Code Black: (S1E17) “Love Hurts”

Review:

This week saw the staff of Angels settling into their new roles; Dr. Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) still trying to adjust to being a “suit”, Grace (Meagan Good) finding her feet in the new/old layout of the emergency department and Neal (Raza Jaffrey) cutting his teeth in surgery with Dr. Campbell who is not letting up on the harassment. As the episode opens, we are reminded of the horror that was Gordon and the moments he shared just prior to his death where Angus withheld treatment. With a sudden jolt we are welcomed into present day as Angus (Harry Ford) has woken from his nightmare to see a very chipper Heather bustling around the break room. Checking to see if he is ok, offering support, Heather seems genuine in her concern. Her help also comes in the form of prescription “uppers”, namely Adderall. Angus is taken aback to find out Heather partakes in such a behaviour, but in his current state – the trauma and obvious sleeplessness that has followed the Gordon saga – he happily pops the pill. Harry Ford, like I predicted a couple of weeks ago, is perfection in displaying the eb and flow of what happens after such an experience. This episode in contrast to the last, saw him take on a more together persona (the Adderall helped), he was focused, on point and overtly confident. The fall from this is going to hurt, but I am so eager to see Harry Ford work it.

Elsewhere, Leanne must review the current budget and with Jesse (Luiz Guzman) passionately in her ear regarding more nurses, she’s struggling to find her feet. Torn between her duties now as an administrator and her deep love and affection for the on-the-ground, in the trenches work she has so vigorously done for most of her life, Marcia Gay Harden very eloquently illustrates this struggle. So evident even, when she struggles to place a breathing tube in a crashing patient, something she could previously have done in her sleep. Meanwhile, Grace and Christa (Bonnie Somerville) share a cordial but very guarded conversation in the locker room. The history that Grace and Neal share runs deeper than we are yet to see, and Christa (as innocent as she may seem at times) knows there is something still lingering there. And can anyone say awkward, when the scarf Christa is wearing was a gift from Grace. Really Neal? Too bad though, because this week Christa and Grace team up to treat an injured, troubled teen.

One of the very first scenes of this episode involved screams and the walking dead (fake zombies). There had been an incident at a convention where many of the attendees were badly injured – this storyline didn’t turn out as odd as it sounds. Mario (Ben Hollingsworth) and Malaya (Melanie Chandra) share a sweet moment when Mario completely geeks out over horror movies, a fact Malaya did not know. The slow burn of these character arcs keeps us coming back, we don’t know everything about them so when little moments like this occur we are drawn deeper into their story. Cut to centre stage where a father and son zombie pair are being treated for serious injuries, the father is critical and requires surgery (here comes Hudson vs. Campbell) and his son is inconsolable. Angus does a spectacular job during the chaos of centre stage with brother Mike (Tommy Dewey) applauding his younger brothers finesse.

Grace and Christa butt heads when Christa accuses a camp counsellor of abusing the troubled teenager. Grace doesn’t necessarily disagree, but states that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about such a case. This story plays out and with Christa somewhat bonding with the troubled teen, making some headway and eventually getting Grace on board they call the police. After questioning the counsellor, with no success, the teen continues to suffer from seizures – even after medication is given. That is when a lightbulb switches on for Grace, with a simple trick the teen’s game is done, he has been lying all along. He played Christa like a fiddle, and we can’t help but feel for her. We know Christa by now, so we know that kids and always believing the patient is something inbuilt to her. This time though, was it Grace being involved that made her miss this? Possibly. Whenever the green-eyed monster rears its head, everyone is a little off their game.

Malaya unfortunately lands herself a V.I.P. patient (a donor, a big wig), a woman who is in the middle of a divorce with her husband of whom has paid for the Angels ER wing. No pressure Malaya, no pressure. Demanding Dr. Rorish, the husband is obviously frantic (or inconvenienced) however his wife is suffering from severe abdominal pain. With no Leanne available, Malaya remains on the case. She requests a urine sample and a pregnancy test – what pregnant, no way! The husband is adamant his wife doesn’t need it. She disagrees. This case was profoundly complex, irritating at times but is the one we won’t forget as the episode closes. Regardless of their relationship status, when the wife crashes, an ectopic pregnancy to blame, the husband is there for her. Committed. We get an insight into their history (countless miscarriages) and we see that maybe these two have just been through too much to keep fighting for one another. But soon, the husband realises he never stopped loving her. Bravo Code Black team, it is stories like these – real and heart wrenching – that keep us coming back.

Jesse and Leanne share an honest conversation after she hears her request for more nurses has been denied. Jesse gives one of his “Mama” speeches in which he states that nurses are pretty much the doctors, they are there, all the time, knowing every move inside and out. Nurse comes from the word nourish; without them the hospital and doctors don’t function. Only Jesse can be so blunt with Leanne – “Did you fight for us? Because the Leanne I know, doesn’t lose a fight.” The dynamic between these two characters is off the charts, and both Harden and Guzman have a chemistry that leads to such fluidity in the delivery of these scenes.

In an episode where love conquering all is front and centre, we are gifted with a “walking dead” style wedding in the closing moments that is truly touching. Not only that, this week’s episode successfully illustrated that a near death experience or traumatic event may be what some people need to realise what they’ve got right in front of them. That divorcing may not be the answer when love still remains, that being a step-mother may not necessarily be the best thing for a child and that sometimes believing the best in people may not always prove helpful. With only the finale left to watch, Code Black has given us a breathtaking, heart-stopping and truly inspiring look at the work and lives of the doctors and nurses that live this reality. It has offered cases week to week that are different, challenging and personally shifting, all delivered with a nuance and commitment unparalleled. With a strong focus on the medicine and camaraderie it has soared, while still giving us little bits of romantic and personal struggles that keep any drama going. So, CBS, this one is a no-brainer; Code Black deserves a second season.

Key plots points:

  • Hudson completely put Campbell in his place
  • Mario notices Angus’ amped up attitude – is he working it out?
  • Christa, Neal and Grace triangle may be getting a little intense
  • Angus finds out about Mario and Heather and doesn’t care.