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'Life on Mars': Pondering Sam's mindscape

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Lifeonmars_lTwo things about last night’s episode before we start gnawing on its meat. First, I love TV hostage situations. Mandi Bierly and I recently discussed the plotlines that will get us to watch any show, whether we tune in regularly or not, and a hostage situation is mine. I’m convinced I’m just trying to relive the heart-pounding greatness of when the 21 Jump Street crew was held captive in a high school. (Remember how Ioki fell through the ceiling while trying to rescue his buds commando-style, and Penholl was disguised as a pizza guy?) That’s one thing. The second is that when you get bad news (as I did yesterday)–and you’re so down-n-out that you just want to bury yourself in bed and never leave until the hearse drags your starved body away–there is nothing like pithy television-script truisms to lift you at least a quarter of the way up again. Of course I’m talking about Maya’s mantra, “It’s time to start living.”

There isn’t much to say about last night, except that it was pretty exciting. And I always like to see Bill Irwin (the psych ward doctor, who deserves an Oscar nod for his turn in Rachel Getting Married) on screen. But there was something that disturbed me. The show is hinting at the fact that Sam is in a coma (the soap opera he sees has his “lookalike” in a coma, with Maya and Mom hovering around, the voices he hears seem to be talking to someone who is sleeping, the story of the hostage taker and his vegetable brother parallels that). That’s all fine and dandy. But think about it. If this is all in Sam’s head. If this is his dreamland. Does that mean he prefers having a racist, sexist, smart mouth boss (Gene) rather than being the boss himself (as in 2008), or that he’d rather have an obsequious blonde underling girlfriend (no-nuts Annie, played by Gretchen Mol, pictured) than a hottie dark-haired woman-of-the-world equal like Maya? I don’t like the thought of that. Sure, Annie’s cute and sweet. But I don’t want to think of her as anyone’s dream woman. Or else this is a pretty misogynist text. Chew on that.

Last night’s best line was a tie between Maya’s “It’s time for living” and Sam’s “You be the hooker, I’ll be the tool.” (Which reminds me, why do they always like to show him dancing? And yes, his moonwalk is impressive.) And last night’s best song was “Tuesday’s Dead” by Cat Stevens, which played at the end of the hostage crisis and which I embedded after the jump. What are your thoughts on last night’s ep? Share ’em below!

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