Season 4, Episode 9: Truth Be Told

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Claudia is coming out of school when she sees Charlie. He is waiting for her in his truck. She's not too happy about this, because sometimes "Reed gives her a ride." They get into the car and Charlie breaks the news to her: he has a disease. "What, like VD or something?" (insert giggle from Jen here). No, he tells her. In a very mild way, he explains that he will have to undergo treatments and stuff, just like any disease, to get better. She doesn't look convinced. "So how does ice cream sound?" asks Charlie.

Cut to opening credits.

Bailey is looking for a planing tool in the garage. Charlie has called him and told him that he has some important news. Bailey mentions something about adding carpet to Annie's room "because it's right above Sarah's." He's just about to leave when Charlie sits him down and breaks the news. As they talk, Claudia watches from her window. She sees Bailey put his hands over his face.

Julia and Griffin are watching the men remove all furniture from their apartment. "That's what happens when you rent," remarks one of them. Piece by piece everything goes as Julia and Griffin stand by and watch helplessly. The scene transitions to a shot of them sitting on the floor of their now empty apartment. Griffin tells Julia he will somehow make this up to her. "You don't have to promise me anything," she says.

Charlie and Kirsten are walking through the park. He tells her he is having his first doctor's appointment tomorrow. He lets her know how the family's been taking the news. "She's old enough," Kirsten tells Charlie, when he informs her that he thought Claudia might not be able to handle it. Kirsten tells Charlie that she will be there for him every step of the way, and that she will come to his appointment tomorrow.

Claudia is in what looks like a doctor's office. She is looking up information on Hodgkin's disease. The information isn't right, she tells the lady. She's looking for something more recent. The lady looks at her brochures. "These are the most recent," she tells her. Claud leaves, upset.

Julia and Charlie are in the kitchen. Julia tells him that she needs some extra silverware and stuff because they don't have enough. He tells her he has something important to share with her. Then Julia tells him about the problems she and Griffin are having. "Why don't you live at home," he asks. But Julia is adamant: she and Griffin will work out their problems "like any other married couple." Charlie doesn't look convinced. "What did you want to tell me?" Julia asks him as she's about to leave. "Never mind," Charlie says. "You've got enough stuff to worry about."

Bailey and Sarah are in the bathroom; Bai is washing his face as he breaks the news to Sarah. She is very sympathetic and offers to help. "It's not like you guys are close or anything," he says, when she insists on doing something for Charlie. "Besides, it's a family thing." Sarah looks dejected as Bailey leaves the room.

Claudia is yelling for Charlie in the house. She is upset, because he didn't tell her everything about his disease, and because she had to find out by looking it up herself. She reels off the facts about Hodgkin's and emphasizes the low survival rate. "Are you going to die?" she asks. Charlie assures her that he's not.

Bailey and Annie are in her room and Bailey is sitting next to the phone. He wants to call Charlie but doesn't have a clue what to say. "It's too late to call, right?" "Not Japan," Annie tells him, after checking her clock. He tells her how scared he is, and how sorry he is for Charlie. "I can't imagine," he says, after thinking about how Charlie must feel. Annie points out that the things Charlie is going through are the same things that Bailey went through as an alcoholic. "You've never felt like you were totally alone and afraid?" she asks. "Then you were better off than I was."

Charlie and Claudia are in the kitchen. Claudia keeps asking him if he's ready for his appointment. He makes some crack about having gas in the car. She says no, I mean are you ready for all the questions and stuff...the medical history. Then she tells him all about the treatments he's going to get. Obviously she's retained a lot from her brochures.

Bailey is outside washing Charlie's car. Charlie sees him and Bailey starts giving him the AA spiel. "Take it one day at a time... you've got to just focus in on one thing." He tells him to break each day into small parts. A football game, for example, will "kill 3 hours easily" and make the day go by faster. Charlie looks skeptical but thanks him for the advice. "I'm there, man," Bailey says.

Claudia is waiting at Julia's doorstep. When Julia shows up Claudia tells her that she "knows everything," and that Julia should move back home. Julia looks pissed, thinking she means the problems she and Griffin are having. Then as Claudia rattles on Julia realizes that she's talking about something else entirely. When she mentions "chemo," the full meaning finally sinks in. "You mean chemotherapy?" Julia asks, visibly shocked. She has a look of disbelief on her face as Claudia goes on about the treatments.

THE FAMOUS TANG SCENE. This one'll go down in the books as one of the most dramatic renderings ever involving a glass of Tang (to quote a po5 list member). Charlie, Bailey, Kirsten and Claudia are sitting in the doctor's office when Charlie gets presented with the famous orange stuff (it looks more like carrot juice to me). The three of them watch anxiously as he gulps down two glasses and winces the whole while. Claudia starts crying. "You're not helping," Kirsten tells her. Bailey suggests that maybe she should go home but Claudia protests violently. "Where the hell is Julia?" Bai asks. "She's not coming," Charlie says, "because she doesn't know yet." "But I told her," Claudia says. "I didn't know it was supposed to be a secret!" Now Charlie is pissed. "You mean she knew I was supposed to be here and she didn't come?" he says. "Man! Talk about selfish."

Charlie is standing at the porch when Sarah comes by, bearing a small object wrapped in aluminum foil. "It's banana bread," she tells him. She says she knows it's kinda stupid, but that she cares about him and wants to help if she can. Charlie thanks her and smiles, the first one in a long time.

Julia is sitting on her bed reading about Hodgkin's disease. "Of all the cancers to have, it's the best one." She tells Griffin how mad she is because Charlie didn't tell her himself. "I think we need to move back there," she tells Griffin. Griffin doesn't look too happy, but we all know he'll eventually cave...

Claudia comes into Charlie's room while he's filling out his medical forms. She starts discussing his treatment, and what's going to happen to him in a very clinical way. Charlie blows up. He's sick of hearing about her "million stupid little medical facts..." "I need you to stop," he says, while she wipes away tears. "I was only trying to help," she says, still crying.

We see Charlie's truck driving down the street, until it makes a sudden u-turn. The next instant we see him storming through Julia's apartment door. He is furious that she knew about his cancer but didn't say anything or bother to come by the doctor's office. "What are you waiting for, Julia, my funeral?" he explodes. Julia tries to defend herself, "You think I don't care?" She tells him that if he thought more of her he would have told her in the first place. "Claudia knew...Bailey knew..." "I guess you had me pegged," she says. Charlie blows up again. "Get over yourself, Julia!" "Man, I thought Owen was the baby of the family!" He storms out.

Charlie comes home and starts complaining to Bailey about Julia's selfishness. "She can't be that selfish," Bailey says. Bailey seems understanding and hands Charlie a book. It's about AA principles, he explains, but a lot of the recovery concepts are the same. Charlie explodes again. "I don't want to hear any more of your AA crap," he fumes. "You can always STOP drinking, I can't STOP having cancer." He then tells Bailey that he can talk about his problem all he wants with his AA friends, but to "leave me out of it."

Charlie is sitting in the restaurant when Kirsten shows up. He is happy to see her. "None of them get it," he tells her, "but you do. You're the only one." He takes her hand and Kirsten balks. "I don't want to be the only one," she tells him. "You can't shut everyone else out." Charlie gets mad again. "I can't worry about you worrying about me," he tells her.

Bailey is sitting by himself in the kitchen and Sarah is talking about some problem with the roof. Out of nowhere, he explodes over her banana bread, blaming her for being nice to Charlie and having it easy for something so "stupid as banana bread." "It was a gesture," she tells him, surprised at his outburst. He starts rambling about her hidden agenda. "My agenda to deliver banana bread?" When he is finished yelling she goes and sits across from him. "What else do you want to yell at me about?"

Charlie is in the doctor's office. The doctor tells him what's ahead - a six week course of radiation for step 2 of Hodgkin's, which he has now progressed to. "Would you like to include a family member in this discussion?" she asks. He says no, to just go ahead and tell him. When she mentions something about him getting picked up by the person who brought him, he informs her that he is alone.

Julia and Griffin are in the garage, checking things out. It's raining outside and it's dark in the garage. Griffin asks why they can't just live in the attic. "I don't want to live with my new husband in my old bedroom," she says. They talk about what they can do to the place and finally Griffin suggests, "Maybe with a new coat of paint?" Julia smiles and takes his hand. They run into the house.

Bailey and Claudia are sitting in the kitchen. The four compare notes. "What's wrong with him, anyways?" Griffin asks. "So everyone's mad at him, huh?" Claudia says. They think of ways to cope. If he gets mad, "we'll take it," suggests Julia. They make a pact to complain to each other about his disease, but not to Charlie. At that point Charlie comes in. "So have you guys been talking about me?" He tells him that he just came back from the doctor's office, and that he wants to sit and talk. "I want to start over with all of you." "I have cancer..."

Fade to credits.

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