Caution: Contains Spoilers
Gunner’s mind is deteriorating: he can’t remember words, mistakes the microwave for a television and sometimes doesn’t even recognize his own family. His family wonders if the dementia is just one of Gunner’s legendary mean-spirited jokes, but his son Jack and his wife, Peg, acknowledge the strain on the family. Peg needs help badly, and they consider a permanent care facility: the “A-Wing.”
Gunner simply refuses the notion.
Jack visits and shares details of his crumbling home life: his marriage is over, and his son Tim seems unlikely to ever amount to much. Gunner admits he never liked Jack’s wife to begin with. He also seems to think Jack owns a restaurant—which he doesn’t. He hasn’t even worked in one since high school.
Then, in a rare moment of lucidity, Gunner ecstatically delivers news to his family: they are set, financially, for life. He has a plan, but he won’t follow through it without their blessing.
In a series of flashbacks, we see Gunner’s hurtful jokes, harassing young Jack for being too soft. We also find out that Peg never followed through with college, backing out when she unexpectedly got pregnant and married Gunner. Peg suspects that Jack’s marriage also had a pragmatic motive: to stop his father’s relentless teasing about his softness, about his love of cooking and wanting to become a chef.
That night, Gunner doesn’t recognize Jack. Speaking as though he wasn’t there, he tells how he wishes he could get a “mulligan” in life—a second chance, for screwing up. Back to reality, Gunner sees that Jack’s interested in buying a Bed and Breakfast; sadly, quietly, he apologizes for the things he used to say, and tells Jack to live however he wants.
Jack and Peg struggle with Gunner’s proposition and their own definitions of what it means to truly love someone.