Sam gets a disturbing phone call at the start of this episode -- disturbing because it's coming from a seemingly disconnected phone as well as the fact that it seems to be originating from 2008. Anyhow, the voice on the other end of the line is Sam's mother. No, she's not in trouble with loan sharks again -- this is the 2008 edition of Sam's mother, and she's letting her apparently coma-plagued son know that the doctors would like to pull the plug on him. Even more alarmingly from Sam's standpoint, she's agreed -- the Machine That Goes Ping gets shut down at 2 p.m. that day.
This proves to be rather inconvenient for Sam, coming as it does at the precise moment that someone's taken hostages at the nearby hospital. Unless all of his demands have been met, he's going to shoot the hostages, and he gives the police until 2 p.m. to appease him. If you think that time is more than a little coincidental, then you have plenty in common with Sam, who naturally concludes that his fate is tied into the hostage situation getting resolved with a minimum of bloodshed. You can imagine Sam's agitation, then, when the responsibility for resolving the crisis falls on the shoulders of Ray "Shoot First and Ask Questions While Continuing to Shoot Later" Carling.
So here's the skinny: the hostage-taker is a kind-hearted (if thick-headed) lout who's upset that a doctor at the hospital performed a minimally invasive lobotomy on his brother. And what he wants is for the doctor to perform some sort of surgical procedure to reverse the fact that a large chunk of his brother's brain is floating in a mason jar somewhere. They have the technology to do reverse lobotomies, right?
...Oh. Tough luck, Sam.
Well, Sam tries to take matters into his own hands by charging into the hospital to confront the hostage-taker himself. What winds up happening is that an orderly gets shot, Hunt and Annie join the hostage ranks, and everything's just about to go pear-shaped when both Sam and the lobotomized brother go to their respective happy places, convincing the hostage-taker that his brother isn't totally a lost cause and, not coincidentally, convincing whoever's still around in 2008 not to pull the plug on Sam.
Well, except for Maya, who seemingly pulls the plug on her relationship with Sam at episode's end. I'd tell you more, but I was too busy blasting Kool & the Gang's "Celebrate" to pick up much of what was said in the closing minutes.
Previously on Rock 'N Roll Suicide... well, nothing really went down in the last episode that's gonna inform the narrative here. You know that Sam ran into his mother a while back, right? And that he's dating Lisa Bonet? Okay, cool.
So we pick things up with Sam crouched in an out-of-the-way corner of the 125th Precinct, struggling with the fact that 1973 typewriters don't have a delete key. "Stupid analog piece of crap machine," he mutters. Hey, watch your language, buddy -- ABC can't afford the FCC fine. Not in this economy, anyhow. At least Michael Nesmith's mom has already invented Liquid Paper, so you've got that going for you at least. But it's not wrestling with antiquated technology that's got Sam in such a pissy state -- it's the fact that, for this night at least, the 125 has apparently been transformed into Party Central, with uniforms and detectives alike flagrantly disregarding open container laws and public decency standards. What could possibly be the cause for this celebration? Somebody finally figure how to stamp out all that crime? No, something more momentous as it turns out -- the cops are celebrating how something as beautiful as the human act of love could produce Ray Carling. And here's the Birthday Boy now, dressed to the nines in his best Huggy Bear ensemble and with a hooker on each arm. No, I'm not being ungentlemanly about the ladies who have accompanied Carling to his birthday bash -- the man brought along actual hookers, an entire squadron of them actually. "Let the scotch flow free," Carling declares. "And let no hooker spend the night in holding." It's appropriate that he delivers this line with an affected Kennedy-esque accent, since I believe this is how Ted usually celebrates his birthday.
Sam wonders if, maybe in their haste to celebrate, the other officers of the 125th Precinct have forgotten about more pressing matters -- you know, like the whole keeping law and order thing? Carling tells him to relax: The 114th Precinct will take up the slack this evening because New York is apparently a sleepy kind of one-horse town where an entire battalion of cops can take the night off without any uptick in crime. Now if you'll excuse Carling, he's gotta go sex up some hookers, while Mrs. Carling celebrates with her gift -- not having to touch Ray at any point this evening.