Season 5, Episode 7
Air date November 13, 2000
Written by Brenda Hampton & Sue Tenney
Directed by Paul Snide
Episode Guide


Mary's credit card bill seems to have magically been paid off and now Eric and Annie want to find out how. Desperate to protect their sister, the Camden kids do everything they can to keep the secret but it is a disaster waiting to be revealed and once it is, Eric and Annie decide that there's only one thing left to do. They make their final decision to send Mary away to live with her grandparents in Buffalo for her own good.

Full Summary

At church, Eric gives himself a speech about how to deal with Mary. Annie is looking at all of the places that she has money to figure out where Mary got the money to pay her bills when Eric walks into the kitchen. Eric tells Annie that he is still upset about Mary and that they can't find out where Mary got the money but Annie can't find the source of the money. They are tired of worrying about everything and Annie decides to invite the Hamiltons over to have someone to talk to. Annie tells Eric that Mary left at lunch time and hasn't come back home. Lucy arrives at home and asks if Annie needs help and explains that she was at the library working on her paper. Lucy tells Annie that she doesn't know where she got the money from. Eric tells Simon that he is worried about where she got the money from but Simon says that he doesn't know. Annie calls Matt to see where Mary got the money. They both try to figure out who gave her the money, so they call Annie's father to see if she got the money from him but he says no and fakes forgetting who she is to get a few laughs. Eric tells Annie that he called his parents but they didn't give her any money. They think of John as a possible lender but when they call to talk to him, Matt explains that he is not there, so Annie asks him to ask John. Eric suggests Heather but Ruthie comes downstairs and tells them that she lent Mary $20. Ruthie meets Lucy and Simon in the hallway and Lucy starts freaking out. Eric suggests that she might have stolen something from the house or Hank and Julie but Julie tells them no. Annie suggests Robbie but Eric tells her that he is back with his old girlfriend, so Eric suggests that all of the kids are lying and Ruthie's confession was a smokescreen. Ruthie and Simon are listening in and tell Lucy that they have 24 hours to replace the money. Eric and Annie welcome the Hamiltons and they tell each other about the kids. When asked about Mary and Nigel, both families hesitate in answering about how they are doing. Lucy calls Matt and she tells him that the Hamiltons are over and they are talking about something big and no one knows where Mary is. Matt is concerned that Mary hasn't found a job and they can't yell at Mary since they can't find her. Mary is at the movie theater and when the movie is over, she buys another ticket to the same movie. Annie tells Mrs.Hamilton that it helps to talk about problems. Mr.Hamilton and Eric discuss Mary and where she could have gotten the money. Annie walks into the twins' room and finds Ruthie putting rice in the piggy banks to weigh them down. Annie yells for Eric and everyone shows up in the room and the Hamiltons excuse themselves and leave the room. The whole family is in the twins' room and Ruthie tells them that she has been taking money from the twins' room but as Annie is yelling at Ruthie for taking the money, Eric tells them to tell the truth. Matt confesses that they all decided to take the twins' money. Eric asks all of the kids to go downstairs and he and Annie decide to talk to the kids and confront Mary when she gets home. Everyone is waiting for Mary to show up and when she finally gets home, she is defensive about why everyone is sitting in the living room and doesn't want to take part in one of their interventions. Eric tells Mary that if she goes to her room, they are all going to go because they need to talk to her. Eric begins telling her that life is a school and he is not helping her as much as she needs and begins describing everything that he found out about her life. He describes the jobs, the drunk driving and tells her that no one has done her any favors and she needs to learn life's lessons. Annie explains that she doesn't want her to go to jail since she is still on probation just because she is hanging out with the wrong people. Annie offers their help before things get too bad. Matt talks to Mary about how he hasn't been around and he feels bad about it but really cares about her. He also tells her that it is harder to be good than bad and she needs to decide to become a responsible person. Also, what she does affects everyone else and that everyone is there for her. Lucy tells Mary that she used to look up to her but she doesn't want to be like her anymore. She is confident that Mary doesn't want to be like Mary anymore. Mary keeps on rolling her eyes and doesn't want to listen anymore but she stays quiet. Lucy continues her speech with telling Mary that she wants Mary to be a winner and not be nothing since her basketball career has ended. Simon brings up the financial side and offers her advice to not spend more than what she makes. Simon also tells her to keep her promises to her family and pay back her family first before her other lenders. Ruthie decides to not keep her speech sad but decides to tell her that she is mad about everything and how tired they are of covering for her. She also tells Mary that she is just selfish and doesn't care about anyone else. Eric asks the kids to go upstairs and he and Annie decide to just talk to her alone. Mary tells them that she will do better. Annie produces a joint that they found in her room but Mary denies smoking any marijuana. Eric asks her why it is in the room if she doesn't plan on smoking it. When Eric tries to get her to explain about it, she gets defensive and yells at them for searching through her room. Annie explains that privacy is a privilege, not a right and they didn't know how far in trouble she had gotten. Mary asks what the harm is in experimenting with things but Eric explains that some people do get addicted and she shouldn't take the risk to see if she is someone who will get addicted. Annie tells Mary that Mary will be going to live with Eric's parents since they have six other kids to deal with. Eric's parents have offered to find her a job and help her get her life together. Mary complains about it but Eric explains that they are leaving at 9:00 that night for the airport so Mary can fly to Buffalo to be with her grandparents. In her room, Lucy walks in and Mary yells at her that she isn't happy about it. Lucy explains that Eric and Annie are more concerned with her safety than her happiness and that they didn't know about her leaving. Mary tells Lucy that she doesn't want to talk to any of them and threatens to throw something at her. Annie asks Eric if this is the right thing to do and Eric reassures her that they have tried everything and it the best for Mary. Annie tells Eric that she may have to remind him that it is the right decision. They hear Mary yelling and Annie is concerned that she won't say good bye to anyone but Eric knows that it is the right thing to do. All of the kids are sitting in the kitchen and are sad that she never said goodbye to them. All of the kids express that it is a sad situation but Ruthie asks if anyone wants cake. At the airport, Mary realizes that she didn't know how much trouble she was in and is thankful for them to bring her to that realization. The boarding of the flight is called and they hug Mary and tell her that they love her and they cry as she walks onto the plane. Annie has to reassure Eric that it is the right thing to do as he is crying.


  • This is the last episode to feature only the original cast in the opening credits.
  • After this episode, Mary (Jessica Biel) was a recurring character and appeared in nine of the remaining fifteen episodes of the season. She was only featured in the opening credits of the episodes in which she appeared: every episode in the sixth season, five in the seventh season and one in the eighth season. She would not return until the tenth season finale.
  • This episode has the longest scene in the history of the show. The scene where the family confronts Mary lasts 15 minutes and 29 seconds, going from one commercial break to the next.
  • Ruthie yells at Mary that she never came home to have pizza with her like she promised, obviously referring to a previous episode called Losers. However, this isn't entirely true; Mary did make it home with the pizza and was more than willing to be with Ruthie but Ruthie was mad because she got home an hour late.


  • Ruthie: We only have 24 hours to put the money in the banks.
  • Lucy: We have to move quickly.

  • Eric: How about Hank and Julie? Maybe they loaned Mary the money.

  • Annie: How are you?
  • Julie: Fine. I'm fine.
  • Annie: Hank?
  • Julie: Hank's fine. He says hello.
  • Hank: No I didn't.
  • Annie: Erica?
  • Julie: The baby's fine.
  • Annie: Did you loan Mary any money?
  • Julie: Are we missing anything valuable from the house?
  • Hank: The only thing we have of value is our daughter (holds up a baby monitor) and I can hear her breathing... Let's eat.
  • Annie: Doesn't it seem like time speeds faster as you get older.

  • Annie: Are you ok?
  • Charles: I dunno, I forget.
  • Annie: What?
  • Charles: (laughs) Just a little Alzheimer's joke.

  • Charles [to Annie]: Ginger keeps an eagle eye on all the money in this house, so trust me, you'll never catch me helping Miss Mary Mary Quite Contrary out of whatever debt she's in.

  • Matt: (about Mary and her money problems) I don't have time for this.
  • Lucy: I don't have time for this, either! I have a paper to write!
  • Matt: You know, I don't even know why we're yelling at each other when we should really be yelling at Mary.
  • Lucy: We can't yell at Mary. We can't find her!

  • Movie Theater Guy: (when Mary wants to see the exact same movie that just ended) You're gonna see that movie again?
  • Mary: Yeah, it was funny. Do you have a problem with that?
  • Movie Theater Guy: No, it's just that if you're planning on seeing this movie every day like you did with the movie last week, you might want to give yourself 24 hours between screenings.
  • Mary: Just give me the ticket.

  • Eric: It's just that my beautiful, smart, basketball-playing Mary, is falling completely apart.
  • Morgan Hamilton: She may be coming undone, but she's not undone yet.

  • Annie: What are we going to do?
  • Eric: We're going to talk to our children. We're going to ask them what we know, and talk as a family. And then we're all going to confront Mary together when she gets home.
  • Annie: And then?
  • Eric: I don't know. But I think I have a plan.

  • Annie: You stole $500 from your own brothers?! From babies?!
  • Ruthie: I'm sorry, it's all my fault. Punish me any way you like.
  • Matt: What's going on?
  • Eric: What do you think is going on? Your 10-year-old sister is lying about stealing money so the rest of you can cover for Mary.
  • Annie: Is that it? Is that the truth!?
  • Ruthie: No! You're wrong! I took it. I'm very bad. I'm a very bad girl.
  • Matt: No, Ruthie. I'm a very bad big brother for letting this happen.

  • Mary: Why is everyone in the living room?
  • Eric: We were waiting on you. Sit down.
  • Mary: What if I don't want to sit down? What is this, one of your creepy interventions?

  • Matt: (to Mary) Look, I'm sorry I haven't been around much. You're important to me. What happens to you is important to me. What happens to you is important to everyone in the family, but I've been watching you, and I haven't really been interested in being a part of anything that's going on in your life, so I've basically avoided you, but maybe I should have cornered you and given you my take on what you're doing a lot sooner. I've seen so many young women who are losers, mostly in the emergency room or entering drug rehab at the hospital. I don't want you to be a loser. It's too easy to be the bad girl. You're better than that. I know I'm not perfect. I know I don't have all the answers, but I can tell you this. The most powerful thing I ever did for myself was make up my mind to become a responsible person, and I still haven't worked up to being responsible 24 hours a day, but I'm getting better at it. And I'm hoping that sharing this with you will help you make up your mind to become a responsible person! If you can't do it for yourself, then maybe you could consider the rest of us, and how much we need you to be responsible. Whatever you do affects us all. I know you know that, and yet you act like you don't care. All of us have to strive to be the best we can be, not because anything else is unacceptable, but because anything else is just plain misery. I can see you're miserable. You are. This is not the best you can do. You can do better, and I will do anything I can to help you do better. You just have to make up your mind that that's what you want to do, and I'm there for you. We all are.

  • Simon: (to Mary) I know I'm considered "The Bank of Simon", and you all laugh at that, but here's what I like about money. It tells you right who you are in numbers, not words that can hurt your feelings or make you mad. Numbers are undisputed facts, and the fact is, your numbers point to trouble. It's simple. You don't make as much as you spend, and you don't make enough to meet your obligations. You'd see that if you looked at the numbers, but I know you don't like to do that. I can help you set up a budget and a payment schedule if you want, but even if you don't want, take my advice. Don't spend anything else until you pay off your debt, and then don't get into debt again! And the first thing you have to pay off is your personal debt--the money you owe Sam and David. Now, I know that a lot of people would put that off to last, and maybe a professional finance guy would tell you to pay your institutional lenders first, but I'm your brother, and I'm telling you that morally, the right thing to do is to pay people first, especially relatives. And when you see that little column of debt marked "Sam and David" reach zero debt, that zero is going to tell you right who you are, just like I said. It's gonna say that you, Mary Camden, care more about your family than anyone else. It's gonna say that you care about keeping your promises to your family more than anything else. And when you see all those other little columns of debt go down, week after week, the page is gonna tell the facts of your debt recovery. It's a beautiful thing, and I want you to have a beautiful thing, because I love you.

  • Lucy (to Mary): I love you, too. All right, this is hard. (trying not to cry) You're my big sister. And I look up to you. Or at least I did. You've always been better at school than I am, you've always been better at everything than I am. And that, at times, has made me feel inferior. Yet most of the time, it's given me something to work toward, because I wanted to be like you. But I don't want to be like you anymore.

  • Ruthie: (to Mary) I must be at the wrong meeting. I don't know where all this chummy advice and gushy stuff is coming from, because I thought we were all supposed to tell you how mad we are. I'm mad, really mad. You're selfish. You don't care anything about the rest of us, so I don't know why we're all supposed to care so much about you. You act like you're the center of the entire Camden universe! I'm tired of eating a cold dinner every night because we're all hoping you'll come home and eat with us. I'm tired of waking up every night when you clump up those stairs. I'm tired of Mom and Dad fighting about you. I'm tired of covering for you, and I'm not doing it anymore! You made me lie to Mom and Dad; you never came home to have pizza with me like you promised. All you care about is you!

  • Annie: You stole money from your own brothers?! From babies?!
  • Eric: This is pathetic. Really pathetic.
  • Annie: We knew you were headed for trouble but we had no idea that you were this far down the road.
  • Mary: I am not in trouble.
  • Eric: Life gets so complicated when you don't tell the truth.
  • Mary: So what's best for everyone is to ship me off to Siberia to live with old people?!
  • Annie: Yep, that's basically it. You will live with your grandparents, you will take a job working at a homeless shelter, with your first few checks going to Sam and David. And in January, you and Grandma will take a course together at the community college.
  • Mary: What if I am not going to do this?
  • Annie: In my heart of hearts, I know this is the right thing. This is the right thing to do!
  • Eric: I love you! Remember what you said, it's better to have an angry kid then a dead kid!

  • Lucy: Please don't leave like this.
  • Mary: How did you think I was going to leave? I am being sent off to live with the Colonel and Grandma Ruth in Buffalo! You know what Buffalo is like, and you know what they are like! What made you think I was going to be happy, huh?! What?
  • Lucy: I didn't know anything about it, OK? And maybe Mom and Dad are more concerned with your safety than your happiness!
  • Mary: Get out!
  • Lucy: Is this how you're gonna say good-bye?
  • Mary: Yeah, yeah. This is how I'm gonna say good-bye. And you can tell the rest of them to stay out of here, because I don't want to talk to any of you!

  • Mary: (after her parents find a joint in her bedroom) I can't believe you searched my room! What are you, communists? I have rights, you know!
  • Annie: I guess I just can't explain this often enough. A right is something that can never be taken away from you. For example, you have the right to be indignant now, and I can't take that away, but privacy? Well, privacy is a privilege when you live with your parents, and privileges can be taken away. Now, we knew that you were in trouble, but we had no idea that you were this far down the road!

  • Eric [to Mary]: Have you ever tried smoking marijuana?
  • Mary: Well, even if I did, what is so wrong with experimenting? I mean, what's the harm in just trying it? Everybody's gonna try it sometime.
  • Eric: Well, first of all, not everyone. Not me, for example. And secondly, let me see if I can answer the "what's the harm" question. I suppose for some people, nothing ever comes from the fact that they tried smoking pot, but for other people, plenty comes from the fact that they tried smoking pot. Lifelong, illegal habits. The need to try other, harder drugs. Addiction to those drugs. Arrest. Conviction. Jail time. Those kinds of things. The question really is, to which people do you belong? There's no way of knowing. But "experimenting" to find out? That's quite a risk, don't you think? I think it is, especially for someone who's on probation.

  • Annie: (to Mary) I know you know that your new friends Frankie and Johnny smoke pot and drink, but did you also know that he hits her? They have serious problems, and we don't want their serious problems to become your serious problems.

  • Mary: (screams out angrily to Eric and Annie) I'll meet you in the car! (slams the door)
  • Annie: Mary wouldn't leave without saying good-bye to her brothers and sisters, would she?
  • Eric: Don't be surprised if she gets on the plane without even saying good-bye to us.
  • Annie: I hate this.

  • Lucy: It's like there's a big hole in the house, and Mary isn't even gone yet.
  • Matt: It's sad.
  • Simon: Really sad.
  • Ruthie: So, who wants cake?

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