‘Saving Hope’ thrusts us back into the middle of heart-pounding action in the Season 2 opener, “I Watch Death.” Viewers have so many questions lingering from last season’s shocking finale: Did Alex and Charlie get married? Has Charlie told Alex about his supernatural experience in limbo? Does she know about his Ghost Whisperer abilities?
Instead of directly answering these questions off the bat, we gradually learn what our beloved Hope Zion doctors have been up to since the Season 1 finale through brief conversations and wild events that take place in the midst of life-saving efforts.
“I Watch Death” opens with a bang, literally. While at the mall, Alex and Charlie get caught in the middle of a shoot-out between two young gunmen. Next thing you know, Alex and Charlie plunge back into work at Hope Zion, while several victims are brought into the emergency room. In between dealing with their patients, we briefly learn that this is Alex and Charlie’s first day back at work after vacationing in Costa Rica in an effort to recover from last season’s trying and traumatic events. We also discover that they are not married, but they are still madly in love and deeply devoted to each other. Perhaps ‘Saving Hope’ is holding off on the nuptials so that fans can relish in a super sweet sweeps worthy wedding. We can always dream, right Hopefuls? As for the rest of the questions we’ve been pondering over the break, ‘Saving Hope’ answers them in the story-telling style it mastered in the freshman season. We learn more about the doctors of Hope Zion through the patients they encounter and the medical cases they strive to solve.
Alex’s case: Hitting her when she’s down
Maggie asks for Alex’s help with a suicidal 17-year-old named Katie. As they try to help, Katie repetitively wishes to die and tells the doctors to leave her alone. Suddenly, Alex uncharacteristically slaps Katie, looks at Maggie to take care of the rest and walks away in shame. After a test reveals that Katie has overdosed on painkillers, Maggie brings Alex up to speed and encourages her to go home for the day. Alex realizes her behavior was wrong and they chalk the mishap up to a momentary case of post-traumatic stress after the shooting earlier that morning. When they go to see Katie, they realize she has left her bed. Eventually they find her curled up on a random gurney in the hospital and discover that Katie’s liver is failing. They call Gavin in for a psych consult to see if she is eligible for a liver transplant. Gavin concludes that Katie has situational depression and believes that something traumatic has happened to her recently. As soon has he says that, Alex sees a text appears on Katie’s cell which says, “Die SLUT!” She continues to look through the phone and finds loads of bullying texts and incriminating videos, including one implying that Katie was raped by her peers. Alex feels even worse for her behavior since she literally hit Katie when she was down. This remorse further fuels Alex’s determination to save Katie’s life.
When Alex gets word that the only available liver is five hours away in Vancouver, she decides to find another way. She looks around the hospital and sees that the shooter from the morning is in a vegetative state. If she can convince his mother to donate his organs, Katie can be saved in time. While she awaits the mother’s arrival, Alex confides in Maggie about her recent behavior. Maggie tries to put Alex at ease, telling her that she has been through extremely intense trials over the past year. However, Alex still feels guilty because she had a moment of weakness while Charlie was in his coma. She put on a brave face and remained hopeful most of the time, but there was one moment where she wondered if she should just let Charlie go and move on with her life. Now that she has Charlie back, Alex never wants to lose him again. Having been so close to death, she couldn’t help herself when Katie wished to die because it stirred up a slew of mixed emotions she has been wrestling with ever since Charlie’s coma and miraculous recovery. When Charlie steps out of the elevator, she rushes over and plants a big kiss on his lips. Charlie says they need to talk, but it can wait until after work, so Alex rushes back to care for Katie and Charlie goes back to his case, which we will visit soon.
Alex genuinely and tenderly apologizes to unconscious Katie and goes off to fight for her new liver. She speaks with the shooter’s mother, explaining that her son is only alive because machines are breathing for him. When the mother asks if there is a chance her son will ever wake up, Alex responds with reason. It is improbable for her son to recover, but it is certain that his organs can save several lives. With that said, the mother agrees and Alex prepares Katie for her liver transplant.
Before Katie’s surgery, Alex approaches Joel and asks if he must reprimand her as the new Chief of Surgery, but he does not believe she has done anything wrong. Alex’s risky actions have saved Katie’s life. Alex admits she feels like a different doctor after what she experienced with Charlie. She even allowed Tom to beat her into an operation earlier that day. However, Joel sees that Alex’s surgical skills have not been compromised with this new change in her outlook on life and work. He tells her to scrub in and get to work on Katie. After the operation is successful, Alex checks on Katie, apologizing yet again and assuring the teenager that her horrible experiences are simply a terrible moment in time.
Joel’s case: Lassoing bullets and hearts
Dr. Joel Goran has taken over as the new chief, but it doesn’t appear to change his radical medical practices or his flirtatious bedside manner. His patient is Sonya (Erin Karpluk), a young woman who was present at the shooting and fears her son, Ryan, might have been affected. It turns out that Ryan is perfectly fine, but Sonya has been shot through the thigh. Although she didn’t felt a thing, Sonya is covered in blood. Joel sees no exit wound and fears the bullet is stuck in her leg and they must operate. In a surprisingly sweet move, Joel sits young Ryan down and asks him for a favor while he helps heal Sonya. Joel asks Ryan to write him a joke to say as part of his speech at tonight’s fundraiser. Ryan gets to work on the joke, while Joel and Victor work on Sonya.
In the operating room, Joel and Victor realize the bullet is missing from Sonya’s leg. After an X-Ray and consult with newly divorced Zach, they fear the bullet has entered Sonya’s bloodstream and is headed towards her heart. Joel calls in Charlie’s ex-wife, Dawn, since she is Hope Zion’s new head of cardiac surgery. They both meet with Sonya and propose their options. Dawn says she needs open-heart surgery. Sonya is hesitant because her father recently died during his open-heart surgery. Sonya’s sister quips that those were different circumstances and she must think of Ryan. Sonya asks Joel for Plan B, so he suggests trying to lasso the bullet out with angioplasty. Sonya trusts Joel more than Dawn and likes his idea better, so they prep for the “rodeo.”
Moments before the surgery, Sonya reaches for Joel’s hand and pleads with him. After a momentary hesitation, Joel takes her hand and hears her out. She can’t die because she cannot leave Ryan with her sister. She will care for him, but she doesn’t love him, so Joel cannot fail her. Sonya then teases that she doesn’t usually hold hands on a first date, implying that is how she had Ryan. Joel laughs and admits he is the same way. Clearly, these two have an undeniable chemistry, which will be fun to watch this season.
During the surgery, Dawn keeps playing backseat driver, teasing Joel about his attraction to Sonya and doubting his ability. He snaps at her to shut up and step aside. He successfully gets the job done and apologizes for his rude outburst, but she found his aggression appealing and even hints at hooking-up in the future (Eww!).
After the surgery, Joel checks on Sonya and gives Ryan the bullet as a memento. Sonya then tells Joel to sit tight and listen to the joke Ryan came up for him. As we are cut short of the punch-line, we later see Joel rehearsing the whole joke while getting dressed for the fundraiser. Perhaps we will see more of Joel’s softer side this season. After all, he did have quite a few life-changing experiences of his own last year.
Charlie’s case: High on after-life
Saving the best for last! Charlie has trouble coping with his new supernatural skill-set when his patient, Nick, lapses into a coma and his spirit persistently haunts Charlie throughout the day.
Nick (Jonas Chernick) is rushed into the emergency room with severe internal damage. He barely has a momentary glimpse of his pregnant wife before Charlie and Joel rush him to the emergency room. While operating on Nick with the competitive Dr. Tom Reycraft, Nick’s spirit appears and Charlie notices the marijuana leaf tattooed on his neck. As Tom asks questions about other factors that could help them save Nick, his spirit gives Charlie the right answers. Tom is impressed by Charlie’s keen perception, saying that Charlie’s “still got it.” Unfortunately, Charlie is distressed that he’s “still got it,” “it” being his ghost whispering sixth sense, so he pays Shahir a visit.
He tells Shahir he feels weird again. Shahir says it is normal because he probably got scared during the shooting and it stirred up some old fears and feelings. However, Charlie wants another C.T. because he is still having coma flashbacks, along with hearing strange sounds and having odd thoughts. Shahir thinks it can be “I Watch Death,” a mnemonic for everything that can fall under the umbrella of psychological problems. Shahir suggests Charlie should speak with a shrink before assuming he has neurological problems.
Charlie remains on edge throughout the day, waiting for Nick’s spirit to appear around every corner. When Nick pops up he asks Charlie if he is dead because he is feeling a little “ghosty,” which is hilarious. After trying to scare Nick away with a stern glare, Charlie picks up his cell and answers Nick’s questions into the phone. Nick asks Charlie to give his wife a very important message. He knows she is in labor and he does not want her to name their son Jedi. Charlie scoffs at Nick’s baked decision and says he can’t just give her a message from the great beyond. He tells Nick not to call him anymore and “hangs up.”
Kudos again to Michael Shanks because he makes Charlie so fun to watch; his grumpy annoyance towards Nick’s sudden appearances, his deflecting sarcasm and his sincere concern over this unique situation all add to the richness of Charlie’s character. Charlie’s interaction with Nick is comical, endearing and ultimately heart-breaking.
Later, Nick begins shadowing Charlie because he has a bad feeling about his physical status. He begs Charlie to talk to his wife. Charlie says he doesn’t want to because he is afraid of losing everything: Alex, his job, his sanity. When Nick says it his duty to help people, Charlie replies that he must help flesh and blood people, not spirits.
Charlie checks on Nick’s body and sees he is still in a questionable comatose state. He has a change of heart and visits Nick wife. With Nick’s spirit by his side, Charlie tells his wife to name their son Joseph, after her father. He said Nick had given him the message while they were driving over in the ambulance. She says she will name their baby Joseph Nick, after his grandfather and father. Nick’s restless spirit is now at ease and we hope he will make a miraculous recovery, like Charlie did last season.
After taking care of Nick’s business, Charlie stops by Gavin’s office. He asks Gavin if he has heard of “I Watch Death.” Gavin is familiar with the term and is eager to help, but Charlie cuts the visit short, satisfied with Gavin’s brief validation of “I Watch Death.” As Charlie leaves, Maggie enters and a playful allusion to their scandalous activities on the couch makes it clear that her romance with Gavin is still going strong. However, not all couples are so lucky.
As the episode begins to wind down, a heartbreaking montage reveals Nick’s death. Although his body gave out, Nick’s ghost remains by his wife’s side as she gives birth to their baby boy and Charlie realizes that he helped fulfill Nick’s dying wish.
After a rough day at work, Alex meets Charlie at the bar., Alex asks Charlie what he had to say earlier, but he says it can wait. She then wonders if they are cursed. Given the events Charlie witnessed today, he considers themselves lucky, but even that makes Alex nervous. Charlie assures her that everything will work out just fine and they join their co-workers to let collectively off some steam.
What did you think of “I Watch Death”? Did it live up to your expectations? Did it answer most of the questions you’ve been mulling over during the hiatus? Was there anything you hoped to see that did not happen?
- Dr. Charlie Harris: Ghost Whisperer, M.D.: Charlie has a new call of duty to heal the living and the dead (or nearly dead). Spirits can help Charlie cure them by answering questions that would go unanswered without a gifted medium in the room. However, particularly needy spirits could also be a distraction to Charlie, especially if they are already dead. Nick may have won Charlie over this time, but this willful surgeon is no pushover. He might listen to spirits when they are helpful and he might brush off ghosts with unfinished business because they will just take his time away from his real-life patients. What do you think Charlie will do? Will he gradually start to help the spirits he encounters? Will spirits spread the word about Charlie causing a flood ghosts to ambush him at Hope Zion? Will Charlie start encountering ghosts outside of the hospital? Most importantly, will he tell Alex the truth and will she believe him?
- Dr. Alex Reid and the slap: This was a very uncharacteristic move. Alex is so careful, pragmatic and calculated. She really lost it when she slapped Katie and she knows it is a sign of everything she has been repressing. Did anyone else feel like that slap was something ‘Smallville’s’ Lois Lane would’ve done? It was a total “snap out of it and pull yourself together” Lois type of a slap. It might have been over the top and soapy, but it got the point across. Charlie may have been in a coma, but he isn’t the only one who has a lot of healing to do. Do you think Alex overreacted? Has her medical judgment been compromised in any way? Have last season’s trials made her a better doctor? Do you think she will notice that something is off with Charlie as spirits continue to pester him?
- The softer side of Dr. Joel Goran: Last season Joel was pretty douche-y, but he seems to have stepped it up in the second season opener. Perhaps becoming the Chief of Surgery has grounded and matured him in some ways. Sonya also seems to be a good fit for him. It will be fun to watch their relationship evolve over the course of the season. That lasso trick was a cool move. Props to the ‘Saving Hope’ team for finding such interesting medical cases. Do you want to see Sonya and Joel get together? Do you think he is still in love with Alex? Would Joel ever consider taking Dawn up on her disturbing offer?
Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more news!
This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 27, 2013.