Season 5, Episode 19: Judgment Day

The credits: scott bairstow, roxanne hart, melissa chan, brian markinson, gregory itzin, jacob smith as owen, erica yohn, alfred dennis, marquita terry, rose portillo, edited by stephen potter, 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 john romano & p.k. simonds, directed by ellen s. pressman

Co-starring Aaron Priceman as stranger.

Transcribed by Rachel

Owen is running around while Charlie gets Diana ready to go. He calls out for Claudia to get ready. She's just running upstairs to change her clothes. He looks around for Owen, who has disappeared. Kirsten appears and says he's on the steps outside. Sh just came to bring back her key. She found a bunch of apartment leads. She's kind of excited to be looking for her own place. She goes to hug the baby and sets her paper down. Griffin appears. He came to pick up his mail and drop off his key. Kirsten gets up and leaves, Griffin has her paper in his hands. He looks at the apartments that are circled and says that he could almost afford some of them. Charlie tells Griffin he can stay in the shed, but Griffin wants to go. He's very close to having a life again, it's time. He leaves. Another guy comes in. Charlie asks if he wants to drop of a key as well. The guy says the kid on the steps said he was Charlie Salinger. Charlie agrees and the guy hands him a bunch of papers. Claudia comes back down while Charlie looks at the papers. He asks if she knew about it. She didn't. It's a subpoena. Bailey is suing him for custody of Owen.

Julia is cleaning up her share of the dishes. She tells Claudia that she will have to clean up her own since Julia has to study for an Italian test. Claud says she'll do Julia's share that night. Julia won't be there for dinner. She'll be at Stanford. She lives at Stanford. Claudia points out that she's been at home every night since Friday. Julia is surprised to realize how many nights she's been home. She's really been avoiding Stanford. Claudia says it's okay, but Julia says she needs to deal with the problem at school.

Sarah and Bailey's apartment
Sarah tells Bailey that his lawyer treated her like she was a criminal and she's on his side. Bailey says that's the way they have to do it. Anyway, she should blame Charlie, it's his fault that they have to do it this was. Bailey is busy painting a newly constructed wall in the loft. He asks what's wrong with Sarah. She's upset about him going after Charlie to get Owen to live with him. Bay asks if she has a better way, because if she does, he'll do it. She brings up her parents divorce. They got so upset that they don't even speak to each other anymore and that was over furniture, not a child. Bay says he doesn't have a choice, so if people's feelings get hurt, then that's what has to happen. She asks if he'll do it even if Charlie never gets over it. Bay thinks he'll get over it. He's an adult, they all are. Owen is just a kid. If he doesn't get the attention he needs now, he'll never get over it.

New apartment
An older woman is showing Griffin around a very nice big apartment. He likes it, but the rent is a little steep. He tries to deal with the woman, but she tells him how they bought the building after managing it for years. He asks if he should deal with her husband, but she says no, that she handles the business. The toilet flushes. Her husband is showing the place to someone else. Kirsten comes out of the bathroom with the woman's husband. She loves the apartment. She asks if she should talk to his wife, but he says that he handles the business.

Julia is in the student union with a friend discussing their Italian test. Ned comes over and the friend leaves. Julia tries to get away from him, but Ned tells her that something happened with Richie. She says that she doesn't care, but Ned says that he asked for her. It's an incredible break through. She was right when she said that he was able to communicate. She tells Ned to stop acting like things are normal between them. She can't believe that he would use his brother like this. He tells her that time will pass. She doesn't think so. He takes off.

Charlie comes in to find Bailey. He can't believe that Bailey is taking this in front of a judge. He asks what Bailey hopes to accomplish. Bay tells him to hire a lawyer. Charlie can't afford a lawyer and Bailey knows that. Bay says that all of them came to talk to Charlie and he didn't listen to them. He's just trying to get Charlie to listen. Charlie said he listened and then he said no. He's the guardian and it doesn't matter how many votes Bailey lines up against him. If Bailey wants to go to court and lose the family thousands of dollars, that's fine, but he'll lose. If he's so sure he'll win, than what's his problem with letting someone impartial, like a judge decide? Charlie doesn't want to do it at $500 an hour. Bay asks if he would be willing to do it cheaper, out of court. Charlie asks if he plans to flip a coin for Owen. No. Bailey's lawyer said they could hire a family law judge to listen to them and they would agree to abide by the judge's decision. No courts, no lawyers. Charlie tells him to forget it. Bay says he can't ignore the subpoena. In court or out of court, those are the choices. Charlie asks when beating him became more important than anything else. Bay takes that as a yes. Charlie leaves.

Family court
The family (sans Owen) is assembled in front of the judge. She explains that there are no lawyers, no rules of evidence. She asks the questions. Her rules are simple. Each person gets to say their piece and no interrupting. They all agree. She has Bailey's written statement, but she hasn't seen Charlie's. Charlie says he doesn't have one. She should just ask him whatever she wants. She agrees and turns to the statement. She says that Bay says he first felt Owen would be better off with him when he was diagnosed ...

The scene switches to Miss Lo explaining about Owen's processing disorder. The judge asks about the recommended therapy. The teacher explains the extra work and tutoring. The judge asks if it's true that Charlie initially balked at the diagnosis. Miss Lo says that he didn't accept it initially. Charlie interrupts to say that he wanted to get a second opinion. Bay asks him to tell the judge why he didn't believe it. Charlie says that he didn't want to put Owen into a big treatment if he didn't need it. Bailey contends that it was the fact that Charlie didn't have the time to spend with Owen. Charlie says that isn't true. He and Bay have words, but the judge stops them. That's what she warned them about. She returns to the statement. Claudia offers that Charlie usually gets home around 5 pm. Sometimes she picks him up. Then it's baby stuff, changing Diana, feeding her, getting her bath. Sometimes Claudia makes dinner, but mostly Charlie does. Since the cancer he's really been into macrobiotics. The judge asks about the cancer. Charlie says he's in full remission. He can't believe Bay put that in there. Bailey says the follow-up treatments take up a lot of time. The judge asks how much time Charlie has left for them in the evening after he gets his chores done. Is it 3 hours? Claudia doesn't think so. Charlie says he can make the time. Bay asks how. Daphne's gone, he can't ignore Diana and he can't afford to hire help. The judge says she'll ask the questions. She asks Claudia if she thinks that if she helped that Charlie could make the time. No way, not every day. She's sorry, she's seen him try, but there's no way.

Courthouse entrance
Kirsten is coming in through the security checkpoint when she runs into Griffin. They can't believe that they have both been called in. Kirsten thinks it's wrong. Charlie has raised Owen. Griffin comments how nuts things have been at the house. Kirsten thinks they shouldn't even start. She asks if he found a place. He did, it's a great place, nice neighborhood, but the rent's a little steep. He asks if she's had any success. She has, the neighborhood is a little scary, but the rent's just right. She's gotta take something, move on. He knows the feeling.

Conference room
Kirsten asks why they're making her talk about this. The judge says that they all said she was Charlie's best friend. She is, so why should she have to testify against him? This isn't a courtroom, so she doesn't have to answer, does she? Charlie says he doesn't mind. Kirsten says for the record, if there is one, she minds. The judge asks if Charlie had a plan if Daphne left, how he would raise the baby and Owen.

Griffin says that he was kind of short-tempered. But he can't say that he blamed him, because of all the things that he had to handle. The judge asks if it was more than he could handle. It was more than anyone could handle.

Mr. Day testifies that since Charlie became guardian there have been 4 unsatisfactory visitations, one requiring temporary placement of the minors. Charlie points out that that happened when he was in the hospital and Bailey was in charge. Day says that was inadequate alternative supervision by the guardian. The judge asks if he got a call after Owen broke his arm. Mr. Day is surprised to hear about it. Julia asks Bailey why he dragged Day into this. Bay says this is why they are here, the broken arm, all the other things that have been falling through the cracks. She shouldn't' start blaming him for all the things that have happened.

In the hallway
Julia asks Claudia if she knew that Bailey was going to bring all this stuff up. Claudia wants to know why Julia is mad they're doing it. She was just as upset at Charlie as the rest of them were when Charlie wouldn't listen. They look up and see Ned sitting on a bench. Claudia says she'll tell him to go, but Julia says she'll talk to him. She goes over and asks him what she has to do. Does she have to call the police? He just wanted to tell her that he's seeing Dr. Kessel again. She knows how he feels about talking to him, but he'll do anything to get them through this part. She can't believe he still thinks they have a chance. She asks again if he's really seeing the doctor. He says that he's already had two appointments and he's going back. She says it's good for him, not for her. He tries to touch Julia, but she moves away. Claudia comes over and says she's going to go get Charlie and Bailey, but Ned takes off.

The judge comes in and says she's been rereading Bailey's statement. She's decided to call in Ms. Walsh. Charlie can't believe she's going to call his boss. Bailey tells him that he's just trying to give Charlie what he wants. The judge tells them to stop. They're all getting a little tired, why don't they call it a day and start again tomorrow. She leaves. Charlie asks why this is supposed to be a big favor. Bay says that he never wanted them, from day one. As soon as he came back in the house, he was complaining. Charlie says he never actually thought that, not even once. Julia says it was years ago. Bailey disagrees. Even last year he was so glad that they took things off his hands, the restaurant, the kids. Charlie says that Owen has been like a son to him. Bay tells him to do the best thing for Owen, then. Charlie is the best thing for Owen. He is the only dad Owen has known for the past five years. Bay asks why he wants him them. Julia tells him that's enough. She tries to comfort Charlie, but he says they have all said enough. Yeah, he hated to give all that stuff up, the designing, his job in Seattle, but he did it. He gave it up and stayed in that house and he did the best that he could. Now, when the first really good thing comes along, the first thing that he takes for himself, his little girl, they punish him. They are all he has now, everything else he gave up. All of them turning on him now, it's not just taking Owen away. He walks out of the room. Julia turns to stare at Bailey.

Courthouse (the next morning)
Julia called him 11 times and he never picked up. He didn't say a word to Claudia. He took Diana into his room and didn't say anything. Bailey says that they knew it would be hard. The judge comes out to find Charlie has just arrived. He is now wearing a tie like Bailey and hands her some notes that he made.

Sarah states that Owen has spent 6 of the last 15 weeks with them. The judge asks if Owen fits into their lives pretty well. One of them is always there to be with him. Bailey has loads of time now that he hired a manager for the restaurant. The judge asks about the loft. Bailey built a room for Owen in the loft with a bed and dresser and computer. She asks about Sarah's age. She's a sophomore in college. She asks how old Sarah is. 19, almost 20. She asks if Sarah has any younger siblings. She doesn't. The judge says she needs to take a pause. There are a few other people she needs to talk to. Bailey asks Charlie what he told her.

New Apartment
Kirsten is unpacking her new apartment when she hears someone come in. It's Griffin. They're stunned to discover that they both have rented the same apartment.

Conference room
The detective is testifying about the difference in neighborhoods. Pacific Heights where Charlie lives has flower pots in the windows, Bay's neighborhood has iron bars. The judge asks about specifically about Bailey's building. Bay tries to interject, but the judge says he'll have his turn. The detective says there are two things she wouldn't do. Buy a gun she didn't need and have an ex-con over so he could shoot the neighbors.

Julia says that she tried to talk Bailey out of dropping out of college. The judge asks if she found that to be a rational, mature decision. Julia doesn't think so. The judge asks if she ever attended any Al-Anon meetings. Julia doesn't understand. It's a tendency of addicts to take on big projects and then not be able to follow through.

Claudia tells about the intervention. The judge asks if it works. Did he promise to quit? Claudia says he didn't right away. So, the answer is no.

Sarah says that she had a few cuts and bruises and a concussion. The judge asks if Bay got help after the accident. Sarah says he went to AA and is still going. She asks if Bay ever slipped up. Sarah asks the judge why she's making her say it. The judge has it all in Charlie's notes, all the dirt on Bailey. Why is she making Sarah say these things out loud? The judge points out that the burden of proof is on Bailey. They aren't just looking at Charlie's record.

Mr. Day says that they don't remove a child until there is signs of extreme neglect. The judge asks why. Because studies have shown that removing a child from the home he knows does more damage than most abuse. Bailey points out that he isn't a foster family. He's his brother. Charlie points out that he's been gone for 2 years and lives in a home that Owen doesn't know. Bailey charges back that he lived there for the two months that Charlie couldn't' hack it. The judge makes them stop. She'll see them back tomorrow.

New apartment
Kirsten and Griffin are sharing Mexican take-out. She feels bad about taking the apartment. He loves the neighborhood. But, he points out, he can't afford it. She agrees to take the apartment, but is he fine? He is, but he could use a place to stay for the night. She agrees, except he should stay until he finds a place, no matter how long. He agrees. He brings up the custody and how intense it was. Kirsten agrees, and then stops. They agreed it was time to move on. They change the subject.

Julia is back at the cafeteria with the same friend as before. The friend can't believe their Italian professor is letting Julia do her paper on a movie. Their discussion continues until Julia catches sight of Ned talking to another woman. Her friend asks if she's okay. Julia says she is, and changes the subject.

In the Jeep
Sarah, Bailey and Claudia are driving home from the courthouse. Claudia asks if Bay has changed his mind. He hasn't, but he doesn't want to bring Owen in and make him sit there and look at both of them and make up his mind. It isn't fair. Claud can't believe that he's made them go through all this for nothing. Bay thinks that the judge knows he's right. Sarah says that the judge will look at the law and it won't be on Bailey's side. It never was. Bay thinks the only way to win is to bring Owen in. Claudia says that he convinced them that he was right and that it didn't matter if Owen got scared as long as they did what was right for him. Bailey still doesn't know what to do.

Julia is meeting with Dr. Kessel. She hates the way she is feeling, the way she's thinking about it. He asks if she's thinking about getting back with Ned. She isn't. He can't throw a switch or give her a pill to make her feelings go away. But, that shouldn't tempt her to go back to somewhere where she doesn't want to be. She knows. He asks if there's something else. She thinks it's stupid and she shouldn't care, but she asks if he thinks Ned is better. He doesn't follow her question. She asks if he thinks Ned is making progress. The doctor asks how he would know that. She asks about Ned's visits to the doctor. Dr. Kessel informs her that he can't comment on another patients treatment even to say whether or not he's even seen the patient. She realizes that Ned hasn't been back to see him.

Conference room
Owen runs over to Bailey when he comes in. Owen asks why he doesn't get to see Bay anymore. Bailey says he'll see him again really soon. Owen wants to know why everybody is looking at him. Bay says they want to ask him some questions. Owen asks why. Bay says it's because they care about him. Owen wants it to stop. Bay says that they can't stop caring about him. Owen says that he hates it. He wants them to stop. The judge comes in and introduces herself as Joan. She asks if he knows what a judge is. He doesn't, but she says that's okay. She says that they will just take him in to ask him a couple . . . Bailey introduces. They are just taking him in to show him that his whole family is there together and nobody's fighting. The judge tries to lead him into the room, but Bailey stops her. He asks Sarah to take Owen back to the house. The judge doesn't understand, but Bailey says they aren't going to talk to him. He tells Owen that he'll call him later. Charlie looks incredulous. Claudia asks what's going on. Charlie can't believe that she didn't get his little performance. He knows he can't win, so he brings Owen in and then can't go through with it because he's such a good dad. Bay yells back at Charlie that he's so stupid with pride that it takes a subpoena to make him listen. Charlie asks if Bay plans to bring Owen up with lawsuits and threats. Bay responds that he wasn't the one who lost Owen in a shopping mall. He didn't knock up some stripper. The judge interrupts. She's made up her mind. She wishes this would be the end, but she doesn't think it will be. If she were the caseworker she'd give Owen a break from both of them, but she isn't. She can only tell them who wins.

In the hall
Bailey walks out of the conference room and slams his bag against the wall. Charlie comes up and asks if he got what he wanted. He just wanted the judge to say that he was number one, better than Charlie. He's better at running the restaurant, better at being a parent. Bailey turns and says that he never said Charlie wasn't a good parent. Charlie said he did a thousand times. No, Bailey didn't. He just said he didn't have the time. Charlie is the one who got all offended by that. Charlie may have won, but he is going to hear why Bailey did it. He didn't do it to beat Charlie or to put him down, he did it to make him do the math. Charlie says he's done and starts walking away. Bay shouts after him that Owen needs time that Charlie doesn't have. That's all he wanted Charlie to see.

Ned is sitting on a bench when Julia approaches him. He asks if she thinks he's a stalker. She doesn't disagree. He says that he's sorry. He's figured out that she isn't coming back and if he presses things he'll just tick her off and then they won't even be able to be friends. He wants to be friends. He asks if that's possible. She doesn't know. He asks if they can hang together. She says no at first, but then asks him to come over to her room. She walks away.

Living Room
Charlie comes home and finds Owen on the phone with Bailey. When he gets off he tries to cover, but Charlie says it's okay. Owen is surprised. Charlie needs to go feed Diana. He leaves Owen with his homework.

Kirsten's apartment
Kirsten and Griffin are arranging her furniture. The entire conversation centers around the saga of the Salingers. Kirsten thinks that instead of zero parents, they have five. Kirsten thinks it's wrong. Griffin thinks she's referring to the placement of the couch. She is referring to the rule that they made about not thinking or talking about the Salingers. They haven't stuck to it for 10 seconds. Griffin points out that just seeing Kirsten takes him back, maybe he should get out of there. Neither one of them can move on if they don't.

Owen's room
Owen is back in the room Julia and Claudia used to have. Owen is making his bed. Charlie compliments him. Owen is ready to go to bed. Charlie sits down to read him a book. He asks if Owen knows if he loves him. He does. He asks if Owen knows what it means to say that. Owen guesses that he does. Charlie says that it means that you put that person first, ahead of everything including yourself. You want to show them, let them know how you feel. So, if there is something that Charlie can do, even if Owen thinks it's something that might make him sad, he should tell Charlie. Because then he would know how to show Owen and he would thank him for that. He asks if Owen understands and the little boy says that he does.

Ned knocks on Julia's door. She opens it up. He says that it feels like old times. She lets him in. Dr. Kessel is there as Julia's doctor. Ned needs to hear a few things. Julia tells him that everybody knows. She told the college and she called the police. They know that he hit her and that he hit Maggie. If he comes near her again, they'll charge him with assault. She called his parents so they can make sure he gets help. She doesn't care who helps him. He asks why. She's sick of his lies and his games and he's not her friend. She would have just walked away from him, but she saw him with another woman and she won't let him hurt anybody else. He asks if he can say something. She says he can as long as he realizes that nobody is listening.

Sarah and Bailey's apartment
Charlie brought all of Owen's school stuff and they can come get the rest of his clothes later. He reminds them of Owen's doctors appointment. Bailey doesn't know what to say to Charlie. He knows. Bay asks what happens now, they said a lot of stuff. He starts to say that he didn't mean it, but Charlie stops him. They did say a lot of stuff and he meant it and so did Bailey, so now is just not the right time. He tells Bay to take good care of Owen. He waves goodbye to Owen who is sitting on the couch with Sarah

Musical montage (Natalie Merchant)
Julia is in the cafeteria at Stanford. She passes a table with an open space and goes to sit by herself. After she sets her tray down she reconsiders and goes back over and sits with the group.

Charlie carries Diana into the nursery and sits down in the rocking chair with her bottle.

Bailey is reading Owen a bedtime story. Owen has fallen asleep, so Bay tucks him in. Sarah comes and stands at the door of Owen's room with him.


This was a well-crafted and intense episode. The preview information I had read was completely inaccurate, so I was caught on the edge of my seat along with the rest of the audience. I'm not sure if John Romano is a good collaborator or just requires massive rewrites, but his script with Chris Keyser a few weeks ago and this week with dynamo P.K. Simonds have both been really solid efforts. It was good to see Ellen Pressman back in the director's seat and Joe Pennalla return as the director of photography after a couple weeks off to direct his own episode (Driven to Extremes).

I honestly wasn't sure how the custody thing would turn out. It seemed like Charlie knew how crazy the whole thing was, characterized by his dress (plaid shirt, no tie) and his lack of a prepared statement. It's only after everyone has been paraded through to show Charlie's faults that he realizes how serious this is. It would have to be difficult to judge the two because of course they can pick out Charlie's failings as a parent. He has been one for five years. I'm not sure anyone would stand up to that kind of scrutiny.

What was the classic Po5 moment was Charlie's speech about whether or not he wanted to be their parent. He has given things up time and again and I would argue, not because he's a martyr, but rather because he loves these kids. He's right. He's the only father Owen has ever known and he has loved him like a father. And, in the end, he does what he thinks will be good for Owen. I don't know what was right here. I would have liked Bailey to figure out a way for it to work for all of them. I don't think Owen will be better served with Bailey as a single parent than he was by Charlie. Kirsten hit the nail on the head . . . they are all the parents, all five of them.

Speaking of Kirsten, I'm thinking she and Griffin might be in need of a 10 step program of their own--Salingers Anonymous. They are never going to get anywhere if they can't extricate themselves from this family. Frankly, I'm hoping they do get sucked right back in. I love both of them and want them a part of the canvas.

Finally, Julia. What a wrap-up to this story (and I think it may finally be wrapped up). Last week I felt a little empty. I'm so glad they didn't just make Ned disappear to never be heard from or dealt with again. Julia is right to do everything necessary to make sure that he doesn't hurt her or any other woman again. I'm also glad she didn't tell him that he could get help and then they would talk. I hope that Ned can seek help and become someone who treats women well, but I also don't think you can be with someone after they have hurt you. That violates a sacred trust. This has been a very good story arc. I wasn't sure Neve Campbell had it in her, but the strength of Scott Bairstow and Heather McComb's performance helped to make this a compelling story from beginning to end. I hope Julia is allowed to have a little bit of the normal college experience.

Rachel's nitpick: what's the financial situation with the restaurant? Charlie took out a second mortgage to buy the restaurant so Bailey could run it. Why does Bailey get all the profit from it? Why isn't it owned by the five of them as a limited partnership or whatever (I come from school teachers and nurses, we don't get this entrepreneurial stuff)? Shouldn't it work that they make the payments on the mortgage, they pay Bailey a salary and the rest goes back to the family? Another ball dropped, but not the end of the world.

Copyright ©1999 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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