Season 5, Episode 13: Chambers vs. Malone


Original Air Date: January 8, 1987.

Written By:  David Angell

Plot: Diane turns up at the bar convinced that Sam will propose to her that day, and despite Sam's protests, he does just that.  Assault charges and a trial ensue, followed by two more proposals before Diane agrees to marry him.

Thoughts: Big episode here.  HUGE.  After half a season of cat and mouse (not to mention the preceding four and a half), the mouse finally catches the cat.  Finally, the nonsense comes to an end, but not before the ultimate nonsense transpires in this very episode.  I really don't know if I have the words to capture my feelings about this one, but I am somewhat conflicted about it.  I want to love it without reservation, but Diane's behavior and Sam's reactions are sticking points in what I'd hoped would be a wonderful release of angst and tension surrounding their relationship.  I suppose it wouldn't be Sam and Diane if it went off without a hitch, and the course of true love never did run smooth and all that jazz.

So Diane sets up the premise and the ending at the outset: Sam will propose to her before the day is done.  She is presciently confident in this fact to the point that cute as she is, even I'm irritated with her for lording it over the resistant Sam.  Carla's terrified belief in Diane's psychic power helps take the edge off, and Woody's sweet support of her is adorable, but still.  The end of the day comes, and Sam takes her aside to break the news that it just ain't happening.  He declares in no uncertain (and cringe-inducing) terms that he will not propose and Diane finally breaks down over it.  I did have to laugh at her "Maybe you don't love me.  God in heaven, is that possible?!"  The audience is right there with you Diane.  We neither understand nor want to live in a world where Sam does not love Diane.  It is an immutable fact of nature, yet coming from her, it is hilarious.  

Sam cannot deal with her tears, so he drops to his knee and proposes, which is exactly what I did not want to happen here.  Naturally, I wanted Sam's proposal to come from his love and need for her, and not a manipulation, unintentional though it may be, so there's that frustration.  Thankfully, she says no, but that still feels wrong, because dammit, I don't want to hear her turning him down yet again.  But then, what choice does she have, having guilted him into it?  Arrgh!  Maddening.  

Well, Sam snaps and chases her out of the bar and down the street after a particularly disturbing vision of himself on death row after killing her.  I know he's never gonna kill her, and you know he's never gonna kill her, but it's just not something I want associated with their engagement in any way, shape or form.  Yeah, this is still not going the way I wanted it to go.

Next, we see them in court after Sam is hauled off to the clink.  God only knows what went down out on the street, which is fine, because I surely don't want to know.  Needless to say, the police were apparently called, so it must have been some scene.  More ugly where pretty should be.  Then in comes Diane, in the ugliest dress ever, wearing a neck brace and walking with a cane.  The stress this image generates takes me even more out of the warm fuzzies.  Did he actually hurt her?  It takes too long to confirm that no, he never touched her, she only fell, but still, the whole thing rankles.  

Okay, so the judge for some reason wants to save the cost of a trial by having Sam propose to Diane again right then and there.  Another compulsory proposal.  Actually, not one, but two, because the first time, Diane felt he wasn't being sincere.  Again, arrrrrrrggggghhhh!!!  Why is this happening like this???  She finally accepts what is his fifth (count 'em, fifth!) proposal and court is adjourned.  Diane removes her neck brace and folds up her cane.  Ugh, why did she up the ante with the props?  Still in all though, that last proposal was rather sweet.  Her quiet "okay" and the expression on his face following are lovely.  He looks genuinely happy.  I guess I can forgive.

When they are left alone in the courtroom, she at long last becomes the Diane I know and love and returns to reality, remembering that Sam has feelings of his own in this matter.  She tells him she won't hold him to the proposal under duress, and turns to walk out the door, which precipitates the return of the Sam I know and love, who stops her and tells her "They can stop me from killing you, but they can't stop me from marrying you."  It ain't hearts and flowers by any stretch, but since we know this is all he's really wanted for so long, we'll take it.  Despite everydamnthing Diane has done wrong, he still loves her, and that just about makes up for the rest of this unholy mess of a marriage proposal.  I adore the hug at the end, accompanied what is easily the longest round of audience applause I've ever heard on this show.  It was a long and bumpy five season journey, but they finally did it: Sam and Diane are engaged.  I need a drink.

Random: The designated driver opening feels like a sly PSA.

 "Do you believe in intuition?" "No, but I have this strange feeling that someday I will." "It has to do with a woman's cycle. You see, somehow it's plugged into the supernatural." "That is one scary woman." "Run, Sam, run!" "It's not gonna make me feel sorry for you. In fact, I'll tell you what it's gonna make me do. You wanna know what it's gonna make me do? I'm gonna tell you what it's gonna make me do. It's gonna make me propose to you, is what it's gonna do." "Oh, come on, don't cry. Oh, Diane, will you marry me?" "Please, be brief." "Aw, jeez..." "I guess you could describe our relationship as a bit stormy, but that's also part of its excitement." "You have no idea what you're sentencing me to." "Diane, will you marry me?" "Okay." "It makes perfect sense to me. You want me to propose to you, I propose to you. You say no, I say fine, I never wanna see you again. You drive me nuts telling me you want me to propose again. I do, you turn me down. Next thing I know, I'm in a court of law, where I've gotta propose to you or I'll go to jail. It's the classic American love story." "Now they can stop me from killing you, but they can't stop me from marrying you."