The Whedon family is seated in the living room for The Talk; Joe kicks things off by saying they have something to tell the kids, then pauses for an ice age, clearly hoping Sarah will just take over, which she does: "Mommy and Daddy have decided that Daddy won't be sleeping here for a while." Cooper asks where he'll sleep, and Sarah explains that he'll have his own apartment. Joe tags in to say that he'll still see them all the time and pick them up from school, and he's trying to make the sleepovers they'll have sound fun instead of depressing, but off to one side of the shot, Paige is making a face like she's being forced to pet a skunk, and when Sarah drops the "it's not your fault, we love you both very much" platitude on them, Paige huffs, "But you don't love each other anymore?" Neither parent has a ready answer for that; Sarah starts to say that of course they do, but Joe interrupts: "P, how could I not love your mommy? She made you, and Coop." Sarah's sort of at a loss, since it's a cheesy thing to say and kind of sells Sarah out to boot, but she tries to go with the flow, and Paige looks back and forth between them, unconvinced, as Joe goes on that that means he'll always love Sarah, and they'll always be a family no matter where he lives. I won't sit here and act like I could do a better job with this conversation, but a girl Paige's age is too old to be expected to accept that kind of a line, and she's certainly too old not to know that Joe's resolutely goofy tone is a dead giveaway; I think the better plan, perhaps, was to speak with each kid separately and tailor it a little better to their ages, because the kind of thing you would try to sell to Cooper, for the sake of not confusing him, is just going to wig Paige out because she knows you're not telling her everything.
... Says the woman with no kids of her own. Moving along here. Paige is not having it, saying she doesn't understand why they can't all live together, then, and this is what I mean -- she does understand. What she doesn't get is why they aren't admitting it. Sarah tries, saying that she and Joe "have been having some grown-up problems," so they need some time apart to figure out how to fix them. Joe makes the mistake of comparing this to a time-out, so of course Cooper's like, "Like when you do something bad. Did Daddy do something bad?" Sarah falls on the bomb and says no, Daddy didn't do anything bad. Daddy didn't do anything, period, and then he tried to make that your fault, but we've covered that elsewhere. Paige asks if they're getting a divorce, and they don't seem prepared for this question either, which... seriously? Again, not a child-development expert over here, but isn't that the first thing kids ask in this situation, and the one question you should have planned a response to? But no, it's another long pause while Joe looks to Sarah and Sarah fumbles for an answer, coming up with a mealy-mouthed "no, we just need some time, nothing's been decided," and Paige jumps all over that: she doesn't believe Sarah, because Gabe said that Joe moved out first and then got a divorce from Gabe's mom. Ouch. I'd actually forgotten that Joe had a precedent here. Sarah interrupts to tell Paige that she knows it's hard, and she's sorry, "but nothing's going to change. We're still going to be a family, okay?" Yeah, see, kids will hold you to that shit, so I wouldn't make promises like that when what you're really trying to do is convince yourself. It seems like Sarah knows she's in the high weeds, too; Paige's eyes are filling as Sarah semi-desperately lists off all the things that will stay the same -- Paige's room, her school, her friends -- and then trails off and looks to Joe for help, and unsurprisingly he tries to play good cop by promising to do something special on weekends. Cooper is excited about going to California Adventure, which I guess is a theme park, and the boys dap it out; Sarah is hung out to dry with a furious Paige. See above. You don't have to give Paige every detail, but if you try to bullshit her the way you do her five-year-old brother, she's going to know, and on top of feeling dislocated by the situation itself... okay, this is a fictional show, I'll stop now. Sorry! Sarah asks Paige if Paige wants to ask her anything. Paige does: "Can I go to my room?" Ow. Sarah says sure. She tells Paige she loves her as Paige is leaving, and gets no response. Cooper wants to go to Paige's room also, and I may not have kids but I did have a younger brother, and the correct response is "no" (heh), but Joe says okay. Sad piano tells us that didn't go very well as both Sarah and Joe look exhausted.