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319 - (COAL)     Chance of a Lifetime     04/15/02
On the series finale, Rick is offered the career opportunity of a lifetime — but it's on another continent. Lily, for her part, also has some exciting news. The couple face yet another life-altering decision, but this one could displace the entire family.

WRITER: Sue Paige, Daniel Paige, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick     DIRECTOR: Dan Lerner
Go to SPOILERS for this episode
 Brooks-Manning Lily    Grace    Zoe
 Sammler Rick    Eli    Jessie
 Ex's Jake    Karen
 Other Family Judy   
 Significant Regulars Tiffany    Sam   
Katie Singer - Mischa Barton
Henry Higgins - D.B. Woodside
Colin - Saul Rubinek
Les Cresswell - Paul Dooley
Sophia - Missy Yager
The ministerTim Snay
Brandy - Mariah O'Brien
Dan Lerner - Dan Lerner

Lily's house
Karen's house
Booklovers Restaurant
Tiffany's Apartment - Jake proposes
The Baseball Diamond - Karen meets with Henry
La Campagna - Italian Restaurant, Rick and Lily exchange good news
The Radio Station -


Fireweed :
A Political Autobiography (Critical Perspectives on the Past) by Gerda Lerner

Jake and Tiffany's vows:
by Raymond Carver

From the window I see her bend to the roses
holding close to the bloom so as not to
prick her fingers. With the other hand she clips, pauses and
clips, more alone in the world
than I had known. She won't
look up, not now. She's alone
with roses and with something else I can only think, not
say. I know the names of those bushes

given for our late wedding: Love, Honor, Cherish--
this last the rose she holds out to me suddenly, having
entered the house between glances. I press
my nose to it, draw the sweetness in, let it cling--scent
of promise, of treasure. My hand on her wrist to bring her close,
her eyes green as river-moss. Saying it then, against
what comes: wife, while I can, while my breath, each hurried petal
can still find her.

Marshall (with Ed) - "A long time ago, we realized that most of the process of making a movie or a television show was about the people who were involved and, in fact, there was a deep connection between the people who were involved and the product you came up with."

Sela - "Oh my God; I have to play this woman. You know, by the time I finished the script, I went, "Damn! I got to do it, I got to do it.""

Billy - "I've done probably as many pilots as George Clooney."

Susanna, (with Shane and Evan) - "This one right here, just um, he just opened his arms and, you know, just said hello and gave me a huge hug and I knew I was okay."

Sela and Billy
Billy - "You don't remember that?"
Sela - "We didn't meet there."
Billy - "We didn't?"
Sela - "No, we had a drink at the, at a, at a restaurant. Do you
Billy - "You were having lunch at the same restaurant?"
Sela - "No."
Billy - "Oh."
Sela - "I wanted to meet you, to make sure you weren't a real jerk."
Billy - laughs

Jeffrey - "The hardest thing for me, I think, was I had no experience with teenaged daughters."

Ever - "I was only supposed to do one, and I stuck."

Marin (and Steven) - "Do you remember that when we first met, that day we had to, to, to passionately kiss?"

Sela and Billy
Sela - "You were incredibly charming and we, we did have a drink. Do you
remember this?"
Billy - "I don't. Where was I?"
Sela - "That's so frightening."
Billy - laughs

Ed (and Marshall) - "What I'm afraid about the possibility of the show ending is that no one will ever hire me to act again."

Susanna, Shane, and Evan
Evan - "I can't really put it into words."
Susanna - "Oh, no. I feel way too much."

Jeffrey - "I don't know how it's going to feel until I, um, it's not there anymore."

Julia - "It's going to be weird just being away from the place."

Meredith - "You know, it's really sad because you've become so close to all these people here."

Evan - "We've gotten so close and we've just become a family."

Sela - "I don't know if I can."

Susanna - "There's a big part of me that hasn't let go of the show so I'm not so convinced that it's over."

Marin - "Wow, this is hard."

Shane - "I've never had a, a "

Billy - sigh and sad smile

Sela - sad smile

W.G. Snuffy Walden and Joey Newman Production/incidental music




Not currently available


The Fourth Wall

In an unusual twist, last night's epilogue featured the actors and producers speaking to the camera about what the series had meant to them. Breaking the fourth wall was Herskovitz's idea, he says.

"It was our way of saying goodbye, in respect to our audience."

Herskovitz says he and his partner, Ed Zwick, had no plans to go on camera. "We were dressed like slobs, and my hair was a mess. We were physically moved by the cast and put in front of the camera as a kind of mutiny. They said if they had to do it, we had to do it."

-- Gail Shister at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Screen Captures from the episode


Watch your hands
During the last scene with Rick and Lily, as they flip between a close-up of Rick & Lily's faces...Lily's hands are in a different place, changing between his face and his chest. -- ali3915

Magic power
Lily makes her tea without turning on the microwave. The light comes on when the door opens, and she programs it without pushing the Start button. The light remains off until the done beep sounds and she opens the door. -- justmekaren918, OnceAndAgainNow

Name It!
Did any one catch the name of the book the Billy is holding in his lap during the last B/W? -- Westscot1212

Original episode spoilers

  Luthien Wanda David Bianculli Video Clip
Laura Fries Liane Faulder Paul Challen Robert Bianco Steve Johnson
Matt Roush Scott Sandell Jonathan Storm Phil Rosenthal Video Clip
Kimber Jay Ken Tucker Kimberly Potts TV Guide Canada TV Guide Canada
Paul Challen TV Times Video Pictures TV Guide
Donna Petrozello ABC Newsday Luthien Wanda

From Luthien87 at the ABC Message Board:

I have not seen the final episode yet...It will be interesting to see. There was way too much footage shot...some of it of little interest to most...and the best stuff...all black and whites. I hope they throw out some of the story in favor of these black and whites.

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From Wanda at E! Online:

Don't forget to tune into the series finale tonight. It's so good you'll cry your eyes out.

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From David Bianculli at the New York Daily News:

Tonight's closing hour serves up dilemmas, and plot twists, in the forms of seemingly blessed events, including a sudden wedding, a pair of lucrative job offers and other lifealtering occurrences.

"Too much good news," Rick says with a smile, as he and his loved ones try to process all the dizzying alternatives in this farewell episode. It's a well-written, well-directed hour, and one that ought to please fans.

At the very end, though, it's the actors who get the last words and give "Once and Again" its touching final notes. It's a powerful conclusion that is unexpected and unspoken - but very honest, real and touching.

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From Video clip:
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From Laura Fries at Yahoo:

In this episode, Lily (Sela Ward) and Rick (Billy Campbell) continue to navigate their way through the marriage minefield, deflecting, among other things, the problems of a blended family and, specifically, dueling careers. Rick has been offered the dream job of designing a world-class hotel in Australia, which would take the family out of the country for nearly a year just as Lily's radio talk show enters syndication negotiations.

Instead of rehashing the battle of the sexes, writers Sue and Daniel Paige, Zwick and Herskovitz engage in a battle of the psyches.

Meanwhile, Rick's ex-wife, Karen (Susanna Thompson), continues to struggle with rehab after a devastating car accident, but finds herself fighting her attraction to her physical therapist, Henry (D.B. Woodside).

Although the show's clearly promoted as a Ward vehicle, its strength comes from the stellar ensemble cast. Unfortunately, time restraints prevent showcasing all of the actors in the final ep, including Julia Whelan, Ever Carradine and Evan Rachel Wood, who have proved themselves extremely capable over the last few years.

As it is, only some of the issues and promising side stories are resolved, while others are just hinted at. In the end, "Once and Again" fulfills the ultimate showbiz adage: Always leave them wanting more.

The only real sense of closure comes not from the episode, but from an epilogue featuring the show's trademark black-and-white confessional scenes. Only this time, it's the actors out of character, talking passionately and emotionally about the show.

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From Liane Faulder at The Edmonton Journal:

Once and Again, once and for all. ABC has killed the high quality, low rated series after three seasons. The show, starring Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, centres around a divorced couple trying to blend families and lives. In the last episode, Rick is offered a great job on another continent and Lily also has exciting news.

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From Paul Challen at The Edmonton Journal:

The series finale promises to tie up some unresolved plot lines involving Lily (Sela Ward) and Rick (Billy Campbell) and their two families, joined into one by the pair's second marriage to each other.

But many critics have pointed out that series creators Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz -- the duo that brought us My So-Called Life and thirtysomething -- have a habit of avoiding tidy wrap-ups to their shows' concluding episodes. So fans should not expect things to finish too neatly.

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From Robert Bianco at USA Today:

Appropriately enough for a show that tended to whisper when others shouted, this lovingly produced show from thirtysomething creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick does not so much conclude tonight as set its characters off on their paths. Because ABC cut the show's season short, some of the regulars head off in their new directions a bit too quickly, but the producers probably rightly concluded that fans would prefer a hurried resolution to no resolution at all.

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From Steve Johnson at the Chicago Tribune:

All of which makes it too bad that Monday's farewell is such a letdown, despite the presence of a wedding and other cliches signifying closure and despite some fond -- some would even say, "precious" -- reminiscences from cast and creators tacked on at the end.

Architect Rick gets a gig designing a hotel in Australia, but Lily, with an offer to be a syndicated radio advice host, doesn't want to go. They fight, drippily, until--surprise!--they make up.

Meanwhile, their kids get pushed to the side. In its swan song, this series with so keen a comprehension of life seems to be misunderstanding its own essence.

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From Matt Roush at TV Guide:

If ever a show deserved a happy ending, even if it's coming much too soon, ABC's Once and Again qualifies more than most. When Rick (Billy Campbell) and wife Lily (Sela Ward) toast "to too much good news" in tonight's series finale, it's a startling change of pace.

It's also a crying shame.

Literally. And also a waste of some of the best writing, producing, directing and acting talent that network TV has been fortunate enough to ever have at its disposal. Unfortunately, disposal is exactly what happened to this luminous but perpetually underappreciated family drama throughout its three-season run.

A delicate and often dangerously dark-hued (some would call it depressive) adult saga of second-chance romance and its rippling repercussions through a large and fascinating family, Once and Again was bounced between time periods from the very start, never able to claim a night as its own. This fall, the show's fate was sealed when ABC moved it to Fridays, saddled with terrible lead-ins and negative publicity after news superstar Barbara Walters griped about 20/20 being temporarily displaced.

Ratings plummeted, and the show was yanked into hiatus oblivion just as the season's most shattering storyline reached its apex, with Rick's ex-wife Karen (the brilliant Susanna Thompson) severely injured when hit by a car just as she was emerging from a debilitating depression. Her recovery, both physical and mental, has provided the show some of its most transcendent moments.

But then, there have been so many, often involving the younger members of this blended family: angelic Jessie (the prodigiously gifted Evan Rachel Wood), struggling with anorexia and homosexuality; intense Grace (Julia Whelan), so creative yet so insecure; and aimless Eli (Shane West), taking baby steps toward adult responsibility through a haze of pot smoke.

As Jessie tells her mother in one of tonight's quieter but more affecting moments, "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 those are the ones that change y

our life."

Change for the better is the primary agenda of this premature finale. Rick gets a fantastic career opportunity that would relocate the family to Australia, while Lily — whose burgeoning career as a talk-radio advice personality has felt phonily contrived all season — is being wooed for national syndication. Meanwhile, Lily's ex-husband Jake (Jeffrey Nordling) finally proposes to a stunned Tiffany (Ever Carradine), the mother of his new baby. And even Karen, who has suffered mightily this year, is given another chance at happiness.

As Lily tries to figure out her own future, she comforts nervous bride Tiffany with this description of marriage (and distillation of the entire series): "No map, no directions. Just two people trying to do the best they can."

Stay tuned beyond the final romantic fadeout to see the actors — and executive producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick — finding a new use for the show's trademark device of black-and-white internal monologues spoken into the camera. Everyone involved seems reluctant to say goodbye, to each other and to us.

Anyone who's ever watched and cared about these characters will return the sentiment. This is one of those times when the cold reality of the business of network TV can really break your heart.

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From Scott Sandell at the LA Times:,1419,L-LATimes-TV-X!ArticleDetail-56214,00.html
Over and Out for 'Once and Again'

By SCOTT SANDELL, Times Staff Writer

     Tonight's "Once and Again" carries an important message for its passionate fans: Life goes on--after divorce, affairs, accidents and, yes, the cancellation of television shows.

     For this, the final episode of the acclaimed but ratings-challenged series (10 p.m., ABC), does its level best to serve some chicken soup to those souls who have analyzed its every nuance on the Internet and organized campaigns to save it, including a protest planned outside ABC today in Burbank.

     In somewhat of a departure from the show's customary pace, which is just this side of grass growing, the finale presents one life-altering development after another in its adult characters' lives. For some, there's the prospect of marriage; for others, turning points in careers or relationships or both.

     Into the last category fall the central figures of Lily (Sela Ward) and Rick (Billy Campbell), who began the series' third season in September as newlyweds. Back then, they were trying to unite a house filled with kids from each of their first marriages. Now, they're trying to keep the realization of their professional dreams, the intrusion of "too much good news," from tearing them apart.

     As usual, the emotional development of the characters is key, as is fine acting from an ensemble cast. So often here it takes just one look, one smile, one furrowed brow to tell much more than the script or a plot point ever could. But in the effort to tie up lopled.

     The children, who formed the crux of many an episode or at least provided interesting subplots, play little more than background roles tonight. More important, the confluence of all these dramatic, or melodramatic, flash points seems contrived, an incongruous end to a show seeking to reflect upon reality.

     Nevertheless, the finale does offer closure. Watch the last five minutes and you'll see that, even if this wasn't everyone's idea of entertainment or the second coming of "thirtysomething," the show had a way of touching people's lives.

     As usual, the emotional development of the characters is key, as is fine acting from an ensemble cast. So often here it takes just one look, one smile, one furrowed brow to tell much more than the script or a plot point ever could. But in the effort to tie up loose ends and suggest what direction the future will take when the series is dead and gone, some things got trampled.

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From Jonathan Storm at The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The curtain comes down on Once and Again tonight at 10 on ABC with, among other things, a wedding. The groom reads a passage about a rose.

"I press my nose to it, draw the sweetness in, scent of promise, of treasure."

For a TV lover, some series start with such scents. But, like the cut flowers of spring, those series often wilt before they're discarded. More frequently, the promising blooms wind up prematurely in the garbage can because not enough people appreciate their beauty.

Once and Again ends an underappreciated three-year run as one of the best series in TV history, in the top 100 or even the top 50. If it were one of the high school students whose lives it so magically portrayed, it could have its pick of colleges.

It gives little away to say there will be a wedding in the finale, which is as stimulating and satisfying as any Once and Again episode, and could wring tears from The Rock, if he'd sit still and watch it. You can be pretty sure the nuptials won't involve the 17-year-old whose crush on her English teacher led to his losing his job, or her younger stepsister and her girlfriend. But one unmarried adult couple on the show already has a baby. Another has been doing a hesitant mating dance for months. The ex-wife of the male lead is on the mend after an auto accident and possibly available.

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From Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Sun-Times:

And knowing there would be this once-and-never-again opportunity to wrap things up, series creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick attempt to bring closure to their beautifully written and acted drama, a TV show that reveled for three seasons in the open-ended uncertainties of love and life at the likely expense of the kind of mass acceptance that might have extended its network run.

We get a possible wedding, possible new romance, possible new jobs and a possible move across the world all thrown at us in the last *** episode of what has, for the most part, been a restrained if under-watched **** series.

So many possibilities are crammed into so little time in fact that, until the very end, there isn't even time for anyone on the show to reflect through the trademark black-and-white confessional segments that usually punctuate each episode.

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From Zap2it:
Video Clip
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From Kimber Jay at Teenmag:

Just got back from the store, where I've purchased my heavy duty supply of Kleenex for Monday night's series finale of "Once and Again." O.K., truth is, I've already seen a promo tape of the episode that I got from a pal of mine at ABC. And trust me, if you love this show as much as I have for the past three years, you too are going to need a whole box of hankies.

Despite all our best efforts, Monday night means the series finale of "Once and Again" (ABC, 10 p.m.) and it is one way emotional occasion! OK, here's a rundown of the action: It opens with Rick getting the dream job of a lifetime when he's offered a contract to build a hotel in Australia. But it's a double celebration, as Lily finds out that a syndication company wants to take her radio advice show national. THEN, it turns into a triple celebration, as Jake comes to his senses and figures out that he really wants to make a family with Tiffany and the baby. So he proposes, and they plan to have a wedding at the restaurant that very weekend. Oh, and we can't forget about the quickly recuperating Karen, who, after all her trauma--physical and emotional--finally gets some sunshine in her life, thanks to her yummy physical therapist, who seems to be more than a little fond of her! Of course, I don't want to spoil the whole episode for you, but let's just say that, like every good episode of "Once and Again," this one has some subtle surprises and some not-so-subtle surprises. And though we don't get a definitive resolution on some of the storyline--I, for one, am just going to go on believing that someday Eli and Grace would have gotten together--we see that all of th one of my most favorite episodes of the show ever, and I think everyone who has loved the series as much I have will also be very satisfied with the full-of-heart episode. And whatever you do, don't miss the last few minutes, which cuts to the cast after the last scene wraps and finds them talking very emotionally about how much they enjoyed working together, how much they all loved their characters... We see that we viewers aren't the only ones crying over the sad cancellation of this fine, fine television show.

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From Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly:

''Once and Again'' is going to go out with a terrific episode that'll tie up lots of loose ends, open up utterly unexpected plot turns, and conclude with the cast talking directly to the audience about how the series has affected them. I've seen the episode, but won't give anything away to those of the faithful among you; you won't be disappointed but you may cry a little.

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From Kimberly Potts at E! Online:

Once and Again gets its send-off Monday (ABC, 10 p.m.) with an episode that, at least, will leave most of the fiercely loyal fans of the show with a bit of closure. Like all the best installments of Once and Again, the finale is a mix of sweetness, heart and the subtle revelations that have made many episodes Kleenex mandatory. The end, in fact, means new beginnings for the Sammler-Manning crew, with Rick (Billy Campbell) and Lily (Ward) both getting life-changing career opportunities and the long-suffering Karen (Susanna Thompson) cautiously taking steps toward happiness--literally with her physical therapy and figuratively with her physical therapist. Lily's playboy ex-hubby, Jake (Jeffrey Nordling), surprises everyone with his proposal to girlfriend Tiffany (Ever Carradine).

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From TV Guide Canada:

Rick contemplates moving to another continent for a career opportunity, while Lily has some life-altering news of her own. TV-PG

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From TV Guide Canada:
Once & Again, ABC, ET/PT 10 pm.

The critically-acclaimed, low-rated series makes its final exit tonight. In the finale, titled "Chance of a Lifetime," Lily and Rick agonize over a career opportunity for Rick that would change everything for the family. Visit NetCetera to read our three special features on "Once & Again"...

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From Paul Challen at TV Times:
Series Finale

After three seasons on the air - and several campaigns by die-hard fans to save it - Once and Again airs its last episode tonight. It would be a shame to give too much away, but suffice it to say that this last installment should bring a number of key plot threads to an end, with Lily (Sela Ward) and Rick (Billy Campbell) in the thick of things as always.

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From TV Times:

Once and Again (Series Finale) The couple faces another life-altering decision when Rick gets an excellent career opportunity in another country. (PG)

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From Video clip:
Scroll down until you see "Final Once and Again Promo."
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From Pictures:
Pictures courtesy of ABC
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From TV Guide:
Chance of a Lifetime
60 min.

After three years of glowing reviews, tepid ratings (despite a passionate core audience) and numerous timeslot changes, the series concludes with a sensitively written episode spun around conflicts and resolutions. The main storyline involves Rick (Billy Campbell) and Lily (Sela Ward), who ponder career choices that could separate them. He has been offered an architectural position in Australia; she has a chance to syndicate her Chicago-based radio show. Meanwhile, a new romance intrigues yet troubles Karen (Susanna Thompson); and Jake (Jeffrey Nordling) proposes to Tiffany, the mother of his child. Colin: Saul Rubinek. Henry: DB Woodside.

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From Donna Petrozzello at the New York Daily News:

To prepare for the show's swan song, the writer/producers began working on final scenes earlier this year. Herskovitz said ABC executives told him last Thursday that the final episode of this season would be the series finale as well.

The result is "Chance of a Lifetime," an episode the two wrote with partners Sue and Daniel Paige.

The episode was shot in early March, although they weren't sure until last week it was really the end.

In the episode, Rick (Billy Campbell) will receive a job offer overseas at the same time that Lily (Sela Ward) gets life-altering news. As a result, each will be forced to reassess their professional and personal priorities. "We'll point to the continuing lives of all the characters in one episode," Herskovitz said. "We won't say everything about what life will be like for them, but there will be signposts for a few characters that will lead them in interesting directions."

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From ABC:


"Chance of a Lifetime" While Rick is offered the career opportunity of a lifetime, it's on another continent. Lily, for her part, also has some exciting news. The couple face yet another life-altering decision, but this one could displace the entire family, on the final series episode of "Once and Again," MONDAY, APRIL 15 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

"Once and Again" stars Sela Ward as Lily Sammler, Billy Campbell as Rick Sammler, Julia Whelan as Grace Manning, Shane West as Eli Sammler, Meredith Deane as Zoe Manning, Evan Rachel Wood as Jessie Sammler, Susanna Thompson as Karen Sammler, Jeffrey Nordling as Jake Manning, Marin Hinkle as Judy Brooks, Steven Weber as Samuel Blue and Ever Carradine as Tiffany Porter.

Guest starring are Saul Rubinek as Colin, DB Woodside as Henry, Mischa Barton as Katie, Paul Dooley as Les Cresswell, Missy Yager as Sophia, Tim Snay as the minister, Mariah O'Brien as Brandy and Dan Lerner as Dan Lerner.

"Chance of a Lifetime" was written by Sue Paige, Daniel Paige, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. The episode was directed by Dan Lerner.

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From Newsday:

As for the finale, a spokeswoman said yesterday that both Lily Manning and Rick Sammler (Sela Ward and Billy Campbell) will be presented with "groundbreaking career opportunities." Then, Lily learns some personal news, which changes everything. Longtime fans can easily guess what that news is.

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From Luthien at the ABC Message Board:

Only one...a lovely ending and beginning for Karen. Everything else is pretty rehashed

Oh...except that one little thing at the end.

Karen will finally return in the last episode...and yes, the surprise is how she ends up...and about that Rick and Lily thing...I do think you will be happy.

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From Wanda:

From Mary Lee: What's happening with Once and Again? Is it coming bac


Although it's not official, my inside sources tell me the show's over. They're shooting the season finale as a series finale, and it's going to be heart-wrenching. Instead of the actors doing confessionals as characters, the actors talk to the cameras as themselves, discussing their time on the show and what it has meant to them. There's also going to be a wedding. Keep that Kleenex standing by.

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