How do we know where we belong? We define ourselves by our connections with others, with the people we see and interact with every day.Life on Mars—a series about a police detective who is hit by a car and is inexplicably thrown back in time from 2008 to the same New York precinct in 1973—is wrapping up its run. Sam still doesn’t know if everything he’s experiencing is all a coma-induced dream he’s having in 2008 or if he’s really there in 1973—or why. He is literally in-between times and places.
—Sam’s voiceover at the beginning of the "Revenge of the Broken Jaw" episode of Life on Mars
“Revenge of the Broken Jaw” opens with Sam talking with Dr. Goldman, a psychologist who is helping work through the aftermath of being shot. The doctor tells Sam that it’s natural after such a trauma to put up emotional walls. He observes that Sam is “reluctant, even frightened to let people in.” He tells Sam: “You need to tear these walls down, Sam, reach out to the people you care about. Let them into your world. You’re not in Hyde anymore. It’s time to start making this place feel like home.
As in previous episodes, Sam’s literal situation often reflects places we all find ourselves in. We are all on our way somewhere—even if we don’t know where, we are searching for that place. And in many ways, each day of our life could be said to be in-between times and places. Along this journey, it’s easy to become myopic, focused on our own goals and agendas, on the places we are going and aim to be. And if we have lost something dear along the way, we often sink even deeper into ourselves and away from others. In the process, we lose focus of where we are right now. We hide ourselves away from others. We miss the people around us.
Throughout the series, Sam has been struggling with how to feel about those around him. If it’s all a dream, do these people matter? If he’s really there but will eventually find his way back to 2008, how close should he get to them? In this episode, however, Sam comes to a kind of truce with it all. He commits to drawing closer to and intentionally caring about those around him—and, as he has throughout the series, he does this through paying attention and helping those around him. And people’s lives are changed for the better because of it, even in the presence of suffering.
At the end of the episode, Sam’s talking to the therapist again:
Dr. Goldman: I think you know, Sam, that when things we care about go away it can be easy to forget our place in the journey.Far too often, we are so focused on where we are going that we ignore where we are. But what’s important is here. Now. Those we are with. Those we cross paths with. The people we see and interact with every day. Those we are in a room with.
Sam: That’s why I think I’m ready to start living, here in 1973.
Goldman: How did you come to that conclusion?
As Sam talks, we see images of the people who have become his friends.
Sam: Because there are some things here that make breaking down those walls absolutely worthwhile. Because I think I have to begin to make peace with the now. But I have to tell you, Doctor, that as long as I’m here I can never, ever stop trying to find my way home.
No, we can’t stop finding our way our home. We are all wanderers, exiles on our way to that far country for which we were created. But as we go, here and now and in the moments of our day, we must love those with whom we meet and journey. For along the way, we define ourselves by who and how we love.
(Image: ABC) miscctgy