February 23, 2013
Party of Five 1.10, Thanksgiving: The Forgiveness of Sins
Summary: Julia’s rushing to get ready for a family dinner but gets distracted when she finds out that Claudia has taken a bunch of her stuff. At the restaurant, Joe offers them a table for Thanksgiving, but the siblings haven’t even planned to have dinner together. The Salingers’ lawyer, Emmett, joins them and informs them that Walter Alcott has been released from prison. He was paroled halfway through his nine-month sentence for killing Mr. and Mrs. Salinger while driving drunk. Also, he wants to meet the siblings and apologize.
Back at home, the Salingers debate arranging a meeting – Claudia and Julia are pro and Bailey is anti. Bailey says the meeting would only make Alcott feel better, but Bailey doesn’t think they’re responsible for that. Charlie, who’s been silent for the whole debate, sides with Bailey. Since the decision isn’t unanimous, there won’t be a meeting. Later, Claudia steals a bracelet from Julia, then asks her what Alcott’s hearing was like. Julia tells her the basics but doesn’t want to elaborate.
Claudia goes to a bookstore and asks an employee for a book on jewelry. After a couple minutes, she tells him her name, saying she just wanted to see what he looked like. It’s Walter Alcott. Back at home, she shares the story with her siblings, and Bailey’s angry. Claudia’s surprised that Alcott was so normal and nice. Bailey wants to know if he was happy. Julia doesn’t get why Claudia left after introducing herself. Claudia says she didn’t want to talk to Alcott, and she didn’t go to get an apology. She also doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Bailey meets with Emmett, angrily noting that Alcott only served four-and-a-half months for each person he killed. He wants to make Alcott pay. Emmett says they can pursue a civil suit, but it would take years for anything to come of it. By the time it’s over, Owen will be old enough to understand what’s going on. Plus, winning wouldn’t change anything. Emmett’s afraid that Bailey will get consumed by the suit. Bailey says he’s already consumed by what happened.
Claudia realizes she’s lost Julia’s bracelet and tears up her tent looking for it. She retraces her steps, telling Bailey she’s doing a school project on memory. She goes back to Julia’s room, where Julia catches her. At the restaurant the day before Thanksgiving, Joe gives Charlie a turkey dinner and invites the Salingers over to his house the next day. Charlie assures him that they’ll eat; they just don’t want to celebrate a holiday. Joe knows they’re avoiding facing a holiday without their parents.
A woman shows up on the Salingers’ doorstep with a pie. She introduces herself to Julia as Annie, Alcott’s daughter. Julia politely declines the pie but chats with her for a minute. Annie says that her parents divorced while Alcott was in jail. She admits that she feels like she should be punished or forgiven. She wants Julia to know that Alcott isn’t a bad man: “He’s just a man.” Julia makes it clear that she doesn’t hate Annie.
Bailey goes to Alcott’s apartment and introduces himself. He doesn’t want to have a conversation, but he wants to know what Alcott knows about Mr. and Mrs. Salinger. Alcott knows the basics, which aren’t enough for Bailey. He tells Alcott how much his parents were in love. Claudia asks Bailey questions he can’t answer, and Owen won’t even know what to ask. He gets emotional, saying that his parents will never see Owen walk because Alcott got drunk and killed them.
Alcott asks what Bailey wants him to do. Bailey replies that he wants Alcott to put his foot on the brake and not run the red light. Alcott wishes the same, but he can’t go back in time; he has to figure out how to go forward. Bailey doesn’t think he deserves to since the Salingers can’t. He wants to take something from Alcott so he understands what he took from Bailey. He wants to make sure Alcott never forgets what he did.
Back at home, Julia tells the others that Annie stopped by. Bailey tells her not to speak to Annie again, saying he has the right to keep the Alcotts from the house. Charlie doesn’t want to get involved. Bailey notes that they don’t have to take responsibility for how the Alcotts feel. They get to have Thanksgiving together, but the Salingers don’t. After Bailey storms out, Julia blasts Charlie for not getting involved in the discussion.
Claudia tries to use Thurber as a bloodhound to track down the bracelet. Thurber is even less helpful than you would think. Meanwhile, Bailey goes to Kate’s, where her family’s about to have Thanksgiving dinner. He tells her about Alcott being paroled and how angry he feels now. Bailey can’t even think about his parents anymore, but all he wants is to be able to think about them without hurting. Kate is the only person he wanted to talk to. Bailey regrets pushing her away for stupid reasons.
Charlie finds Annie’s pie in the fridge, though Julia doesn’t tell him where it came from. Julia then goes to Alcott’s apartment, and he emotionally tells her that he feels like he should have to give something up to compensate the Salingers. Julia can tell he’s suffering, but knowing he is doesn’t make her feel better. She also knows that he wants her to forgive him, but she isn’t sure she can. Alcott changed multiple lives, and she can’t speak for everyone involved.
Julia continues that forgiveness won’t change anything, though she would like if it helped her stop being angry. She wants to stop hating Alcott as much as he wants her to stop hating him. She promises to try. Julia adds that the Salingers will be okay; knowing that might help Alcott be okay, too.
At home the next day, Julia starts cooking a late Thanksgiving meal, telling Charlie she thinks they were wrong to want to skip the holiday. Charlie disagrees; he thinks it’s disrespectful to act like nothing happened that year. She says they’re not forgetting, they’re just moving on. They can’t wait 20 years to take a step forward.
Julia announces that she went to see Alcott and thinks Charlie should, too. Charlie refuses. Julia doesn’t understand why he’s been so distant the past few days, but she thinks seeing Alcott would help all of them. Talking to him is like talking about a nightmare – it makes the monsters go away. Charlie telling Alcott he doesn’t hate him will make Alcott go away.
Bailey and Kate go for a walk, and she announces that her father had an affair, which her mother caught him in the middle of. Then her mother was upset again when her father met his second wife. She was angry for a long time, but one day she let go and moved on. She chose not to let her entire life be wrapped up in her ex. Kate hated her father for a while, but it took too much energy to keep up, so she learned to accept that people make mistakes.
Claudia decides to come clean with Julia about losing her bracelet. It turns out the bracelet was one their father gave their mother. Julia’s furious, lying that she wouldn’t have yelled if Claudia had come clean earlier. Claudia admits that she keeps taking Julia’s stuff because she wants to be with her. She hates that Julia never lets anything go; she’s still mad about Claudia not giving her a phone message seven months ago. Julia apologizes, then figures out that the bracelet Claudia took wasn’t their mother’s – it was cheap costume jewelry from a school play.
Alcott closes up his bookstore for the night as Charlie waits outside. Alcott lets him in and tells him the events leading up to the accident. He just had too much wine at dinner and drove home. A million events had to have come together for everything to happen exactly as they did. Charlie says it was his fault: His parents were going to a concert, and Charlie was supposed to watch Owen, but he was late because he was with a girl. If he’d been on time, his parents would have been at the concert when Alcott drove through the red light.
Charlie notes that his father was angry and told him, “Next time, be here.” His mother handed over Owen and they left. Charlie cries and says he’s the one who needs to be forgiven. Alcott protests, blaming himself. He thinks Charlie’s actually the hero in the story. Back at the house, Julia and Claudia cook to round out the meal Joe provided some food for. Julia and Bailey agree that it doesn’t matter that they’re having their meal late.
Charlie arrives, only saying that he was out, though Julia knows where he was. Before they can sit down in the kitchen, Charlie directs everyone to the dining room. The next day, all five siblings go to the cemetery. Claudia notes that some headstones have stones on them. Bailey explains that some people like to leave things behind to show they were there. (He doesn’t explain that it’s a Jewish custom.) The siblings gather some stones and leave them on their parents’ headstone, alone with a Pez dispenser. Then they play tag, which can’t be very respectful.
Thoughts: Annie is played by Kelli Williams (The Practice, Lie to Me, Army Wives). She was 24 with this episode aired, and looked nothing like a high school student. Like, I thought she was Alcott’s wife. (Sorry, Kelli! I think you’re awesome!)
Julia: “Have you seen my plaid shirt?” It’s the ’90s, Julia. You’re going to have to be more specific.
Julia also has a Shawn Colvin CD. Remember her?
There’s a lot of good acting and writing in this episode. I’m impressed.