After a self-imposed exile, artist, Val Shepard, returns to New York City with the intention of picking up the life he left behind. With nowhere to go, he arrives on the doorstep of his ex-landlord and father figure, Jimmy Alfano. Jimmy is none too happy to see Val unannounced, and he lets Val know this. Annoyed with Val, but concerned over his wellbeing, Jimmy reluctantly offers him the Janitor’s closet across the hall from the studio Val abandoned when he left New York.
Cruising the Bars and Streets, Val soon learns that life on the Lower East Side has moved on without him. Looking to reconnect with the scene he visits the house of Madam Elsa Burgundy. She greets Val enthusiastically and introduces Val to Amiee. As Val and Amiee get better acquainted, they are interrupted by an argument in the hall outside their room where a man abuses a young girl. Val intercedes, and the man tells Val to move on and mind his own business. Unable to perform after his long trip, Amiee consoles him and allows him to stay for a while. She prepares a shot of heroin and asks Val if he’d like to try. He declines but asks her if he could watch while she shoots up. Before going on the nod, Amiee warns Val not to “stand on the sideline before it gets too comfortable.”
Val leaves Elsa’s house and returns to the bars of the Lower East Side, but nothing has changed, life has moved on without him.
Val begins to look for Jenna Bardi, the girlfriend he left without warning. After getting mislead by LES hustler Tommy Machine, Val has a chance meeting with Jenna, but Jenna wants nothing to do with him. Val tries explaining why he went, but Jenna tells him that it’s too late, she has moved on with her life. Val asks to see her one last time under the guise of obtaining closure. Jenna agrees to one final meeting at her new place for dinner that evening.
Upon arrival at her apartment, Jenna introduces Val to her friend Lara, and to Ian, Jenna’s new husband. (Ian looks suspiciously familiar to the man abusing the girl at Elsa’s house). Val is taken aback by the news of Jenna’s marriage. Further to add insult to injury, Val learns Ian is a successful painter and holding a show in a few months at the prestigious Turner-Prince Gallery. The same gallery where Val would have shown had he not sabotaged his career.
Val realizes he has lost Jenna, and as he is about to capitulate, Ian receives a phone call from his lover which instigates an argument between Jenna and Ian. While they argue, Val and Lara excuse themselves and leave.
Out on the street in front of Jenna's apartment, Val and Lara decide to go to a bar for a nightcap, and through their conversation, Val learns how Jenna met Ian.
Val takes a taxi back to the LES and has a philosophical discussion with the cab driver. Arriving home, Val walks into his building and hears Jimmy Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic echoing through the stairwell. On his way to the top floor, Val passes two young girls entwined in a passionate embrace and several other people in various states of conjugation and altered consciousness.
Upon reaching the top, Val finds the source of the music is his old studio. Val enters and fades into a veil of smoke and fog.
Episode 2: I'll Be Your Mirror > > >