November 1, 2014
Party of Five 5.17, Fam-i-ly: One of Us! One of Us!
Summary: Claudia’s reading to Owen in her old tent, which Bailey objects to; he should be working on his dyslexia by doing the reading himself. Charlie’s willing to let Bailey take Owen after school to help him with his homework, but Bailey says that’s not the best time for him to work. The brothers start fighting, disagreeing about whether Owen should be retested, and a program Bailey thinks Owen should be part of. He says again that he thinks Owen should be living with him. Charlie refuses to ever let that happen. Owen hears the whole fight.
Julia and Ned are at their new apartment, since she’s not really allowed to be anywhere else. Claudia has left multiple messages on the answering machine, desperate to talk to her sister about what’s going on with their brothers. Ned hangs up on her, telling Julia to call her family if she really wants to be involved with their problems. Claudia tells Charlie about how distant Julia’s been, and how she wouldn’t answer even when Owen called. Charlie tells her to leave Julia out of it, and let Owen talk to him if he’s upset.
Just then, Julia arrives and promises that everything’s fine. She offers to help out with the kids for the day and stay for dinner. Bailey tells Sarah he’s set up a meeting with a social worker so he can argue that Owen would be better off with them. Sarah has plans with her mother, who’s getting remarried and has just cut non-immediate family from the wedding. On her way to meet her, Sarah stops by the Salingers’ with drums for Owen; Bailey thinks they’ll help him with phonics. (South Park covered that.) Charlie questions whether she’s really willing to commit to help raising Owen.
Julia goes to the restaurant to talk things over with Bailey; she’s on Team Charlie, since he has experience raising kids. Bailey doesn’t care what she thinks – she’s not actually involved. He thinks she just came to town because it was “convenient.” When she moved home last year, when Charlie was sick, Julia felt stuck. Now she’s home to give her vote, but Bailey doesn’t think she deserves one.
Sarah’s nervous about her mother marrying into another family full of people Sarah doesn’t know (her stepfather-to-be has three children). Mrs. Reeves likes the idea of giving Sarah siblings for the first time. She’ll have family if anything happens to her parents. Julia tries to talk to Charlie about Owen; now she’s edging toward Team Bailey, knowing how difficult it was for Charlie to take care of everyone last year. Charlie thinks she’s encouraging him to quit after running the family for five years. “Quitting’s sort of your MO, not mine,” he snaps.
Julia goes back to school and tells Ned all about her mess of a family. He gives her a picture of the two of them, calling it a big step in their relationship. Claudia calls again, and when Julia doesn’t answer, she tells Charlie she’s going to cut school and go to Stanford. Unfortunately, a social worker is at the house for a surprise visit. He reveals to Charlie that Bailey visited to express concerns over Owen’s living situation.
Claudia does, indeed, cut school to track down Julia at Stanford. Maggie’s there to hear Claudia’s list of concerns: Julia’s distanced herself and become quiet. Julia insists that she just wants to avoid home because no one cares about her opinion. Sarah’s future stepsister, Sally, is working on a family tree and asks Sarah to help fill in her mother’s side. Sally is excited to be getting a new family, but Sarah’s still hesitant.
Charlie confronts Bailey for calling a social worker, who could take Owen away from both of them. Bailey promises that he just wanted to ask some questions; he didn’t make any accusations. Charlie says that if anything happens to tear the family apart, he’ll blame Bailey. While visiting Julia to borrow some notes, Maggie brings up what Claudia said about Julia’s recent behavior. She knows it all stems from Julia’s relationship with Ned. Julia plays dumb, then asks Maggie to stay out of her business.
Maggie then goes to the Salingers’ house and tells Charlie and Claudia that she thinks Julia’s in major trouble. She tells them about her own relationship with Ned, and how it mostly seemed fine but was actually abusive. He convinced Maggie that he loved her better than anyone else could. Then one day they had a huge fight and he threw her into a TV – and that wasn’t even the worst thing he did to her. Charlie remembers an injury Griffin mentioned and that Julia downplayed, and Maggie says she had the same experiences.
After Maggie leaves, Charlie calls Bailey over to fill him in. They realize that Griffin was right about Ned the whole time. The brothers decide to go confront Ned, so at least they finally agree on something. Charlie then changes his mind, thinking they should just pull Julia out, since getting into a confrontation with Ned could be dangerous. Bailey accuses him of denying what’s happening so he doesn’t have to admit that they didn’t catch on to their sister’s abusive relationship.
With the guys off on their mission, Sarah’s left to pick up Owen. She winds up taking him to dinner with her mother and stepfamily. Mrs. Reeves thinks this is a bad idea, since they’re all supposed to discuss the wedding, but the stepfamily is very welcoming. Mrs. Reeves complains that the Salingers always call on Sarah to fix their messes. She should be focusing on her family, not someone else’s family.
Charlie and Bailey burst into Julia and Ned’s apartment and order their sister to pack up and come with them. Bailey pulls Ned out of the shower and starts to get violent, but Charlie restrains him and orders Ned to stay in the bathroom. Charlie and Bailey again tell Julia to come with them, but she refuses to let them have a vote in her life when she’s not allowed to have a vote in theirs. Julia insists that Ned’s getting help, and they’re going to make things work: “I’m not quitting on him. Charlie tells Julia that if Ned really loved her, as she says he does, he wouldn’t hit her. Julia sobs, saying that Ned does love her. She kicks her brothers out.
Mrs. Reeves is still upset that Sarah hasn’t spent more time with her soon-to-be-family, but Sarah thinks the choices she’s making are fine. Mrs. Reeves chose Sarah when she adopted her, and Sarah’s choosing the family she wants. Mrs. Reeves realizes that she can’t expect her daughter to respect her choices if Mrs. Reeves doesn’t respect Sarah’s. She tells Sarah to invite Bailey to the wedding.
On their way home, Charlie laments the fact that their father isn’t there to fix things. Bailey thinks Julia’s staying with Ned to prove Charlie wrong; after all, he called her a quitter. He was also super-critical of her and Griffin last year, even though they were working so hard to help out. Bailey taunts that Charlie then turned around and got a stripper pregnant. Charlie pulls the car over to lecture Bailey that their parents wouldn’t approve of any of their choices. He just wants Julia to live up to her potential.
Back at the house, Charlie and Bailey have to tell Claudia and Sarah that Julia admitted there’s a problem but wants to stay with Ned. Now they have to let her figure things out herself. Bailey compares it to his alcoholism – he knew he had a problem but took a long time to realize how bad it was. The family intervened, but he had to hit rock bottom before he got help. Claudia notes that in this instance, rock bottom will probably mean Julia gets hurt.
Owen wakes up from a nightmare and goes straight to Bailey. He asks to sleep over at Bailey’s, where no bad guys can hurt him. After all, Bailey promised he could stay there. Charlie’s mad again, though Bailey insists he only promised to try to let Owen stay with him. Sarah tries to help out, and Charlie tells her to stay out of it. Shut up, Charlie. She calls Charlie on trying to exclude her from the family when she’s just as involved as anyone else.
Outside the house, Sarah laments to Bailey that her mother expects her to already love her new stepfather and his family. She loves the Salingers, and Bailey promises that she’s one of them. Owen asks Claudia if their brothers are mad at him, since he always hears them yelling his name. She assures him that they love him so much, they both want him to live with them. Meanwhile, Charlie puts Diana to bed, probably happy that one person in the family isn’t mad at him.
At Stanford, Julia approaches Maggie and asks how many times Ned hit her. Maggie doesn’t have a number, just saying, “Too many.” She blamed herself until she found out that Ned was also hurting Julia, which made it his fault. When Ned joins them, Julia pretends they were just talking about notes. Then she leaves her friend and goes off with her boyfriend.
Thoughts: Hey, it’s jerky Charlie! Welcome back! Now go away again.
To be fair to him, though, the rest of the family can’t judge his parenting skills based on what happened last year. He had cancer. How was he supposed to take care of everyone else when he couldn’t take care of himself?
Someone owes Griffin an apology. Actually, a lot of people owe him an apology.
Ned and Julia’s apartment has super-high ceilings. So they either live in a cheap apartment with really nice ceilings, or they live in a really nice apartment that they can somehow afford. I don’t know which is less likely.