Episode: S05E03, “Balancing the Boundary”
Premiere date: 1 April 2023
Written by: Scott Andrews
101 BOYDEN AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948
Meredith Johnson walks in through the front entrance of the Buzz Café and approaches the main counter, ordering her usual drink of coffee. Re-adjusting her Ponte-knit, navy blue blazer, she then looks down at her phone, noticing notifications from her mother. Scoffing, she places her phone on silent, sliding it back into her purse. Paying for her order, she turns to immediately exit onto the side lanai off of the main dining area.
“I can’t believe we haven’t done this in so long,” she remarks to her companion, Tori Walker, who is sitting at a two-seated table. “I know,” Tori states in agreement, sipping her own drink of tea. “It’s been far too long since we’ve gotten together. So, what’s been going on with you?”
“Where do I even begin? Between the IPO and raising SJ, my days have just been blasted with non-stop ‘excitement’.” “From the sound of your voice, I highly doubt that sarcastic ‘excitement’ you’re speaking of.” Taking a sigh of relief, Meredith responds: “I’m sorry. You’re right. I didn’t mean to come off as sarcastic and negative as I must have.” “What’s going on, Mer? Sounds like it might be more than an IPO that’s got you up in arms.”
Taking another sip from her drink, Meredith releases a deep, pensive sigh and reveals: “It’s Shaun. It seemed like, for a while any way, he was genuinely interested in getting to be a father to SJ.” “And now? What’s changed?” Tori questions. “Now? He’s distant. Frozen almost. And it’s just letting SJ down, and that’s what I didn’t want to happen; he loves his father so much, and I want that relationship for them, even if me and Shaun did not work out.”
“Have you thought about dating?” Tori perks up in tone. “No, I haven’t. My life is SJ and work. Time for a love life is what I don’t want, nor do I feel it necessary. You, on the other hand, what’s going on with you and Garrett? Last we talked things were going good and seemed back on track.”
“And they are,” Tori responds while sipping on her coffee. “We’re in a real good place, and the kids are thriving. It’s the family life I imagined we’d always have from day one.” Realizing the slight doubt in her tone, Meredith inquires: “So why does it seem like there’s something else going on?” “You always could tell when I was lying, couldn’t you?” “Always. So spill, what’s going on?”
Taking another sip of her hot drink, Tori reluctantly opens up within the safe space. “I’m happy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just at a stand still with Garrett.” “Over what,” Meredith questions. “His hours at the station. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I understand his job and the demands it has, but it just feels like the job is number one and the family is number two.”
“And, that upsets you?”
“Yes, it does”, answered Tori. “I just want to feel important. You know? We fought so hard to get back to a good place, and it just feels like that’s all coming undone.”
Reaching out her hand, in a sign of compassion, Meredith assures Tori, “Your husband loves you. He loves your children. And I don’t believe, for a single second, that you’re all placing second to his job. You’ve faced that obstacle once before, and I wouldn’t think Garrett would risk his family for a second time. Not many get the second chance you both have gotten. That’s special.”
DANIEL SMITHSON’S HOME
745 BROOKLYN ROAD
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948
“Claire! Robert!” Daniel exclaimed up the stairs. “Your mother is going to be here any minute! Let’s get the ball rolling.” As Daniel begins to walk from the staircase, the doorbell rings. “Let’s go!” He exclaimed one more time before answering the door.
[ The character of Leah Brighton will now be represented by Rebecca Herbst ]
“Hi”, Leah greeted to Daniel. “Hi.” “Are the kids ready?” “Um, yeah. They’re just finishing packing up their things now.” said Daniel. “Do you want to come in?” Leah then responds, “Sure. I supposed I could”, as she entered into the home she once called her own.
Stepping across the threshold, Leah is immediately taken aback, flooded with memories of her time spent living with Daniel and their children. “I see you’ve redecorated a bit”, Leah stating in the hopes of breaking the ice between the two former spouses.
“Yes, I have redone a few things here and there,” said Daniel, “but nothing too major has been changed. A paint colour here and there, but nothing too extreme. You know me. I don’t do change well, and with Claire we need to keep some things as consistent as possible.”
Attempting to turn the conversation, Leah asks, “How is Claire doing? I know she, um, had that cough a few days ago?” “She’s fine”, responded Daniel, “a little sniffle here and there but, generally she is doing fine.” “Good, good. Well, she does have that appointment tomorrow, so I’ll be sure to have it checked out.” “Do you need me to go with you?” “No”, Leah swiftly responds, “I can handle it.” “I was only offering..” “I know, but we both know that isn’t the best of ideas.”
Feeling the awkward void in the room, Daniel turns up the stairs, and remarks, “I wonder what’s taking the children so long. I’ll go get them.” As Daniel begins his way up the stairs, Leah stops him, “Daniel, can we talk?” “Sure”, he responds as he returns to the couches where they were previously sat, “I was under the impression you didn’t want to talk.” “I think we should.” “Okay then, what’s on your mind?”
“It’s about us”, Leah cautiously braces, “and what it is we’re doing right now.” “And what is it we claim we’re doing”, Daniel questions. “Trying to create casual conversation like we’re strangers or long-lost friends. We’re exes, Daniel. Exes who are navigating co-parentings their children.”
“And I thought that’s what we were doing”, said Daniel, perplexed by Leah’s sudden change in tone and demeanor. Growing in increased discomfort, Leah once again takes lead of the conversation, “In regards to Claire and Robert yes, but not where we are concerned. I’d like to believe you offering to come to Claire’s appointment is as innocent as you want it to be, but we both know being there, together, at this stage, is just too soon.”
Baffled by Leah’s insinuation, Daniel stands up and questions, “Do you really think I’d be so ignorant as to use our daughter’s appointment as a way to get back into your life?” “No”, Leah responds, “at least I would hope not. I just want to make sure we keeps this about the children and the children only.”
As Daniel prepares to respond, the hurrying sounds of children’s footsteps come down the stairs. Switching to a happy demeanor, Leah greets her children, “Hi you two!” She embraces them in a warming hug, before asking, “Are you both ready to go?” Pausing for their agreement, she suggests, “Give daddy a hug.”
As Daniel embraces each of his children, Leah assists them in putting their coats on and begins to gather their belongings. As Leah and the children open the door to exit the home, Daniel states, “Leah”, and gives her a look of understanding. Feeling heard by her ex, she lets out a simple smile and responds, “I’ll let you know how the appointment goes.”
JOHNSON FAMILY TACK HOUSE
937 SAN QUENTIN AVENUE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948
Sitting at a desk, adjacent to the tack house’s front door, Rebecca Flynn sits gathering several streams of paperwork, readying for the day ahead of her. Looking at the time on her phone, she gasps in horror at the time and takes one final sip of her coffee, before stacking her papers into one stack at a quickened pace and places them into her black patten leather brief case. As she gets up to turn around, her husband Michael comes down the stairs, holding his own brief case and dressed in a navy blue, pin-stripe suit.
“Well”, Rebecca admired, “don’t you look nice.” Smiling at his wife’s compliment, he reciprocates, “You look quite beautiful yourself.” Smiling, she responds, “Thank you. Look, I was wondering what you might want for dinner tonight? Steak? A pot roast? Maybe some fettuccine?”
As Rebecca begins to wrap her arms around her husband from behind him, he immediately jets towards to the front door, before dismissing, “Uh, I’ll grab something at the hospital. I don’t know when I’ll be home.”
Confused, she exclaims, “Stop”, before continuing, “we both agreed we’d start spending more time at home together. I made sure to clear my schedule for tonight and I was under the assumption you were doing the same.”
“Well, clear you assumed wrong. I have a long day of meetings ahead of me and then I’ve got to make my rounds,” Michael responds. “Surely you understand, yes?”
“No”, Rebecca coldly responds, “I do not understand. We both agreed to make an effort in this marriage, and to be here for each other, especially if we are going to, at the very least, try and have a baby. I took that seriously, Michael, and I thought you were, too.”
“I do take it seriously”, Michael shortly responds, “but I also have a job that demands my attention and presence right now.” “And I don’t? Diane and I are swarmed with cases, and we’re doing our best to divide up the work as evenly as possible.”
“And I have to make sure things are going to plan with the Medical Center for our grand opening later this spring, and I have patients who need consulting on.”
Stepping towards her husband, Rebecca begins to plead, “What are we doing, Michael? We get to a point where we communicate and we come up with these plans, and somehow we never follow through.”
“I know”, Michael says in comfort, “but we also have obligations to our patients and our clients, and our jobs. I will do my best to be home as soon as I can but, like I said, my schedule is packed.”
As Michael leans forward and kisses Rebecca on the forehead, he states, “Now, I have to go. I’ll call you on lunch, I promise.”
Quickly opening and closing the front door to the Tack House, Rebecca turns her head towards a portrait of the pair’s 2011 wedding and next to it a recent vow renewal. Feeling an immense amount of abandonment by her husband, she takes a brief moment to feel in her own emotions, before wiping the single-shed tear from her right eye, collecting herself, gathering her belongings, and heading out the front door herself. Before closing the front door, she briefly pauses and looks back at her home, wondering if it would ever be filled with the warm love she had thought it once was.
464 UNION EAST DRIVE
LIBERTY CITY, NEW YORK, 01948
The main elevator doors open to the executive offices of Johnson Industries. From within the elevator, Logan Johnson exits, reading over paperwork and walking her way towards her office. Ignoring most of those leering at her, she opens the door to her office and immediately shuts it loudly, reverting against the walls of the entire office. As she sits at her desk, a knock appears on the door.
“Come in,” Logan calls out. Opening the door, Cain Wright walks into the office. “Am I interrupting”, Cain questions. “No”, Logan responds, “please, come in.”
As Cain approaches Logan, she questions, “Do you have those notes and reports I asked for?” “Yes”, Cain responds “they’re right here.”
Taking the folder from Cain, she quickly skims over the files, before thanking him for his assistance. “You’ve been quite helpful, Mr. Wright. I appreciate it.” “Is there anything else I might be able to do for you”, Cain questions in response. “No. That’s all, thank you. If I need you I’ll send a message through the system. Thanks again.”
Feeling coldly dismissed, Cain returns to the door of the office, and exits. Not hearing the door shut, Logan states out loud, “Cain, shut the…” and pauses, seeing Jennifer Hughes standing in the doorway.
“Such a shame, isn’t it”, Jennifer taunts, “how no one has the decency to close the door. Never know who may walk in.”
“And without invitation”, Logan absently responds, unimpressed with her estranged sister’s presence. “I don’t need an invitation”, Jennifer reminds Logan.
“What do you want, Jennifer? Now is not the best time.”
“I know it’s not. It never is with you, is it? But we have unfinished business.”
Confused, Logan questions, “What unfinished business?”
Pressing her lips and moving towards Logan, Jennifer responds, “The IPO and what it means for the Hotel. I told you to figure this out, Logan. The re-opening of the hotel is dependent on knowing who took hold of the IPO, otherwise, I must insist we severe the business workings between the Hotel and Johnson Industries.”
“We are working on it.”
“Not fast enough. I’m here to warn you that you have 30 days henceforth to either disclose what you know, or the business workings between Johnson and the Hotel will be nulled.”
Laughing off Jennifer’s claim, Logan responds, “You can’t do that. You don’t have the power.”
“Yes”, Jennifer responds in a smoldering tone, “I have ever power to do this. I’ve been in contact with my lawyers and I am fully intending on taking this to the Board of Directors if I have to. I will not be held back by your severe lack of competence to run this company. Don’t cross me, Logan. We both know what I know and that I fully intend on using it to protect the hotel from you and anyone else threatening its continued success moving forward.”
Feeling the tension, Logan remains silent in her brief confrontation. Sensing no response, Jennifer opens the door to Logan’s office, but not before quipping: “Oh and, if I were you, I wouldn’t flaunt my boy toy in the office where you both work. Very unprofessional.”
As the door slams shut, Logan quickly turns towards the door, with the most honest look of astonishment at her sister’s remarks.