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"A Love for a Lifetime"
Air Date September 24, 2007
Written by Kevin Falls
Director Alex Graves
Previous episode -
Next episode "Friendly Skies"
101a

Time and space bend as Dan Vasser takes his first trip.

101b

Lost answers.

101c

Remembering the future.

101d

"I'll always come home."

Synopsis

Dan Vasser is a reporter for the San Francisco Register whose life is about to become very complicated. He's on his way to meet his wife, Katie, at the Cafe Luna on the evening of their wedding anniversary, when he is briefly and inexplicably transported into the past. Walking into Cafe Luna, he realizes that something is amiss as everyone is cheering about an old football game. Suddenly, he spots his ex-fiancé Livia whom he lost many years ago when she perished aboard a doomed airliner. Before he can follow her, he is thrust back into the present day.

He tells his wife of his experience as a vivid dream, thinking that he had fallen asleep during the cab ride. They have a romantic evening, but he has disappeared in the morning. He awakes to find himself sleeping in Golden Gate Park and rushes home, only to be confronted by a stranger living there. Thinking that this is still a dream, he questions the homeowner further and learns that it is the year 1987. Dan is in a daze, wandering off to downtown San Francisco, wondering when he will wake up when he spots a troubled man, Neal Gaines, standing on Market Street preparing to commit suicide by being hit by an incoming cable car. He thwarts the suicide attempt and is transported back to the present.

His wife has been distressed and angry. He has been gone for two days, and she had gone to his brother Jack, a police officer, for help. We learn of Dan's past trouble with substance abuse, and their grave concern that he is no longer clean and sober. Dan is at a loss to explain that he may have traveled in time; even he is aware of the utter insanity of the idea... even when internet research reveals that Neal Gaines was an actual person, with pictures on the web to prove it.

He attempts to resume a normal life and to salvage his work at the paper, but while driving he is thrown back to 1990. The empty car causes a massive accident, and it is assumed by police and family that he fled the scene of the accident. In 1990, he sees Neal Gaines again walking into Cafe Luna. By coincidence, Dan's ex-fiancé Livia is working as a waitress there... years before they had met. He inadvertently reveals some details about her future -- like her desire to study law. His conversation is interrupted as Neal argues with his girlfriend, Nicole, who wants to terminate her pregnancy. Neal storms off, leaving Dan to counsel Nicole on his own experience with an unplanned child. His appreciation for his own son seems to have an effect on her decision about the baby.

Meanwhile, in the present, Katie is increasingly unhappy at Dan's irresponsibility and suspected drug abuse. He is not showing up at home or work, and he doesn't call anyone to explain his whereabouts. Dan suddenly is thrown back into the present, just in time to watch his son, Zack, perform at a piano recital. Dan tries to convince Katie that he has traveled back in time, but his wife is further outraged about his disappearances and insecure about his fidelity to her.

Meanwhile, Dan is struggling to keep things together. He picks up his wife's ring, which he has upgraded as an anniversary present. But as he enters the house to deliver the gift, he walks into an intervention -- staged by his wife, his boss Hugh Skillen and others. This is interrupted by his brother Jack who came to question Dan for the felony hit-and-run caused by his last disappearance. At the police station, Jack is unable to believe Dan's story but does not charge him with a crime. We learn that Jack and Katie had been a couple prior to Dan's involvement with her -- a reality that reveals unresolved tension between Dan and Jack.

While in the elevator, he does a web search on Nicole and Neal Gaines, and he learns that Neal killed Nicole and their son back in 1997. In the next moment he finds himself back in the past. But now, he is thinking ahead and buys a red toolbox and visits his future house. He is wet from the rain and his hands are dirty, so he goes to his old apartment to change. Livia walks in the door and wonders why he's home so early, saying he looks different, tired. Livia begins to seduce him and he is overcome by the feelings he once had for her, when he suddenly sees his own wedding band still on his finger. Loyal to his 2007 wife Katie, Dan pulls away from Livia's embrace and quickly leaves the apartment, where he immediately bumps into Livia again... but it is Livia from the future. She briefly explains that she has also been wandering through time. She never died, having time-traveled right before her airplane went down. She tells him to follow his instincts, even if that sometimes leads to mistakes. And just as quickly as she found him to give him this advice, she jumps into another time.

It is December 31, 1997: the day of the Nicole Gaines' murder. Dan goes to spy on his and Livia's engagement party that evening. His future wife, Katie (who was with his brother Jack) gives a congratulatory toast that reveals her unspoken feelings for Dan. When the Dan from 1997 has to step away from the party for work, 2007 Dan steps in and takes his place, asking Livia to help him get some information about Nicole and Neal Gaines.

Using information obtained from Livia, he finds Neal getting on a bus; the man is distraught, almost catatonic, and he is on his way to stop his fleeing wife and child.

Dan follows Neal off the bus and down the block, and sees that Neal's wife and child are in the process of leaving. Concerned that Neal is about to do something horrible, Dan calls to Neal, who turns around and is struck by traffic and killed instantly. Neal's wife rushes to his side and realizes with horror that Neal was carrying a gun and was prepared to make good on death threats he had previously made against her.

Dan's work is done, and walks away back into the present. He calls Jack to come pick him up, and shows his brother a recent video of Neal's son who went on to save sixteen childrens' lives. Jack doesn't believe that Dan had anything to do with it, and cautions that Dan is going to lose his wife.

Dan goes inside the house, and Katie demands that he leave. But Dan wants to show her one thing first, telling her that he is no longer the man she married and he is sorry for that. He rushes to the back yard with a shovel and axe. She is shocked as he begins to tear up the patio that they had built seven years ago. He pulls out the red toolbox that he had buried underneath, and reveals that inside he has stored her ring and a copy of a 1997 newspaper. She finally believes him, and reaches out to hug him as he promises her that he will always come back home.

Later that night, Dan is in his son's bedroom after tucking in his child. He puts on a jacket and sits in a corner of the room. Awake. Watching. Waiting with a purpose. He is ready to face what comes.

Featured Music

  • "Look After You" by The Fray
  • "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis
  • "Point of No Return" by Exposé
  • "Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan
  • "Pathétique" (Piano Sonata No. 8) by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • "Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs

Mistakes and nitpicks

  • Anachronisms: In 1987, we see an F-Market streetcar (that line did not begin service until 1995) and residential permit parking signs (which did not exist in San Francisco until 1988).
  • Anachronisms: In 1997, we see people like Jack Vasser and Livia Beale using modern-looking small cell phones. Although cell phones were available in 1997, these small cell phones weren't generally used by the public until the 2000's
  • Plot hole: The 2007 Dan gets help from 1997 Livia and she says "you owe me" to which he replies "I do". 2007 Dan is incapable of giving her a favor in return (as he returned to the present shortly thereafter) and the 1997 Dan knows nothing about this. And what happens when she asks the 1997 Dan whether he found Neal Gaines?
  • Nobody notices when Dan Vasser appears and disappears out of nowhere. This is true when he appears out of nowhere to downtown San Francisco. Also nobody notices when Dan Vasser disappears to thin air after he prevents Nicole Gaines' death.
  • Dan Vasser is able to fool people when he pretends to be his younger self. Livia Beale notes that he "looks tired," but no one else notices that he is older than he is supposed to be, perhaps because Dan has aged well over the years. He's able to fit in at his engagement party, fortunately for him because he changed his shirt to one that he wore in that time era which looked very similar the one his younger self was wearing. Of course, this may be excusable given that Livia and the others wouldn't be likely think "Hey, Dan looks ten years older - he must be a time-traveler!"

more nitpicks

Cast

Regulars

Guest starring

Co-starring


Previous episode: Next episode:
- "Friendly Skies"

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