Life on Mars

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Mr. Sobell: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Oedipus Wrecked

Back at the 125th Precinct, Skelton and Carling are debriefing Papa Tyler in a holding cell, while Sam looks on from another part of the station house. He seems somewhat stricken, but don't take my word for it: "Why do you look so stricken?" Annie asks him. See? It's Sam's father that's upsetting him -- naturally -- though not in the way you're probably thinking. See, this is the exact year that Papa Tyler took a powder on Ma Tyler and Li'l Sam. "He just disappeared from our lives," Sam says. "We never heard from him again." "Where did he go?" Annie asks. I think that bit about never hearing from him again probably answers that question, Annie. "Well, why did he go?" Annie continues. Sam doesn't know the answer to that one, either. "Well, do you know anything, Sam?" Annie asks, only with a trace element of exasperation in her voice. Simply this: Sam's old man left town in the middle of Sam's fourth birthday party, and it's his birthday this coming Saturday, which just so happens to be the exact date his father vanished in 1973. Annie is mostly excited to learn that Sam's birthday is tomorrow, and that she still has time to pick him up a gift. Might I suggest something from Hallmark's line of "Sorry your dad abandoned you, leaving you an emotional wreck" cards?

Annie asks how old Sam's going to be. This many, Sam says, by way of holding up four fingers. Annie doesn't see the humor in that; fortunately, I do. "After the car hit me and I arrived here in 1973," Sam explains, "I saw an image of a woman, my mother, wearing a red dress. Being chased through the woods. Now, I can't explain it, but I keep seeing it over and over again." Annie has done an admirable job of repressing her "Oh God, this again" expression up until now. She tries to change the subject by suggesting they have a birthday party -- not on his actual birthday, since she's accompanying Assistant District Attorney Lee Crocker to a cousin's wedding, but perhaps some time after that. So long as it approaches the excesses of the Carling Birthday Extravaganza, I'm all for it. Sam protests that Annie is missing the point -- that maybe he's been sent back in time to figure out what happened to his family and prevent his papa from being a rolling stone. Annie suddenly realizes that when Sam talks about his father, he's referring to the kidnapping suspect -- there's that "Oh God, not this again" expression of hers.

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Life on Mars

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