Life on Mars

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Here's to the curliqued whimsy of fate!

We cut to Sam walking outside with the kid, warping him for life by telling him to stay strong for his mom. No pressure! He leads the kid through a guided visualization exercise, all, "If you can feel your dad, then he's not really gone. He's here now. So any time you need your dad, close your eyes, he'll be right there." Is every odd-numbered episode going to end with Sam haunting some preadolescent male?

Then Sam's back at his place and rapping with Windy. She asks if he found his self yet, and he replies, "Nah. Came close a couple of times. I'm starting to think that you're right: 2008 is the illusion and 1973 is the definitely a reality. The only thing that exists is right now." Windy exults, "Trippy! I think you're finally getting the hang of this." Hands up, all of you who think Windy's wholly a product of Sam's subconscious and is here as some sort of mental-health safeguard. As the music tells us "I'm changing/ I'm changing everything around me," we zip from Sam to Annie, who is listening to the widow Reeves (who may be, for all we know, saying, "I thought for sure it was the gay cruising that would get him. Who would have guessed that it was a grudge from Viet Nam?"). The song tells us "The world is a bad place/ a bad place" and we cut to Gene draining his hip flask dry, then switch to the squad room where Chris is writing up a report and Ray is looking aggrieved.

Then we cut to the exterior of the subway station for Madison Square. A vendor's selling Knicks pennants and people are pouring out of the station on the way to the game. Sam's walking against the tide of people but is brought up short when he see himself as a tiny child, holding the cobra-tatooed hand of his smiling father. Sam stops, poleaxed. As small Sam passes the adult, we hear the steady thrum of a heartbeat and fix tight on Sam's stunned face. The boy turns around and catches Sam's eye for a second, Sam looks ever more bewildered, and then everything fades but the heartbeat. Oh, Sam -- one step forward, two steps back.

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Life on Mars

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