Without a Trace

Season 4 Episode 8

A Day in the Life

Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Nov 17, 2005 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
120 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

After young Shawn Hopkins disappears one night after leaving the arcade, his parents soon begin to believe that the team is not doing everything to find their son, and are shocked to learn that he has been gambling and has also been seen with a local drug dealer. After learning that Shawn had taken up the cause of a friend who had been raped, Larry and Susan Hopkins are relieved to learn that their son wasn't doing anything wrong, but worried that he still might not come home.moreless

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  • A chillingly good episode.

    It really is a superb episode, very strong psychologivally. If you like to see how they solve the mystery of the disappearances, I can understand why this episode wouldn't mean much to you. But if you - like me - are about the psychology behind it, this is a great episode. It's the one that makes you think.

    It starts with the name of the episode, and all is said with that name. "A Day in the Life". We always see that, for the FBI agents who come in, don't know the people and usually don't form attachments with them or their predicament. It's their job to stay as objective as possible. This is the exact opposite. We see a disappearance from the frantic, desperate point of view from parents. You get to see your favorite characters through different eyes. And although I know them and know they care, I can understand completely how those parents felt.

    To have some FBI agents drop in, speak to the local police but not to you, and search the room of your child for anything at all, must seem threatening. Especially when you start to realise you are first and foremost their prime suspects. As parents, I can believe you don't see that coming, but statistically, it must be considered.

    I loved the shots during the interviews, from the father to his wife, from her to him in the other room. How they start to turn on each other slowly - you realise for the first time truly how it's possible that the divorce rate is so high for people who've gone through this.

    And I can see why you don't tell parents everything you come across, you may be wrong, it may turn out to be a dead end and you can't take them on such an emotional roller coaster. But to be kept in the dark about everything, only being talked to when they want to confront you with some disturbing evidence they found, is really hard on them. Necessary, maybe, but again, I see why so many couples can't make it through that. After you blame the other one, you start blaming yourself.

    It was gruelling to stay with the parents in the car while the shouting and gun shots were going on, not knowing what happened, or who it happened to.

    To sum up the above; it really makes you think about how the parents experience something like this. We start to take it for granted after a few seasons that these things happen and to always assume the worst of people. It was an episode with good timing. I must say that it shook me, to think more carefully in the future episodes on what the relatives of the disappeared go through. It's our equivalent of a case that grabs you. All the characters have a case or two that shake them, makes them realise what's at stake. This episode did it for the viewers.

    On a more technical note, I really loved those shots of the parents looking at each other during the initial seperate interviews, the silent wondering of what they said, and if they could even predict what the other would say, the feeling of uneasyness beneath it. It reminded me of those long camerashots for "The Body" in BtvS by Joss Whedon. It had the same sort of wrongness underneath it that makes the situation oncomfortable even for the viewer.moreless
  • An above average episode for a this great show! This was unique as it told the story from the standpoint of the parents of the missing boy; we don't see much of the FBI doing their job and instead get to see what parents of missing children must endure.moreless

    This was an intense, emotional roller-coaster episode, and is without a doubt one of the best episodes of Without A Trace, period. In most episodes, we see Jack and his team doing their job trying to locate a missing person and we see very little of what the family must endure while their loved one is missing. This episode focuses almost exclusively on the parents of the missing 15 year old boy and the emotional highs and lows they must endure. The agony of the parents was superbly played by Lauri Metcalf (Roseanne) and Matt Craven. We see their frustration with the FBI because they are not told as much information as any parent would want if their child was missing. We see the mother almost pleading with Agent Johnson to agree with her that this entire thing could be a mistake. We cringe as the parents learn things about their son they didn't know - a son they were certain they knew everything about. As parents, we can agonize and sympothize with everything these 2 people are going through and we watch and we pray we are never in their shoes. We are taken on this very emotional ride the parents endure for almost 48 hours, certainly the most agonizing hours any parent would ever spend. This was brilliantly written and superbly acted and I for one would love to see more episodes told from the vantage point of the families as it does make for very emotional, very gripping television. As always, Without A Trace delivers wonderful episode after wonderful episode and is undoubtedly one of, if not the best shows on television.moreless
  • This episode differed from every other in presenting the story from the perspective of the parents of the victim. We got very little in the way of soapy details from the lives of the regulars and more than usual of the day-to-day job details of a misper.moreless

    I really liked how the writers departed from their usual storyline in this episode. Viewers got a sense of what it is like to be involved in one of these missing persons cases. We saw what it's like to try to guess what is being said on the other side of the glass partitions. We saw how overworked agents are not always able to present a cordial face when dealing with the concerned parties. We saw how the agents have to carefully walk the fine line between providing information and not offering false hope. Finally, we got a glimpse of what must be the quiet despair of those doing this job at the end of the episode when with mild surprise the comment is made that the case turned out better than expected. Unlike on TV, most missing teenager cases turn out badly.

    Then another jolt of reality at the end of a 16-hour day -- another case...moreless
  • A 15 year old boy disappears and his parents realize that each of them knew something about their son that the other didn\'t know. Seen from the parents\' perspective, this episode was an interesting departure from the show\'s usual format.moreless

    This episode was interesting and revealing in the way it portrayed the storyline through the point of view of the missing person\'s family. In a typical episode, we the viewers are privy to many of the tips and information that come into the missing persons bureau. In this episode, we were as \"in the dark\" as the parents, and the team members seemed so calm, and detached in their dealings with the parents that it was frustrating not knowing what was going on in the investigation. I felt as helpless as the parents. We didn\'t know if the body in New Jersey was going to be the son, and that fact added much to the story. We also felt that the team wasn\'t sharing everything with us as viewers. As Jack explained to the missing boy\'s father, we don\'t come running to you with every piece of information because some of it doesn\'t pan out and it would be an emotional roller coaster for the parents to know every detail of what is, and is not happening in the investigation. I thought the resolution was a little unbelievable however, though I like happy endings as much as the next guy.moreless
  • The best of the best.

    Granted I've not seen every episode of WAT yet, only about 90% of them. I've got to say that this single episode, for me anyway, sets the bar for all the rest. I was relieved that, for a change, the storyline was centered around how the agents deal with the victims and their families. This is much more interesting and meaningful than seeing which of her coworkers Agent Samantha is sleeping with that week (she should extend her resume to tramping herself out to non-coworkers now).

    The performance of Laurie Metcalf, as the overwhelmed mother waiting for news of her missing child is so real and believable one was ready to grab a car and start handing out missing posters for this woman. Her talents completely outshine anyone around her here.

    The regular cast is good, as always, and seeing them actually become involved in the lives of the victims gives them a whole new dimension.

    More shows like this would be great.moreless
Laurie Metcalf

Laurie Metcalf

Susan Hopkins

Guest Star

Josh Wise

Josh Wise

Shawn Hopkins

Guest Star

Andrea Bowen

Andrea Bowen

Becky Grolnick

Guest Star

Roselyn Sanchez

Roselyn Sanchez

Elena Delgado

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions