Season 5, Episode 18: Driven to Extremes


The credits: scott bairstow, melissa chan, christopher allport, jacob smith as owen, and heather mccomb, edited by dana devorzon, production designer bill eigenbrodt, director of photography steven h. smith, 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 allan heinberg & mark richard, directed by joe pennella

Co-starring Shelley Maul as Dr. Rai, James Henriksen as driver

Transcribed by Rachel

Claudia comes to the garage where Griffin is working. He asks why she isn't in school. She tells him it's 4 o'clock. He didn't ever tell her where he was living. She came to bring him his mail. She hands him a pile, mostly magazines. He can't believe she came down to bring him the "Women in Thongs" issue of Motor Mania. Claudia tells him that he was right. He asks about what. About Julia. She tells Griffin about Maggie telling them about her relationship with Ned and how Bailey and Charlie went down to get Julia and failed. She's not talking to any of them now, nobody but Ned. Griffin asks what good it is for him to know. He's done everything he knows how to do and it's only made it worse. Claudia can't believe he won't help. She gets upset. He tries to calm her down. The truth is, the only person who can help Julia is Julia. She has to make up her mind that this is gonna stop or else . . . Claudia asks what else, that he keeps hitting her? She leaves.

Lawyer's office
Bailey is visiting a lawyer, Mr. Cole. He tells Bailey that it will be hard to take a child from a good home. Bay says that in light of Owen's learning disability, he would be the better guardian. Cole asks what the court will find if they take a hard look at Bailey. Bay admits his past faults. It's going to be very hard to prove that it would be better for Owen to live with an alcoholic with a record who's shacking up with his girlfriend as opposed to a hard-working sober guardian like Charlie. He tells Bailey to work it out with his brother. Anything is better than dragging your family through the courts.

Ned and Julia's apartment
Julia is going to the Modern Art Museum with Maggie. Ned asks if they are going to compare notes on him. She doesn't care about what happened with him and Maggie. She can handle their relationship. Ned thought they agreed that it would just be the two of them from now on. She doesn't care what anybody else has to say, she's there with him. She'll be back later, she promises.

Claudia doesn't want to take sides when Bailey tries to lobby for her support. Bay says Charlie is in denial over Owen's learning disability. Charlie is only his guardian. Charlie comes in and overhears Bailey. He tells Bay to finish his pitch. He wants to hear him say to his face that he's done a bad job as head of the family. Claudia says that isn't what's going on. Bay says it isn't about them, it's about Owen. Charlie thinks the way Bailey is going about Owen's problem is reckless. Claudia points out that Owen just acts out, he's been doing it since the baby came. They all stop and look at Charlie. Charlie points out that he's still the legal guardian and if Bay has a concern with that, he should talk to a lawyer. Bailey says he already has. Charlie tells him to get out of the house. Bailey can't believe he's throwing him out of the house. If Bay has plans to break up the family, then yes...Charlie wants him out of the house.

In Maggie's car
Maggie and Julia are driving to San Francisco in her vintage VW Bug. Maggie pulls into a gas station. Julia comments that they have a full tank of gas, but Maggie tells her the gauge is broken. Maggie gets out to fill up. The door opens and Griffin jumps in. He takes off with Julia. She tells him to stop the car, but he keeps driving.

Further down the road Julia is still asking him to take her back. He doesn't talk to her. She asks why he's kidnaping her. He isn't. She says that Maggie will call the police and he'll end up going straight back to jail. Maggie isn't going to call the police, because she was in on the plan. They're just going to go somewhere to talk. She can't believe that he's doing this. He doesn't want to be there either, but Maggie and Claudia were sure that if he didn't do something, something bad would happen. Julia is just like his sister. She never needed any help either, not with the drugs or their dad, not with anything. Julia asks what the plan is. He wanted to take her somewhere where she used to be herself, he figured her parents' cabin in Lake Tahoe would be a good place. She informs him that Tahoe is the other direction.

Kirsten's apartment
Kirsten is surprised to find Bailey at her door. The doorman just said it was Mr. Salinger. They make chitchat about her apartment until she asks what he came for. He hands her an envelope. He tells her that Owen is having trouble with school. He says that Charlie says Owen just needs to focus. Kirsten isn't going to get between Bailey and Charlie. To get involved that way is a step back for her. She needs to figure her life out for herself. Bay asks her not to do it for them, but to do it for Owen. She asks if he's trying to take Owen away from Charlie. He doesn't answer. She tells him if he thinks that is the solution, then he's wrong. Them fighting will do more to hurt Owen than anything else. Bay leaves the test results with her.

Maggie comes back to find Ned waiting for her in her dorm room. He asks where Julia is. She tells him she's at the museum. Ned thought they went together. Maggie says she left early. He presses her. He wants to know where she is. He tells Maggie to cut the crap. She asks why he's so upset. He wants to know where she is. Maggie keeps pressing him. Maggie says she's where she belongs, away from him.

The Road
Julia and Griffin are pushing the Bug. Julia says the car is out of gas. Griffin says it can't be, the gauge says it's full. Julia tells him it's broken. He says they should walk to the nearest gas station. She doesn't want to, she has incredibly uncomfortable shoes on. She tells him to go and leave her alone. He's not leaving her there. She tells him he can't tell her what to do anymore. He says he has never told her what to do. She's bossed him around since the day they first met. She says it isn't true. He points out that she said they were going to move into the shed, that he would sell the shop, even that she was going back to school. Every time he agreed, just thinking that maybe, just maybe...but in the end it turned out that she just wanted somebody to beat the selfishness right out of her. He takes off down the road.

Elementary school
Miss Lo called Charlie to come over and pick up Owen. He got into a fight on the playground after Read Aloud. She asks if he's getting the three extra hours of work a night. Charlie tells her that they are sending a message to Owen that he's stupid, that it takes him so much longer to learn what other kids already know. She says that his abilities have nothing to do with how long it takes him to do something. That isn't what Charlie was saying. It's how Owen feels about himself, they are labeling him a failure. She says that his friends are the ones labeling him. He tells her, teacher to teacher, that it's her job to keep her kids in line. Owen comes out of the principal's office.

Owen tells Charlie that the kids were calling him "Slowen." He was trying to read aloud, but it was hard. He tells Charlie that he hates them. Charlie tells him that he can't hate them and he can't be fighting them. That won't work. Owen asks why not, Bailey and Charlie fight all the time.

Julia is still waiting with the car. A car pulls up with a man in it. Julia flags him down. He tells her to get in. She asks if he has a phone. He is more insistent that she get in. She says it would be great, if there's room for her husband. She calls out for Griffin, but the guy drives off. She starts off after Griffin.

Owen is working on his homework while Charlie grades papers. Owen is getting frustrated. Charlie comes over to see what he's done. His letters are very disorganized. Owen says he can't do it. Charlie tells him it's okay, that it's hard sometimes. They'll just work until they get it right.

Griffin and Julia are walking down the road together. She tries to explain that Ned isn't a monster. She is not living in fear every minute. She admits that Griffin was right. She has never done anything that she didn't want to do. He says that Ned hits her. But he loves her. She says they are like everybody else. Griffin agrees, until Ned hits her. He will hit her again. He wants to know what Ned does for her, why she stays with him. She says that he takes care of her. Griffin can't believe it. She's so smart, so beautiful. She could have anybody. Why him? She thinks this is very interesting coming from Griffin. He's been hiding out, living in her family's garage. They broke up almost a year ago, why is he still there? He doesn't know. He had a life, with her, but he gave that up to make her happy. How does she think it makes him feel that he knows that she would rather be with a guy that hits her than with him? He walks away.

Finally they get to the rest stop. She heads to the phone to call Ned. He asks if she needs 35 cents. She tells Griffin that he thinks he knows her, but he doesn't. Yeah, she's going to call Ned, not because he expects her to, but because she wants to. After her tirade she admits that she needs the money for the phone call.

Charlie is eating at the counter when Kirsten comes in. He's pleased to see her. When her note said she was giving him some space, he didn't know it was going to be that much space. She says she has to do things that are good for her. She asks about Owen. He wonders why. She says she looked at the test results. She thinks Owen has a serious problem. Charlie can't believe Bay went to see her. He's just trying to get Owen away from Charlie. Kirsten said she's staying out of it. She just wants to know what's going on with Owen.

Charlie takes her out to the shed. He's talked to a few experts. He pulls off a blanket to reveal a new bike. He needs to help build Owen's confidence, a reward for all the extra work he's going to be doing. It will also improve his hand/eye coordination. Kirsten thinks it sounds great. Charlie knows that Owen started to act out when the baby was born, but this is going to work.

Rest stop
Ned finally pulls up. Julia tells Griffin not to say anything. Ned comes over and hugs her, checking to see if she's alright. He tells her to get in the car, but she just wants to go. Ned tells Griffin to never come near her again. He and Julia get in the car and leave.

Claudia comes down to the restaurant to see Bailey. She is concerned about the way he and Charlie are behaving. She can't handle them fighting anymore. Bay would do it a different way if he thought it would make a difference, but he really thinks Owen needs to be with him. Claudia says they shouldn't be fighting now when they don't know what's going to happen with Julia. They need to be a family.

Ned asks what happened. She says that he just wanted to talk. Ned asks what he said. She says nothing, he's worried about her. Ned thinks they should call the police. He won't tell her what to do, but Griffin kidnaped her. She doesn't want to. She thanks Ned, but she has it under control.

Sarah and Bailey's apartment
Bailey is talking to Sarah. He feels bad about what's been going on between him and Charlie and how upset Claudia is. He was trying to fix something, but he just wrecked it. He wonders what if Kirsten is right about the fighting. Charlie is so mad that he doesn't even want Bailey over at the house, so when Owen needs help, he can't be there. This isn't working. There has to be a better way to do it.

Charlie has Owen on his new bike and the baby in a carrier. He helps Owen start riding his bike. Owen is doing great and then wipes out. He asks to do it again, but their deal is an hour on the bike, three hours with the books. Charlie takes Diana over to change her diaper. Owen decides to try it again himself. He starts down the hill and can't stop. Charlie picks up the baby and runs after Owen. He's riding straight toward a car. He falls over before he gets to the car. Charlie comes over to him. Owen's arm hurts real bad.

Ned and Julia's apartment
Julia is doing her homework. Ned asks if she wants to go see Shakespeare in Love. She would like to, but she has a study group that evening. Ned says the TA called. He told her Julia wasn't feeling well, so she's off the hook. Julia can't believe he told her that Julia wouldn't be there. Ned says he'll call her. Julia says she can call her later. Ned brings over the phone and incites her to call the TA. Julia says she'll call later. He thinks she's mad at him now. She says she isn't mad. He can't believe that she made him drive all the way to get her away from Griffin and now she's the one that's acting cold and aloof. He asks her what's wrong with her. She asks what time the movie is. It's at 7 pm. She'll work until then.

Charlie, Bailey, Sarah and Claudia are waiting to hear about Owen. The doctor comes out and says it's a greenstick fracture, like when you try to break a green stick of wood. It's a pretty common injury in little kids. Charlie asks if it's really broken. The doctor says that it is a fracture. They put a soft cast on it. Bailey can't believe Charlie questioned the doctor about whether or not the bone was even broken. Sarah tells him not now. Charlie says he was just trying to find out how bad it was. Bay doesn't know why he can't see this stuff, why Owen couldn't ride a grown-up bike. Charlie says he couldn't leave Diana, Owen took off on his own. Bay takes this opportunity to make the case again that Charlie has more than he can handle with the two kids. The nurse brings Owen out. Bay tells Charlie that Owen needs more than Charlie can give him. Why can't he see that?

Ned and Julia's apartment
Ned has made dinner. He lights the candles and fills the glasses. He calls for Julia to come out. The table is perfect. There's a knock at the door. It's Maggie. He asks what she's doing there. Julia appears with her suitcase. She called Maggie. She's leaving. He says she can't, he won't let her. She says that he has to. He wants to know why. She doesn't need to tell him why. He says that they love each other. Griffin and Maggie are telling her what to feel. She wants to know if he really thinks that. He grabs her. Maggie tells him to let her go. Julia asks what he's going to do to her. He pleads with her. She leaves anyway.

Charlie finds Claudia on the swing. He asks her if she thinks Owen should go live with Bailey. She says that when their parents were raising them they had each other and Charlie. She doesn't want him to take it the wrong way, but now there is just him. He asks if she thinks that he can't take care of them. She tells him that since he got better he's thought he could take anything on. Charlie asks if this is about the broken arm. It isn't. Charlie points out that he's been doing it alone for 5 years. Claudia says it isn't true. He did an incredible job, but they all raised each other. When he needed it, they took care of him. They all pitched in together. He's never had two small kids on his own until now.

Maggie apologizes to Julia. She just keeps thinking that if she had warned Julia, if she'd had the guts to tell her. Julia said she wouldn't have listened. Maggie commends her for leaving. Julia says it wasn't what Griffin said. She thought it was love, that it was them again everything else, everything that had hurt her--her last year at home, her break-up with Griffin, even her parents. She thought that he could keep all those things from hurting her anymore. That she could make a really great and safe thing with him, but all she did was lose herself.

Lawyer's office
Mr. Cole asks Bailey if he got that matter worked out with his family. Bailey says he hasn't and things are worse now. He pulls out Owen's x-rays. He wants to move forward.


After the last two weeks that boasted very strong shows, I was a little afraid of a post-sweeps let down. Luckily, no one disappointed tonight. Okay, maybe people who only watch for Jennifer Love Hewitt were disappointed, but the rest of us weren't. The family was in strife, but at least they were all spending a little more time thinking about the Salinger family than the Salinger they are.

A co-written script by newcomers can spell disaster, but unlike some additions, Allan Heinberg and Mark Richard seem to have done their homework. Also, a good directing effort from Joe Pennella, the director of photography for the series.

The struggle over Owen has never been more poignant than Charlie's talk with Owen when he picked him up from the principal's office. Between the Owen's terrible nickname (Slowen) and saying that he fought because that's what Bailey and Charlie do, I was feeling really bad for him. I think that a number of good points came out tonight in this struggle. Both brothers want to do what's best for Owen. Unfortunately neither one of them recognizes that the best thing is for them to work together to help Owen with his condition.

Charlie was on the right track with the bike and helping Owen to have some success. I don't think it was his fault that Owen broke his arm, but it does bring to light that he is a single parent which is always a challenge. I had not really thought about it until Charlie and Claudia were talking in the backyard. Charlie has changed since he got better. He feels almost invincible and that has made him try to take on a lot. When Owen was a baby he had two teenagers and a nanny in the house to help out. Now he has a responsible teenager and a five year old who needs a lot of attention in his own right. I would still like to see Bailey try to make things work in the house Owen's in, but I am starting to see that Charlie may not be able to offer everything Owen needs.

I was stunned again tonight to realize what a wonderful young woman Lacey, and in turn, Claudia has become. She's so grown up and it's beginning to show more and more. One of the more rewarding things about these continuing dramas is seeing the characters grow and change and we have seen this happen right before our eyes.

Finally, Julia. This story is beginning to get more attention in the media. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad one. Unfortunately the things I have seen so far have been written by people that I don't think are really watching the show. They are TV journalists that would have to rely on the press releases sent out by the networks (it is only humanly possible to watch so much television, even if it is your job) and that shows in their coverage. They see that Julia has stayed in this relationship for months and they question why. The fact is that the staff at Party of Five has chosen to tell this story in a careful and deliberate manner. That takes time. We have seen the characters of Ned and Maggie developed slowly so we can get to know them as fully-fleshed people rather than cartoonish stereotypes. That has allowed the viewers to get inside this story.

Having said that, I hope that tonight wasn't the wrap up. I felt the tension every time Ned was on the screen, but by the time Julia actually left I felt it was a little anti-climactic. Maybe it will seem different in the greater context, because I don't think we've seen the last of Ned.

The "wake up and smell the coffee" points this week would have to go to Griffin. He was dead on in his conversations with Julia. She has been incredibly selfish time and again. She should appreciate his sacrifices just a little bit every now and then. Instead, it seems like she dismisses him as a mere botherance in her life. My heart was breaking a little bit for him when she left the wayside rest with Ned.

Nice continuity to have Kirsten back, but not hopping right into Charlie's bed. She has struggled with a very serious depression and I'm glad to see that she's taking care of herself.

As I alluded to in the first paragraph, Sarah wasn't around much this week, but that was okay. I think it's symptomatic that Bailey is so concentrated on Owen that he isn't spending much time with her right now.

Finally, the return of the nitpick: the cabin. When the Salingers suddenly remembered they had a cabin last year I was able to forgive them, because it seemed to me to be a cabin they had gone to in the past, not necessarily a place they owned. Griffin's comment about Julia's parents' cabin would seem to refute that. It's minor, but that's what picky folk like me are around for.

Good to see Party of Five back on track!

Copyright ©1999 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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