Once and Again...Once Again
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Sophia, a reporter, is interviewing Sam and Rick in their studio, a scale model of the newly completed Dreiser Hotel on a table in front of them. "And what would you say was the driving inspiration behind your designs?" she asks.
"Money," Sam quips.
"Preservation," Rick replies. "Preservation through innovation."
"'Preservation through innovation'--that's your title," Colin Fleischer genially suggests to Sophia as he joins the threesome. In almost his next breath, he informs her, "These boys are building ten more hotels for me," which is as much news to Rick and Sam as it is to Sophia. Ignoring their dumbfounded stares, he escorts Sophia to the door while telling her that his next hotel will be built in Sydney, Australia.
When he rejoins Sam and Rick, they ask him if he meant what he just said. "Why, you've got something else lined up?" he snorts. "Or maybe you don't want to build a world-class hotel. Maybe what you'd rather do is build parking garages and nursing homes, right?" He advises them to have their answer by the cocktail party on Friday, and departs with an aide.
"Was he serious?" Rick wonders, still slack-jawed with astonishment. Finding his voice, Sam laughs, "Pack your bags, my friend."
Meanwhile, Karen, a cast on her right leg and a brace on her left, is in a physical therapy room. Henry Higgins instructs her to put weight on her leg as she attempts to walk through a set of parallel bars and then turn around without losing her balance. Mixing conversation with coaching, he asks how her work is going.
"I don't think I've got it in me any more to take on the world's complaints," she sighs. "Somewhere in the midst of it I forgot my own." Henry comments that people in her situation sometimes reassess their lives, prompting Karen to make a weak joke about becoming a dancer.
Henry gives Karen a cane and tells her to start using it, and to try not to fall on her face. As she rolls her eyes, he mockingly introduces himself to her: "You think I'm mean, but I'm actually very warm and fuzzy. I call my mother every Sunday, I cry at sad, sappy movies, and I even coach a Little League team." This comes as a mild surprise to Karen, who knows that he doesn't have a child of his own. When he invites her to attend a game, she makes a vague promise to come "sometime."
Almost walking on air, Rick arrives at the WIXB studio, hoping to take Lily to lunch. But she declines, explaining that she and Les are about to leave for a meeting with executives of Radiovation to discuss syndication of her talk show. Without missing a beat, Rick changes the lunch invitation to dinner, promising her a big surprise.
That evening, Jake visits Tiffany at her apartment. When she kisses him, she notices that he's sweating, a condition he blames on a faulty car heater. She offers him dinner, but after he accepts, she hears him panting and immediately regrets the invitation, fearing that he's going to be moody and she'll have to walk on eggshells around him. She warns him not to "obsess or depress or whatever it is that goes on in that head of yours." Pointing toward the crib where their daughter, Maddie, is sleeping, she pleads, "I have needs, and she's gonna have needs too, and you can't just walk around any more and assume that you're the only person around."
When Jake doesn't answer, she demands to know if he has anything to say. "Tiffany, will you -- marry me?" he asks diffidently. Caught completely by surprise, Tiffany assumes that he's making a cruel joke, but he grips her arms and, emphasizing each word, repeats, "Will...you...marry me?" He claims that this is no impulse proposal, that he's been thinking about nothing else for weeks. Tiffany eyes him skeptically as she considers her answer.
That night, Karen, Eli and Jessie sit down to dinner prepared by their guest, Katie. As she sets the table, Katie notices that Karen has traded her crutches for the cane. Jessie tells Katie about her mother's "cute" physical therapist, and to Karen's chagrin, her children gang up on her, urging her to date Henry. Eli says that Henry has a crush on her, and that she likes him. Giggling, Jessie points out that Karen blushes at the mention of his name and asks, "Why won't you date him-because he's black?" Flustered, Karen protests that because he's her physical therapist, she and Henry have to keep their relationship professional.
Over their own dinner, Rick asks Lily if she wants to hear his news now or later. Lily tells him that she has some news also: Radiovation wants to test her program in their top ten markets as a prelude to possible syndication. Rick offers his heartfelt congratulations, then tells her about his being hired to design Colin's Sydney hotel.
While thrilled for him, Lily immediately recognizes the logistical problem: how will he design a hotel to be built in Australia? When Rick explains that he'll have to go there, she asks for how long. He answers that it will take at least nine months and that Colin will send their whole family to Australia, all expenses paid, including housing and the children's schools. He adds that Colin will have him designing more hotels after Sydney. "But not in Chicago," Lily surmises.
Blinded by euphoria, Rick doesn't understand Lily's apprehension until she asks how she can go with him to Australia and still host a call-in radio program. When he naively suggests that she broadcast from Australia or connect with her audience through the Internet, she points out that her American listeners won't be able to call in to a different country. But Rick is confident that any difficulties can be worked out, and insists, "This is all too good to be a problem." Though still doubtful, Lily joins him in what he calls "a toast to too much good news."
In the morning, Lily is dismayed to hear Eli, Jessie, Grace and Zoe all talking about Australia during breakfast. Eli is gung-ho, Grace welcomes the opportunity to attend a different school, Jessie wants to stay with her mother, and Zoe, who wants to have a Bat Mitzvah, worries that there's no such thing in Australia. To Lily's observation that she's only one-quarter Jewish, Zoe replies stubbornly, "It's an important quarter," and asks Jessie if she can move in with her and Karen.
Lily takes Rick aside to remind him that they had agreed to resolve their own differences before discussing Australia with the children. He claims that it's important to get their perspective, and asks, "Is this about me telling the kids or about the issue itself?" At that moment, Jake and Tiffany unwittingly create a diversion when they arrive with Maddie. Jake declares that they have an announcement.
"You're going to have another baby," Zoe guesses. Her father says that this isn't it, although he won't rule it out for the future.
"They're getting married," Grace guesses in turn. "Hey, no fair," Jake complains good-naturedly. The family is astonished - especially Grace, who says she was only joking -- but everyone is happy for the engaged couple. Zoe asks to see Tiffany's ring, but Jake explains that they haven't had time to buy one. Tiffany invites everyone to the wedding, saying that it will take place the following Sunday at BookLovers. When Lily offers Jake her sincere congratulations and a warm embrace, they share a long, affectionate gaze weighted with shared memories.
That afternoon, Karen gives Henry a pleasant surprise when she drops by the ball park where his Little League team is playing a game. Although she claims that she can stay only a minute, Henry invites her to spend it in the dugout. Meanwhile, Lily visits BookLovers, where she confides to Judy that she doesn't know what to do about their Alzheimer's-afflicted mother if the whole family goes to Australia. "So bring her along, she won't know where she is anyway," Judy snickers. Judy admits that Sam has not asked her to accompany him, but says she has packed her bags anyway.
Lily's emotional distress is so obvious that Judy asks if she's worried about the syndication offer. Lily frets that it's not just her own career which will be uprooted, but everything about their lives. "And change is scary," Judy agrees. Lily scowls, complains that the beverage in her cup tastes funny, and sighs, "I'm a terrible wife."
At the ball park which is now nearly deserted, the game is long over and rain is falling, but Karen is still sitting in the dugout with Henry. He tells her he's glad she came, and that she's a brave person. She's moved almost to tears, but as he continues to gaze at her intently, she becomes uncomfortable and says that she needs to go home. He offers to give her a ride, wryly warning her not to run off while he's bringing his car around.
That night, in their bedroom, Rick reminds Lily that Colin's cocktail party is on Friday; in turn, she reminds him that she's doing promos for Radiovation on Friday. This strikes Rick as bad faith on her part, since he believes that they've agreed to talk before taking any unilateral action on their dual-career dilemma. In her own defense, Lily says that she was simply handed a schedule for doing the promos, and curtly suggests that they go ahead and talk. But when Rick asks if she has considered postponing her syndication deal, she scoffs, "You don't think there aren't six hundred other people who would kill for this opportunity? Maybe you could postpone yours." Sardonically, he replies that neither Colin nor Sam would go for that.
"So you're saying the only way to resolve this conflict is for me to do what you want me to do," she says. Rick reminds her that the Australia project is important to the entire family, financially and in other ways. "So basically the way to resolve this is for me to do what you want," she repeats; "That's unfair," he objects. Lily immediately regrets her words and says she needs time to think about everything but doesn't have that much time. Almost as an afterthought, she mentions that her back is killing her. They prepare for bed without having resolved anything.
The next day Tiffany walks into BookLovers and immediately sees Jake holding the hand of an attractive woman who seems to be flirting with him. Devastated, she turns and walks back out before he sees her.
On Friday, Lily arrives late to Colin's party at the Dreiser Hotel and, after she sips her wine, asks Rick if it smells funny to him. Judy happily tells Lily that Sam has finally asked her to go to Australia with him. In front of Colin, Lily plays the part of loyal wife until Colin casually refers to his and Rick's house-hunting visit to Sydney in the coming week as if he assumes that she already knows. She can't conceal her surprise, and Colin misses it only because he's looking past her toward someone else. Once Colin moves on, Lily lets her feelings show in front of Judy, who observes that the whole subject of Australia is upsetting her sister.
Jake arrives at Tiffany's apartment with trays of food which he asks her to sample and select for their wedding reception. Icily, she informs him that she's not hungry and that she no longer wants to get married because she doesn't believe he does either. Incredulous, he asks what's the matter. Her temper rising, she berates him about the woman in the bookstore. At first he doesn't even recall the incident, but as she angrily describes how he was holding her hand, he shows her a ring box and explains that the woman was a jeweler who brought it to him. As he takes a diamond solitaire from the box and slips it on her finger, her anger melts away and, laughing in relief, they embrace.
At her house, Karen hears a knock at her door and opens it to find Henry there. When he asks why she missed her physical therapy appointment, she says she left a message canceling it. "The message didn't say why," he says sternly. She stands aside, allowing him to enter the house. "Why did you come here?" she asks nervously.
He tells her that in his work, he sees people at their most vulnerable and comes to know them as they really are. Stumbling over his words, he says that he can't be her physical therapist any longer. He admits that when she visited him at the ball park, he wanted to kiss her, is convinced that she wanted him to, and wonders why they didn't. He surprises her by insisting that, contrary to her assumptions, he's never been in this situation before. "Do you have any idea how stupid it is for me to even think about getting involved with a client who's depressed, who's white, not to mention whose life is a mess?" he demands.
"My life is a mess, and you're just going to make it worse," she weeps.
"No, I think your life is just beginning," he replies, and leans forward as if to kiss her. But at that moment, Eli and Jessie burst in. Everyone exchanges awkward pleasantries which amuse Henry but mortify Karen. Once her children have gone to the kitchen, she tells Henry that even if she wanted to get involved with him, she can't do it. "Oh, Karen," he sighs, and walks out without a backward glance.
As Lily and Rick arrive home from the cocktail party, Lily complains that her stomach is upset and blames the hors d'oeuvres. "Maybe they're from Australia," Rick comments acidly. Lily asks him when he was planning to tell her about the next week's trip. For answer he reminds her how much he wants the Sydney job, which he says he's been working toward for twenty years. He concedes that her radio opportunity is "amazing" but says that she hasn't been working toward it since she was twenty-two. She argues that he's wrong, that in her entire life she hadn't found anything, outside her immediate family, that was "purposeful in the world" and which she was passionate about. "And when I found this, I had given up already, I wasn't even thinking about it, I didn't want to do it. And there it was, and it was amazing, and I was good, and I loved it, and I don't want to give that up," she pleads.
"I'm not asking you to give it up-I just don't see why you can't postpone it for a few months," Rick asks gently.
"And do what? Sit in a rented house and resent you?" she snaps. He tells her that she's being selfish, and she admits to fearing that if he doesn't get his way, he's going to leave her for good. Shaking his head, he says that he doesn't know what to do. Heatedly, she tells him she'll make the decision for them: he can to go to Australia alone, and she'll stay behind. Not waiting for his response, she says that she's going to throw up, and storms out of the kitchen. Frustrated, Rick curls his hand into a fist and hammers a cork into the neck of a wine bottle.
On Sunday, Karen is poring over work at her kitchen table when Jessie takes a moment from dressing for Jake and Tiffany's wedding to urge her mother to not work so hard, to have fun-and to go out with Henry. "I just think that sometimes things happen between people that you don't really expect, and sometimes the things that are important are the ones that seem the weirdest or the most wrong, and they're also the ones that change your life," she says. Though Karen tries to change the subject, asking, "What shoes are you going to wear?" she can't disguise how touched she is by Jessie's loving concern. Rick arrives to pick up Jessie and Eli. Before he leaves, Eli tells his mother that he loves her, and asks if she'll be all right alone. "Yes," she says firmly. Once they're all out the door, Karen sits lost in thought for a moment before reaching for her cane. Decisively, she pushes herself to her feet.
At the bookstore, Zoe and Grace add to their father's pre-wedding jitters by tactlessly commenting on his sweaty appearance. Eli sees Katie, whom Jessie welcomes with a hug, and when she blithely explains that she's crashing, he calls her action bizarre and grumbles, "Jeez, you guys are like attached at the hip."
Tiffany goes to an empty office and finds Lily there, fighting nausea. To Lily's astonishment, Tiffany begins to cry and confesses that she can't go through with the wedding because she doesn't trust Jake and she has more doubts and fears than she's had in her entire life. She begs for Lily's advice, but Lily claims that with her own life a mess, she's not qualified to advise anyone else. "I would give anything to have your life!" Tiffany blurts out.
Lily reminds Tiffany of how her life "went off the map" when she gave birth to Maddie, and says that this is what marriage is like: no map, no directions, just two people doing the best they can. The worst that can happen, she tells Tiffany, is when people break up after having a child: "But you have the kid anyway, so what's the difference?" Tiffany finds this sufficiently comforting that the wedding proceeds as scheduled. During the ceremony, couples reach out to hold hands: first Jessie and Katie, then Sam and Judy, and finally Rick and Lily. Rick's expression is troubled, his eyes more on Lily and her hand resting in his than on Jake and Tiffany.
Meanwhile, Karen goes to the ball park and though walking with the cane is slow and painful, she searches for Henry until she finds him on the field. Silently, she waits for him to notice her, and when he does, the expression on her face tells him all he needs to know. They stand face to face, then kiss and cling to each other.
As soon as Jake and Tiffany are pronounced husband and wife, Rick rises and walks out. Following him, Lily finds him loosening his tie and asks if he's OK. He steers her into the kitchen, where he apologizes for having caused her so much grief. Emotionally, he declares that he won't go to Australia because she is everything he wants and he can't be away from her. "If he wants me now, he'll want me in a year," Rick insists.
With equal fervor, Lily says she won't pursue the syndication offer because her family means too much to her. "If they want me now, they'll want me in a year," she echoes. "I can't be away from you. Plus, I'm pregnant." Rick is so stunned that she asks him if he's upset. "What an incredibly smart thing to do," he breathes, and they burst into smiles. In no hurry to return to the wedding reception, they continue to kiss and hold each other in the kitchen.
"Once and Again" ends with a fade to black. "That's a wrap, everybody," the director calls. Applauding and tossing rose petals, the entire cast crowds onto the sound stage, where they wave and blow kisses to the camera.
In an extended black-and-white coda, producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, along with the cast members, reminisce about how they created the series, and how they feel about its end. Herskovitz says that he and Zwick long ago realized that there's a connection between the people involved in making a movie or TV show, and the finished product.
Sela Ward recalls her reaction to reading the first script: "I have to play this woman!"
With a wry smile, Billy Campbell says that he's "probably made as many pilots as George Clooney."
Susanna Thompson, flanked by her "children" Shane West and Evan Rachel Wood, recalls that on her first meeting with Shane, he gave her "a huge hug" and she knew everything would be OK.
Sela and Billy playfully reminisce about their first meeting, although his memories seem fuzzier than hers.
Jeffrey Nordling says the hardest thing for him was that he had no experience with teen-age daughters.
Ever Carradine recalls that although she was supposed to do only one show, "I stuck."
Marin Hinkle, with Steven Weber at her side, recalls that they had to kiss passionately on the very day they first met.
Zwick, deadpan, says he's afraid that with the end of the show, no one will ever again ask him to act.
Susanna, Jeff, Evan, Sela, Marin, Julia Whelan, and Meredith Deane all describe how the cast and crew have become like family and how hard it will be to not see them every day. Susanna says that a part of her still can't believe that it's over, and Shane says, "I never had a..." but, overcome with emotion, he can't finish the thought.
Billy smiles wistfully at the camera, then Sela does the same.
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