Episode Title: Breakup
Season 08, Episode 27
Episode 187 of 344
Directed by Joe Coppoletta
Original Airdate: Thursday, April 9th, 1987
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Peter pressures Olivia for the letter. Abby sees them kissing and is furious. Greg tells Abby that he is only after Olivia's letter. Olivia stops by Peter's, but when she sees Paige there, she sends the letter to Gary. Ben, thinking Val is Jean, freaks out. She thinks he is hallucinating from lack of sleep. Home again, Anne milks Mack's guilt over her suicide attempt. Anne tells Karen on the phone that she did it to bring Mack to his senses, that Mack is only with Karen out of obligation, and will never be happy in their little tract house on a dead end street with its barbecues and "Kiss the Cook" aprons. Mack overhears this. Mack invites Anne to dinner. He puts on his "Kiss the Cook" apron, and barbecues, while telling Karen how much he loves their life and home. Anne yells at him for insulting her. He yells that she insulted Karen. He says that he loves Karen, and not her. Furious, Anne tells him that he is not Paige's father - Greg is!more
Welcome back and let us now discuss Breakup, which is aptly titled because this is when the bottom finally falls out on Mack and Anne having any sort of relationship. After this ep, Anne is going to disappear for awhile, and we won’t be seeing her again until somewhere in the eleventh season, aside from a brief one-off appearance somewhere in season ten. What leads Anne to take a hike for the next two years or so? Read on.
We all know that Anne only pretended to try and kill herself as a crass move to gain Mack’s affections. The only person who hasn’t figured this out as of late is Mack himself, who we find doting on Anne like an ever faithful husband as she is returned to the cul-de-sac from her little stop off in the hospital. What to make of this? It’s complicated, because some might be tempted to say that Mack is a fool for allowing Anne to use him this way, but I think it just shows his big heart. Mack has special feelings for Anne, even if he doesn’t love her the way he loves Karen, and he can’t even bring himself to fathom the idea that she would attempt suicide just to get something out of him. I think he finds the idea so distasteful he can’t even entertain the notion. Even so, we immediately get some awkward stuff between Mack, Anne, and Karen at the start of the ep, when they are picking Anne up from the hospital. Due to shenanigans involving some sort of gigantic plant, Mack and Anne wind up cuddled up together in the backseat while Karen serves as the driver.
Fortunately, Anne decides to completely morph into a moustache twirling villain at pretty much the precise moment that Mack walks in and sees her. This happens late in the ep, when Anne is talking to Karen on the phone, lounging around the living room and listening to her old band on vinyl while they speak. Karen gets direct and asks Anne to let Mack off the hook, saying how he feels responsible for her suicide attempt and that Anne is well aware of that. Anne gets nice and wicked and is like, “You’re only with Mack now because I wasn’t here.” Then she detours into a huge rant against suburban life and says how Karen lives on, “A little dead end street with your little dead end life with your little outdoor barbecue grill and your Kiss the Cook apron.” Anne sounds so disgusted by everything she’s describing that you can actually hear the vomit and bile start to pour up through her throat and threaten to come out of her mouth. This woman really hates the suburbs and really hates this cul-de-sac; I’ll be curious to hit season eleven and beyond and see where Anne finds herself living by the early ‘90s. I honestly can’t remember how Anne is living and supporting herself by the time she returns to the fold, but I get the strong feeling she won’t be living anywhere near the cul-de-sac. Anyway, the timing is fortuitous, although not exactly for Anne. See, it’s just as she begins going into her anti-suburbs rant that Mack comes walking in, and we even get a pretty good camera move, because we are focused in on Anne as she says, “The truth is I never intended to die; I intended to bring Mack to his senses,” and then the camera sorta pulls out to reveal that Mack is standing right there in the doorway, hearing everything. Now, I expected a big blowup here, for him to tell Anne he heard everything and he can’t believe she could be so wicked. Instead, Anne hangs up the phone and Mack plays it cool for the time being, biding his time.
What winds up happening is that Mack invites Anne to a big dinner at the house with him and Karen. At first, Karen is upset, thinking that Mack’s not listening to her, that Anne will forever haunt their life, and of course Anne seems rather full of herself as she first arrives at this dinner and makes herself comfortable. Then Mack busts out a big gift box for Karen and tells her to open it, which she does. What’s in the box? Well, it’s not a box of pain like in Dune, but it’s a box full of wieners. Before you get too excited, let me clarify that these aren’t the kind of wieners I love and you love and pretty much everyone in the world should love; these are not male reproductive organs all packed up into a box, but rather a string of hot dog wieners. Karen pulls this long string of wieners out of the box looking positively shocked, a bit of Michele acting that I actually think is way too much. Okay, it’s weird for your husband to give you a box full of wieners, but the face Michele makes throughout this scene is just, I’m sorry, annoying. She just has this SHOCKED expression on her face that’s way over-the-top and, again, I am yearning for some season three Karen, when she still knew the art of subtlety and underplaying her performance. Anyway, after the wieners are revealed, Mack puts on his Kiss the Cook apron and announces he’s gonna go fire up the grill and cook the wieners. The message to Anne is clear, and she is none too pleased about it.
This scene is okay, I guess, if perhaps a bit much. This whole situation and wrap-up seems like the kind of thing that can only happen in a TV show and never in real life. I feel like in real life, Mack would have heard Anne talking on the phone and been like, “Yeah, I heard everything, you crazy bitch,” and that would be the end of it. Doing this elaborate dinner with wieners packed into a gift box and a silly apron just seems like kinda a lot of fanfare to send the message to Anne that she’s a crazy bitch. I also get the feeling that we as viewers are supposed to be very amused by this; that we’re supposed to think it’s just hysterical, but it didn’t particularly make me laugh, nor did it make My Beloved Grammy or Brother laugh. It was just a sorta okay scene and that was the end of it.
Hurt and humiliated, Anne marches across the street and prepares to march out of the series for awhile, as well, but not before throwing one final surprise at Mack. This scene begins in a way I like very much, because now Mack is being all straight and honest, saying how he heard everything Anne said and now he knows how spiteful he is and that he loves Karen and his life on the cul-de-sac and that he’s never gonna leave it. Then Anne declares how she’s gonna go back East, and when Mack asks her what about Paige, she says how Paige is not his concern and that, GASP!, Mack is not even Paige’s real father. Then she drops the big bomb by saying how she’s not interested in Paige’s real father because, “Greg Sumner’s not really my type.” Then she goes into her house and shuts the door and effectively ends the ep right here with this big revelation that I feel, well, pretty ambivalent towards. Look, obviously I have some hindsight on the series having watched it once before, and so I can already tell you right now that no, Greg Sumner is not Paige’s father, but even if I didn’t have that hindsight, I don’t think this little twist would be doing much for me. Obviously Anne is just feeling extra spiteful after her rejection from Mack, so she’s just trying to hurt him. Is any viewer actually fooled by this? If I was watching in 1987, would I be fooled? Paige has only been on the show for a season now, and yet I feel they’ve really blown their wad too much when it comes to twists and turns and shocking revelations about this character. First we were told she was Mack’s daughter, then we were told the real Paige Matheson was dead, and then we found out that Paige faked her death and that her mother is very much alive, and then we met the mother, and now we have the mother saying how Greg is actually Paige’s father and it’s all just a bit much. Only now do I realize how strange it feels for Paige to enter the series out of the clear blue sky and immediately get so much attention from the writers and creative team.
I wanna move my attention over to some other characters, such as Olivia (yay!) and Peter (snore), but before I do that, let me give a quick wrap up for how I feel about Anne right now, at this exact point. I have to say that, while I’m an Anne fan and always will be and enjoy the delightful relish Michelle Phillips displays whenever her character is being wicked, in truth this storyline didn’t work as well for me upon this viewing as it did once upon a time. I remember the first time I powered through this epic voyage of a series and I just positively loved Anne’s arrival to the series and all the drama of whether she would seduce Mack or not. Now, it’s not nearly so thrilling to me as it once was. Part of this might be that hindsight thing, that I can vividly remember the fact that Mack does not cheat with Anne, but another part of it is just watching this a second time with a more critical eye and, hopefully, a more developed brain. Now I see that the writers have already leaned too heavily on stories of “Will Karen’s husband cheat on her?” This was compelling way back in season two when Sid seemed to be getting a crush on Lynda Stryker (the lady mechanic), but now they’ve repeated it too much and it’s getting tiresome. The worst thing is that they’re not even close to done; I know we are going to return at least one more time to a story of whether Mack will cheat on Karen.
And while we’re on the subject, I wanna point out some behind the scenes info that is probably common knowledge amongst KL fans, and that is the fact that the writers originally had it mapped out for Mack and Anne to shag and a whole bunch of drama to develop from that. Wisely, very wisely, Michele spoke to the creative team and said Mack wouldn’t cheat on Karen and that the show needed at least one solid, stable couple that’s not constantly stepping out on each other. Much like Donna speaking up about how Abs would never do something so evil as to directly steal Val’s babies away from her, Michele showed here that she understands the characters and their cores better than the team of writers who are currently cooking up storylines. Seriously, what idiot thought it would be a good idea to have Mack cheat? Why would you throw away nearly five years of this man being a great character and a fabulous husband just for the sake of some soapy drama? That’s the kind of thing I would expect from Dallas but not from KL, and so I applaud Michele for nipping that in the bud before it was too late. At the same time, it kinda winds up making this storyline feel like much ado about nothing. Anne moves to town, acts wicked for awhile, tries to seduce Mack, does a manipulative suicide attempt, all so that Mack can reconfirm what we viewers already knew, that he is a faithful husband and loves Karen.
That about does it for the Karen/Mack/Anne triangle, but honestly there’s not too much else going on in this ep. Looking through my notes here, I think I’ll shift the attention over to Olivia (age sixteen) and her new romance with Peter (age way-too-old-for-Olivia). This has been kinda quietly brewing in the sidelines for awhile, ever since Olivia kicked the nose candy and decided to become a spokesperson for anti-drug stuff. She first met Peter awhile back and, of course, thinks he’s totally dreamy. Anyway, romance is blooming between Olivia and Peter (who’s actual age is 34, which I just looked up a moment ago), but I don’t think it’s necessarily because Peter is actually interested in Olivia. Rather, Olivia has this mysterious lazy Plot Contrivance Letter that Sylvia handed her before she just sorta vanished off the show. Then Sylvia died offscreen in our last ep (you remember; she fell in the bathtub and died, a death with no dignity cooked up by writers who are struggling to figure out what to do with this whole storyline) and now Peter desperately wants this letter. I forget what all is in this letter, mostly because I wasn’t paying as much attention as I probably should have been (I’ll start paying more attention again when we hit season nine). I think the letter basically just lays out the truth for all to see and says that Peter is not Sylvia’s son and that he’s also not Galveston’s son, either.
Sylvia’s funeral is this ep, and Olivia gets all dressed up to go, hoping to catch the eye of Peter, which she does. Then the two sit off in some corner of the cemetery and talk about life and this mysterious letter of Sylvia’s, but then Peter plants a big old kiss on Olivia at the precise moment that Abs spots them from far off. She comes marching up to them and demands Peter stay away from her daughter, a reasonable demand, in my opinion. It’s not just that Peter is more than double the age of Olivia, but it’s also the fact that Peter has been inside of Abs. How weird would it be if he started shagging Olivia next? The man’s penis has known the very deepest crevices of Abby’s exceptionally popular vagina, and now it’s gonna go exploring the vagina of her daughter? Sorry, way too creepy. If I was about to shag some older dude and then this older dude casually dropped how he had been deep inside of my own mother, I would throw that dude to the curb; let me tell you.
The climax of this storyline for the week is that it’s late one night and Peter and Paige are shagging. They finish their shag and Paige runs off to take a shower, and at that precise moment there’s a knock on the door and, GASP!, it’s Olivia, come to pay Peter a visit. If I remember correctly, she’s planning to give him that letter because she knows he wants it real bad, but then she glances up and sees Paige, adorned in nothing more than a towel, stretching out and revealing herself in the big circular mirror on the ceiling. Real fast, why is this mirror here? It’s the kind of mirror they have at convenience stores to stop people from stealing, the big circle kind that effectively show you the entire landscape of an open space. What architect puts this kind of mirror in an apartment? It’s really only here so that Olivia can see Paige in the mirror and get the big eyes and realize what a man whore Peter is. Not only that, but he’s man-whoring with the blonde that Olivia thought was her good, close friend. Enraged, Olivia heads to the nearest mailbox and addresses that Sylvia letter to Gary and sends it away.
Real fast, I want to make it clear that I do not care about this storyline. The entire handling of Sylvia as a character has been so sloppy this year, and the fact that she just randomly vanished from proceedings and then died offscreen has really given me a distaste for this whole thing. The letter feels like a bad plot device designed to create some minor tension without this character having to be onscreen or, indeed, even alive. I’m also getting a little tired of the device of one character paying another character a random late night visit only to spot a third character dressed in a towel or less off in the background. Seriously, what is it with these women that they can’t just take a simple shower? They need to come walking out of the bathroom and stand directly in front of a big mirror and do a whole series or stretching and hair maneuvers even though they know there’s someone else at the door. This is only done to get characters from point A to B, to allow Olivia to see what shagging is going on within the confines of Peter’s apartment.
The only other character worth talking about this ep is Ben, who is still not coping well. My asshole tightened up really violently when we got started with this ep because I spotted, in that block of credits that we see every ep after the opening, the listing of "actress" Wendy Fulton as Jean Hackney. Oh God no, I thought to myself as the vomit came flooding up my throat. She’s back? I thought for 100% certainty that she made her last appearance in Deadly Combination, so what was her name doing in the credits here? MBG also noticed her name and admitted to feeling nervous, afraid that this disaster of a character was going to be re-entering the proceedings. No, no, no, we can all relax, ladies and gentlemen, because this is just another instance in which we get a really quick flash of the character because Ben is going crazy and he thinks all women look like Hackney now. In this case, I think it’s Val. I think Ben walks into the house and Val is doing something in the living room and there’s just a super quick flash in which she looks like Hackney, but then she turns back into Val. The good news is that I’m pretty sure this is; this is the real last appearance of Hackney and she shan’t be tainting the series anymore after this little incident.
Basically, Ben is unravelling. We get a small but important scene between him and Lilimae here in which she encourages him to get back to work, to stop hanging around the house and being so depressed. I’m glad to see that Lilimae has gotten past that whole awkward incident in which Ben placed her in a headlock and almost broke her neck (whoops!), and I tend to like any quiet scene between these two characters, mostly because it’s nice to see them getting along after such a long time of Lilimae being so difficult with him. Also, let’s just go ahead and say it now; Ben is not long for the series at this point. He’s only got two more eps to his name and then Ben goes to the same place in the sky occupied by Sid, Kenny, Ginger, Richard, Diana, Joshua, and Cathy. Yes, it’s true, Ben is about to leave the series, and while I’ll save the little eulogy about the overall character for the time he makes his actual final appearance, let’s just say that we can all feel the writers getting ready to ship him off. There’s an aura of inevitability whenever he’s onscreen, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be shocked when he makes his permanent exodus from proceedings.
That’s about all I got for this ep. It was, you know, okay. I’m pretty underwhelmed by the eighth season in general at this point, but I do think we’re on an upswing right now, that Nightmare served as the rock bottom of this season and now the writers are beginning to get things back on track, gliding us into what will (hopefully) be a much better season nine. So even though we’re on an upward trend, I am still just sorta passive about the drama unfolding right now. I have a hard time caring too much about Olivia and Peter, for instance, and Mack and Anne isn’t nearly as sizzling or as funny as I had once remembered it to be. We’re in a much, much better place than we were a few eps back with Nightmare, but there’s still a myriad of storytelling flaws going on right now.
Three eps to go. Let us now proceed onward to Parental Guidance.