Once and Again
Taking Sides

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Taking Sides

New year, new beginning...We open with a Soliloquy on the Beach. The camera pans up from a pair of bare feet to a shivering body huddled in a towel to Karen's face, looking chagrined. There's a pile of sand behind her, with an umbrella, pail, and spade shoved into it for effect. Off-screen, Sam teasingly calls, "Hey Karen, wanna go for a swim?" She laughs self-consciously and waves her hand at him, telling him to leave her alone. She tells the camera that she's so embarrassed; she "had no idea anything like this would happen." Rick dashes on-screen, surfer trunks and mullet flapping out behind him, to envelop Karen. He asks if she's okay, and they kiss. Sam materializes with a mullet of his own, and throws up his arms, complaining that he needs someone to kiss. Where's a crab when you need one? He calls for Janine. In the meantime, he asks if he can "cut in" on Rick and Karen. Rick protests, but Karen says that it's okay, "under the circumstances." Rick stands aside so Sam can paw his wife. Janine (who's played by the actress who plays Ross's lesbian ex-wife on Friends ["Jane Sibbett" -- Wing Chun]) trots on-screen in her bikini, announcing that all the kids are in bed. Everyone makes a big production of teasing Karen and asking whether she's okay. Rick promises that "next time this happens, [he's] going to kill [her himself]." Karen looks into the camera, shamefaced.

Cut to the present day in Judy's apartment. Her door opens, and she and Sam spill inside, ribbing one another about some artsy movie they've just seen. Sam asks if she'd mind if he "tore off all [her] clothes" and threw her down on the floor. She wouldn't mind, but points out that they'd be in a very different kind of relationship if he did. He says he forgot and begs her forgiveness. "Perfectly all right, Mr. Blue," she teases, hanging up her coat. Sam starts to ask "Miss Brooks" another question, but then changes his mind, saying, "I think I shall go home now." She says that's fine and wishes him a safe trip. As Sam pulls open the door, it conveniently presses him up against Judy, and he sleazes in for a kiss. When it's over, Judy assures him it "was just a figment of [his] imagination." And the stuff of my nightmares. Pretending to be dazed, Sam staggers out, muttering that he's going to go see the film again. Laughing, Judy pushes him out the door and shuts it on him.

The scene is pure chaos over at Manning Manor. The camera focuses on the cordless phone, ringing in the foreground while we hear everyone carrying on in the background. Rick rushes over to grab it. "Hey, it's me," Karen says. "I'm sorry, who is it?" Rick asks. Just your ex-wife and the mother of your children. Rick apologizes and explains that "it's crazy" there at the moment. He sets the phone on the counter and hollers for Jessie to grab it. Around a mouthful of toast, Karen explains to Jessie that she just wanted to make sure the two of them are still on for skating on Thursday. Jessie glances at the madness behind her and says, "Uh, yeah, sure." Karen asks what's wrong. Jessie says she has a big history paper due the next day. Unfazed, Karen says, "Oh, well you've been working on that, haven't you?" Jessie hedges that she just can't believe how much research it needs. "Oh, well you'll need a break, then," Karen says, not about to let Jessie off the hook. She tells Jessie to put Eli on so she can ask if he wants to go with them, too. "Like Eli's going to want to go ice-skating with us," Jessie snorts. She puts down the phone and yells for Eli to pick it up. Just then, Lily calls out, "Okay, Eli, help me get these girls out of here!" There's a flurry of activity in the background, as we hear Karen shouting through the receiver, "Eli? Hello?" She sets her jaw and hangs up.

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Once and Again

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