Life on Mars (UK)

Season 2 Episode 8

Episode 8

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Apr 10, 2007 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
182 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The CID investigates the murder of a miner, and determine that a cop killer is behind it. Sam is unhappy with the methods adopted by the team in pursuit of an arrest. Morgan, meanwhile, makes Sam an offer that shakes his world to its foundations.

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  • Life without Mars

    Just finished epi 8 and I rewound it again and again - excellent writing and direction and acting and continuity, and set design and costumes and every other measure for a television series. And Phil Glenister was at the top of his game in every freakin episode; his character was so full and complete and REAL I just couldn't take my eyes off him. The worst thing about this show is that I know that it is even better than I know it to be, because there is a lot of depth I did not get in the slang and all the little things I missed because I'm American and not British.

    My one word final rating = HUZZAH!moreless
  • He worked out the reason, and he went home. Just as the series promised every week.

    I loved this finale for many of the reasons others hated it -- because it took the central concept of the series, the opening repeated before every single episode, and essentially turned it on its head.

    Everything we were told about the series each week ("[Sam] had an accident, and woke up in 1973") was wrong. The "real" Sam did not (literally) wake up in 1973. He was a fictional person who woke up in a fictional world. He never needed to work out "the reason" -- he was there because that was his reality.

    And oh, how the show brilliantly turned around the idea of "getting home." It kept telling us that Sam needed to get home. Yet, "home" as we knew it for Sam was nothing but a series of voices in the static and strange phone calls. Nothing real or emotional or tangible.

    Indeed, the show spent 16 episodes showing us how "1973" was Sam's reality -- "1973," and not "home" was bright and loud and beautiful, and full of characters we loved. The idea that Sam would have to "destroy" (actually kill) these characters-- these *people*-- in order to get back to voices in static and strange phone calls seems almost unthinkable. And yet, he does -- voluntarily or not, he leaves those characters and the world he, and by extension, we, have come to love and goes "home."

    The trouble is it's not "home" to him, not anymore. It's not his reality anymore. One of the reasons I can't accept the idea that Sam never actually woke up from the coma is it negates the power of the ending. Sam has to be awake, and "alive" in 2007 to realize he's *not* alive ("You know when you're alive, because you can feel it.") And in order to feel alive again, he has to be...well...dead.

    That powerful sequence on the rooftop is wonderful, because Sam finally has all the information -- he's awakened from his coma, and is now "home" -- and yet, he goes "back" anyway. Whereas "1973" was a place where he felt trapped before -- now, it's a conscious choice. How else to explain him *running* to the ledge and *leaping* over it? He's going home. No wonder the BAFTA audience applauded after he jumped.

    Sam's decision is further cemented in the closing moments of the finale -- where, for the first time in the entire series' run, he "changes the channel" to tune out the voices in the static. He's spent 16 episodes begging the people from 2007 to talk to him through the radio, phone and television. And now, he no longer needs them. It's not his world anymore.

    I guess the finale really worked, because for me, "Life on Mars" wasn't about Gene Hunt or Annie or the politically incorrect policing procedures and politics of the '70s. It was the story of Sam Tyler, trying to get back to 2007 from "1973." He worked out the reason, and he went home.

    Exactly as the show promised. :)moreless
  • Home is where the heart is

    For Sam Tyler it was apparently 1973 with the lovely Annie even if it did mean a lifetime of winding up/being wound up by Gene Hunt.

    The episode flirted with the idea that Sam had gone mad all along but I don't believe anyone was really convinced, especially as the possibility hadn't been seriously considered in the other 15 episodes.

    The ending we eventually got was probably the one most people wanted. Predictable enough but I wouldn't have imagined the usually cautious Tyler actually jumping off the roof! Neat enough way of solving his dilemma

    A fabulously entertaining series which will be sorely missed. Hugely enjoyable, great acting and storiesmoreless
  • Stay Written by Matthew Graham Directed by S.J. Clarkson

    Annie: "Tell me what's hurting you?"

    Sam: "I can't".

    Annie: "You're gonna leave us, aren't you?"

    Sam: "I was always gonna leave you".

    And here it is the final episode in Sam's two year (TV wise, not actual chronology) tenure in 1973. Frank Morgan set everything in motion last week and with Sam hearing voices that he could be coming outside of his coma very soon, he's only too eager to do his part to get out of there.

    There was no misunderstanding in Morgan's need to nail Gene. Sam learns pretty quickly that Morgan wants Gene out of the police force and used as an example to usher in modern policing. Not only that but Sam is also a little too happy to help along which later adds some validity to Ray's Judas comparison.

    From the moment they clapped eyes on each other, Sam and Gene have tired of the other's policing methods. With Sam it's now gotten to the point where he can no longer tolerate it and Gene's latest act of rash behaviour only has him too willing to spy on his colleagues for Morgan.

    In some ways Gene did have this coming. Despite being repeatedly warned by Sam that his methods (in spite of their results) are too extreme, Gene has no qualms in using some torture along with Ray in order to get Sykes to spill a name on a planned train robbery. This is of course, after Gene's previous act of recklessness caused the death of another informant.

    Sam tries reasoning with Gene only for Gene to ignore him for the umpteenth time and with the likes of Ray always complaining about Sam, it does feel like Sam doesn't have anyone to point out that he's right. Chris never stands up to back Sam and even Annie doesn't try and warn Gene off his plan to nail cop killer Leslie Johns.

    Frank on the other hand seemingly represents everything Sam aspires in the police force. Sam wants to be a world where the police aren't treated with contempt by the public and do genuinely help uphold the law instead of abusing it. It's also not a shock that in 2006, the name Frank Morgan also means a surgeon who can operate on Sam's tumour and bring him home.

    In 1973 the Frank there is also promising to bring Sam home there as well and that's enough to make Sam turn traitor. Watching the scenes where he's uncovering information on Gene's recklessness still cause a divide. By right, people like Gene shouldn't be in the police force but at the same time, even I have to admit that Gene does want to do the right and get results regardless of the brutal approach he takes to accomplishing it.

    Another thing on Sam's mind is Annie. He's been lusting for her for quite some time and they share enough intimate scenes to get tongues wagging. Annie's clearly so in love with Sam that her refusal to spend one night with him must be her way of dealing with the idea that she could lose him forever.

    Annie even begs Sam at different points in this episode not to leave. At first Sam is insistent that he can't stay but the more the episode progresses, you can see that he's wavering. He did tell her repeatedly that she was one of the few things about 1973 that he didn't hate after all.

    However the sting in the tail comes when Sam is confronted with some grim information from Morgan. With Sam's work not being so complete, it's then a shock to the system when Morgan tells Sam that his real name is Williams and that Ruth and Vic were never his parents.

    John Simm was always gonna up his game in the last episode of the series but the series where Sam begins to realise that he really might in 1973 sees him pull in a tremendous performance. Sam's total despair of thinking that he might have amnesia instead of being in a coma is riveting.

    There's even a wonderful scene where Nelson tells him the difference between knowing and feeling when a person is alive. Sam has acted like he's been stuck in a dream world but it's also one where he's felt very alive in as well in spite of his protestations.

    Of course knowing that he's been betraying everyone all along makes for an awkward confrontation. Although it's typical of Ray, who's never accepted Sam anyway to lose his temper, both Chris and Annie had more powerful reactions. Both of them looked up to Sam in different ways and it's easy to sympathise with them.

    As for the train robbery itself, it's amazing how quickly things can turn life threatening. Sam had a vision (thanks to the Test Card Girl) that Gene, Ray, Chris and Annie were going to be casualties and when it became apparent that Morgan had every intention to let them, Sam finally realised that he had been played big time.

    The funny thing is that it was this moment when Sam finally woke up from his coma. Frank had just about managed to save him and Sam talked openly about what he was dreaming all that time. The scene with his mum was the most powerful. As soon as she told him that he always kept his promises, I knew exactly what Sam was going to do next.

    Maybe it's depression, post traumatic or even clarity but whatever the case may be, Sam thought that 1973 was a better time period to live in than 2006. As his colleagues droned on about improving the police force, Sam went to a roof and threw himself off and saved Chris, Annie, Gene and Ray from being murdered.

    Would I have done the same thing if I had experienced what Sam did in that period of time? I don't know if I can answer that question but I get the allure to a degree. By coming back, Sam redeemed himself in everyone eye's (even Ray) and better still, after sixteen episodes of relentless teasing, Sam also finally got Annie.

    Also in "Episode 16"

    The Hyde that was alluded to so much in the series was the ward in which Sam was at while in hospital.

    Frank (re Gene): "He's out of control. He's like a cancer. The sooner we cut him out".

    Sam: "The sooner I can go home".

    Gene's comment about Sam wanting to read an article in Jugs reminded me of the fact that there are actually articles in straight men's magazines.

    Frank (to Ruth): "Let's hope he's strong enough".

    Sam: "I'm strong enough, Mr Morgan. You cut that cancer out".

    Sam: "It has to be done".

    Test Card Girl: "But it's a very messy job, Sam. Are you strong enough?"

    The actress Judi Jones who played the older Ruth Tyler has a very similar sounding voice to Joanne Froggatt who played the younger Ruth in Season One.

    Ray: "Doddle, Guv. It's not Hamlet".

    Sam: "It's a good job because Hamlet is a tragedy".

    Ray: "Trust you to know that, poof".

    Frank: "You have amnesia, Sam".

    Sam: "I'm in a coma, Frank".

    M.A.R.S. in this episode stood for Metropolitan Accountability And Reconciliation Strategy.

    Sam: "I need more time. I can't think".

    Frank: "You can't uphold the law by breaking it. It's what you always said".

    Nelson: "I can see a darkness in you, Sam".

    Sam: "Oh you can see into me, Nelson? Well, go on then. Tell me, am I mad? Is this real, cause I want to know the truth?"

    The Ruth and Vic that Sam saw gravestones died in 1862 and 1870 respectively whereas the "Sam Tyler" died in 1881.

    Sam: "I'm trying to save your lives here. I am not your bloody enemy".

    Ray: "Cut the crap. You've been our enemy since day one".

    Annie (to Sam, after slapping him): "It hurts, doesn't it? That's because it's real".

    There was a nice bit of continuity here with the roof. In Season One Sam threatened to jump to return home and now he actually jumped to return here.

    Sam: "You can call me a traitor all you want, Guv but I'm the only one who can get us out of the **** you created. Morgan!"

    Gene: "Looks like lover boy isn't coming".

    Frank (to Sam in 2006): "It's amazing I got you back at all. Quite an achievement".

    Okay to further prove that I watch way too much Doctor Who but I did keep thinking of John Simm as The Master when Sam was all suited up. Then again, he did take on that role not long after this episode actually aired.

    Sam (to Ruth): "I went to some place, Mum and I woke up everyday in that place and I told myself I was alive and I was, in some ways more than I've ever been".

    Standout music: Well there was the repeated use of David Bowie's "Life On Mars" and "Changes" but I also think "Decision/Indecision" by Atomic Rooster, "I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You" by Tom Waits and the score music were also noteworthy.

    Sam: "Tell me".

    Annie: "Tell you what, Sam?"

    Sam: "Tell me what I should do, Annie".

    Annie: "Stay. Here. Forever".

    Sam: "If you injured somebody in this car, it's technically a criminal offence".

    Gene: "Oh shut up, you noncey arsed fairy boy".

    Chronology: It's about August 1973/2006. Sam's been in a coma for at least five to six months give or take.

    As a series finale go, I was undecided about this episode. A lot of people voiced disappointment and I allowed that to cloud my judgement when I originally watched the episode but when I sat down reviewing this series, I found myself enjoying it more than when I originally watched the episodes. It was the same for this but as last ever episodes go, I found it satisfying. Also now that I've completed Life On Mars, that means I can get round to reviewing Ashes To Ashes now.moreless
  • The perfect ending

    I don't think there could of been a more perfect or more fitting ending to a wonderful show, i loved it though sam tyler jumping off the building was great and when he comes and shoots the train robber dead so so so good, anf finally him and annie are together the perfect couple, and she actually looks like a women unlike his stick figure like the other girl friend what was her name maya, it was great that we saw him go back i hink it would of been darker and more interesting if he had just jumped and we hadn't seen him on the other side but i loved it all the same.moreless
Judi Jones

Judi Jones

Ruth Tyler

Guest Star

Mason Phillips

Mason Phillips

Officer 2

Guest Star

Jacqueline Boatswain

Jacqueline Boatswain

Officer 1

Guest Star

Noreen Kershaw

Noreen Kershaw

Phyllis Dobbs

Recurring Role

Tony Marshall

Tony Marshall


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When Sam leaves hospital you see he was staying in Hyde Ward, room 2612. Hyde is the station that he supposedly transferred from. Hyde 2612 is the number he rings to speak to Frank Morgan.

    • The surname on the headstones of the graves of Sam's 'parents' is Williams. This was originally to be Sam's surname on the show, but Kudos felt that "Sam Williams" was not striking enough. Co-creator Matthew Graham consulted his daughter and she suggested Tyler after Rose Tyler, from Doctor Who (2005).

    • In the scene in Morgan's car, he produces a folder titled:

      Accountability and


  • QUOTES (6)

    • Skelton: Boss… That stuff I said, well, I was angry and… I'll pay for the phone and-
      Sam: Chris… You're gonna make a good copper.
      Skelton: Really? That's fantastic! [ pause ] What do you mean "gonna make a good copper"?

    • Sam: Our definitions of policing may vary marginally.
      Hunt: And yours is?
      Sam: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.
      Hunt: Training college?
      Sam: Robocop. You can't uphold the law by breaking it.

    • Sam: You shouldn't be driving with that leg.
      Hunt: Well, I am.
      Sam: You were shot.
      Hunt: And so will you be if you don't get in. Now move it!

    • Sam: Tell me…
      Annie: Tell you what, Sam?
      Sam: Tell me what I should do, Annie.
      Annie: Stay. Here. Forever.
      Sam: All right, then, I will.

    • Sam: I should be driving, you know.
      Hunt: You drive like my Aunt Mabel.
      Sam: If you injured somebody in this car it's technically a criminal offence.
      Hunt: Oh shut up, you noncey-arsed fairy boy.
      Sam: Such elegant banter! Try and keep it under 70. Oh, and radio in for uniform.
      Hunt: I don't need plod getting in the way.
      Sam: It's procedure. You're not above the law, you know, guv.
      Hunt: What are you on about, Tyler? I am the law!
      Sam: Yeah. In your dreams.

    • Sam: She sounds enigmatic.
      Carling: No. She was from Barnsley.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Actor John Simm and director S. J. Clarkson both originally wanted the episode to end with Sam Tyler jumping of the roof. However, the BBC said they could not end the show with a suicide.

    • Music used in this episode:
      My Coo Ca Choo by Alvin Stardust
      Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John
      Decision/Indecision by Atomic Rooster
      I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You by Tom Waits
      Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
      Life On Mars by David Bowie
      One Of The Boys by Mott The Hoople
      Changes by David Bowie

    • A key scene towards the end of the episode refers back to a scene in the first episode, when Sam considers throwing himself off a roof to prove that it is all a dream and to get himself back to 2006. In this episode he decides to throw himself off the roof to get back to 1973.


    • Carling: Guv's in like Flint.
      In Like Flint (1967) is a spy spoof starring James Coburn as Derek Flint. The film title itself was a play on the phrase "in like Flynn", which had come to mean succeeding easily, particularly in the context of seduction.