June 20, 2013
Party of Five 2.11, Unfair Advantage: Advance, Retreat
Summary: Bailey needs two birthday presents for Sarah (her birthday’s today but her party isn’t for a few days), but has little money. Still, he managed to get a nice sweater for her. Julia’s no help coming up with a second idea. Also, whatever he picks will pale in comparison to the convertible Sarah’s parents got her. (She expects that party of their generosity stems from their guilt over lying about her adoption.)
Julia’s English teacher, Mr. Peck, keeps her after class to talk to her about a poem she wrote; it’s not up to her usual level of work. He thinks it’s because she wrote about a guy and doesn’t have the experience to back it up. She replies that she does. Mr. Peck tells her to write about how she feels when a guy touches her. Then he actually touches her, making her flinch.
Charlie wants to hang out with some of the servers at the restaurant, who are a little surprised, since he’s not usually social. Jody uses a bowl of ice cream from a trash can to get free scoops for herself and Claudia. Mr. Peck offers Julia a ride home, not noticing that she’s obviously uncomfortable. She finally gives in, which is a horrible, horrible idea.
Sarah’s totally fine with her parents trying to make things up to her with material goods. She admires some expensive garnet earrings in a store window and thinks Bailey wants to get them for her as a birthday present. She offers to buy them, then give them to him to give to her. Somewhere, Sarah’s parents regret giving her a gold card.
After going to a show together, Charlie invites the servers back to his house to hang out. They do some drinking, and one server, Shelley, teases that Charlie acted like he was 50 when he interviewed her. She wonders if his sudden transformation into “fun guy” is actually a reversion to how he used to be. She definitely likes this guy better.
Upstairs, Justin tries to get romantic with Julia, but she resists. He keeps trying to kiss her and undress her, until she snaps that no means no. She tells him that when she was with Mr. Peck in his car, he put his hand on her leg and tried to kiss her. Julia left before anything could happen, but she’s obviously shaken.
The next morning, Julia decides to skip school, which surprises Justin. He wants to take her to see their principal and tell her what happened with Mr. Peck. Julia doesn’t want to see her teacher, so she refuses to go. At the restaurant, Shelley asks Charlie to do something that night, but it sounds like she really just wants his arms, since she needs help getting rid of her Christmas tree. Jody asks Claudia to steal her a pack of cigarettes. Claudia does, adding in a bottle of alcohol.
Justin finds Mr. Peck at school and tells him, “You touch her again, your life’s over.” Sarah takes Bailey shopping, then informs him that she’s taking him skiing that weekend. He balks at the amount of money she and her parents will be spending on him. She butters him up by telling him that the earrings he “gave” her were her favorite birthday present.
Julia’s summoned to the principal’s office, and can hear Mr. Peck talking about her through the wall while she waits outside. He tells the principal that Julia’s obsessed with him, and he must have been the subject of the poem she wrote about being with a guy. Sarah’s parents get a call from American Express letting them know there’s been a lot of activity on the gold card. Sarah casually says that that’s because she’s been spending a lot of money. Mr. and Mrs. Reeves are too wimpy to criticize.
Charlie finds either Christmas trees or the disposal of Christmas trees romantic, because getting rid of Shelley’s makes him want to kiss her. She’s not interested. He notes that she asked him out, but she saw it as asking for a favor. Charlie stomps off.
Julia blasts Justin for telling Mr. Peck he knew what happened, since it made Mr. Peck tell the principal. Now she’s wondering if what happened was completely his fault. The morning after Julia and Justin first had sex, she ran into Nina, who immediately know that Julia was no longer a virgin. Does this mean she’s giving off some sort of signal? She doesn’t understand why her formerly wonderful teacher is suddenly a creep. Julia’s the only one who’s changed.
Shelley tries to smooth things over with Charlie, who’s shifted back into boss mode and will clearly no longer be friendly with the help. She’s upset because he’s cut her hours, and accuses him of getting revenge since she wouldn’t sleep with him. Charlie tells her that actually, she’s horrible at her job, and he’s only kept her on because she’s pretty. Shelley throws her apron at him and walks out.
Julia finally makes it to the principal’s office, where she’s asked to give her side of the story. Julia just wants to transfer out of the class. The principal warns that she’ll have to take an incomplete. Charlie catches Claudia and Jody with the now-empty bottle of rum from the restaurant, but they both have to run off to throw up before he can dole out any punishment.
Bailey takes Sarah to dinner at the restaurant, where he admits that he returned the sweater she bought him for the ski trip. He feels like she’s spending all this money partly to get back at her parents. (Wow, Bailey, you’re so smart.) Sarah thinks he’s criticizing her for spending money that belongs to people who aren’t really her parents. (Wow, Sarah, you’re…not so smart.) She leaves, and when he follows her outside, they discover that someone tried to break into her new car. Sarah rants that all her new stuff is just stuff, so it should all be returned.
Charlie does some actual parenting, tending to Claudia and telling her not to drink again until she’s 21. Then he makes the classic mistake of forbidding her to hang out with Jody anymore. Bailey beats Sarah back to her building, but she’s arrived too late for her own surprise party. He tells her that her parents organized it, and it wasn’t out of guilt. He says that they chose to love her, and how could they not?
Julia asks Charlie to sign his approval so she can drop Mr. Peck’s class, but he doesn’t want her to walk away from the situation and let him get away with what he did. Julia admits that she feels partly responsible for what happened. Charlie says she’s not the kind of girl to throw herself at a teacher. He must feel entitled, and he misused his power as an authority figure, which makes it worse. Finally, Charlie realizes that Mr. Peck isn’t the only one who screwed up with a subordinate.
Claudia gets out of class with a note from Charlie, but it’s not really from Charlie. She and Jody run off to play hooky. Charlie takes Shelley her last paycheck and offers her job back. He apologizes for being a jerk and not just letting it go when she refused his advances. Shelley says there’s no excuse for the way he acted.
Justin is actually cute for once, giving Julia a plastic ring that he says will zap anyone who mistreats her. She confronts Mr. Peck for both harassing her and for lying and making her doubt herself. He doesn’t think she should be with him alone in the classroom, and she says he’s right to be worried. She’s going to tell the principal what happened to make sure Mr. Peck won’t get away with it. Julia continues that he ruined a place she used to love, his classroom. She doesn’t want to learn from him anymore.
At the restaurant, Charlie calls Kirsten to hear her voice on her answering machine, then ends up leaving a nervous message. From Chicago, Kirsten listens but doesn’t pick up the phone. Bailey takes Sarah to a park or an arboretum or someplace else pretty, and he shows her the star he bought for her and named after her. No matter what happens, it’ll always be there. Sarah thinks this is sweet and not at all cheesy.
Thoughts: Shelley is played by Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen…who also played Jack’s wife on Lost! So it looks like Charlie wound up winning her over after all. (And then losing her. But, you know, small victories.)
There’s a special place in Hell for people like Mr. Peck.
Shelley, trying to name Santa’s reindeer: “Q-tip?” Heh.
I like Julia’s principal – she’s very caring and doesn’t jump to any conclusions about what may or may not have happened.
Jody to Charlie: “You are intensely good-looking.” Awesome.
Sarah has one of those Y-shaped necklaces everyone had in the ’90s and that I always wanted. Actually, I kind of still want one.