Have your tears dried yet, Hopefuls? Tuesday night’s powerful ‘Saving Hope’ summer finale weighs heavy on the heart. We were teased with promos and images of tantalizing betrayals. Does Charlie kiss this new mystery woman? Is Alex starting an affair with Joel? Love triangles have become a soapy cliché, so it was nice to see that ‘Saving Hope’ didn’t go there. They didn’t sink to the lame low of a stolen secret kiss between former lovers. In a strange way, you can say that what happened was even more heartbreaking. Half way through the season, Alex and Charlie are at a crucial crossroads. As “Vamonos” ends, we aren’t quite sure where our protagonists are going.
The doctors of Hope Zion face extremely unique cases in this episode. Alex has been working with a transgender patient, Riley, undergoing the final procedure that will transform her into a man. Charlie treats and comforts Genna (Kristin Booth), a 39 year old who believes she is destined to die before she turns 40 at midnight. Lastly, Joel helps Sonja out with Huell, an addict she has been trying to help get clean.
Dream a Little Dream
The episode opens with Alex in bed with Charlie. One second she’s telling him that she feels they are growing apart and the next second, she finds herself looking at Joel as they are about to kiss. Luckily, this is all just a dream, but Alex is still a little shaken by it. She manages to play it cool around Charlie and Joel moments later. She casually compliments Joel on his suit and we learn that he is dressed up for a photo shoot with a medical magazine. As Joel takes off to get back to work, Alex reminds Charlie of their plans for the following evening. Her brother Luke has reached a milestone in his sobriety and will be delivering a testimonial. Alex would like Charlie to be there to celebrate with them and he agrees to go. They part ways ready to begin another day at Hope Zion, not realizing that today won’t quite go as they planned.
Alex’s patient has been on a journey for several years. Riley is a transgender young woman who will finally transform into a man after this final procedure. Gavin has cleared Riley’s mental health for this last step. In fact, he is so prepared and comfortable with this major change, that he is cracking jokes. Riley even has his mother’s complete support. Holly has been happily filming her son’s journey every step of the way, but his documentary gets put on hold when unforeseen complications arise moments before his operation.
A new CT reveals that Riley has tumors. Since his hysterectomy is technically an elective surgery, Alex wants to take care of the tumors before proceeding with the sex-change operation. She convinces Riley to let her do a biopsy first, but he isn’t happy about it. Alex tries to come up with a compromise. She gets Joel’s permission to remove the tumor through a laparoscopic procedure. However, Joel warns her to back off at any sign of trouble because it is too risky.
Alex and Tom perform the procedure together with Holly overlooking the O.R. from the viewing room above. Tom doesn’t feel comfortable with this procedure and he is on edge. Alex chalks it up to him being gun shy after losing a patient. But this time around, Tom might actually have a point. Alex accidentally nicks Riley’s bladder and quickly sutures it to stop the leaking. As Tom tells her to back off because the procedure has proven to be too risky, they realize that they have a bigger problem. Riley’s small bowel is stuck to his bladder and uterus. Furthermore, when Riley wakes up after the procedure he throws a fit. His mood swings suggest he could be overdosing on steroids. Both Riley and Holly deny it. With Dawn’s help, Alex learns that Riley has developed a heart arrhythmia, which would be a side-effect of taking too many steroids. They search his gym bag and find his stash. Alex confronts Holly because she has some explaining to do.
Holly admits she knew about the steroids, but she didn’t say anything because she was afraid of repeating the same mistake again. Here’s the crazy twist: Riley was born with both male and female parts. When Riley was three months old, Holly chose to raise him as a girl because she always wanted a daughter and thought it would be better than waiting for Riley to decide years later. She could never bring herself to tell him the truth, so she simply remained supportive of his decision for a sex change. Alex is upset that Holly didn’t tell her about the previous operation. With this new information, Alex realizes that the tumors were really scar tissue from a 20 year old surgery. They can’t keep this secret from Riley any longer.
Alex wants Holly to tell him the truth, but she asks Alex to do it instead. Riley is rightfully upset and says she should’ve just been honest with him. Riley asks her to leave the room. After the surgery is a success, he asks Alex to see his mom afterwards. She tells her son that she loves him and his response is a cheeky, “Duh.” Riley shows her the new student card he received and she says he looks so handsome.
In this case, Riley forgives Holly for lying to him. Although he is upset, he still appreciates his mother’s support and loves her very much. What should take away from this case? Alex was disappointed in Holly for lying to her son. How could you lie to someone you love? What would Alex do if she found out that Charlie was keeping a huge secret from her? How would she react if Charlie finally comes clean after months of hiding a crucial part of himself? Would Alex be as forgiving and accepting as Riley? We will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Charlie is still learning how to open up to the many mysteries of life.
Two Minutes to Midnight
When 39-year-old Genna Raymond enters the ER after breaking her leg by jumping on a trampoline, Charlie and Zach have a few chuckles at her expense. Genna realizes that her behavior seems silly, but she has a good reason for it. After she keeps talking about all the stuff she has to get done before midnight, Charlie wants to know what the deal is. She doesn’t think anyone will believe her, but she has nothing left to lose and she tells them the truth. Genna thinks she will die at midnight. She even tells them that the women in her family have died before turning 40. She says that moments before her mother died, she uttered “vamonos” because she knew she was about to mysteriously pass away. Charlie and Zach call Gavin in for a consult, just to make sure Genna isn’t suicidal or plain old crazy. Her explanation proves that she is far from nuts.
No woman in Genna’s family has made it to her 40th birthday. Her mother, sister and aunt all died shortly before their 40th birthdays, since Genna turns 40 at midnight, she assumes that she is also destined to die. Gavin says that three people make it a pattern, so it is natural for Genna to fear that she will be part of that pattern. She has been surrounded by death, so she isn’t crazy or delusional. Gavin tells Charlie that she just needs to feel that she is being heard. Charlie uses Genna’s dangerous fall from the trampoline as an excuse to order a CT to play it safe. Charlie promises Genna that she will not die on his watch. So sweet!
Charlie sympathizes with Genna and knows what it feels like to be stuck in a hospital at “Death’s door.” He seriously believes her and stands by her side throughout this ordeal. Her CT comes back clear, so Charlie says she has a clean bill of health. Nothing will be killing her today. He tells her to come back for a follow-up on her leg in six weeks. As she enters the elevator, she smilingly says, “Vamonos Dr. Harris.” When the doors close, Charlie realizes the elevator is going to the roof, so he rushes up there after her. Genna laughs and says she wants to watch the meteor shower. Even though she isn’t up there to jump, Charlie stays to watch the meteor shower with her.
As the stars shoot by, Genna asks if Charlie believes that there is something after death. A year ago he would’ve said “No.” He assures her that she isn’t dying tonight, but that doesn’t answer her question. Charlie finally admits that he thinks there can maybe be something more. As midnight approaches, Genna places her hand on Charlie’s. He holds her hand as the clock ticks past midnight and he wishes her a happy birthday. Now that she survived, Genna recalls all of the wild things she did during the past 24 hours and how much she has to deal with the next day. She appreciates all of Charlie’s support, comfort and understanding during this trying time. Genna gives Charlie a sweet and friendly “Thank You” peck on the cheek. It is a totally innocent kiss that was blown out of proportion in the teaser photos, so shame on you if you doubted Charlie’s loyalty to Alex (haha.) Now that the curse is broken, it is time for Genna to move on with her life and head home.
As Charlie goes back to work, he sees Genna standing in the halls of Hope Zion and wonders what happened to her cast. As he looks past Genna, he sees Zach performing CPR on her body. Dawn says she died of natural causes. It is unheard of for someone so young, but it just proves that you never know when it’s your time to go. To which Genna retorts, “I did.” Dawn thinks Genna’s death was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Baffled by what has happened, Charlie tells Dawn that Genna was his patient, so he wants to look after her and take care of her body.
In the morgue, Charlie apologizes to Genna. He is sorry that he couldn’t save her. She simply asks him to stay with her until she goes away. She says limbo feels a lot like bouncing on the trampoline, she’s just permanently suspended now. Charlie fears he is losing his mind. Genna tells him a story, hoping it will make him feel better. Before her mother died, she listened to a lot of Mexican music and she would sing a song called “Vamonos,” which was about running off to place without judgment. Charlie is in the midst of a major existential crisis, but Genna urges him to be himself. After all, “who else is there to be?” With that illuminating notion, Genna says, “Vamonos” and vanishes.
Later that day, Charlie drives to meet Alex at Luke’s sobriety testimonial. On his way, he drives by a house with a trampoline. Next thing we know, Charlie stands Alex up and is jumping on the trampoline. Does he find any peace in those brief moments suspended in the air? Does it remind him of his time in limbo? Will this bouncy detour give him the courage he needs to tell Alex the truth? Or will it be too late?
Climbing the Walls
Remember when Sonja said she was a social worker? Well that comes into play in this episode. She asks Joel for a favor when one of her clients gets himself stuck in the walls. Huell is an addict on probation. She should’ve reported him, but she didn’t. If Joel doesn’t covertly help her get him out of the walls, they can all end up in legal trouble. So, Joel agrees to help her out and we learn a few things along the way.
Joel and Sonja start collecting tools to help break Huell out of the wall. During their search, Alex asks Joel for approval on the laparoscopic procedure she wants to do on Riley. This is the first time Alex and Sonja meet. Sonja is clearly rattled. She pictured someone more like Alex Trebek. When Joel is trying to figure how to get Huell out of the wall, Sonja starts drilling him about his relationship with Alex. How serious did things get with “Trebek”? Did the “cohabitate”? Could there still be lingering feelings between the two of them? Basically, after seeing Alex for herself, Sonja isn’t taking it too well. Perhaps she has reasonable cause not to.
While Joel looks for a saw strong enough to cut through walls, he bumps into Luke. It looks like the two of them got along while Joel dated Alex. They playfully tease each other and there is no lingering tension that you might expect to see between an ex and a protective sibling. Joel even congratulates Luke on his sobriety. Once he finds the right kind of saw, Joel goes back to break Huell out. Once Sonja’s problem has been taken care of, Joel returns to his obligations and does the photo shoot. He meets up with Sonja afterwards.
Huell is fine and she has a room ready for him at a sober house when he gets out of the hospital. Joel is glad Sonja’s problem was taken care of and asks if she wants to go out for waffles. Sonja tells Joel that she’s been waiting for a shift in their relationship. She expects to see him look at her in a different way, like the way he looks at Alex. Sonja wants to break up because she isn’t up for this kind of drama. She apologizes and kisses Joel goodbye.
Newly dumped, Joel decides to go see Luke’s sobriety testimonial. He finds Alex sitting in the crowd alone, waiting for Charlie to show up because he said he would be there. She listens to Luke as he praises her for saving his life. The point of his speech: Alex is the only reason why Luke is here. After sharing sweet sentiments and a group hug to mark this momentous occasion, Joel suggests they all go out for celebratory waffles. Probably not the celebration Alex had in mind, but she doesn’t seem too disappointed to see Joel instead of Charlie.
Meanwhile, Charlie jumps on a stranger’s trampoline. With each bounce, he grows farther away from the person he loves most.
“Vamonos” was a very unsettling episode, full of heartbreaking surprises. Charlie is at a breaking point. Although he has accepted his gift and tries using it to help people, he is jeopardizing his relationship with Alex by keeping it a secret. Holly kept the truth from Riley because she was ashamed of what she had done. She made the wrong choice and watched her child suffer because of it. Now she is forced to confess, as her son rights the wrong she committed years ago. Is this story supposed to shed some light on Charlie and Alex’s relationship? Alex was upset at Holly for not telling Riley the truth. The ones you love deserve to always know the truth, especially when it can be life-changing. The longer Charlie keeps his secret, the further he pushes Alex away. The Great Randall told him to allow Alex to live in ignorant bliss, but there is nothing blissful about this situation.
Well, Hopefuls, we have a lot to ponder over the mid-season break. Here are some talking points:
- Charlie isn’t telling Alex the truth because he wants to protect her. Maybe he is really just trying to protect himself. If he told Alex the truth and she didn’t believe him, it would break his heart. It would be even worse if it caused them to break-up. However, Charlie is already starting to lose Alex. Maybe telling the truth would help bring them closer together, even if it means taking a huge leap of faith on both their parts.
- The more Charlie withdraws, the closer Alex gets to Joel. Is Alex willing to throw her relationship with Charlie away and give Joel another chance? Or will Alex fight to save her relationship with Charlie buy getting to the bottom of what has been troubling him?
- Joel still has feelings for Alex. Will he try to push Charlie and Alex further apart in order to win her back?
- Dawn still has feelings for Charlie. Will she use this rough patch as an opportunity to gain his trust? She warned Alex that Charlie likes to keep his secrets and she is playing both sides against each other. Essentially telling each one that he or she isn’t good enough for the other. Will she manipulate Charlie into revealing the truth to her and then lord it over Alex?
- What does Charlie plan to do with his gift? His buddy Tom told him to embrace it and actively help spirits find peace. Will Charlie choose to be a full-fledged ghost whisperer? Is that something he is thinking about while bouncing on the trampoline?
- Fun fact: Here is the song and lyric translation of “Vamonos”
- Will Charlie take Genna’s advice and just be himself? If Alex truly loves Charlie, she should hear him out instead of brashly judging him. Her death serves as a valuable lesson for him. Unlike Charlie, Genna did’t get a second shot at life. Since she saw her death coming, she made the most of the time she had left. As she departs from limbo, she basically tells Charlie to embrace his life. Charlie should live honestly and be himself instead of hiding out of fear.
What did you think of “Vamonos”? Was it what you hoped for? Are you worried about the state of Charlie and Alex’s relationship? Do you think Alex should get together with Joel instead? What do you hope to see when ‘Saving Hope’ returns with the second half of Season 2?
Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more news!
Stay tuned to find out when ‘Saving Hope’ returns with new episodes.
This article was originally published on Examiner.com on August 26, 2013.