Episode Title: Love In
Season 09, Episode 08
Episode 198 of 344
Written by Diane Messina Stanley
Directed by Kate Tilley
Original Airdate: Thursday, November 12th, 1987
The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Eric visits and has a surprise - he's married! Karen doesn't like his wife, Linda. She also doesn't like Michael's new girlfriend, Jody. Val invites Gary to dinner, and after the twins are asleep they kiss passionately, but he leaves. Abby meets Charles for lunch and asks him if leaving her was the worst mistake he made in his life. He says he's the most miserable man in the world.
Flashback Scenes: Young Abby meets Charles when Sid fixes his car. He asks her out, but is angry that she won't sleep with him. She eventually gives up her virginity to him, and tells Karen she is going to marry him. Later, Karen shows her the Society Page, which has an announcement of Charles marrying someone else. Charles explains to Abby that Judith will be a more appropriate wife for him, and they'll all be happier in the long run, but he'd like Abby to continue to be his mistress. Abby leaves him, but is devastated.
QUICK NOTE: USUALLY I TRY TO AVOID SPOILERS FOR FUTURE EPS, BUT FOR THE PURPOSES OF DISCUSSING SEASON NINE, I WILL BE SPOILING SOME FUTURE EVENTS THAT HAPPEN AROUND THE 10TH AND 11TH EPS OF THE SEASON. IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THAT FAR, I HIGHLY SUGGEST GETTING THERE BEFORE YOU READ THESE ESSAYS ON THE SEASON’S OPENING EPS
If our last ep, Say Uncle, was light and flowery, the ep we’re discussing today, Love In, is even lighter and even flowery-er, but I confess I like it that way. Like I said, we’ll get back to Laura and her brain tumor and her lonely death very soon, but for now we’re getting a little trilogy of lighter fare and my tender little heart needs it. Who to focus on first? Hmmm, I guess I’ll start with Abs.
Abs gets an intense focus this ep, and what’s interesting is that we get not only our old veteran Abs in the form of Donna Mills, but we also get to see a young Abs from the ‘60s in the form of Cynthia Bain. A quick look at her resume shows me that she was in the dreadful Pumpkinhead that people seem to like for some reason, and let’s see, what else? Eh, nothing really else, and she’s not a Transmorpher, either, which I thought she might be. I actually am not sure how much I buy this Young Abs that we get in all these flashbacks, but she’s not the worst of the young cast (we’ll get to it). Anyway, we start this ep right where we last left off, with that mysterious limo in front of Lotus Point opening its windows to reveal a new guest star, Michael York. Yes indeed, Basil Exposition is playing Charles Scott, the one true love of Abby’s life from way back when, and Abs is positively enraptured to see him again after all these years.
Let’s talk Michael York real fast. I’m a fan because I like the Austin Powers movies and I like Romeo and Juliet and I like Logan’s Run. He’s, for me, a very classy and elegant actor, but I’m not sure he’s appropriate for this series. I’ll withhold my thoughts for a little while, until we’ve had a couple of eps with him, but as soon as he’s introduced, I do think he feels a little off in this universe, and I also get the feeling that Michael York thinks he’s better than this and shouldn’t be here. However, if I have possible reservations about the casting of Michael York, I detest the Young Charles we see in the flashbacks, who I and Brother both feel looks and sounds nothing like Michael York. Young Charles is played by a guy named Joseph Kell, but seriously, who cares? Let’s not even bother dignifying this by looking up his IMDb page; the casting directors should be so embarrassed by this casting choice.
We get nearly eight Sepia Toned Flashbacks in this ep, if I’m not mistaken, and perhaps even more, which is why I’m discussing this so much. Let me say that the casting of Young Karen rings fairly believable for me. She is played by Liane Curtis of Sixteen Candles (Molly Ringwald’s friend who is so shocked when she thinks Molly Ringwald wants to have sex with a black guy; that movie is not aging well) and Critters 2 (Bradley Brown’s girlfriend). We see Young Karen as a real spitfire ‘60s political activist type, precisely how I would imagine her. We also get to see Young Sid, which makes me happy. Sid died in season three, yet here we are in season nine and he’s still mentioned, not just mentioned but actually depicted in a young form via flashback. I’m not so sure how the ages of Young Karen and Young Sid match up with the ages we saw them at the start of the series, and I'm also pretty sure none of this actually makes sense since Sid had a first wife long before he met Karen, but whatever. I think these flashbacks perhaps over-dominate the ep, but I still enjoyed them well enough. Their basic function is to show that Charles Scott first met Abs when she was working at Sid’s garage and he had his car in for a tune-up. She pulls a nicely Abs move by fucking around with the engine so it doesn’t start when he returns, and then she can pretend like she’s the one who knows how to fix it and look all sexy.
I think we are meant to believe that Charles eventually takes Abby’s virginity, that she was a virgin and had some fairly conservative sexual values before he came into her life. Is this correct or am I misunderstanding? In one flashback, we have Young Karen telling Young Abs how every woman has the right to have sex and Young Abs is acting like she isn’t so sure. When are we to infer that Abs became the village bicycle? I like to think it wasn’t until she got married to boring square Jeff Cunningham and probably started stepping out on him frequently.
Enough about the flashbacks. Over in the year of 1987, Lilimae and Al are going out for a romantic dinner and a movie date while Val and Gary have a date of their own at the house. Lililmae and Al begin their date by seeing some sort of black and white classic picture starring John Garfield. I don’t think we’re ever given a title, but we see the two coming out of the picture and talking about how all the black and white movies were better (Lilimae saying how the movies today all have characters with pink and green hair). Then Al makes a nice cultural reference to Saturday Night Fever as well as Garfield The Cat, saying how he loves that when he asked Lilimae to go to a Garfield movie, “You knew it was John and not the cat.” Later in the ep, since this storyline is moving fairly rapidly for the purpose of getting Lilimae off the show, Al proposes marriage to Lilimae. I think Lilimae says she’s not sure, mostly because Al lives in his damn car, but Al presses her on how they would make a great couple and Bob Loblaw; we’ll further explore it next ep.
Meanwhile, we have a temporary peace in the relationship of Gary and Val. She got the bug out of her ass at the end of last ep, so this ep she invites Gary over for dinner with her and the twins. Any time we cut over to Gary and Val and the twins, I’m beaming with delight. For me, we are coming ever closer to my very favorite era of Gary and Val, which is the much later season era in which they always have the kids around them and feel like a real family. We’re definitely not there yet (few years), but we are getting closer and this scene is an example. I think when you put Gary and Val together with these kids, they just look so perfect and so very in love. Additionally, we have Val telling the kids they can say “Uncle Gary” from now on and my heart melts a little. Later, we even get a passionate makeout between Gary and Val, something we haven’t had in a very long time. Last time they got passionate, they actually shagged, but this time they hold off and manage to stop themselves and send Gary home before any penises come out of any pants. Let me just say that this is probably my favorite aspect of this ep and this particular block of eps; whenever you hone the focus in on Gary and Val and whether or not they might get back together, I am riveted.
Something else very important is happening over at the MacKenzie house, and that would be a great big family dinner to celebrate the return of Eric from college. Also present at this dinner are Sexy Michael and his needy new girlfriend, Jody. When Eric arrives, he comes with a brand new bride, one Linda Fairgate played by the psychic Tina from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Lar Park Lincoln is here as Linda Fairgate, a character she will play all the way until the opening hours of season thirteen in 1991. I feel the arrival of Linda to the proceedings marks a new era of the show, although I also have a sneaking suspicion that Linda is going to vanish for a little while before coming back to the series a year or two down the line; we shall see. Anyway, as introduced, we immediately get that Linda is annoying, constantly nagging everyone about healthy foods to eat and how they shouldn’t drink or smoke or Bob Loblaw. She’s also a bit too open about sexual intercourse for Karen’s tastes, even as liberal and open minded as Karen may be. Yeah, I wouldn’t like Linda either, if I was Karen, because she’s naggy and she speaks in a very know-it-all voice. As soon as she arrived onscreen, Brother said, “I don’t like her,” and I told him I think that’s kinda the point, but to also be patient because Linda is going to prove a highlight of the later years of KL, in my opinion.
Mack and Karen are being a little too cutesy for my tastes in this ep, as manifested in a little bit of business involving the oven and the gas. See, the two keep disappearing to the magical kitchen in which they can speak as loudly as they want about other characters without those other characters ever being able to hear them from the other room. Karen hates both new loves in her boys’ lives, Jody and Linda. She hates how Jody climbs all over Sexy Michael and gives him a lapdance, and she hates Linda’s stupid little comments about tofu and granola. She keeps making this joke about how she’s going to put her head in the oven, and the cutesy bit involves her and Mack continuously flipping the oven on and off. I didn’t like this part just because it was, eh, I guess I just have to say cutesy again. It’s like Karen and Mack are playing to a live studio audience; I expect to hear the Happy Days audience start screaming and clapping at these antics and I don’t like that feeling.
We end the ep on a mysterious little dinner between Abs and Basil Exposition. After spending the entire ep taking a luxurious TV Bubble Bath while Olivia asked her questions about love, Abs finally arrives at the fancy restaurant to meet Basil Exposition, only for him to tell her he can only have a quick drink and then run off to catch a plane or something or other. Then the two sit down and I think Abs starts to act a bit out of character because she kinda immediately lays her cards on the table. She gives this little speech about how she just wants to know that Basil has been miserable his entire life ever since he lost Abs. Doesn’t this seem a little on-the-nose for her? I think the writers want to explore Abby’s different vulnerabilities and I like that, but I also think this might be a little quick for that. Then we end on a freeze frame of the two toasting champagne glasses and, yeah, I’m sure this will grow into more material later.
This is hardly one of the best eps of the series, and I recognize that, but I appreciated it specifically for its gentle touch. I liked the flashbacks (with some reservations), though I do think we could have trimmed out two or three or perhaps mushed them together a little more so we didn’t have to keep cutting back and forth. Anyway, yeah, I liked this ep, and I enjoyed the running theme of new love blooming and new romance and all that crap. Coming up next, we get what I’m pretty sure is Lilimae’s very final appearance on the series with Flight of the Sunbirds.