Trouble is in the air! This week finds Hope-Zion Hospital under quarantine – with Shahir and Charlie left waiting outside. If you missed last week’s episode, you can catch up here.
With a potentially fatal unknown virus running through Hope-Zion, the entire hospital is put on lockdown. When those carrying the virus begin to die (including one of the Hope-Z doctors – though not a show regular), and nurse Victor Reis shows symptoms, it naturally causes some worry among the Hope-Z crew. Joel and Alex are placed in quarantine together, which gives them an opportunity to talk and explore their relationship troubles. Meanwhile, Shahir and Victor are on the outs, but make up before the end of the episode, though Maggie and Joel aren’t so lucky – as Maggie ends up dumping him. In the end, it is established that the virus isn’t airborne, so the hospital doesn’t need to be on lockdown anymore, and we are told Victor will make a full recovery. Also: Charlie explored more of his psychological issues, and his body moved – though he’s not awake yet.
The Medical Drama
Don’t let the possibly contagious, Mumbai-based, SARS-like virus fool you; this episode is less about the illness and diseases typical in hospitals and more about relationships. Thanks to the virus placing the hospital under quarantine, we finally get to see some developments in the relationship department – though not necessarily for the better.
However, before we get to that, we have to start with how the hospital got quarantined. Carlos Garcia is helped into the E.R. by a general practitioner Mark Wilson. What is originally believed to be abdominal pain caused by a ruptured appendix quickly escalates when Carlos dies and others start experiencing the same symptoms. Mark Wilson is one of those, along with a doctor who intubated him and nurse Victor Reis (Salvatore Antonio)
Also in this episode, Maggie helps Carol Milone, a patient with spinal stenosis. As it turns out, Carol also has a psychological problem – which Gavin describes as “the law of contagion” which means that Carol uses numbers, personal items, and patterns to create a sense of safety. This problem does create a humorous situation early on when Carol asks Joel to repeat the words “surgery” and “pain” three times ever time he says either. Thankfully, though obviously skeptical, Joel goes along with her wishes and does just that – though not without a few smiles and laughs on his and Maggie’s sides.
The Hope-Zion Drama
Just before the quarantine, Shahir and Victor get into a fight – Shahir goes to visit his mom but doesn’t let Victor come, or even know about it until after the fact. An understandably upset Victor, who has never met Shahir’s mother, thinks Shahir is ashamed of him because he’s not a woman, but Shahir says that the real issue is that Victor is a nurse, not a lawyer or doctor. Victor tells Shahir he is pathetic – and Shahir leaves the hospital.
Meanwhile, Shahir and Alex (Erica Durance) try a new method to get Charlie to wake by hooking him up to a TMS machine, which is supposed to excite the brain. Unfortunately, Melanda (Glenda Braganza) notes that it can also cause seizures. Soon after they get the machine up and running, the virus is in full swing, so the crew stays out of his room to protect him – which meant he stayed hooked up to the machine for an extended period of time.
During this time, Charlie (Michael Shanks) finds himself locked out of Hope-Zion – and forced into reliving a memory he didn’t know he had, which is the realization that he was in the car when his parents were killed in the accident. The trauma of reliving this memory causes him to wake up inside the hospital – but only for a moment. By the time the quarantine is lifted, Charlie is back to his “normal” status.
Gavin’s back this week, and when he gets quarantined with a patient and Maggie (Julia Taylor-Ross), they get to have a chat of their own about their own relationship drama. Gavin (Kristopher Turner) apologizes for kissing Maggie, and Maggie apologizes for treating Gavin so badly since the kiss. In the end, their friendship seems to be back on track – and the two fall asleep sharing a hospital bed.
The next day, Maggie seems to have come to her senses as far as Joel is concerned and finally breaks up with him. He’s treated her badly their entire relationship – and she finally calls him out on it, albeit in a rather calm and mature manner. [Could you imagine how different this scene would have gone had she known about Dana and Alex? I don't really think Joel would care about Maggie kissing Gavin, but I can't imagine Maggie would be okay with his indiscretions. Let it be said, regardless of how much we like Daniel Gillies, Joel is a jerk when it comes to relationships.] Good for you, Maggie!
Early on in the episode, Joel and Alex clear the air of the tension they’ve had since Joel’s almost-confession. They agree to be friends again, though are soon arguing once quarantined together. Alex recognizes the signs that Joel is cheating on Maggie – and proceeds to analyze his behavior, telling him he acts the way he does when in a relationship because he’s afraid to take risks – especially the risk of commitment. Feeling challenged, Joel “takes a risk” and kisses Alex, who promptly slaps him. Things between them are still unresolved by the end of the episode as they get caught up trying to keep Victor alive.
-This was one of my favorite episodes thus far – though it didn’t quite beat Heartsick. which was amazing on a purely emotional level – because of the character development. Though I have really been enjoying this show, I’ve also been waiting for the writers to really explore the relationships they’d established early on [particularly with Victor and Shahir] that seemed to fall to the wayside. A show like this can only hope to make it long-term if you can get the audience invested in all the characters – not just the main two. I really enjoy the episodes when the full cast of characters is present.
-Purely speculation, though possibly a spoiler if it turns out to be true – so continue reading this paragraph at your discretion: I’ve discussed this before, but after this week, I’m feeling more confident that we are building up to a season finale where Charlie’s going to finally wake from his coma. The fact that he finally moved – and we saw him open his eyes – this close to the season’s end can only mean that they’re trying to get us ready for something bigger. Now, their only options, really, are to kill him or wake him up – and my bet is on waking him, otherwise everything that’s happened with him (especially his character development) will have been pointless.
-Also: I thought it was a great twist – having Charlie spend the day outside the hospital [particularly with everything that went down with Alex and Joel], and having him recover such a traumatic memory. I particularly enjoy the psychological storylines this show explores, and this was no disappointment. I’m curious to see how this fits into his current state – though it may be nothing more than an extension of last week’s point about him being afraid of being left alone. Either way, it was a nice change for Michael Shanks’ character.
-Don’t forget USA viewers: next week’s episode will air on Saturday (September 8th) instead of Thursday [yes, this means we're going to view it several days after Canada's seen it in its normal spot on September 6th]. Unfortunately, it looks like NBC is trying to kill the show – either that or they’re so certain the viewership won’t drop they feel comfortable moving it. I still haven’t given up hope on a second season. The ratings are doing too well [for NBC, anyway] for it not to get a renewal – though I don’t know why NBC would still be dragging their feet about it.
Episode 1.12 “Ride Hard or Go Home” Synopsis: A last-resort operation is performed on Charlie, who must confront his past in order to awake from his coma. Elsewhere, Joel leads risky surgery on a female jockey, and Alex could potentially cross a line when working with an Alzheimer’s patient.