All entries for Wednesday 28 March 2007

March 28, 2007

Life on Mars: The ending?

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Life on Mars TV showI’m thoroughly enjoying the current (second) series of Life on Mars. It’s a bit more issues-driven than I remember the first series being, but the fantastic lead performances and the clever integration of the episodic elements with the over-arching story arc make it hugely entertaining.

What I’m wondering about, though, is what the resolution is going to be. The makers have announced that this is the final series and that there will be an explanation/resolution of Sam Tyler’s predicament. We’ve now seen six of the eight episodes, so there isn’t long to go before the story has to get wrapped up somehow. There only seem to be a certain number of possibilities:-

  1. Sam wakes up back in 2006, and it’s made clear that all the events of 1973 only actually took place in his mind. Perhaps after he wakes up he checks the records and discovers that there never was a Gene Hunt working in Manchester in 1973.
  2. Sam wakes up back in 2006, and it’s made clear that he really did go back in time. Perhaps he gets to go and visit the – presumably rather elderly by now – Gene Hunt, or Annie Cartwright, (or, more sadly, visit their graves?) and they share their recollections of 1973. Be a bit freaky for the old people seeing Sam Tyler thirty-odd years later, aged not a day, though.
  3. Sam stays in 1973. I think it would be a difficult ending to pull off if we’re led to believe that he’s really in a coma in 2006 and by staying in 1973, the writers are also condemning 2006 Sam to remain in a coma indefinitely. But could 2006 Sam die but 1973 Sam survive? Or could we have the premise reversed on us, and discover that actually Sam has only ever existed in 1973 and he just has an exceptionally vivid imagination, a tendency to hallucinate, and a good strike rate for predictions of the future? It seems unlikely; we’ve seen 2006 Sam so clearly and unambiguously, and his knowledge is so comprehensive, that it would feel like a cheat to claim that none of it was real.

Until the latest episode (episode 6), I leant towards the idea that he’d get back to 2006. But in episode 6, Sam seemed to be moving towards severing some of his ties with his 2006 life, which makes me less certain than I was; I’m now evenly split between him staying in 1973 and getting back to 2006.

The other intriguing question, I think, is whether there’ll be some explanation or reason for the whole thing. If he really is back in time, was he sent back for a purpose? Is there something he has to do or realise before he can get back? If he was “sent” back, will the makers attempt to explain how, or by whom, or (more wisely, I think) just do a Groundhog Day and not explain how or why the magic happened. I suspect that there will come a point in episode 7 or 8 where it becomes clear to Sam what he has to do to get back (and that might involve dying in 1973) and he’ll be able to choose whether he does what’s needed, or elects to remain in 1973, and the suspense of the last episode will be seeing which choice he makes.

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