Season 5, Episode 22: Fragile


The credits: heather mccomb, julie warner, adam scott, chad todhunter, jolie jenkins, jacqueline hahn, clynell jackson III, jacob smith as owen, and olivia d'abo, special appearance by r.e.m., 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 mimi schmir, directed by harry winer

Co-Starring Christine Renee Miller as Emma, Mancow Muller as Bartender

Transcribed by Rachel

Lauren tells Bailey that she's resigning. She took a job at a restaurant called Harvest. He doesn't believe her. She tells him that kissing was a mistake. He agrees, but it doesn't mean that she has to leave a job that she likes. He can't let her do it. He wants her working there and so does she. He tears the letter up, but she tells him that he can't keep her from resigning. She's attracted to him. He'll say that they're both attracted to each other, but that's the point. They shouldn't be walking around each other every day. Bay says they can come up with a system where they don't work there at the same time. They'll put it behind them, they're grown-ups. Sometimes she doesn't think there's such a thing.

It's late at night and Julia is working at her lap top. Maggie wakes up and asks what she's doing. Julia is sorry, but her teacher said she could resubmit for Perry Marks if she had a new story in the professor's box by 7 a.m. Maggie asks who Perry Marks is. She's a writer who's coming to visit their class. Maggie asks what was wrong with the last story. Julia says it was juvenile, derivative, boring, she should take her pick. She asks how to spell "naively." Maggie gets up, she can't believe she's going to write a whole new story. She asks what it's about. Julia said it's about stuff, moving on, getting past the bad stuff. Maggie says the best night of her life was the night she realized she could do that--get past Ned. Julia wonders if it will ever happen. Maggie tells her to keep writing--it will.

Charlie's bedroom
Claudia bursts into Charlie's bedroom where he and Kirsten are in bed. She has Diana in her arms who has wet through her diaper again and Claudia has to go to school. Owen follows them in with a large bug to show Charlie. Sarah is trailing behind. Everyone is a little shocked to find Kirsten there with Claudia covering Diana's eyes and announcing that the kids are definitely gonna end up on Jerry Springer. Charlie and Kirsten play it cool with Charlie looking at the bugs and Kirsten taking the baby. Sarah offers to pick up Claudia from school and Charlie handles Owen. Sarah tries to shoo everybody out and she leaves with Claud and Owen. Kirsten asks if he wants to come to her place that night for a quiet dinner, just the two of them. They hear banging overhead. Charlie comments that he has never been able to say that. The banging is louder. Charlie knows it's too loud to be Owen. He gets out of bed to check on it.

He comes up into the attic to find plastic hanging down and a contractor at work. Charlie says there must be some kind of mistake. The contractor pulls out his paperwork and asks if he's Bailey. Charlie is a bit surprised.

Doctor's office
Claudia is looking at a rack of pamphlets including titles like "Saying No When You Want to Say Yes." She asks Sarah to explain again what they are doing there. Because she's 16 and she should have a check-up. When Sarah was 16 she went to see the gynecologist and learned about birth control. Claudia reminds her that they have talked about it and she wants to wait like Sarah did. Besides, they both know about her nonexistent boyfriend situation. She's not like other girls, guys just don't follow her around like they do Julia. She gets up and walks out of the waiting room. Sarah follows her. She saw tons of guys at Claudia's party checking her out. She's growing up, so she needs a grown-up doctor and somebody besides Sarah or Claud's brothers to give her advice. They look back into the waiting room and see a mother and daughter talking. Claudia thinks it must be hard to be a mom, all those things you have to remember, things it's hard to talk about. Sarah tells her that she's welcome. Claudia goes back in.

Lauren comes in and looks over at Bailey. He gets up and tells her about the bar and that a server is out sick. She thanks him and tells him that she can take over at this point. She says goodbye and leaves. He picks up his stuff to go when Charlie comes in. Bay has been trying to call him. Charlie got his messages. Charlie goes behind the bar and pours himself a soda while Bailey continues talking. He's sorry about the contractor. He was totally wrong. He's been great about letting them move back in the house and the last thing Bay would want to do is make Charlie regret it. Charlie asks why he would regret it. It's been great. Bay says it isn't okay. If they are all going to live together, this sort of thing can't be happening. Charlie laughs at him. He can't believe they are actually arguing about this. He's telling Bailey to do what he wants and Bay is saying no. Bailey wants to set some ground rules. He wants it to work for them to all share the house. Charlie does too. Bay wants it to be fair to everyone. Charlie agrees.

Perry Marks is talking in front of Julia's class. It wasn't long ago that she was sitting in the class listening to the visiting writer herself. Five years ago seems like five minutes. The professor says it seems like five decades. Perry asks which one is Josh. Josh, the guy from earlier in the season, waves his hand. She says that his story has lots of good local color. He must be from Boston. She asks who is Ariana, she has a good ear for dialogue. She asks why it's so hard. You get a good idea, it'll make a good story, but then you have the white sheet of paper and it's the widest ocean to try and cross. After you've finished you look at it and it seems like...her voice trails off. Julia fills in with a line from Yeats. Perry asks what it means. Julia says that you finish and then you work over it moving a comma or a word. When it's done if it doesn't seem easy or natural then it's . . . Phony, Perry fills in. It doesn't seem like anything. She asks which story is hers. She pulls it out. Perry thinks the writer could have asked more of herself, of her story. She doesn't face up to her story. Perry pauses. She's not saying it very well. Julia says that the subject was kind of personal. Perry understands that it requires her to take a risk. She changes direction asking for another student. Julia is visibly upset.

Bailey comes in to work and Lauren immediately heads out. He stops her. He knows they are trying to stay out of each other's way, but he needs her to explain the account sheet. She says she can give him five minutes. They sit down at a booth together. Sarah comes in and finds them. Bay introduces them. Sarah asks if it's a bad time. Both Bailey and Lauren say no, but they act a little strange. Lauren excuses herself. Sarah came by to tell him that everything is a little crazy right now. The unpacking isn't going as well as she thought it would and she thinks she should cancel. She did. Bailey asks her what she canceled. She's surprised he didn't remember her spelunking trip for her geology class. He thinks canceling might have been a good idea. She should just put it off for a while until all this stuff blows over. She just wanted to know if she did the right thing.

Charlie is playing with Diana when Claudia gets off the phone. She asks if he remembers Melanie from the band. Some of Melanie's friends heard that REM is playing a surprise gig at a club, the kind of gig that only club people know about. Charlie gets up to change the diaper. Claudia follows him. The band is supposed to go on at 8 which probably means 10 and there will be absolutely no drinking, she knows that. Melanie's practically an adult and for that matter, so is she. Charlie says it's fine, she should just be back by 10 pm. He walks past all the boxes in the kitchen wondering aloud if Bailey ever has any intention of actually unpacking. Claudia asks if he was even listening to her. She said the band wouldn't even take the stage until 10 pm. Charlie's sorry. How does midnight sound? She asks if he really means it. This is her they're talking about, isn't it? He doesn't worry about her. Should he? She says no and leaves.

Living Room
The movers arrive filling the living room with boxes of Bailey and Sarah's belongings. Bailey knocks over Claudia's backpack. He starts picking it up finding the condoms and brochures she got from her trip to the doctor with Sarah. Sarah looks over at him. He can't believe that he turns his back for 15 minutes and Claudia is collecting condoms and birth control information. Sarah tells him that she took Claudia. He can't believe it. Well, somebody had to take her and if he wants to yell at Sarah then he should go right ahead. She knows that she didn't do anything wrong. She goes over and starts opening another box. He knows that she's right. He's sorry. He wants her to do him a favor. He wants her to go on the field trip. He knows what it's like to be there right now, how hard he is to get along with and none of it is her fault. She should go and have fun. That would help him, if he could think of her someplace enjoying herself. They hug, but Sarah still looks pretty unhappy.

Julia is sitting down with a cup of coffee when she sees Perry Marks at a table by herself. She goes over and asks why it was so easy for Perry to criticize her hard work and then walk away. She might have been taking an easy way out in the story, but Perry took the easy way out by critiquing it and then walking away without offering a solution. Julia was trying to say something in the piece. Perry remembers that Julia said it was personal. Julia continues saying that the story is about her world and while it might be boring to someone who's won awards, but it is interesting to her. Perry thinks she has a lot of attitude. She's good. She's a writer. Julia doesn't think so. Perry trashed her story, trashed her. Perry sighs. She's not good up there in front of the class. If she doesn't like someone's story she'll say something like "good job" or "good ear for local color." But when she admires a writer she reads their work like she reads her own. If she respects the writer, then she's tougher on that writer. Julia is surprised. Perry asks if she still has it on her, she could take another look. Julia sits down.

Kirsten's apartment
Kirsten asks if Charlie knows how long it's been. Since what? Since she lived on her own. Since she had an answering machine with her name on it, food in the refrigerator that she likes, a guy on her couch that she can have any time she likes. The both laugh. She could get used to that. So could he. Now she feels guilty. He asks why. A -- she probably jinxed it and B--she's just making him jealous. He asks why. He can just come over and she has to pay the rent. She tells him he has to pay for the pizza now. The start to wrestle with him complaining that the pizza was supposed to be on her.

Melanie and Claudia are at the club. The go up to the bar but Claudia can't get an order out before the bartender takes off. Cody shows up next to Melanie. It becomes clear that she has invited both he and Claudia so they can hook up again. There's an awkward moment. Melanie says she invited both of them cause she wasn't sure they would both show up. Claudia points out that she practically dragged Claud there. REM probably isn't even going to play. Melanie says she had to do it, they should have never broken up. She tells Claud that when Cody returned the pick he stole for Claudia he bought his boss a whole set of Coltrane sax reeds to fill out his collection. Cody is embarrassed that Melanie is telling Claudia this. Claudia wonders what she's supposed to say. Cody says he'll just leave.

Bailey comes down into the basement to talk to Charlie who's on the treadmill singing with his Walkman (horribly off-key). Charlie pulls of the headphones. Bailey has some stuff about the house, but his rule, their rule is that they talk about it first. His contractor...their contractor says the electrical is really old, 70 years. The sooner they replace it, the more they are going to save. Charlie wonders how much they'll charge to save them all that money. Bailey says it's Charlie's decision. Charlie asks what else, he has another mile to go. Bailey tells him about finding Claudia's condoms and birth control pamphlets. Charlie knew that Sarah took her to the gynecologist. Bailey wonders if someone should have a talk with her. She's getting information from so many different places. Charlie gets off the treadmill. He doesn't understand. Bay says it's a policy question, he's not telling Charlie what to do, he's just asking. Charlie points out that Bay says it's all up to him as long as he makes the right decision. Bailey tries to start over, he's not going about this the right way. Charlie tells him to stop. He brings up all these things and calls them policy questions, but that isn't really what they are. If Bailey sees a better way to do something, than he should just do it. Just don't pretend that that isn't what he's doing.

Julia and Perry are discussing her story in a coffee house. Perry looked at the changes, but it still doesn't work for her. Julia wonders why, it's based on something that really happened. Perry doesn't care. The boyfriend hitting her isn't the story, why she stays with him . . . that's the real story. It's hard to answer, that's why it's so hard to write. Julia says that she does know why she (the character) stayed. It was because she (Julia). Julia stops. Perry tells her it's okay and to go ahead. Julia says that she mistook all that intensity and attention for love. Perry thinks it was a mistake and Julia agrees. Perry knows that it hurts, but she shouldn't be afraid to feel it. They smile at one another.

Kirsten hurries toward the back door with grocery sacks. The phone is ringing. Charlie asks her to wait a minute, but she points out that his sack has ice cream. He stops. He doesn't want to hear the message. It's probably for Bailey and he can get it later. He doesn't want to see the dishes in the sink and the bills on the counter. He just wants to sit there on the swing with her and Diana. She smiles at him and goes over to join him on the swing. He just wants to hear the Michaelson's sprinkler system. They both laugh. It has a valve that needs replacing, but not by him.

Perry and Julia are walking across campus. Julia asks her if she slept with him. Perry asks who. Two a.m. Barry who read Whitman into her answering machine. Whitman wasn't enough to get Perry into his bed. He did have a roommate however. Perry asks if there's anything she won't ask. Julia says that she told Perry about hers, what about Perry's? They had a fight. She thought they were over, but he slipped a note into her bag for her to meet him up on West Rock. They used to make love up there. She got up there and found him. Julia continues that he had left her another note about heaven and sacrifice and how much she loved him. Perry realizes that she read her story. Julia said she cried for a week. She can't believe all that actually happened. Perry doesn't want to talk about it. Julia doesn't understand why not, she wrote it in her book, why won't she talk about it? Perry thinks Julia is funny. She wants everything out in the open. Perry isn't like that. She has to go. Julia calls after her about the book signing and Perry gives her a thumbs up.

Melanie and Claudia are in a dressing room trying on clothes. Melanie apologizes for what she did, but she knows that Cody is still into Claudia. He's so great. He's got every tune in his beautiful head. Claudia tells her to lay off. If she's so into Cody, why doesn't she date him. Melanie points out that she already did and now he's into somebody else...and she guesses Claudia is too. Claudia says she isn't, but Melanie doesn't buy it. They played in a band, she saw where Claudia's eyes were going, every solo, every time--it was always Griffin. Claudia says that she's wrong, but Melanie says it's okay, they've all had a crush on him, but he's like Fantasy Land. Claudia knows that, doesn't she? Claudia says that she does. Cody's for real and Melanie can't help thinking that unless Fantasy Land is where she wants to live...

Charlie's bedroom
Bailey comes looking for Charlie to find his room completely cleared out and his suitcase packed on the bed.

Julia comes to Perry's book signing. She thinks it's all pretty cool, but Perry is too busy to talk . Julia knew they were planning coffee later, but she wanted to come by early and get her book signed. Perry says that her plans changed and she can't meet Julia later. Julia asks if they can get together later, but Perry just wants to say "see you when I see you." Julia leaves forgetting her book.

Wilson Junior High
Bailey comes to find Charlie in his classroom. Charlie dismisses the class. Bay can't believe that they had a few minor disagreements and Charlie packed his bags. Is he taking a trip? Charlie seems really enthusiastic, saying that it's a little more than that. Bay asks if he's leaving the house. Charlie is. Bay says he won't say another word. Charlie doesn't care. What is it? Is it still Owen? Charlie again says that isn't it. Bay thought there were a couple things they should work on, but that was it. Charlie knows. That's who Bailey is, that's who he's always been. Bay asks what he means by that. It's been that way since the moment they were on their own, from the day they (Nick and Diana) were gone. When their parents died, he was the one calling the funeral home and making the arrangements. He sat up the whole night with Claudia. It's in his nature. Bay asks what about Charlie. He's been in charge the whole time. But, he never wanted to. It was something he had to do because it had to be done, but now Bailey is ready to do it for a while. He has asked again and again. He wanted the restaurant, Owen, now the house. Again Bailey asks what he can do to get Charlie to come back but Charlie says this isn't about Bailey taking something from him, it's about him giving Charlie something. He's been dreaming about this for five years. It's not about leaving them behind, but about having his own life. He thinks he sees that life on his own. Bailey seems to get it.

Living Room
Bailey comes in from outdoors. It's pouring outside. He asks Claudia if Sarah has called, but she hasn't. He tries to reach her on her cell phone, but she isn't answering. Bailey leaves again.

Julia comes back to the bookstore to get her book. She says that she left it with Perry who's kind of a friend. Do they have anymore copies? The clerk says that there are more down in the feminist lesbian author section. Julia seems surprised. Lesbian? The clerk comments that she must not be a close friend.

Lauren's apartment
She's stunned to see Bailey at the door. He's supposed to be at the restaurant. He was driving around and he didn't know where to go. She goes to get him a towel. When she comes back she asks if he's all right. He isn't. He knows he shouldn't be there, but she's the only one who gets it, knows what it's like. Like what? How he wants to control everything. She does know. She moves in to kiss him, but he pulls back. That isn't what he wanted. He can't do this, he shouldn't be here. She asks why he came. He thought she would understand. It's too much, he's trying to do too much. He's taking more and more on until it's more than he can handle and now he's pushing everything away, even the people he cares about the most and he cant do that. She's taking the job at Harvest. Her stuff will be out of the restaurant tomorrow. He isn't going to try and stop her, is he? He won't. He's sorry and so is she.

Claudia's room
Charlie is talking to Claudia, telling her that she can come with him now and change her mind later if she wants. She wants to decide now, but he tells her not to unless she's ready. She wants to stay. Charlie says that's fine. She goes on. The house is where her whole life has happened. She's just not where he is yet. She isn't grownup enough yet to move on. He doesn't know about that. Sometimes now when he sees her come through a door she looks so much like their mom. He wishes she was there to see Claudia, cause she would be so proud of her. Claudia says that their mom would be proud of him too. But, if she's as grown-up as he says she is, it's because of Charlie. She's so happy for him. He deserves this.

Sarah comes home to find the attic full of buckets catching water and Bailey in their bed still dressed. He wakes up when she gets there. He's happy to see her. It's 3 am, he should take off his clothes and go to sleep. He says that he waited for her to get home. Even though she was only gone for a day he missed her so much. She's surprised. He's been so distracted she wasn't even sure he would notice she had gone. He knows and that's going to have to change. He asks if she knows about Charlie. Claudia told her that he was leaving. Bay tells her that he's gone. Charlie has lived in their house his whole life. He has run their family since his parents died and Bay isn't sure he ever really knew that until Charlie left. There's so much in Bay's life now that he has to take care of and he's asked for it all, but none of it matters to him as much as Sarah does. None of it. He'll never take someone he loves for granted again, never. He asks if she understands what he's saying. She thinks so. They kiss.

Julia comes to find Perry completing another class. Julia asks why they were friends one moment and not the next. Is it because she's just a college student or because Perry decided she's a crappy writer after all. Or is it the gay thing, cause it's the 90s. She told Julia about her old boyfriends... Perry says that she did have boyfriends. Julia wants to know why she didn't tell her the whole truth, why she let Julia draw her own conclusions. The story she wrote is true, but it's also true that she's gay now and that isn't something she tells people when she first meets them. She's not like Julia. Jule talks about stuff, letting it all in and out. Maybe she's braver than Perry or maybe she just doesn't know what it's like to be Perry. Julia wonders how she would know if Perry doesn't tell her. If they were friends she'd tell her. Maybe that's what Perry is saying, maybe they can't be friends. No, what Perry is saying is that they already are.

Kirsten's apartment
Charlie is going to start looking for an apartment tomorrow. But if it's okay, he and Diana will crash there for the night. Kirsten says it's okay, he doesn't have to start looking right away. He says they do because Kirsten was just saying how much she loved having her own place. She says it is, but she's saying that they can stay for a while, it's fine. He kisses her.

Claudia comes back to the club to find Cody. She heard REM might be playing there that night. It's a long shot, but sometimes people surprise you. He agrees. They sit down at a table. Cody wonders if her brothers will freak about her being out late. She came cause she wanted to and because Melanie said he would be there. He should forget about her brothers. The club announces REM as they take the stage. The crowd goes wild as they play "At My Most Beatiful."

Over the music....
Claudia and Cody hold hands.

Kirsten comes into the bedroom to watch Charlie sleeping with Diana.

Bailey and Sarah in bed in the attic.

Claud and Cody kiss.

Julia is working on her story in her dorm room.

Kirsten gets into bed with Charlie and the baby.

Bailey goes downstairs to look around the quiet house.


This season has marked the appearance of several new writers and directors. Tonight we were treated to the inaugural efforts of writer Mimi Schmir and director, Harry Winer. For the most part, I thought they did a fine job. My main complaint was that we saw so much in the hour. I find myself sitting at the computer trying to figure out just what happened. This is not necessarily all because of the script, but rather the fact that we are setting up for the end of the season and often times that requires a fair amount of work to set those situations up.

So, let's run it down:

Charlie and Kirsten. Okay, I think my verdict is in. I like it. About all it took was seeing them in the bed when the whole family busted in, Kirsten holding the baby. Move him into that apartment and don't let him go again! I do understand how Kirsten feels about having her own place, but hey... it's Charlie and that baby! I thought it was a powerful moment when he tried to express to Bailey that leaving the house was something that he wanted and needed to do now that Bay was able to take over. So often we forget how much of his life Charlie has given up to raise this family. I think Bailey is finally starting to get that. I also really liked the moment between Charlie and Claudia. I can appreciate the difficulty of her decision, but completely understand why she would stay. Besides it sets up that great situation... Charlie, Kirsten and the baby!

Bailey. He said it last week and he said it again this week... he's got a lot on his plate, but it isn't anything that he hasn't asked for. I don't buy the whole situation with Lauren. Either it's happening or it isn't and what's the underlying reason? He wants to drink? He wants to run the house/restaurant/everybody's life? He's king of the world? What's the problem? What's the solution? I'm not getting a clear message here. I'm a little sorry to see the character of Lauren go, if in fact she's gone. I'm kind of intrigued with her. I certainly like her more than I did initially and she's way more interesting than say for instance, Cody, which brings me to...

Claudia. I like the responsible sex plot. I think it is reasonable for Sarah to take her to the gynecologist and discuss these things. If anyone needs a reason, can we just rewind to Julia's unplanned pregnancy at the same age? What I don't like in all of this is this new friendship with Melanie, who I never actually saw her talk to before and the return of Cody. Not a very interesting person and not the great love of Claudia's life. Come on! Take some time and develop a character. I would be more into Mikey, the goalie from two weeks ago. At least he wasn't wearing as much eye make-up as Claud.

Speaking of the return of Cody and Melanie, the screen was littered with familiar faces. We had Maggie back for a moment or two and Josh, from the early part of the season before Julia got involved with Ned. And in a stunning turn of events, Thurber showed up again! This must be an all-time record, two weeks in a row.

Anyone who has watched Fox programming this week was aware that REM was going to appear. I take this as a sign that the band really has come on rather hard times. Hey, I would still be delighted to see them, but I wouldn't have taken them for the Fox family drama types. I will say that it almost worked since my brother who only mocks and derides the show and my dedication to it actually asked me three different times when it was on. In the end, I thought that while it didn't really move the plot along, it didn't disrupt it. It was just indicative of the whole evening... not quite in sync with the rest of the world.

And finally, the big lesbian story. You would have to be dead to not have run into a little press on this one. They can't seem to decide how to promote the story. First it's the big lesbian thing, then the backing off... it's just a kiss. What I'm afraid is going to be missed in all of this is the fact that women relate to one another in a different way than men and women do. Julia, in particular, relates to people on a very intense level. I think being her friend would be tiring. She's been in relationships, with men for almost as long as we've known her. She has moved from man to man with nary a break and often times has overlapped the relationships. Now she finds herself making friends with a strong, vibrant woman. I'm very intrigued with the ramifications of that. What I didn't like was that cheesy scene in the bookstore, "Oh you mean the lesbian, feminist writer's section." Women's studies, Lesbian and gay studies, yadda, yadda, yadda. You get my drift. My sense wasn't even that the book had a gay subtext. I mean, Julia grew up in San Francisco. I don't think she would be that dense and I really doubt that a bookstore in Berkeley would have a gay ghetto. If someone knows otherwise, they may certainly correct me, but this seemed a little forced.

At least nobody tried to say that Nick and Diana were at Charlie and Kirsten's first wedding...

Copyright ©1999 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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