Thursday, March 4, 2021



Episode Title: Discovery


Season 09, Episode 27


Episode 217 of 344


Written by James Stanley


Directed by Lawrence Kasha


Original Airdate: Thursday, April 28th, 1988


The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Paige invites Sexy Michael to Mexico. Manny instructs Johnny to send Paige home because she's causing delays, but she won't leave. The piece of art is found and declared a fake. Angry, Paige decides to go to a reporter. Manny tells his men to kill everyone at the site, and to make it look like it was done by Mexicans. The police tell everyone at Lotus Point to act natural as they investigate Manny. Then the police halt the investigation, saying Manny works for the government in covert operations. Olivia goes home, but refuses to speak to Abby. Jill calls Val and plays another tape of Ben and hangs up. Val plays "Ben's" tape to Gary, but it's blank. Jill convinces Gary that Val's probably going crazy and might be suicidal. Dropping off the twins, Jill overhears Val tell neighbors that she is so wound up about Ben that her doctor prescribed sleeping pills, but she won't get them. Jill steals the prescription and gets it filled.

              Welcome to Discovery and, well, let's just say that I already have problems with this ep.  In fact, so little of importance happens in this ep that my notes are perhaps the sparsest I have ever taken, with just a couple of notations about what's going on and that's about it.  If you opened up my little red spiral notebook and found the page where I wrote about this ep, you would only see these notes:

·         -Val plays the tape for Gary/Gets crickets


·         -Nice shout-out to season six Verna storyline


·         -Sexy Michael mentions he wants to go to Mexico/Paige says he should


·         -Sexy Michael tells a sob story about him and Paige/I lose some respect for him/Not his best acting


·         -This Mexico storyline is pretty boring


·         -Nice scene between Val + Pat drinking wine + talking about Ben


·         -Another Sid callback with reference to the stolen auto parts


·         -End on Manny saying something cryptic + evil.




Yup, and those are all the notes I got.  I told you this ep was sparse.  In any case, with my notes laid out before me, let’s go ahead and work our way through them, starting with Val playing that tape for Gary.  As you guys can probably already guess, all the stuff related to this story is my favorite portion of the ep.  When J.B. stole that key and snuck into Val’s house last ep, I think we all knew what plan she was cooking up.  She has erased the phony Ben tape and left nothing but a blank tape in its wake, leading to a humiliating scene where Val calls Gary over and is like, “Alright, I’m gonna play the tape,” and then discovers there’s nothing on it, finding herself having a sudden kinship with John Travolta in Blow Out.  I like the small details in KL, and in this scene, I like how Val plays the tape, hears nothing, and then is like, “Oh, I’d better rewind it,” but that doesn’t help, so then she plays a different tape with a message from Gary to show that her machine is working fine, and then she puts the other tape in and the tape is still as empty as my conscious. 


I also like Shack’s acting in this scene, which is nice and subtle, the way he looks concerned as Val fumbles with the types, the way that when Val says there was a message on the tape, he says, “Yeah, sure,” not in the dismissive way, but more in the way where he’s kinda placating her but she sees through it.  With that, Val gets kinda angry and is like, “Don’t think I’m crazy; there was a message on this tape.”  The thing is that Val does look crazy and that’s why I appreciate one of the next scenes, which is that shout-out to Verna Ellers in Shula, Tennessee, that I mentioned in my notes.  See, we cut from Val being like, “No, the message was real!” to that one wonderful and glorious character known as Psycho Jill, who is busy throwing the tape into the fireplace and saying, “Bye bye, Ben,” a fabulous line delivered impeccably by a brilliant actress.  Then Gary walks in and tells her what happened and when Psycho Jill asks, “You don’t think Val’s making this up, do you?” Gary says, “I dunno, she’s always been a little high strung,” which is a tremendous understatement.  Then he says, “A few years ago, when she thought the babies were dead, she did go a little crazy.”  Again, a tremendous understatement.  Val went totally batty and turned into another human being for something like seven or eight eps.  “Going a little crazy,” is more when you get angry and act nutty for a little while and then get over it.  Val really went deep when she went off the, um, deep end.  You all know how much I love KL’s rich character backstory and past history, and I love whenever we get callbacks to what’s happened before, especially when it helps to intersect with what we are seeing right here and right now in front of us.  In this case, I feel like other shows would maybe not mention Verna Ellers again, wanting the viewers to forget about how nutty Val went, but KL remembers what’s gone before.  I also have to wonder if this is the first that Psycho Jill is hearing about this.  In all the time she’s been with Gary, has he ever walked her through the history of the last nine seasons?  Or hell, he would technically have to walk her through a history that starts around 1962 or thereabouts, when he first walked into that diner and fell in love with Val.  But do you think Gary has ever just gone point by point through his history with Val for Psycho Jill?  Probably not, and I imagine Psycho Jill has kinda had to piece it all together from Gary’s disparate stories about his one true soul mate.


Psycho Jill is a busy bee this ep (though not as busy as she will be in the next two eps), because after she burns the tape (and what I wouldn’t give to have a working fireplace that I could throw things into), she stops by Val’s house for, you know, some alleged reason.  Oh yeah, I remember, it’s because the twins are staying with Gary and Psycho Jill and so Psycho Jill comes to the house looking for Binky and Boots, the twins’ beloved stuffed animals.  She arrives to find Val and Pat sipping wine in the kitchen and being cute together, which I loved.  I keep saying this because I’m like a broken record and can’t stop repeating myself, but I love seeing Val and Pat being friendly and I love the way the Williams family is becoming an established part of the cul-de-sac. I’m gonna say something probably very contentious that lots of fans will probably not agree with, but here it comes, a possible hot take.  I really am not missing either Laura or Lilimae at this point, even though I loved both characters dearly.  I think Laura’s death has opened up a box of new storytelling that I like a lot and I just don’t seem to be thinking that much about Lilimae at all; I’m just glad she’s off living happily ever after with Red Buttons, driving that big obnoxious trailer around the world and having bad A.D.R. together.  Also, my love for the Williams family means I don’t really miss those older characters because I’m glad to see these new ones getting settled down.


Anyway, there’s a lot to digest in this scene.  We’ve got Val and Pat sipping their wine (which looks really shitty to me; there’s something about the big, weirdly shaped bottle that just looks cheap and gross), and we’ve also got an interesting line from Psycho Jill.  Val asks her if she’d like some wine and Psycho Jill says, “I promised Gary I’d stick to water.”  This is an interesting bit of candor; is Psycho Jill basically admitting she has a problem and saying she’s not going to drink anymore?  I just think it’s interesting that she is so blunt in saying this, not caring about saying it in front of Val or Pat.  Has Gary mentioned to any of his circle of friends how Psycho Jill was drinking too much and acting really mouthy?  Well anyway, that’s not really the important part of the scene; what’s important is that Val says the doctor gave her a prescription for sleeping pills, Flurazepam, as confirmed via Pat.  At first, I wondered if this was a real pill or just something made up for the show, but gave me this description when I typed in the word: “A benzodiazepine, C 21 H 23 ClFN 3 O, used in its hydrochloride form as a sedative and hypnotic in the management of insomnia and to alleviate anxiety states.”  So there you go, it’s a real pill and it’s something that a real doctor would probably prescribe.  By the way, as of this writing, I have just started a new medication to help me sleep (and it’s working, thank God), but mine is called Quetiapine.  Val says how she feels weird about taking sleeping pills and I wanna jump into the TV and tell her no, sleeping pills are great, you finally are able to sleep like a rock and you have cool, trippy dreams.  Anyway, as Val goes on about how she’s not gonna fill the prescription, Psycho Jill sips water and looks wicked and then we cut to her at the pharmacy pretending to be Val and getting the prescription.  Now this I do have to question; how does she manage to just waltz into a pharmacy and pick up someone else’s prescription?  Doesn’t the pharmacy ask for ID and stuff like that?  When I get my prescription, the pharmacist asks for my name and ID and my date of birth and all that stuff.  I can’t just walk up and ask for whatever the hell pills I want. I kinda wondered if Psycho Jill found some clever way to make a fake ID or whatever, but nah, she probably didn’t, this is probably just a writing oversight.  But then again, I was not alive in 1988 (we’re getting close; we are now negative two years away from my birth), so maybe it was easier to swing stuff like this back in the ‘80s. 


Okay, so Psycho Jill and everything surrounding her is brilliant, as I expected, but unfortunately the rest of the episode is a snore.  In fact, it’s a literal snore because Brother actually fell asleep and slept through the entire ep.  At first, I threw a hissy fit and told him not to sleep through something as divine as KL, but later I realized that, if you were gonna sleep through one ep on this disk, this is the one to pick, because nothing much happens.  The other stories going on are all about Mexico and Manny Vasquez, two things I just don’t care that much about.  I do wanna take a little detour and say that I was watching Basic Instinct again the other day, a movie I love (big Paul Verhoeven fan here), and I noticed that Sharon Stone’s dead ex-husband is also named Manny Vasquez.  Coincidence?  As far as I know, Joe Eszterhas has never had anything to do with KL and has never seen KL and was probably too busy throughout the ‘80s going up to women and saying, “I like your ass; call me.”  So anyway, I’m pretty sure that this Manny Vasquez business in Basic Instinct is just a coincidence, but it’s still something I noted, and writing about Basic Instinct is more interesting than writing about this storyline.  However, write about this storyline I must, so here we go.  Karen and Mack continue to fret and overact, both Michele and The Dobsonator giving some of their worst performances.  I think we’ve definitely reached the point where it’s fucking season nine and the actors are going to do what they want, damn it.  I wish someone had the balls to reign Michele in at this point, but she’s been around since the Pilot, and if she wants to scream and hyperventilate and overreact, she’s going to do all of that.  The Dobsonator is suffering a similar problem at this juncture in which he just seems to yell a lot, as if the sheer act of yelling will make this material more exciting. There’s a bad scene where Karen and Mack drive around and Mack screams, “He’s running drugs through Lotus Point!”  Why are you shouting like you’re at a football game, Mack?  Karen is sitting right next to you; talk to her like a normal person. 


Anyway, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to this storyline, but I guess there’s some plot twist where the feds tell everyone that Manny isn’t actually evil, that he’s, like, some sort of government plant that’s helping to go undercover and bust the drug guys or, you know, something.  Is this all bullshit?  We keep seeing scenes of Manny making evil phone calls and wishing desperately he was Don Corleone, even though he’s not worth a strand of Don Corleone’s pubic hair.  Also, the end of the ep has him making some sort of an evil phone call and telling someone to kill, I think, Paige, and make it look like the Mexicans did it, so I guess he is evil. 


We also get a scene I didn’t love between Karen and Abs in which Abs goes on this big soliloquy about how she wants to stop drugs forever by getting “whoever’s at the top,” and while I like that we get a callback to Olivia’s coke problem from last year, I just find Abby’s speech to be silly.  This is probably gonna sound weird and might be hard to explain, but I just kinda don’t care that much about drugs and who takes them and who sells them.  I’ve never been one of those people who thinks a “war on drugs” is necessary; if people want drugs, they will get them, and some people take them in moderation or just for occasional fun and it’s not a big thing, and some people get addicted.  It’s sorta like how there’s this idea that, say, cigarettes are inherently evil because they kill people.  Cigarettes aren’t evil; they are just cigarettes, they are just a product, and it’s the choice of individual people whether to smoke them or not.  I feel the same way about booze and about most drugs.  The whole idea propagated by cinematic landmarks like Death Wish 4: The Crackdown that drugs are inherently evil and that all the people who sell them are evil, well, I just don’t cotton to that idea.  I’m also gonna be bold here and say there’s no way Abs has never done coke.  I’m absolutely positive that, at least on one occasion, Abs snorted some coke at a party or perhaps while shagging some random guy; there’s just absolutely no way that she hasn’t at least tried one bump in her life, so this silly little speech of hers just feels disingenuous to me. 


Aside from that, we’ve also got the colossal snore of everything going on in Mexico.  Who in the world cares about this story?  Why do shows always make the horrible mistake of sending their characters to foreign locations and why does it almost always work out so poorly?  I read that the powers-that-be were starting to consider possibly spinning off the young cast into their own show, and yeah, now that I think of it, that’s what this story kinda feels like, cuz they’re all so isolated in their own world and it almost feels like it doesn’t relate to anything going on back in California.  I was about to write in my notes that at least this ep gives us some amazing shirtless Sexy Michael, but that’s actually the next one, so this ep officially has nothing to offer in the Mexico department.  No wonder so many fans have a hard time getting into Paige at first; she entered the series with a long, boring, drawn out storyline that went on forever and thought it was way more clever than it was, and then just as she’s starting to come into her own and be a great character, she gets shipped to Mexico with Johnny Rourke for this unbelievably boring Indiana Jones Lite story.  By the way, when I say some people have a hard time getting into Paige, I am referring to many people, but MBG is one of them.  She continues to say she doesn’t like Paige at all, but I do think her feelings will change as we get deeper into the show.  At this point, she says Paige is a conniver and just an unpleasant person.


I don’t talk about MBG and her opinions on things enough cuz I’m a complete narcissist who only cares about himself and his own opinions, so I decided to do a little interview with her before we watched these eps and see where she stands on characters and such.  I asked her who her favorite character on the show was and said it could be anyone, including someone who isn’t on the show anymore, and she surprised me by saying Sid.  Saint Sid (who is referenced in this ep, by the way, which I appreciated) has been dead since 1981 and it’s now 1988, plus the man only appeared in 33 eps out of 344, so I’m kinda surprised My Beloved Grammy holds him in such high esteem.  She also said that, by the time Lilimae left the show, she liked the character, and to that I say fucking finally, cuz it took her almost Lilimae’s entire time on the show to warm up to her.  Then she said how she doesn’t like Paige at all and that her favorite character who is currently on the show is Sumner, which is a fine choice. 


I think that oughta do it.  I didn’t much care for this ep cuz 2/3 of the storylines were boring, but at least 1/3 is devoted to Psycho Jill, which is riveting television that everyone should see and which is only going to get better as me proceed along to The Perfect Alibi.   


1 comment:

  1. Even though I liked the show better in the 4th through 6th seasons especially, I understand what your BG is saying about Sid. There is something special about those first two seasons with Sid. The show was more communal and more California to me. I always wondered how the show would have gone if he hadn't left.