Season 3, Episode 21: Hitting Bottom

Transcribed by Jen Oyama

The scene opens in the Salingers' kitchen. "So, no word from Bailey?" asks Sarah, as Julia races around trying to get ready for wherever they're going. "I called him." Charlie, Julia and Claudia stop dead in their tracks. "What did he say?" asks Julia. "Is he all right?" Claudia chimes in.

Charlie is angry. The family has made the decision not to call Bailey, and Sarah has given in. "What does Grace say?" asks Julia. "Maybe we should call her at her parents' house," says Claudia. No way, argues Charlie. "This is what we're doing," he tells them. "And we're sticking to it."

Cut to Bailey and Coach Petrocelli. After forgetting to attend the biggest wrestling match of the year, Bailey tries to defend himself to his coach. "What's wrong with you?" he asks Bailey, who is clearly drunk. "Nothing," he lies. "If you were alive, you should have been there," Coach tells him. He then informs Bailey that he is the reason the team has made it this far. "We had an ace in the hole...we had you."

Bailey alienates yet another person when he pushes Callie away with his drunken aggressiveness. "So where was the party?" Callie asks, when Bailey returns home drunk and disheveled. "What? No party." He then explains that he won "yet another wrestling match" and went to celebrate with the guys. "Whatever," says Callie. When she goes to her room, Bailey follows. "Not now," she tells him, pushing him away. He becomes upset, and hurls insults at her. "Your family's right," she tells him. "You got a problem."

Upon his return, Julia finds out that Griffin has injured his leg. "I didn't want to let you down," he tells her. "Why, because you injured yourself?" she asks. "Because I can't do that kind of work anymore." He explains that he wanted to come back with all the goals and dreams they had discussed earlier in the season. "I'm just interested in spending some time with you," she tells him.

Cut to Owen's daycare center. When Charlie goes to pick up Owen, he finds out that Bailey has beaten him to it. "How did he seem?" Charlie asks the teacher. She informs him that he was racing around with the kids, having fun. "Next time he comes..." Charlie begins. "What?" she says. "Never mind," he replies, obviously having a difficult time informing her that his brother is an alkie.

"You have to be pretty damn...I mean darn...near perfect to please those people," Bailey tells a cotton-candied Owen. He takes a sip of beer. "Who's your favorite brother?" he asks. "Bailey, stupid," he says. "Bailey, stupid," Owen repeats. Later, on the way to their car, Bailey spins Owen around on his shoulders while Owen screams to be put down. "That's the sign of a really good ride," he tells Owen. "You can't wait for it to end..." (Hmmm. Nice symbolism).

Back at the Salingers, Sarah, Claudia and Charlie jump to their feet when Julia comes home. "What's going on?" she asks, concerned. She finds out that Bailey is with Owen and the two haven't returned. "Have you called the police?" "Not yet," says Charlie, picking up the phone. "Who cares if he loses his license...I want to find Owen," declares Julia.

Meanwhile, Claudia has become more and more angry with their late father. She goes to Avery and forces him to tell her everything. "All my memories...seem fake," she explains. When Charlie finds out, he confronts Avery himself. "Everyone knows you were in love with her," referring to their mother. "So of course you're going to make him look bad..." "That's not it..." says Avery, sadly. "There was so much more I could have told her."

When Bailey finally returns with Owen, the family greets him with fury. "Where the hell were you?" yells Charlie. "I took my little brother out... what the hell is so the hell about it?" "Have you been drinking?" asks Charlie. "Is that what this is about? God, just when I thought my family couldn't love me any less..." Bailey counters. "Let me smell your breath," Charlie orders. Bailey steps away. "No...okay, I had one beer. That's all."

Charlie explodes. "YOU DRANK AND YOU DROVE WITH YOUR LITTLE BROTHER IN THE CAR...I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!" He grabs Bailey by the shirt, and the others run to stop him. "He's my brother too!" Bailey cries. "NO HE'S NOT!" Charlie screams, out of control.

"This obviously isn't working," says a distraught Sarah. "He's been drinking, and now he's going to drive...we have to do something." She looks to the others for support. "Don't we?" The three stand there in stunned silence. "Don't we?" she repeats. She runs after Bailey, after it is clear that they don't agree.

When Sarah gets to his apartment, no one is home and she waits for him. "Where the hell were you?" she yells when he finally shows up. He turns around and heads outside. "Wait!" she calls out. "I don't need another lecture," Bailey snaps. She runs after him. "You're not going to drive..." "Get out of my way," he says cruelly. He gets into the car, and she runs to the passenger side. "You can't do this!" she screams, as he pushes her away.

Cut to the famous accident scene. While yelling at Sarah to stop telling him how to drive, he nearly crashes into a taxi. Sarah hits the glass window, and an uninjured Bailey swerves out of control.

Charlie is running through the hospital, looking for Sarah. When he learns that she is going to be okay, he leans against the wall, relieved. "Wait," he calls to the nurse. "What about the driver?" "Apparently he gave us her parents' phone number and left," she informs him.

Meanwhile, Julia seeks out Griffin for comfort. "Is it Bailey?" he asks, when she bursts into his apartment in tears. He consoles her, and one thing leads to another. When she wakes up, Griffin is sitting by the window. "What's out there?" she asks. "I couldn't sleep," he tells her. "Because I kept thinking that one of us would wake up and say this was a mistake. Say, you." She tells him he's wrong, that this time it's different. "Wherever you go, whatever you do...we're going together," she declares.

When she returns home looking smugly happy the next morning, Charlies explodes. "Where were you? You can't just disappear...especially now..." Julia becomes alarmed, and Charlie informs her about the accident. "Oh my God...where's Bailey?" "No one knows," says Charlie. While they are talking, Claudia overhears. "It's Dad's fault," she says. Charlie becomes enraged. "Would you cut that out...because it's not helping!"

After realizing his misdirected anger, he goes upstairs to apologize to Claudia. "Is Bailey going to be okay?" she asks. "I don't know," he says. He then tells Claudia that Nick was a good father, and that people make mistakes. "What if one day Owen looks at me the way you're looking at Dad?" "It's not the same," she weeps, and Charlies kisses her on the forehead.

In the final scene, we find Bailey lurking in the shadows of Sarah's hospital room, huddled against the door. As she awakens, we see that her face is nightmarishly bruised and swollen from the accident. Bailey starts weeping uncontrollably when he sees that she sees him. "Will you help me?" he cries.

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