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The Fastest Year

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The Fastest Year

In the car, Carol drives while Luka tells a story about renting livestock to a Swedish movie that filmed near their farm, and Carol laughs, and Luka says they made a lot of money but it made "a huge mess." Just then, the car starts horking, and Carol makes panic face as the engine craps out and asks what's happening, and Luka thunders, "I don't believe this, I'm going to kill Herb." Carol points out acidly that they didn't even meet Herb that day, and Luka opens his door and grouses that the same thing happened to his car, but Herb told him "it was a fluke," and Carol practically shouts, "You're telling me this now?" Again, the woman's got a point. "It's okay, I'll fix it," Luka says, and he hops out and raises the hood and gives Carol a little thumbs-up through the windshield, and she rolls her eyes, but she's smiling.

At the lakefront, Holling in his wheelchair says, "So you brought me to the water. Good boy," and he pats Mark's arm, and then he comments, "It's funny, Mark -- you know how some years seem to pass faster than others?" Mark nods, and Holling says, "Well, this year has been the fastest. I was thinking how strange things can be," and Mark nods to this too. Holling says that, in all the wars he served in, he never watched a man die: "On some ships, you get lucky." But, he says, he must have told Mark about the explosion at the base motor pool. "When you were stationed in Guam?" Mark says. Holling nods, and Mark says he was little, and he remembers Holling calling and telling Ruth about it over the phone. "We lost seven men," Holling says. He tells a story about standing in the P/X looking for shaving cream or something and hearing the explosion, and he started to go help along with a guy in the next aisle, but then he heard a crash and all these bottles went tumbling to the ground, and "this poor son-of-a-bitch is collapsing on the floor -- had a heart attack." Mark asks what Holling did. Holling screamed for help, but nobody came; they'd all gone over to the motor pool. "I got down, loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar . . . he grabbed onto my hand, begged me not to leave him. So I stayed. And I pulled him into my arms and I held him. Just the two of us. For the next four minutes I watched him die. The longest four minutes of my life." Mark folds his lips and looks pensive as Holling goes on, "But in a crazy way, four of the best minutes of my life." He shoots Mark a look: "There was some kind of value in just being there." Mark keeps staring at his father. "Thank you, Mark," Holling says, then loses his nerve a little and says, "for bringing me out to the water." "You're welcome, Dad," Mark says with false heartiness. Okay, remember the kidney-transplant candidate from a few episodes ago -- the woman whose reactions didn't have anything to do with, well, anything? Well, I think Anthony Edwards took a page from that woman's book in this scene, because he did a good job during the rest of the episode, but he just gave us nothing here. Just then, Mark spots a guy named Sam and introduces him to Holling. Sam is Sarah MacKenzie's husband. "What the hell?" Holling wants to know, shaking Sam's hand.

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