Michaelimperioli_lifeonmars_240

Sam gets a major mindfreak on "Life on Mars" when he thinks he may have killed Jimmy McManus. Plus, our favorite hippy-chick neighbor may be a figment, and Annie finally tells Sam what he really needs to know.

Jimmy McManus is dead, shot at point-black range. Unfortunately for him, his shooter was either using a better gun or had better aim than Jimmy did when he plugged Ray and Chris — Ray just has a flesh wound, for crying out loud! Chris, however, is in bad shape — he's got a collapsed lung, his heart stops a couple of times, and he spends most of the episode unconscious. That means the men of the 1-2-5 are out for revenge, so when Jimmy turns up dead (and we see him say "What are you going to do, copper?"), it seems likely that one of our guys pulled the trigger.

The FBI certainly seems to think so — they send Agent Franklin Morgan to assist… I mean supervise… ok, more like investigate the squad. Sam keeps getting fuzzy flashes of the crime, but, since he was up all night playing checkers and drinking beer with hippy neighbor Windy, he's in the clear. Of course, Windy has always been a bit… odd. This week, she pops out of her apartment, then tells Sam she's been locked out — and her door closes behind her without any physical help. I rewound to check if she was wrinkling her nose, Bewitched-style, but I saw nothing.

Doctor Dorsett, a witness to the murder, fingers Sam as the shooter. Morgan and his men toss Sam's apartment, and find (1) his list of potential reasons why he's in 1973, and (2) the murder weapon. Sam tries to go to Windy for an alibi, but she's not there. In fact, her apartment is completely empty — no furniture, no evidence of human habitation (other than some bead curtains and free-form flowers on the kitchen cabinets). And with that, Sam gets locked up.

Sam actually thinks he did it — he's going crazy, he's channeling his dad's rage, or he's just plain lost it. Fortunately, everyone else in the squad refuses to believe it. First Annie give him a pep talk — you're not your dad, you are real, and how I feel about you is real. Poing! Hey, Annie finally made a move! Bummer that she and Sam had to be on opposite sides of jail-cell bars at the time… Then Gene stops by with some tasty Chinese food — only the noodles have been replaced by the key to the cell. Bingo! Sam's out, and he's looking for the real killer.

Sam tracks down Little Patrick, who tells him that Jimmy participated in a truck hijacking a few weeks ago, and was then visited by a nondescript man. Whoever it was, and whatever he said, Jimmy was freaked out enough that he gave back the truck. What was in it? Just toys, says Little Patrick. The truck was from the Aries Toy Company. Innnnteresting.

With some help from Annie (which leads to her arrest) and Ray (who picks Sam up during the police chase), Sam finds Aries Toy Company, and discovers that yes, they make the Red Rover that's been haunting him. The factory itself is the site of a pretty impressive party, and looky here, “Dr. Dorsett” is tending bar. Ray takes the doctor/bartender in, but Sam is overcome by visions of tiny Red Rovers infecting the partygoers, and he doesn't realize Morgan is sneaking up behind him. Morgan tells Sam that he's the man who's been talking to him on the phone, and that Sam has one of those itty-bitty Red Rovers in his own head. But it's gone on the fritz, and is tapping into the "dark blood of your father." Sam was on his way to murder Jimmy, but Morgan got there first. But now Sam is done with his assignment — he can go home. All he has to do is step off the roof…

But Gene, Ray and Annie get up to the roof before Sam can take that last step. Annie tells Sam to ignore everything Morgan is saying about the future and Maya. He read your confidential psych file! Then Annie climbs on the ledge next to Sam. If I'm not real, it won't matter if I jump with you. But feel my heartbeat — you know what's real. And that's enough to get Sam to come down.

So Sam is safe, and Morgan is revealed to be working with a group of smugglers. Chris is recovering, and even Windy reappears. She claims that she just missed the cops, and her apartment is completely bare because her ex-boyfriend joined a cult (to get out of Valentine's Day) and got rid of all their stuff. Is she real? Does it matter? Because she's there, and she seems to be what Sam needs. Figment or no, she's the best neighbor he could hope for.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Another great episode for Jason O'Mara's Emmy reel. The scene where he and Annie are crouched next to each other on opposite sides of the jail-cell bars was just heartbreaking.
  • Sam tells Annie about Windy. "She calls me 2-B." "As in, to be or not to be?" Annie asks. And I feel like an idiot, because I never picked up on that.
  • Annie prays at Chris' bedside, not only for Chris' recovery, but for all the men of the 1-2-5: "Protect Gene from the burden of responsibility I know he feels for all of us. Shelter Ray from the guilt he carries on his shoulders for what happened to Chris. And watch over Sam. Help him find his truth, wherever or whatever it may be."
  • When Morgan is speaking to Sam on the roof, the light changes depending on what he's saying. When he's talking about the future — Nine Inch Nails CDs and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, for example — he's in a bright yellow light that sets him apart from everything around him. At other times, he looks just like everyone else. Nicely done.
  •  Chris finally wakes up at the end of the episode. He's the only one who mentions that things seem to have changed between Sam and Annie. "We just are here… for each other," Sam says. "Well, I like it," Chris responds. You and me both, Chris!
  • I still think Chris has something to do with Sam's being in the past He's just TOO innocent, you know? I guess we'll find out next week…