Loretta delivers word that a neighborhood family was murdered; Mary and Tom have a disagreement about making love; Charlie announces he almost has enough money to get Loretta's record demo made; The Fernwood Flasher is finally captured.
Mary brings her grandfather home from the police station; Kathy falls for a blue-eyed Armenian bartender; a reporter interviews Loretta about the murders; and Mary feels ashamed when Tom rejects her sexual advances (or lack thereof).
Charlie tries talking sense into Tom, but Tom feels something is missing in his life. Cathy prepares for her date with Chuck. Charlie and Loretta go to the Doctor's office. Raymond goes to see Roberta and meets Fanny. Tom chats up Mae at the bar.
Tom and Heather both go missing on the same night, and so Mary can only hope that Heather is safe and that Tom was kidnapped by the mass murderer. She'd rather worry about a kidnapping than what she is really worried about.
Loretta considers not going to Nashville since Heather is missing. Mary finds out the truth about Tom. Loretta gets some good news. Cathy admits she's in love with Steve. Tom tries to finish things with Mae. Mary and Martha have a fight, while Heather returns home with disturbing news.
After leaving Mae, Tom avoids Mary with claims of having a headache and coming down with the flu. Loretta is taken away for tests. Charlie learns from Sgt. Foley that the Vega caught fire and destroyed the demonstration records. The bad news continues when Dr. Hastings informs Charlie and the Shumways that Loretta will be crippled for life without a dangerous operation. Tom confesses to Mary that he gave her a venereal disease. Mary thinks her life is starting to sound like a soap opera.
Martha phones Mary after seeing Tom arrive at the Haggers house with his suitcases, but Mary refuses to elaborate. Martha is further distressed when Cathy reveals that George plans to run for office in the next union election. Charlie welcomes Tom as a house guest but is preoccupied with Loretta's back surgery. Mary gives Loretta a Milky Way before surgery and visits the library where she asks Mrs. Delorean for books on social diseases. Cathy stops by Mary's kitchen with news that she got a job in a massage parlor. Charlie receives bad news about Loretta.
Dr. Hastings informs Charlie that Loretta's surgery didn't get the results they hoped for. Roberta is upset by the reaction of friends to her date with Grandpa Larkin. George sides with Cathy when Martha is upset about Cathy's new job in the massage parlor. Charlie learns that his insurance company has refused to pay Loretta's hospital bill. Mary, Tom, and Mae all find themselves seeking treatment in Dr. Miller's office.
Mary gives Tom to Mae, insisting she no longer wants him as her husband. Cathy's work uniform shocks Martha. Sal Babbitaglia, Cathy's boss, laughs at Martha's suggestion that he doesn't run a reputable business, but Cathy gets nervous after her first customer reveals his interest in meter maid uniforms and rubber hoses. When Cathy tells her parents what happened at work, George grabs a bat and leaves to kill Babbitaglia.
Cathy begs Mary to get Tom and try to stop George from killing Sal Babbitaglia. At the plant, Tom is counseled by the employee psychologist Bob Gilroy, who walks out in disgust over Tom's revelation of giving Mary a venereal disease. Dr. Abramson confides to Charlie that Dr. Hastings botched Loretta's surgery and is guilty of professional negligence. Roberta tells Martha and Grandpa Larkin that she was fired for fraternizing with a client but is now selling door-to-door cosmetics. George arrives at the massage parlor and is arrested along with Babbitaglia in a raid ...
Tom takes Heather out to avoid Mary's liver dinner, but Mary refuses to go. Dennis stops by with Mary's groceries and shoe. Roberta visits and ends her relationship with Grandpa Larkin. Dr. Miller phones Mary with the test results. Steve announces that a volume of his poems is going to be published. George phones home from the police station where he's been arrested in the massage parlor raid. Loretta learns that she probably will never walk again.
Mary, Dennis, and Roberta discuss STET, Survival Training and Existence Therapy. Tom comes back from dinner and is angered by Dennis' presence which Tom thinks is Mary's way of paying him back for his affair with Mae. Later, Mary goes to the jail and convinces Dennis to free George who she insists was arrested by mistake.
George and Martha forbid Cathy to marry Steve. Charlie and Loretta's hope for Loretta's recovery is renewed when they learn that faith healer Dorelda Doremus is coming to Fernwood. Cathy appeals to Mary for support in her engagement to Steve, but Mary remains objective. Tom prepares dinner for Mary at Charlie and Loretta's house.
Mary and Tom reconcile their differences. Dr. Abramson offers to testify on Loretta's behalf if she elects to sue Dr. Hastings for negligence. Grandpa Larkin offers Roberta sage advice when she makes a dramatic decision about her future. Mary is horrified to read an article about Dorelda Doremus that exposes the faith healer as a fake. Mary and Tom worry that Loretta will be devastated to learn that Dorelda can't heal her.
Tom reassures Mary that their fighting is a sign they love and care about each other. George seeks help from Mary when Cathy continues to give him the silent treatment over Steve. Mary can't tell Loretta the truth about Dorelda Doremus when Loretta insists Dorelda is God's answer to her prayers. Cathy and Steve celebrate an anniversary. Desperate for money, Charlie is duped by loan officer Joe Zimmer.
Mary finds a joint on Heather and throws it in the waste basket. Later, Mary retrieves the joint and is caught by Tom. In order to lecture Heather about the dangers of marijuana, Tom and Mary decide to experience it first hand and smoke pot before joining Charlie and Loretta at Dorelda Doremus' faith healing show. Dorelda refuses to lay hands on Loretta but "cures" a paralyzed woman in the audience. A stoned Tom wheels Loretta on stage, forcing Dorelda to lay hands on her. Loretta attempts to walk but falls face down.
Dorelda tries to heal Loretta and fails again. George receives an anonymous threat warning him not to run for union office at the plant. A stoned Mary and Tom barge into Dorelda's dressing room and accuse her of being a fake. Dorelda sends curses from God to the Hartmans. Tom and Mary try to convince Charlie of the truth about Dorelda. Steve tells Martha he's going to propose to Cathy. Mary and Tom pig out in bed and discuss how pot heightens the senses.
Heather rails against her parents when she realizes Tom and Mary smoked her joint. Charlie and Loretta get a visit from a real estate agent and learn that Charlie should've read the fine print on his loan application. Mary and Dr. Fermin must save Mae who collapses in Mary's kitchen after swallowing sleeping pills.
Mary and Tom cater to Mae, who's recovering in their bed from her pill overdose. Steve asks Cathy to marry him. Charlie wants Tom to go with him to a meeting regarding the malpractice case. Martha finds Mae in Mary's bed, and an upset Mae locks herself in the bathroom.
Mary lends a sympathetic ear to Mae and learns about Mae's ex-husband Mike Olinski. Cathy fears that exposure to a more sophisticated lifestyle will take Steve away from her. Visitors to the Haggers home include the Fedders, who fail miserably in their attempt to cheer up Loretta, oily lawyer Lucius Minnow, and a deputy sheriff serving Charlie and Loretta with an eviction notice.
When Dennis admits he still wants Mary, she encourages a relationship between him and Roberta. Roberta tries to let Grandpa Larkin down easily when she reveals her interest in Sgt. Foley. Tom bristles at Mary's matchmaking between Dennis and Roberta and Mae and her ex-husband Mike Olinski.
Clete reports the news of Leroy's bizarre death at age 47. Martha can't find George when she calls the hotel to inform him of Leroy's death. Blanche comforts a guilt-ridden, weepy Mary who's mistaken for the widow by the mortician. Blanche doesn't want to get soaked by Leroy's funeral expenses. Cathy refuses to go with Steve as he prepares to leave for New York. Martha finally reaches George, but he has a date with Sheri.
Joe Sweeney and Sheri place George in a compromising position. Mary and Tom have a serious discussion about death and the continuation of life. Mike Olinski phones Mary, and she persuades him to meet them for a drink at the Capri. George arrives home to find Sweeney visiting (and subtly threatening) Martha.
Reverend Buryfield conducts Leroy's funeral in Mary's kitchen. Tom doesn't understand Mary's restlessness and asks if she's given up on their family in order to meddle in the lives of others. Tom suspects George's frame-up might be retaliation for Tom's dissatisfaction with working conditions at the plant. Mae's excited by Tom's news that Mike Olinski wants to meet her at the Capri.
Mike and Mae's reunion at the Capri doesn't go as planned, but it's Tom who gets the brunt of their ensuing bar room brawl. Mae's attempt at an apology for the previous night results in another fight, this one between Mary and Mae. Lucius Minnow tells the Haggers that a $10,000 insurance settlement has been offered, but he turned it down because he's holding out for six figures. Loretta makes her return engagement to the Capri, and during her performance she suddenly stands on her own.
Martha wonders if George's nervousness is a result of someone intimidating him. Charlie and Loretta interrupt a tense moment in the Hartman kitchen, and ask Mary if they can stay with Tom and Mary if they get evicted within the week. Mae reminds Tom of everything he's got. The Shumways and Hartmans gather to watch Steve's debut on the Johnny Tilson Show, where it's apparent that he's romancing starlet Kate Walters. Martha faints after seeing George's blackmail photos.
Mary tells Tom that it'll be 23 years before their sexual desires are synchronized again. Tom is angered by Mary's need for "something else" that she can't explain. Mary seeks answers to happiness from Grandpa Larkin who surmises she doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Mary hides under the kitchen sink. Cathy worries that she's losing Steve. Loretta has inspiration for a new song, Ballad of a Legless Woman. Mary cries and shares a lunch meat sandwich with Grandpa.
Dr. Fermin tells Loretta that she's in spontaneous remission. Charlie devises a plan to come up with money to stall eviction by selling raffle tickets for a color TV he and Loretta don't have. Martha refuses to believe George's claim that he was framed by union officials in Milwaukee. Loretta and Mary decide that Mary's "thing" is communication. Tiny catches Charlie selling raffle tickets and orders him out. When Tom intervenes, Tiny tells him to shut up or he's fired, prompting Charlie to deck Tiny who falls to the floor unconscious.
Now that Mary knows her thing is communication, she has to decide what to do with it. Tom doesn't communicate well when he tells Loretta and Mary what happened between Charlie and Tiny at the plant. Mary wishes Tom could convert the energy of anger into something sexy. George is happy he and Martha made up at 2:15 a.m. Cathy fears she's no longer good enough for Steve, and George threatens to punch his heart out. Loretta's engineer Clyde Muncie visits with news that his brother in Chicago wants to release Loretta's song as a single.
Steve reassures Cathy that starlet Kate Walters was just for publicity. Tom has to explain to Heather that he broke the rules when he's sent home from the plant over the incident between Charlie and Tiny. George isn't sympathetic to Tom's situation. At the library, Mrs. Delorean introduces Mary to sex therapist Mona McKenzie from the Lackawanda Institute.
Cathy tells George and Martha that she and Steve are going to Hollywood to be married, just as Kate Walters arrives at Steve's apartment. Tom has it out with George and decides to run against him in the union election. Mary explains her problems to Mona McKenzie. Mary lies to Cathy that Mona is an old friend from high school who transferred away. Cathy discovers Steve in bed with Kate.
Mary, Martha, and Loretta plan Cathy's impromptu bridal shower while she's throwing her engagement ring back at Steve. A distraught Cathy arrives home, announces Steve's infidelity, and renounces men. Dennis drops by the Hartman kitchen and tells Mary that he still wants her and will wait for her, but when Cathy arrives, Dennis asks her to dinner.
Mary secretly phones Mona but can't talk. After her date with Dennis, Cathy's over Steve. Loretta has a new tune about Cathy's relationship with Steve called How Can You Say You Don't Love Me When You Never Could Talk At All? Clyde calls the Haggers with news that a royalty check is in the mail. Tom and George spar over union ideals at the plant. After hearing Baby Boy on the radio, Tiny offers to help Charlie get re-hired. Tom accuses Mary of meddling, and she accuses him of using sex to intimidate her into being a good girl. Mona phones Mary to arrange a meeting ...
Mary is too busy preparing food products without food to care about Cathy's relationship with Dennis. Loretta receives a phone call from another Mrs. Haggers. Mona arrives at the Hartman house to carry out Mary's plan. Loretta confronts Charlie about his past.
Mary spends an interesting evening with Tom and Mona, who get along much better than Mary anticipated. Charlie and Loretta can't get Muriel off their mind and speculate that she's bringing unfinished business and doom to their doorstep.
Charlie dreams of his two Muriels. Mary encounters Dennis and Cathy in the Shumway kitchen, where Dennis takes an opportunity to flirt. Mary warns Cathy that Dennis is a skirt chaser, while Cathy warns Mary that Mona is trouble. While Charlie is out getting the steak part of Loretta's chicken fried steak dinner, Loretta is surprised by Muriel's appearance at the front door.
Loretta gets to know Muriel, who comes off as sweetness and light. Dennis stops by the Hartman house to flirt more with Mary. Later, Mary has a panic attack while quarreling with Tom. Loretta can't understand her Baby Boy's lack of a Christian attitude toward Muriel, who secretly confides to Charlie her true reason for visiting Fernwood.
Mary contrives to leave Tom and Mona alone. Charlie tells Loretta that he can think of 7,532 reasons not to trust Muriel. Mary meets Muriel, and confides to Charlie that she shares his opinion of his ex-wife. Alone with Tom, Mona reveals that she's a sex therapist.
Tom promises he'll help Mona any way he can with Mary's problem. Mary is uneasy about Tom's eagerness to help Mona. Charlie recounts his story of how he accidentally scarred Muriel's face with hot bacon fat 15 years ago. After Charlie leaves, Muriel stuns Loretta with a very different version of how she became to be scarred.
Mary instructs Mona to move out of the bed and into the center of the ring when providing Tom's therapy and wonders if they could work 11 feet apart. Loretta confides to Mary both versions of the hot bacon fat story, and Mary suggests peeking under Muriel's spit curl to see if there's really a scar on her face. Charlie laments to Tom that Muriel wants to destroy the Haggers' marriage.
Mary and Loretta sneak into Muriel's and look at Muriel's scar while she's napping. Cathy visits Mary and reveals plans to go away with Dennis for a weekend tryst. Mary and Tom quarrel about Mona. Feeling that she's losing control, Mary phones Roberta for help. Roberta encourages Mary to join STET, and Mary realizes that Dennis is two-timing Cathy with Roberta.
Mona reveals more truths to Tom. Muriel tells Charlie and Loretta that she needs $10,000 for plastic surgery to correct the facial scar inflicted by Charlie. Charlie and Loretta disagree about whether or not to give Muriel the money from Loretta's royalty check. Mary and Tom each order Mona out of the Hartman home.
Martha and Mary discuss problems with the ozone layer and Cathy running off with Dennis for the weekend. Charlie attempts to entrap Muriel and prove to Loretta that he's telling the truth about not being responsible for the hot bacon fat accident. Mary confronts Heather about a love note written to her social studies teacher. After Mary slaps Heather, Martha wonders if maybe she should've slapped Cathy as a child.
Mary tries to use George and Martha's influence to keep Cathy and Dennis apart. Muriel tells Loretta tales of Charlie's cruelty. Charlie brings home Loretta's royalty check, and they're all stunned by the amount. Mary stands up at a STET meeting.
Dennis' deceitful behavior toward Cathy and Roberta enrages Mary. Tom and Charlie commiserate about problems with wives. Charlie learns that Tom's being hassled at the plant because of his union membership. Muriel's delighted by the silence between Charlie and Loretta. Cathy refuses to accept Mary's advice about Dennis.
Mary reaches out to Tom and discovers that they've drifted too far apart into their own private problems. Cathy tells Dennis about Mary's efforts to keep them apart. Mary confronts Dennis, but finds his arms more loving and welcoming than Tom's.
Overwhelmed by emotional problems, Mary can't get out of bed and an alarmed Tom suggests medical intervention. Grandpa Larkin gives Mary advice about how to be crazy. Martha is surprised to learn that Mary's been prescribed "calmatives." Cathy announces her engagement to Dennis, prompting Mary to pop more pills. Charlie gets proof of Muriel's scam, but she has another surprise in store for him.
Dennis stops by Mary's bedroom and promises he won't hurt Cathy, but he can't coax her out from under the covers. After procuring tranquilizers, mood elevators, antidepressants, and methamphetamine from family and friends, a stoned Mary pities any girl who isn't her tonight and vows to stop Dennis and Cathy's wedding. Loretta's ready to throw Muriel out until she hears the news about Muriel's son. Muriel shows Charlie and Loretta a birth certificate for Timmy Haggers.
Loretta tells Mary about Timmy, but Mary warns her that birth certificates can be bought. Clyde informs Loretta that she's to appear on Dinah Shore's talk show in Hollywood on Friday. Cathy is unmoved by Mary's claim of seeing a soap opera about two sisters involved with the same man and declares that Mary can't keep her from marrying Dennis. Loretta reveals she had an unfriendly encounter with the McCulloughs, a new family in the neighborhood. At the plant, Tom gets an icy reception from Ed McCullough, who Charlie suspects could be a lead pipe man sent by the union ...
Dennis' space is crowded with hidden guests. Mary takes a rain check on Dennis' blackmail. Loretta's new royalty check interests Muriel who provides photographic proof of Timmy's existence. George warns Tom to choose his family's best interests over union politics. Mary wigs out in the Shumway kitchen.
Charlie and Loretta anticipate their trip to Hollywood tomorrow. Mary refuses Martha's request for an all-butter pecan nut cake and her living room for Cathy and Dennis' wedding. Clyde enthralls Charlie with future plans for Loretta's career. Mary worries that she'll lose Loretta.
Loretta bristles when the upcoming Los Angeles trip reminds Mary of Charlie and Loretta's aborted trip to Nashville. Roberta and Otto Feuerbach attempt to convince Mary of STET'S value. Fred Tataschwartz, Dinah's producer, shows the Haggers the studio green room which is actually yellow. Waiting in the wings before her momentous appearance on Dinah!, Loretta phones Mary and says a prayer to the Lord.
Loretta's appearance on Dinah! becomes a media sensation, but not in the way she envisioned. Ed McCullough, the Hartmans' new neighbor, threatens Mary with police action. Roberta confronts Cathy about their mutual relationship with Dennis. Tom receives a dual escort from the plant.
Cathy rejects Mary's truths about a loveless marriage with Dennis. Mary worries about a missing Tom. Heather finds the McCullough family weird. Dennis tells Mary his new day off is Thursday and attempts to deal with Cathy and Roberta in tandem. When Cathy presses their wedding plans, Dennis admits it all hinges on what happens next Thursday. Tom arrives home and shows Heather why he isn't the Six Million Dollar Man. Tom and Mary find a warning note from their new neighbors.
Mary urges Tom to report his assault to the police. Dennis suggests to Roberta that they can enjoy an open marriage with Cathy. Muriel phones her friend Bina to set up Timmy's call to Charlie. Clyde delivers good news and bad news about Loretta's career to Muriel. Dennis arrives at the Hartman kitchen to take Tom's statement, and privately reminds Mary about their date on Thursday.
A dejected Charlie and Loretta return to Fernwood from Los Angeles, but Muriel's tales quickly change their disposition. The Hartmans receive an explosive threat from the anti-union guerrillas. Dennis clarifies his feelings to Roberta and Cathy. Charlie is delighted by a phone call from his "son".
Arriving home from the plant, Tom worries about a missing Mary's whereabouts. Charlie envisions his son's future. Loretta wonders when her recording contract will arrive. Mary keeps her Thursday date with Dennis, but he changes the rules of the game, leaving her to realize that he's quite like her husband.
Mary returns home from Dennis's apartment and conceals her whereabouts from a suspicious Tom. At the plant, Charlie bores Tom and George with talk of Timmy, while Tom's meeting with Mr. Billingsley, the plant manager, takes a confrontational turn. Confident that Mary will come to him willingly, Dennis informs Cathy that they must wait another week before confirming their wedding date.
Cathy blames Mary for Dennis' reluctance to set a wedding date and swears that she can't cope with another broken engagement. Muriel appears worried when Charlie learns that Loretta's engineer Clyde Muncie will soon return from his trip. Mary and Cathy meet new neighbor Howard McCullough, who pays a visit to the Hartmans to apologize for brother Ed's behavior. Dennis phones Mary to pressure her into another meeting next Thursday.
Muriel asks Clyde to not spoil Charlie's big day by revealing the contents of the missing letter. Before leaving to collect Timmy from the airport, Charlie and Loretta give Muriel a check for $5000. Tom and Mary agree that the bible is confusing, but disagree over Mary's contention that infidelity isn't wrong with the "right person."
Roberta seeks advice from Grandpa Larkin about Dennis, but Grandpa is more interested in finding a misplaced jar of prunes. Martha pleads with Mary to help a distraught Cathy by persuading Dennis to set a wedding date, but Mary can only offer extra space in her freezer. Dennis tells Roberta that he's involved in something dangerous, but it should be resolved by next Thursday. Charlie and Loretta return from the airport and realize they've now hit rock bottom in the wake of a nonexistent son and the end of Loretta's super-stardom.
Dennis drops by Mary's kitchen to remind her about next Thursday. Cathy catches Mary and Dennis locked in a passionate embrace and warns her sister that whatever happens will be Mary's fault. Mary faces her family with an explanation that Dennis was giving her vertical mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Loretta dreams of making a phone call to the Lord and decides to volunteer for ministry work. A frustrated Mary visits the Haggers home and wonders how she can make Tom understand the incident with Dennis when she can't make Loretta understand. Having learned the story from Cathy, Tom orders Mary home. Mary and Tom battle over indiscretions and fourteen weeks of no affection.
Martha pays a visit to Dennis' apartment and decides that he's overflowing with love for the Schumways. Cathy catches Dennis embracing Martha, but he convinces her of his affection for the whole family. A drunken Tom stumbles home and reconciles with Mary. While holding one another, Mary accidentally addresses Tom by his rival's name.
At breakfast, Mary contends with Heather's desire for platform shoes and Tom's refusal to discuss Mary calling out Dennis' name in bed. Betty McCullough drops by the Schumway kitchen to introduce herself. Martha and Cathy are skeptical but intrigued by Betty's side job as a fortune teller. Tom takes his union case to Jeff Farlow, Fernwood's assistant district attorney.
Mary and Cathy bury the hatchet. Tom confides to Charlie about Mary and Dennis' kiss. Ed's remark about the meeting with Jeff Farlow disturbs Tom. Betty reads Mary's cards and issues a warning. Mary asks Dennis how long it will be before his "slow truths" to Roberta and Cathy will contain no more lies.
Mary vents her aggression on Cathy's wedding shower cake. Ed reveals shocking news about Tom's brewing union finances scandal. George is suspicious of Ed while Charlie is uncomfortable with Loretta's upcoming involvement with eight year old evangelist Reverend Jimmy Jo Jeeter. Howard and Mary realize they share an easy communication with one another.
Tom discovers the identity of the chairman of the watchdog financial committee. Gladys Dillworth, the Belcherware lady, appears at Cathy's shower. Ed declares he's fed up with hiding the truth about his family, while Betty reassures Howard that they're going to be one big happy family in Fernwood. After the wedding shower, Tom interrupts a tense moment between Mary and Dennis, and Tom insists that Dennis isn't welcome in their home.
Mary wants to talk with Tom, but not about Dennis, and Tom only wants to talk about Dennis. Charlie voices his concern that Loretta's ministry work has displaced her drive to become a country and western superstar. George tells Martha that Tom's involvement in the union finance scandal might get him fired from the plant. Dennis excuses himself from Cathy's passionate embrace.
Mary responds with a bicentennial lecture when Tom wants to know if she dreamt of Dennis the night before. Tom and Ed bond over bowling balls and suspicious relationships. Charlie's good news about Vitamin L is tempered by his first meeting with Merle Jeeter. Dennis' declaration stuns Mary, who is given 24 hours to make a life-altering decision.
Tom seeks answers about his marriage from Martha, but an offhand remark from Cathy tells him what he wants to know. Mary and Heather discuss half lies and half truths. Mary declares Howard an ideal husband and wants to know why he has never married. Dennis orders a surprise visitor to hit him and get out.
Tom is disturbed by Mary's new set of men friends. Betty and Grandpa visit Mary's kitchen, but Tom interrupts with very bad news. Mary begs Tom to let her love him, but his reaction sends her elsewhere. Anticipation of his Thursday meeting with Mary proves more exciting than Dennis anticipated.
Tom refuses to understand the relationship between Mary and Dennis. Loretta and Charlie are at odds over her decision to join the 100 Voices Heavenly Choir and help Reverend Jimmy Joe build Condos for Christ. The Hartman household loses a member, while the McCullough household gains one.
Cathy visits Dennis, and they agree that they both love Mary. The presence of Ed's house guest infuriates Howard. Cathy reaches a decision about her new vocation in life. The McCullough family secret is revealed.
Dr. Fermin cautions Dennis against another tete a tete with Mary. George advises Tom to observe moderation. Cathy meets Father DeMarco, who suggests a different vocation than she had in mind. Bob Gilroy, the plant psychologist, counsels Mary but finds it difficult to relate to her unusual situation.
Mary seeks absolution, and Loretta thinks she can find it through baptism. Charlie feels sorry for the plant's new payroll clerk and debates homosexuality with Tom and Ed. Jimmy Joe pays a visit to the Hartman household. Ed and Howard consider the possibility of marriage.
Charlie isn't happy with God's answer when Merle has Jimmy Joe ask God whether or not Loretta should record Vitamin L and what she should do with its royalties. Father DeMarco gives Cathy advice about a potential TV career. Howard visits Mary and encourages her to make the first move toward a reconciliation with Tom.
Tom seeks help from Bob Gilroy, but Gilroy decides the Hartmans need a psychiatrist and suggests Sigmund Freud. When Charlie and Loretta plan a special surprise for Tom and Mary, the Haggers are the ones who get the surprise. Loretta offers Mary help, but she prefers to call 411.
The help line lady thinks Mary has a nice phone voice. Betty wonders how Tom and Mary's estrangement might affect Howard's "relationship" with Mary. Clete arranges a meeting with Cathy. Merle and Jimmy Joe entice Loretta with a trip to the House of Pancakes.
Mary takes a shot at the help hotline. Clete finds Cathy more than qualified for what he has in mind at the Channel 6 studio. Grandpa makes a stunning revelation to Martha. Tom needs a little pick-me-up at the plant and is shocked by George's watchdog committee investigation report.
Mary brings the help line into her home and finds her first caller a familiar voice. Clete decides that Cathy should be the Kitchen Cookie on a local cooking show, but she's more interested in what he can tell her about Father DeMarco. Howard encourages Tom to put down the booze and reconcile with Mary, though Betty has other ideas. Martha wants to find her mother and father.
Mary checks on Dennis' recovery and later gets an obscene phone call on the help hotline. George suggests that Martha forget finding her parents, but she receives unexpected help from True magazine. Cathy has a new career. Tom's drinking doesn't go unnoticed at the plant.
Mary accidentally learns Howard's secret. Cathy visits Father DeMarco to inquire about volunteer opportunities, but he realizes her true motive. Mary is encouraged by Tom's surprise visit, but the mood turns when he makes a stunning request. Fleeing to Dennis' apartment, Mary is goaded into telling Dennis what he wants to hear.
Martha receives a letter from Adopt O Find. Betty is more overjoyed than she should be about Tom and Mary's marital discord. Ed confronts Tom about his drinking problem. Howard confides to Ed that Mary's visitor may have outed them. Clete offers Cathy more work at Channel 6. Loretta is excited about tomorrow's recording session. Mary assures Ed that Tom doesn't care about anything.
Martha's good news fails to lift Mary's depression. Mary rejects Dennis's offer of a picnic. The only thing sober about Tom is the news he lays on Ed and Charlie at the plant. Clete dangles another attractive carrot in front of Cathy when she talks about returning to beauty school. Dennis and Heather play chefs to Mary, but the evening is interrupted by a phone call from Tom.
Merle offers to make Loretta a soloist in the choir, but she's torn between her secular and spiritual careers. Cathy tells Mary and Dennis about her new job as weatherperson and reveals that she entered Mary in the Typical American Consumer Housewife contest. Tom and Grandpa play checkers and talk about life. Mary gives Howard her acceptance.
Ed and Howard discuss a marriage without paper. Cathy has a different kind of confession for Father DeMarco. Charlie complicates Merle's scheme to get Loretta in his motel room. Dennis' views on marriage give Mary pause, and an upset Betty wonders if Mary was the cause for one of her sons leaving home.
Mary and Dennis seem to reach an impasse on the subject of marriage, leading Mary to compile a list of things she needs to do to get her life back in order. Howard's support of Mary in times of trouble is misconstrued by Heather. Jimmy Joe begs Loretta to talk with him about Merle. Martha learns that Adopt O Find may have located her father.
Jimmy Joe confesses Merle's sins of the flesh to Loretta. Martha wants to know if Mary is also having an affair with Howard, but what she's actually having is anxiety over Fernwood airport's new flight patterns. Loretta promises Charlie that she'll get away from the Jeeters just as soon as she saves Merle's soul.
Tom reassures Charlie and George that he's trying to cut back on his drinking and find a new job. Paying a visit to Mary, Roberta notes her anxiety, and they discuss Dennis' relationships. Later at the Capri Lounge, Roberta warns Dennis that he has a responsibility to Mary. Loretta and Merle contemplate his many sins.
Mary accidentally spills the McCullough secret. Charlie discovers that Loretta didn't resign from the Worldwide Missionary Center as she promised. Martha tells Mary that Adopt O Find has identified her father, who's a Native American. Tom stops by Mary's kitchen with good news, but Martha spoils the atmosphere with an untimely mention of Dennis. Hugh Boswell interviews Mary as a finalist in America's Typical Consumer Housewife Contest. Tom gets drunk again and suggests he and Ed pick up some women at the Capri Lounge.
Dennis bids goodbye to life in Fernwood. Clete and Cathy share their news with Father DeMarco, but he urges them to slow down. Mary learns she's been chosen a typical American consumer. At the Capri, Tom picks up Joyce and Jolene, forcing Ed to admit that they're not really his type.
Tom's drunken bender doesn't help him score dates at the Capri Lounge. Betty declares Howard a latent heterosexual and seeks special assistance from Mary. Billy Twelvetrees' presence at the Shumway house brings out the little green monster in Grandpa Larkin. Tom returns to Mary's bed, and she has a heartfelt apology for everything that's happened.
There's chaos in the Hartman kitchen when Hugh Boswell and the Razzle Brothers arrive to film a typical day in Mary's life. Merle tells Loretta his nightmare about a gussied up harlot with smarmy thighs and begs her to accompany him to Chicago for a religious revival.
Mary and Tom make a deal about their marriage, and Tom is quick to break it. Billy Twelvetrees tells Mary that Tom is an alcoholic, but she'd rather think of him as a drunk. At the Capri, Tom and Dennis argue about Mary. The Razzle Brothers turn their cameras on Heather. A drunken Tom bursts into the Hartman kitchen with plenty to say about cheating wives, and Mary shows him some very tough love.
Betty stuns Tom with news of Howard's imminent conversion and his choice of a woman to prove his latent heterosexuality. Martha learns more about her Choctaw heritage. Loretta rejects Merle's request, and he vows she'll be his next wife.
Betty encourages Mary to take Howard to bed. Cathy begins Catholicism instruction with Father DeMarco, but he finds himself distracted. After kissing Mary, Howard has no doubts about his sexuality. Tom interrupts Howard and Mary at a very inopportune moment.
Tom and Howard are both furious with Mary. David Susskind calls the Hartman home, but hangs up. Tom blabs to Ed the latest development in Howard and Mary's relationship. Ed packs his bags and vows never to live in the closet again. Howard confronts Betty, who later blames Mary for all of her family's problems. Cathy argues with Clete about her future as a television personality. The telephone company threatens to cut off Mary's helpline. Cathy tells off Mary. Mary is becoming unhinged from altered flight patterns and excessive problems.
A ruptured sewer line and the noise from heavy equipment takes its toll on Mary's nerves. Loretta decides that Merle's Chicago revival might be a great way to showcase her act, and she convinces a reluctant Charlie. Martha and Grandpa Larkin join Billy Twelvetrees in his protest against the loss of Native American fishing rights at a local river. Howard and Ed reach a final decision about their future. Mary warns Loretta not to go to Chicago with Merle, leading Loretta to decide that maybe they aren't best friends after all. Martha consoles Mary over a shattered ...
After receiving a call from a drunken Tom, Mary takes Hugh Boswell's advice and goes window shopping in Manhattan. Father DeMarco has a confession of his own for Cathy. Martha returns home without Billy Twelvetrees. A note from Cathy alarms the Shumways. Shortly before her appearance on The David Susskind Show, Mary becomes entranced with a doll house and refuses to leave the toy store.
Still in the toy store, Mary gazes into the doll house and imagines a perfect life with Tom and Heather. With plans to seduce Loretta in his motel room, Merle sends Jimmy Joe to a double feature of Old Yeller and The Call of the Wild. Hugh finds Mary in the toy store and forces her to leave for her TV interview. Mary and David Susskind begin to watch a scene from the Razzle Brothers' documentary, and Mary realizes that television adds more than five pounds to a person's appearance.
Loretta realizes the truth about Merle. After Jimmy Joe warns him of Merle's intentions, Charlie bursts into the motel room armed with his shotgun and a struggle between the trio ends in tragedy. On the David Susskind Show, Mary is unable to cope with the verbal assault launched against her. The family gathers to support Mary, who is no longer communicative. Clete interviews producer Norman Lear.