Recap/Review

‘Saving Hope’ S1 Ep2 recap: In my time of dying

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Charlie tries getting Alex’s attention from the spirit world. (Photo credit: NBC/CTV)

Charlie reaches out to a young boy in hopes of getting Alex’s attention and Alex considers trying unorthodox coma treatments to bring Charlie back from the unknown before it becomes too late. Meanwhile, sparks fly between Maggie and Joel while they treat a pious patient.

“Contact” opens with spirit-Charlie greeting Alex as she starts her day at the hospital and expressing his frustration with existing as two guys: one in a coma and the other an invisible man. Three days have passed since the accident; Alex has been spending each night by Charlie’s side and tries getting through the day without bursting into tears every time someone extends their sympathies. Despite Alex’s efforts, the interim chief of surgery, Dr. Dana Kinny (Wendy Crewson), is quick to remind her that she cannot afford to slack on her job. When Alex runs a few minutes late to scrub in on a surgery, Dana reassigns her to make the rounds instead; she quips that Alex’s forgiving boyfriend might have let her get away with that kind of behavior, but she will not. However, missing out on the surgery could have been a blessing in disguise when Alex helps a young boy who crosses over to Charlie’s side.

Alex treats Cal Lewis, a boy with severe stomach-aches and newly divorced parents who can’t stop arguing over their son’s mysterious condition. Upon his first examination, Cal angrily bites the pediatrician’s arm, so Alex gets him a psychological assessment with the amusing Dr. Gavin Murphy. During the boy’s psych evaluation, Alex checks on Charlie, only to find his ex-wife, Dr. Dawn Bell, in the middle of a visit. As Alex pauses to compose herself before entering the room, Charlie explains how much he admires her ability to “face trouble.” Alex changes Charlie’s IV, saying that it makes her feel closer to him, but Dawn suggests more effective methods of reaching out to him. Dawn tells her to try coma arousal therapy, saying studies show that it makes a difference. However, Alex disagrees and doesn’t believe that playing music or massaging him will make any difference. Dawn rubs in that she would try anything to help him and feels that Alex should be doing more. As Alex walks away, Charlie observes how she got her second opinion, whether she wanted it or not.

During her lunch break, Alex passes the boy in the lobby; he has been discharged and is waiting for his parents. Cal suddenly codes in mid-conversation and when his heart stops for a moment he sees Charlie standing next to him. Before they have a chance to speak, the doctors stabilize him and he returns to his body. Charlie leaves the boy’s room and we get an idea of how he passes his time by reading magazines over people’s shoulders and mumbling musings to himself. Then he starts hearing music and follows the sound until it leads to his room where Alex walks in to find Dawn playing Charlie’s favorite song and rubbing his upper-chest as part of the coma arousal therapy she spoke of earlier. Alex is furious, but Dawn defends her actions by opening Alex’s eyes to a harsh reality and asking what Alex has done for Charlie as his wife, in addition to her medical efforts. Dawn insists the therapy must begin within the first 72 hours of a coma for it to help; she bluntly tells Alex to take a good look at her husband-to-be and confesses, “The Charlie that I know would rather die.” While mulling over Dawn’s theory, Alex checks on Cal’s progress.

As the boy’s parents continue fighting, Cal codes again, but this time he hangs out with Charlie for a bit. Charlie explains how patients sometimes stick around the hospital for a while after they die, but he still doesn’t know where they go afterwards. He tries to quickly bond with the kid by asking if he wants to see a dead body, so Charlie takes him to the morgue. As the morgue clears out, Charlie tries to diagnose Cal by going over his symptoms. When Charlie inquires about his mental state, the boy admits he gets upset and feels worse when his parents fight. As he starts talking about their divorce, Cal’s faces turns flush and Charlie knows what is wrong, but Cal abruptly returns to his body. Charlie appears in Cal’s room, relieved to learn that Alex sees his flushed face and knows what the problem is. It turns out Cal has cancerous tumors that she can luckily remove with surgery. Before her team prepares for the operation, Alex talks to Charlie’s appointed physician about possible coma treatments.

Alex tells Dr. Shahir Hamza about Dawn’s theory and he quickly dismisses physical stimulation practices as effective methods of curing comas. He says Dawn is a cardiologist, so she wouldn’t know the proper protocol. Shahir encourages her to stick with scientifically proven treatments, but what Alex sees after the boy’s surgery causes her to question her scientific beliefs.

While Alex operates on Cal, Charlie watches from an overlooking observation room. Cal codes in the middle of his surgery and has another chat with Charlie, but this time he asks the kid for a favor. He wants Cal to tell Alex about seeing him and the boy promises to do so before returning to his body. As Cal recovers in his room, Alex checks on him and notices his drawing. Cal has drawn a picture of Charlie in his tuxedo; when Alex asks who the man is, Cal can’t remember. She begins to walk out of the room and pauses right in front of spirit-Charlie at the doorway, she takes a deep breathe, turns around and asks to keep Cal’s picture before leaving his room. All day Alex has been weighing her options on how to help Charlie, but she has not been the only doctor trying to overcome an obstacle of conflicting medical and personal beliefs.

Throughout the episode, we have been watching a parallel parable on the paradox of science and faith when Maggie and Joel struggle to treat a patient who refuses to have a life-saving surgery on religious grounds. Despite the distractingly tacky sub-plot of Maggie and Joel’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’-style of passive-aggressive flirtation resulting in a tawdry hospital room hook-up, their medical case compliments the ongoing theme in this drama. Maggie, a third year surgical resident, calls for Joel’s assistance to reset Kym Spencer’s leg, and they soon realize that this is no ordinary case. Kym and her husband, Aaron, belong to a religion that refrains from certain medicines and procedures. The case begins with her refusing morphine to reset her leg, but turns into something worse when she needs surgery to remove her spleen. Since the operation includes a blood transfusion, the couple denies the surgery; Joel emphasizes the life-threatening risks of their decision, but respects their choice and moves on to other cases. Maggie later confronts Joel and is baffled by his ability to let this woman suffer instead of trying to do more for her, but Maggie soon comes to understand his actions when Kym is finally on the brink of death. Kym goes into hysterical shock and Joel says she will die without the surgery, so Aaron finally gives his consent for Kym’s surgery in the end. Maggie realizes that Joel was simply waiting for the couple to understand what the correct course of action would be; sometimes you need to be confronted with the unimaginable, in order to be willing to expand your beliefs. In Alex’s case, Cal’s drawing causes her to take a leap of faith.

Alex sits by Charlie’s bedside and asks his nurse if she believes in ghosts, while showing her Cal’s picture of Charlie. The nurse doesn’t believe in ghosts and thinks that Charlie can’t be one anyway since he isn’t dead. Alex tears up and confesses that she just wants to feel something that would make her think that Charlie is still around. After the nurse leaves, Alex starts to play a song on her iPhone; she says it isn’t his favorite, but she hopes he will remember the tune. The song cues up a flashback in which Charlie tells Alex he loves her for the first time, she happily says she loves him too and they hold hands. As the scene transitions back to the present, Charlie narrates the importance of “basic human contact.” As the montage moves from Cal and his caring parents to Maggie and Joel’s rendezvous, Charlie explains how contact “takes you outside of yourself,” it is “better than words” because “contact grounds you…it brings you back.” With that final thought, Charlie’s hand shockingly moves and Alex takes his hand into hers, smiling with hope that he will slowly find his way back to her as long as they don’t lose contact.

Afterthoughts:

  • Ratings Up:‘Saving Hope’ had a slight boost in ratings this week, which shows promise for the show’s future. Given how quickly NBC has cancelled other Thursday night dramas this season, an increase in ratings early on should be a good sign.
    • Highlights: Charlie’s interaction with Cal was a smart move for the second episode because it gives Alex a subtle awareness of Charlie’s presence without making it overtly cheese-y or ‘Ghost’-like. All Alex needed was a nudge to know that there is something worth fighting for because Charlie is still around. Hopefully, she will start picking up on spirit-Charlie’s presence through little clues as the show continues.
    • Lowlights: The show has been described as ‘A Gifted Man’ meets ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ but the soapy side story with Maggie and Joel felt forced for the sake of having something superficially sexy. It feels like the show is still trying to find its way because something is still missing. ‘A Gifted Man’ surprisingly worked really well with concept of cleverly juxtaposing the supernatural with the scientific, but ‘Saving Hope’ is falling short in some way. What do you think? Do you like the hospital hook-ups? Do you think the show has reached its potential?
    • Dr. Alex Reid versus: This week we got a glimpse of how others view Alex. Charlie’s ex-wife, Dawn, doesn’t think Alex is fulfilling her wifely duties to Charlie because she is acting from her head instead of her heart. Alex is stubborn and rejects Dawn’s accusations, but ultimately takes her advice when she realizes that Dawn’s techniques might be helpful if Charlie is still around. Alex also defends herself when the interim chief, Dana, makes it clear that some people think Alex reached her current position by dating the boss. Alex openly demands Dana’s respect because she earned it through hard work and wants to be taken seriously. Charlie says he likes the way Alex “faces trouble” and this episode gave us a chance to see another shade of Durance’s new character. Although Durance emphasizes the differences between Alex Reid and Lois Lane, Alex’s characteristics in this episode were Lois-like and sometimes it feels as though Lois is posing as a doctor (not to say that Durance is not acting well-enough, it is just difficult to shake off her image as Lois). Do you still see Durance’s inner Lois channeled through Alex?
    • Colorful characters: We learned more about flirtatious Maggie and the over-confident womanizing Joel, but it would be nice to see more of psychiatrist Gavin Murphy. His appearances have been brief thus far, but his quirky and humorous banter has been pretty entertaining to watch. Hopefully an upcoming storyline will focus a bit more on his character and showcase his professional skills.

What did you think of the episode? Share your thoughts below!

This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 17, 2012.

UPDATE (Summer 2016): ‘Saving Hope’ now airs on ION Television in the U.S. and still airs on CTV in Canada. Visit ‘Saving Hope’s’ ION TV homepage (HERE) or CTV Homepage (HERE) for details.

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