Tuesday night’s “Defense” was one of the best ‘Saving Hope’ episodes ever! It was fantastic in every way. The entire cast shined, revealing new sides to their complex characters. The medical cases were completely captivating and equally engaging. Sometimes there will be a side-story thrown in that doesn’t feel as important as the main case, but every patient this week plays a uniquely pivotal role in these doctors’ lives. This week, the doctors put it all on the line, taking great risks in and out of the operating room.
What goes around comes around
During a “doctors versus lawyers” basketball game, team Hope Zion defeats its greatest nemesis, ambulance chaser, Russell Birk (Noam Jenkins). Their beef increased when Russell sued Charlie and lost. Rusty is a prodigy of sorts and his life’s work has revolved around suing doctors who screw up. He has never lost a case, except for the one against Charlie. Now Dr. Charlie Harris has become his “white whale,” the one that got away. Given their rivalry, Charlie doesn’t hold back on the court and goes for a final game winning shot. While playing dirty defense, Rusty smashes into the bench and hurts his side. Much to his chagrin, the doctors rush him into Hope Zion to give him a thorough check-up.
Upon examination, Alex says Rusty needs an emergency procedure. He demands a second opinion, but there isn’t enough time. As she rolls him to the O.R., Rusty’s legs start tingling and go numb. He accuses Alex of paralyzing him and threatens to sue again.
Clearly, Alex hasn’t done anything wrong. She makes the best of a very complicated medical situation and does what she can to keep Rusty stable, which includes leaving his abs open in-between surgeries. Victor even puts her at ease by saying she has handled everything like a “total rock star.” We need to see more Victor; he always knows what to say in the midst of chaos.
Sheila, Rusty’s wife and legal partner, arrives at the hospital in a huff. She is shocked to see her husband’s shrink wrapped body and demands an explanation. When the doctors fill her in, Sheila wants Charlie to do the next operation. She says that Rusty only lost one case because Charlie is the best. Suddenly, Rusty codes and Charlie sees his spirit. Even in limbo, Rusty brutally harasses Charlie.
The opportunistic lawyer immediately begins blackmailing Charlie from the beyond. Once Charlie confirms he isn’t dead, Rusty says he will use Charlie’s secret ghost whispering skills against him. When Charlie assures Rusty that he won’t remember a thing, Rusty boasts that he never forgets anything because he is a genius. Can you believe this guy’s ego? He really is out to ruin Charlie, even when his life is on the line.
While Charlie and Joel discuss how to proceed with Rusty’s unique situation, Rusty won’t stop pestering him. They discover that Rusty’s spine has been damaged by his undetected brittle bone disease, but they disagree on how to operate on him. During their medical debate, Rusty threatens Charlie: if he does not personally do the operation, Rusty will tell Alex his secret. With that said, Charlie tells Joel he will operate on Rusty because it is what Sheila wants.
Rusty has been the most antagonistic spirit Charlie has ever come across. He really knows how to get under your skin. Tensions run really high throughout this case. Rusty talks a big game, so you aren’t sure if he will be the guy who remembers being in limbo. After his umpteenth threat, Charlie reminds Rusty that the surgery’s outcome rests in his hands. Way to put Rusty in his place, Charlie! Given the circumstances, Charlie remained perfectly professional throughout one of the most challenging patients and cases he has ever faced. Rusty’s unique case also had Hope Zion’s top three surgeons working together.
Joel sets his ego aside and supportively scrubs in to assist Charlie with Rusty’s risky operation. He also assures Charlie that he won’t get fired, no matter what happens. In the O.R., Rusty distractingly hovers over Charlie during the surgery. As complications arise, he taunts Charlie saying, “Looks like you got your wish.” But Charlie proves Rusty wrong by bringing in Alex. A lot of the time, these surgeries are a little confusing and look gross, but this one is pretty cool. Rusty had to lie on his stomach, so Charlie could work on his brittle spine. When a problem arises on Rusty’s front end, Alex smoothly performs the procedure upside down. Although Alex’s procedure is successful, Rusty’s spirit suddenly collapses outside of the O.R. window. Charlie sees this and steps outside for a brief “break.” Joel and Alex are puzzled by his abrupt exit. Since the surgical mask is on, they can’t tell that Charlie is talking to himself. They just see him oddly take a knee in the hallway. Meanwhile, Charlie asks Rusty a few questions, which helps him isolate the problem.
Charlie returns to the O.R. and asks them to check Rusty for paralysis again. The test shows what Rusty’s collapse indicated. Thanks to Charlie’s gift, he is able to save Rusty’s life and prevent paralysis. Alex questions how Charlie could’ve possibly known Rusty was suddenly paralyzed mid-surgery. Charlie chalks it up to a hunch, but she can tell something is up. Joel follows Charlie out of the operating room to see what the break was all about and Charlie just shrugs it off as part of his post-accident adjustment, explaining that sometimes he needs a moment to clear his head.
Charlie checks on Rusty after the surgery and all is well. It turns out that Rusty made himself old by trying to stay young. Taking human growth hormones caused his brittle bone disease, known as DISH. Rusty doesn’t want his wife to know about it and trusts Charlie to keep his secret. That’s an interesting a little twist. Then Rusty makes us panic for a just second when he tells Charlie that he remembers everything. Does the prodigy remember being in limbo? Will he expose Charlie’s secret?! Nope. No worries, he’s just talking about the game. Let’s hope Rusty learned his lesson and lays off the Hope Zion team from now on.
Blast from the past
The Great Randall (Peter Keleghan) returns as Alex’s patient and he has some words of wisdom for Charlie. We first met Randall in last season’s sixth episode, in which we found out he is a medium and hypnotist. Randall is the only living person who speaks with Charlie during his time in limbo. This time around their roles are briefly reversed.
Last time Alex saw Randall, he told her Charlie was still around, but then he hassled her to pay him for more info, so she wrote him off as a scam artist. Randall is happy to see that Alex is his doctor and he assures her that she was his last client. Randall no longer acts as a medium for people. He has been having pancreatic pains and chakra cleansing hasn’t helped. Alex discovers a pancreatic infection. She needs to operate to clean out the dead tissue. She asks if he has any family. We learn that Randall has an estranged daughter, Leslie. They haven’t spoken for years. He asks Alex to call her, but she says he can do it himself after surgery.
During the operation, Randall’s spirit pays Charlie a visit. Charlie thinks he is speaking with the living, breathing Randall, until he says “I’m sorry to see you still have this curse.” It is poignant and goose-bump inducing moment.
After the surgery Alex tells Randall that she found tumors spreading his pancreas and sadly says he only has a month left to live. She tried calling Leslie, but couldn’t get through to her. Randall knows that Leslie doesn’t want to see him. He then explains what caused the rift in their relationship.
Randall was in a car accident years ago. When he came to, he could suddenly see spirits. Alex remains skeptical, claiming that nobody can do that. Randall confesses that he used to drink to quite their voices. Although it seems like he is paying the ultimate price, Randall sadly feels that death will be a relief.
After Rusty’s successful surgery, Alex takes Charlie to see Randall. As they walk over to his room, Charlie asks if Alex believes Randall can really see spirits. She says she believes that he believes. When they enter the room, Randall praises Alex for being such a wonderful person and doctor, and then he asks for a moment alone with Charlie. Get ready to feel more chills.
Randall tells Charlie that Alex is someone special. She deserves “picket fences” and “fairytales.” (Awww) He admits that he is now dying alone because he made the grave mistake of telling his family the truth. His wife left him and his daughter hates him. Randall warns Charlie not to put that burden on Alex. He sweetly threatens, “If you mess it up with her, I will come back and haunt you.”
In a beautifully crafted shot, Charlie steps out and joins Alex in the hallway. As Alex says, “I wouldn’t wish his life on anyone,” the reflection on the window reveals a group of ghosts hounding Randall. This is ‘Saving Hope’ at its best and it is so well done.
Say a little prayer for you
This episode finally provides a proper introduction to Zach, the E.R.’s head honcho. We got a sense of his personality last year. He is a bit sarcastic and has fun making hushed jokes while dealing with a frantic E.R. However, Zach has taken an emotional beating over the break. This season, Zach is a sensitive divorcee trying to get over his ex-wife and learn how to jump back into the dating pool. When his ex-wife’s new man rolls into his E.R., Zach is put to the test.
Hank was hired to renovate their house and he wound up stealing Zach’s wife, Ariel. When he comes in with shards of shattered stained glass embedded all over his face, Zach refuses to be his doctor and sends Maggie instead. Things remain awkward when Ariel shows up at the hospital to be by her new husband’s side. She acknowledges the fact that this isn’t an ideal situation for Zach. Being a jokester, Zach cheekily responds that it is kind of a dream and he only wishes another window would fall on Hank’s head. Of course, just as he says that, Hank experiences complications and suddenly goes blind. This turn of events gives us a chance to learn more about Hank and his back-story makes him an even more sympathetic character.
When Hank was a baby, his mother put sewing needles in his head. She didn’t want a baby, so he was raised by adoptive parents. When the window fell on his head, it dug the needles deeper into his brain, impairing his vision. Shahir says he can remove the needles and restore his vision, but bluntly admits the surgery could kill him. Yeah, Shahir may be an awesome brain surgeon, but he really needs to work on his bedside manner, which Maggie brings to his attention.
In another deeply moving scene, Ariel asks Zach for a favor. She wants him to pray for Hank. Zach honestly confesses that he hasn’t prayed much since Ariel left him. Nonetheless, he says a sincere prayer asking God to protect a man who “loves and is loved deeply.” Cue goose-bumps part deux. So sweet!
When Hank makes it out of surgery, Ariel tells Zach that she just wants him to be happy. Could Melanda be a part of Zach’s future happiness? If you have seen ‘Saving Hope: Last Call’ webisode three, “Fuzzy Coma,” then you know there has been an underlying flirtation between Mel and Zach. In the web series, Zach makes a painful attempt to hit on Melanda and she kindly helps him work on his game a bit.
In “Defense,” Zach vulnerably tells Mel that he doesn’t feel like dining alone and asks her to join him for dinner. When she meets later that night, she kisses him right off the bat to avoid any awkwardness throughout the course of the night. That little kiss leads to a smooch-fest in the elevator during the episode’s conclusive montage. Does this mean Zach and Melanda are Hope Zion’s latest item? We’ll have to wait and see!
Joel makes his rounds through the ladies of Hope Zion looking for a companion to a boring fundraiser later that night. Maggie turns him down saying Gavin wouldn’t feel comfortable. She tells him to ask Alex. Like that’ll happen! He then tries Melanda who cuts him short of any further explanation and echoes Maggie’s suggestion to ask Alex. Double burn! It looks like Alex told her gal-pals about Joel’s inappropriate overture during Charlie’s coma. It is great that nobody has let that go. Charlie tells Joel that he had to come back because someone was making moves on his girl. Now the other women are shutting him down. It is pretty fun to watch. Luckily, Joel catches a break.
While buying a hot dog from a cart in front of the hospital, he bumps into Sonya (Erin Karpluk). She says her son views Joel as a hero for saving her life and they chat a bit. Joel takes this opportunity to ask her out on a non-date to a boring fundraiser. She thinks it is a bad idea, given his womanizing reputation. Hey, you can’t blame the nurses for talking. In the end, Sonya gives Joel benefit of the doubt.
As their night draws to an end, Sonya lays her cards out on the table. She is a social worker, but doesn’t have bleeding heart. She has a motorcycle, but hasn’t driven it since her son was born. Most importantly, she isn’t “traveling alone,” so Joel better not play games with her heart because it will affect her innocent son. Joel understands and vows that his intentions are in earnest. It should be fun to see them be “dodgy” together because they seem to make a great pair. Don’t you think?
Did you love this episode, Hopefuls? What were your favorite moments? Should Charlie listen to Randall and keep his secret from Alex? How do you feel about ‘Saving Hope’s’ new couples?
- Can Alex handle the truth?: Randall warns Charlie not to tell Alex the truth because he is afraid she will react the way his wife and daughter did. Alex’s reaction to Randall’s gift shows where she stands on the whole subject. She doesn’t believe in the spirits, but she believes in Randall’s suffering. Do you think she would feel differently if it was Charlie? This has become a really difficult situation. Alex felt Charlie’s presence, she sensed him telling her to fight for his life. Shouldn’t that make her more open to believing in the supernatural? Plus, Charlie is a skeptical doctor, like Alex. If there was a medical reason behind his problem, he would try to figure it out instead of accepting his new moonlighting gig as a ghost whisperer. Share your thoughts below; I’m eager to see what you all think.
- Round of applause: Props to the entire cast. Everybody had a chance to shine in this episode and everyone delivered a fantastic performance. Benjamin Ayres had a chance to step up his game this week and he gave a very moving performance. You really felt Zach’s pain and the strength it took for him to set his ego aside and say that prayer with Ariel. Erica Durance, Michael Shanks and Daniel Gillies were stellar, as always. Even the filmmaking was spectacular. The scene with the ghosts’ reflection in Randall’s room was brilliant. Well done!
- Kudos to the guest stars: The guest stars also made a great impact in this episode and it will be interesting to see how many will return in the future. We found out Randall only has a month left to live. Will his ghost visit Charlie when he dies? Will he have a change of heart in the afterlife and give Charlie different advice? Rusty threatened to sue, but he really owes his life to Hope Zion. It would be interesting to see if they ever cross paths again. We already know Sonya is sticking around for a bit, so it’ll be great to see how her relationship with Joel evolves.
This article was originally published on Examiner.com on July 18, 2013.