Episode Title: Truth Will Out
Season 08, Episode 15
Episode 175 of 344
Written by Scott Hamner
Directed by Timna Ranon
Original Airdate: Thursday, December 18th, 1986
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Gary goes to Jill's to get her some clothes. He sees her yearbook where her name is Dorothy Simpkins, and pictures of Peter that are signed "for my sis." Home, Jill asks Gary to marry her, but he says he needs to get to know her better. Lilimae gives Abby a packet of cocaine she found in Olivia's car. Abby searches Olivia's room as Olivia is in the barn snorting coke. Abby follows Olivia and sees her buying drugs. Abby grabs her purse and dumps out the drugs. Greg wants Laura to have an abortion. Paige tells Mack and Karen that she faked her death to get away from her grandparents. They are not sure if they believe her. Karen researches and finds an obituary saying Paige died in a boating accident. Mack decides to call the Winston's, and Mr. Winston tells him to stop calling because it upsets Anne. Mack is surprised to hear that Anne is alive.
When we last left off, we were in the middle of a dangling cliffhanger involving a coked up Olivia driving Lilimae around in her new car and getting them, presumably, into a car crash. However, we also left off on a cliffhanger involving Karen and the Winstons, and that’s where we start this ep. We open with Karen telling Mack what she heard, namely that Paige is actually dead and buried. What’s interesting is that Mack rejects this news as soon as he hears it, saying that Winston is just a vicious old liar and that when he said Paige was dead, he was referring to the fact that he has disowned her. Now, see, this I like a lot more than when the story is focused squarely on Paige. I’m not entirely sure why this is playing so differently for me now, but I am finding myself remarkably unengaged by Paige’s story at this point, whereas I like the story whenever it relates over to Mack. I find myself much more interested in those Sepia Toned Flashbacks (and we get another one this ep, in which Young Mack and Young Sumner try to pull a fast one on Winston and fail miserably) than I am in the current stuff going on. I like that are learning more about Mack’s life as a young man and the woman he was in love with and this potential alternate life he could have had if things had gone differently. For me, this stuff enriches the character and makes him more interesting, but the stuff with Paige and Sexy Michael and whether they’re sleeping together or not sleeping together, I dunno, for some reason it’s leaving me pretty cold at this point.
I’m gonna get into spoiler territory here, so please skip this paragraph if you wanna stay fresh. I wonder if part of the problem is that I know how all this Paige business will play out. Having seen the whole show once before, I know that Paige is around for the entire second half of the series and I know that she’s just, you know, Paige. She is Paige Matheson, she is the person she says she is, and for the vast majority of her time on the series, this is just a fact that we accept. However, looking back over this eighth season, she is surrounded by mystery and it is going to take some time before we know if she’s telling the truth about anything in her life. Certainly, My Beloved Grammy thinks she’s completely duplicitous and dishonest and is not the person she says she is, but I’m having a hard time getting my brain into that mindset, simply because I’ve seen this before and I know how it all unfolds. I think this is the main reason why I’m feeling underwhelmed by the Paige portions of the story right now.
Even so, there’s still plenty of drama in that department this week. See, when Karen and Mack speak to Paige about what they’ve heard, let’s just say it doesn’t go well. Karen gets very direct, as is her wont, and says how she doesn’t believe Paige is really who she says she is, and she asks, “Who are you?” When Paige answers that she’s Paige Matheson, Karen simply says, “I don’t believe you.” In this scene, Mack still seems to be taking Paige’s side, saying stuff like, “Come on, Karen,” and then Paige gets to yell a bit when she says, “She’s calling me a liar, Mack!” and then storms off upstairs. Later, she comes up to Karen and Mack’s bedroom to tell them how this whole death business came about in the first place. She says how she picked up a hitchhiker and then they crashed the car and, while she went flying, the poor hitchhiker just went up in flames, burning slowly to death. This is jolly, and Paige shows herself to be very empathetic when she’s like, “Well, she was already dead, so I decided to just fake my own death and run off.”
Later, Karen decides it’s been too long since we’ve had a “scrolling through the microfilms” scene (I believe our last one was way back in season six’s Inside Information when Parker Winslow went scrolling through the microfilms to find out if Verna was really Val), so she pays a visit to the local library and starts scrolling through the microfilms. As is typical of this type of scene when it’s done in every single movie or television show ever made, Karen doesn’t actually read the articles, but instead just scrolls through headlines before reaching one that says Paige Matheson died in a boating accident. But wait, the story Paige just told them….this was not a boat accident! Now Paige has been caught in yet another lie, what to do?
Meanwhile, Gary and J.B. are still at the hospital, not getting anything interesting to do, so this ep, the writers finally let Gary leave the surroundings of the hospital for a pretty bad scene that only exists to further propel the plot. See, Gary is speaking with J.B. and they’re talking about how he’s gonna go to her apartment and get her some stuff, and of course as soon as we hear this dialogue, we all know that Gary is going to find something incriminating when he gets there, and that’s obviously what happens. Ugh, I hated this scene, and it’s strikingly similar to all those awful scenes on Desperate Housewives where someone very conveniently “accidentally” finds some bit of evidence that’s super duper important. In this case, Gary walks into J.B.’s apartment and opens a closet door and her damn high school yearbook just falls right out onto the floor, so of course Gary picks it up and of course he immediately finds the photo of J.B. with the name “Dorothy Simpkins” underneath it, and of course he finds that because the yearbook is already open to that page. Oh yeah, and what else should come spilling out of this yearbook but a photo of J.B. and Peter standing together, and no photo is complete without a message on the other side, so of course Gary sees this message, “Congratulations, sis, I knew you could do it, love Petie.” Ugh, could Gary have possibly stumbled upon this evidence in a more haphazard, obvious way? This sucks and it all happens to fast, within the space of a couple of seconds. Couldn’t the writers have found a more organic way to let this unfold? Also, and this is so not relevant and I know it’s stupid for me to focus on it and care about it, but why on earth does Peter underline the word, “knew”? “I knew you could do it!” Huh? Why is that the dominant word in that sentence? What was Peter thinking when he wrote that?
Let’s shift our attention over to the best storyline going on right now, Olivia and the coke. As we pick up at the start of this ep, we find both Olivia and Lilimae in the hospital, although thankfully neither were hurt. Lilimae is presumably hurt worse than Olivia, since she’s in a hospital bed and broke her arm while Olivia is just chilling in a chair, and then when Abs comes to see her, the lies begin. She claims that the accident wasn’t her fault, that there was a truck and this truck swerved right into her lane. I think Abs buys Olivia’s story initially, but then when Val shows up, Olivia gives the same impassioned plea of, “It wasn’t my fault!” and then says a car came flying into her lane. I think this is significant, because as she says this, the camera goes into a closeup of Abby’s face, looking suspicious. Is it the fact that Olivia has suddenly changed her story from “truck” to “car?” I have to say I don’t find this too terribly incriminating, since I would probably refer to a truck as a car and I don’t view them as too terribly different. I think we are supposed to infer that Olivia has been caught in a lie, but I don’t know, if I was living in the universe of the show, if I would be so quick to see it as a lie.
Later, Lilimae requests to speak to Abs one-on-one, displaying a nice bit of classy behavior. See, she specifically waits until everyone else has left before she reveals to Abs the bag of cocaine she found on the floor of Olivia’s car. She says how she spotted it and immediately hid it in the purse, and she says, “I don’t know why I hid it; that was probably the wrong thing to do.” Um, yeah, you think? I view this as a bit of bad writing that the writers are trying to explain over by simply having Lilimae point it out. Why would you climb into a person’s car, see that this person has cocaine in this car and is acting rather manic and, you know, coked up, and then simply stuff the cocaine into your purse and allow this person to drive you around in their car? I suppose we never know how we will behave in any given situation if it happens to us, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on Lilimae here. However, this is still a good scene because of Donna’s acting, which is stellar. When Lilimae presents her with the coke, we do another little slow closeup into Abby’s face, and it’s a very subtle bit of acting, but we see that Abs is realizing how much trouble her daughter is really in and is beginning to question what to do about it.
We go to a commercial and come back on a pretty intense fight between Olivia and Abs. Olivia once again tries to pull the “I was just holding it for a friend” excuse, but that old story has long passed its sell-by date, and Abs helpfully reminds her that this is what she told them when they found the grass in Sexy Michael’s car last season, and of course that grass turned out to actually be Olivia’s, as well. I enjoyed this callback and I think it helps to keep Olivia’s drug problems from feeling invented for the purposes of drama. I really like the fact that the writers didn’t just bust out a coke addiction for Olivia randomly; instead, we have seen her experimenting with drugs that aren’t really drugs, like pot, throughout the last season, and it feels organic that she has now moved on to nose candy. I’m also glad the writers upped her drug of choice, because I confess that I found myself snickering during season seven whenever Olivia would blaze up and the music would get all ominous and scary, like, “My God, this girl is smoking a marijuana cigarette; can you believe it?!” It’s hard to take that seriously, and having a character be all out of control because of smoking pot seems something more at home on 7th Heaven, so having Olivia switch to an actual drug definitely adds dramatic punch.
Another small scene I liked in this ep occurs when Olivia pays Lilimae a visit and apologizes for the accident. She says how she feels all bad, and then she adds, “I know what you’re thinking,” and immediately reassures her that the drugs were not hers, but just a friend’s. I how we see Lilimae striving to be helpful, trying to be a person Olivia can talk to, as she says something about how if Olivia’s got anything in her backpack, she can go ahead and give it to Lilimae and she will dispose of it. Olivia chooses to ignore this little attempt at help, instead rushing off and saying, “If there’s anything I can do for you, just tell me.”
My favorite scene in the ep is completely free of dialogue, and is simply a crosscutting extravaganza in which we watch Abs go through Olivia’s room, searching high and low (tee hee) for any sign of drugs, all while we see Olivia snorting coke in the barn nearby. Looks like the barn is where Olivia has chosen to stash her coke, and that seems a solid choice, in my opinion. I highly doubt Abs puts on her high heels and heads out to the dirty, smelly barn where she can potentially step on horseshit any second. This whole scene of Olivia snorting coke while Abs searches desperately for any sign of some coke all plays out over the course of nearly 2 and ½ minutes with nothing but a mellow background score going on, and it actually becomes rather hypnotic as you watch. I’ve spent a lot of time bitching about the score for this season and how awful it is in general, which it is, but I like this very mellow and soothingly repetitive bit of music that plays throughout this scene. I also like the fact that it’s 2 and ½ minutes and all done without dialogue, just visual storytelling, all very Brian De Palma-esque (except obviously not nearly as visually interesting).
Later we get another fight between Abs and Olivia, this one regarding Olivia’s allowance, or lack thereof. Looks like Abs is cutting Olivia off from her funds, causing her to bemoan, “What am I supposed to do without money? I can’t even buy a hamburger or a pair of socks,” to which Abs adds, “Or drugs.” Olivia is really good at cutting to the quick, so she adds, “Oh I see, you don’t trust me, because you don’t trust anybody, because you think everybody is just like you, lying and cheating and mean.” This is a nice burn and, even though Olivia is clearly lying, I admire how good she is at really insulting her mother when she wants to. However, Abs is also ready to go with a strong comeback when Olivia declares, “Whatever I learned, I learned it from you.” At this, Abs says, “Oh no, young lady, what you’re doing you’re doing to yourself, and I am not going to give you money to contribute to your problem.” Ugh, I love this and I especially love the way that we are seeing Abs kick into action and act like a real mama lion. It’s this stuff that keeps Abs so interesting, never just a one-dimensional slutty vixen. I’ll refrain from saying more because this is all great stuff and it’s going to continue to be great stuff for our next batch of eps, where I will further discuss the brilliance of this storyline in greater detail.
That’s almost all I have to say about this ep, but I do want to talk about our very final scene and the cliffhanger it leaves us on, because it’s another thing for me to get excited about. In the last scene, Mack finally works up the courage to call those wicked Winstons up and speak to them. He gets the head asshole Winston, and after a moment of awkwardness with the whole, “Yeah, it’s me, that guy you hated and were awful to twenty years ago,” the real shocker comes when Winston says, “I told Anne about your wife calling the other day and she didn’t understand it any more than I do,” to which a severely-taken-aback Mack says, “Anne is alive?” This excites me tremendously because, yes, Anne is alive, and yes, Anne is played by Michele Phillips and, yes, I love Anne. I have tremendously fond memories of the Anne character and her place in the later years of the show, and I’m excited because now I see that we shall be meeting her very shortly, perhaps in our very next ep, and I’m excited.
Before I move on to my final thoughts, it is worth noting that this marks our very last ep of 1986, a rather turbulent year for KL, probably one of the weakest overall years when you consider all that happened during it and how the show's general quality held up. We began 1986 with Unbroken Bonds, when we were deep into the not-very-interesting-at-all story of the fallout from Joshua's death and how the police were grilling Lilimae and Cathy and, you know, whatever. Now here we are and we are finishing 1986. Aside from the show's quality taking a rather serious dive, what other important events happened in 1986? Well, the Challenger disaster happened on January 28th and that was pretty horrible, although my new favorite President Ronald Reagan did give a really beautiful and uplifting speech afterwards about how the people who died are heroes who take chances to make the world a better place. Keeping to a political theme, the United States Senate decided on February 27th to allow their debates to be televised. November 3rd saw the unleashing of the epic Iran-Contra affair, which was a pretty big scandal back then. Now we have scandals every five minutes and it's easy to get numb and forget when they were a big deal, but this one was. As far as books went, this is the year my man Stephen King released his epic IT, which I still think is one of his best books ever and definitely one of his scariest. Brian De Palma released Wise Guys, which I think is pretty funny and cute, but it made no money and signals that we are entering a somewhat lesser period for BDP. David Lynch released Blue Velvet which is a brilliant movie that everybody should see right away. Overall, it was a great year for movies, but my fingers hurt and I don't feel like writing about 1986 anymore, so let's move on. Oh wait, let's talk about the top ten shows, going from #10 to #1, and then we can move on. The top ten shows of the 1985-1986 season were Who's the Boss?, Miami Vice, The Golden Girls, Dynasty, Dallas, Cheers, 60 Minutes, Murder, She Wrote, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show. I think it's definitely worth noting that, at this point, the sitcom is making a rise from the ashes and the nighttime soap is clearly beginning its slow descent. We have both Dallas and Dynasty in the top ten this year, but they won't be going anywhere near a top ten after this, and neither will any of the other soaps. Yes, we are now officially past the prime time of the genre of the nighttime soap and their ratings are sliding and new shows are coming in to take their place. It's kinda sad, but it's also the nature of the business and part of what makes the grand KL experience feel so vast and so sprawling is how the show takes us from one era of late '70s television all the way through the entire '80s and then ends with us comfortably settled into early '90s television. Other, smaller shows can feel like this blip on the radar forever frozen in a certain time period, but KL spans us all the way from one era into a completely different era, and so much changes in both the real world as well as the world of television during that time.
Let me talk real fast about the way I felt about this entire disk, spanning A Turn of Events through Truth Will Out. In all honesty, I found it pretty boring, and that’s a real bummer. However, that does not mean my love affair with the show is over; it just means that this season is way more spotty and inconsistent than I remembered and I am just seeing that stuff more clearly this time, since I’m older and wiser and sexier. Also, I feel we are now on an upswing, with the impending arrival of Anne to the proceedings getting me excited and the blossoming Olivia storyline getting me even more excited. However, as an overall disk of five eps, this one was pretty bland. It’s hard to get excited about J.B. hitting her head and then spending five eps just sorta hanging around a hospital with Gary, doing nothing. It’s also hard to get excited about Peter speeding around and flashing back to J.B. holding onto that damn twig over and over again. It’s moments like these that make me feel like the powers that be are really struggling to fill all thirty eps of the season.
Even so, I’m very excited to proceed onward and see what happens between Olivia and Abs in the whole cocaine storyline department, so let’s go ahead and start talking about a brand new disk of eps with The Unraveling.