Season 4, Episode 10: Adjustments

Transcribed by Sandy

When I said there wouldn't be a summary from me for "Adjustments", I didn't count on the generosity of my fellow fans. So piteously did I whine about taping over this episode that our own prizewinning Molly K. rode electronically to my rescue. So this summary is a collaborative effort, from Molly and me. Spellings are also a joint effort. Any faults, flaws or inaccuracies which remain are mine alone. Any really good stuff here, such as the bracketed comments, started with Molly -- not to mention the writers of the ep.

There is no musical opening sequence for this episode, only credits over the first scene.

The episode opens with Charlie walking through a hospital corridor. In voice- over we hear a technician or clerk asking Charlie's statistics such as height, weight and date of diagnosis. He says there is no family history. This appears to be his first radiation treatment. Eventually Charlie is gowned and told to lie down on the padded plinth that moves through the radiation emitter. From above we see Charlie's face as he lies back on the pad. The tech centres Charlie on the machine; we see a red laser beam marking off his face into halves from the nose downward. The tech (voice-over again) tells Charlie "You can breathe normally, but I need you to be as still as possible."

Bailey, Claudia, Owen, Charlie and Griffin are in the kitchen, talking about everything that has to be accomplished. Charlie says he can drop off Owen at daycare, go to his appointment, do the shopping after that and still move the stuff from the shed. Claudia says Charlie should conserve his energy. Charlie says that's only if he's having side-effects, which he's not. Griffin offers to move the stuff from the shed, but Charlie insists on doing it himself: it's his woodshop, not some junk that can get thrown in the basement. Claudia suggests quietly to Griffin if he's not going to do the shed, then maybe he can take her grocery shopping, indicating the nearly empty box of cereal. Charlie says if Claudia really wants to help, she won't miss the bus, since he doesn't have time to take her to school too.

Bailey follows Charlie outside to garbage cans. Bai says Charlie doesn't have to put on a show for him as he does for Claudia and Owen; Bailey says he can do whatever Charlie needs. "Tell me what to do," Bailey says. "Like what, Bailey?" Charlie asks. "Go get radiation instead of me?" Bailey gets a kind of 'I would if I could' look on his face. Charlie says there's nothing. He says he'll tell Bailey when there's anything he can do.

Griffin brings Julia coffee in the attic, apologizing because it's black, since they're low on milk. Griffin tells Julia that Charlie says he'll get to shed when he can. Julia wonders why Charlie still thinks he can do *everything*, and says they need privacy. Griffin reminds her that if she gets a job today, they can start saving for their own place. Griffin reads an ad for a great- sounding job at an art magazine, and tells Julia she's perfect for it. Julia points out that if she got it, it would be a good thing. "This is us, remember," she tells him.

Bailey gets to Annie's apartment, complaining that it took three hours on the bus to get there! Bai's also frustrated that Charlie won't accept help with the family responsibilities. "If he wasn't sick and I offered to take Owen to daycare, he'd be doing backflips down Green Street," declares Bailey. [This was an excellent line.]

Julia goes to her interview, and gets so wrapped up in telling the interviewer that she's fresh, eager, experienced at museum work, and Stanford-approved that she almost doesn't notice when the interviewer gives her the job on the spot. The edge of her enthusiasm gets dulled a bit on the hard fact of money: the interviewer tells her that the pay is $200 per week, which is less than minimum wage. Julia says somewhat hesitantly that she was looking for more like $10 per hour. The interviewer tells her, "That's what I make, Julia."

At the bike shop, Julia tells Griffin about the interview. Griffin perches on a bike while he listens. It felt so great when she got the job, she tells him. She knew there was no way when she heard it pays $200 per week. "This is us, remember," Julia reminds him again. But Griffin says there might be way they can do it. He can cut back on overhead. Julia offers to park on the street, and take her lunch. Griffin tells her they'll find a way. Julia cries, "Oooh, I love you I love you I love you," hugging him. Griffin hugs her back and chuckles "You should" -- coming as close as he ever does to sternness.

Bailey is at Annie's. He tells her he has downloaded stuff from the Web, everything she needs to become a licensed insurance adjuster. He tells her she's qualified, and she has 2 years' experience of working in her boss's office. All she needs to do is take the test. She could get a better apartment, pay off her debts. Annie asks him distractedly if he's staying for dinner, because the task for the immediate future is making sure Natalie is fed. Bailey makes the winning argument that a better job could mean moving to a better school district for Natalie. Bailey can see his argument works on Annie. He takes down a plate for himself. "We hit the books after supper," he tells her.

Charlie was scheduled for treatment at 4 o'clock. He tells the desk clerk he has been waiting over an hour, but there's nothing she can do. A fellow patient offers a slice of orange -- it helps with the dry mouth, he says. Charlie says he's okay. The other patient says he used to love a good meal. He learns that Charlie owns Salingers', and says that he had lunch there a couple of times. Now he can't enjoy food. His conversation involves a lot of "used to"s. Now he can't even drive himself to the treatments. He wonders what week Charlie is at. "Second," Charlie tells him. "Oh," he says. "That's when it started for me."

In the next scene Charlie lies on the machine with its laser guidelines running along each side of his face. The tech makes minor adjustments to Charlie's position, shifting his chin slightly, and running a marking card under the guidelines. The tech asks how Charlie is feeling: to each question about side effects (nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting) Charlie answers no. "You can breathe normally, but try not to move," the tech says.

Bailey and Annie are on the street, near a parked, somewhat damaged, car. Bai makes believe he is a claimant. "Miss Mott," he says, extravagantly innocent, "I don't know what happened. All of a sudden, kreesham, this guy bangs into me." Annie does her best to remain unimpressed: "Kreesham? How do you spell that?" [We imagine that's what some writer or other said, at the story conference.] Bailey tells her to get into the spirit of the thing; adjust, he says, so she does. She casts a critical eye over the car, and quotes him a deductible. When he tries to tell her that the damage on the door of the car is from the same accident, she shuts him down. "Rust indicates an earlier event," she tells him imperturbably. Bai is convinced: "You know this stuff," he says. The driver of the parked car approaches. Bailey says "Don't even think about it, these adjusters are vicious."

Back at the house, Julia is thrilled to find a sink in the shed, under some junk. That means there's a water line to the shed. She says she'll use her first paycheck for a shower. Griffin observes that she's spent that paycheck about 5 times already. Julia begins to imagine a happy little domestic life for them in the "cottage": coming home from work at the magazine, stopping at the Golden Dragon for takeout. Julia and Griffin start kissing. Claud opens the door without knocking, in disbelief and anger that Griffin fired Reed. After Julia shoos her out, Claud hears Julia inside the shed: "I love having a door."

At Salingers', eating lunch, Bailey asks Charlie how his treatment went. Charlie says "I just lay there and hope it's doing something; the nurse high tails it out of there like the roadrunner." Charlie also says there was a guy in the waiting room who's not doing too well. But Charlie tells his brother that 10% of radiation patients have no bad reaction to the treatment. Charlie is determined to be part of that 10%.

Julia click-clunks her way into the house with the heel of her left shoe in her hand, as Griffin is looking at a catalog for shower equipment. "Wo," Griffin exclaims, "what happened to you?" Julia says she fed the meter faithfully every hour, and was 10 minutes late once, so she got towed. She has had to work all week to pay for the towing. Claud is in the bathroom. Julia knocks on the door, wanting to take a shower. Claud finally opens the door: "Oh, it's you," she says airily. She can't leave the bathroom right now, she's flossing. She slams the door. We hear her chortle,"I *love* having a door."

Sarah's day was full of mishaps. She tells Bailey that she and Elliot kept missng each other. She sees Bailey's stack of material about the insurance industry, and asks Bailey if he's applying to become an insurance adjuster? When Bailey tells her that it's for Annie, Sarah wonders why he is doing all the work. Bai says he's just trying to help, and wonders why there has to be a "why".

The next scene is at the office of the interviewer/examiner for the adjuster's exam. Bailey's obviously still trying to stall when the interviewer asks why he should he wait for Annie after she's already had a 10 minute grace period and the other interviewees were on time. The elevator door opens. Bailey hopes she's in it, but she's not.

At home, Charlie begins moving stuff in the shed. A wave of nausea sneaks up on him and he barely makes it to the garbage can before he throws up.

Bailey arrives at Annie's, and finds her there. He asks her what happened, why wasn't she at the appointment? She says she tried to call him, but he already had left and she couldn't get out of work. Bailey keeps questioning her, until at last she grabs some cash to pay him back for the application fee, though Bai doesn't want to be paid back.

Julia, Griffin, and Claudia are in the kitchen working out who's doing what of Charlie's tasks today. They are all surprised when he comes down dressed. He says last night was pretty bad but he's feeling okay now. He still insists on doing all his own tasks.

Julia is paying the $148 cost for the towing. She complains to Sarah that it used up her entire week's salary. Sarah is dumbfounded to learn that's all Julia makes. Julia admits that it is, but says it's a great job. Sarah reminds her that a job's not supposed to be fun. Julia protests that that's what this year is for: to find out what she's good at, discover herself. She's upset that unexpected setbacks like this are not fair. Sarah says life's not fair, but so what? She tells Julia to get a real job that pays. In the next scene Reed tells Claudia that he's going for a job in Vallejo. Claudia worries that it's so far away, and offers him the job of taking her to the grocery store.

Charlie is going through the routine at his radiation treatment. He admits when the tech asks him that he has experienced a little fatigue, and says yes to the questions about nausea and vomiting. The tech adjusts his position on the plinth, and tells him to breathe normally, and not to move.

Bailey is studying Spanish at the apartment when Annie knocks at the door. Bai tells her he has rescheduled her test. But Annie doesn't want to take the test, and demands to know why this is so important to Bailey. Is he ashamed of her? She insists that she doesn't want his help, and tells him to just leave it alone.

Griffin is boxing stuff up in the shed. Bailey comes in, and tells Griffin to give him something to haul. Just as Bailey has selected something heavy and begins to drag it towards the door, Charlie comes in and asks what they think they're doing. "I told you I'd do this," Charlie says, irritated. Bailey says he gives up, and leaves. Julia comes in. "You keep putting it off," she tells Charlie. "We all know you're sick, you have to face it." Charlie tells her angrily that the last thing he needs is a lecture on reality from her.

When Bailey returns to the apartment, Sarah is making a chocolate cake (for Elliot?). Bai informs her that he is retiring from helping people. Charlie's yelling at him, Annie's bitching and moaning about her job, and he was trying to do something about it. They're both ingrates, he concludes. "Weird," says Sarah in a cool voice. "Charlie's sick, Annie's job sucks, so when did this become about you?" she wonders.

Charlie finds Julia in the kitchen of the house, and asks her why she's not at work. She tells him she needs a better job. Charlie takes a section of the paper and leaves the kitchen.

Claudia and Reed are taking groceries to his car. She's paranoid that she forgot ice cream. Reed says she got ice cream, and popsicles too. Reed also says Griffin told him about Charlie. He says she can talk about it or not. Claudia says Charlie's going to be fine, her voice shaking only a little. She tries to pay Reed. "Forget it, Salinger," he says. "Let's get the ice cream home before it melts."

Owen and Charlie are driving to the restaurant (well, Charlie's the one doing the actual driving). Owen wants to finish fingerpainting, but Charlie says they're going to the library after stopping at the restaurant. Charlie has to stop driving; he is not feeling well at all. Owen says he wants to fingerpaint. Charlie, looking ashen, says they have to go home.

Julia is at the orientation for her new job: working in the giftwrapping concession at the mall. While her supervisor takes great pains to elucidate all the intricacies of gift-wrapping for fun and profit (the cardinal rule seems to be to guard one's pair of scissors with her life), Julia mostly wants to know how much she stands to make in overtime. She is told there will be overtime when the Christmas rush kicks in.

Charlie is in the shed. Griffin comes in and asks if Charlie is okay. Instead of answering, Charlie asks if Griffin has ever seen wood like this, indicating a large chunk of exotic hardwood. Charlie loves it because it's very strong, but it turns out it's too dense to work with, and too heavy for a chair. Even so, Charlie found he couldn't throw it away. Griffin comments that he has bike like that at the shop. Charlie asks Griffin to move the stuff to the basement. Griffin says sure. Charlie tells him to be careful, and Griffin assures him that he will. Charlie says "Don't strain your back." Griffin looks -- well, surprised.

Annie is in the laundry room of the aparment building when Bailey comes in. Bai explains that his brother is sick, and he can't do anything for Charlie. "That's what I do," says Bailey, "help people." Annie says she's sorry. Bai goes on to say that her job situation is something he can do something about, but he didn't mean to push. Annie says that she has a problem with self- esteem. "Even if you crash and burn," says Bai, "so what? Being sober, taking care of Natalie -- those are the real tests." Annie smiles at him ruefully and says "Don't dimple me - I can't take that kind of pressure."

Griffin asks Julia if her eyes are closed as he leads her to the shed. She opens them when he says to, to find the shed by candlelight, with a sleeping bag and takeout for two from the Golden Dragon laid out on the floor. Griffin says he moved Charlie's stuff from the shed; not only wasn't her brother mad, he says, in answer to Julia's question, he *asked* Griffin to do it. Griffin asks Julia "What's with the cuts on your hand?" Julia tells him they're an ccupational hazard. Griffin reminds her that she said she had a surprise for him. "These are kind of it," says Julia..

Bai is with Annie as she heads in to take the exam. He tells her he'll be there when she's done.

The last scene is Charlie on the radiation machine again. Again we see the tech's hands adjusting Charlie's position and placing the marking card under the laser guidelines which pass down Charlie's cheekbones. This time when the tech asks if he has any fatigue, he says "A little." He says he has some dizziness, nausea, vomiting and dry mouth, too. "Okay," says the tech, as they prepare to start the machine, "you know the drill."

Fade to credits.

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