Thursday, January 30, 2020

KNOTS LANDING Episode 190 of 344: CEMENT THE RELATIONSHIP


Episode Title: Cement the Relationship

Season 08, Episode 30

Episode 190 of 344

Written by Bernard Lechowick

Directed by Nick Havinga

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 14th, 1987

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Val tells Lilimae that she knows Ben went after Jean Hackney and is not coming back. Mack tells Paige that he called Anne and Anne admitted Mack really is Paige's father. Greg can't reach Peter, but is more interested in playing with Meg than finding him. Abby hears that cement is going to be poured for the new children's playground at Lotus Point, so she decides to bury Peter there. With several interruptions and near misses of getting caught, Abby buries Peter, only to dig him up for his car keys and rebury him. She brings his car to the airport and takes the bus home. Olivia tells Abby she is not worth what Abby did (meaning Abby shouldn't have killed him). Abby, thinking Olivia means she shouldn't have buried Peter on her behalf, assures Olivia that she did it for her, and that no one will ever know. The cement is poured in the children's park, and Karen and Abby go to inspect it. Karen points out that there is a structural crack in the cement, and it will need to be done over.




                Well, we’ve finally arrived.  We’ve sat through 29 season eight eps and now we are finally at our season finale.  What exciting cliffhangers lay in store for all of our characters?  Well, even though there’s involvement from pretty much all the characters in the cast this week, it’s hard to argue that the primary focus of this ep is not totally and 100% on Abs as she gets to work taking care of that whole dead Peter situation from the end of our last ep.  Even so, we have a few small things with the other characters, so let’s start with them.

                Actually, before we talk about characters, let’s talk about opening credits.  Why?  Well, because this ep marks the end of an era for KL, the end of the classic scrolling squares that we’ve been seeing since the premiere of season three.  Yes, we will see a return to this style in a slightly different, more 90s way for the last three seasons of the show, but this is it for the style that we’ve grown accustomed to since 1981.  Even though I detest the opening credits and theme for season eight because they look super cheap and computer-y and the theme song is terrible, but I still consider the scrolling squares to be the greatest design of the opening and it’s the opening I always think of when I think of KL, probably because we spent six years in a row with it.  Next season, we will unveil a brand new opening credits sequence, the one involving a painting, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for season nine.



                I forgot to mention in the last ep that Greg and Laura picked out a name for their baby girl, Marguerite Catherine, or simply Meg.  Once I heard that name, “Meg,” I started to get pretty excited, and not just because I enjoy the actress Meg Tilly.  No, it’s more the fact that I know the very existence of Meg promises drama and excitement in the years to come.  The writers didn’t do much at all with Laura’s actual pregnancy, but now that the baby is here, she’s going to affect situations and storylines all the way up to the 1997 reunion movie.  I’m excited for that, but I continue to wag my finger and say "shame on you" to the writers and creative team of season eight, who have given Laura possibly 60 minutes of material total throughout this entire year.  Laura will be leaving the series very shortly and it’s a shame that in her final full season on the series, she is given so little to do.



                Since that’s about all that Greg and Laura are doing this ep, let’s discuss Paige.  In this ep, Mack gives an off-screen phone call to Anne, reminds her not to come back until season eleven, and also learns that his sperm is the sperm responsible for entering her egg and conceiving an embryo that eventually grew bigger and was then expelled out through her vagina as Paige Matheson.  Okay, so Greg’s not the father, right?  We had a Sepia Toned Flashback last ep that I neglected to mention that showed the two of them not shagging, and now we’ve got this development. I think this is pretty much our confirmation, if anyone was in any suspense about this.  Anyway, I’m still completely bored and disinterested by this storyline and I’m just waiting for it to finally finish, which I’m predicting will happen in either the first or second ep of the ninth season.  



                Ben does not appear in this ep or any ep to follow this ep.  The fact that his 9PM phone calls stop coming Val’s way helps alert her to the fact that he’s probably gone forever.  Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that last ep she called up his boss at the paper or whatever and the boss was like, “Huh, assignment?”  So now Val is convinced that Ben is going after Hackney, but I’m not so convinced.  Ben’s lies about having this great new job opportunity seemed to me like an excuse for him to blow town simply because he was totally unhappy and his life was coming apart.  He had tried to make it work with Val and be a good husband and it’s just not meant to be.  Plus, all that Hackney silliness that took up so much of our time turned Ben into a total paranoid maniac, so I’m guessing he’s gonna move somewhere far away, probably change his name, and then try to make a marriage work with some new girl.  Or hey, now that I think about it, maybe he’s going after Cathy?  I mean, why the hell not?  He’s probably flashing back to a year ago and thinking of how he should have left town with Cathy back then, so maybe he’s gonna track her down and resume the shagging?  You know what, I really really like this idea that just immediately popped into my head as I was sitting here writing.  I am officially going to make my own personal beliefs be that Ben left town, found Cathy, resumed shagging, and the two lived happily ever after, doing nothing but shagging and singing fabulous cover songs.  This is my official belief and I am sticking to it.



                Okay, let’s get to the main meat of this ep.  Peter is dead, he’s got that weird sharp receipt stick thing jutting out of his back (I just looked it up and it’s called a “spindle,” which makes me now realize why the title of our last ep was funny), and the body needs to be disposed of pronto, as there’s about to be a great big Lotus Point celebration.  I confess I simply don’t have the energy to write about all the little details of what Abs goes through in this ep, but just take my word for it that it’s all great.  This ep really cranks up the black comedy in a way that I completely approve of.  I completely approved of it back in college and I completely approve of it now.  I remember thinking that the L & L years of the show were the funniest and used comedy the best, and this is probably the first sign of that instinct that we’ve seen since they became the big people behind the scenes.  Basically, this situation is just inherently funny.  It’s funny to watch Abs, dressed in pearls and a fancy dress and high heels, have to haul a heavy corpse across the room.  It’s also very funny later when Abs, still dressed in the same outfit, drives the corpse out to the Lotus Point construction site where they are about to pour cement. 

                You know what, actually I think I will give some quick details about all the shit Abs deals with throughout these 48 minutes.  Okay, so the first order of business is getting the damn body off the floor of the dining hall.  Abs locks the door and then drags poor lifeless Peter across the floor and stashes him in the little closet where the music comes out of.  Naturally, Abs leaves a big bloody trail all over the previously very tidy floor, so she quickly gets to work cleaning that up, slopping it up with a big towel or maybe a table cloth, and then we get some good suspense when Karen comes to the door and starts knocking and hollering to find out who’s in there.  Then she asks one of her Lotus Point employees to go fetch the key from her office, and Abs finishes up her cleaning by very cleverly throwing coffee all over the floor.  Oh Abs, you’re so wicked smart, for now when Karen comes in, she’ll notice the big mess of coffee on the floor and not any teeny tiny little microscopic bloodstains that might still be lingering about.



                Okay, so then the night of the party comes, and Abs is making sure to stay close to the door of that music room, ensuring that nobody enters and asks, “Hey, how come this not-very-interesting character who’s been on the show for two years is dead in this music closet room?”  We also get some nice humor when Abs says how there’s no music because they are having problems with the equipment, but then suddenly music comes blasting out and she’s like, “Oh, um, let me go fix that,” and she gets into the little room and shuts it off.  By the way, the music that comes blasting out is the same music that Sonny (the evil saxophonist/reporter guy who wasted our time for awhile during season seven) was playing on his saxophone back in the episode The Confession.  Either the powers that be are recycling music again or Sonny quickly became a successful musician.  Oh yeah, and one last little detail, but we learn that this is a double celebration because Eric is now a college man.  It’s a good thing I double checked this scene before I started writing about it, because in my notes I wrote “college graduate” and I was just about to go on a long rant about how Eric couldn’t possibly have had time to go through college while also working as the big cheese over at Knots Landing Motors (which I know he hasn’t been doing for about two years, but you get my point).  However, now I see that Abs actually says, “Congratulations, Mr. College Man,” so I take that to mean he’s going to be heading off to college in the fall.  I remember this because I remember Eric kinda leaving for awhile and only showing up sporadically, and then of course he doesn’t show up at all after 1990 because of Steve Shaw’s tragic car accident and death.  Anyway, it’s a small detail but one I appreciate, and it helps to explain where Eric will be disappearing to next season.



                Once the party is finally finished, Abs returns to Lotus Point late at night to go bury Peter at the construction site.  I love all the detail that goes into this; we really see that disposing of a corpse is not an easy feat, and in many ways it reminded me of a scene from Hitchock’s Frenzy involving a killer trying to pry something out of a corpse’s hands.  In this instance, we just see that all of this is taking a lot of effort for Abs and we get the sense that it’s hard to get the corpse out of the truck and rolled into the big hole, and then we have a fabulous moment in which Abs has to pry the murder weapon (spindle) out of his back.  I gotta say, even though this is network television and there’s nothing too horribly offensive or grisly, I still found this pretty bloody and was somewhat surprised that it made it to network TV.  Did KL just have clout by this time because they’d been on the air for eight years?  Was CBS allowing them to get away with a little more than they might allow for a show in its first or second season?  Again, this isn’t torture porn or anything, but there’s a lot of blood and we see the bloody rag in Abby’s hands when she pries the spindle.  Also, more good suspense when Abs is in the hole, working on burying the body, and a Lotus Point security guard shows up out of the blue and starts poking around.  Abs lays low and waits for him to leave, but it’s a pretty exciting sequence, made even better and funnier when Abs goes through all the work of burying him only to realize she needs his car keys.  Naturally, she has to dig him back up and get the keys.  See, it’s small details like this that I appreciate when KL is really firing on all cylinders, and I’m gonna go ahead and say that the show is really firing on all cylinders in this ep, that this is all really good stuff.  You got action, you got murder, you got suspense, and you got humor.  



                Finally, Abs has gotten Peter’s body buried and has obtained his keys, so she drives his car out to the airport and ditches it there.  Not only does she ditch it, but she even wears her hair up and puts on a big pair of sunglasses to try and hide her face.  See what I mean about little details?  I don’t think the Dallas team would include all these little things if they were having a character dispose of a corpse.  The fact that Abs is able to immediately snap into action and start taking care of business and the fact that she is so cautious about doing so add a nice extra level to proceedings.

                The final scene of the ep is a doozy.  Abs and Karen are surveying things at Lotus Point, taking a look at the new area that’s been built and the fresh concrete.  For all intents and purposes, Abby’s job is finished and it’s a rousing success, but then we get that last curveball in which Karen spots a big crack in the foundation of the cement.  She says how maybe it’s not that big a deal, but that there’s also the chance that all the cement will have to come up, and she finishes with, “What do you think, Abby?” and we get a nice closeup of Abs looking like she’s about to shit her pants.  With that, the season concludes.



                I’m happy to say that this was a fabulous season finale.  I would say it’s much better than The Longest Night, our season finale the previous year, although I don’t think it can compare to the cliffhangers of my beloved 4, 5, and 6 era.  This whole ep is very clever and very funny, and I enjoy the mix of suspense with dark humor, the way the writers show all the different problems Abs encounters as she goes about trying to get rid of Peter’s body.  Also, that very final scene is a perfect button on the whole thing and I remember watching it and eagerly starting season nine right away, wanting to see what happened.  Even so, I can’t be completely complimentary, mostly because I have found this season to be a real slog, so the fact that it happens to finish off with a fantastic season finale doesn’t exactly redeem the season as a whole.  For me, the cliffhangers have the best punch when we’ve been really invested in an exciting story all year and then the cliffhanger is the culmination of that story (think of the fantastic Val’s babies storylines).  When the season has been as spotty and even just-plain-bad as season eight has been, one good finale is not going to erase my memories of the eps that came before. 

                It’s fun to get some other perspectives, so let me go ahead and tell you what MBG and Brother had to say about this whole ep.  Brother said it was a highlight and that he thought it was a hilarious ep, and he also said he’s eager to find out who killed Peter, though he didn’t venture a guess.  MBG, however, said that she thinks Paige killed Peter and, well, I’m not gonna say one way or the other.  We’ll have to wait until season nine to find out.

                That about wraps up my thoughts on Cement the Relationship.  Honestly, this might be my fave ep of the season, though I’ll have to chew on it and think over whether one of the Olivia-on-coke eps might not actually be the best.  In fact, I’ll chew on it and then tell you all what I’ve decided in my next essay, my “Reflection on Season Eight.”  After that, we’ll power right along to the premiere of a brand new season with Missing Persons.  

3 comments:

  1. I remember in several interviews with the cast, Donna said that her dress never got dirty in the post-murder scenes, no matter how much she wallowed around in the dirt. I paid attention to that on the rewatch, and it really is quite amazing. But it is fitting, because it would be beneath Abby's dignity to get dirt or blood on her :)

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  2. I has stopped watching and tuned in to the episode just before this one and made a mental note to come back and watch the following Thursday. I remember being so impressed at the storytelling structure they chose, and how they pulled it off from the first moment to the last. It was true to the characters. The music went from foreboding tension to frantic as Abby's digging up those keys. And it had a great final twist and superb music over the last few seconds on Donna's face. Really smart writing and execution. And at Season Eight to still be pulling off episodes like this? Well, I just wish someone would blog about this show so I could relive it with them.

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  3. Okay, so I LOVVVVED this ep when it first aired, still do. But I think there is one missed opportunity. And maybe I only care because now I can binge all eps in a row and not have to wait all summer for the show to return.

    I would have written that the cement was poured ... and all was well at Lotus Point for months! Abs and Olivia could still have their drama unfold, but agree to "forget about it" as "the matter" had been handled by Abs. Then, out of nowhere, when we are all in the middle of other drama, suddenly the crack appears, and Abby shits many bricks. Unfortunately, this all gets wrapped up too quickly at beginning of following season when it could have made for some wonderful mid-season drama.

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