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.

Party of Five (“The Wedding”)

Season 2, Episode 9
Date of airing: December 13, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.5 million viewers, 7.9/12 in Households

I am crying just a little bit after this episode, as Bailey joined Charlie in the misery of having relationships that succeed and fail, proving once more that life is not that easy after all. You think you made it, but then your mind pummels you to the ground, giving you a different picture of life, telling you that your future does not look the way you think it does. And when that happiness is taken away from you, you just want to hide in a dark corner and cry for the rest of eternity. You don’t want to see anyone, you don’t want to talk to anyone, you just want time to continue on without you. Charlie should become depressed after the events of this episode, because he lost the love of his life, while his family lost a mother figure. Charlie should think of the events as life-changing, as he either becomes a more reckless person from here on or a more cautious one who hesitates to begin new relationships, who decides to stay far away from things that could make or break his heart. Because if the writers go back to the status quo and have Charlie be the same person he was during the beginning of the show, then this episode, which I would consider essential, is worthless.

This won’t be the new great family picture on the wall.

A lot of things happened, which was to be expected, considering this was a wedding. Things that had nothing to do with Charlie and Kirsten messed up the lives of other characters, as a couple broke up, another couple found itself again, and yet another couple found drunken sex for the first time. When Julia spoke about wanting her first time to be special, all I could think of was that it definitely was special — she did it during the failed wedding of her big brother, while she was drunk, in the middle of finding her way back to her boyfriend. The day has already been made memorable by the wedding fiasco, but topping it off with losing your virginity and probably getting drunk on wine for the first time makes things more special than you want them to be. I have no idea why Julia would think this wasn’t special. Okay, maybe she won’t remember all of it, thanks to being drunk, but the situation could not have been better for her goal to get back with Justin and make sure that her way of jumping from one relationship to the next will be part of her character for the remainder of the show. When Justin is history, she will probably find the next guy to date and it won’t even take an entire episode. With our luck, she will date the guy while still being with Justin, because that is her modus operandi.

Meanwhile, it was only a question of time until Bailey and Sarah would get back together, especially after this episode started off with Sarah and Will being somewhat uninterested in each other — if he doesn’t care about her opinion that his suit jacked sucked, it means he is generally not interested in him. If she would rather give Bailey a smootcher on the right cheek before going to find food and drinks, then it’s pretty clear that she hasn’t forgotten Bailey either. At least the story has been handled with respect and friendship, although the idea of Bailey, Will and Sarah getting into something of a threeway relationship could have bee fun. The only thing that was missing from that premise was Sarah actually feeling something for Will and not wanting to end things with him. The writers could have chosen that threeway premise, and they could have chosen to keep Scott Grimes in the show as a character placed in the actual center of the show, instead of just hanging out with Bailey all of the time. It would have given Bailey’s romance with Sarah a different edge (which has never been focused on at all while Sarah and Will were dating), and it would have given Grimes to be in more minutes of the show and maybe have an actual opinion about the wedding failure of his best friend’s big brother. But hey, Sarah and Bailey are back together, so they better be going through some tragic romance stuff. I know what’s coming in the next season, leading into what might be one of the best episodes of 1990s television in general, but I kind of want a smaller version of that to happen throughout the second half of this season.

So this is what sex feels like?

But I guess that story belongs to Charlie at the moment, who for some reason wants to wait to get married, but also can’t stop telling Kirsten that he loves her and that he wants to get married to her. It’s almost like he chickened out of the wedding all by himself, with the thought of wanting to still be a bachelor, yet also not wanting to lose Kirsten, because maybe there is actual love between the two. It’s a little bit schizophrenic, but who am I to argue about that hen it led to that fantastic scene in the backyard at the end of the episode, when Charlie surrendered his head into his palms and cried his soul out? Normally I don’t know Matthew Fox to be that great an actor (there are spouts of greatness in LOST, but that show wasn’t about him and those moments were super small and only there when Jack’s flashback episodes were up next), but this episode could have been his Emmy consideration reel. It makes me wonder how much the writers were able to get out of him over the course of the next few episodes, when it counted.

Party of Five (“Best Laid Plans”)

Season 2, Episode 8
Date of airing: November 22, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.8 million viewers, 5.8/10 in Households

You would have thought that it’s Kirsten who would fall apart this close before the wedding, considering she will be the one humiliated by Charlie’s antiques if he decides to live by them forever and always. But it turns out it’s Charlie who is thinking long and hard about the next chapter in life he is about to begin, and his thought process goes a little like this. He loves Kirsten, he wants to get married to her, but he cannot come up with the vows. He does not want a bachelor party, but he also does not want to sit in a dark corner all by himself, trying to come up with vows. He takes the first best opportunity to have a conversation with a person (someone who is not part of his family is sufficient for that idea) and he uses that conversation to continue his internal dilemma: Should he get married to the woman he loves, or should he free himself from these heavy thoughts and go back to where he was before he fell in love with Kirsten? And what does this whole thing say about falling in love in general? If Charlie can’t manage to collect his emotions and get himself together after realizing he is in love with this one and only woman, then we’re all kind of screwed and undeserved of long-lasting relationships under the eyes of the tax law. If Charlie thinks he cannot keep it together while he is in love with Kirsten, then why should we all be bothered falling in love with our romantic interest? Why even going through all the emotional pain of falling in love and having a relationship and getting married and having kids and growing old together, when Charlie tells us all that it’s not what he wants to take on, no matter how great it all sounds?

Miss Hawkins in a time during which she was still known to make music.

To my surprise this was a great episode. There was some interesting symbolism going on, as Charlie became something of a mature person during this episode, realizing that he can’t do any more of those mistakes, while his little brother is kind of doing them all throughout the hour, even if some of those mistakes weren’t even Bailey’s fault. For starters, Bailey didn’t listen to Charlie when the latter told the former he doesn’t want a party or a stripper — look where it brought Charlie at the end of the episode. Bailey also just stood on the sidelines when he saw his soon-to-be wed brother with another woman, thinking that Kirsten will be history pretty soon and the wedding will get cancelled. Bailey was essentially not ready to help his big brother out in not doing another mistake, begging the question how interested he actually is in seeing Charlie become the real mature person he was talking to in the hotel room. Besides that, why is Bailey planning the whole bachelor party, including the hiring of a stripper and the apparently hard buy of a six-pack of alcohol, when one of the other bachelor guests could have done that? Yes, Dudley may have sworn on his grandmother to not give Charlie this cliched bachelor party, but it’s not like Dudley and Bailey were the only guests of said bachelor party — none of the other guys of age could have at least bought the alcohol? What kind of crappy friends does Charlie have?

In the meantime, Griffin’s trip to prison means that Julia has a lot of time for Justin again, and voila, the boy needs his ex-girlfriend now, because his life is about to get upended. One can say anything they wish about how stereotypical the twist is for Justin to witness the potential end of his parents’ marriage, and it’s not like this happens for the first time to a friend of one of the central characters on this show (by the way, have Artie’s parents officially split now or is there still hope?), but I kind of adored how Julia saw this as a chance to be reminiscent about her own point of view when she was facing the split of her parents in hindsight. I’m pretty sure that Julia wasn’t just thinking about herself and Justin when she gave him hope about his parents probably still being together, because her words sounded like what she came to learn when she realized her mother was almost having an affair with her music partner and that could almost have created a whole different life for Julia. Reflecting on that while one of her greatest loves is going through a similar, if not same, situation should definitely bond them again. Besides that, it will give the two lovebirds an opportunity to get back together and continue their kissing, maybe even have a sex-related story somewhere. After all, Michael Goorjian is still a regular.

Behind this door is drama.

The episode should have focused a little more on Kirsten and Claudia though. Not only did I like seeing the two hang out and have a girls night, but I’m still missing the spotlight on the premise of Kirsten being Claudia’s impromptu mom. Maybe Claudia needs the talk at one point and I would love it for Kirsten to give it to her. Maybe Claudia actually feels like she has a real family with Kirsten in the mix, who isn’t just his big brother’s wife-to-be, but a true mother figure by definition of the term. The same can be said for the reverse premise, in which Kirsten sees Claudia as her daughter. Sure, the show already went through the adoption of Owen (apparently that happened off-screen or between episodes, or maybe it’s final after the wedding), but for someone who can’t have kids, she surely is hanging out with one who probably desperately loves her.

One final note: Does the crowd of the twenty-first century even know who Sophie B. Hawkins is? Seeing her in this episode, I realized that I never knew what she looked like, or if she ever did anything else but be part of the teenage soap opera crowd during the 1990s. It almost makes me wonder why she never broke out of the one or two-hit wonder status and if she is part of 1990s pop culture zeitgeist now.

Party of Five (“Where There’s Smoke”)

Season 2, Episode 7
Date of airing: November 15, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.2 million viewers, 6.5/10 in Households

In which Griffin gets written out of Julia’s life and the show entirely in a somewhat weird fashion. Potential arson, grand theft, jail, the potential of prison, and then military academy — while Griffin was not at all involved in the fiery accident of the restaurant, the rest was quite the way for Griffin to take in this episode and I don’t really know why the writers decided to take this mad a route to write the character out. Not that I never believed that Griffin was a holy saint of a character (trouble was always following him around and at one point I believed he would be a criminal), but damn, the writers could have chosen to give the story at least two episodes, just to make Griffin’s fall into the criminal underworld of San Francisco a little more believable. Also, I can’t quite buy that Julia was just asking about visiting her boyfriend at his place during the beginning of the episode, and then had to say goodbye to him at the end of the hour. The writers definitely put the pedal to the metal in this story.

In hindsight though, I’m sort of happy that Griffin says goodbye. The fact that he is gone for six months only smells like a reunion later in the season, especially since Julia should be getting back with Justin, and the season finale could all deal with Julia having to make a decision between her good boyfriend Justin and her returning bad boy of a boyfriend Griffin. If I had been part of this writers room in 1995, I would have pitched that story and I would not have cared that it comes straight out of the treasure box of tropes. I did however liked that the story was connected to the fire in the restaurant and how it essentially created two strings of stories: Charlie being the suspect of an arson, and Griffin being the guilty party of a resulting grand theft. What a shame though that the writers didn’t manage to keep the stories paired up during the last two acts. It was only a problem when the Salingers learned of Griffin’s grand theft, but then the story split up entirely and became Julia’s thing again.

Ballet lessons with Jennifer Love Hewitt make everyone smile!

In the meantime, Bailey is falling in love with Sarah — four or five episodes too late, because now Will has found an opportunity to be more involved in Bailey’s life, as well as the show in general. Here is to hoping that Sarah and Will are in a relationship for longer than two or three episodes, because I wouldn’t mind if some unrequited love thing comes in-between Bailey and Sarah and the two will have problems sharing their emotions with Will in the middle, who does not want to be hurt. I could imagine that after a short while, Bailey and Sarah have a secret relationship while Will and Sarah have a public romance. That spells heartbreak when people learn of this and it would be a way to give Scott Grimes something to do, since he has been severely undervalued since the show’s premiere. Besides that, Sarah may have been retooled just slightly as a character — she became a klutz. That could have been just to showcase Will’s transformation into Sarah’s crush, but maybe it’s also her greatest character flaw from here on. I don’t know if the writers cared about that since they were only given 13 episodes (the season having been given the back-9 order after its Golden Globe win) and just decided to give Sarah a character flaw that will soon be forgotten, but it was cute to see her trying her hand at ballet and smashing her head and body into absolutely anything. I’m actually surprised she survived the experience.

I was happy to see Claudia having been given something of an important story, even if the scene of her smoking at the end of the episode smelled like another afterschool special. We’ve had one about grief and sex already, so I guess drugs and addiction is next. While I’m impressed that Standards and Practices let the scene slide (probably because they were insured by the writers that the story is going to be important and morale-heavy), it was still weird to see the very young Lacey Chabert with a cigarette in hand, even if it was a fake one. Meanwhile, I was confused over Jody, Claudia’s new best friend. When she was introduced to the viewers I already smelled trouble, and that wasn’t even the problem I had. For me Jody looked like she was portrayed by Mireille Enos when she was still a teenager, but her name was nowhere to be found in the credits. I had to type in the IMDb address to find out who Marla Solokoff is (obvious spoiler alert: This wasn’t Jody’s only episode on PARTY OF FIVE) and to calm down my mind that I wasn’t witnessing the career beginnings of Enos. But my mind could not let go of this thought and now every time Jody will appear, I will feel the urge to finally watch more than the first few episodes of THE KILLING.

Claudia’s new friend has a bit of an addiction problem here…

Back to the burned-out restaurant and how it turned into a story of Kirsten finding a liking to the more risky version of Charlie. Consider me disappointed that her believing he might have burned down the restaurant for a little extra money didn’t lead to a whole argument scene between the two, but I must say I laughed when she gave him the present of a gasoline tank and matches at the end. That is first-class trolling by Kirsten and it’s something I never knew she was able to do. All this time she is so damn serious about her relationship and life, followed by her pissed-off state when people get involved in her life too much, but then she delivers a visual joke like that and it’s perfect. How can you not fall in love with Kirsten after that? How is there still not enough chemistry between Paula Devicq and Matthew Fox for me to believe that this is a truly functioning relationship between their characters?

Party of Five (“Analogies”)

Season 2, Episode 6
Date of airing: November 8, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.6 million viewers, 7.7/12 in Households

Maggie Beaton was as close as she could have gotten to become Bailey’s latest conquest. I have no idea if she becomes the predecessor to Pacey Witter’s high school teacher and sweetheart Tamara, but judging by Maggie’s age of 25, chances are Bailey will in fact have relations with an older woman for the first time, and I cannot imagine that Bailey’s story in this episode was just to make him realize that he isn’t smart and that his SAT scores will never raise above a 900. Maybe 1000 if he is lucky, but I don’t think Maggie’s introduction was just to make Bailey’s college dreams grow bigger, because PARTY OF FIVE isn’t a show that want to tell stories about dreams. This is still a weekly primetime teenage soap opera, and romantic relationships and issues about sex come first. Consider me weirded out by Maggie though — her friendliness and openness towards inviting students to her home for a study session is questionable, but would fit well for a teacher whose class is not older than seven or eight years. Let’s just hope Maggie isn’t starting to treat Bailey like a seven-year-old, and please for the love of comic book movies, don’t have her be his new girlfriend, even if I would appreciate a little bit of a complicated and complex story about how rumors destroy a teacher and the student, and how it’s the teacher who will have to pay for whatever mistakes everyone thinks she did.

It’s weird they don’t have sex in this screencap.

It’s great though that the writers managed to create a continuation fo the story that had Bailey do his absolute everything to get the hell out of this city and go to an East coast college. Four episodes ago it seemed like just a story development to keep Bailey away from women for a while and focused on his studies for a change, but now it actually looks like it’s a season-long character arc for the kid and for this episode the writers included what Bailey’s family should think of his school work and his instances of giving up stuff. Maggie was not wrong when she mentioned that Bailey does not have a parental system at home that notices when something changes with Bailey at school, and the writers were not wrong in making this obvious by having Bailey specifically ask Charlie if everything is fine with him only getting a 900 on his SATs. When Charlie isn’t even interested in trying to fix Bailey to become a better student and go for a college that is not a state college, then why should Bailey even try from here on?

The story of Kirsten’s parents in San Francisco bored me. There was a noteworthy idea behind Charlie recognizing that Kirsten’s mother is taking the dreams of Kirsten’s father away, but it’s not like this was a story that put a mirror between Charlie and Kirsten and changed them as a couple. At the end of the episode the two were there were they were at the beginning of the episode. Besides that, it’s not like PARTY OF FIVE is known for straight-up story and character development throughout the show. It’s still quite procedural-like in its approach to tell stories, which means you could miss a few episodes and not miss anything about character development, and this episode showed it perfectly with Charlie and Kirsten who were not bothered at all with her parents’ arrival. All you got was more of Kirsten’s weirdness about the people around her.

Happiness with Griffin and Claudia.

Meanwhile, Julia went down the path of hypocrisy, as she mauled over Claudia for not respecting Griffin, followed by her mauling over Griffin for spending too much time with Claudia. The girl should make up her mind and Griffin should maybe think about whom he is dating, because if he accepts that behavior like Republicans accept Orange Hitler Donald Trump’s constant asking of foreign countries to meddle in his elections, his brain may get friend and he can’t help himself feeling stupid and underappreciated over a woman. The way Julia behaved in this episode was utter crap, and if Griffin had just one ounce of a solid character in him, he would have realized it and he would have called it quits with her. But alas, the writers think Julia needs a boyfriend, and they obviously think that Julia needs to be the “aggressive” one in that relationship — which by itself is not such a shady idea at all (instead of cheating on Griffin that would end this relationship, it’s her behavior, which I don’t think is a normal way for a central character to fail in a romance, because it’s usually the guest character partner whose crappy behavior leads to an end of the story), but it’s not really a story that makes Julia look good. Besides that, she battled against her little sister here, and Claudia better not accept Julia’s apologies. I wouldn’t mind if Claudia and Julia start fighting over something minimal at first and it turns into a civil war after a few episodes.

Party of Five (“Change Partners … and Dance”)

Season 2, Episode 5
Date of airing: November 1, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.4 million viewers, 6.3/10 in Households

I was a little surprised that Bailey and Sarah were already an item with this episode, dating like there was no tomorrow, just for the writers to get into the notion that Bailey hasn’t gotten over Jill yet. First of all, I’m quite happy that Jill still has a presence in Bailey’s mind and that her death still has an aftermath to even just one fo the characters in the show, since Griffin can’t be bothered to be emotionally affected by his sister’s death. But I have a bit of an issue with how quickly Bailey and Sarah were an item, after the two had a few issues to talk to each other in the previous episode, with Sarah already showing that she is not interested in someone who isn’t in grips with his emotions. It makes her an intriguing character because she is so much different from the other girls Bailey dated, but I wouldn’t have minded to have at least one episode that had the tow get a little closer together while none of them were dealing with emotions left and right, which Bailey definitely was doing after almost causing a paralysis with one of his teammates.

Take out your markers and put your signature on Claudia’s arm!

Still, the fact that Bailey wanted to recreate his relationship with Jill with Sarah was kind of an interesting plot. It’s almost like this is all Bailey knows when thinking about romance, and this is all he wants when he has a girlfriend. For a moment I wondered whether or not he went into a romance with Sarah, in the hopes that he can quickly get into the same relationship he had with Jill since it was the thing that was missing in his life — the speed of it, the excitement, the unpredictability. It’s almost like a drug, which made Sarah the unconscious dealer, and maybe it’s luck that she quickly realized that and broke it off with Bailey before things went a little too haywire after a few weeks. After five episodes though, two main characters who were dating the Salingers have now broken things off with them and they are still main characters. I’m going to be interested in how the writers were continuing to keep Justin and Sarah in the show, although I am still expecting for both characters to be absent for a handful of episodes or more throughout the season. We haven’t seen much of Will lately and he is still considered a main character.

Charlie and Kirsten’s story was okay. The two still don’t have a lot of chemistry, which begs the question if it’s just me who cannot buy their relationship or if Paula Devicq’s words about how much fun she had shooting the show with Matthew Fox was an overstatement and something of a lie. Because I don’t see any of the fun, and the writers don’t even just go into the romance side of things in their relationship, as they are always arguing about something, or dealing with a specific topic that does not have them hug each other at the end and declare their love for each other. At the beginning of the season it was the twist of Charlie being a father, then it was Kirsten and her annoying family planning her wedding, and now it’s the dancing part of the wedding reception she would love to have. In the meantime, they are talking about their exes like they have trust issues, making me think that their marriage won’t hold for long at all. I think I said it once before, but their divorce papers have already been drawn, and Charlie and Kirsten aren’t even married yet.

She just wants to watch a film and tell you about it…

Meanwhile, Griffin is still the mysterious character with a few words, and here is Julia who would like to change him into being a better boyfriend. It isn’t a story I have the hots for, although it looks good on Julia to take center-stage in a relationship for once and not be the shy and emotionally eccentric wallflower in the background, like she was with some of the guys during the beginning stages of the series. I’m starting to not like Griffin though, who apparently does not see a lot in hanging out with people and I am wondering why. If it’s a consequence of his sister’s death, the writers should have said so. If it’s just Griffin who is completely and utterly anti-social, maybe the writers should have said so as well, but right now I’m on the fence with this character, similar to Charlie who says that Griffin only shows attitude, which is a problem for anyone. Apparently not for Julia though, because she still likes him for some unexplained reason.

And then there was Claudia, who is still getting stuck with the mediocre storylines. Let’s just hope that her broken arm will have consequences for her future musical career and she has to say goodbye to her violin for good. It would actually be a great dramatic plot, so here is to hoping the writers were preparing for that one during this episode. There has to be a point in Claudia’s series-long character arc that has her focused on something other than her music. At one point she has to become a teenager and be interested in what teenagers are interested in, which is not making music.

Party of Five (“Have No Fear”)

Season 2, Episode 4
Date of airing: October 25, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.6 million viewers, 6.9/10 in Households

I have no idea what was happening between Sarah and Bailey. I get that something weird was happening after her decision to tell him that she loved him in the previous episode, but Sarah seemed to have been rewritten as a character between episodes, as she became something of a distant wannabe-girlfriend to Bailey in this episode who rather wanted to stay away from him, just so she won’t have to deal with his emotional problems. I even get that Bailey was in a bit of a funk emotionally, especially after Jill’s death, but with Sarah in the mix it’s like the writers decided to skip straight to the drama talk between the two, without ever establishing whether or not the two are in love with each other, or if her affections for him are reciprocated And then he has to show up at her place of living while in an emotional unrest, and suddenly this whole thing between Bailey and Sarah seems to be built on a minefield of emotions. Did the writers really forget an episode or two here, or did they purposely sped to the new development between the two, just so they can get into a romance as quickly as possible?

Look who’s trouble and got a tattoo!

The episode was okay. I actually loved Bailey’s story, absent Sarah, because there was something tragic behind the premise of accidentally causing a friend’s paraplegic for the rest of the friend’s life, and I might even love how this story could turn Bailey away from high school football, which I thought previous season’s episode “Good Sports” already did (but for some reason he was back with football for this episode, and I guess that happened because of this specific story). I loved that Bailey felt more than guilt for putting Hughes down like that, and the scene during the game was actually quite strong because of it — the uncertainty whether Bailey will get back to normal, or the fear that he can’t ever get back on the field, scared to cause another accident and this time the nerve endings really get broken. The insecurity was the best part of Bailey’s story in this episode, but like I said, Sarah’s involvement seemed to have been making it weirder. Especially since she was all about herself in the story, without a single second of understanding what Bailey may be going through. He almost caused Hughes to be a cripple for all of his life, and Sarah can’t think about that for a second instead of herself not wanting to deal with Bailey’s uncertainties any longer?

Because this episode’s general theme was about health, someone else needed to go to the hospital, and Joe was the victim. It was a good-enough story, but I rolled my eyes a little when Charlie decided he is going to take over the restaurant from Joe. First of all, the last time Charlie was running the place, he kinda failed doing so, and secondly, I always thought during the episode that Charlie’s takeover was just temporary, and that Joe would just take a few weeks off, go on vacation or maybe in therapy for his heart failure, maybe even get an operation done to fix whatever needs to be fixed, so that Joe can return after a few episodes and be the boss again and leave Charlie to live the life he was living during the first three episodes of the season. But the dialogue scenes made it sound like Charlie took over for good and his furniture business is a side project or a hobby now, which is weird considering the way it was treated as Charlie’s career during the final third of the previous season. But as soon as Charlie is showing this way that he can run a business and a family, I’m all for it.

Never answer a phone while in the shower.

In the meantime, Julia was talking and thinking about sex, which she was able to do here, but not when she found a condom in Justin’s wallet during the dance marathon episode, which seriously wasn’t that long ago. It makes me wonder what she thinks of Griffin now that she couldn’t think of Justin back then, and it makes me think whether or not the writers thought of the sex story too early when it was with Justin, but now think of it as a perfect time to get into the business of sexual intercourse, now that Julia has a new boyfriend. By the way, Michael Goorjian is already absent in his fourth episode as a credited main cast member, which either shows he had a great agent in 1995 or the writers didn’t know what to do with the character. I still find it weird that he has been placed among the credited cast members (same with Hewitt), but here we are. It’s not like this is a unique thing in television — just look into the future and think how much money Blair Brown got while starring on FRINGE versus how much screentime she really had while starring on that show.