Thursday, March 18, 2021

KNOTS LANDING Episode 218 of 344: THE PERFECT ALIBI

 Episode Title: The Perfect Alibi

 

Season 09, Episode 28

 

Episode 218 of 344

 

Written by Lynne Marie Latham

 

Directed by Kate Tilley

 

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 5th, 1988

 

The Plot (Courtesy of TV.Com): Mack doesn't believe Manny works for the government, and finds out he is a gun runner. Gary and Abby decide to come up with a plan. In Mexico, strange things happen on the site, so the director closes it down. Paige talks to the reporter, and as the reporter drives away, her car blows up. Pat invites Val to watch videos and says she'll send Julie over to baby-sit after dinner. Jill tells Gary she is going to a conference in San Francisco. Wearing a disguise, she buys a junket car and hides a gun in it. On the plane and at the conference, Jill introduces herself to lots of people. She seduces a man named David, and slips a pill into his drink. She takes him to her room, where he passes out. Jill undresses him and messes up the bed. She calls Gary, then tells the hotel operator to hold her calls until the next morning. Jill flies back to Los Angeles and dons another disguise. She drives to Val's in the junket car, and lets herself into the house.

 

 


Welcome to The Perfect Alibi and fasten your seatbelts, cuz things are about to get really exciting and juicy.  However, before the compliments come, I gotta get the insults out of the way, and the insults are gonna be that I’m basically having an overall problem with this disk in which each and every second with Psycho Jill is a joyful ascent into Heaven, but all the other stories are boring.  Nothing is less interesting than the Mexico storyline, so let’s get that out of the way first.

 


                I mentioned this in my last writeup, but the Mexico stuff provides us with one very important and worthwhile thing, and that is Sexy Michael walking around shirtless and showing off his perfect body to the delight of every single woman and gay man in the viewing audience in 1988.  In case anybody wants to know the exact second of this amazing television event, perhaps to make some sort of Sexy Michael Greatest Hits Compilation for future masturbatory use, the shirtless scene comes at the 10 minute and 35 second mark (though I confess I cheated and I think the picture above comes from a slightly later episode).  He comes strolling out from behind a tent wearing only a tight pair of jeans and a super sexy belt and some boots, no shirt to speak of.  Good God, his body; I wish someone could have perfected cryogenic freezing and taken 1988 Pat Petersen and put him in the freezer until this year, at which point they would unthaw him and allow me start having sex with him.  Again, Pat, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, give me a call and I will show you a good time.

 


                In my notes, I wrote, “Sumner Cigar Counter = Um, better check on that.”  I worry that I might be losing count of the Sumner Cigars, but I flipped back in my notes and the last one listed is pegged at 35, so I’m gonna say this one brings us to Cigar #36.  This is another one of those cigars that I had to have a little debate about, because Sumner doesn’t actually light it in the scene.  For context, he’s at Karen and Mack’s talking to Mack about that boring cocaine/Manny Vasquez storyline, and he’s holding the cigar throughout the entire scene, but I decided it counts cuz I think he’s also holding his lighter and so it’s obvious that he’s about to fill Karen and Mack’s house with the smell of rich tobacco.  Like I said, the reason Sumner is smoking up Karen and Mack’s house is because he came to tell Mack about boring Manny and boring Mexico (note that I’m saying the story is boring, not the country; I love Mexico).  When we cut back over to Mexico, someone has planted a snake in Paige’s sleeping bag, leading to absolutely no suspense and, so far as I can remember, absolutely nothing happening.  I think the snake just slips out of the tent at the same moment that Johnny is slipping his own snake inside of Paige’s sweet nectar.  The moral of the story is that having sex is good and will save your life when you’re at risk of a snake attack, so just keep on fucking.

 


                Okay, so Mexico and Manny and all that, who cares?  But when it comes to everything involving Psycho Jill, it’s a totally different story. This shit is gripping and just as good as I originally remembered it.  The title of this ep is The Perfect Alibi and that’s what Psycho Jill spends the whole ep cooking up.  Can I just say that I kinda respect criminals when they enact super elaborate and clever plans that work out?  Like, if someone pulls off a really great heist on a bank, something so good that they cover all their tracks, cross all their T’s, dot all their lower case j’s, and manage to get away with it, I say just let them get away with it, cuz they worked really hard on that heist.  Anyone who’s ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing probably understands what I’m getting at here; don’t you just really want Sterling Hayden to get away with everything?  In this case, I don’t really want Psycho Jill to kill Val because I love Val and always will, but I just love watching her go about enacting her plan, and she is so God damned clever that you’re just like, “Maybe Psycho Jill does deserve to get away with this.”  I like a woman who can make a plan, and Psycho Jill shows herself very capable of that in this ep.

 


                To get started, we have a fabulous scene of her talking to the twins while playing with a dollhouse.  The fact that we have a psycho playing with dolls made me flash immediately back to one of my favorite eps, season seven’s Rise and Fall (or was it Until Parted by Death?), in which Joshua had gone off the deep end and was playing with those wedding dolls.  I’m convinced this has to be a tribute to that, because it’s so similar.  In many ways, the arc of Joshua and Psycho Jill is the same, as they start out seemingly nice, with a complicated past backstory, and then they slowly go insane and become homicidal.  I’d say the writers knew exactly what they were doing by giving Psycho Jill dolls to play with.  Now, for some context to the scene, she’s sorta talking to the twins and using the dolls to ask weird questions, like she has the dolls kiss and she says, “Do mommy and Uncle Gary do that?”  Psycho Jill obviously thinks the two are shagging again (and she’s not precisely wrong, they were shagging a little earlier this season, and just happen to have stopped by this point).  This was a great scene, but it’s nothing compared to what’s up next.

 


                Psycho Jill tells Gary she’s gotta take off for San Francisco for a computer conference, which I found funny.  We are now in 1988 and I think computers are becoming standard operating procedure in all businesses.  I have no idea if people were still using typewriters/electric typewriters by this point, but I imagine some were, kinda like that overlap of vinyl and CD (before vinyl’s big return from the dead a few years ago) or the overlap of VHS and DVD.  I wonder what this computer conference will entail, probably discussions of how floppy disks work and how the internet is still one year away from being invented.  Psycho Jill really is going to a computer conference, but she’s got no interest in computers; this is all part of her perfect alibi.  First up, she dons a wig, a sorta brown wig with a different hairstyle than her usual, and picks up a temporary car from some lot.  Next, she drives that car to the airport and hides a gun under the seat.  After that, she goes to a cigarette machine (do these even exist anymore outside of Vegas?) and gets a pack of cigarettes, which appear to be Marlboro Lights, my favorite for back when I used to smoke occasionally (I love that white filter tip).  She pours the entire pack of smokes out and at first I had no idea what she was doing, but follow along, cuz she’s got a plan.  Her next step is to get on the plane and make sure to be as conspicuous as possible, talking to lots of people and telling them her name and all that.  It’s very important that she have backup, people who will say yes, Psycho Jill got on the plane and yes, Psycho Jill went to San Francisco.

 


                When she arrives at the computer conference, she makes the rounds and talks to lots of people, keeping her tracks covered, ensuring her alibi will stand up under scrutiny, then she sets her sights on a very demented looking man named David, but let’s just call him Moustache cuz that fucking caterpillar he’s got growing over his top lip puts Tom Atkins’ epic ‘stache to shame.  Anyway, Moustache is played by David Hayward and he’s been in a shitload of stuff and he’s gonna show up for six eps of KL, ending with A Grave Misunderstanding.  Probably the most notable thing on his resume is Robert Altman’s Nashville, a movie I try hard to get into and just can’t.  In fact, let’s take a detour cuz detours are fun.  I fancy myself to be a Pretentious Film Douche and I take pride in being able to enjoy trash and art in equal abundance (and why I love KL is because it’s great trash that often elevates itself to high art, which I like to call “trart”) and I take pride in being snooty and watching old movies from Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick and a whole host of guys (probably my favorite filmmakers are Brian De Palma, David Lynch, and Woody Allen).  Many times I have watched Robert Altman movies and tried to get into them, and I just can’t. I didn’t like MASH, I didn’t like Nashville, Popeye is absolutely wretched, and I had a hard time getting into Short Cuts. The only Altman I really loved was The Player.  Multiple times I’ve tried to watch Nashville and I’ve never finished it.  I understand it’s one of those movies where, if you reach the end, you see what it’s all about and the movie takes shape, but I just can’t; it’s way too boring and scattered.  So while I am a Pretentious Film Douche, I just can’t quite cotton to Mr. Altman.

 

                Moustache is very happy to be Psycho Jill’s company, probably because it’s obvious this woman is gonna sleep with him and he hasn’t seen a vagina in years, if ever.  The beauty of this is that Psycho Jill is not actually planning to sleep with Moustache; instead she pulls out her empty pack of smokes and asks if he’ll get her more (and he gives her a lecture on the evils of smoking, making him even less sexy, if that’s possible).  Moustache runs off to fetch the smokes and then Psycho Jill slips him a mickey (NOTE: TERI AUSTIN ACTUALLY APPEARS IN THE SEINFELD EP THE REVENGE, IN WHICH GEORGE DECIDES TO SLIP HIS BOSS A MICKEY; IS IT SOMEHOW POSSIBLE GEORGE GOT THE IDEA FROM THIS EPISODE?!).  After slipping Moustache the mickey (“If only you could use your powers for good; you’re like Lex Luthor!”), she takes him upstairs to the hotel room and starts undressing.  Moustache thinks he’s in for the shagging of a lifetime, but instead he passes out in the bed and Psycho Jill quickly kicks into action, making a phonecall to the front desk for a wake up call and making sure to loudly say Moustache’s name so the wake up call people will know she’s up there with someone. 

 


At this point, she dons The Wig.  God, how long I’ve been waiting to see Psycho Jill don The Wig.  As soon as she waltzed into Mack’s office back in season six’s A Price to Pay, I’ve just been twiddling my fingers being like, “Okay, how long do I have to wait until The Wig?”  The Wig is this fabulous black thing and she also puts on a wonderful black outfit and looks like she’s coming straight out of a Hitchcock film (I got a whiff of Karen Black in Family Plot).  She gets to the airport and onto a plane, and then we get, again, some terrific Hitchcock-esque suspense when she accidentally drops her wallet and doesn’t notice.  Uh oh, will she be exposed?  Well, as she’s on her way out, the flight attendant alerts her to the wallet and she does get it back, but one thing I noted is that the flight attendant opens the wallet and gets the quickest flash of what’s inside before Psycho Jill grabs it back.  Is this going to lead to something?  Will this flight attendant be around to provide valuable information a little down the line?  I honestly can’t remember, but whether she comes back or not, it’s just a good little scene, lots of tension and suspense.  Also, I noticed that she’s got a paperback on her lap, and God, how I wish the picture was clear enough that I could make out what it is.  I tried, man, I paused the ep and focused my eyes real hard, but I just couldn’t make it out. It’s a white paperback with the title written in red letters and I think the main cover might be a picture of a bell, sorta like the liberty bell, but I could be completely wrong.  I wanna know what the book is cuz the prop department is usually very clever and the books relate to what’s going on.  Wouldn’t it be cool if she was reading some sort of thriller about murdering your boyfriend’s ex-wife? 

 


Psycho Jill arrives back in wherever Knots Landing is supposed to be located and snatches that gun back out from under the seat and heads on over to pay Val a visit.  It helps that Val is busy in the bathroom using the loudest hair dryer of all time.  We’ve just watched a bunch of footage of Val fretting about how she wants to go over to the Williams house to watch a movie but the kids aren’t asleep, and now the kids are asleep, and yet she uses a hair dryer that sounds like a leaf blower and I can’t believe the kids don’t wake back up.  Anyway, it’s all terrific because as she’s drying her hair, we see Psycho Jill slipping the key into the lock and quietly sneaking in the front door, and then we just end on her slightly grinning face.  This ending is so good that My Beloved Grammy briefly thought that this was the season cliffhanger, and then I told her we have one more ep.  In a way, she’s right, because this could have served as a finale, with all of us waiting all summer to find out exactly what Psycho Jill is gonna do when she goes upstairs to get Val.  But I’m very grateful it’s not the finale and we’ve got one more ep of joy left.

 


So yeah, I’m actually very satisfied with this ep.  I know that sounds weird when I say how I don’t like the Mexico stuff and I don’t like the Manny stuff, but the Psycho Jill stuff is so good that it makes it easy to overlook the other portions of the ep that aren’t so perfect.  I love the way that the ep uses constant suspense with her, in ways both big and small, and I love how we sorta flip our loyalties and find ourselves kinda hoping Psycho Jill will get away with this.  Since my Brother is a hardcore Val hater, he really wants Psycho Jill to kill her and when she dropped her wallet, he was like, “No, go back and get your wallet!”  He really wants her to get away with this crime, and I think maybe, subconsciously, a lot of us do.  I love when we find ourselves starting to relate to the villainous character, when we watch them enact a plan and we wind up hoping they’ll get away with it.  So yeah, while it’s not one of the very best KL eps because it’s bogged down by some boring stuff, I still love it because all the Psycho Jill stuff is so compelling.  With that said, let’s move on to the season finale and see what Psycho Jill’s plan is with The Perfect Crime.  

2 comments:

  1. The fun of the storyline was KNOWING that the writers weren't going to tell you what the plan was, so you had to watch and wait... and luckily it was worth it.

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  2. Val is a very interesting character. She obviously has some issues...I mean who turns into a character from their book because of a trauma? But so many times, she gets puts in situations where no one believes her when she is telling the truth (i.e. the babies being alive, psycho Jill). You would think the cul-de-sac would give her the benefit of the doubt.

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