Episode Title: Brothers and Mothers
Season 08, Episode 09
Episode 169 of 344
Written by Diana Kopald Marcus
Directed by Robert Becker
Original Airdate: Thursday, November 6th, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter continues to add extra pills to Sylvia's medical dish. Peter tells the pharmacist he needs more pills because Sylvia dropped them down the sink. Then Peter feels guilty and flushes the extra pills. A studio options "Capricorn Crude" and wants Val to write the script. Eric walks in on Paige and Sexy Michael sleeping together. He's furious about what that would do to Mack and Karen. He and Sexy Michael have a physical fight and trash the room, but they won't tell Karen what it's about. Paige can't pay her hotel bill and moves in with the MacKenzies. The hotel calls and says Paige's check bounced and Karen wonders why she pretends to have a lot of money. Ben tells Val he doesn't like Jean and not to be friends with her. Jean tells her lover that Ben's real assignment is to kill Greg.
Welcome to Brothers and Mothers, another title that I just think is inherently good; it has a nice ring to it, just like a few eps back with All Over but the Shouting. In this case, I like the title because it’s so gloriously simple; this ep will be all about brothers and mothers, so why not just title it Brothers and Mothers? Also, I wish to provide a little context for my writing, which I sometimes like to do in order to give my beautiful and amazing readers a little peek into my life and the process of creating this blog. In this case, I want you all to know that I am writing this essay sans notes, and let me tell you why. I certainly have notes; in fact, at this exact moment in time, I am almost finished with my second little notebook full of KL ep notes jotted down as My Beloved Grammy and I watch and soon I will need to spend the 70 cents to purchase a new notebook. However, I woke up today bright and early, before the sun was out, to head to work, and then I went to work, I did my work, I did it well, everybody loved me, and then I clocked out from work at precisely 1:30PM. Before leaving for work, I had put my computer into the trunk of my car so that I could drive right away to the cute little coffee shop by my house and get started writing immediately. I arrived at the coffee shop, I ordered a large coffee with a little room for cream and sugar, I plugged in my computer and got it started up and was all ready to write when I realized, damn it all to Hell, that I had forgotten my notes at home. But I am here, I am sitting comfortably, I have my coffee beside me, I’ve got my computer set up, and I am not packing all my shit up just to drive a mile or two back to my house, get my notes, and then turn around and drive a mile or two back to this coffee shop. If I miss a cigar for the Sumner Cigar Counter, fear not, for I shall go and check my notes later and I’ll make sure to get us back up to date before I start adding more cigars to the counter. Also, I think this will be an interesting experiment because it will be my very first time writing about an ep without my handy notes present, plus I also don’t have the ep pulled up in front of me the way I’ve been doing lately. If this essay suffers because of these problems, at least you know why and you know that it’s a temporary problem that won’t plague future eps. Anyway, with all those pesky details out of the way, let us get started discussing Brothers and Mothers.
Okay, I’m going strictly off of my memory now, so here we go. This ep concerns two things primarily, one of which is the continuing affair between Paige and Sexy Michael and the other of which is the continuing attempted poisoning of Sylvia via Peter. Those are the two main stories that take up most of our time this week, but we’ve also got a few smaller details that I think I’d like to cover first, starting with the continuing offensive abomination that is Hackney and this Hackneyed storyline that’s plaguing us this year. If you thought things were stupid in the premiere of the season when this character was first introduced, that’s nothing compared to where we are now and it’s nothing compared to where we’re heading. Let me think, what was Hackney up to this week…. Well, we get a scene between Ben and Val that takes place at, um, their house, if I’m remembering correctly, and Val is going on about Hackney and saying something or other about her and then Ben tells Val, “You know, I don’t really like Jean that much and I don’t really like this storyline that much.” If I remember correctly, Val acts kinda surprised about that and I act kinda annoyed as I have to sit and watch this. This goes back to the thing I was saying before about how this storyline is requiring characters I love to act stupid. Val has known Ben for three years and has been married to him for about one year, and I feel she should know him and understand him very well. The same goes for Lilimae, who has also known Ben for three years and has been living in the same house as him for about one year. Last ep, we saw the two of them act positively overjoyed by this strange, mysterious woman who showed up out of the blue wearing a stupid hat and declaring herself to be an old friend of Ben’s, and then neither character seemed to notice Ben squirming with discomfort as if he’s been suffering from diarrhea all day and is wondering how much longer he can hold it in before it all starts to just ooze out all icky and green, courtesy of a dangerous shart. Speaking of dangerous sharts, that’s what this storyline is. Much like a shart, you think you can kinda sneak it out and it won’t be that bad, that it might be a bit smelly but the smell will quickly clear out of the room, but then you release the shart and you realize, oh shit, and I do mean it quite literally as “Oh, shit.” Yup, that’s what this storyline is.
Hackney gets the final scene of this ep, once again helping me put my finger on why the ratings continued to sag down this year. Look, I know that all the nighttime soaps were slowly beginning their journey to unpopularity and eventual cancellation by this point. For some context, Dallas dropped from #6 to #11 this year, while Dynasty dropped from #7 to #25 (yikes!) and Falcon Crest dropped from…oh wait. Actually, Falcon Crest finished this year at #23 while its previous season had been #24, however, I want to point out that it was still technically lower rated than its previous season, as this year had 15.1 million viewers while the previous year had 15.6 million. This is similar to how season six of KL finished at #9 in the ratings while season five had finished at #11, but technically season five still had a smidge more viewers. Anyway, my point is that all the nighttime soaps were kinda on the decline at this point, and I know most of that is simply attributable to the fact that they had all been on for some time now, through the entire first half of the ‘80s. New things come along, people start to be into those new things, and the older things start to lose interest for viewers and that’s only natural. However, I still blame the sagging KL ratings on a few things, one of which is that the latter portion of season seven suffered from storyline flaws, the other of which is that season eight unveiled an absolutely appalling and God-awful version of the theme song that no person in the world could possibly enjoy listening to, and the third thing is this Hackney business and how much time it’s taking up. It’s one thing if she’s just mildly polluting a few minutes of the eps here and there, but in the case of this ep, she gets the final scene. Imagine you’re a viewer, you’re watching this, and the very final scene you see in the ep is Hackney and her dumb storyline. Would you be eager to tune in next Thursday? I’m gonna go ahead and say no. Contrast that with the greatest season of television ever made, season six of KL, and think of how every single ep would end with some stunningly brilliant bit of drama and excitement that no human could possibly watch and then not tune in the next Thursday.
Anyway, our final scene of the ep is Hackney lying in her bed with, oh, someone. I don’t even remember if we see this person’s face and I honestly don’t think it matters. It’s just some dude she’s currently shagging and I think he’s also, like, a spy or whatever, so she’s spouting exposition at him about how she’s got Ben on the case to, like, spy on Sumner or, you know, whatever. She says how Ben is not too happy about this assignment but he’s currently doing what she says to do, and then she unveils the final, very stupid, line of the ep, in which she says something like, “Imagine how Ben’s going to feel when he finds out his mission is to kill Sumner.” I think this is crosscut with Ben lying in bed with Val and I think we even get a freeze frame ending here, which is also a grave error. The show has generally been very good about saving its freeze frame endings for those really special moments (remember Abs saying to creepy ‘80s Rapist Beard Scott Easton how there was nothing she could do about Val’s babies and Easton declaring, “You never know” and walking off to leave Abs with her own freeze frame ending?), but this is not one of those moments. This scene should have been buried somewhere near the middle of the ep so that we could forget about it by the time the ep was over and the ep could have ended with, say, a freeze frame image of Sexy Michael’s erect penis, 100% guaranteeing that the asses would be back in the seats next Thursday and the ratings would begin a stunning upward trend. Instead, we freeze frame on this lame, lame, lame, very lame final scene of this lame, lame, lame, very lame storyline.
But there’s a better storyline going on in this ep, a storyline I like a lot even though I’m fairly confident it leads nowhere and is quietly forgotten about and retired to the place in the sky where forgotten storylines go, that place in the sky currently inhabited by Sid’s engine, Michael’s A.D.H.D., and Gary and Abby’s quest to start a methanol business. In this instance, Val received a very excited message from “Ramilar Studios” (and I laughed out loud when I heard that name and realized how oh-so-clever the writers were being with this little bit of business) saying they would like to option Capricorn Crude for a movie deal or a TV show deal or, you know, something like that. I can’t remember if they want to make this a movie movie, a gigantic big screen epic directed by James Cameron, or if they are preferring to keep it on the small screen in the vein of something like Roots or the surprisingly brilliant Dallas: The Early Years. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter; all that matters is that a studio has contacted Val and they’re interested in her book. This continues a nice ascension in celebrity status for Val that has been going on since we first started the series. I think I’ve said this before, but one of the many things I love about KL is that the characters grow and change and their lives are different at the end of the series from where they were at the start of the series. Already, both Gary and Val are so different from their season one selves, with Gary now behaving as quite the noble and upstanding man versus the drunken coward and wimp that he was in season one. With Val, she started off the series as something of a dumb and simple country girl (from outward appearances, you understand; I have never thought Val was a dumb and simple country girl), but then she started to go to night school and writing classes to seek adult education, and then that blossomed into her writing a book, and then her book got published and became a big success, and then she wrote a second book (can’t remember the status on the success of that one, however) and now her first book is being optioned to be a movie. This growth and change has been nicely slow and organic over the course of the last seven years and I appreciate it greatly.
Okay, let’s move on to Peter and Sylvia. Last ep, the helpful pharmacist delivered helpful exposition to Peter about how he could easily poison Sylvia by giving her too many blood pressure pills. In the closing moments of the ep, Peter figured what the hell and decided to start poisoning Sylvia and she declared, with unknowing irony, “Now you’re acting like a real son.” Well, the poisoning continues this week, with Peter accelerating on the same path of putting more pills into her dish and saying, “Oh, you silly old woman, you forgot to take your pills again!” I do wonder how long this little ruse could go on before Sylvia would start to think, “Gee, I know I’m not forgetting to take my pills and yet every day Peter claims I’ve forgotten to take my pills!” In this ep, Peter cleverly manages to get a whole fresh bottle of pills by using the tried-and-true lie of, “She accidentally knocked them down the sink!” I’m currently on my last refill of sleeping pills (I take Trazadone) and I’ve been greatly enjoying sleeping nearly every night and not being an insomniac and I’m terrified of returning to sleepless nights, so I myself have considered calling up the pharmacy and saying, “Oh, gee, I knocked them down the sink!” However, I think by this point in time, pharmacists have wised up to this little lie. But that’s because I live in the year 2018 while my beloved KL characters live (at least at this exact point) in the year 1986 and it might be easier to fool the pharmacist with this fib than it would be today.
Now, if I’m remembering correctly, Peter does have a little change of heart in this ep and decide to stop poisoning Sylvia. This was a surprise to me because, once again, if you had asked me to tell you about this storyline based on my memories, I would have told you it spanned nearly half a season with Peter slowly poisoning Sylvia, but it turns out it’s barely even a full ep. Since I don’t have my notes with me, I can’t remember the exact reason why Peter has a change of heart, but I remember that he does have one. I like this, by the way, because it keeps Peter interesting and neither good nor evil. He’s been doing an evil thing, but then we see that he does have a conscience and it kicks in strong and tells him to stop poisoning Sylvia, no matter how annoying she might be or how much she’s inconveniencing his life.
Let’s move on to the best part of the ep, which is the continuing shagging of Paige and Sexy Michael and the shocking discovery of said shagging by Eric. See, Paige and Sexy Michael appear to be enjoying afternoon delights regularly, and why not? This is the point in the day when the house is totally empty, as both Eric and Karen are working at Lotus Point and Mack is also out at the office, busting bad guys. They’ve got the whole house to themselves, so why not strip and have a solid shag or two? In this instance, they’re enjoying their shag, or at least getting prepared to enjoy their shag, when Eric enters the house for some reason or other. I believe he leaves work early simply because there’s not that much to do at Lotus Point this day, although I could be misremembering. Maybe he’s sick and decides to go home early, I dunno. In any case, he comes home early and he makes the mistake of pretty much barging right into Sexy Michael’s room with barely a knock and he catches Paige and Sexy Michael about to get it on. A little later, we get the best scene of the ep when Paige leaves the house and Eric has a moment alone with Sexy Michael. He confronts him on what he just witnessed and says how he shouldn’t be shagging Paige, that’s she’s kinda sorta his sister, in a way, that this could do terrible things to Karen and Mack if they discovered it, and then the two boys begin to have this epic fight in the middle of the living room and I start to slowly stroke myself. Why oh why is this scene sooooooooooooo sexy? It’s something about the brothers fighting, it’s something about the raw seething testosterone in the air, it’s something about the fact that Eric is getting the divine pleasure of putting his hands on Sexy Michael.
You know, that oughta do it for Brothers and Mothers. I’m kinda glancing back over my essay and, wouldn’t you know it, maybe I should write sans notes more often, because for some reason the words just flowed out of my fingertips and I wrote like a fiend and managed to cover all the bases. With this discovery, I think I will be bold and continue this tradition by moving right along to our next ep and continuing this new habit of not using any notes. Let us move right along to discuss our final ep of this disk, Over the Edge.