This episode is more momentous than most--if you haven't seen it and don't wish to know more, please don't read any further.

Episode 414--"second look"


Ann Lewis Hamilton - Hamilton was nominated for two Emmy Awards in 1991 for her work on thirtysomething; one for Outstanding Drama Series and one for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for this episode.


Ken Olin

Air Dates

2/12/91, 8/6/91

Guest Stars

Elizabeth Hoffman as Eleanor Krieger; Patricia Heaton as Dr. Silverman


Nancy goes back for a second look surgery while personal tragedy strikes among the group.


Gary is visiting at the office while the guys goof around with a new hockey table. While bantering, Gary accidentally says something light hearted about grownups dying, and it sobers the group as Nancy is going back for her second look surgery in the morning. Elliot seems all right though and invites Gary to come over and pick up some things that Nancy had promised to give Gary for the course he'll be teaching on children's literature. Nancy can't find her copy of Alice in Wonderland, which she confesses was her favorite. Ethan asks Nancy if she'll go to Heaven if she dies and what Heaven is like. As they pack to go to the hospital, her spirits are good and they take care of last minute things. On a wild hair, Nancy gets Elliot to go ice skating with her on a frozen pond in the middle of the night.

While wasting time in the hospital room, Nancy finds the Bible that Elliot packed for himself, and she makes him promise to go home to get some sleep that night before surgery (though it seems that he actually sleeps in the lobby). During surgery, Elliot spends time in the chapel. The initial word from Dr. Silverman is good, but they have to wait for the biopsy. Elliot calls Hope and Michael to give them the good news as they are taking care of Ethan and Britty. Elliot, the children, and Eleanor entertain Nancy and try to distract themselves from the waiting, which is next to impossible. Elliot spends more time in the chapel and breaks down emotionally, praying to God while standing the bathroom. Elliot returns to Nancy's room and she tells him that the news was good, the best possible results from the surgery--no new cancer.

The news spreads quickly and everyone is overwhelmingly happy and relieved (lots of crying). Gary hangs out with Michael and they talk about plans for the party in Nancy's room that night. Gary agrees to come since he got Nancy a present, but doesn't seem happy that Melissa will be there as well. People begin showing up at the hospital, just visiting and enjoying not having to worry about her. Gary hasn't shown up yet, so Michael goes to call and gets a message on his machine from a police detective. He returns the call and receives the tragic news that Gary was killed in a car accident on his way to the hospital. Hope is momentarily in denial before they collapse in each others arms in the hallway. They leave to go identify the body, taking Melissa (who does not know yet) with them. Michael breaks it to her gently, but she won't listen and begins walking away as Hope begins to cry again.

When Michael goes to identify Gary, he is shown the body and told that Gary died of massive internal injuries and that the bleeding could not be stopped. He was driving (not riding his bike) when a tractor trailer rig locked up on the icy road. Seven other people were killed. Michael picks up the personal effects and begins to cry. At home, Michael calls Susannah and breaks the news to her. Elliot shows up in the middle of this to return the kids to the house and finds out from Michael. Hope goes to call Ellyn and Elliot follows her to the kitchen where he tries to explain the comfort the Bible has been to him lately and offers to call Ellyn. Michael sits with Melissa as she simply cries, a woman grief-stricken.

The next day at the hospital, Elliot tells Nancy what has hapened and she is shaken and confused somehow that she escaped the death that caught him. He gives her the present, Alice Through the Looking Glass, inscribed "To Another Alice, see page 346. Love, Gary."


  • Brad once shot Michael in the hand with a bow and arrow when they were kids
  • Both Timothy Busfield and Patricia Wettig did their own ice skating, such as it was (I would've been flat on my butt in two seconds)
  • Dr. Silverman's first name is Karen
  • There will be two more chemo rounds "for the road"
  • Gary's love for Beowulf is mentioned
  • Ethan sucks helium out of one of Nancy's balloons
  • Gary's mother lives in Washington D.C.
  • Gary is a tissue/organ donor
  • Gary's effects included a hockey man from the game table at work, a wallet, a watch, Nancy's present, and what looks like gum wrappers.
  • Fashion

    Gary wears the Knights jacket and pulls his hair back (bad, bad idea for him).


    --"Is there TV [in Heaven]?" --Britty

    --"Probably. PBS." --Nancy


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    The dashed line marks the point where Lisa Stevenson Blackwell's original version of this page ended, and where Bob Fahey began adding material.

    2-1-2007 - Here is the passage Gary marked for Nancy in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:

    In a Wonderland they lie,
    Dreaming as the days go by,
    Dreaming as the summers die:

    Ever drifting down the stream--
    Lingering in the golden gleam--
    Life, what is it but a dream?

    The book isn't copyrighted in the United States. Read it free at Project Gutenberg.

    Trivia: Elizabeth Hoffman was Nancy's mom here, and she was Patricia Kalember's character's mother on the series Sisters (1991-1996). Kalember played Gary's girlfriend Susannah.