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117 - (UB)     Unfinished Business     03/06/00
Lily and the rest of the Manning family cope with an accident that will change their lives forever.

WRITER: Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz     DIRECTOR: Edward Zwick
 Brooks-Manning Lily    Grace    Zoe
 Sammler Rick   
 Ex's Jake   
 Other Family Judy    Phil    Barbara   
 Business Christy
 Significant Regulars Naomi    Jennifer   
Dr. Frankl(?) - Marshall Herskovitz. The doctor that brings the sad news twice to the Manning/Brooks family

Lily's house
Rick's house
Sammler Cassilli
  Upton Sinclair
The Hospital -
Funeral Home -
Cemetary -

King Lear - William Shakespeare

The Unfinished Business of King Lear
A comparison between Shakespeare and Once and Again

Dramatis Personae

Lear, King of Britain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Phil Brooks
King of France, suitor of Cordelia . Christie Parker
Duke of Burgundy, suitor of Cordelia . . . . . . Editors
Duke of Cornwall, husband of Regan
Duke of Albany, husband of Goneril . . Jake Manning
Duke of Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rick Sammler
Earl of Gloster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Barbara Brooks
Edgar, son of Gloster . .Aaron Brooks, Lily Manning
Edmund, bastard son of Gloster .Jake Manning, Sam
Curan, a courtier
Oswald, steward to Goneril
Old Man, tenant to Gloster . . . . . . .the Tannenbaums
Doctor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dr. Scheck, Dr. Frankel
Fool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grace & Zoe Manning
An officer, employ’d by Edmund
Gentleman, attendant on Cordelia . . . . . Uncle Manny
A Herald
Servants to Cornwall
Goneril, daughter to Lear . . . Judy and Aaron Brooks
Regan, daughter to Lear . . . . .Judy and Aaron Brooks
Cordelia, daughter to Lear . . . .Lily & Grace Manning
Knights, attending on Lear . . . . . . . . . .Jake Manning
Officers, Messengers, Soldiers,
Attendants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mourners

In the opening scene of the “Unfinished Business” episode of Once and Again, Grace is rehearsing her lines for the school production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear. Cordelia’s lines are committed to memory but they clearly have no more meaning to the innocent teenager than “blah, blah, something, something” as she insensibly recites them at her Grandpa’s bidding. Over the next few days, her life changes forever and she finally comprehends Shakespeare’s words as she tends her Grandpa’s deathbed. The use of King Lear in "Unfinished Business" and the following episode, “Strangers and Brothers,” goes far beyond the appropriateness of Cordelia's lines for Grace, however. Many parallels can be drawn between the classic play and these episodes of the television series created by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz.

Lear divides his kingdom among his children and then expects them to support him for the rest of his life. Phil is able to retire and live on the payments Jake and Lily make on the restaurant.

Lily and Cordelia are each their father’s favourite child. Cordelia tells King Lear that she loves him only as much as a daughter owes her father. Lily tells Phil that giving her money for the divorce lawyer doesn't give him the right to make her decisions. Although both fathers react with anger, these daughters eventually prove they love their fathers most. Lear's other daughters briefly take in their father and his knights before turning them out of their homes. Phil tried to visit Aaron in Daddy’s Girl, but was turned away. After picking him up from the hospital, Judy just drops Phil off at her sister's and quickly exits. Cordelia looks after her ill and dying father, as does Lily. Lear brings 100 knights, who are not welcome in his daughters’ homes. Jake visits Phil but is not wanted in Lily’s home. She doesn’t like that Jake still shares a close relationship with Phil, particularly when she catches them plotting in the background. Grace and Lily feel guilt over their treatment of Phil. Judy, and presumably Aaron, does not. Lily loses sleep over an argument with her father, while Judy believes that to be normal. Lear and Cordelia are reconciled before their deaths, as are Grace and Lily with Phil. Judy is unable to reconcile the many differences she has with her father because she is in denial that he is dying. Aaron doesn’t even appear until the funeral.

Cordelia has several suitors, most of whom withdraw their offers when she is disinherited. The King of France marries Cordelia in spite of her lack of a dowry and then takes her off to France when she should be at home looking after her father. Lily’s ‘suitors’ are Rick, Jake, Christie and the Editors who have already rejected Lily. Phil points out that Rick and Jake should be fighting over her, but they are too civilized for that. Christie hires Lily as her assistant even though her qualifications are outdated and she lacks the sort of experience needed at Lily already feels guilty that fighting with her father caused his first stroke and it is during one of the job interviews that Phil suffers a second one. Grace shares her mother’s guilt, feeling that she missed the signs that could have prevented her Grandpa’s death.

Phil has a series of progressively worsening strokes that destroy his brain. Despite being driven mad by grief and anger, Lear has more of an understanding of the situation than others realize. Cordelia and Lily see their fathers’ moments of clarity, such as when Phil tells Lily that he lent Jake $100,000. In an effort to provide for them, Lear divides his kingdom among his daughters, not their husbands as would have been the custom of the time. Phil had recently changed his will. When he began to accept the divorce, he realized that he had to take care of Lily because Jake was no longer in a position to do this. In fact, he felt that he had to protect Lily from Jake. Cordelia cries when she hears about her father’s problems but then takes control. Although Phil made decisions for Lily, rather than teaching her how to make them for herself, Lily emerges as the leader of the family. Lily ends up with Barbara’s power of attorney which gives her the power to fire Jake at a time of her choosing.

Shakespeare's Fool speaks some of the wisest words in the play, knowing the true characters of people. We wouldn't expect wisdom from children either, yet it is Grace who realizes that Grandpa is already gone, helping Lily decide it is time to end his life. Zoe reminds Lily that life goes on, by asking if she may wear her blue dress to a friend’s party. The most unlikely character inadvertently explains why Lily displayed both a Menorah and a Christmas tree: Zoe says that Grandpa was Jewish and Grandma isn’t. She also knows why the mouse has two buttons. When Lily is on the computer, before the phone call about the accident, Zoe says "right click" and pushes the button to make a menu pop up. Lily's asked her to explain and afterwards said, "I always wondered why there were two buttons." It is common knowledge that most children know how to use a computer better than their parents, but it's used here to show that children are much wiser than they are usually given credit for.

The Earl of Kent is banished for supporting Cordelia and Rick feels uncomfortable in Lily's house when Jake is there. Kent is put in stocks outside the castle and Rick can only see Lily outside the hospital. Kent shows concern when Lear and the Fool go out into a storm and Rick calls to ask how Phil and Grace are, after their accident on a rainy night. Kent is involved in the French invasion which will return Cordelia to England. Rick feels like an intruder in Lily’s house. There is a scene with the Duke of Albany, his wife and her lover where the men appear to be quite civil to one another, but the tensions are obvious, as they are during Rick and Jake’s very modern meeting at Lily’s.

Lear and the Earl of Gloster have been friends for a very long time and Phil and Barbara have been married for 43 years. Gloster is blinded but actually sees more than others think. Although Barbara is very scattered and withdrawn by the shock of Phil’s stroke, and her children do not think she is capable of making decisions, she surprises them with her announcement that she has already told the doctors to remove Phil’s life support. It was her decision to make but she gave Lily, Judy and Jake the time they needed to come to the same conclusion on their own.

Goneril and Regan both take Edmund, the Earl of Gloster’s illegitimate son, as their lover. Judy is secretly having an affair with Rick’s friend, Sam Blue, as indicated by her curly ‘happy hair.’ Edmund tries to discredit his legitimate half brother, replacing him in his father’s eyes. Jake became Phil and Barbara’s ‘son’ after Aaron had to be institutionalized. Edmund takes his father’s title, Earl of Gloster, when it should go to the legitimate Edgar. Jake runs the restaurant named Phil’s and thinks of it as his own despite the Brooks family retaining majority ownership. Aaron is schizophrenic. Gloster doesn’t see that the lunatic beggar is really his son Edgar. Barbara seems to have shut Aaron out of her life, not acknowledging him as her son. She feels closer to, and relies on, Jake. Edgar leads Gloster, cares for him, becomes his eyes. Barbara finally shows some emotion when Aaron says that he wants to go to Florida for her. Edgar reveals Edmund’s treachery just as Aaron’s outburst causes Jake to show aggression, albeit in an attempt to protect his children, when what is really needed is a calm voice, which can only be provided by his real siblings. Edgar disguises himself as a lunatic beggar, to get closer to his father. It is only after Phil’s death his true relationship with Aaron is discovered: Phil had secretly taken his son to the restaurant every week on Jake’s night off. Edmund dies. Barbara gives her proxy to Lily, rendering Jake powerless.

The Duke of Albany remains loyal to Lear while his wife and her sister are not. Jake believes that Phil’s suffering should end by taking him off the respirator while Lily and Judy are still considering their own loss. Albany inherits the kingdom because everyone else is dead, but then offers it to Kent and Edgar. Jake continues to manage the restaurant because no one else in the family wants to, but Lily makes it clear that she is in control. She can fire Jake any time she wants and it will be a place where every member of her family is welcome. Kent, Albany and Edgar become allies (brothers) after Lear dies. Jake reaches out to Rick, who now sees Jake as a person with feelings. Plans are made to keep Aaron more actively in his family.

As might be expected from the producers of Shakespeare in Love, there are some conscious nods to the Bard as well, the most obvious one being the use of King Lear as a play within the play. Phil says, “Bravo,” to Grace. The emergency room doctor does a Shakespearean flourish of a bow when Phil compliments his nose. Shakespeare's words are woven into the plot. King Lear is a true tragedy, ending with nearly all of the main characters dead. Although Phil dies, “Unfinished Business” and “Strangers and Brothers” end with the hope of a new beginning for the family.

Copyright 2001 Catherine Challenger

Lily: My father needs to help me ...

Phil: Does it mean a man can't be a father?

Lily: Watch your parents ...
Lily: He was always so big ...
Lily: I like men ...
Lily: I never used to fight with my father ...
Lily: I always had to make sure we made up ...
Lily: My father would read to me every night ...
Lily: I broke my leg skiing ...

Phil: What do I want from retirement?


The car accident
Phil is distracted talking with Grace and is honked at from behind. He pulls away on a green light but his delay has caused the opposing car to make a left turn in front. The accident results in no injury to Grace, and only minor injuries to Phil (cut on chin, left ankle bruise).

Name calling
Grace calls her grandfather "Phil" in an attempt to get him to move faster as they are leaving Lily's house.

Phil has a stroke
Lily finds Phil on the kitchen floor at 4am. The stroke is on the left side of his brain, leaving him unable to speak

Phil has a second stroke
While Lily is on her second interview with, Phil has his second stroke, leaving him entirely dependant on life support

The Passing
Phil passes away after Barbara makes the decision to remove life support

Not currently available


Grace is in a school play as Cordelia in King Lear. We constantly see Phil and Grace running through her lines.

Break a leg
Lily broke her leg in a skiing accident when she was 17

Lily gets her hair cut at Carl's downtown

The almost kiss
Phil was supposed to kiss Suzy Eigenbacher in his school play

While recovering at Lily's from the accident, Phil watches a History Channel special on George S Patton. Echos of the American King Lear?

Phil tells Lily that the restaurant is still 40% his business.

Having faith
We find out that Phil is Jewish and Barbara "isn't" when Zoe asks Lily who they should pray to for grandpa.

Casting Call
Series producer/writer Marshall Herskovitz makes an appearance in this episode as the doctor bearing bad news.

This was the episode previewed at the Paley Festival before it was broadcast on ABC.

Save Phil
At the Paley Festival we learned that Paul Mazursky circulated a petition (in jest) to "save Phil" while they were filming this episode. His efforts included whispering to Julia Whelan (while filming the dramatic sequence on his hospital bed) for them to "bring me back as my evil twin Morty".
I'll pay
Lily's parents paid for her divorce lawyer. -- Adam Bomb 1701

Lend or lent?
As Phil lies in his hospital bed, he desperately tries to tell Lily something but it is unclear whether he is instructing her to "lend Jake" $100,000 or whether he has already "lent Jake" the money. The money is not mentioned again and the script [Green Pages (5th revision) Jan 25/00] is also unclear:

Lily now sits alone by Phil's bedside. After a moment, he raises his arm and tries to speak.

Lily: "Daddy, what? Do you need something?"

He gestures a "writing" motion. Lily hurriedly finds pen and paper by the bedside.

Lily: "Do you want me to call the nurse--? Are you in pain? Hold on...I'm just getting you the paper."

She puts the pen in Phil's left hand and holds the pad for him while he scribbles laboriously. A scrawl emerges: "I lend Jake 100,000."

Lily: (reading it) --"lend Jake...a hundred--" (incredulous).

Dad, are you crazy? You're not supposed to be worrying about these things now--!

Phil shakes his head in frustration.

When Phil is watching the History Channel, the logo bug in the lower right hand corner is way too large. -- Adam Bomb 1701

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Season 2 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222
Season 3 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319
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