Season 4 Episode 6

The Guilty Party

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 13, 1990 on ABC

Episode Recap

Contractors and repairmen are tearing up the Steadmans' kitchen causing Hope to fall behind with the laundry, groceries, etc. She thinks she's short-changing Michael in the domestic department, and when she gets a request from Princeton to write something about herself for the alumni directory, she feels even more inadequate. Hope imagines herself back in college, facing criticism from a professor over what she's done with her life. (This fantasy recurs throughout the episode.) She wants to throw a surprise pary for Michael; Melissa and Nancy are dubious. Janey's pre-school teacher tells Hope that Janey got very upset when she couldn't cut perfectly on the dotted lines with scissors. At DAA, Ernest, a new aide to Miles, brings him pain medication for his back. Michael and Elliot have a very important presentation to make to new Japanese clients, which everyone is anticipating nervously.

Hope doesn't want to, but the mess in the kitchen requires her to use a caterer for Michael's party. At the same that she is trying to do everything herself, she tries to tell Janey she doesn't have to do everything perfectly. Hope is frustrated trying to write for the Princeton directory and the flashbacks with the judgmental professor continue. Getting more and more frantic over party preparations, Miss Jackie calls from the pre-school, concerned about Janey's perfectionsim. The "psychic caterer" Electra Rosenbloom arrives, though her psychic talents are suspect. At DAA, Michael and Elliot are hard at work on the upcoming presentation when they realize Miles is under the full effect of some strong pain medication. When the Japanese clients arrive, Michael pretends to be Miles. Quick-thinking Ernest explains Miles' bizarre behavior by telling the clients (in Japanese!) that Miles is a former copy writer who has gone insane, but is kept on out of respect!

The surprise party is shaping up to be a disaster. The guest of honor is late, the other guests are growing surly, the psychic isn't working out, and a portion of the ceiling collapses under water weight. Elliot tells Michael about the party planned for him. Ernest asks the Japanese if they want to go to a surprise party and they agree. Michael and company arrive to lukewarm cries of "surprise." But amazingly, the party picks up and starts to go well. Despite this, Hope is still upset about her mistakes, leaving it to Michael to try and chill her out. Hope realizes her perfectionism is turning her daughter into a small version of herself.