? And you all remember how Linda The Waitress went to see Lilimae and when she said something about Joshua killing himself, Lilimae got angry and snapped, “He did not;” you all remember that, right? Then Linda The Waitress took it upon herself to go to the police and declare that Arthur Fonzarelli killed Joshua, and that glides us nicely right into the very first scene of this ep, which is her at the police station.
Things don’t go so well for Arthur Fonzarelli this week, because Lilimae is holding strong in her resistance against telling anyone the truth of what happened. Cathy is really plagued with guilt at this point, wanting to just tell the truth and then move on with things, but Lilimae keeps saying how they can’t tell people the truth, especially not at this point when the lie has gone on so long. Now, I’m of course a proponent of honesty, and this is kinda a prime example of why. You tell one lie, thinking it’s not a big deal and you’ll be able to move past it, but it snowballs into a million other lies and eventually other people start being hurt by your lies. In this case, I certainly don’t like Arthur Fonzarelli and I certainly don’t think he’s exactly a great, stand-up kinda guy, but he didn’t kill Joshua and he doesn’t deserve to go to jail for his murder.
My notes are kinda loopy on this ep (probably because I was so gripped), so forgive me if I’m mistaking this ep for the next one, but I’m fairly certain it is in this ep that Arthur Fonzarelli is sent in for questioning and a police lineup and Cathy and Lilimae are both asked down to the station to identify the man. The police lineup is filled with lots of scary looking dudes, one of whom is Arthur Fonzarelli, and I’m sorry, but for the life of me I can’t remember if either Lilimae or Cathy say, “Oh, yeah, it’s that one guy there, the one who looks like an extra from Grease 2,” or if they choose to just remain silent about the matter. I’m pretty sure they pick the latter option, just sorta saying, “Oh, we don’t recognize any of these guys,” or whatever, but by the conclusion of the ep, for some reason or other, Arthur Fonzarelli has been charged with Joshua’s murder.
Do I like this storyline? Well, personally, yes, I do, but I’d be curious to see what other fans think of it. I know some people seem to have a real problem with season seven and especially with season seven after Joshua’s had his big rise and fall, but so far I think the show is powering along just fine, and that includes this story. They could kill Joshua and just forget about him, but we all know the show don’t play that way. We saw how they killed Sid and then spent a whole year dealing with Karen’s grief and working at being a single mom, and I think the same is true here. It wouldn’t be good drama to have Joshua fall off the roof and die and then just move on and pretend he never existed; we need to deal with ramifications and it’s also not like they invented Arthur Fonzarelli and he’s coming completely out of nowhere now; he was introduced when Joshua was still alive and he was hanging around the big building and stuff right before Joshua took his plunge.
So yeah, I like this story, but it’s actually probably my least favorite story going on right around now because I find all this other shit sooooooo compelling. Why don’t we start with the triumphant return of the one, the only, J.B. (and that’s “Jill Bennett” for those of you who have already forgotten my abbreviation; it’s not “James Bond”). God, yes, and I’m so glad I didn’t peek ahead to see when she’d be coming back, because it was so wonderful to be powering through this disk and then be so delightfully surprised when she reemerged. You’ll all remember that J.B. was hanging around at the start of the season, crushing on Mack, dealing with the stolen baby cases, all that crap, and then she confessed that she had fallen in love with Mack and she left town, but now she’s back! I think she’s BACK BACK, by the way, that she doesn’t run off for a series of eps again, not until her glorious time on the show finally comes to an end around 1989. Until then, we can soak up all the J.B. a person could possible need in their life, and I thank God for that, I truly do.
So what’s J.B. up to right about now? Turns out she’s in town to talk to Karen, but she also makes some sort of mention about how she’s been coming back to town frequently throughout the last arc of eps while Joshua was going crazy and dying. This time she’s interested in offering Karen a job with the governor’s planning commission, or something like that. I don’t honestly know what a “planning commission” even is, but I don’t think it’s particularly important. Perhaps they plan parties, perhaps they plan, like, big important government stuff, perhaps they plan stupid and unnecessary road construction projects that take years and have no actual purpose except to justify more money being given to construction projects (not to say that I’m bitter about how the exact road I take to work every day has been “under construction” for the last 72 years and now that they’ve finally completed it, all that’s changed is the addition of one stupid new stoplight). Anyway, Karen is very excited about this opportunity, but if I recall correctly, it’s not that she’s handed the job outright; it’s more that the governor is interested in talking to her, but she’ll still have to have an interview and all that good stuff. This should build more and more over the course of the next few eps, so stay tuned.
So Laura and Greg have sure been split up for awhile, haven’t they? Fortunately, in Unbroken Bonds, Laura finally manages to get past the gatekeeper known as Peter Hollister and have a private dinner with Greg, and it’s just lovely to have the two of them back onscreen together, that sizzling chemistry all fired up and ready to go again. As I sat watching them, I tried to decide who I like watching more: Richard and Laura or Greg and Laura. God, talk about your Sophie’s Choice decisions (except obviously this decision is much, much harder); how can one possibly pick? On the one hand, the Laura/Richard dynamic of seasons one through four was my favorite thing about those early years and they were the most fascinating couple on the cul-de-sac throughout those years. Watching their fights and inner turmoil was just dynamic drama and also superbly realistic and splendidly acted, but now here we are with Laura and Greg and it’s equally good in a totally different way. In this case, while Richard and Laura always felt dysfunctional, Greg and Laura clearly have a deep and special love for each other and I think the most beautiful thing about their love is how fantastically unplanned it’s all been. I can’t remember what ep it was, but it was somewhere in season five that Greg took it upon himself to get up close to Laura and her mullet and smell her neck, and then they started shagging, but somewhere along the line, we viewers started to really see that this wasn’t just a couple having a fun shag together, but a couple that loved each other. Richard was the most fascinating man on the show during the first four seasons, but now I’m willing to say that Greg is the most fascinating man on the show at the moment, and he’s played with such oozing charisma by Devane that, fuck, I just can’t decide. For now, I’m gonna put that question up on a shelf and not even bother to compare, because they are both so perfect in their own ways.
I loved seeing Laura and Greg’s little dinner together, which takes place outside on Greg’s absolutely fabulous balcony outside of his absolutely fabulous office in his absolutely fabulous skyrise. It’s wonderful to see the two together, but Greg is feeling down right now, seeing his life as an absolute failure. Laura tries to boost his spirits by reminding him of all his good qualities and encouraging him to just dust himself off and try again. We also have a fabulous exchange where she tries to write off the whole Empire Valley mess as, “You screwed up; it happens,” and Greg responds with something brilliant like, “No, ‘screwing up’ is when you accidentally wear black socks with a brown suit,” and then reminds her how his entire Empire Valley operation was, you know, blown up completely by Gary, which is certainly more than one small screw up. So while Greg is currently very sad, I am currently very happy to see this fabulous and fascinating couple getting back together and having dinners and chemistry and all that good stuff that makes the series so very good and so very rich.
As much as I love me some Laura and Greg, I have to say the most sizzling and dramatic stuff in this ep comes courtesy of pretty much anything involving Gary, Abs, Val, and Ben. Oh jeez, where to even start? I think I’ll start with a small but significant scene that I really appreciated, and it takes place at Lotus Point between Gary, Abs, and Karen. See, Karen is talking about something or other and Gary says how she’s got his vote and he trusts her and Bob Loblaw, and then Abs give some speech about how he’s not considering anything she has to say and Gary gets so fabulously direct with her and says, “I trust Karen, so she gets my vote every time.” Ugh, yes, this is all so good. I definitely feel like the whole Empire Valley mess was the last straw for Gary in terms of Abs and her duplicitous behavior. Since they first got together officially in 1982, he has put up with a lot of crap from her, probably the worst of which was all the season five shenanigans involving Wolfbridge and Apolune. After that happened (culminating with Abby’s terrifying experience of hanging out on a nice comfortable yacht for a couple of minutes before Greg came along to shoot Mark St. Claire), Gary kinda sorta forgave her while also making it clear that he didn’t trust her. Back then (early season six), he kinda laughed at her when she talked about trust and said something amazing like, “Oh Abby, I love you but I don’t trust you,” but he seemed rather jolly about the whole thing. Now, after attempting to figure out what the hell was going on at Empire Valley, after that big speech he gave about morals and ethics that concluded with, “God, are we different,” I think he’s finally done with her. He might not be ready to get an official divorce yet, but he’s definitely giving her a mental divorce at this point, and he’s making it very clear to her that there’s no chance of him ever being able to trust her again.
We see that Gary is pretty much done with Abs rather clearly in this ep, because he sleeps with somebody else. My question is: Who does he sleep with? It’s a Hispanic looking chick, and for a minute I thought it was his loyal housekeeper, Maria. Am I crazy? I don’t mean to do the white guy thing where I can’t tell any dark-skinned person apart (I really don’t have that problem; the issue with Maria comes from the fact that she’s barely ever shown and I think she morphs actresses a few times, as well), but I’m pretty sure this isn’t Maria, that it’s just some random chick. In any case, I love the fabulously KL way that this is shown, we just have Gary climbing out of bed after shagging this chick, and that’s about it; we don’t need any big dramatic pounding music to say GARY’S HAVING AN AFFAIR! I don’t know if I’d even call this an affair, and not just because it seems to be a one-time shag and nothing more, but because I’m pretty sure if Abs asked him if he was sleeping with someone else, he would just be like, “Yeah, so? I don’t like you or trust you anymore.”
But Gary’s little shag with some chick who might be Maria and might not be Maria is nothing compared to a very pivotal scene that takes place early in this ep at Westfork. See, he’s having Val over for some reason or other; I think she’s actually taken it upon herself to come see him and ask that he stop sending gifts to Bobby and Betsy all the time, which is something he’s been doing rather frequently for awhile. However, the big scene which occurs and which I had somehow completely forgotten about (HOW?!) is that when Val asks him to stop doing that, Gary tells her, “I know,” and when Val tries to act confused about it, he says, “I know those babies are mine.” Ugh, just watch the look on Val’s face and the way these two amazing actors are able to play off each other in the scene. Don’t we all just want sooooooooo bad for them to get back together? Can’t we all see that they are each other’s true soulmates and they are made to be together? And as I’ve blathered on about before, we are now at a point where we are nearly 150 eps deep and Gary and Val truly feel like real people and not television characters; Shack and J.V.A. have been playing these two for so long that it must be like second nature to them at this point. Val gets very serious on Gary and says how he can’t keep hanging around, that she and Ben have their own family now and he needs to respect that. She neither confirms nor denies his suspicions, but I think we can see that she knows denying would do know good. Gary just knows they’re his kids, and it’s not just because they look exactly like him and the timing of the one-time-only shag between him and Val back in season five lines up for their birth, but I think he just knows down in his core, in his soul.
Later in the ep, Ben confronts Gary and tells him to stay away, yet another great scene in an ep littered with great scenes. The genius of KL is often so profound that I don’t think I am smart or deep enough to even begin to understand it or properly explain it. How can I properly explain how basically every single character in this situation is relatable and easy to understand, while the complexities of all this drama also remain exciting and captivating and strangely realistic? What I mean to say by that is, it would be so easy for Ben to be a nothing character (the way he was in my memories, my memories that were completely and 100% wrong because Ben is fucking great and I’m now declaring him a highlight of this era of KL), a guy the writers ship in as merely an obstacle for Gary and Val. He could so easily have just been a bland “nice guy” meant to fill the role for a little while, but he’s just as complex as anyone on the show, really. I feel so sorry for him as he tries to build this life with Val and the twins but probably knows, deep down, that while Val loves him, she just has a deep and unbreakable connection with Gary that goes beyond time and space.
But the relationships are so complex that we can’t even just dismiss this as, “Oh, Val loves Ben, but she loves Gary way more.” I believe that there are all sorts of love, that we can love a lot of people throughout our lives, all in different and special ways. As of this writing, I have only been in love with one person, and that was a long time ago, but I also love my parents, My Beloved Grammy, the kitty I live with (Connie), my friends, teachers that have affected my life; love is complex and wide-reaching. Also, the way the writers manage to keep Gary and Val apart for so long doesn’t feel inorganic or contrived like it would on a bland show like Friends, where the constant obstacles thrown up in Ross and Rachel’s relationship were just annoying and stupid and way too drawn out over ten years (why does any sitcom need to be on the air for ten years; can someone please explain this to me?). With the Gary/Val stuff, it all feels real and true. Ugh, it’s just so good.
What’s Cathy up to this week? Well, like I said, she’s involved in all the Lilimae/Linda The Waitress/Arthur Fonzarelli drama, but she also gets to sing not one, but two songs. I don’t really remember the first one except to say that I wrote in my notes, “Cathy singing a slower song in a hot black outfit with bra showing.” I’m sure that song was very good and I’m sure her hot black outfit was very hot, but I like and remember her second song better, How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? Real fast, let me talk about the weird track that my brain and My Beloved Grammy’s brain went on when we heard Cathy sing this song. As it started, we both were listening and were like, “I know this song; what song is this?” Then we both became convinced that it was originally an Olivia Newton John song, because it just sounds so Olivia NewtonJohn-ish. Well, then I went and looked it up and it turns out that it’s a song that’s been sung by, um, everybody, but the first prominent one was Laura Branigan in 1983. I kinda like Laura Branigan and I am also kinda underwhelmed with her at the same time, if that makes sense. I think this is due to the fact that my first Branigan song was Gloria, which is just the fucking greatest, but then I went and bought a few of her records on vinyl and, you know, they’re good and all, but they also suffer from that thing where all the songs sorta sound exactly the same, so I don’t think she gets to join the ranks of my favorite artists. By the way, since I know you’ve all been reading the last 143 essays and wondering, “When, oh when is Brett going to tell us who his favorite artists are?”, I shall tell you now. They are Carpenters, Blondie, ABBA, Michael Jackson, Olivia Newton John, David Bowie, The Cars, Bette Midler, and, um, well I’m sure there are more but I can’t quite remember right now.
In any case, obviously Cathy’s rendition of this song is brilliant, and I double checked by listening to the Laura Branigan version and the Michael Bolton version just to confirm that Lisa's is better, and yup, of course it’s better, because her covers are always better than the originals (with the exception of Time After Time, just because that song will always belong to Cyndi). I do wanna try and get deeper and explore what this song is really saying rather than just compare it to other versions. Who is Cathy singing about? Is she singing about Joshua? If that’s the case, it doesn’t really make much sense, since Joshua spent the last few minutes of his life trying to slice her throat and throw her off a roof (this coming after he threw her into a pile of garbage, of course), so I dunno. Maybe she’s just singing a song cuz it’s a good song from the ‘80s and maybe it’s not as deep as I’m trying to make it.
Anyway, enough about all that; how was this ep? Well, I thought it was great, and maybe you guys should just get used to me saying that, cuz so far I think season seven is pumping along just fine; I continue to fail to see why so many fans act like there’s something horribly wrong with this year. In the case of this ep, I can immediately point to several amazing scenes in order to prove my case. Right off the top of my head, you have Cathy singing a great song, you have that sexy crosscutting early in the ep along with the sexy birds-eye angle, you have a stunning Gary/Val scene, a great Ben/Val scene, and a lovely dinner between Greg and Laura. I think those are more than enough reasons to say that this episode is great and belongs in the pantheon of great television episodes to live on for all time. So without futher ado, let’s move on to our next ep, the final ep of the disk My Beloved Grammy and I watched, the aptly titled Web of Lies.