Party of Five (“Grand Delusions”)

Season 2, Episode 10
Date of airing: December 20, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.5 million viewers, 7.0/11 in Households

It’s the last decade of the twentieth century and you’re getting pissed about a vacation in Mexico. Claudia is in luck that she had all the reason in the world to be this pissed, although the writers never really bothered to note that she just lost a mother figure in her life. It almost always seemed like the only reason Claudia was angered about when it coms to Charlie’s way of living was about the women he dates in place of Kirsten, but she never made her intentions clear of why she really hated Charlie this much. Granted, we can all rhyme it together ourselves, especially since the writers made the attempt to get Claudia and Kirsten together for their “bachelorette” party in the episode before the wedding, but there was more to Claudia’s anger and loss she felt throughout the episode, and the writers didn’t use any of it. Instead, Claudia became something of a tweenager during this hour of television, getting her first real kiss with a boy, and teasing to us all what her stories will be all about when she becomes an actual teenager and the writers were giving her love stories en masse.

With this story twist, Sarah is finally part fo the show.

The Mexico scenes were not that shady, although maybe it would have been a good idea visually to have the characters go to the beach for a scene, just to get out of the interiors of this hotel and make it look like two of the Salinger Five are in fact on vacation. With Claudia roaming around the hotel building with Enrico and Charlie having a fling with Courtney who had to teach him how to be a fling and not a boyfriend and future husband, it’s almost like the story forgot for a hot moment that the characters were in Mexico, trying to forget the crappy time they went through in the previous episode, doing a little bit of bonding. But alas, Claudia was Claudia, and Charlie looked like he didn’t care much about bonding with his little sister, because he was rather interested in doing that with an attractive stranger with a phobia for tiny bugs. Not to mention that the way Courtney and Charlie were introduced to each other was a little ridiculous. Charlie didn’t even check into the hotel and he already had a new girlfriend for the episode — I was expecting nothing less from this show who just got rid of Kirsten so that the character of Charlie can continue to be a bachelor, which was not one of his finest character traits in the first few episodes of the series. But yeah, plus points for Claudia’s vacation romance, because in a way it could level her up as a character on the show, with more meaningful stories for her. She is in junior high school now, and I’m disappointingly impressed that only one episode so far depicted her in that upgraded level of life.

Meanwhile back in San Francisco, emotional and relationship-y things were happening. I laughed a little when Bailey gave Sarah a key to the house, no matter how thoughtful the gift of a home for her when she needed it (and distance from her lying parents), but what it did was giving Sarah her second story as a central character of the show, which means she was going through more internal and emotional drama in ten episodes than Will was during a season and a half. Okay, maybe the reveal that she was adopted was not the greatest, thanks to my inability to understand why parents needed to lie about this to their child (Sarah’s mother explained it, but I can’t believe when Sarah was three years old was the only time they tried to explain to her that she was adopted, when her parents could have tried again when she was six, or nine, or twelve years old), but hey, it’s drama and it gives Sarah a purpose for however long the writers decided to keep her birth parents away from her. Let’s also not forget that during the first episode after Sarah and Bailey got together, an obstacle was thrown before their feet, because their love cannot be a happy one for at least an hour.

They spy with their teenage eyes…

The same goes for Julia and Justin, who found repeated sex for each other, meaning the drunken sex thing was not an accident and the two can try to get back together through doing the naughty and nasty. But not even those two were allowed to just have fun and sex for a week, because Justin’s father needed to be a dick (he did not handle the moment of catching his son naked in bed with a girl well) and Julia needed to use this opportunity of having sex with her ex-boyfriend to somehow manipulate him back into a romantic relationship. First of all, that would make her a horrible character and secondly, if she actually manages to do it, it would make Justin a sorta-victim character, who cannot stay away from Julia, no matter what she says or does to him. I celebrated for him a little bit when he created a distance between himself and Julia by the end of the episode, because it meant he was freed from her emotionally manipulative shackles, but since Justin is a main character this season, chances are Julia will return to force her ex to love her again. I think this was the first episode of the show during which I actually hated the Julia/Justin coupling.

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