Season 5, Episode 17: Fam-i-ly

The credits: scott bairstow, brian markinson, allan royal, danielle weeks, jacob smith as owen, with alyson reed, and heather mccomb, edited by richard freeman a.c.e., production designer bill eigenbrodt, director of photography joe pennella, co-producer valerie joseph, producer daniel attias, producer paul marks, supervising producer steven robman, consulting producer p.k. simonds, co-executive producer tammy ader, executive producer ken topolsky, executive producer john romano, written by julia dahl, directed by lou antonio

Co-starring Jason C. Morgan as Matthew, Rudi Daniel Davis as Arthur.

Transcribed by Rachel

Charlie is grading papers in the living room while Claudia reads to Owen in the tent. Sarah and Bailey bring groceries into the kitchen. Sarah wonders if everyone has gone to sleep, but Bay points out it's only 9 pm. He walks into the living room offering ice cream. Charlie shushes him. Claudia is reading to Owen. Bay says that Owen should be trying to do the reading. Charlie doesn't want to get into it again. He's thought about it and he thinks Bay may have been right. If he thinks he had a problem like Owen's and it slipped through the cracks, he should be a part of helping Owen. He can pick him up after school and do the assignments the teacher has. That isn't acceptable to Bailey. Owen naps after school. He should do the work in the evening, when he is at his best, not when it's convenient for them.

Owen and Claudia can hear them arguing. She tells him to go upstairs and brush his teeth. Charlie tells Bay he can come over after dinner and do it then. That isn't good enough for Bailey. Charlie says he is trying to be reasonable. Bay thinks he isn't doing enough. Charlie talked to Miss Lo and they are going to get him retested. They're going to do the Weschler test that won't give them the results until May. The next two months are a total waste if they don't start the IEP. Claudia asks what that is. It's an individualized education plan and they should have started it a year ago if anyone was paying attention. Charlie takes affront at that remark. Bay says it could have been any of them. Sarah thinks the school should have noticed as well. Charlie tells her to stay out of it. Bay thinks it would be better if Owen was with him. Charlie says they've been over it a hundred times and Owen is not going to live with Bailey. Bay isn't going to let Charlie's ego take this over. Charlie can't believe what he said. It's his "I can do it all on my own" ego. Charlie says Bailey can continue to fight him on this or he can wake up and realize that Owen is never going to live with Bailey. Charlie storms out. The camera moves over to the steps where Owen is sitting listening to the entire fight.

Ned and Julia are lying in bed in their new apartment. Ned thinks this is proof that they made the right decision. Nobody is interrupting them. The phone rings. They let the machine pick it up. It's Claudia calling for the tenth time. She asks if Julia is okay. They aren't okay there, she needs to talk to Julia about what's going on between Charlie and Bay. Ned reaches over and hangs the phone up. Julia asks what he's doing. He thought she didn't want to talk to Claudia. She didn't, but she was listening. The whole point is that they are dropping out of obligations to people. She says that she can't just abandon her family. He reminds her that they will just suck her back in where she doesn't want to be.

Claudia is complaining to Charlie about Julia. He points out that she is in college now and can't be calling home every ten minutes. Claudia says it's about calling her back and calling Owen. He called her when he was so upset the week before. Charlie asks why he was upset. They were fighting and Owen wanted to talk to her. He tells her not to drag Julia into this whole thing with Bailey. He needs her to drop Owen off at school. Diana has a cough and he's calling in sick. She can't, she has a yearbook meeting. He says she doesn't have to take the bus, she can take a cab. She tells him to call Bailey. Julia appears at the door and says she'll take him. She got all of Claudia's messages and she's sorry. Claudia chides her and tells her that she needs to call people back. It's Salinger rules. Julia says she's sorry and she'll stay for dinner. Claudia says it's okay. Charlie tells her that Owen is upstairs and she shouldn't forget his show and tell stuff. He thanks her for helping out.

Sarah and Bailey's apartment
Bailey thinks it would be better for one special needs kid to live with two parents than with one parent and two other kids. Sarah, who's in the shower, asks for her toothbrush. Bailey continues that he's meeting with the guy from child welfare later that day. He thinks maybe she should come. She would, but she has a meeting with her mom and the caterer. Did she tell Bailey that her mom wants her to give her away? Bailey thinks that will be nice. She tells him that they decided to limit the guest list, just immediate family. He says that's fine. He's not her son-in-law. He's just the guy who stole her daughter away from her. He wouldn't want himself at his wedding either. He kisses her.

Living Room
Charlie is cleaning up when Sarah comes in with a set of bongos. She was meeting her mother nearby and Bay asked her to drop them off. They're for learning monosyllabic words. You beat them. It's for Owen, a phonics thing. It's in everything they read. Charlie comments on the "we." She pulled it off the Internet. Oh and that says that Owen should live with Sarah and Bay? Has she even thought about because this is a commitment that he's not sure she's ready to make. Does she even know where she's going to be in a year? What if she and Bailey break up? She says that won't happen. Parents don't know where they're going to be in a year from now. Look at her parents, at him and Daphne. But, Charlie points out, she's not his mother or his sister or his aunt. She's his brother's girlfriend. Is she prepared to raise a 5 year old kid who isn't her own and never will be?

Julia is visiting Bailey. Bay says Charlie's being totally pig-headed about the whole thing. Julia points out that Charlie has been doing a fine job for five years. Bailey doesn't know that, how does she know that? Last year they were all around so they could see what was going on. Julia points out that he was sick last year. He's handled all of them and the last five years have not been exactly easy. It's not like he did it alone. He's never done it alone. Bailey doesn't really care what Julia thinks. She isn't involved with the day-to-day family. She doesn't think that should disqualify her opinion. Bailey thinks it does. Unless she wants to take part in taking care of Owen. She does take care of Owen. She came down, didn't she? He thinks it was convenient for her. She doesn't think so. Not in the middle of mid-terms, of moving. It wasn't convenient for her to move back home last year. Bailey agrees. They were all scared that Charlie was sick, but not Julia. She was different. She was miserable, not just because Charlie was sick, but because she had to come back and take care of the kids. They all got stuck, but she felt stuck. He and Charlie are fighting over Owen because they both want it so much and she comes back to give her vote. He doesn't think so. He doesn't think she has a vote anymore.

Bridal shop
Sarah is nervous about her mom's new family. She doesn't feel a part of it. She's only met Andrew five times and he has three kids. She doesn't' t know how she's going to feel. Mrs. Reeves says she feels better. She always felt like they had failed Sarah by not giving her other siblings in case God forbid, something ever happened to them, which it did. She always used to ask at Christmas and birthdays for a sister all wrapped up in a ball. Now she feels like she is giving that to Sarah. They hug.

Julia is making a sandwich while Charlie feeds the baby. She had no idea about the dispute over Owen. Charlie asks if Claudia talked to her about it. She tells him she was at the restaurant. He thinks she was getting Bailey's side of it. No, apparently to get chewed out. He did say one thing though, he reminded her about last year. Charlie had 2 kids and there were three of them. Now there are three kids and he only has himself. Charlie asks what her point is. Julia thinks he should let Owen live at Bailey's for a month or so. It's upsetting him and upsetting Claudia. It's not giving up. Charlie thinks this is just like her. Telling him to give up on something he's spent five years on, something he considers his greatest achievement. He doesn't make commitments and then give up on something. Quitting is kind of her M.O. She asks what he's talking about. Her marriage and college until she came to her senses, every hobby she's ever had, her job at the museum, her job at school. Does he have to go on? Julia asks why it has suddenly become about her. Because she's trying to give him advice about something she knows nothing about.

Julia comes home. Ned asks where she's been all day. She was gone like eight hours. Eight hours wasted she responds. She's visibly upset. He asks why she didn't call. Yeah, she should have. She would have if she was an intelligent, thoughtful person, but instead she's a failure. Ned asks her what happened. She picks up what he was working on. It's a framed picture of them walking out of a building at Stanford. He points out that you can forget about the first kiss, meeting the family, the first framed photograph, that's a very big step. She asks where they should put it. The phone rings. He tells her to decide, she's the artist in the family. He gets up, but she tells him to let it ring. The machine picks up. It's Claudia. She thought Julia was going to stay for dinner. She says if Julia doesn't call her back . . . Julia disconnects the phone.

Claudia announces that she's cutting school and going down to Stanford. Charlie tries to get her attention, but it's too late. She turns and is surprised to see Mr. Day, the man from child welfare services, who took her and Owen away last year. Claudia says hi. Charlie thinks it would have been nice if he had called. Mornings are kind of hectic around there. Owen is eating his breakfast and the baby is in her seat on the counter. Mr. Day says they don't call for unannounced visits. He tells Claudia that her records show that her grades are back up and she hasn't been cutting school. She tells him school is great, she doesn't think her life has ever been better. When she has a home life as good as theirs . . . Charlie interrupts her. She doesn't need to try to impress Mr. Day, he knows they are doing fine. He looks for reassurance from the social worker. Day tells him that he got a visit from Bailey the day before. Bay had some concerns. Charlie asks if Day has any concerns. He doesn't know, that's why he came by.

Maggie runs up to Julia and asks to borrow her notes. She says it's fine, she just needs them back by Friday. Claudia walks up. She wants to know what's going on with Julia. Why she didn't stay for dinner, why she doesn't return her calls. She didn't even tell Claud that she moved. She's distant and quiet and nothing like herself. It's like there's some big secret that she's not telling them. Julia asks Maggie to excuse them and they walk a little ways away. Maggie is still within earshot. Claud says that Griffin has been telling them things about Ned and she's starting to wonder if it's true. Maggie asks what about him. Julia tells her to stay out of it and tells Claudia to stay out of it too. Charlie and Bailey have made it perfectly clear that they don't care what she thinks about the fight and she's just going to stay out of it. Maggie and Claudia watch her walk away.

Sally's Apartment
Sarah and Andrew's daughter, Sally, are looking in the mirror comparing appearances. There aren't any resemblances. They both laugh about how they always wanted a sister and now they will have one. Sally is taking a genealogy course and is working on her family tree. Maybe Sarah would like to help with her mother's side? Sarah agrees. Sally suggests that they give it to them together as a wedding gift.

Charlie comes to find Bailey. He pulls him back into the hallway. Bay asks if he is going to rough him up or something. Not if Bay can give him one good reason why he went to Child Welfare Services yesterday. Bay asks how he knew that. He came by the house that morning for an unannounced home visit. There were questions about Claudia leaving Hanover, laundry piling up, Owen sleeping in the tent. Bay talked to the guy for like ten minutes. He wanted to get some facts that would convince Charlie that it was better for him to be with Bailey. He just asked him a couple of questions. Like he would be better living with someone else? Child welfare could take Owen from both of them. Bay never said that. But, that's what he heard. If something happens to the family because of what Bailey did, Charlie will hold him personally responsible.

Julia is working at the kitchen table when the doorbell rings. It's Maggie. She never got those notes from Julia. She asks if Maggie minds waiting out in the hall, it's still a big mess in there. Maggie follows her into the apartment. She couldn't help over hearing her fight with Claudia. Julia says things have been a little stressful lately. Maggie comments that moving is like one of the five most stressful things you can do. Julia says it isn't that, it's trouble with her family. Maggie remembers how things used to get with Ned, when he was stressed. He could get pretty bad moods. Julia says they all have their moods. Henry doesn't have moods. The only way Maggie can tell he's angry is when he gets quiet. That's quite a change from Ned, isn't it? Julia says they shouldn't be talking about Ned. She doesn't know what she's talking about anyway. Maggie asks about when Ned gets angry. Julia cuts her off. This isn't right or fair. Whatever happened between Maggie and Ned is their business and what happens between her and Ned is theirs. Does she want those notes or not? Maggie didn't come there for the notes. Julia says she has a lot to do, so could Maggie go? She leaves.

Salinger house
Claudia answers the door. It's Maggie. Claudia asks if everything is okay. She says it isn't. Is Charlie home? He comes in and greet her. Maggie says she needs to talk to them about Julia. Now she's scaring Charlie. Did something happen? No, it's just . . . promise her that they won't get mad at Julia. Charlie agrees. Maggie thinks Julia is in a lot of trouble, she knows she is.

Living Room
Maggie is sitting on the couch with Charlie and Claudia. She tells them about how she was crazy about Ned. He loved her, she believed that, he convinced her of that. Even though he hit her? Charlie can't believe that. Maggie says he could convince her that nobody could love her like he did, not her parents, not her friends. Most of them time he made her feel like she was his goddess. And the rest of the time? It's hard for her to talk about, she still feels like she did something wrong. Charlie says she has to tell them. Labor day weekend, right before school, his family was away and they had a fight about Stanford. He threw her into a television. She doesn't want to talk about every time, but that wasn't the worst of it. Charlie asks if she is sure the same thing is happening to Julia. She's sure. Charlie says that Griffin came and told him that Julia had a sprained wrist or something and had made up a bogus story about a car accident. Maggie did that too. She lied to everybody, especially herself. She just kept telling herself that he loved her. As long as you are telling yourself that lie, it's hard to walk away.

Bailey comes bursting in. He just left somebody in charge of an over booked lunch shift. It better not be to get chewed out again. Charlie tells him that Maggie was just there. Everything Griffin has been saying about Ned is true. Ned used to hit her. Charlie can't believe how stupid he's been. Bailey says they should go down there. That was Charlie's thoughts exactly. Claudia says she's going with them. Charlie says no, she needs to stay with Diana. Somebody needs to pick up Owen. Bay tells her to call Sarah. Claudia asks what they are going to do. Answering at the same time Charlie says they are going to talk to him while Bailey announces that they are going to kill the guy. They turn and leave.

On the road
Bailey and Charlie are in the jeep driving to Stanford. Charlie can't believe all the times Ned was in there house. Who does this kind of thing? Bailey thinks they need to give him another trip to the hospital. Charlie thinks they should just pull her out of there. Messing up Ned isn't going to solve anything. Bailey thinks he has it coming. Charlie thinks they should just go in and see what the situation is. They can't just fly in there and beat the crap out of him. Bay asks why not. Because it's not a cartoon, Bailey. This is a dangerous situation. Bay says they can deal with it his way, completely deny that anything is going on. Why don't they just turn around and go home. Just wait a week or a month while they figure out what to do, not face it head-on just in case they might have to admit that they missed it. It sounds like a Charlie Salinger plan to him.

Andrew's house
Sarah's mother and her fiancÚ are having a dinner for their families. Sarah comes in with Owen. She's sorry that she's late. Sarah introduces Owen to her mom, her mom's fiancÚ and his kids. They all say hi to him. He announces that he's confused and they all laugh. They tell him to pull up an extra chair and have some chicken. Sarah's mother is very upset to see that Owen is with her. This was supposed to be a dinner to discuss the wedding plans. She doesn't think Owen will find that very interesting. Andrew says they can discuss that another time. Mrs. Reeves asks if she is babysitting. Sarah says it was an emergency, they needed her to pick him up. Her mom comments that it's always some kind of emergency over at the Salingers. They always call in Sarah to pick up the pieces and she's just too sweet to say no. Sarah comments that they are her friends. Yes and Sarah is her family. She gets up and leaves the table.

Ned and Julia are cleaning the apartment. He's all sweaty. He's going to take a shower. Does she want to join him? She says she will when she finishes with the cobwebs. He disappears into the bathroom. The doorbell rings. Julia opens it to admit Bailey and Charlie. Bay tells her to pack her bags. Charlie says that Maggie came and told them about what Ned is doing. She tells them they can't just come barging in. Bay asks if he's in the bathroom. He heads over there. Charlie tells Julia to stay out there and he goes after Bailey. Bay rips open the bathroom door. Ned is in the shower. He pulls him out and tells Ned that he is never going to touch Julia again. He throws him to the floor. Charlie pulls Bailey off of Ned. He turns back and tells Ned not to come out.

Julia asks who the hell they think they are. Charlie tells her to get her stuff. They're taking her home. But this is her home. Bay says they're going. They know what's going on and they aren't leaving her there. She says they don't know what's going on. Like they said, she doesn't get a vote in their lives and they don't get one in hers. Bay says it isn't about votes. She's packing her stuff and they'll talk about it later. She doesn't want to talk about it later. Charlie asks her to please reconsider. She says they are working it out. They're getting help. She's going to stick with it, she isn't quitting this like she quit everything else. Charlie tells her that Ned beats women. That's not her problem to work out. She says it is because she loves him. If he loved her he wouldn't be hitting her. She disagrees. She tells them to go. They realize they can't help her if she doesn't want it and leave.

Andrew's house
Sarah, Sally and Owen are working on the family tree. Sarah apologizes that she wasn't able to find anything. Sally says it's okay. When you figure out that you're part of this long line of people it gives you such a feeling of belonging. Sarah goes into the kitchen where her mother is working on dessert. She has to take Owen home, so she can't stay for dinner. Her mother is sorry. Sarah asks why she's been so mad at Sarah all night. She just wanted the evening to be special and she doesn't understand why or how the Salingers always come before family. Sarah says that just because she's marrying Andrew that doesn't make his family hers. Her mom says that Andrew is going to be her family. Sarah understands that, but that's her mom's choice, not Sarah's. That's kind of the way she chose Sarah when she adopted her. It's a choice, not blood or DNA or a license or anything like that, just a choice. Maybe she's made her choice too and the Salingers have been her choice for a long time now. Her mom says she can't ask Sarah to accept her choice until she accepts Sarah. She should ask Bailey to come to the wedding.

On the road
Bailey and Charlie are driving back from Stanford. Bay doesn't' t know if they should have left her there. Charlie doesn't know either. Bay asks if Charlie saw Ned's face. See it? He wanted to smash it in. Bailey thinks Charlie should have let him do it. Well, he just kept thinking they had to do this right. How would Dad have done it? Of course, if Dad was there this probably wouldn't be happening. What is she doing with him? Bay knows what she's doing. She thinks that he thinks she's a failure and he does. Charlie doesn't accept her the way she is. Charlie can't believe Bay is saying this. She's staying with him to prove Charlie wrong. Charlie can't believe Bay is going to find a way to blame this on him. Bay thinks that if Charlie had ever accepted her, her and Griffin. All year they were in the house and he was so critical of them. Yeah, and he was right. It was a huge mistake. Well, wasn't getting Daphne knocked up a grand achievement? Charlie pulls the jeep over and puts it in park.

He and Julia are completely different. If their parents had predicted five years ago where they would be now he doesn't think him getting some girl knocked up would be so far off the mark. But Julia? Do you think they would have thought she would be married and divorced from a motorcycle mechanic all by the ripe old age of 20 and now this? He doesn't think so. So go ahead and blame him because he wants his kid sister to be everything she was supposed to be, but just don't do it where he can hear him. Charlie pulls out and takes off down the road again.

Living Room
Charlie and Bailey come home to find Sarah and Claudia. Claud asks where Julia is. Charlie says she didn't want them butting into her life. Sarah can't believe she admitted it. Charlie says she did and she said they are going to work it out alone. Claudia doesn't understand how they are going to work it out when he's the problem. Charlie doesn't know, but she's going to have to figure it out for herself. But she's admitting it. Bay says it's like his drinking. He knew he had a problem, but he didn't really admit it to himself until he hurt Sarah. She's going to have to come to that realization. Claudia points out that if anyone gets hurt it's going to be Julia. Charlie says they can't help her until she's ready for it. Owen comes out and looks for Bailey. A bad guy was trying to get into his tent. Charlie tries to get him to go to bed. Owen asks to sleep at Bailey's house, but Bay says he has to stay with Charlie for now. Owen says Bay promised he could, it was their secret. Charlie can't believe it. Bay says that he promised that they would try to work it out. Charlie tells him to go to bed. Bay tries too. Sarah makes a move to help. Charlie asks her what she's doing. Owen comes over and she whispers something in his ear. He says good night and goes to his tent.

Sarah tells Charlie that she really hates it when he says "us" like it doesn't include her. She isn't just Owen's babysitter because she and Bailey aren't married. Of all people, he should know that. She goes out to the car. Claudia goes to tuck Owen in. Bay just looks at Charlie

Bailey gets into the car. Sarah apologizes, but Bay is glad she said it. She says she just had a bad night, not nearly as bad as his, but a bad one. Her mother just expects her to love this other family already. Bay doesn't think it's fair. She asks if that is okay because she loves him and Owen and Julia and Claudia and Charlie. Bay tells her that she is "us" she always has been.

Claudia looked everywhere and the bogeyman is gone. It's so late he probably got tired and went home to bed. Owen asks if Charlie and Bailey are mad at him. Claudia asks why he would think that. Because they yell his name a lot. She thinks that they both love him so much that they end up getting mad at each other because Charlie wants him there and Bailey wants him with him. She says goodnight to Owen and closes the tent. After she leaves he turns on his light.

Charlie puts Diana in her crib. He says good night and then goes to bed in the single bed in her nursery.

Julia is in the library working. She sees Maggie walk in and goes over with a notebook. She asks how many times. In all three years Maggie doesn't know. Too many. Julia is sorry. Maggie is too. She always thought it happened because she did something wrong until she saw him do it to Julia. It's Ned. She knows that, doesn't she? Ned walks up. Julia kisses him. She explains that she was just lending some notes to Maggie. They say good bye and go over to study.

I have to admit that there are times when I wonder if it is possible to keep the quality of this show at the level that I have come to expect. Over the past couple of seasons the show has stumbled at times, but tonight it really picked itself up and dusted itself off.

With veterans writing (Julia Dahl) and directing (Lou Antonio), we see an episode dealing with new situations in the family by bringing up old experiences, relationships and the typical Salinger style of dealing with them. This episode was so tightly written and the direction seemed inspired in a number of instances.

I was not excited when I first heard about the Owen custody battle. Been there, done that on every show except the Brady Bunch. But they are developing it into a very interesting situation. What is the best for Owen? Charlie has done as good a job as he has been able to do, but the kids live with him because he was the adult when their parents died. Maybe the time has come for Bailey to take that responsibility over. He and Sarah are two adults and don't have other kids at home. I haven't formed an opinion myself, but I'm not as dead set against the Bailey/Sarah home as I initially was.

I also wasn't too keen on the story line with Sarah's mom's remarriage, but it dovetailed so nicely into both the custody and Julia's situation. I wondered if Sarah had kept in contact with her parents this year. I'm glad she has, but also that they have remained true to the tension in that relationship. Her confrontation with Charlie was great! I think the Salingers have had to draw together and buck up so many times that they don't get that they can add people to their circle and still have a family. They did it with Griffin as well. These two have been good additions to their family as well as the more widely accepted Kirsten. Get over it, already.

Julia. The use of Maggie's character was well thought out. She is the perfect person to finally get everyone from Bailey to Julia to understand what is really going on. I think eventually she may be the only person who can get Julia to realize that she needs to end this relationship. The parallel between Bay's intervention was good. It is very much the same and unfortunately, I agree with him. Julia probably will have to get hurt before she is willing to accept help.

It's hard to address each of the plot points because they all ran together so well. The continuity of having the same worker, Mr. Day, from Child Welfare was good. I also liked that Charlie wasn't able to recall exactly what Julia's injury was. He thought it was a sprained wrist, but actually it was her shoulder. He didn't make anything of Griffin's claims, so he didn't remember exactly what was wrong. I also really liked the conversation in the car between Charlie and Bailey when they talked about what their parents would have predicted from them. I agree with Charlie. It was more likely that he would have a child out of wedlock than Julia would be married, divorced and in an abusive relationship, to say nothing of her pregnancy with Justin three years ago. She was much younger when she lost her parents, so it may have had more of an effect on her. If nothing, Charlie is more mature than he might have been if they had lived. We see this when Bailey is ready to beat the crap out of Ned. Charlie realizes that may not be the most prudent approach.

I know I may sound this horn a lot, but hey . . . this is my review. I watched Matthew Fox's TV movie this weekend, "Behind the Mask." He hasn't done a lot of projects outside the show and it's really a shame. The movie was very good, but I was really moved tonight by how good he is in his role as Charlie. He is impassioned in one scene and so gentle in the next as he puts Diana to bed. This does not of course forgive him for being a total buttinsky to Sarah, but that's just good acting.

I missed Griffin and Kirsten tonight, but there was a lot going on and I'm glad to see the canvas be a little smaller than try to cram too much in there. I'm sure they'll be back next week as will I.

Copyright ©1999 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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