Episode 409--"guns and roses"


Liberty Godshall


Ken Olin

Air Date


Guest Stars

Joseph Brutsman as Ted Brunel; Laura Owens as group leader; David Clennon as Miles Drentell; Andra Millian as Angel Wasserman; Carey Eidel as Man; Sally Prager as Young Woman; Lindsay Riddell as Brittany Weston (from now on)


Nancy and Elliot deal with her cancer and the toll it takes on their family.


Ethan goes poking through the house at night with a flashlight and disturbs Nancy's sleep, which is the first shot shown of her having lost most of her hair. Everyone is rushing around to get ready in the morning when Nancy gets a phone call asking for her to exhibit a painting in a "real" show. Nancy attends a workshop on guided imagery to help her deal with the cancer. While participating, she has difficulty picturing a warm, safe place.

At D.A.A., Angel mentions that Michael has been nominated for an Opus and it becomes apparent that Elliot didn't know. While Elliot and Nancy are assembling a simply enormous tree fort for Ethan, he arrives home and they discover that he has a nice shiner. Nancy cleans him up and keeps asking how he is and how he got it. Hope drives Nancy to chemotherapy while discussing the upcoming second look surgery and other aspects of the cancer. Nancy tries to use visualization but can only see herself, dead in a coffin. Afterwards, Nancy feels very ill and is too sick and guilty to work on the painting for the show. Ethan tries to help by bringing her a glass of water.

Elliot and Michael goof around at the office and re-write Michael's acceptance speech. Nancy and Ethan work some more on the tree fort and Nancy tries to talk with Ethan about how to get out of the fight or fight defensively. Elliot barges in with good intentions and ends up showing Ethan how to throw a left hook, much to Nancy's dismay. Nancy goes early to soccer practice to meet Ethan's coach, Ted Brunel. She begins to share her concerns about his fighting and quickly becomes emotional and distraught, asking Ted how he's going to protect and look out for Ethan when she's not there.

Returning home, Elliot joins her in the car and she shares how stark the statistics are for cancer survival and how that makes her feel about using guided imagery. Hope and Ellyn come over for tea when Ethan comes home, beat up again. They talk about it and seem to handle it fairly well, and even begin roughhousing until Nancy becomes very tired and starts coughing. Elliot returns home to find her sleeping on the floor, so he insists on calling Michael to cancel on going to the award ceremony in order to stay with Nancy.

The next morning, Michael has obviously won the award and everyone congragulates him at D.A.A. Nancy calls the exhibit people and tells them that she just can't do the painting since she isn't feeling well and can't pull it together. Nancy takes Ethan and Britty to a Chinese restaurant and the kids make a simply horrible scene and she is forced to drag them out, telling Ethan he can't play soccer anymore. Elliot returns home to find her amid a sea of Tupperware, upset, tired, and exhausted with the cancer, the ordeal, and her life.

Michael and Elliot finally get to talk at work and Elliot tries to explain why he wasn't at the awards show which rapidly leads into his emotional breakdown about how hard everything has been lately. Michael tries to understand and hugs him at the appropriate moment.

Nancy goes back to the visual imagery group and honestly shares that she doesn't feel it's been working, facing questions of whether or not she really wants to live. After a nap that afternoon, she and Britty go to watch Ethan at soccer (she's not supposed to know he's still playing) and she sees Ethan make a goal and then be shoved down by a female teammate and soundly kissed.

That night, Nancy and Elliot talk in the moonlight about how she wants him to come back to Victory Partners, the cancer group, again, and about Ethan's kiss and how she really wants to live "because she doesn't know how it all turns out yet." She gives the imagery another try and sees flashes from past happy times (her 38th birthday, announcing that her book will be published, talking to her mother) interspersed with a search through her childhood home only to find herself as a child, painting. The episode closes with a shot of the family together in the completed treehouse.


Britty has a gerbil named Sad; Ethan is in the midst of a science fair project about the effects of heavy metal on plants; Nancy only has two more treatments to go; Vivaldi's The Four Seasons plays in the background of the entire sequence while Ethan plays soccer (see analysis); the original music played over Nancy's final set of images and recollections was Karla Bonoff's "The Water is Wide" from the soundtrack. This has been replaced with something as of yet unidentified.


Nancy wears a wig and brown, red, and blue bandanas. And lots of hats.


"What can I say? I'm living with a woman who's an inspiration to us all." --Elliot, quite sincerely

"I look like Jane Jetson in this [wig]." --Nancy

--"Oh no, did I hit a squirrel?" --Hope, while driving

--"No, he waved. He's fine." --Nancy

"Elliot, can't you be the designated adult just this once?" --Nancy

"I'm going to change my name to Telly Savalas." --Nancy


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The lyrics of The Water is Wide are in the public domain:

The water is wide, I can't cross o'er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Oh love is gentle and love is kind
The sweetest flower when first it's new
but love grows old and waxes cold and fades away
like morning dew

There is a ship and she sails the sea
She's loaded deep as deep can be
But not as deep as the love I'm in
I know not how I sink or swim

The water is wide, I can't cross o'er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

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