‘Saving Hope’ S1 Ep 8 recap: Heart and Souls

Alex faces-off with Dawn in the fight for Charlie’s life. (Photo credit: NBC/CTV)

‘Saving Hope’s’ season climaxes with a gut-wrenching episode, “Heartsick,” which leaves fans with a heart-stopping cliffhanger and a two week hiatus (courtesy of the Olympics). The eighth episode tackles all matters of the heart when the doctors of Hope-Zion are pushed to their limits. Alex and Dawn desperately dispute Charlie’s future, Maggie tests Joel’s boundaries on their relationship, Gavin risks heartbreak by acting on his feelings, Charlie helps a murderer redeem himself in the afterlife, Alex’s patient gets a second chance at life with a new heart, and Joel reaches out to a tortured soul.

Alex vs. Dawn

As the episode opens, Charlie’s life rests in the hands of Mr. Stein, who will determine whether Alex or Dawn has the legal right to decide Charlie’s “Do Not Resuscitate” status. Dawn presents her case first, arguing that Alex is too close to Charlie to acknowledge the facts at hand. Dawn believes Charlie would rather die with dignity than wither away in a hospital bed with no legitimate medical hope in sight. However, Alex feels she knows Charlie better than that and pleads for Dawn to give him some more time. Alex can sense that Charlie is “still here” and argues that he never gave up on his patients, so they should not give up on him. After making their respective cases, Mr. Stein takes some time to review the results of their meeting before making a decision. Alex heads back to work and we soon discover Hope-Zion’s latest case.


Paramedics and prison guards frantically rush in Bernie into the hospital. He was imprisoned for murder, died in jail, and just became a heart donor for Alex’s patient, Kyle. Charlie deals with Bernie’s ghost, while Alex performs Kyle’s surgery.

Bernie tells Charlie he died when his head got caved in during a prison fight and he never signed up to be a donor. He tells his body they are going to “gut you like a fish,” but Charlie tries to explain that he is giving someone the “gift of life.” By doing the right thing, Bernie can move on. Charlie wishes him, “God’s speed,” hoping he’ll cross-over sooner than later, but Bernie just views death as another form of jail and doesn’t look forward to what is coming next. Meanwhile, Alex receives an unpleasant surprise when Dawn scrubs in on her surgery.

Dawn fills in for a surgeon who got food poisoning and she starts to control Alex’s operating room. While prepping for the procedure, Dawn tells Alex that she and Charlie were pregnant once. She believes they would still be together if she didn’t have a miscarriage. Despite Dawn’s inappropriate timing for such a heavy revelation, Alex remains focused and they move on with the operation. Dawn egotistically asserts her authority in Alex’s O.R., until Alex steps in and saves the day.

A sudden tear in Bernie’s heart causes Kyle to code. Unlike Dawn, Alex remains calm and immediately takes care of the problem. She saves Kyle’s life and Dawn finally acknowledges her “nice work.” When Dawn and Alex come out of surgery, they learn of a change in Charlie’s condition.

During the operation, Charlie’s spirit felt a new painful sensation and it turns out he has a pulmonary embolism. By the time Alex gets to his side, the clot has traveled from Charlie’s groin to his chest. Melanda assures Alex that they are trying to break the clot and she thinks he will be fine. Moments later, Alex confronts Dawn in the coffee shop.

Alex asks Dawn why she is doing this to Charlie and Dawn believes Alex would make the same decision if the patient was someone other than her fiancé. Alex argues that Charlie is “a fighter” and he can recover from this, but that is where Dawn proves her point. The patient’s family members say things like that because they are in denial of the scientific evidence. Alex has lost her perspective as a doctor and is thinking with her heart, instead of her head. Before they can conclude their conversation, they both are paged to Kyle’s room.

Kyle’s body is rejecting Bernie’s heart and Bernie fears it is his fault. He explains to Charlie that his heart is bad because he is a terrible person. Bernie is afraid his tainted heart will only hurt Kyle. Charlie urges Bernie to talk to his heart and set things right. Charlie says there is no such thing as a “bad heart,” there are only “bad choices.” Despite the fact that Bernie killed two people, Charlie feels he can change by making his peace with his heart. Bernie looks at Kyle’s chest and begins to tell his heart to let go of his bad past and “be good” for Kyle. As Bernie apologizes, Kyle’s heart monitor shows improvement. Bernie can rest in peace, knowing that Kyle’s body will accept his heart.

While Alex and Charlie have been dealing with the matters of Bernie’s guilty heart, Joel has been wrestling with the boundaries of his relationship with Maggie and he has been helping Bernie’s guard battle some of his own demons.


Maggie tells Joel that her sister and baby nephew will be staying in her apartment for a few days and asks to spend the weekend at his place. Joel gives her a lame excuse, claiming she can’t stay with him because his plans haven’t been set yet. Hurt by his carelessness and selfishness, Maggie scoffs at his lack of plans and walks off. As they part ways, Joel turns his attention towards an unexpected patient.

Officer Jimmy Howard, the guard who ushered Bernie in from prison, tells Joel about his back-ache and asks for pain pills. Joel doesn’t see a problem with Jimmy’s back and makes him get an MRI before prescribing any medication. Although the results do not show any severe issues, Jimmy convinces Joel to give him some pain killers. Afterwards, Joel heads to the lounge for a break.

Maggie expresses the troubles she will face with a colicky baby in her home. Joel continues to ignore her, but Gavin overhears her dilemma and happily offers up his place. Maggie cheerfully accepts and heads out. When Gavin is surprised to learn that Joel doesn’t want to spend time with Maggie’s family over the weekend, Joel suspiciously looks at him and shares his philosophy that men and women cannot just be friends. With that said Joel returns to work and finds a fanatic Jimmy.

Jimmy has been searching for Kyle because he wants to know who received Bernie’s heart. Nurse Jackson notices how high Jimmy is and sends him away from Kyle’s room. Joel later finds Jimmy asleep on a hospital bed. Jimmy belligerently claims the pain pills were too strong, so they put him to sleep. Joel sends him home to rest, but notices that something is off with Jimmy. Later Zach tells him that Jimmy has been coming to Hope-Zion to get pain pills ever since he shot a kid on the job and was demoted to chauffeur duty. Zach shrugs it off as a routine visit for drugs and gives Joel a cooler of kidneys to take to Jimmy to transport.

Joel finds Jimmy in his car with a gun in his hand. It has been exactly 5 years since Jimmy shot the kid and he can’t escape his haunting past. Joel tries to convince him that the future will be brighter, but the guilt weighs too heavily on Jimmy’s soul. Jimmy shoots himself right in front of Joel, leaving him speechless and devastated. However, Joel isn’t the only one who receives a shocking blow to the heart.


Mr. Stein rules in Dawn’s favor and gives her rights over Charlie’s fate, stating that “feelings can’t be our guide.” When Alex sees Joel in the lobby, she shares her sad news and says she feels so lost. Joel admits he isn’t the best person to talk to at the moment given what he just experienced. She can’t catch her breath as she thinks of Dawn pulling the plug on Charlie. Consumed by his own fragile emotions, Joel begins to confess his lingering feelings for Alex, but she quickly cuts him off as soon as he utters, “I’m still…” Joel walks away feeling completely demoralized. Seconds later, Alex hears a code blue page over the P.A. for Charlie and she rushes to his side.

Alex takes over chest compressions and just before Melanda shocks Charlie’s heart, Dawn storms in to stop her with the D.N.R. order. Charlie’s spirit tears up as he watches Alex fight for his life. She snaps at Melanda to “Do it!” and his heart beats again. Alex sobs as she pleads with Dawn, begging her to let Charlie live. Tears start streaming down Dawn’s face as she reveals how much she has always loved Charlie. She wants him to die with dignity because she loves him. While Charlie’s life rests in Dawn’s hands, we are transported outside of Hope-Zion.

Joel drunkenly picks a fight at a bar and stupidly breaks his hand by punching some girl’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Gavin and Maggie chat over a beer in front of the hospital. He asks if she is happy and hints about his crush on her. He takes a chance and kisses her, but she pulls away. She decides not to stay at his place and rushes off, leaving Gavin alone with his broken heart. Then Charlie’s narrative begins, gradually leading us back to his room.

Charlie observes, “We always hope for a miracle…or end to suffering…most times all we’re left with is the mess.” Alex holds Charlie, tearfully confessing that she doesn’t know what to do, but she is not giving up on him. Charlie’s spirit continues to comfort her, soothingly saying “I know.” Alex cries, “I won’t do this.” Charlie says with a confident smile, “That’s my girl…Never let me go.” Then we hold our breath as Dawn enters his room and ominously announces, “Its time. I’m sorry.” As she turns off Charlie’s ventilators, Alex reaches out to him calling, “I’m here…Can you hear me?” Charlie tells her to “hold on tight” and we are left in suspense, anxiously waiting to see what will happen to Charlie.

What did you think of “Heartsick”? Do you think Dawn or Alex had more right to decide Charlie’s fate? What will happen to Charlie after Dawn pulls the plug? Should Alex have done more to stop her?

Share your thoughts below and find out what happens when ‘Saving Hope’ returns this Thursday at 9/8C on NBC and CTV.


  • Charlie’s possibilities: A few things can happen to Charlie when Dawn shuts down his support system. 1.The obvious option is that Charlie can die. The promo for this week’s new episode implies that Charlie is supposed to die and move. However, that would change the show’s premise to a story about a ghost who can’t move on, so Charlie’s death would be the least likely outcome. 2. There is a slight chance that Charlie is able to breath on his own. Again, judging from the preview it seems like he holds on for a little bit while Alex tries to find a way to stabilize him legally. 3. Dawn might change her mind at the last second and put Charlie back on life support, until they can figure out a way to cure him. 4.Maybe Charlie will finally be motivated enough to concretely get through to Alex (maybe even Dawn). He could prove that as long as he really is around in some form, there is still hope for a miracle. 5. A long-shot possibility could also be that Charlie eventually wakes up and retains his knowledge from the time he spent in limbo. Perhaps Charlie will even be able to see spirits if he recovers and remembers everything. Granted, the series would then turn into ‘Ghost Whisperer’ M.D., but it could still be interesting to watch Charlie and Alex adjust to a new way of life. What do you think will happen to Charlie? What would you like to see happen?
  • Crush confessions: The Gavin-Maggie-Joel love triangle had already been established and we know Joel and Alex are ex-lovers, but things just got a lot more awkward in Hope-Zion after Joel and Gavin’s poorly timed professions of love. After months of hinting, Gavin finally acts on his feelings and kisses Maggie when she is obviously hung-up on Joel. It has been painful to watch Gavin’s unrequited love play out, but at this point, Gavin deserves someone who will treat him better than Maggie does. She knowingly strings him along like a puppy-dog and then scoffs at him when he makes a move. Gavin should get over it because it is already getting old before anything has technically started. Joel, on the other hand, is kind of like Maggie’s Gavin. She wants more from him, but he keeps himself closed off. Now it seems like he’s been pushing Maggie away because he still has feelings for Alex. But seriously Joel?! You tell Alex you still love her as she is sobbing over her fiancé’s impending death. That is definitely not the right time to bare your soul. Granted, Joel had a horrific experience, but Alex is living out her nightmare at the moment, so try being unselfish for once. How do you feel about Joel and Gavin’s actions? Did they do the right thing by being honest?
  • Shocking sub-plots: Charlie’s interaction with Bernie’s spirit was fun to watch. He proactively helped a spirit move-on by suggesting how Bernie could make peace with his past. The storyline also provided a clever connection between Alex and Charlie’s respective “patients.” However, Jimmy’s plot was so gruesome that it became painful to watch. Joel will undoubtedly be haunted by what he witnessed. It will be intriguing to see how Jimmy’s suicide will affect Joel in the long term because for now, Joel seems to be lashing out like an angry and frustrated child. What did you think about the side-stories?

This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 14, 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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