Someone murders “New York’s most beloved columnist” on Life on Mars — and it turns out there were plenty of people who hated the man’s guts, including one Gene Hunt. That means everything the squad does will have to be above-board and by the book. Can they survive?

Joey Conway, the columnist in question, was stabbed a  gazillion times in and around the heart on the subway. As he made a career out of pissing people off in print, the list of suspects is long — his hate mail fills box after box after box. Did one of these correspondents kill him?

Sam and Ray check out an art exhibition, the last appointment on Conway’s books. Sam is shocked to discover the gallery owner is Tony Crane, who he’ll know in the future as a murdering scumbag who killed his wife after Sam helped her fill out a restraining order and attempt to leave him. Sam wants to nab Tony right now, without evidence — “I’m arresting you on suspicion of being a murdering rat bastard!” — but this is the one time Gene won’t let him follow his gut. What’s more, there will be no beating confessions out of people, putting the screws on folks, or other time-honored methods of policing. For once, they’re doing things Sam’s way — and he could be more upset about it.

Sam goes to Eve, the young artist Tony is now repping, and tells her to get out. She tells Tony, who files a restraining order against Sam. The chief of detectives tells Sam that if he violates the order, he’ll be arrested and will lose his badge. But Sam can’t stay away — he wants to save Eve from her future counterpart’s fate — and he gets nabbed. Gene is furious.

Meanwhile, Ray seems to make a break in the case — several hateful letters to Conway include Greek, and Conway recently bashed a Greek restaurant as the worst place in the city.  The squad nabs him and brings him in for questioning. When Ray’s brutal tactics don’t work, Gene tries bonding with the guy — I know what Conway is an ass. He nearly destroyed my life, too, with a piece on police brutality. That commiseration leads the suspect to confess that he killed Conway, and that he’s glad about it. They’ve got the killer!

Or do they? Ray listens to Conway’s interview notes and hears something that gives him pause. He gives Sam the key to the cell and tells him to make his case. Sam goes to Eve and gets the whole story — Conway had told her about other women who had been linked with Tony and then disappeared. Conway wanted Eve to get out, but she couldn’t convince herself to leave. Tony  found out, and Eve admits that there might have been a half-hour period when she didn’t  know where he was. Sam hands over some evidence that he wants Eve to plant — Sam! Your soul! — but before she can agree, Tony comes home and catches him. He pulls a gun on Sam, and beats Eve when she tries to stop him. Sam gets the gun and takes Tony in. Meanwhile, Annie does some completely above-board sleuthing on her own, and finds the murder weapon hidden in Crane’s typewriter — the closest analog to the laptop case where Sam found the murder weapon in the future. Go, Annie!

But there’s a problem. While Sam was under the gun at Eve’s place, he told Tony that he was from the future, and that he knew Tony killed there. Tony tells everyone that Sam is a lunatic, and Sam seems to admit it. Then he changes his story — I have no idea what Tony is talking about, but this whole future talk is the raving of a madman. Gene locks Tony up in a mental ward for his own safety. Case closed.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • The episode opens with a Ray voiceover: “The men and women of New York are a special breed, capable of surviving the urban jungle, but at what price? We’ve grown accustomed to living with the violence, squalor, and most of all the acts of depravity both large and small that robs us of our humanity.” Wait — does Ray have a hidden soul? Nope — he’s just reading Conway’s latest column, and he thinks it’s bunk.
  • Chris is sucking on a lollipop during the investigation (and his discards the wrapper on the body). The chief of detectives rips it out of Chris’ mouth and throws it away. “I rue the day Kojak hit the airways,” he says. Hee!
  • Ray is not impressed with modern art: ” What happened to the classy stuff — oil paintings of old ladies and bowls of fruit, cigar chomping bulldogs playing poker?”
  • Newest euphemism for insanity: “One Brady short of a Bunch.” Love it!
  • Gene tries kinder, gentler policing methods: When Ray is about to kick the crap out of Dimitri Pantos, the main suspect, Gene reins him in: “Just one, and don’t leave a mark.”
  • Ray and Chris are similarly unclear on the use of tape recorders in interrogation. Ray keeps losing his temper and lunging for Dimitri, and Chris keeps rewinding the tape to erase the evidence of abuse.
  • Sam tries to explain laptops to Annie — it’s something that will help you do office asks, keep in touch with friends, “easily find porn…” Take THAT, typewriter!
  • Sam and Annie have a nice exchange at the end of the episode, as Annie contemplates why Eve didn’t leave Crane: “Maybe you spend enough time with a crazy person and eventually some of their madness rubs off on you a little,” she says. “That sounds vaguely accusatory,” Sam says. “The more time I spend with you, the dizzier I get,” Annie replies. “Maybe that’s not madness,” Sam says. “Maybe that’s something else.” “I thought Tony Crane was the arrogant one!”

Posted by:Sarah Jersild