Life on Mars

Episode 1.7 : The Man Who Sold the World

  • Life on Mars
    • Episode Premiere : November 20, 2008
    • Distributor : ABC
    • Genre : Drama, Mystery, Crime
    • Seasons : 1
    • Show Period : 2008 - 2009
    • Production Company: 20th Century Fox Television
    • Official Site :

Cast and Crew

The Story

Sam dreams of a childhood memory when his father tried to give him a new toy spaceship for his 4th birthday, but he rejected it, unwilling to give up his old one.

Sam wakes up in 1973, on a stakeout with Lt. Hunt, Chris and Ray in Coney Island. A man has kidnapped 6 month-old Andrew Kreshpane and they're waiting for the perp to collect his ransom. When they see Mr. Kreshpane hand a briefcase to a man, they chase and tackle the perp. Sam is shocked to see it's his father, Vic Tyler.

At the 125, D.A. Lee Crocker asks Annie to come with him to a wedding. (They're dating. Sort of.) The team arrives to process Vic. Sam pulls Annie aside to describe his blurry, recurring visions of his mother in a red dress being chased through woods. He also tells her his father disappeared on his 4th birthday, which happens to be on Saturday. Therefore, it's possible he was sent back in time to save his father. Annie doesn't understand how these things connect until Sam reveals Vic is his father.

The detectives question Vic, who claims he knows nothing. Lt. Hunt tries strong-arm tactics, but Sam holds him back. Vic admits he thought he was collecting bookmaking money for the Pignato Brothers. Ray tells Sam the Pignatos are a newer, extremely violent crew who would kill Vic if they find out he was arrested. Crocker shows Sam photos of one of the Pignato Brothers' victims; the man's eyes, ears, nose, hands, and tongue were all cut off. Sam is afraid his father will suffer the same fate.

The Kreshpanes arrive at the station, grief-stricken. Sam brings the couple to meet Vic, hoping Vic can empathize and be more forthcoming. He's uncooperative at first, but eventually breaks down; he expects the Pignatos to call in the morning to arrange a money exchange.

The next morning, Sam and Vic await the call in Sam's childhood home. Vic does a word jumble and tells Sam his secret to solving them: "the key is always the box in the bottom right hand corner." Rose (Sam's mother) arrives with a wrapped gift, surprised to see a detective in her house. Sam covers for Vic by telling Rose he's talking to Vic about neighborhood crime. Vic notices that Sam and Rose recognize each other (from the Club Vendetta episode), and Sam covers again, saying they met once on the street.

Vic begins to worry about his family's safety. To calm Vic, Sam challenges him to a game of one-on-one basketball. As the two men play in the driveway, Sam is thrilled to experience a father-son moment he always longed for. Vic receives a call; he is to drop the money off that night at Sully's, a billiards hall downtown.

The detectives place a wire on Vic and give him a briefcase full of money. They listen as he enters Sully's to make the exchange. Unfortunately, all they hear are four gunshots. The men rush in and find three dead men. As Sam searches the back office, he finds Vic crouched beneath a desk, shot in the shoulder. Sam, Hunt and Ray search the rest of the building for the Pignatos, but they're gone. They hear a baby crying. They follow the sound upstairs to discover Chris has found baby Andrew alive and well.

The team celebrates at the precinct. When the Kreshpanes arrive to collect their baby, Sam notices Andrew playing with a toy spaceship, the exact one his father tried to give him in his dream. Could there be some connection here?

Sam returns to Vic's house. Rose tells him Vic left that morning. Sam notices her red dress is just like the one in his visions, and is dismayed to learn she'll be wearing the dress to her son's birthday party in the park.

Sam calls Annie and asks her to monitor Rose and 4 year-old Sammy at the park while he retraces his steps. He goes back to Sully's and sees a janitor cleaning up the mess from the previous night. He walks up to a pinball machine that jogs his memory. He flashes back to his father teaching him to play the same machine as a child. The janitor, Uncle Butchie, was there.

Over the police radio, Sam calls Annie to make sure Rose and Sammy are okay and tells her to look out for the Pignatos. Annie asks what they look like, and Sam realizes something odd. Nobody has ever seen the Pignato Brothers. Confused and worried, Sam races to the park. There, he sees Vic and Rose together. His mind flashes to the blurry vision of his mother in her red dress getting chased in the woods. But this time he sees the man catch and beat her. For the first time, he sees the man's face... it's Vic.

When Sam snaps back to reality, he's lost sight of Vic. Annie radios that Vic is heading for the woods and she's following him. Sam runs to join Annie but only catches a glimpse of her in a red dress just before she disappears behind the trees. Sam realizes the woman from his vision wasn't his mother. It was Annie!

Sam races into the woods and hears Vic yell at Annie for spying on him. Just as Vic begins violently choking Annie, Sam arrives and draws his gun. Vic releases Annie, and Sam tells her to go away and radio for backup.

Alone with his father, Sam says he knows Vic kidnapped the baby himself. Vic claims he was forced into crime to provide for his family. Sam suddenly recalls a long-suppressed memory: on his 4th birthday, when it was time to blow out the candles, he noticed his father wasn't there. He followed his father into the woods and saw him strangle and beat an undercover policewoman to death before disappearing forever.

As they talk, Sam notices Uncle Butchie and several henchmen approach. Only then does Sam figure out the puzzle. The shooting at Sully's was part of an elaborate scheme to fool the police. Instead of handing the money to the Pignatos, Vic gave it to Uncle Butchie. In turn, Uncle Butchie killed three customers and shot Vic in the shoulder to make it look like the Pignatos' work.

Thinking through the sequence of events, Sam comes to a realization. There are no Pignato Brothers! His father corrects him, claiming "I am the Pignato Brothers! Vic lunges for Sam's gun and a scuffle ensues. Vic proves the stronger man, winding up with the gun. He aims it at Sam's chest and explains he can't go to jail because his son Sammy can never know the terrible things he's done. Sam doesn't believe his father could possibly shoot him when BANG! The gun goes off.

Vic and his men flee the scene, leaving Sam for dead. Delirious from the pain, Sam sees alternating visions of 1973 and 2008. He wakes up later in the hospital, unsure of where -- or when -- he is. Hunt, Chris, Ray and Annie arrive, confirming he's still in 1973.

Annie tells Sam what she told Rose: her husband was forced to leave town because of something shady he was involved in. Annie thanks Sam for saving her life, realizing she was actually woman in his vision. Sam is confused as to why he was sent to 1973 if not to prevent his dad leaving. Annie thinks the answer might lie in all the cases he's solved since arriving. The two almost share a romantic moment before Annie realizes she's late for her date with Lee Crocker.

That night, Sam thinks of his father's advice about solving puzzles... "the key is always the box in the bottom right hand corner." He rips the tubes from his body and goes to the precinct. There, he searches every file from every one of his cases and writes down the letter or number he finds on the bottom right corner of each page. Put together, it spells out an address: 35 Stewart Drive, Queens, NY 11427.

Sam drives to the address. No one is home. He enters the unlocked door. In the living room, a telephone rings. He answers and speaks to a man who somehow knows Sam but will not identify himself. The man compliments Sam on doing a good job and instructs him to go down to the basement. Sam stares at the basement door, thinking his long, strange trip has just gotten longer and stranger.






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