Once and Again
Food For Thought

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We see a clip of Jessie, Leo, and Karen in Karen's kitchen. Jessie and Leo are juggling hot casseroles and trying not to crash into one another or Karen as they make for the table with a whole lot of hoopla. Jessie looks towards Leo's pot and disgustedly asks what smells. "You can't have any anyway, so that's okay," he says. I'm not sure if he's just bantering, or if it's a crack about Jessie's eating habits. I really hope it's not the latter. Karen complains (is that redundant?) that Leo put a whole stick of butter into whatever he cooked, and he tells her, "If you wanna be the chef, feel free." She moans that she'll be seeing it on her thighs the next morning. "That'll be the day," Leo says, taking the words right out of my mouth. ["Plus, nice responsible conversation to have in front of the child you suspect to have an eating disorder. Eat some butter, Karen. It won't kill you." -- Wing Chun] He grabs at her lecherously, saying, "Here, let me see those thighs." Karen gives him a "hey" and a killer mom look that would shrivel the mightiest of oaks, let alone hard-ons. She moves to the table, changing the subject to "an obvious conflict of interest." Leo tells her not to worry about what other people think; if she thinks "it's" wrong, she has to fight it. "Well, of course I think it's wrong," she grumbles, spooning mashed potatoes onto her plate. Jessie figures out that they're talking about Rick's development, and she asks if Karen is mad at Rick. "No, not him. Just at the project," Karen answers. "But he's on the project," Jessie says, looking confused. Leo glances at Karen, and Karen tries to scoop potatoes onto Jessie's plate. Fat chance, lady. Jessie scrunches up her face and pushes the starchies away, telling Karen that she hates potatoes. "Well, are you gonna eat salad?" Karen demands. Jessie looks at her. "Sweetie," Karen says, trying to coax the kid to eat. Jessie rolls her eyes and grudgingly agrees to have some salad. Karen glances at Jessie, Leo, and her plate, looking slightly ashamed. She's still scooping potatoes, by the way. For someone who's so worried about her thighs, she's not too shy with the spuds.

Back in Dr. Rosenfeld's office, the conversation turns to custody arrangements. Karen explains that "they're with [her] most of the week" and then with Rick on the weekends. "With a lot of exceptions," Rick adds. "We're very flexible," Karen translates. "So it varies," Dr. Rosenfeld asks, looking serious. Karen tells him what she thinks he wants to hear, saying they try to make it as predictable as possible, because "children need stability." Good girl! One gold star for you. Doc R. turns his attention to Jessie, saying it may be "a loaded question, but is there one house [she] prefers over the other?" Jessie carefully says no. He asks the parentoids if they've ever sensed resistance in Jessie, and Rick says no. Karen points out that, in the beginning, Jessie was a little scared to stay at Rick's place. Rick quickly points out that Jessie got over it fast. "We all helped her get through that," Karen races to add, lest Rick mistakenly think he accomplished something with the children all by himself. Rick says that these days, things come down to "life issues," like who's going to "handle carpool, soccer practice, that kind of thing." The doc is very sympathetic about their busy schedules, but he knows there's more than that going on: "If there are issues between you, it's not helping if you don't get into them." Karen and Rick are stunned speechless for a moment. Rick starts to stammer about how busy Karen has been lately, and how he's had to fill in quite a bit. "Yeah, but that's happened literally twice," Karen says. Jessie watches them with a pained expression. Karen says that Rick has been very busy as well, and he overlaps her, saying it hasn't had an effect on the kids. "You're an architect," the doctor says. "Yeah, and Karen's a...a wonderful public-interest lawyer," Rick says. Jessie looks upset and watches them closely. Karen says they're both busy, but "this project has absolutely had an effect on the children." Rick demands to know "in what way." "How many times has Jessie called me for help on her homework when she's over at your house?" Karen asks. "Mom," Jessie pleads, not wanting to be responsible for the fight that's sure to come. Karen says that their son has problems at school. "He has a learning disability," the doctor says matter-of-factly. Rick and Karen stare at him like he's otherworldly. "She's a very good reporter," Dr. Rosenfeld says, glancing at Jessie. She glances back with the smile of a co-conspirator. Karen takes a second to clamber up on her high horse, and then says that it's been a problem for Eli to get his work done at Rick's house. She acts like it pains her to say it, but it so doesn't. She loves being a tattletale, and she's dying for the doctor to validate her position. Rick points out that it's Eli's senior year, and he's not getting a whole lot done at Karen's place, either. The doctor watches them closely, his eyes looking slightly amused. He interrupts their bickering to suggest that maybe next time they could come in alone, without Jessie. Rick makes his "O" face (think "Oh no! It's Mr. Bill!") while Karen just sits there stumped. They dazedly agree.

Cut to the three of them in the parking garage. Jessie hops into Karen's minivan, but before Karen can climb in, Rick asks if he can talk to her. Jessie watches them in the passenger-side mirror. Rick asks if she's been hired to fight the Atlantor development. Karen's eyes slide around guiltily. "My...my firm's been hired," she reluctantly admits. "And you're not involved," Rick demands. She glances around and stammers some more before admitting that she hasn't decided yet. "Oh, I --" Rick starts to shout. His arms wave angrily, as we can see in the passenger-side mirror. Jessie looks miserable. "At the very least, it's a conflict of interest," Rick continues, his voice subdued now. Karen tells him that's for a judge to decide. "I think it's up to me to decide," Rick says. I think he's been spending too much time with Miles. Karen is insulted, telling him that she didn't seek out the case, and that it isn't personal. He disagrees. "What am I supposed to do?" she demands,. "Sacrifice eighteen years of legal practice just to spare your feelings?" Rick turns his back to her and folds his arms, declaring that he can't talk to her about it right now. Rick says, "Our daughter has a problem. Our son has a problem --" but Karen interrupts to warn him not to bring the kids into it. Jessie can see their body language becoming increasingly tense and animated. "Do you honestly think I wouldn't put their interests first?" Karen demands. Jessie turns in her seat to look at them through the rear window. "If you go to war with me in a courtroom, you don't think that's going to have some sort of effect on them?" Rick counters. Karen looks at him for a moment, weighing what he said, then says she hasn't decided things yet. She's trying to keep things in check and tells him that she can't talk to him about it right now. Jessie looks like a kicked puppy.

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Once and Again

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