Back in the days when surgery was synonymous with excruciating pain, Dr. Horace Wells put all his faith into bringing laughing gas, then a sideshow attraction, to the main stage of Harvard Medical School. This historical drama based on real events tells the story of a man whose earnest ambition cost him everything that being a town dentist had built around him. His daughter Lucille, once his faithful and capable apprentice, unravels after she finds her engagement is jeopardized by her father's decision to spend her dowry on supplies for his experiment. Her addiction to ether, in turn, comes to cause scandal and concern for Dr. Wells. The townspeople also turn against him after sensing that his generous availability has wavered since he took on this ambitious enterprise, the importance of which eludes them entirely. Prodded on by his friend and colleague, Norman Lartigue, the town pharmacist, Dr. Wells comes to Harvard and is received with pomp and circumstance by a respectable yet highly stringent scientific community. Ultimately, this enterprise will prove too much for this well-intentioned, devoted, yet all-too-human, pioneer of medical science.