Code Black: (S1E18) “Blood Sport”


Closing out their first season, Code Black delivered a high-octane, heartbreaking, passion fueled finale. Closely aligning with reality, this week’s episode dealt with victims of a possible bomb explosion/roof collapse at a political debate. The two politicians vying for the top position were old friends, but with the dog-eat-dog nature of politics, they lost sight of what truly matters. Angus (Harry Ford) and Mario (Ben Hollingsworth) have been tasked with working the event, and just prior to the explosion Angus is harassing Heather on the phone for more pills. His habit has escalated, his addiction is now real, and he’s struggling. Not to mention Mario knows what’s up; he’s lived that life and isn’t buying any story Angus is telling. Harry Ford brings the shade from the get, throwing some deep seeded attitude Mario’s way, ensuring he knows he’s seeing things. 

Cut to the hospital, and Jesse (Luiz Guzman) is no longer just asking for more nurses but has organized a strike. Ed tries to tell Leanne (Marcia Gay Harden) that blackmail doesn’t work, but hasn’t anyone ever told him no one messes with Mama. As Leanne does her best to mediate the two boys, the news of the explosion races through Angels. It’s all hands on deck. As the Senator, his wife and the daughter are the first ones to be bought in, the whole team assembles. I’ve got to hand it to this cast, the intense nature and intricacy of working in such situations has really been portrayed realistically. 

Angus and Mario have broken up – Mario in the ambulance with the wife and Angus with the daughter – on their way to Angels. After losing it a little in the ambulance, putting a patients life in danger, Mario is unsure whether Angus can be trusted. They pull into Angels and the chaos ensues; doctors everywhere, secret service agents, personnel every which way. As they are moved to center stage, Dr. Rorish notices the bruising on the sternum of the wife – what happened? Angus owns up to performing compressions when he shouldn’t. The attitude he throws is bordering on disrespectful but if there is anyone to pull him into line, it’s Rorish. 

As the doctors act swiftly and efficiently to treat their patients, Mike (Tommy Dewey) starts to notice a little change in Angus. He confronts Mario who at first denies knowing anything, but eventually comes to his senses enlightening Mike to the extent of what Angus is going through. The guest-stars this week absolutely delivered, most specifically the Stringer Family. When the daughter is motivated by political gain and the mother wants nothing more than to take stock of the traumatic events, an argument arises. No sooner than this had occurred, the mother suddenly passes away. This scene was another symbolic reminder that time is of the essence, that holding on to the ones we love is priceless and that nothing is worth more than family.

In the midst of the chaos Christa (Bonnie Somerville) demands that Neal (Raza Jaffrey) tell her the truth about Grace (Meagan Good); none of these half truths, “we used to date” sentiments. Bonnie Somerville as Christa gives a powerful sense of knowing who she is and what she deserves. This comes across she states “don’t cast me in the role of needy girlfriend”. Sing it sister, sing it. The women of Code Black are powerful, vulnerable, sarcastic and intelligent; delivering such incredibly human characters has lifted this show more and more. 

While Angus is in a tailspin from withdrawals, Heather is finally caught out by Campbell for using his prescription pad. Uh-oh, this can’t be good. Confident as Heather is, it was about time got knocked down. Not only that, Mario knows what she’s doing and isn’t happy about it. All in all Heather is in the dog house. Elsewhere, Leanne has called in reinforcements in the form of Taylor, to help find funds for more nurses. I forgot how much I missed Taylor but it’s obvious that if Code Black secures a second season Leanne will keep the post. 

Center stage now sees both Grace as Christa’s patient crashing. They both have nearly identical prognoses and it is left up to none other than Neal to decide which is more important; rather, which one medically requires more urgent assistance. As we as an audience don’t envy Neal at all, add to the decision it is current girlfriend versus ex-girlfriend and Dr. Hudson has his work cut or for him. Up in surgery, Dr. Campbell is struggling keep Governor Wesley alive, and with Neal now focused on saving his wife, the situation is touch and go. It’s one of those beats of the episode the dialogue stopped, it was the doctors their work and their eyes. As Dr. Campbell commences compressions in the hope to save the Governor Leanne and Grace watch on. It isn’t long before he calls time of death at nearly the same time Neal saves his wife. Talk about gut-wrenching. 

The ending of this finale was everything it should have been and more. It gave us cliffhangers but it also gave us closure. Heather found a way to stop Dr. Campbell from reporting her illicit drug use – by blackmailing him with their secret post-coital pictures. That girl has some balls. Neal and Grace share a quiet moment alone, where the history between the two is written across their faces. There are unresolved feelings there and Christa, who happens to have perfect timing, can see it a mile away. She refuses to be anyone’s second choice, leaving Neal to maybe once and for all deal with all his baggage? Either way, Bonnie Somerville is a beacon of strength and vulnerability as Christa, whose story I hope we get a little bit more of in Season 2 (come on, CBS). Closely followed by what was the scene of the night, in which Mike confronted Angus about the drug use. Harry Ford has done amazing work over the last few episodes, and to watch Angus be as viscerally human as possible, really struggling with his demons, has been oh so heartbreaking. Mike does everything an older brother should, and we can only hope Angus gets the help he needs. Lightening the mood, is none other than Mama and Daddy. Leanne found the money for more nurses and Jesse, well he’s happy! These two are the heart and soul of this team; and have lead their warriors fearlessly. As we close out the hour, the montage of a team working in synergy, at a pace only Angels know how to work, a sense of catharsis sweeps over us. Code Black has had a solid first outing, and with a cast that has so much depth, experience and talent a second season is so well-deserved. The stories that were told and the commitment with which they were communicated, won’t soon be forgotten. With a great balance of drama, comedy and real-life issues, Code Black has succeeded in wrapping us up. So CBS, here is to hoping you see the brilliance that is Code Black.