Episode Title: Web of Lies
Season 07, Episode 15
Episode 145 of 344
Written by Diana Kopald Marcus
Directed by Nicholas Sgarro
Original Airdate: Thursday, January 9th, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): When Abby hears that Karen is being considered for the planning commission, she tells Greg that she wants the seat. Abby tries to talk to Gary, but he says it's over, and he invites Jill for a drink. Ben is angry that Gary knows about the twins, but Val swears she didn't tell him. Greg sends Laura a note that says "I Love You Very Much" and takes her out for a romantic evening. Laura asks Mack how she can get divorced, since she can't find Richard. Cathy still wants to tell the truth, and is depressed over the situation. Ben tries to cheer her up. Cathy finally tells Mack the truth, and Mack tells Val to talk to Lilimae. Val tries, but Lilimae says it would tarnish Joshua's memory. Finally, Val gets through to her by saying that Kenny has a mother, too. Lilimae goes to the police station.
Welcome to Web of Lies, a very accurate title for this ep as we are now deep into, well, a web of lies involving many characters. The most obvious example of this would clearly be Lilimae/Cathy/Linda The Waitress/Arthur Fonzarelli, so let’s get started with all that stuff first, shall we? Okay, so in the concluding moments of Unbroken Bonds, we found out that, due to Lilimae’s lies, Arthur Fonzarelli was being arrested for the murder of Joshua. Cathy’s conscious is eating away at her while Lilimae continues to stay silent, insisting that they must not tell anyone the truth about the circumstances surrounding Joshua’s death. Honestly, the exact details of this storyline sorta slip my mind for this ep and it appears that my notes spent a lot more time focusing on other characters and events, although I do remember the conclusion of this ep, which is that Lilimae finally agrees to go and tell the truth. What brings her to this decision? Well, Cathy finally goes off and tells the truth to Mack and Karen, in a scene that I remember enjoying (I think she cries and stuff). After that, Mack speaks with Val about it, probably knowing that she’s not a card carrying member of The Joshua Rush Fan Club and probably won’t throw a hissy fit if she finds out the truth of what was going on before her brother took that high dive. Well, Val isn’t particularly shocked to hear the truth, probably because she was one of the first people to see Joshua’s true colors right around the time she returned from being Verna over in Tennessee (remember that spooky-ass scene between her and Joshua in the kitchen?) and she was also one of the first people to speak out against him when he became violent. She and Lilimae have a nice little scene together where Lilimae goes on about how she doesn’t want people to know the truth and besmirch Joshua’s memory, but Val reminds her that Arthur Fonzarelli has a mother, as well, and that she's going to be suffering plenty if her son is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
I honestly like this storyline, I really do, and I’m sorry to be so dismissive of it two eps in a row, but once again, it’s just because I find myself so much more compelled by the other events throughout the ep. Why don’t we go ahead and shift our focus over to Greg and Laura and all that good stuff? According to my notes, we have another cigar to add to The Sumner Cigar Counter. This makes Cigar #9, and it shows up when he’s in his bathrobe and speaking with Peter at his office. Let’s take a parlay to speak about cigars. I am actually a big fan of cigars, although as with all tobacco products, they are hazardous to your health so I try to limit my intake of cigars to a couple of times a year. So yeah, I like cigars, they are delicious and fabulous, especially when paired with a nice liquor or a fine wine, but I’ll be the first to admit that they are smelly. Actually, it’s not so much the smell while they are being smoked, which I would argue is rather pleasant (cigar smoke tends to have something of a cinnamon undercurrent that’s kinda pleasant to smell, unlike the harsh tar-and-rat-poison smell of cigarettes), but rather the smell of yourself and your clothes after you’ve finally finished a big fat cigar. Whenever I’m finished up with a cigar, I usually hop into the shower and change my clothes and do a thorough teeth-brushing and mouthwashing to get the smell off of myself. Anyway, my basic point is that I love watching Greg smoke his cigars, but when I see that he’s all dressed up in his bathrobe and probably ready to head to bed, all while smoking the shit out of a giant cigar, I do find myself wondering how funky he must smell. Do you think he at least bothers to do the brushing and mouthwashing thing before going to sleep or do you think he climbs into bed with the cigar in his mouth and then just puts it into an ashtray by his bedside and drifts into a peaceful, alcohol-infused sleep? I’m pretty comfortable voting for the latter option, which would also mean his bedsheets would stink like old, stale cigar smoke. In any case, it doesn’t really matter because he’s so unbelievably charismatic that it doesn’t matter if he smells like a smashed-out cigar all the livelong day; when you have the kind of charm that he carries with him, you can smell like anything you wish to.
Greg’s best moment this ep comes when he serves up another nice fancy dinner to Laura, but this time it comes complete with a love note to her, and this is BIG STUFF, ladies and gentlemen, so let’s take note of it. He attaches this cute, sweet note to a tray or something and when Laura reads it, it goes on about how they can go out to eat at any restaurant she wants to go to, and then it concludes with, “PS: I Love You Very Much,” and then Greg sorta smirks and says, “I especially like that last part.” Ugh, I don’t even have a vagina, but I could still feel my vagina loosening up a little because of how unbelievably charming and cute this letter was. With the type of person Greg is, you can understand why he might be hard to get close to, but he definitely loves Laura and I really appreciate the fact that he tells her so. You know what, I loved this scene so much that I’m doing it, here it comes, folks; I am officially declaring that, if you put a gun to my head and told me I must pick between watching Laura and Richard or watching Laura and Greg, I would pick Laura and Greg. They are just fucking amazing whenever they are onscreen together, and they are both such interesting characters and they are both played by such wonderful actors and I just fucking love their relationship and could watch them all day every day.
Oh yeah, one last little thing Laura related that I noted and found interesting. Late in the ep, she asks Mack about the proper procedures necessary to get an official divorce from Richard, who remains MIA and has been MIA since 1983. I found this very interesting because, if I were watching this as a first time viewer in 1986, I think I would predict that Richard is about to return unexpectedly. There’s just something about the feeling I get from Laura bringing up Richard at this juncture and mentioning divorce. I think I would probably think that what’s about to happen is Laura and Greg decide to get married and, at that precise moment, Richard returns from wherever he’s been and tells Laura he still loves her and wants to be with her. Spoiler alert, but that’s not gonna happen, but it’s just an alternate storyline that I feel like I could see happening, particularly if I was watching all of this week-to-week, having no idea what could possibly come next.
While the relationship of Greg and Laura is returning to the forefront and my thighs are melting, we also have an interesting little scene between Abs and Peter Hollister taking place in the slowest elevator of all time. I’ve always enjoyed this trope, by the way, which happens in tons of movies and TV shows, and that would be the trope of people standing in an elevator and having a conversation that goes on for seventeen minutes all while the elevator goes down just a couple of floors. Poison Ivy is a great example of this, as we have a scene between Tom Skeritt and some dude in an elevator, and I’m fairly certain they are only going down one floor, yet they are able to have a long and intimate conversation about life together. Well, that happens here, because this scene lasts, as I said, seventeen minutes, and Abs and Peter have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. I’m sure important stuff happens in this scene and all that, but sorry, I’ve forgotten it, and whatever, Peter’s gonna be with us for awhile and I’m sure we’ll get lots more scenes of him and Abs together, so I’ll pay more attention later down the line. In this case, I was more interested in how slow the elevator was and forgot to pay attention to the dialogue, so I do apologize for that.
Meanwhile, we have the stirrings of a possible affair between Ben and Cathy. I remember this happening, but as I think I mentioned before, my memories were that the affair kinda came out of nowhere, and now I’m seeing that this is not so. Nope, instead the affair is being nicely built up to and hinted at good and early, and we saw the first hints of Ben starting to get a boner for Cathy back when Joshua was still alive, and now that boner is just getting bigger. This episode has a positively fantastic and amazing scene that I’d forgotten all about between the two of them, a scene taking place late at night at Pacific Cable Whatever. Ugh, yes, I love this so, and I hate to keep saying this over and over again, but these characters are sooooooo interesting; couldn’t you just watch them all day? See, the scene is basically that, through a series of circumstances, both Ben and Cathy are still hanging around late while everyone else has gone home, but then they start talking and bonding and all that, and then when we cut back to them after awhile, they are playing the organ together and acting, in the words of Jan Brady, positively goofy.
I gotta say I like seeing these two acting positively goofy together, although My Beloved Grammy asked a question that made me do some serious thinking. She asks if Ben is drunk in this scene, and after she mentioned it, I did notice that he’s acting elated and silly in a way that does seem slightly drunken. Hmmm, does Ben keep a secret bottle in his office like Lou Grant or something? Or is he just drunk on life at this moment and enjoying his time with Cathy? See, even though he acts sorta drunken, we don’t see a bottle or anything lying around, so I guess that we could also ask if Douglas Sheehan was pulling a Ken Kercheval and just getting drunk while acting, but I also have no way to answer this question aside from tracking Douglas Sheehan down, forcing him to watch this scene with me, and then ask him if he was drunk in real life while filming it. What do you think?
I also wanna take a moment to talk about people having affairs and how I’m not nearly as judgmental about it as many people tend to be, mostly because I can understand the urge and the reasons why a person might have an affair (also, just to be clear, I have never had an affair; I’ve always maintained relationships where I instigate The Honesty Policy and I never tell a lie about anything when I’m dating someone). In this case, I think it’s another example of that fine, special, perfect, brilliant KL writing in which all the characters are rich, complex, and intricate individuals. It’s been a couple of minutes since I talked some shit about Dallas, so now seems like a good opportunity. On Dallas, almost all of the affairs conducted by any character (it usually tended to be J.R. or Sue Ellen cheating on eachother) tended to feel like the writers reaching for drama, throwing in an affair to be soapy and dramatic without particularly caring about exploring the rich complexities of the characters. It was more like, “Oh, Sue Ellen’s just been sitting around the house reading and being boring for a couple of eps, um, let’s have her have an affair with, um... Jack Scalia!” With KL, however, it all feels complex and layered and I find myself able to connect to all the characters. Follow me along here on this long rant.
Ben is a good person. He is inherently decent and honest and strives to do the right thing in his life. However, at the same time, he just married Val and he can already see the effect Gary has on her life along with the fact that Gary probably isn’t going anywhere ever; he will always be a huge part of Val’s life. Also, Ben is trying to raise and love two kids who he knows are actually biologically related to Gary, and he knows that Gary knows that, as well. Finally, he and Val have most likely not had a good shag since their honeymoon when they have some time alone; I imagine that whenever they try to get a good shag going together, one of the babies cries or takes a shit or needs to be fed or any of those other awful things that babies do that require so much time and attention. So Ben is probably horny as fuck, which is a natural biological feeling because sex is an inherent need for all humans, no matter what (and no matter how much religious people like to try and pretend it’s not) as well as feeling kinda depressed and inadequate about how he can’t possibly compete with Gary, Val’s one true soulmate since she was fifteen years old. Meanwhile, he’s starting to bond with Cathy in a special way because of her sharing secrets with him, such as how Joshua really treated her. You put all those factors together and, if Cathy and Ben were to have an affair, I wouldn’t feel judgmental towards them because of all those factors. Yet, at the same time, Val is also a good person who strives to be a good wife towards Ben. She can’t control the fact that Gary is her soulmate; it just is and it’s just always been that way. She also can’t control the fact that the babies are Gary’s; they had their little shag way back in season five and it came and went and that’s how she got pregnant. So, I don’t want to see Val cheated on and hurt, but I also understand why Ben might stray from her. It’s just the great writing, the fascinating characters, and the dynamic acting that all comes together to create this glorious cocktail of joy and complexity.
Oooh, and speaking of affairs, who do we have going out for a nice intimate dinner this ep? Why, it’s Gary and J.B.! Two characters I love with all of my heart and soul are now coming together and it’s most fabulous to witness. Again, I love the way Gary is so blatantly having affairs, not even bothering to hide it from Abs, because when Abs confronts him about it, he’s just super direct with her and says how they barely have a marriage anymore and he’s gonna do whatever he wants. Yup, we can all tell that Gary is already feeling emotionally divorced from Abs, so it’s only a matter of time before they go ahead and get a real, physical divorce, as well. In the meantime, we viewers get to watch Gary and J.B. interact together, something to relish.
Also, I like how two separate little stories collide this week when Gary and J.B. are spotted by Mack and Karen. See, Mack and Karen are getting all nice and dressed up and going out to a big fancy dinner together, which I appreciated. This demonstrates how they keep the spark alive in their marriage, because they still act silly together and they still enjoy going out and getting all dressed up and having a big romantic dinner together. If I ever make the horrible, crushing mistake of getting married, I’ll probably take a cue from Karen and Mack’s marriage by doing stuff like this, because I feel it’s very important. Anyway, they’re all dressed up and cute and ready to eat at this fancy place when they spot Gary and J.B. and have a little conversation with them. They invite them to eat with them and Gary and J.B. decline, saying how they already ate, and then they walk off. They walk off, but I’m pretty sure they don’t shag just yet. Gary escorts J.B. to the elevator and says something like, “Can I come up?” and she says they’d better not. Ugh, I want them to shag, I want it so bad, but I have the feeling (based on my memories, mostly), that we won’t have to wait too long to see this shag taking place.
While Gary is off charming J.B. and having romantic dinners with her, Abs is sitting home at Westfork, looking bored and reading magazines by the fireplace. I think we are starting to get the first hints of that super rebellious Olivia, as well, because she’s starting to get pretty darn sassy with her mother. In this ep, she has an argument with Abs about what color fingernail polish she can wear, and Abs says how she can wear clear polish and that’s it (she might have mentioned some other color, but I forgot) and then Olivia gets this great glare on her face and says, “No wonder Gary doesn’t want to come home anymore.” Ooooh, nice burn, Olivia, and you can tell it really works on Abs, who probably knows that her marriage is on its last legs.
The last, and probably most important, thing worth talking about in this ep is the fact that we see Sexy Michael shirtless and playing basketball in a scene that made me want to start masturbating right away. Fortunately, I was able to control myself for the sake of My Beloved Grammy, but I definitely had a real Dr. Strangelove battle with my hands during this sequence, because fuck, the wardrobe department has once again dressed Sexy Michael up in almost nothing, no shirt, just the shortest pair of ‘80s short shorts imaginable. Again, I am convinced that the producers and writers and everyone were now well aware of what a fucking goldmine they had in Sexy Michael, as they probably knew that their fan-base was 99.9% gay men (I’m just kinda kidding here, by the way; I know that KL has a rich and diverse fan-base of both men and women, some straight, some gay, some bi, Bob Loblaw). I wonder if Pat Petersen knew how fucking beautiful and stunning and perfect his body was when he was playing out scenes like this, or do you think he was just like, “Okay, so in this scene I’m playing basketball shirtless? Okay, got it”? This is still a decade or two before all straight boys suddenly became super insecure and uncomfortable with their bodies and they would still play shirtless basketball and shower together after team sports and stuff like that, something that, in my opinion, is a very important of male bonding for both straight and gay boys and something that sadly seems to have died off in the 21st century. I guess everyone is so puritanical and full of body shame nowadays that we have forgotten that everyone has bodies and God made all of our bodies and they are all beautiful, although obviously no body has ever been more beautiful than Sexy Michael’s body right here, which is clearly the greatest work of art that God has ever created in his entire time of creating bodies.
Okay, so enough about me drooling over Sexy Michael and thinking about how I need to call Doc Brown up so I can travel back in time and sodomize 1986 Pat Petersen; how was this ep? It was good, really good. I should take this moment to say that I think we hit two separate crescendos of drama this season, the first being the culmination of Joshua’s time on the show and the second being Gary blowing up Empire Valley, and now I think we are sorta in a seeds-planting stage of the season, getting new and exciting plotpoints fired up for the second half of the season. However, I’m still captivated by everything going on, I still think the show has the best cast on television at this point, and I still think each and every character is fascinating and intricate. We are now precisely halfway through season seven, and I am still enjoying the shit out of the series. With that said, let’s move right along to our next episode, entitled The Confession.