Season 07, Episode 25
Episode 155 of 344
Written by Lynn Marie Latham
Directed by Timna Ranon
Original Airdate: Thursday, April 3rd, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg asks Laura to marry him. She says she will consider it. Greg fires Peter. Eric is very sick with arsenic poisoning. Abby finds out that Galveston dumped acid and arsenic in Empire Valley. She offers to sell Empire Valley to Greg, but he doesn't buy it, suspicious she wants to sell it so fast. Peter's mad at Sylvia for telling Abby everything. Sylvia says she deserves the money, as she really had Galveston's baby. Peter says he has done all the work and threatens Sylvia. Abby tells Peter she wants 51% of whatever money he gets or she will tell Greg that he's not Sylvia's son. When Jill finds out Gary gave Empire Valley to Abby, she agrees to work with Peter to get it from Abby. Gary calls Jill, but she ignores him. Jill tells Peter that she wants out of the plan, because she's fallen in love with Gary and doesn't want to hurt him. Peter reminds her that Galveston killed their parents, and that they've come too far to turn back now.
Welcome to The Legacy, the episode that concluded yet another disk of five eps for My Beloved Grammy and myself. After this ep, we’ve just got one more disk to go and then season seven shall be finished and we’ll move on to season eight. We open The Legacy on the Fairgate MacKenzies at the hospital, hoping to see a very sick Eric. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s probably because I did a crappy job in my last essay and forget to write about a fairly major plot point, which is Eric getting sick. Actually, if I’m remembering correctly, the whole “Eric getting sick” thing sorta spans the whole disk, starting with him just complaining of feeling kinda sick and groggy and then he was rushed to the hospital in our previous ep, Phoenix Rising. Hmmm, what could be wrong with him?
I think I neglected to write about this Eric-related drama in prior eps because, well, I kinda don’t care. It hurts to say that, and perhaps some of my feelings just boil down to my sick obsession with Sexy Michael Fairgate that tends to make me ignore his much less sexy older brother. On the other hand, maybe I’m having a hard time caring about this because, well, it’s just not that exciting? Throughout the ep, we get a whole lot of footage of Karen in the hospital, being all upset, and lots of footage of Eric lying in a bed, all sweaty and sickly, but somehow none of this really engaged me. I found myself thinking back to previous trips that different Fairgates took to the hospital. The first one was of course Saint Sid in his final moments on the series, and then we had Diana in the hospital with kidney trouble for the season four low points of Emergency and Abby’s Choice, and then we had Karen getting major spinal surgery in season six’s #14 With A Bullet. All of these prior hospital visits have gripped me more than Eric’s trip to the hospital now, and that even includes Diana’s. What is it about this storyline that is so fundamentally uninteresting to me? I’m not entirely sure, but I do wanna note real fast that My Beloved Grammy seems fairly convinced that Eric is going to die, and I take that as a compliment to the show’s writing and prior events. As I seem to say over and over again, killing Sid Fairgate off at the start of season three permanently created a “nobody’s safe” feeling on the series, so when characters wind up in the hospital with major problems, we always think back on Sid and how he died and realize that any character could die at any minute. Even so, I still find this storyline a bit of a snore.
One thing about the storyline that I did note with interest was the actress playing Eric’s doctor, Fran Bennett. Ring a bell? It should, because I went on and on about this blacktress (black actress) way back in the third episode of the series, Let Me Count the Ways, when she made her first of three appearances that designate her as a Tangled Knot.
In that ep, she played Bev Tolner, although I don’t think they ever said her name within the confines of the ep. She was just one of the people at the school board meeting near the start of that ep, if I’m remembering correctly, but then she returned in Abby’s Choice as Kimya Haman, although I confess I do not remember her in this ep and I forgot to make mention of her when I talked about the ep so long ago.
Anyway, now here she is to finish her trilogy of appearances and now she is Dr. Faulker, so not only is she a Tangled Knot, she’s sorta a Triple Tangled Knot cuz she showed up three times and played three different characters each time. She also wound up doing this on E.R., by the way, since she showed up in 1996 for the episode Union Station and then showed up again way later in 2008 for Owner of a Broken Heart, playing a different character. Quite the actress, no?
I really don’t care that much about this storyline, even though I can’t quite put my finger on why, so let’s just finish talking about it for the time being and move on to some other business. Hmmm, well yet another plot point I neglected to mention last ep was that we actually concluded with Gary agreeing to give Empire Valley to Abs in exchange for her not dragging his name through the mud during an ugly public divorce. Okay, so now Abs has Empire Valley, I guess, although I confess to being a bit confused about how much of it she gets when we factor in the whole Val’s babies thing. Didn’t Gary leave, like, half of Empire Valley to them? Or was it more complicated than that? Did the trust he left them entitle them to some sort of money or royalties (probably the wrong word to use) for the land, in general? Or does Abby’s taking over of Empire Valley mean the twins are now going to get screwed out of it? A confusing state of affairs, but then all this Empire Valley stuff has been fairly confusing pretty much since it was first introduced, so I guess that’s nothing new. Anyway, when we catch up with Abs in this ep, she’s spending some time at one of her super boring planning commission meetings, looking generally bored and disinterested, but then she hears something that spikes her interest. See, the old bald white guy with a moustache who seems to be leading the meeting turns to the topic of toxic waste disposal and how it should be handled. Then, a different old white guy (sans moustache) says how, “Until the 1970s, it was legal to dig a big hole, so long as it was on your property, and pour toxic waste into it.” Then he starts saying how a lot of different groups used to dispose of toxic waste in the same fashion, and he happens to mention Galveston Industries. Abs gets a look on her face and we can tell she’s doing some thinking. Perhaps Empire Valley could be polluted because of toxic waste within the grounds? Hmmm, what do you think?
Well, Abs does a little bit of research and discovers that, yes indeed, Galveston Industries most definitely dumped all sorts of toxic chemicals, including acid and arsenic. Oh no! From there, it’s time for her to figure out how to get rid of this toxic land she’s just gotten property rights of, so she pays Greg a visit at his skyscraper office to discuss selling it to him. First off, I must note the fabulous way that Abs and Greg greet each other. Abs comes into the office and says hello in a sorta cute way, like mellow but jolly, and then Greg has this wonderful line where he says, “How many thank you cards did you get, you old baby saver, you?” It’s that last part, the “baby saver” part, that I find so amusing. Devane just delivers it in this fabulously sarcastic way and I am once again convinced that this was a line he improvised. Ever since I learned that Devane improvised so much of his dialogue, I’ve found myself obsessed with thinking about which lines those could have been. Nearly every line of dialogue out of Greg Sumner’s mouth is always brilliant, and I wish I could always know who to credit for that, the writers of whatever episode or the actor himself. In any case, Abs tells Greg that she’s getting Empire Valley (and she answers my earlier question when she clarifies that she’s getting what’s left of Empire Valley) and that she is willing to sell it to him. Now that we’ve lived and breathed with Sumner for nearly three years, we should be able to see that he’s a pretty sharp cookie, and he demonstrates that again right here by not immediately jumping for joy at Abby’s pronouncement. He is rightfully suspicious of Abby’s sudden spurt of generosity, pointing out, “You’re awfully eager to get rid of this piece of ground, aren’t you? You’re too kind to me all of the sudden.” Because of this, he says he does want the land, but he’s not gonna sign the document quite yet.
Greg is a busy boy this week because not only is he working with Abs to potentially buy Empire Valley, but he’s also making some pretty bold suggestions to Laura. See, we first catch up with Greg and Laura (and add Cigar #13 to The Sumner Cigar Counter) in his office when he’s moping around, smoking his cigar and doing pretty much nothing. Laura gives a terrifically impassioned speech that I loved and which was delivered fabulously by Constance, starting with her saying, “Cynicism may be fashionable, but it’s really really boring.” I like the line and the way she delivers it, but I do have to take some issue with it, because wouldn’t most fans of the series describe Laura’s character as “cynical”? Maybe this is a little example of the pot calling the kettle black, that Laura is able to see the unappealing aspects of Greg’s cynicism but doesn’t recognize that she’s usually ready to go with a cynical comment of her own. Let me make it clear that I’m not judging; I love Laura and her cynicism is part of what I love the most about her. I am just pointing out that she might be acting like a smidge of a hypocrite. Her speech gets even better when she adds, “The guy I fell in love with was a lot happier when he was going after something and you went after whatever you wanted.” Then she adds how all Greg does nowadays is sit in his office and drink and feel sorry for himself. She raises her voice and she’s amazing and it’s wonderful and then Greg’s reaction is even better, cuz as Laura is about to get going, he casually suggests, “What do you say we get married?” This is then followed by one of my favorite Laura lines ever, a line I remember loving as soon as I heard it. She sorta sighs and then she says, “I appreciate the offer and I’ll seriously consider it.” Even as I type the line out, I find myself smiling and laughing; there is just something about this line that has always tickled my funny bone. I love the line not just because it’s funny, but also because it’s perfect for Laura’s character, especially Laura at this juncture, now three years post-Richard. I imagine that when Greg throws this offer out, Laura immediately finds herself thinking about two things, one of which is how much she loves Greg and wants to marry him, and one of which is how horribly her first marriage went. I can remember being in college and having dinner with my friend and updating him on what was going on in the KL (although I’m sure he didn’t really care) and telling him about this line and how funny I found it and how brilliant the writing on KL was. Well, I loved the line then and I love the line now and think it’s one of Laura’s top ten quotes.
Greg also makes yet another big decision in this ep when he finally decides to fire Peter. See, he previously offered five million dollars to both Peter and Sylvia as something of a test to see how they’d react. Sylvia wanted to take the five million and run with it, but Peter got greedy and decided to say no. Now, Greg asks him one more time, “You sure you don’t want that five million?” and when Peter says no, Greg tells him he’s fired and to go clean out his desk. Pretty cool scene well acted by both Devane and Hunt, who plays Peter as completely caught off guard, shaken and very sad about what has just happened.
This glides us nicely into a scene between Sylvia and Peter that greatly helps to fill us in on their backstory and what exactly they’ve been up to together. Peter is really pissed off with Sylvia for telling Abs that he’s not her real son (during the Trump-esque blank pages scene, you’ll all remember), and then Sylvia says, “But I did have Galveston’s son and I deserve what’s mine,” so we realize officially that Peter and Sylvia are not related. Then Peter has a line that’s a bit clunky, one of those lines that’s overly loaded with exposition in which he says, “I found your file while I was working at Galveston Industries and I found your little white lie!” This is information that’s necessary for us viewers to have, but it’s delivered in a bit of a silly way, cuz of course Sylvia would already know this stuff, so having Peter say “while I was working at Galveston Industries” is, you know, a little bit of crummy writing. Actually, it makes me think of what is quite possibly my all time favorite Simpsons joke, which is from the season five episode, Bart’s Inner Child. The joke is that, well, let me just lay it out in quotes so you can all see the brilliance. It happens when Homer drives the family to a self help lecture and is just parking the car:
Homer: Well, here we are at the Brad Goodman lecture.
Lisa: We know, Dad.
Homer: I just thought I’d remind everybody. After all, we did all agree to attend this self help seminar.
Bart: What an odd thing to say.
Fuck, that joke is brilliant, so funny that it makes me laugh every time I even think about it. Anyway, Peter’s line here is similar to what that joke is making fun of, those clunky exposition dumps that are sometimes necessary in film and television and sometimes work well and sometimes do not work well. I would argue this isn’t one of the better examples, but whatever, I’m way over-focusing on this one microscopic aspect. Throughout the scene, we learn that Peter is the one who did most of the brainwork on this scheme, doctoring up certain files or whatever, figuring out a way to make it look like he’s Sylvia’s son. Frankly, I’m still kinda confused on all this stuff, but I think it’ll become clearer as we move through the rest of the season. Also, I am not confused in the way that I am finding the writing flawed, but in the way that it’s just a complicated story and my poor little brain can’t totally comprehend it quite yet.
Now that Gary has gotten rid of his claim to Empire Valley, J.B. really has no reason to keep hanging around him, although she does tell Peter in this ep that she’s in love with Gary, prompting Peter’s brilliant insight, “Jill, you don’t have to fall in love with everybody you sleep with.” Anyway, J.B. spends this entire episode giving Gary the cold shoulder and ignoring his calls, which seems odd. I get that she originally started hanging around Gary specifically cuz of the Empire Valley stuff, but if she wants to cut him off now, wouldn’t it be better to officially break up with him? How does dodging all of his phone calls somehow work out better? All that happens is Gary spends most of the episode confused and upset cuz he can’t get ahold of J.B. and, when he does, she’s super weird and distant. I do believe that J.B. is in love with Gary (even though she was going after Mack just a handful of eps ago, but we’ll let that slide) and I do believe that she’s wrestling with some pretty confusing thoughts, and I continue to find this character endlessly watchable and fantastically played. Oh yeah, and one last thing on J.B. The Legacy ends with a big plot revelation when Peter and J.B. are hanging out and she’s all upset and asks, “Don’t you care how I feel?” and Peter hugs her and answers, get ready for it, “Of course I care; you’re my sister; you’re the only family I’ve got.” Oh my God!
Meanwhile, Cathy continues to mope around and wish she had something to do. Ugh, it truly hurts me to watch Lisa get so very little to do in her final hours on the series. Basically all she does in this ep is make a bunch of phone calls trying to get someone to hang out with her only to find out that everyone is busy, and then I think she announces to Ben that she’s going on the road or……something. The scenes where Cathy makes futile calls to her friends made me imagine that it’s actually Lisa making phonecalls to different KL writers to see if any of them will write her an interesting storyline. I’ve found myself rather baffled to see that so many KL fans seem to strongly dislike Cathy, a character I’ve loved since as soon as she was introduced (I even loved her back when she was Ciji!), but now I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason why. Do fans just remember Cathy as she was in her last batch of eps on the show, being given nothing interesting to do? I think that might be part of the reason, and I also find myself wondering if, at this point, Lisa knew that she would not be returning to the series for season eight. Who made the decision to have the character leave? Did Lisa wanna leave the show or did the writers decide to write her out? In any case, it’s sad to watch her do nothing knowing that, in just five more eps, she will be gone forever.
That about does it for The Legacy, an ep that was, you know, okay. I really liked our previous ep and think that was probably the highlight of this disk of eps, and The Legacy is a bit of a step down. There are great moments, of course, and some killer lines of dialogue that I’ve already mentioned, but the ep is also lacking in terms of excitement. I don’t care about the Eric-being-poisoned storyline, so that fails to get my heart pumping, and then a lot of the other stuff going on is, you know, good, but it just lacks a certain punch, a comment I’ll probably be making about most of the concluding eps of season seven.
Next up, we shall start our last disk of eps for the season, beginning with Arsenic and Old Waste.