Life on Mars

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Mr. Sobell: B | Grade It Now!
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Don't Go Chasing Butterflies

Carling orders Sam to stop pointing his gun at Hunt; Sam declines until he's sure that the lieutenant won't kill Angel. So that gun's going to stay trained on him then, since Hunt has no interest in hearing what Angel has to say: "It ain't my bedtime," Hunt sneers. "And I'm not interested in fairy tales." "I am," Sam retorts. And so here's the story of The Building Superintendent Who Didn't Actually Kill That Little Girl. Angel was up on the roof painting, and Keisha was up there as she usually was -- happier than usual, Angel notes, as she had caught a butterfly. But then a gust of wind came up and blew her butterfly away. Keisha gave chase across the roof until she reached the edge whereupon she became an unwitting example of Newton's First Law of Motion. Angel tried to grab at her as she went over the side, but all he wound up with was that swatch of dress. "God forgive me, I wasn't fast enough," Angel sobs. There, now don't you feel badly for judging Angel guilty? Carling and Hunt seem to, since they've dropped their weapons. Oh, Carling isn't totally sold -- "This turd is pulling our heartstrings here" -- but Fletcher says the words we all dream of saying to Carling -- "Shut up, Ray" -- and it seems the non-murder of Keisha Davies has been wrapped up with no loose ends whatsoever. Well, except for that angry mob downstairs that is unlikely to give Angel's alibi such a sympathetic hearing. "The only thing that can end this is justice," Hunt mutters. "And you want me to tell a story about a little girl and a butterfly." Well, yeah, Sam says, since it's the truth and all. "Angel dying is the only truth people want to hear," Hunt replies. I'd say that bodes ill for you, Angel. Sam protests that Hunt must believe in Angel's innocence. "It doesn't matter what I believe," Hunt sighs, as he raises his weapon. Well, let's see what your gun believes, then. "Bang," is what the gun has to say. Well, at least it shut up the mob downstairs.

Later that same night, the crowd begins to disperse to the music of Sly and the Family Stone. Paramedics wheel down a drape-covered body, while the detectives look glum. Sam looks around and catches the eye of Brother Love Butter -- they share a meaningful glance, and Brother Love Butter gives a nod as if to say, "Well, you did what you had to do" or "I hope that justice prevailed" or possibly "Can you believe that dope from the New York Post thought I was playing a dude?" Sam gets in the ambulance that now holds the body, and the door is closed behind him. Inside the ambulance, Sam pulls back the sheet to reveal that Angel is not even Mostly Dead. Nah, it was all a fake-out to prevent the crowd from tearing Angel (and not coincidentally, his police protectors) from limb to limb. The red splotches on the sheet? Paint. Hunt's gunshot? It didn't hit the broad side of a barn, let alone a major artery on Angel. So the plan is for the ambulance to drop Angel off at the bus station where he and his girlfriend will flee to their new lives. "It's a miracle," a grateful Angel proclaims. No, the miracle will be if this stunt escapes the notice of newspaper reporters, community activists, assistant district attorneys, medical examiners, or anyone else who wonders why the body of a guy who triggered a race riot up and walked away. "I was walking around thinking I was dead this whole time," Angel continues. "I know what you mean," Sam says. He does not add, "Hopefully, not literally." Angel suggests that Sam turn to the power of prayer, since that's what got him through this ordeal. Though the clever ruse and easily-duped crowd probably helped some.

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Life on Mars

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