I’m not going to lie, Hopefuls. Thursday’s (Jan. 9) ‘Saving Hope’ was not at all what I expected. After Charlie finally told Alex the truth about his gift in last week’s exceptional “Wishbones,” I was hoping for some kind of climactic confrontation. I wanted to see Charlie prove the truth to Alex. Instead of fighting for their relationship and showing her his reality, Charlie withdraws. Why? Because Luke’s lingering spiritual presence somehow indicates that Charlie will cause Alex harm by burdening her with his “problem.” Alex will view Charlie as troubled or sick and try to “fix” him. Once Charlie decides to break-up with Alex and spare her from dealing with his issues, Luke’s spirit feels free to go. Really?! After last week’s gripping and gut-wrenching episode, I’m disappointed in the way things ended. Regardless, “En Bloc” is still a good and engaging episode full of sweet, hilarious and moving moments.
The episode opens on a somber note. Charlie and Alex take one last look at Luke’s body in the morgue before Alex needs to sign the paperwork to send him off to the mortuary. She turns to Charlie and asks if he sees Luke’s spirit around, since he claims he can see the dead. She doesn’t say it in a really mean way, but you know she doesn’t believe Charlie. He doesn’t want to talk about his gift now because it isn’t the right time and Alex has enough to deal with. Alex says she can’t handle signing the forms now and heads back to work.
In the E.R., Marvin approaches Alex and asks if she can help his son, Lou (Alex first hears his name as Luke. Clearly Lou will be a special case. Since she couldn’t save her brother, Alex really needs a win to lift her spirits.) Adorable 7 year-old Lou has done a lot of research online and found a paper Alex wrote during her third year of residency. Young Lou has a huge tumor protruding out of his abs. Marvin has taken him to a bunch of specialists and no one has been able to help. Now they’ve traveled to Toronto all the way from Winnipeg, hoping that Alex can operate on Lou and remove the cancerous tumor before it is too late. Alex assembles Hope Zion’s all-star team of surgeons to help her save Lou’s life.
How to save a life
After Joel turns down Alex’s proposal to operate on Lou, she enlists the help of her friends and co-workers. Charlie is an easy “yes,” Tom Reycraft agrees after making a deal that gets him out of taking his niece to see a musical, Dana Kinny joins the team out of guilt after Alex compares Lou to her daughter Molly, and Maggie tags along as the team’s good luck charm since she’s been on a winning streak helping Tom gamble on football games. Now Joel can’t refuse, so the super complex surgery is a go.
A complication arises while Alex and Tom are working on Lou, so she heads out to get Charlie for help. On the way she bumps into Marvin, who automatically assumes young Lou died and breaks into tears. Alex comforts him and promises to take care of his son. Then she rushes to get Charlie.
Alex finds Charlie talking to Luke/himself and overhears what he says. Charlie believes Alex needs to sign the papers and let go of Luke in order for him to move on. Alex walks into the room, tells him she needs his help in the O.R. and promises to sign the release form after the surgery.
Lou’s long and complicated operation is a huge success, despite some hiccups along the way. Once Alex is done with her part of the procedure, she passes out cold in the O.R. and Luke sees her go down. Afterwards, Maggie and Alex have a seat while she regains her bearings. She insists that she’s just tired and Maggie suggests she takes a few days off to vacation with Charlie. Maggie also tells Alex that she’s pregnant and nobody else knows yet. Alex is happy to hear the good news and urges Maggie to tell Gavin. He loves her, so she shouldn’t be worried. Then Charlie walks over to ask how Alex is doing and she doesn’t know if she feels okay quite yet.
After gathering herself, Alex visits Lou and tells him that the operation was like a miracle. They completely removed the massive tumor Marla and the precious kid is as good as new. In a tender moment, Lou confides in Alex.
When his mother died, his tumor brought Lou and his father closer together. Now that Lou is healthy, he fears they will grow apart. Marvin overhears and lovingly takes a seat next to him. He asks Lou what their new hobby should be now that Marla is out of their life and the boy excitedly chooses sharks. Talk about swift recovery! This is the bubbliest post-op behavior I’ve ever seen. You never would’ve thought most of this kid’s insides just got gutted out a few hours ago. Thankfully, Lou and Marvin have a happy ending.
There were a lot of sweet scenes with Marvin and Lou. Great casting for both father and son, they delivered such genuine performances. I’m glad things turned out well for them, I wouldn’t have been able to handle seeing anything bad happen to that cute kid. Moving on…
Charlie sees Luke again and tells him that Alex signed the release, which means his body is headed to the funeral home. Alex is accepting Luke’s death, so his spirit should feel ready to go soon. However, Luke still feels like he needs to stay in order to protect Alex from Charlie. He worries what toll Charlie’s gift will take on his sister. They both know how Alex operates. She will exhaust herself trying to fix Charlie now that she knows he sees dead people. Charlie realizes what he must do to protect Alex and set Luke free. Once Charlie makes up his mind to keep his secret from Alex, Luke’s spirit moves on. (We’ll miss you, Luke!)
Gavin and the guinea pig
Gavin’s patient, Walter (Sergio Di Zio), struggles with attachment issues. Walter has an appointment with Gavin at 4 to help him say goodbye to his cherished guinea pig. However, Walter bursts into Gavin’s office early because someone has kidnapped his pet. This sends Walter into a frenzied panic and he suffers from severe chest pains, so Dawn enters the scene.
While Dawn examines Walter, Gavin explains how his patient is trying to break away from his pet in order to make stronger connections with other people. Walter just wants to give his guinea pig to a caring person who will take proper care of him because he was abandoned and abused in the past. Dawn offers to take the guinea pig and Walter is thrilled.
Later Gavin confronts Dawn saying that she should not have lied to Walter. Gavin’s patients have to trust him and Dawn just broke that trust. Dawn compares her actions to giving a patient a placebo, but Gavin says this is much different. Walter was the one who was abandoned, not the guinea pig. After people hurt Walter in the past, he turned all of his attention towards caring for his pet. Detaching from the guinea pig was going to be a huge step forward and she just messed it all up.
Gavin goes to tell Walter the truth and Dawn overhears. Walter is so excited to give his precious pet to the kind doctor who took care of his heart. Dawn hears this and steps in just as Gavin explains how it would be difficult for Dawn to care for his pet. Dawn interrupts saying she can’t take him home, but she can keep the guinea pig in her office where Walter will be welcome to visit his fury little friend.
Once again, Dawn proves to have a heart at the last second and saves the day. I have to admit, I also liked seeing Gavin stand up for himself. He didn’t hesitate to put Dawn in her place and criticize her for the way she meddled with his doctor/patient relationship.
Elsewhere in Hope Zion, Shahir and Joel have a very interesting interaction. Shahir wants the hospital to fund a physical therapy program that will help patients with physically debilitating illnesses (like Parkinson’s) regain mobility through exercise, specifically by riding bikes. Joel learns of this when his patient with Parkinson’s, Ida, participates in Shahir’s study.
Ida hurts herself while trying to get on a stationary bike, so Joel deems it as too dangerous and wants to shut down the expensive program. Shahir pleads his case. This won’t cure their patients, but it does help them. In a surprising outburst, Shahir tells Joel to have some feelings. Shahir has Asperger’s so his emotional disconnect is justified, what’s Joel’s excuse? (Although it has been implied in the past, I think this is the first time we’ve officially heard that Shahir has Asperger’s. It totally explains his struggle with bedside manners. It also makes this an awesomely loaded scene.)
After Joel re-examines Ida, he realizes how much this program means to patients like her. Sweet Ida even offers to pitch in the $500 she won from one of her scratchers to help fund the program. Joel has a change of heart and visits Shahir.
In a laugh out loud hilarious scene, Shahir misreads Joel’s apologetic social cues as an awkward romantic overture and thinks the Chief is trying to hit on him. Shahir is not interested and just wants Joel to get to the point. Joel takes Shahir outside and shows him that he expanded the program to include an outdoor component as Shahir wished. Shahir excitedly gets on a bike and rides alongside Ida and other patients.
I loved these scenes between Huse Madhavji and Daniel Gillies. They captured the perfect amount of humor and earnestness in these delightfully awkward, yet completely honest moments.
Maggie and Gavin also join the group. As they cycle along, Maggie blurts out to Gavin that she’s pregnant and he crashes into a table. Poor Gavin. I felt bad for him, but that didn’t stop me from laughing. I guess we’ll see how he really feels about the pregnancy when they actually talk about it.
Alex spreads Luke’s ashes into the river (just like he told Charlie.) Surprisingly, Alex goes all by herself. After Alex let’s go of her brother, we see her standing with Charlie outside of Hope Zion. And then the unexpected happens.
Charlie breaks up with Alex. He knows Alex wants to fix him and she’s ready to tough it out and be there for him. But Charlie would rather fix himself, on his own. Like us, Alex is shocked and confused. Yet she doesn’t put up a fight, at least not right now. Let’s face it. This is terrible timing. Alex just lost her brother, she doesn’t need to lose her fiancé too. It looks like Joel just got a shot at winning back his former flame. Ugh. This is so annoying!
- Missed opportunities: ‘Saving Hope’ missed a great opportunity. I expected so much more from this episode. I thought killing off Luke would’ve provided Charlie with the perfect moment to bring Alex into his secret life. I thought Luke and Charlie would’ve busted their butts to make Alex see the truth. Instead they just give up. They assume Alex won’t believe Charlie, she will only try to fix him. She will waste her energy on a problem that doesn’t need to be solved, it simply needs to be understood. I hate to be negative, but I am really disappointed. I thought this was going to be a turning point that would bring Charlie and Alex closer together. Charlie didn’t even try to make Alex understand his side of things. He said his short piece on the matter last week and that was it. She baited Charlie into discussing it, but this is not the right time. Alex has too much on her plate to worry about having a “crazy” fiancé. Well, like Alex told Maggie, there never is a right time to break life-changing news to somebody. You say the truth and hope for the best. This just feels like a cop-out. I really hope Charlie and Alex’s relationship evolves into something better this season because this is not working for me. I want to see them work as a team. I just don’t get the thinking behind it. Plus, Alex won’t let it go. She will still worry about Charlie and wonder if he’s actually going crazy.
- Is it time to ‘Ghost’ it up?:I thought Charlie would’ve been a sort of tamed version of the eccentric Whoopi to Alex’s logical Demi. Obviously, I was wrong. But I’m still hoping for a supernatural breakthrough on Alex’s end. I don’t care if it is cliché or corny. I’m a sucker for the supernatural and I love the ghostly aspect to ‘Saving Hope,’ which is probably why I really want Alex to be on the same page with Charlie. Imagine all they could accomplish if they worked together using his gift. Maybe somewhere down the line Alex will briefly enter the spirit world and communicate with Charlie. I’m not saying I want anything to put her life in jeopardy, but I do want her to understand the multidimensional world Charlie lives in. And I know it will take something drastic to make Alex believe. I thought Luke’s death would’ve been it, but clearly that isn’t the case. Strange things need to happen in the physical world to prove to Alex that Charlie is not crazy. I am anxious to see how it all plays out. Charlie spilled the beans and he can’t take back what he said. Will he lie and act like he’s all fixed? That will make it extra hard for him to communicate with ghosts because you know Alex will keep an eye on him to make sure he really is okay. Will Charlie have a change of heart and decide to convince Alex of the truth? What do you think Charlie should do? Do you think Alex should just trust Charlie and believe he’s telling the truth even though it doesn’t make sense to her?
- Luke and Charlie:This was an underwhelming farewell to Luke. Is he really gone for good? Will he come back if he thinks Alex needs his help? I was hoping for more exciting interaction between Charlie and Luke. I feel like Charlie’s experience with other spirits in the past were better and more fulfilling than Luke’s brief haunting. Also, if Luke is looking out for Alex, then wouldn’t he want his sister to believe in the man she loves? I like Tyler Hynes and enjoy the energy he brings to ‘Saving Hope,’ so I hope he comes back to haunt Charlie again. Maybe I’m just bummed because he’s gone and we’ll miss out on the fun and entertaining interaction between Shanks and Hynes.
What did you think of “En Bloc”? Were you disappointed, surprised, heartbroken…? Are you shocked by Charlie and Alex’s break-up? Did you expect Luke to leave so easily? Do you think Charlie and Alex will get back together this season? Will Joel swoop in and rekindle his romance with Alex? Will Alex ever believe that Charlie can really see ghosts? Did Charlie do the right thing by letting Alex go?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
‘Saving Hope’ airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CTV.
This article was originally published on Examiner.com on January 10, 2014.