Thursday, January 25, 2018


Episode Title: Thicker Than Water

Season 07, Episode 29

Episode 159 of 344

Written by Lawrence Kasha

Directed by Kate Tilley

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 8th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary offers to take back Empire Valley from the twins. He then agrees to sell it to Greg if he will guarantee the cleanup. Greg tells Laura that he wants Peter in politics, because then he will be back in politics. Peter's resistant, so Greg says if he will run, he will publicly acknowledge him as his brother and give him a big settlement. Greg also stops Sylvia's monthly check. Abby also tells Peter to accept Greg's offer, and she sleeps with him. Mack is worried when Karen misses lunch and he can't locate her. Ben tells Cathy he will go on tour with her, and Cathy is excited. He tells Val, who is stunned. Val tries to talk him out of it, and is scared he is leaving her. Ben assures her it is only for six weeks, and he really needs the time away to think about things. Lilimae is angry at Cathy and slaps her. Ben leaves. Paige Matheson shows up at the MacKenzies’. When Mack gets home, she says "I've wanted to meet you for a long time. I'm your daughter." Paige has arrived.

                When we last left off, we found out that Charlie Lee, that unforgettable character so vital to every single episode of KL since the very first episode, had died due to arsenic poisoning.  As America gasps and sheds tears for this unbelievably important and resoundingly popular character’s death, Karen goes to work shutting down Lotus Point, and that’s how we first catch up with her at the beginning of this episode.  Our first scene of the show demonstrates some fine crosscutting as we keep alternating between Abs giving a press conference, ensuring absolutely everybody that the water is safe and non-toxic, and Karen driving angrily to Lotus Point, intent on putting the kibosh on this press conference and, for the time being at least, the entire Lotus Point operation.  I enjoyed how this scene was done, not just with the crosscutting that I am obviously so fond of, but the way they show footage of Karen doing her thing with Abs doing the voiceover on the soundtrack.  Also, we have that whole sorta call-and-response thing going on, such as when Karen is telling some worker how they are going to have to shut down, and she says, “We have a problem,” and then we immediately cut to Abs telling the reporters, “There is no problem.”  They use this device a lot at this point in the series, but I never get tired of it because I think it consistently keeps scenes more alert and more interesting than if you did it in a more generic and typical television way.

                I also think this crosscutting helps to further demonstrate the vast differences between Abs and Karen.  When a crisis like this occurs, Abs goes to work assuring the press and everyone else that there is no problem, even drinking the water herself to prove it.  It’s not that she’s lying, necessarily, but she’s sorta fiddling with the truth in order to keep up appearances of everything being alright, almost surely thinking about all the profits that would be lost if Lotus Point was shut down.  Conversely, as soon as Karen hears that fan favorite Charlie Lee has died, she decides they are going to shut the resort down.  As soon as a human life has been lost, Karen puts all other matters aside, not caring about issues like image or profit; all she cares about is solving the problem and making sure nobody else gets sick.  Karen operates through ethics while Abs operates through money.  We all remember Abs saying how, if it came to a choice between love and money, money would win every time.  Well, I also think that holds true for most other things in her life.  If it comes to the death of the amazing Charlie Lee versus the profits that Lotus Point brings in, the profits are gonna take precedence in Abby’s mind.  

                Now, you all know I love Karen with all my heart and always will.  She is a vital part of the series and one of the most important aspects of the saga and I also love how Michele plays her.  That said, this rewatch is showing me that sometimes she can be a bit much, and this ep has a scene that’s a real doozy.  Basically, Karen has another one of her histrionic fits (similar to “What is an A.P.B.?” from, um, you know, somewhere near the start of season five), this time directed towards her doting and loving family.  See, she comes home from a long day at Lotus Point and Sexy Michael is ready to be a perfect son, offering her some coffee or tea or whatever, and Eric and Mack are also there, trying to be nice.  Eric suggests they go see a 1986 movie and then Sexy Michael says how they can go for Chinese food afterwards.  Mack agrees with this plan and then, very abruptly, Karen starts yelling, screaming, “For God’s sake, can’t you just let me be miserable?!”  She adds how she had to walk around all day pretending to be happy, “Telling everybody we’re reopening when I don’t even believe it myself.”  It’s this line in particular that I found a bit extreme, because Michele, well, she just way overacts in her delivery of this line, her face contorting and expanding and her eyes getting all big and wide.  It’s moments like these that make me wish Karen could mellow out a bit and be more like her fabulous seasons-one-through-four self.  She didn’t used to have histrionic fits quite so often, but it seems to happen rather frequently nowadays.  To be clear, I understand why Karen is stressed and I don’t judge her for being stressed, but I just found Michele’s acting in this scene to be a bit much and I could have lived without the yelling (also I think I'm still dealing with a hangover from "DAMN YOU, PAUL GALVESTON!").

                The only other story Karen-related this ep is that she, um, disappears.  This sets the stage for our next episode, in which we reveal that she’s been kidnapped.  In my brain, Karen didn’t vanish until that season finale, but it actually happens here.  See, she’s lying in bed one morning, being kinda mopey, and Mack is on his way off to work.  He says how she owes him a lunch since she didn’t show up for breakfast, and he says how they’ll meet at one o clock at the beach.  By the way, a random sidenote, but I like the way Karen smiles and says, “Okay,” to Mack’s request; it’s a sweet moment of love between the two characters.  The problem is that when lunchtime comes, Karen is nowhere to be seen.  Honestly, I didn’t connect the dots in my head and I assumed that Mack and her would have some confrontation later about how she forgot to show up, but that’s not so, because she’s been kidnapped.  Is it a spoiler to say that Karen’s been kidnapped?  We don’t get that reveal in this exact ep, so perhaps I am spoiling things, but we find out she’s been kidnapped in the next ep, so it’s not like we have to wait that long to find out.  Also, let’s be real, even though I try to keep these essays spoiler-free, if you’re sitting down and reading all of these, you’re probably already a fan and have seen every ep, no?  Leave me a comment if I’m wrong, which hopefully I am.  It would be killer if I found out someone really was watching each ep one by one and then reading my essays after watching the eps.  If someone like this is out in the universe and I just spoiled the fact that Karen’s been kidnapped, well, I’m sorry about that.

                The affair between Ben and Cathy only intensifies in this ep.  First, we see Val and Lilimae sitting at home together and watching the press conference from earlier.  When Val sees the part where one reporter asks Abs about why Ben’s twins are getting a big chunk of the land or whatever, she’s all like, “Oh crap, I’d better call Ben,” but there’s no answer at the station.  Next, we cut to Ben watching Cathy as she listens to audio of herself singing Words, a song we’ve heard her sing once before, somewhere in season six.  Can I just say Ben looks really and truly miserable here?  The scene starts with him facing up towards the sky, his eyes closed, his face solemn.  This is a man who just does not know what to do with his current situation, and I do feel sorry for him.  From here, we cut to a quick other scene, but then we return to Ben and see that he’s at The Plant House, visiting Cathy as she prepares for her tour.  She’s packing her bags up and getting ready when Ben asks her if she’s found a new manager for the tour (oh yeah, she fired the asshole manager from our prior ep, in case I forgot to mention that) and then he volunteers for the role, saying, “I guess I’d be the best man for the job.” 

Cathy’s reaction here is very sweet, as she cheers and says, “Oh Ben, that would be so great,” clearly very excited about it, and then she throws her arms around Ben in a big embrace right before we go to commercial.  As I keep saying, I don’t condemn either of these characters for having an affair, and I especially think that Cathy’s behavior here shows that she’s infatuated with Ben in a special way, not just trying to steal him away from Val to be wicked.  Cathy needs someone like Ben to treat her well and make her feel special and the two clearly bring out a fun side in each other.  I can remember a scene from earlier in this season (I think it was somewhere near the start of the season, when Joshua was still alive) in which Cathy and Ben played the organ together and acted silly at the station, and I think that’s a good way to be.  However, I think we can all clearly see from Ben’s pain-filled face that the man is wracked with guilt.  That’s because he is a good person and he knows he’s doing a bad thing and being dishonest with his wife.  I imagine he’s wrestling with his own confusion, wondering if he loves Val or if he loves Cathy, or perhaps if he loves both, maybe trying to figure out which one he loves more.

There’s an interesting scene near the midway point of the ep in which Lilimae pays a visit to The Plant House to speak with Cathy.  Now, at first I thought this was going to play out differently.  At first, I thought Lilimae was just casually stopping by The Plant House for whatever reason and that she would be shocked to walk in on Ben and Cathy in the middle of a shag, but it turns out that Lilimae knows more than she lets on and she’s coming to tell Cathy that she's aware of what’s going on.  Actually, Lilimae starts off by being somewhat discreet about things, basically telling Cathy she knows what’s going on without telling her she knows what’s going on.  For instance, she brings up the subject of Ben going on tour with Cathy and says, “I’m sure he decided in a moment of passion when he was disturbed about something else or just not thinking clearly.”  See what I mean?  It’s that “moment of passion” line that really sticks out to me, and I noticed a subtle detail in Julie Harris’ acting here in which she says, “I’m sure he decided in a…” and then there’s a very small pause, almost unnoticeable, before she says, “moment of passion.”  I wonder if that small pause is Lilimae debating with herself whether to use a phrase as obvious as that one. 

She starts to speak much more candidly a second later, saying, “This tour of yours is going to take him away from Valene; it could ruin their life together.”  Cathy says how she isn’t trying to ruin anybody’s life, but that this is Ben’s decision, and then things get rather heated when Lilimae starts sorta shaking her and says, “It’s not; you don’t realize what you’re doing,” and then she slaps Cathy.  This slap is a little odd, seeming to lack a certain something.  By this point in the saga, we have seen a lot of slaps but the two most memorable ones for me are Richard slapping Laura in Best Intentions and Eric slapping Diana in, um, the episode where Eric slapped Diana.  This slap isn’t up there with either of those, mostly because it’s shot in kind of a strange way, to the point that I didn’t realize Lilimae had slapped Cathy until My Beloved Grammy said so, at which point I rewound a few seconds so I could watch it again.  After the slap, we get some great acting from Julie in a tight facial closeup as Lilimae says, “Those are two good people, and they’ve been good to you and me.  I’m sure when you think this through, you’ll know what to do,” and with that, she walks off.  I really liked this scene and thought it was a highlight of this ep.  I think this mostly has to do with the fact that I believe Lilimae and Cathy are the two least-serviced characters at this point, the ones who aren’t getting too much of anything to do.  Therefore, I am pleased to see a good, juicy scene of conflict between the two and I think both actresses play the scene well.  Also, we only have one more ep with Cathy in it and then she’s gone forever, so I think I’m just trying to appreciate her for as long as she’s around.

Meanwhile, as far as Gary and Val are concerned, we have a lovely scene between the two soulmates when Gary pays a visit to Val’s house and announces that he’s going to take back his gift to the twins.  At first, Val is all shocked, but then Gary explains how this was an example of “the proverbial road of good intentions,” that he was giving the twins something for them, but it was also something for him, and he adds, “You know how I feel about them, no matter what you say.”  He says how this whole business must be awkward for Ben, that he’s sorry about it, and then Val says, “We know that you wanted to do something special for the twins, and we will always be grateful for that.”  Obviously simply writing down the dialogue and a description of the scene can’t do it justice, but suffice it to say that love is in the air, that love is positively dripping from the walls as Gary and Val talk.  Looming in the background, ever watchful and full of knowledge, is Lilimae.  Now, how are we to take Lilimae’s face at the conclusion of this scene?  When Gary first arrives at the house, Lilimae seems genuinely happy to see him and says, “What a nice surprise,” but here she doesn’t look so happy.  Does Lilimae want Gary and Val to get back together or is she purely a Val and Ben shipper?  She talked a lot of shit about Gary all throughout the fourth season, but ever since season five, she has seemed to be quite the Gary Ewing fan, so it’s confusing to me. 

One last thing that’s confusing to me is whether or not Gary takes the gift back.  The scene concludes with Val saying, “We know you wanted to do something special,” and Bob Loblaw, but we don’t have an actual line of dialogue where she’s like, “Okay, Gary, you can take the gift back, no problem!”  However, I’m fairly certain that Gary does retract the gift, because the next time we catch up with him, he’s meeting with Peter and Greg in Greg’s big skyrise office building (all while Greg enjoys Cigar #16 on the Sumner Cigar Counter) and declaring to them that “Empire Valley is all yours, lock, stock, and toxic barrel.”  By the way, both My Beloved Grammy and myself really enjoyed that “toxic barrel” detail and we both laughed aloud at it, showing that there’s a fine and subtle wit infused into so very much of the KL writing.  Anyway, this is an important little scene because not only does Gary sell Empire Valley to Greg, but he also learns that Peter is Greg’s brother, or at least Greg says he’s his brother.  Can we all agree that Greg does not actually believe this at all?  Greg is up to something duplicitous and, whatever his plan is, it’s important that he have Peter and everyone else believing that he accepts Peter as his brother. 

That pretty much does it for our main cast, but Thicker Than Water is a real important ep in the grand KL scheme of things because it introduces us to a new character who will be very important to the series for the entire second half of its run.  About halfway through the ep, we see Mack’s secretary, Peggy, answering calls at the office when in walks a beautiful young blonde girl with a short haircut that I don’t particularly love, even though I usually love short hair on the ladies.  Anyway, this mysterious blonde asks Peggy where Mack is and when he’ll be back and so on and so forth.  She tells Peggy she has personal business with Mack and that her name is Paige Matheson, and that’s how we meet, um, Paige Matheson. 

Who is this person?  What business could she have with Mack?  It did not take My Beloved Grammy long to figure out this one, yet again demonstrating her eerie ability to predict plot points two seconds before they kick into action, because as soon as Paige left the office, My Beloved Grammy said, “She’s Mack’s long lost daughter, isn’t she?” and I just admitted, “Yeah.”  I might have held off revealing this spoiler if I didn’t know that Paige herself would reveal it in the closing seconds of this ep.  Next time we see her, she’s stopping off at the Fairgate MacKenzie house and meeting Sexy Michael for the first time.  Ugh, how fucking hot and dripping with male sexuality is Sexy Michael right here?  He’s wearing this sorta purple shirt with the top buttons undone, showing off some chest, making me want to just push my hand through the television set so that I can squeeze his almost-certainly-hard-as-a-rock muscles.  When he first lays eyes on Paige, you can actually hear his penis stiffening up at the same time that his eyes bug out and he acts all funny and awkward.  I can’t blame the guy, because Paige is looking very fine right here, aside from the bad haircut, and if I was into chicks, I would most definitely be into her.  My future husband, Pat Petersen, plays the scene very well, cute and awkward and realistic, and I remind you that, in addition to being very possibly the sexiest man ever sculpted by God’s omnipotent hands, Pat is also an underrated actor.  It’s not like he’s dealing with anything super complex or emotional right here, but in this simple scene of a boy infatuated with a new girl, he is perfect and I believe him to be smitten.  Oh yeah, and we also get another good example of wit infused into the script when Sexy Michael offers a juice or soda to Paige and she says, “No, I’m fine,” and then Sexy Michael whispers to himself, “You sure are.”  Cut to a little later that night when Mack is arriving home.  We begin the scene with Eric and Sexy Michael positively fawning over this new lady who has suddenly arrived in their lives, a very cute image.  Then Mack comes home and Paige really doesn’t waste any time getting to business, as she states, “I’m your daughter.”  Yikes, you’d think she’d at least give Mack a chance to sit down before dropping that bomb on him, but whatever, she doesn’t, and this shocking revelation is how we end the penultimate episode of the season.

I always get rather excited when we meet new characters who are going to be very important to the rest of the series, and that’s how I’m feeling right here.  Paige is played by Nicollette Sheridan and she will wind up appearing in the next seven seasons of the show, spending seasons eight and nine as a guest star (with enough storylines to justify just being a cast member) before being bumped to main cast member status for the last five years of the show.  According to IMDb, which of course can often be slightly off because of those “Credit Only” listings, she will be in 181 eps of the series when all is said and done, which accounts for more than fifty percent of the series.  It’s rather strange to think that here we are, getting finished up with season seven, discussing the 159th episode of the series, and this new character that we’ve never seen before will actually wind up being in more eps than we’ve even watched up to this point.  Pretty amazing when you think about it, no?  Anyway, I remember just loving the character of Paige and thinking she was a highlight of the series, although I understand that some fans disagree.  We have already seen me change a few of my opinions as I’ve made my way through the series again, so perhaps I won’t be as enthused with Paige as I was upon first viewing?  I think the problem that fans have with her is that they feel she comes into the series and immediately starts getting too much attention, taking the stories away from our seasoned veterans.  I can see their point, but I don’t remember it bothering me since I found the character interesting and played well by Nicollette. 

That’s about all I have to say about Thicker Than Water.  As I’ve been saying for most of the eps at this point in the season, this one was good but not great.  Much like the eps before, I found this one very watchable and with plenty of good qualities and things to talk about, but still lacking a bit in punch.  I guess I feel like things should seem a little more exciting considering we are now coming to the season finale.  While the three previous seasons all built to a fantastic cliffhanger that I could believe had been planned out way in advance, before the seasons even got rolling, I’m not getting that same feeling here.  Actually, the feeling I’m getting at this point is that we are about to go through a change, that we are meeting a new character, Paige, but we are also gonna say goodbye to an old one, Cathy.  I kinda feel like the season is just going to sorta end and then we will start fresh with season eight; what do you guys think? 

In any case, we’re not quite done yet.  Coming up next, we have our season seven finale, The Longest Night. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Episode Title: His Brother’s Keeper

Season 07, Episode 28

Episode 158 of 344

Written by Bernard Lechowick

Directed by Larry Elikann

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 1st, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Abby wants Karen to take Greg's deal. Gary and Karen try to figure out a way to clean up Empire Valley themselves. They turn to the EPA, Senator Henderson, and even try to get a loan, but nothing works out. Abby tells Gary that Jill's family owned Empire Valley, and that she's only with Gary because she wants Empire Valley back. Later Jill admits to Gary that when she first went out with him, she wanted Empire Valley, but then she fell in love with him. He coolly asks her "Is that it?" Senator Henderson is retiring, and Greg thinks Peter should be the next Senator. The Lotus Point groundskeeper dies of arsenic poisoning, and several people cancel their reservations. Karen decides to close Lotus Point. Val tells Ben that she senses something is wrong, and she'd like to work through it with him. He says he has a lot on his mind. Cathy asks Ben to go on the road with her and be her manager.

                When we last left off, Greg was cracking a deal with Karen in which he would be responsible for the entire Lotus Point situation on one condition, that he would get all of Empire Valley for himself.  As we begin His Brother’s Keeper, we see our beloved characters of Gary and Karen and Abs trying to figure out whether to take this deal or not.  Abs is in strong favor of taking whatever deal Sumner is offering, pointing out to Karen that “he’s offering us a way out,” but Karen is suspicious of his intentions and says she doesn’t trust him.  In lieu of doing business with him, Gary and Karen instead meet with some old, generic looking white guy that nobody could ever pick out of a lineup, and learn about how many other responsibilities the EPA has on its hands right now, something like 3,500 different locations that they need to work with.  Really random thing to note, but the scene begins with a stock shot of a huge skyscraper and then the camera zooms into a closeup of one of the windows.  Am I mistaken to say that I’m quite certain this same stock shot was used over and over again on Dallas?  In fact, wasn’t this shot used for transitions that would take us into the Ewing Oil offices?  Have those offices now morphed into a lawyer’s office located in California?  Or am I just crazy for being convinced that this is the same shot?  Someone even more nerdy and obsessive about these details oughta write in and tell me if I am correct or not.

                Okay, so the white guy is pretty much useless, but as Karen and Gary prepare to vacate his office, he suggests that they take their problem to state senator Billie Henderson, who chairs the committee on environmental protection and is a friend of Mack’s.  All this stuff is presented to us viewers in a delightfully clever and well edited way, courtesy of my favorite KL director, Larry Elikann (more on him later).  See, we have a scene of crosscutting between Karen, Gary, and the white guy along with Abs talking to some lady about the pollution.  The crosscutting reveals all sets of characters coming to the same conclusion, that Senator Henderson is the man to help them, but then we cut to Greg and Henderson together, getting some roadside hot dogs and taking a walk.  We learn that Greg has a relationship with this senator going back years, and now he requests that Henderson join his side and help him out as a consultant for the big cleanup.  When Henderson says how there’s no way he could be a consultant, Greg pulls an Abs-type move by smoothly blackmailing the senator, hardly even batting an eye as he does it.  When Henderson says, “I don’t want to leave the state senate,” Greg immediately whips out a yellow envelope and announces, “In that case, I think you should read this; it’s about your daughter.”  He adds how the information in the envelope is just between the two of them, encourages him to read it over, and finishes with, “We could use a good man like you,” before walking away.  See, now that’s how you do a bribery, remaining cool as a cucumber and keeping your language friendly and non-confrontational.  Poor Henderson looks rather put off and surprised by this revelation, and I think we all know what decision he’s going to make very shortly.

                We are seeing a darker side to Greg’s character at this time, a side that is able to blackmail senators with all the ease of going down to the market for a quart of milk.  Because of the consistently brilliant way that Devane brings this character to life, I never have any problems with him alternating between likable and even heroic to lying and duplicitous.  I wish I was a more skilled writer and could properly explain how all these intricacies come together to keep the character so interesting, but for now all I can say is that, no matter what Greg is doing at any given time and how moral or immoral the action might be, I always find him likable and fascinating and that’s totally because of how Devane plays him.  Now, while it’s easy for me to forgive Greg this behavior, it might not be so easy for his new wife, Laura, who gets a little peek at her new husband’s ways of conducting business this week when she pays him a visit at his office.  Greg answers a call from some governor or other and declares loudly, “It’s a real shame you’ll be losing Senator Henderson!”  Laura’s face gets all furrowed as she listens to Greg say, “I want to run the name of a candidate by you; we need someone to fill his seat,” followed by a rather amazing laugh that made me laugh myself.  Obviously Greg is forcing Henderson out of his senate seat not just to help them clean up the pollution, but also to make room for Peter in the senate, although I am still unsure of Greg’s true motivations for this move; we shall just have to wait and see.

                Meanwhile, it’s still a rather sordid state of affairs between Abs, Gary, and J.B.  Gary and Abs are in the middle of their divorce, which means Gary should have plenty of time to devote to shagging J.B., but the only problem is that J.B. is being weird and distant, telling Gary, “I love you but I don’t want to be in love with you.”  After Abs conveniently overhears Eric and Sexy Michael discussing J.B.’s past at a Lotus Point meeting (a scene that is very contrived, but which I’ll forgive since it keeps the story moving), she realizes the truth about why J.B. got involved with Gary in the first place.  With this new information, Abs goes to work trying to destroy this burgeoning relationship, and I have to say she does a fine job of it.  Sometimes, I think Abby’s most subtle manipulations are also her best ones, because in this case, she tells Gary how, “I guess I’m the only one who thinks you should sell to Sumner,” and then she adds, “You and Karen and J.B.”  When Gary inquires into what exactly J.B. has to do with any of this, Abs is all like, “You do know that J.B.’s family used to own Empire Valley.”  Then she asks Gary is his relationship with J.B. ran “hot and cold” after he announced his divorce and J.B. was unsure of whether he’d retain ownership of Empire Valley.  This does a fabulous job of planting ideas in Gary’s head, ideas which pay off for Abby’s intentions of sabotage a little later in the ep.

                See, the next scene we see is a little chat between Gary and J.B. in the lobby of the hotel Gary is currently living in.  J.B. arrives dressed in yellow and feeling very perky about telling Gary the truth.  She starts with, “I’ve been dishonest with you; I haven’t lied to you but I’ve been dishonest with you,” and then she tells him the truth about her family’s claim to Empire Valley.  Gary nods curtly and asks, “Is that it?”  J.B. adds how “Empire Valley doesn’t interest me anymore; you do,” to which Gary gets even more curt and repeats, “Is that it?”  J.B. concludes with an uncomfortable, “Gary, I think I love you,” and we get the third “Is that it?” from Gary, this one delivered through gritted teeth.  He walks off, leaving J.B. alone and confused and myself feeling very sorry for her.  My love affair with J.B. has only grown as I’ve embarked upon this rewatch.  What a fantastically fantastic character played to utter perfection by Teri Austin, and I love the way that she conveys all these different emotions of her character.  In this instance, I feel genuinely sorry for her.  She arrives at Gary’s hotel eager to tell the truth, hoping to clean the slate, but instead her timing aligns perfectly with Abs planting that little seed of mistrust in Gary’s head, causing him to reject her confession of the truth and, for the time being at least, to reject J.B. altogether. 

                The whole business about what to do with Lotus Point finally comes to a head in the last scene of this ep, when Eric arrives home and solemnly announces to Karen, “Charlie Lee is dead.”  If you’re all scratching your heads and wondering who Charlie Lee is and why we should care about him, the answer is “nobody” and “we shouldn’t.”  Charlie Lee is a character we have never seen, at least not so far as I can remember, and we are told he’s the groundskeeper of Lotus Point who has been with them “forever,” although Karen has only owned Lotus Point for a little under two years, so I’m not really sure what “forever” means; have they already lost most of their staff in under 24 months and this Charlie Lee guy is the last of the originals?  Anyway, this revelation is not coming completely out of nowhere, as somewhere on our last disk, Karen and Mack were having a lunch and she mentioned him and said how he was sick, and then I think his name came up again in our last ep.  Now the character is dead and his death provides the impetus for Karen’s decision to shut down Lotus Point altogether.  I support Karen’s decision, which is based in good ethics, but I really wish the writers had killed off a character that the audience could possibly care about.  Having a major plot point go down because of the death of a character we have never actually seen on the series seems lazy and bothers me.

                Next up on our character roster: Cathy and Ben.  The affair is still going strong this week, mostly thanks to a series of misunderstandings.  Near the halfway point of the ep, there’s this big meeting at Lotus Point (the same meeting where Abs overhears Eric and Sexy Michael talking while she’s standing at the water cooler) and, for whatever reason, Ben is a little late getting to the meeting and so he’s not around when the meeting concludes and Val needs a ride home.  This leads to a grand conversation positively dripping with love between Gary and Val.  The gist of the conversation is that Val tells Gary it’s okay with her and Ben if he chooses to sell Empire Valley in order to finance the pollution cleanup, that they won’t be upset if the twins wind up without the claim to the land that Gary gave them back in A Very Special Gift.  When Gary says, “I’ve pretty much made a mess out of Empire Valley,” Val is ready to go with some encouraging words, saying, “It’s time someone reminds you that you’ve always done a lot for people; you always have, all your life, in your, well, Gary Ewing way,” and then the two laugh and hold hands and, you guessed it, share a loving embrace.  Conveniently, this happens at the exact same moment that Ben comes strolling in, so the first thing he sees upon entrance is his wife in the arms of her ex-husband, the same ex-husband who impregnated her with the babies that Ben is now helping to raise.  Can you blame the guy for immediately sneaking off to Cathy’s house to have sexual intercourse with her?

                I’m not sure I love how Ben just happens to come walking in at this precise moment, which is a contrivance that seems more at home on Dallas.  Basically every episode of Dallas has people conveniently bumping into each other at fancy restaurants or in hotels or wherever, all to keep the drama and plots moving along, and that’s how this felt to me.  Perhaps I’m glamorizing the way events unfold on KL and perhaps we’ve actually seen this device used many times before, but if so, I’m not remembering it.  I don’t know exactly how I would have written this to play out, but I know that I would try to avoid the “one character comes walking in at precisely the wrong moment” plot device that I usually have a problem with. 

                In addition to Ben and Cathy enjoying another late night shag together, we also get to see Cathy at a big photo shoot, her fabulous ‘80s hair bigger than ever, some amazing generic ‘80s music playing on the soundtrack.  This scene is about as ‘80s as anything I’ve ever seen, and is quite possibly the very last time we ever see Cathy get all adorned in great hair and makeup and wardrobe and pose.  We also meet her new manager, a huge asshole named Dominick.  Ugh, do the writers never get tired of surrounding Lisa with asshole males who treat her like crap?  You all know that I loved absolutely every moment in the storyline between Cathy and Joshua, but that’s a different type of thing.  This Dominick character feels more aligned with Buddy Repperton from that stupid storyline of the saxophonist/reporter, a guy shipped in totally out of the blue to be a minor plot complication before being shipped back out.  I also think he only exists to make Ben look even more appealing in Cathy’s eyes.  After all, Ben is one of the only men in her life who doesn’t degrade her and treat her like constant shit. 

                That’s about all I have to say for His Brother’s Keeper as far as plot points are concerned, but before ending my analysis of the ep in question, I’d like to take a moment to express my appreciation for Larry Elikann, as this is his final directorial contribution to KL.  Mr. Elikann first showed up on the cul-de-sac during season four, when he directed Emergency and The Fatal Blow.  Altogether, Elikann contributed his talents to fourteen eps of KL, nearly all of which I would describe as brilliant and classic eps of television, but if I had to pick just one ep to highlight this great director’s talents, it would be the stunning We Gather Together from season six, which is an easy contender for best episode of the entire series.  After that, I’d say his best eps include Distant Locations, The Christening, and Until Parted by Death.  I feel that Mr. Elikann brought a fabulously unique style to his eps that is still on display here, in his final ep.  His most notable contribution would probably be a consistent use of tight facial closeups and his fondness for having one gigantic face in the foreground and a smaller face in the background.  That’s just one small example of his style, however, and I feel every ep he directed dripped with style and cinematic camera tricks.  I will really miss this director as we move through the second half of the series.

                Two eps left to go in the season.  Our next is gonna be a big one, as we are introduced to a new character who will wind up being very important to the series all the way until the final episode.  With that said, let us turn the PAIGE to our next ep, Thicker Than Water.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Episode Title: A Change of Heart

Season 07, Episode 27

Episode 157 of 344

Written by Parke Perine

Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Original Airdate: Thursday, April 17th, 1986

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Greg takes Laura to Las Vegas to get married at the Wedding Chapel of Joy. She's reluctant, but he tells her how much he loves and needs her. Later, Karen and Abby ask Laura if there's anything she can do to get Greg to help with the cleanup of Lotus Point, and Laura remarks that a wife should have some influence over her husband. Abby's taken aback. Laura asks Greg to clean up Empire Valley for her wedding present. Greg tells Karen he will clean up Empire Valley in four months if she will get him all of Empire Valley back, or she can kiss Lotus Point goodbye. Eric comes home from the hospital. Jill again tells Peter that she wants out, and that she doesn't care about Empire Valley anymore, she just wants to stop lying to Gary. Ben and Cathy sleep together. Cathy tells Ben she doesn't want to leave him. Ben feels guilty, but Cathy says he should let himself feel happiness instead of always putting other's first. Val invites Cathy over for a good-bye dinner.

                Welcome back for another fun filled episode of KL.  I immediately have two things to note about this particular episode we’re discussing today, starting with the title.  This is actually the second time we’ve had a KL ep with this title; our first Change of Heart (click on that title to read my thoughts on that one) was back in season five, right at the peak of all the Chip Roberts drama after Lilimae had hit him with the car.  I’m fairly certain that this isn’t the only time we’ll see an ep title being reused a few years later, although at the moment, I can’t really remember what they might be.  The second thing to note about this ep is that it starts with one of those longer recaps narrated by that cheesy narrator guy, so instead of our usual thirty second preview, we start with the narrator saying, “In Knots Landing,” and then giving us a summation of what’s been going on, all very corny and old fashioned, which I enjoy.  I always wonder why they choose to do this style of beginning for certain random eps; I don’t think we’ve had a recap in this style since near the start of season six.  When I first saw this, I assumed that there was a big gap between this ep and our prior one and the powers that be were just hoping to keep everyone caught up, but then I did some checking and it looks like this just aired one week after the last one, so I dunno.  Anyone have any ideas?  Anyone have a preference?  Would you rather see your thirty second preview or would you rather see footage from the previous ep narrated by the cheesy narrator guy, saying things like, “Meanwhile, were Ben and Val drifting apart?”

                About two eps ago, we had the brilliant exchange between Greg and Laura in which he asked if she’d like to get married and she answered, “I appreciate the offer and I’ll seriously consider it.”  In A Change of Heart, Greg finally manages to convince Laura once and for all that they are meant to be married, and I wanna start out by talking about that plot point.  All of these proceedings unfold in a gloriously KL way, very grounded and down to earth and quick.  There’s no corny scene of Greg making some big, bold romantic gesture to Laura, begging for her hand in marriage, nothing like that, but instead a fabulously, let us say, almost businesslike arrangement of their love for eachother.  We start off with a nice little scene of Greg and Laura playing with Daniel on Laura’s back patio, and then as Laura sends Daniel off to bed, Greg says they should take a trip tomorrow.  When Laura points out how there’s a lot going on at Lotus Point and Empire Valley, Greg says, “I think that they can get along without us for a couple of days,” which kinda doesn’t make sense since Greg and Laura only wind up being gone for a couple of hours, but whatever.  Greg also tells Laura that he’ll “pick out a nice dress for you; you never know who you might run into,” and when she asks him where they’re going, he stays mum, only telling her that it’s a surprise.  Through this scene, Greg is wearing his glasses, and I’d like to take a moment to note how much I like Greg’s look whenever he’s wearing his glasses.  This viewing of the series is really showing me that Greg Sumner is very sexy and charismatic, and an impressive part of that sexy charisma is his ability to look good in any attire, even a pair of glasses that are kinda made for old square white guys.

                A little while later, we cut and, boom, we’re in Las Vegas. Of course, when I say, “In Las Vegas,” I mean we see a few quick stock shots of old Vegas hotels, just like previous eps when characters have gone to Vegas.  In fact, now that I think about it, disappearing to Vegas is kinda ingrained inside the core fabric of this series, because when you go back through the old eps, we have had Karen tracking down the evil Dr. Ackerman in Vegas in season six, we have had Karen and Mack running off to Vegas to elope in season four, we have had Lilimae and Jackson Mobley (remember him?) taking Lilimae’s autoharp to Vegas in season three, and then, I remind you, we had Bobby and Pam Ewing going to Vegas in the very first Brief Dallas Interlude and that was how they ran into (Fake) Gary for the first time and we first got started with this whole epic KL adventure.  Perhaps if Bobby and Pam had chosen not to go to Vegas in that Dallas ep from so long ago, we wouldn’t even have a KL series to watch and enjoy at all and life would be completely meaningless and without worth.

                I always like to try and spot the hotels that we see in the Vegas stock footage, and we get a few in this instance, starting with The Las Vegas Club.  Now, I’ve been to Vegas many times and don’t recall ever seeing a Las Vegas Club, but according to Wikipedia as I’m typing this, the club was opened in 1930 and only shut its doors in the middle of 2015, not all too long ago. So, at this moment, there is no Las Vegas Club, but apparently it has now got new owners who are considering revamping and remodeling it.  Right next to this hotel, we have the classic Golden Goose and, well, that’s about it, cuz then we cut to inside of Greg and Laura’s limo as he convinces her to marry him.  Laura is nervous as we start the scene and asks Greg to explain why he picked this exact random moment for them to get married.  Greg says, “You want me to straighten out my life, I want to make an honest man out of myself,” which is a great line that made My Beloved Grammy laugh.  He adds, “I do love you, and you want me to be a mover and a shaker, so I think you’d better step up to that and keep me moving and shaking.  I love you and I think I fail to tell you I need you, and that’s probably the strongest drive of all.”  See how fantastically honest Greg is in this moment?  In a way, his lack of gushiness towards Laura makes all of this only more touching, because he’s being honest about his emotions in a very direct way.  Oh yeah, and he finishes up with a bit of humor that I hope was improvised by Devane in which he says, “By the way, did I fail to mention my winning smile?”  Laura is convinced and the two step out of the limo and head into The Wedding Chapel of Joy.

                My only problem with this development?  We don’t get to actually see the wedding, and that bugged me and it also bugged My Beloved Grammy.  Thinking back over all the weddings we’ve had on the series, I’m pretty sure that we’ve always been allowed to physically see them take place, jumping all the way back to our fourth Brief Dallas Interlude, Return Engagements, in which Gary and Val tied the knot for the second time and Miss Ellie gifted them with their own TV show.  Since that fateful day that launched us off into this great television adventure, I’m fairly certain that we’ve seen four weddings on the series up to this point, though please write in to correct me if my number is off.  We saw Karen and Mack get married (in Vegas, of course) in To Have and to Hold, and then we saw Gary and Abs get married at Westfork in Sacred Vows, followed by Joshua and Cathy in For Better, For Worse, and then Val and Ben earlier this season in Pictures at a Wedding, and then that brings us up to date with Greg and Laura here.  All four of those previous weddings we got to witness, but Greg and Laura don’t get the same courtesy, which bugs me.  I suppose you could say our not seeing their wedding ceremony is in keeping with the whole style of how Greg and Laura have chosen to get married, which is quickly and quietly.  On the other hand, I think this also demonstrates a problem that I have with the way the writers handle Laura’s character at this point in the series, a problem that started either in season five or six, and that is that as much as I love Laura and the way Constance plays her, she is often put on the sidelines while other characters get the majority of the focus.  Laura at this point exists more to be a part of Greg’s story, whereas I feel she got more of her own, independent stories to work with back in the first four seasons. 

                Laura and Greg do not even bother to enjoy one night of a honeymoon together, instead choosing to return to California later that same day.  Yikes, talk about rushed, right?  It’s a busy day when you wake up, fly from California to Vegas, get married, and then immediately fly back to California in order to go to work and deal with toxic waste buried under the ground and all that good stuff.  Anyway, Laura returns to Lotus Point just as Abs and Karen continue to bicker over how to handle the pollution.  In case I didn’t mention it last ep (I didn’t), it was revealed that Galveston Industries actually buried that toxic waste in sealed, lined containers, so it wasn’t leaking into the ground until Gary chose to blow up all of Empire Valley in All’s Well.  Now we’ve got a bit of a moral quandary to deal with; after all, who is truly responsible for this pollution?  The toxic waste wouldn’t have even been there in the first place were it not for Greg Sumner’s father, but the barrels would not have exploded and started leaking pollution were it not for Gary, yet at the same time, Gary was only blowing up Empire Valley after Greg allowed it to get so out of hand with James Bond villains and secret lairs and evil British people running around, causing trouble.  Gary just did what he had to do in order to get rid of all those problems. 

                When Laura returns to Lotus Point, she drops the news of her marriage in the most fabulous way possible.  See, Abs and Karen are talking about how they need Greg’s help with paying for the cleanup and asking if Laura can do something about that.  To this, Laura answers, “I’ll do my best to see that he does; after all, a wife should have some influence on her husband, right?”  This is a great little moment as we get to see the reaction of both Karen and Abs.  Karen gives her best wishes and Abs says, “Congratulations,” but she says it somewhat through gritted teeth, which made me smile, and then when Laura says, “Thanks,” do I detect a certain something in her tone?  Flashing way back to the early days of the series and Abby’s first arrival on the cul-de-sac, we should all remember how she went after Richard, Laura’s first husband.  Is Laura now boasting a bit to Abs because she has married the man that Abs clearly finds so charming and sexy?  Do you think perhaps Abs was even thinking of trying to woo Sumner now that her and Gary are splitting up?  Instead of going along with that plan, she instead has to watch Laura and Greg get married and realize that, yes, they are really and truly in love.  I like to imagine that Laura is getting some smug satisfaction out of all this.

                Even though Abs can be wicked and duplicitous, she’s on a roll lately when it comes to expressing honest emotion at unexpected times.  Near the start of the ep, she has a little meeting with Gary in which she says that perhaps they should slow down the divorce proceedings for a little while; wait until all the Empire Valley problems are cleared up before they start splitting up assets and all that stuff.  When Gary shrewdly asks, “What’s in it for you?”, Abs at first is like, “Oh, nothing,” but then she sighs and admits, “If you want the truth, I’m scared.”  I love Gary’s face when she tells him this, because he just looks sorta disbelieving and even amused.  Abs tells him, “In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve had a few things to be scared about lately.  I made a bargain for some land that turned out to be totally polluted.  I’m getting divorced.  Lotus Point is all I have; I don’t want to lose it.”  Now, on paper this might just sound like the usual Abs web of lies, precisely calculated in just such a way as to get her whatever she most desires, but I don’t see it that way.  Based on how the scene plays out and based on Donna’s acting, I think Abs is being honest here in much the same way she was honest last ep, reflecting on the death of her brother and how much she misses him.

                The only other thing Abs related this ep is a rather bizarre scene between her and Olivia.  We begin this scene in an abrupt way, with Olivia just screaming and thrashing around in her bed.  Abs comes rushing in and there’s a big hug and Olivia keeps crying and all that for a little while.  She explains to Abs that she just had a horrible nightmare involving her, um, teddy bear.  Hmmm, okay, a little strange for a fifteen year old girl to be having a dream about her teddy bear, but let’s hear her out.  She says how  the dream was about people (“everybody”) destroying her teddy bear and tearing him apart, that she tried to scream and yell at them to stop, but nobody would listen.  At first, I was going to write about how I fail to see what the point of this scene was, but after doing some double checking and watching the scene again, I noted the line of dialogue where Olivia says, “And Gary was on the couch, just watching; he didn’t do anything, he just watched.”  Now I think this scene is really about Olivia’s life being thrown into turmoil thanks to the impending divorce, as well as probably her problems with drugs.  Honestly, at this exact point, I’m not sure if Olivia is using drugs.  Not to get into spoiler territory, but her drug problems come back in a big way somewhere in the eighth season, but I don’t know if we are currently witnessing her in an in-between stage or not.  Anyway, even if I’m able to find something to talk about regarding this scene, I didn’t love it and it’s probably the second worst moment of the ep (we’ll discuss the number one worst moment shortly), mostly because it seems tonally weird for the Olivia we are currently watching.  This scene really feels like something that should be in season two or three, when Olivia was just a little girl.  Now she’s a bit too old for this sort of thing, but whatever, it’s still not a terrible scene, just kind of a weird one that comes rather out of the blue in the context of this particular ep. 

                Meanwhile, Karen is still hard at work trying to figure out exactly how to handle this pollution business.  A lot of her footage this ep is basically her and other characters wrestling with the decision of how to deal with the cleanup.  The fact that so much time is devoted to this whole environmental spill story might come off as boring to some people, but I actually like it, mostly because I’m pleased to see environmental consciousness on the series.  This relates more to my own terror and panic over current world affairs and certain “Presidents”  who clearly have no regard for our environment or for protecting the planet.  It’s rather sad to watch this episode of television from 1986 and see more environmental consciousness here than you see from your current “President” or his creepy collection of white supremacist and Neo Nazi advisors and confidantes.  As we were watching this ep and characters were talking about the environment and calling the EPA for help, I said to My Beloved Grammy, “At least they still had an EPA in 1986.” 

                Karen’s quest for a solution leads us directly into the worst scene of the ep, a scene all KL fans should remember vividly and immediately start peeing their pants with laugher as soon as they remember it.  Oh dear, what a bad scene this is, a scene that goes down like an absolute lead balloon.  The badness actually starts in the scene right before this scene, in which Eric triumphantly returns to the Fairgate/MacKenzie house healthy as a horse while really loud piano music plays dramatically on the soundtrack.  This scene has no dialogue; instead, Karen gives Eric a big hug and then we dissolve right to her walking around Empire Valley or Lotus Point or, you know, wherever the hell she’s walking (honestly, I find the geography of the exact locations for Lotus Point and Empire Valley to be rather confusing and I’ve kinda stopped trying to figure it out), wearing a red dress, shot in a closeup.  Then we cut real fast to a shot of the lake, the source of all this poison, and then back to Karen in her closeup, at which point she shouts, “DAMN YOU, PAUL GALVESTON!” and the camera does a super quick zoomout and it’s just all kinds of bad.  Seriously, what were they thinking with this scene?  How did Michele manage to film this scene without getting violently ill?  When they were filming this, do you think everyone was like, “Oh yes, this is gonna be a really good dramatic moment and Michele will finally get her Emmy”?  Obviously that’s not the case, because this scene is a joke, although its camp merits are high enough for me to still enjoy it.  This gets to join the ranks of such KL camp classic scenes as “IT’S TEA!” and “WE’RE RUINING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES!” 

                Karen’s absurd moment of damnation for Mr. Galveston leads her to an eventual decision to do business with Greg Sumner, um, I think.  Honestly, I found this scene (the last one of the ep) a little hard to follow, but I’ll give it a shot now.  Basically, Greg says how it would take two and a half years to clean up Lotus Point with the help of the EPA, and that’s “without litigation.”  Then he announces that he can personally clean it all up within four months, using all of his influence with Galveston Industries to call in whatever favors are necessary.  Then he reveals, “I want Empire Valley.  Your job is to get it for me.  Of course, I’d like it at a reduced price, let’s say fifty cents on the dollar.”  When Karen asks, “Why would I do anything to help you win?”, Greg answers, “Get me Empire Valley or you can kiss Lotus Point goodbye,” and yes, obviously he is sucking on a cigar while he makes this bold statement, meaning we are now at Cigar #15 on The Sumner Cigar Counter. 

                This is an interesting scene to end the ep, and after rewatching the scene and now writing about it, I think I understand it better.  It’s scenes like this that keep Greg Sumner so interesting to watch.  In a way, what keeps him interesting is sorta the influx of what keeps Abs interesting.  Abs is, for the majority of the time, wicked and up to no good, but then occasionally she’ll let her human side show and we realize how complex she truly is.  With Greg, he’s generally charming and charismatic and funny, sorta taking the piss out of everyone around him, being witty and making his jokes, not an evil person, but then every now and then he’ll pull a move like this one, which is straight out of the playbook of either J.R. or Abs or both (and I'm willing to bet this type of ep ending was a big David Paulsen influence, as this feels like it would be right at home as the ending of any given Dallas ep).  Every now and then, we’ll see how calculating he can truly be, and this is one of those moments.  It’s almost like sometimes Greg is our hero and sometimes he’s our villain, but even saying it that way doesn’t seem to do justice to the intricacies and complexities of this fabulous character.

                That’s the way we end the ep, but there’s still one more plot point worth discussing, and that’s the affair between Ben and Cathy.  Yes, indeed, the two have finally shagged, an event that’s been a long time coming, an event that I’ve seen coming since the last few hours of season six.  I repeat that this is a storyline that most fans seem to hate, but at the moment I think I’m okay with it.  Some people just really hate adultery storylines; you ever notice that?  My Beloved Grammy has already expressed that she wishes the show would have “a little less adultery,” although I fear her wish will never completely come true as adultery and affairs are just part of the series’ soul.  I think this is because I go easier on people having affairs than a lot of other people do.  I’ve just never felt as harshly judgmental about cheating because I think we are all people and we are all sexual and it’s very difficult to be 100% monogamous with one person.  I also understand and sympathize with Ben, who feels like he doesn’t have a full spot in Val’s heart, and Cathy, who I imagine is feeling confused about nearly every decision she’s ever made. 

                In this ep, Val invites Cathy over for a nice dinner as a way of saying goodbye to her before she goes off on tour.  However, Cathy finds a moment to corner Ben in a hallway when he’s all by himself and tell him, “Maybe instead of this being a farewell dinner, it should be a postponement dinner.”  See, now that she and Ben have had a shag, she’s thinking maybe she doesn’t want to run off on tour after all; maybe she’d rather stay around and keep shagging Ben.  It seemed to be this particular development that bothered My Beloved Grammy the most; she thought it was rather shameful for Cathy to accept Val’s dinner invite while she’s shagging Val’s husband in secret.  Again, I just don’t feel so judgmental.  I think Cathy is desiring to be with a nice person like Ben after years of abuse at the hands of different men (let’s not forget the freckled Ray from back in season five) and Ben is the first man to truly treat her well and act like he cares about her.  Is it kinda bad form to be trying to steal your friend’s husband at the same time that your friend is inviting you to her home?  Yeah, sure, but we all make bad choices and I can understand the wheels turning in Cathy’s head, so I don’t condemn her. 

                That about does it for this ep.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten certain details, such as Peter doing sit-ups shirtless and showing off his ridiculous muscles (he has a nice body but he's no Sexy Michael) or a small scene between Peter and Sylvia near the start of the ep (they’re giving a statement to a lawyer or something like that), but I think I got most of the big developments.  This ep was pretty good, although again lacking a certain punch, a problem with pretty much all the eps in season seven at this point.  There are only two bad scenes in the ep, one of which is merely bad (Olivia and her teddy bear nightmare) and one of which is so bad that it transcends badness to become some new form of badness never before seen on this earth (“DAMN YOU, PAUL GALVESTON!”).  Aside from those two scenes, however, everything else is fairly solid.  I’d say my favorite part of this ep is the fact that Greg and Laura get married, a development I’ve been anticipating for quite some time.  Now that I’m officially declaring Laura and Greg an even more interesting couple than Laura and Richard, it pleases me to see them finally agree to marry and settle down together.  I also liked the focus on the environment, although I remind you that this might have more to do with me bemoaning the current state of our country and less to do with the actual storytelling.  Overall, A Change of Heart is a pretty good ep of KL, but not one of its best, and it’s certainly not as good as the other Change of Heart from season five.

                We’re getting closer and closer to the end of the season, with just three eps left to go.  Next, we shall discuss the very last of the Larry Elikann-directed eps (sniff) with His Brother’s Keeper.