Tensions continued to rise in Tuesday’s thoroughly gripping and moving episode, “Little Piggies.” Alex and Dawn make a bit of headway on their awkward relationship when they are forced to work together on a patient, Sam, who is suffering from two equally critical illnesses. Joel’s young patient, Emma, presents quit a conundrum when his attempted treatments make matters worse by producing life-threatening adverse reactions. Meanwhile, Charlie appears to be more accepting of his sixth sense when it enables him to help Oliver Adams, a musical patient whose medical condition mirrors Charlie’s comatose experience.
Alex and Dawn: All is Fair in Love and O.R.
Alex is under constant attack while taking Dawn’s course on cardiac surgery. Charlie’s ex-wife goes out of her way to belittle Alex in the classroom and the operating room. She claims that it is simply professional criticism geared to improve Alex’s skills as a surgeon, but we all know Dawn has a lot of resentment towards Alex because of her relationship with Charlie.
You really begin to admire Alex in this episode because she steps up her game professionally and personally. Although it takes her a little bit of time to confidently confront Dawn and fight for her beliefs, Alex sticks to her guns and comes out on top in the end.
After hurdling embarrassing insults in Dawn’s class, Alex meets her new patient, Sam. He is a widower with biting wit who has fun playfully flirting with his attractive doctors. After a careful examination, Alex concludes that Sam has both intestinal and cardiac issues, so she calls Dawn in on a consult. Dawn believes Sam’s cardiac issues should be dealt with first because they are more life-threatening, but Alex views both his problems as equally dangerous. Reaching a professional stalemate, they take their case to Joel. He tells them to work together and tag-team on Sam in the operating room.
Dawn clarifies to Alex that she does not trust her abilities as a surgeon, emphasizing again that her bitchy behavior is nothing personal. However, Alex makes a compelling argument stating that she wants to learn how to be a better cardiac surgeon by watching Dawn work. Dawn says that is the best case she has made all day and agrees to let Alex scrub in.
In the O.R., Dawn over-confidently operates on Sam’s heart and scoffs in Alex’s face about how this particular procedure is supposed to be done. As soon as Dawn begins her victory lap, Sam begins to code because of his intestinal issues. Alex immediately takes the lead and manages to save Sam’s life. Good thing Joel told them to tag team or else Sam might have been a goner.
Let’s take a moment to give major props to Erica Durance and Michelle Nolden. As always, Durance does a beautiful job of capturing Alex’s flurry of emotions. Unlike Dawn, Durance’s Alex knows how to be professionally aggressive without hurting the people around her. She wears her heart on her sleeve and refuses to apologize for it. One could argue that she is even a better doctor for because sometimes it is comforting to have a doctor who thinks with her heart as well as her knowledgeable brain. Nolden also has a very difficult task at hand because she steps onto this show as the person you want to hate, rightfully so. It is hard to sympathize with a woman who hounds a loveable protagonist like Alex. However, Nolden rises to the challenge and beyond in this episode by revealing Dawn’s vulnerability. It is rare to have a hard-headed woman admit her insecurities and regrets to her romantic rival, which is exactly what Nolden does so gracefully.
When Alex confronts Dawn after the operation, Charlie’s ex-wife makes an unexpected confession. Charlie left Dawn for Alex and she is having trouble accepting it, which is why she was clinging on to her past with Charlie by holding on to mementos like the lobster magnet that represented a wonderful weekend they spent together when they were happily married. This may be the closest Dawn will come to admitting defeat, but it seems to be even more than that. When Alex asks if Dawn is still love with Charlie, she walks away without answering.
As Alex’s storyline draws to a close, she goes to see Charlie in the doctors’ “napping” room. She tosses the little lobster magnet aside and tells Charlie she doesn’t care about past. What matters is their future together.
Joel’s Bumpy Road to the Right Diagnosis
Joel has an enigmatic case this week. Teenage Emma presents an adverse reaction to every treatment Joel tries. The more he probes and prods, the stranger her case becomes because she starts sprouting bumps throughout her body. Emma’s parents grow more concerned and her father even lashes out at Joel for being seemingly incompetent. Emma’s mother apologizes and explains that their daughter is a miracle child born after several miscarriages. Joel understands and there are no hard feelings, but he is still struggling to diagnose his sweet patient.
As Joel prepares Emma for yet another procedure he looks at her feet and remembers her saying how much she hates the way they look. He has Victor wake Emma up, so he can speak with her before going any further. Emma reveals that she has been concealing something since childhood. She didn’t want her parents to worry, so she never told them about the bumps that would develop after she had injured herself as a little girl. It started when she was eight, she had fallen and bumps appeared, but they eventually went away so she didn’t think it was anything serious. Joel concludes that Emma has FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis), her body responds to physical trauma by developing lumps. The tests and procedures were only making Emma worse, but now that they know what the problem is, Emma can be cured with medication. Mark that as another victory for the talented and radical Dr. Joel Goran.
Charlie’s Supernatural Serenade
Charlie comes across an eerily familiar case when he meets the spirit of Oliver Adams, a wedding singer who lapsed into a coma after getting into a car accident. The reveal is quite clever as Charlie asks Gavin to tell his patient to stop singing, only to realize that he is only person who can hear Oliver’s show tunes, which prove to be incredibly distracting.
Last week Charlie was eager to shoo away Nick’s spirit, but since this case is so close to home, he empathizes with Oliver. Charlie is especially motivated to help him out when his wife says she is thinking of pulling the plug on Oliver. Mr. and Mrs. Adams have discussed it recently and he said that he would want to live out his last days as a vegetable. She also reveals that they were fighting at the time of accident because Oliver was still clinging onto his dreams of being on Broadway (which explains the singing).
Luckily, we see that Charlie is making progress with his new talent. He volunteers to help Oliver’s spirit out, but it proves to be extra challenging when Oliver only communicates through show tunes. As Charlie pleads with Oliver speak clearly and state his desire, Alex walks by. Charlie stops to ask her a question: Mrs. Adams is ready to let go of Oliver, so why did Alex refuse to pull the plug last year? Did she ever doubt him? Alex admits she had her moments of doubt, but she always knew he would come back because she could still feel Charlie with her. Alex could feel him telling her to keep fighting. So Charlie tries to find a way to understand and help Oliver’s spirit.
Charlie catches Gavin in the hallway and asks for advice. As always, Charlie tries to keep things a bit vague while providing the gist of his dilemma. How can he get his patient to talk? Gavin tells him to build rapport, gain the patient’s trust and don’t give up because you never know when a breakthrough will happen. Since Gavin has been working with Mrs. Adams, Charlie tells Gavin that he plans on moving forward with the surgery that will repair Oliver’s brain fracture and he wants Gavin to tell the wife. However, Gavin says Mrs. Adams is still making plans to pull the plug on Oliver. Charlie quips that she can’t do that. They don’t know what really Oliver wants and people can change their minds. This prompts Gavin to sneak in a bit of psychoanalysis. As Gavin explains how it is natural for this case to get to Charlie given their similarities, Charlie sharply cuts him off. He firmly says, “Don’t shrink me son. That will not end well.” You can’t help but feel bad for poor Gavin in moments like this, especially after watching Gavin and Charlie in ‘Last Call.’ Although Charlie snaps at him, Gavin always manages to help and Charlie smoothes things over by asking to be kept in the loop with Mrs. Adams. Gavin’s advice prompts Charlie to reach out to Oliver with a more open mind.
Initially, Charlie is frustrated yet again by the show tunes, but Oliver keeps singing until his lyrics sink in. It doesn’t get much clearer than “I’m alive.” Charlie knows Oliver wants to live and runs off to have a convincing chat with Mrs. Adams.
When Charlie speaks with Mrs. Adams, she says that Gavin told her about Charlie’s experience. Charlie doesn’t want to give her false hope. He just doesn’t want her to rush into any decisions either, so he urges her to take her time. She takes Charlie’s advice and gives her husband a fighting chance by agreeing to let Charlie operate on him.
In a new favorite ‘Saving Hope’ moment, Charlie operates on Oliver as his spirit serenades him with “Someone to Watch over Me” from ‘Crazy for You.’ Next thing you know, Charlie sweetly starts singing Oliver’s tune. (Cue the collective “Awww” and admiration of Michael Shanks singing voice.) Moments after Charlie harmonizes with Oliver, his spirit suddenly vanishes and his body regains brain activity. The surgery is a success and Oliver makes a full recovery, thanks to Charlie’s help.
Well done, ‘Saving Hope’! Thanks for another fantastic, goose-bump inducing episode. This show gets better every week and it is a shame that the U.S. market doesn’t realize what it is missing. Top notch acting and captivating story-telling. The doctors’ lives and patients’ cases beautifully and seamlessly weave together, creating a rich and engaging narrative. There is a reason why this show has developed such a loyal and loving fan-base.
What did you think Hopefuls? Do you have any favorite moments or interesting observations?
- Charlie’s warning to Joel: After giving Joel his opinion on Emma’s perplexing case, Charlie brings up his own trouble with Oliver. Joel gently teases that his situation sounds familiar and that is when the unexpected happens: Charlie calls Joel out on something he couldn’t possibly have known. Charlie says he had to come because someone was making moves on his girl. Joel tries playing off as a “come again?” moment, but Charlie makes it perfectly clear. This could be a huge moment further down the line. What if Joel confronts Alex about spilling the beans to Charlie? She probably didn’t tell Charlie what happened, so how could he know about it? This opens the door for Joel and Alex to ask questions later on. If Charlie keeps dropping clues, somebody will start putting the pieces together. What do you think? Will anybody notice how Charlie has changed since his coma?
- Dawn and Alex duke it out in the O.R.: There was some palpable tension between Dawn and Alex. Durance and Nolden give stellar performances in this episode. It will be interesting to see what happens between both women after Dawn’s confession. Were you surprised by Dawn’s candor? Do you think she is still in-love with Charlie? Would she try to jeopardize his relationship with Alex to win him back? Does Charlie have any feelings for Dawn? It doesn’t seem like he does, but we wouldn’t want to see Dawn stir up any trouble between Alex and Charlie.
- Bonus points for creativity: Oliver proved that Charlie will be encountering some interesting spirits. It will be very interesting to see what other patients ‘Saving Hope’ will come up this season. Now they are juggling with fascinating medical cases, as well as intriguing spirits. Guest star Rick Miller did a wonderful job in this episode. Communication via show tunes could have been cheesy. However, Miller played the emotion and intent so convincingly that his singing never became a silly distraction; singing was rather a restraining obstacle to overcome.
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This article was originally published on Examiner.com on July 5, 2013.