Episode Title: The Confession
Season 07, Episode 16
Episode 146 of 344
Written by David Paulsen
Directed by Nick Havinga
Original Airdate: Thursday, January 16th, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Jill tells Karen that someone spoke to the Governor on Abby's behalf, but she'll do all she can to help her. Abby tells Karen that they won't choose her because of her drug problem. Karen tells them about her drug problem, but it's too late - the Governor has already chosen Abby. Peter lets Greg know he went to law school. He then visits his mother and they talk about how they'll have a lot of money soon. Cathy and Lilimae are grilled by police. The police tell Mack that they may be charged with murder - after all, Cathy was in prison for murder, and Lilimae was arrested for running over Chip. Cathy has a new saxophone player on her show, Sonny Harkins. He befriends Cathy and says he'll be there if she needs to talk. Unbeknownst to her, he tapes their conversations.
Welcome back for another exciting episode of KL and a fresh new disk of joy for My Beloved Grammy and myself, this particular disk spanning today’s episode, The Confession, through A Very Special Gift. Okay, so what was going on when we last left off? Well, the longest running story at this point in the saga would probably be the fallout from Joshua’s death, which continues to have ramifications with this ep. Okay, so Lilimae is continuing to have trouble dealing with the actual factual of what went down in the final weeks and months of Joshua’s life, but I think she’s starting to get a little better at it by this point. See, Lilimae and Cathy finally do go to see the police this week and tell the truth, but it takes a little bit of time. Early in the ep, two detectives come to visit Lilimae at her house (or should I refer to it as “Val’s house”?) and they kinda sorta start grilling her, basically saying that they aren’t here to arrest her but kinda subtly impying that they may return later to do just that. After they leave, we have a scene of several characters managing to get the truth, or at least part of the truth, out of Lilimae. I can’t remember exactly how many characters are involved and in my notes I just wrote, “Lilimae interrogated by friends,” but I definitely remember Mack being an important part of this sequence. In any case, it’s upon the urging of her friends that Lilimae finally decides to do the right thing and go tell the truth.
But wait, there’s still one more thing to talk about in this story, and that’s a kinda fabulous scene of Lilimae all alone, talking to herself in this long, Shakespearean soliloquy. It takes place inside her bedroom, but at a certain point she walks outside and I realize that Lilimae’s bedroom connects to a fantastic outdoor patio on the upper level of the house, my goodness. How did Lilimae manage to score the good bedroom? Why aren’t Ben and Val sleeping in there? Why didn’t Gary and Val immediately move into this awesome comes-equipped-with-a-patio bedroom as soon as they moved in back in the first episode? Do any of the other bedrooms in this house have an outdoor patio? Ugh, such questions. Anyway, the long scene involves Lilimae sorta talking to Joshua as if he is still alive, and the reason I say the scene is kinda fabulous is because this could fall totally flat in the hands of nearly any other actress, but Julie makes it work. Basically, the scene is functioning to remind us viewers of everything that’s happened in case we missed a few eps earlier in the season, because Lilimae just sorta goes over the entire Joshua arc all the way up to his death. This could be bad, right? It could scream obvious exposition at us viewers or it could just come across as clunky and badly handled, but Julie gives it heart and pathos and I believe her, so the scene really winds up working.
From there, it’s time to tell the truth to the police, but as can be the case on nighttime soap operas, things aren’t going to be quite as easy as our characters might hope. I liked this scene because it continues a stylistic device that they’ve been using frequently this year, that of the crosscutting from one set of characters to another set of characters and sorta allowing them to finish eachother’s sentences. I’m clearly obsessed with this device since I noted it as early as episode two, Community Spirit, and christened it The KL Rapid Cut. Here, Lilimae and Cathy are being interrogated separately, so we get a lot of scenes of the cops, say, asking Cathy some question and then we cut to Lilimae supplying an answer. As the scene unfolded, I kinda thought (or perhaps I should say “hoped,” to be honest) that this would serve as the final story beats in this whole affair and we’d be ready to wrap all this up pretty soon, move on to some new stuff for Cathy and Lilimae, but it doesn’t quite work out that way. See, I thought that the cops would see their stories match up perfectly, they’d let them go about their lives, and that would be it, but instead the cops seem to start thinking that, somehow, Lilimae and Cathy were in on a conspiracy to murder Joshua together.
I’ve been watching season seven and enjoying the shit out of it, even going so far as to declare the first ten eps of the season (The Longest Day through Rise and Fall) to be equally as good as the sublimely brilliant and perfect sixth season of the show, and this whole time I’ve been paying close attention and watching really hard to see what other fans seem to dislike so much about this season. Finally, in the sixteenth episode of the season, I am starting to see some problems, and they arrive pretty much right off the bat in the form of Sonny. No, this is not James Caan from The Godfather, but rather Sonny Harkins, a new romantic interest for Cathy played by William Ostrander. Real fast before I talk about why I don’t like this character, I should point out that even though I didn’t recognize him upon viewing this disk of eps, as soon as I looked up his IMDb I was like, “Oh yeah, it’s the guy from Christine!” This man played Buddy Repperton, the most evil of the evil greaser bullies from that movie, the one who leads his gang of thugs to trash Christine and totally destroy her, only for her to heal herself a little bit later in one of the movie’s best scenes. He’s also credited for Mulholland Drive, a movie I’ve seen many times but I confess I can’t remember who he was in that. However, I’ll always remember his role in Christine, so it’s a little strange that I didn’t recognize him, but he does have very different hair on KL than he did in that movie, when he had a sorta Johnny Steele Power of the Night thing going on.
So yeah, let’s just get the cat out of the bag right now as soon as Sonny Harkins as introduced: I don’t like this character and I don’t like this storyline. He’s only gonna wind up being in four eps, his last being The Key to a Woman’s Heart, but he represents the very first instance I think we’ve seen on the series since we entered the golden era of season four and beyond in which the writers clearly don’t seem to know what to do with one of their main cast members. Perhaps I should provide a little context before I go on. Okay, so Cathy is arriving to work at Pacific Cable Whatever and she’s being mobbed by evil paparazzi people seeking a statement on the recent developments in Joshua Rush’s death. She has to sorta battle her way out of the crowd, but then new character Sonny heroically enters and rescues her, getting her safely inside the station. Immediately he’s like, “Hi, I’m Sonny; I’ve never been in an ep of KL before, but here I am now and I’m all super charming and nice to you and you’re gonna like me right away!” As soon as he popped up, I was like, “Uh oh,” and my heart-sinking feeling only intensified as we moved further through the disk. See, next up is some scene of Cathy doing, um, you know, something, and she’s at the studio, and she’s stressed about something or other, and then here comes Sonny to be all “charming” and “nice” to her and tell her how she’s got a friend in him and she can tell him anything. As soon as Cathy walks off, however, his eyes narrow and he looks really scary and wicked and I turned to My Beloved Grammy and said, “Okay, so he’s definitely evil,” and she agreed with me. This is confirmed and underlined and broadcast to us viewers in big bold block letters at the very ending of the episode when he is, again, going on to Cathy about how she can trust him and tell him anything (and she just immediately believes him, argh!!!!), but then as soon as she walks away, he pulls an evil tape recorder out of his pocket and, I guess, we viewers are supposed to gasp and say, “My God, he’s evil?!”
I should probably take a moment for a brief aside in which I explain my brain and my memories of the series. You guys might be reading this stuff and being like, “Well duh, of course you know he’s evil because you’ve watched the series before.” True, I’ve watched the series before, but only once, and while I remember the big stuff, I’ve forgotten a lot of the little details, and this whole Sonny arc had completely fallen out of my brain. I had no recollection of any of this stuff, not even of the character ever existing. When he showed up onscreen, I felt a little confused and surprised by the fact that I didn’t remember this at all, but as we move along, I think we’ll see that my brain simply rejected the memory of this storyline because it sucks. Why does it suck? I feel like maybe I should save my thoughts for the upcoming eps as the storyline’s intensity (I’m being very liberal in my use of that word) ratchets up, but fuck it, I’ll just sorta blow my wad right now. Cathy just got out of an abusive and psychotic and dysfunctional relationship two minutes ago (okay, it was five eps ago, but you all get my point) and you would think, realistically, that after going through something like that, she might have some issues with trusting men. What I would do if I was writing the show (which would be impossible since I was still negative four years old when this was airing on television) is that I would give Cathy some good stories about being unable to trust men, about dating new men but being afraid of them and distrustful of them, convinced that they could all be just like Joshua. What I would definitely not do is immediately introduce some random, completely made up and new character, have Cathy be super duper trusting of him right off the bat, and then expect the audience to be surprised when he turns out to be wicked.
Also, not to get too spoilerish, but Cathy is going to leave the series pretty soon. Come season eight, she will be gone and I will be crying and missing her fantastic singing and that warm Lisa Hartman presence that, barring that span of eps from late season four to early season five in which Ciji was dead and Cathy hadn’t been introduced yet, I’ve become very used to ever since season four, when Lisa made her glorious debut to the series. Anyway, we’ve got about fifteen eps left with Cathy, and I’d really like to see her getting some great material to work with in those fifteen eps, but instead it feels like the writers have no idea what to do with her and are content to just completely repeat what they did throughout season six and the start of season seven. “Hmmm, so we just killed Joshua, and he was a bad dude, so, um, how about we introduce a new bad dude into Cathy’s life as a possible love interest?” I think the fact that Cathy is so trusting of this character so quickly kinda tarnishes her a bit in my estimation, because it makes her character seem really really dumb. During all the Joshua stuff, I never thought Cathy was dumb; I saw her as a woman in love with a man who was, for awhile, sweet and nice to her, unable to understand how he could change so fast and become so violent and scary. Now, however, she is starting to seem dumb, and it also doesn’t help that this makes the third wicked dude to be a part of Cathy’s life, if we jump back to season five and remember that evil, like, ex-husband guy that was hanging around and bothering her for a few eps. Hell, if we kinda sorta count Ciji and Cathy as the same character, this makes the fucking fourth wicked dude that she’s been in a relationship with, cuz we all remember Chip Roberts, don’t we? Like I said, the writers are seeming to just go back over the same tracks, not sure of what new material to give to poor Cathy, and that's just really sad.
Oh yeah, and the last bit of vitriol I’ll spew towards all this Sonny nonsense for this particular ep: I absolutely hate when TV shows introduce some new, stupid, random, completely made up character to be a romantic interest and they give them one stupid little quirk to try and show us how the other character could be charmed by that person. In the case of Sonny, he plays the saxophone. Ugh. So we get a scene of Cathy visiting him at a bar that looks a hell of a lot like Isadora’s (is it Isadora’s?) while he plays his stupid sax. This is the writers being like, “Ooooh, Cathy’s a musician, and this guy’s a musician, so that’s why she likes him!” Well, I hated it, and I hated the stupid way that they have a little conversation and then he spins around to face her while he’s playing his stupid sax and backing his stupid self up onto the stupid stage with his stupid band and it’s all just stupid.
Also, I’m not loving how long all this Joshua death fallout stuff is lasting. In the past, I have said how I love the slow-burn storytelling of KL, how I love that they don’t rush through stories too fast just to get to the next big epic drama, that instead they let the drama unfold organically and naturally and it works so much better that way. However, in this instance it feels like it’s just going on forever; this is now the sixth episode since Joshua died and yet we’re still dealing with Lilimae and Cathy and the police not believing them and I am just ready for it to move on. Even so, this story doesn’t bother me as much as the Sonny stuff does. It’s a little boring and slow and it’s going on too long, but it’s not as stupid as the Sonny thing; it’s merely testing my patience at this point. However, there is still one aspect to this that I liked and appreciated, and that is a small little scene where one of the cops mentions how Cathy has a previous murder charge and Lilimae tried to run over Chip with her car. You all know how much I love callbacks of this sort, demonstrating that the writers remember where the characters have been and like to refresh us about events that have happened years and years ago. This is something about KL I really appreciate and feel it does way better than Dallas, where after some bit of drama was wrapped up, the writers would usually just move on and forget about it. A perfect example is the dead body of Kristin showing up floating in the Southfork pool. For ten more years, the characters swam happily in that pool and we never once got one little line where something said, “Gee, isn’t it kinda weird for us to just keep swimming in this pool even though a dead body was found in it?”
If it sounds like I’m doing a lot of bitching about this ep, I’m gonna shift gears here and talk about a scene I positively loved and have about a million things to say about. This also goes right back to what I was just discussing, about how the characters deal with dramas and turmoil that are not shuffled under the carpet and forgotten immediately. In this instance, we have a fabulous callback to Karen’s pill popping days of season five. You all remember how Karen wants to get that spot on the governor’s planning committee? And how Abs is trying to steal the spot from her? Well, in this ep we get a great Karen/Abs confrontation that gave me a KL boner in which Karen says how Abs is only doing this to be spiteful, because she’s angry that Gary is no longer listening to her vote or her opinions on Lotus Point issues and is always backing up Karen. Abs gets real wicked in this scene by saying how she wishes Karen good luck and then saying something like, “I wonder how the governor would feel if he knew that you had a drug problem.” Ugh, so good, and you can really see the disgust in Karen’s face when she says, “I can’t even believe that you’re bringing this up.” This scene is great, but it’s actually the next scene that I love even more.
Karen meets with J.B. (God yes; I’m so glad she’s here to stay now) along with some governor guy or commissioner guy or whatever, played by Sid Conrad, who is a Transmorpher (he appeared in a 1985 Dallas called Lockup in Laredo). In the scene, Karen is facing a real moral quandary, but she does the correct, ethical thing and tells the Transmorpher about her season five drug problem. She is very honest and forthright and says how she got addicted to prescription pills and had to go to rehab to get over her problem, but that she’s clean now and has been for two years. The real kicker of the scene is that the Transmorpher looks kinda surprised and uncomfortable and then he reveals that she didn’t need to volunteer any of that information because the governor has already decided to give Abs this spot as part of the planning commission. Ugh, poor Karen looks so dejected at this news and your heart really goes out to her.
I love this scene very much, and it’s always stuck with me and I’ve always remembered it from first viewing. I think by this point in my college days, I had officially been converted into a fulltime KL fan and I was running around telling anyone who would listen that not only is KL a brilliant show, but it’s even better than Dallas. During that time, I remember watching this scene and loving the fact that Karen has to make a moral decision and that she wrestles with that decision, does the right thing, and then winds up kinda humiliated because of it. One of the things I love about KL in general is that you have lots of characters who are actually good, decent, ethical people, and you can actually watch them and take some cues from them for how to live an ethical life, while at the same time these characters never become boring. On lots of shows, the nice characters are the least interesting ones, but on KL, all the characters are super interesting and compelling, whether they lean towards the wicked, like Abs, or they lean towards the good side, like Karen. Also, I want to note that David Paulsen wrote this episode and even though I’m being critical of some aspects of this script, I’m continually impressed by how many callbacks he manages to infuse into his scripts. This makes me wonder if he was a regular KL viewer even as he worked on a number of seasons of Dallas. Do you think that he would work on Dallas but just enjoyed watching KL on Thursday nights because he simply liked the show? Or do you think he got the job of supervising producer for this season and did a real quick marathon of the first six seasons of the show to get up to date? Or, a third option, do you think he just sat down with established writers and producers and David Jacobs and Michael Filerman and they gave him a rundown of what all the characters had gone through throughout the previous 130 eps? Ugh, such questions I may never have answers to, but David Paulsen, if you’re reading this, please reach out to me because I now have Skype and I can easily conduct an interview with you this way and there are such questions I want to ask you.
Let’s talk about Greg, who has actually managed to steal My Beloved Grammy’s heart by this point in the saga, as she now declares that he is her favorite character on the show. If you wanna track My Beloved Grammy’s character opinions, during the first two seasons, she said Karen and Sid were her favorite characters, and during season three it was Karen. Somewhere during season six, she told me that Mack was now her favorite character, but now as we are deep into season seven, Mack has been trumped by Greg Sumner. My Beloved Grammy laughs at nearly everything Greg says and she says all of his lines of dialogue are hysterical and she likes his storylines on the series the best. Anyway, the most important thing to note about Greg right off the bat is that we hit Cigar #10 on the Sumner Cigar Counter. We don’t get a lot of time with this cigar, as the scene cuts just after it’s been lit, but in any case, Greg puts it in his mouth in his sexy office while speaking with Peter and Peter lights it with one of those fabulous gigantic table lighters that have gone out of style since everyone quit smoking.
Aside from Cigar #10, we also have the first shag between Laura in Greg in what feels like forever. Seriously, when was their last shag? I feel like it was probably in late season six in that ep where Ava Gardner pissed off Laura so she rushed home to her bathtub and Greg came in and put his hand under the bubbles (I just double checked my notes and that was episode 128, One Day in a Row). After that, Ava and Abs pulled their little scheme to break up Laura and Greg and I’m pretty certain the two haven’t shagged since then, although obviously Sumner has been shagging call girls (“Whatever”) to fill the void. Well anyway, it’s glorious to see Laura and Greg lying naked in bed together all snuggled up after a good, solid evening of nonviolent sex, and I also loved a little detail here where Greg says, “You’ve got a great neck.” Why do I love this detail? Because it calls back to the first time we saw that Greg was interested in Laura, when he got up all close to her and smelled her neck way back somewhere in season five. Greg liked her neck then and he likes her neck now. Also, Greg tells Laura, “I could get used to having you around again,” which made my thighs melt. Greg and Laura, man; I remember enjoying this couple upon first viewing but I don’t remember enjoying them this much. Honestly, at this point in the saga, they might be my favorite couple on the series.
The last really important bit of business for this ep is the introduction of a new character, Sylvia Lean, played by Ruth Roman, who’s kinda a big deal and has been in a ton of stuff, her first movie credit dating all the way back to 1943. In the pantheon of old famous women showing up on KL, I’d say she’s not up there with Ava Gardner, but she’s still a name, and My Beloved Grammy immediately recognized her name in the guest credits at the start and said how she used to see her in a ton of movies. Her stint on KL will span seventeen eps (according to IMDb so, again, take that with a pinch of salt) and she will make her last appearance in 1987 with My True Love. Actually, her stint on KL represents some of her last acting ever, because all that’s left after this is three episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Anyway, Sylvia is introduced in an inauspicious way, which I always appreciate, just cooking up something nice and yummy in her little kitchen. Then Peter comes in and gives her a kiss on the cheek and we quickly establish that she is his mother. That’s told to us directly, but the rest of the dialogue in the scene deliberately stays on the vague side, with them talking about how soon they will be coming into a lot of money. I’m enjoying this development and the slow way it’s unfolding, and I’m also finding myself enjoying the character of Peter Hollister a lot more than I remember from first viewing. This is all we get with these two together for this week, but this is major seed planting and this shall all grow into big flowers as we power along through this season and the next one.
I’d say that about does it for my thoughts on The Confession. Hmmm, what to say in my wrap-up thoughts? This ep had lots of things I like, especially all those nice callbacks to events from the past, any scene with Laura and Greg, and the introduction of Sylvia into the story. At the same time, I was bored by the continuing Lilimae developments, aside from her lovely soliloquy scene, and I hated the Sonny/Cathy developments, the first time I have used the word “hated” towards anything relating to KL since way back in season three’s Silver Shadows. So it was a mixed bag, and even though I really passionately liked the things I liked about this ep, those flaws damaged it for me, so I’m actually gonna declare this the worst episode of the season that we’ve seen thus far. Hopefully this is just a little speedbump and not a harbinger of how the rest of the season shall unfold, because I remember just loving this season and being baffled by so many fans seeming to have major issues with it.
Anyway, we’ll see how these developments continue to play out as we jump into our next episode, Alterations.