Sam
gets some bad news on Life on Mars, but he also gets some answers. Maybe. Plus,
impromptu Vanilla Ice!

Stop,
collaborate and spoiler.

Keisha
Davis, a nine-year-old black girl, falls to her death from the top of a
building. Angel, the Puerto Rican building super, was at the scene. Everyone
assumes Angel killed her, and everyone — the Black community (we’re a decade
or so away from African-American) and the cops — wants Angel’s head on a
stick. If only some meddlesome priest isn’t getting in the way… Father Tim
(former boxer, current priest, all bad-ass) won’t give Angel up — he thinks
the man is innocent. After a theological
discussion with Sam and Ray, he releases Angel to their custody. Members of the
Black Liberation Army (BLA) are even less concerned with legal niceties than
Gene Hunt himself — they lob a pipe bomb at Sam, Ray and Angel. Angel escapes.

Sam
and Ray are unhurt, but are varying degrees of pissed off. So when a trio of
black men show up at the station, guns get drawn with alacrity. Fear not! The
lead guy is a cop — in fact, he’s
Fletcher Bellow, who will be Sam’s captain (not to mention rabbi,
father-confessor, mentor and all-around father figure) in 2008. Fletcher has
the guys who lobbed the bomb. They are unrepentant.

Ye
Olde 1973 Fletcher has no clue who Sam is, and wants very little to do with
him. I smell a buddy movie! Sam and Fletcher team up because they would rather
catch Angel and interrogate him than see him flat-out killed, either by the
cops or the BLA. So they huddle around the radio listening to Brother
Lovebutter, a DJ who speaks for his people and who promises the city will burn
if Angel isn’t found and made to pay for his crimes. When Brother Lovebutter
announces where Angel has been spotted, Sam and Fletcher scurry off to find him
before the promised bloodbath an ensue. Oops! It’s a trap! The BLA take Sam and
Fletcher hostage, proposing to trade them for Angel when the cops catch him.

Denise,
the fabulous activist attorney who represents the BLA and other community
members, arrives to tear the hostage-takers a new one, and then escorts Sam and
Fletcher to meet Brother Lovebutter. Brother Lovebutter turns out to be Sister
Lovebutter — Whoopi Goldberg, in fact — and she says the only balm for her
people’s pain is the blood of an Angel. Sam and Fletcher try to convince her
otherwise, but she’s not buying their arguments — at least, not until Fletcher
tells her that if Angel dies, everyone in the building is going to jail.

Brother
Lovebutter agrees to let Sam makes an appeal over the air for Angel to turn
himself in. Angel calls, saying he’s got a story to tell, but before he can get
to the good stuff, Gene calls in, demanding Sam get Angel’s location so they
can nab him. Angel hangs up. But Sam heard the noises in the background and
figured out Angel must be at the Port Authority bus terminal. Unfortunately,
Gene figured that out too. But they don’t find Angel — they find his pregnant
girlfriend. After sob stories from Sam and Fletcher about what it was like to
grow up without a father, she tells them Angel will be at the memorial rally
for Keisha.

It
seems like half the world is at the memorial, and everyone there is pissed off.
It would be suicide for Angel to attend — but maybe not for him to watch. He’s
up on the very same roof Keisha fell from (which seems like an iffy choice to
me, but what do I know..). Sam and Fletcher run up there and find Gene and Ray
already there, menacing Angel. Sam and Fletcher pull their guns on Gene and
Ray. This does not go over well, but it buys them enough time for Angel to tell
his story — yes, he was on the roof with Keisha, and she was playing with a
butterfly. When the butterfly flapped its way off the roof, Keisha tried to
catch it. Angel grabbed Keisha’s dress to try to keep her from falling, but it
tore and she plummeted to her death.

Ray
is disgusted — you’re not going to let some ex-con’s sob story convince you
he’s a good guy, are you? — but Gene obviously hears the ring of truth. But he
looks down at the enraged crowd and says the truth doesn’t matter — then fires
his gun. The crowd is silent and satisfied as the blood-spattered, covered body
of Angel is loaded into the ambulance (Brother
Lovebutter in particular nods with approval), which makes it look like Gene made
the right call.

But
Angel’s not dead — they staged the rooftop killing. The ambulance drops him at
the bus station so he can flee the city with his girlfriend. Sam tries to thank
Gene for his actions, but Gene would rather punch his for pulling a gun on him.

When
Sam isn’t trying to prevent a city-wide race riot, he’s dealing with messages
from his past/future, or possibly the afterlife. A scruffy guy in the station
suggests he might be dead and not know it. Later, he hears the sounds of
someone — himself? — flatlining, and later hears people saying goodbye and
giving him tributes. A newspaper form 2008 that he finds on the 1973 street
carries an article about his death.

At
the end of the episode, he goes to church to talk to Father Tim, but the Padres
isn’t there. The scruffy homeless guy from the beginning is — and he says he’s
there fore the funeral. Suddenly, Sam is surrounded by crying people from his
2008 life. They’re mourning a heroic cop. Sam nervously goes up to the coffin,
and finds 2008 Fletcher. He sees Maya tell Denise — yes, the hot lawyer who
spurned Fletcher, and who ended up marrying him — that she’s sorry Sam didn’t
get to say goodbye. Ah, but he did, scruffy homeless guy tells Sam. We heard
your prayers that you wanted to say goodbye to your father, and we granted
them. We just chose which father to make it happen with. Then Scruffy guy goes
off with Keisha. Are they alive? Dead? Figments? We still don’t know.

Highlights,
thoughts and odds and ends

  • See, show? See how much better you are when you take the British version as a jumping-off-point rather than a completed script?
  • I loved the sultry, femme-fatale, "that’s one fly chick" music that
    accompanied Denise every time she walked into the room.
  • Fletcher’s
    2008 nickname is "Clams." That’s because when Sam urged him to ask
    out Denise, he said "Clams." It was a dinner invitation. It did not
    go well.
  • Later,
    Sam calls Fletcher Clams, and Fletcher tells him to shut up — stupid nicknames
    like that stick! Yes, they do, Fletcher.
  • Father
    Tim is in the glorious tradition of butt-kicking padres so dear to

    New York

    and other big
    cities. Sam is not used to this. "This guy’s pretty mouthy for a
    priest," he mutters to Chris. "You should hear the nuns," Chris
    replies.

  • Ray
    tries to make an argument for Father Tim to release Angel to them. "Come
    on — kill my dog, I’ll slay your cat. That has a biblical charm even you
    pinguinis can understand…"
  • When
    the BLA captures Sam and Fletcher, one of their captors does a little beat
    poetry to celebrate. Sam compliments his "freestyling," which prompts
    the BLA heavy to demand that Sam spin some rhymes of his own. When Fletcher is
    threatened, Sam busts out some rhymes form "Ice, Ice Baby." Vanilla
    Ice, yo! The BLA borhters are impressed. Sigh.
  • Angel
    used to call Keisha his assistant mop supervisor. Awww.
  • When
    Denise arrives and rescues Sam and Fletcher, she announces that she’s supposed
    to take them to "Him." Where are we going, and who is He? Sam asks.
    "We are going down the hall and HE is FUNKY," she replies.
    "Funky. Ok, thanks for clarifying."
  • When
    Denise figures out Fletcher is asking her out, she is incredulous. "Man,
    you are one brother with an inappropriate sense of smooth. The only black cop
    in my life is Shaft." Must…. resist… urge… to make a "That’s
    what SHE said!" joke. Oops.
  • So,
    is Sam dead? Are the scruffy homeless guy and Keisha angels? What’s going on?
  • I
    already own plenty of Sly and the Family Stone, but now I’ve got to get some
    Three Dog Night. This show!
Posted by:Sarah Jersild