“Saving Hope” is getting back to its roots and giving viewers more of what they love. At times, the show has been reduced to a superficial melodramatic soap full of stereotypical love triangles, random hook-ups, and romantic squabbles. “Trading Places” casts those pitfalls aside and focuses on the things we’ve come to love so dearly about this unique series. Charlie’s Ghost Doctoring takes center stage in a big way and reveals his paternal instincts. In contrast, Joel’s interaction with his world-renowned father exposes his daddy issues and examines his potential shortcomings as Alex’s possible baby daddy. Meanwhile, Dr. Katz’s patient is a painful blast from her past who causes her to explore what she really wants in life.
Charlie has two cases in this episode: an injured grandmother who shows signs of possible abuse from her unstable grandson and the spirit of a little boy. Both situations reveal new sides of Charlie that we haven’t really had the chance to see before.
Iris and her troubled grandson, Cameron, visit the ER after she falls running to get the phone and ends up needing a shoulder replacement. As Charlie examines Iris, he finds several hairline fractures and worries that Cameron may be abusing her. Iris defends Cameron, but Charlie wants Dr. Dey to evaluate him just in case. It turns out that Cameron is delusional with manic tendencies, which include outbursts like the one he has at Hope Zion.
All Cameron wants to do was help his grandmother, but in reality, he has been harming her. He blended his lithium pills into Iris’ smoothies thinking they would make healthier and it weakened her bones. Cameron is admitted for psychiatric care and Charlie explains the situation to Iris. Charlie believes she should not care for Cameron anymore because he has become a danger, but she refuses to give up on her grandson. His mother couldn’t handle him and Iris is all he has left. Despite the difficulties they may face, Cameron is well intentioned and she will not abandon him. Well, Charlie can’t argue with that. He may even admire her loyalty, compassion and understanding. Cameron needs someone he can trust and rely on in his life and she is happy to be that person. You have to admit, those qualities are essential in a loving caretaker and parent. Sometime it is just matter of having the right paternal instincts.
While working with Iris, Charlie stumbles across the spirit of a lost little boy, Henry. The perceptive kid is pretty aware of his situation and has isolated his metaphysical problem. Henry feels like he is still alive, but he cannot find his body. Throughout the course of the day, Henry takes Charlie to see a few different children. He points to each child and says that’s him. Sadly, none of those kids look like Henry. On the last try, Henry insists that he feels his heart beating in the girl and Charlie puts the pieces together.
Henry’s organs were donated to all of the children he visited. Goosebumps!!! In a beautiful and moving scene, Charlie explains the situation to Henry. The boy is heartbroken that he won’t be able to see his family or friends again. He also expected to accomplish something great in his life. He wanted to be like Derek Jeter and now he won’t have the chance to be anything. Wow. Yeah, that last bit hit us hard and Michael Shanks plays this moment so wonderfully. Charlie assures Henry that he still has a friend (Awww!) and more importantly, Charlie soothingly says, “Buddy, you already did the most amazing thing ever.” Pass the tissues, please!
These are the moments we have deeply missed seeing on “Saving Hope.” It feels like there has been so much silly melodrama distracting from the heart of this fantastic series. The absence of these profound supernatural moments is greatly felt whenever Charlie’s ghost doctoring takes a back seat for an extended period of time. As this season builds towards a new end, it is comforting to see a little more emphasis on Charlie’s gift again. Plus this experience leads to an amazing breakthrough.
At the end of the night, Charlie gathers all of the children together and tells them about Henry. They are grateful for the organs they received and want to know more about the kid they came from, but all Charlie can reveal is that Henry was beautiful and his idol was Jeter. Alex walks into the hospital and sees Charlie playing Go Fish with the children. A warm smile brightens her face as she looks upon this touching scene. Could she be secretly wishing that Charlie is the father? Or does she hope Joel will get the chance to be the kind of dad his father never was?
Joel’s father, Burt, is in town to accept a prestigious award for his groundbreaking work with stem-cells. He wants Joel to attend the ceremony and say some kind words about him. Joel has a lot of issues with his father and finds the task very difficult. Right off the bat, we get the low-down. Burt abandoned Joel and his mother to pursue his career and other younger women, resulting in five failed marriages. So we can guess that this may be where Joel’s commitment issues stem from. Of course, there’s nothing like a near tragedy to make people reexamine their lives and relationships.
Burt falls ill and Joel treats his father with Alex’s help. Burt is a Type I Diabetic who has stopped using insulin. His blood sugars have been normal and he believes he has cured himself with the stem cell research he’s been doing. Joel is livid and can’t believe Burt used himself as a guinea pig. Unfortunately, it seems like the study has other side effects because Alex diagnoses Burt with severe pancreatitis and they need to operate immediately.
While Burt recovers after surgery, Joel scolds him for being so arrogant and taking such a risk. All Burt asks is that Joel accepts the award on his behalf. Joel isn’t sure if he can bring himself to going through with it, so Burt reaches out to Alex. He fears he’s lost Joel for good and asks that she accept the award in his stead. He also surprisingly gives Alex a check. Earlier he assumed the baby was Charlie’s, but after seeing Joel’s behavior, he put it together. If Joel is the baby daddy, Burt wants Alex to be taken care of because Gorans don’t make good fathers. He says that Joel won’t do anything for Alex. Ouch!
Even if you are a Chalex fan and want Charlie to be the father, you have to admit that Burt is being really harsh here. Joel has his issues and parenting make not come naturally to him, but if he is the baby daddy, he at least deserves the chance to prove his egotistical father wrong.
That night, Alex is surprised to see Joel show up at the awards ceremony. She was trying to muster up the courage to read Burt’s speech, but Joel spares her the anxiety and accepts the award on his behalf. He knows about the check and figured his father would’ve simply thrown some money at the “problem.” So Joel gets a little payback in his ad-libbed acceptance speech by having his father pledge to donate money for a new clinic at Hope Zion. Sweet!
Afterwards, Alex says she liked Joel’s speech. He admits that he is afraid he will not be a good parent, but he still wants to try. Joel wants to be better than his dad and he wants to be the baby’s father. Well that’s a big deal for Joel. His heart may be in it now, but given his commitment issues, you can’t blame Alex if she has some doubts.
If you compare Charlie and Joel’s behavior in this episode, Charlie looks baby ready, while Joel is more-so eager to prove himself. If Joel really wants to be the baby’s father, he needs to start thinking and acting like someone who is ready to make that sort of life-long commitment to another person.
What do you think, Hopefuls? Did this episode change how you feel about Alex’s baby daddy status? Do you want to see Joel have the chance to be a good dad? Do you think Charlie is already prepared to be this child’s father?
Lastly, we take a deeper look into Dr. Katz’s past. Neshema and Ruth’s baby is having some complications in the womb. Maggie is treating Neshema while her primary OB-GYN is away. We learn very early on that Neshema wants nothing to do with Dr. Katz. But when the baby’s life is at risk, Katz has no choice but to step in. During the baby’s birth in the OR, we learn about Neshema’s beef with Katz. They grew up together in strict Jewish households and were close friends until Katz out-ed Neshema as a lesbian. She was shunned and considered dead to her family, so you can’t blame her for holding a grudge. Luckily, everything works out well for Neshema, Ruth and their baby girl.
All day long, Maggie has been pressing Katz about their kiss and her decision to marry a man she clearly does not want to be with. Neshema is an example of why Katz has been repressing her true feelings. She doesn’t not want to be disowned by her family. When she was a teenager, she had a crush on Neshema. Katz saw her kiss another girl and got jealous, so she told Neshema’s mom what happened. Katz says she might as well as killed the girl because under the Shiva, Neshema is as good as dead. Katz is not prepared to face the same consequences. Maggie argues that Neshema’s life didn’t turn out to be so bad. At least she is happy and able to be with the person she loves. Later, Katz goes to Maggie and admits she likes girls. Then Katz and Maggie take their budding relationship to the next level. Whoa!
Stacey Farber has been doing a great job as Dr. Katz. This is a juicy character with quite a few surprises up her sleeve and it is interesting to learn more about her. On the other hand, Maggie is a very frustrating character to watch. Julia Taylor Ross has been thrown all over the place with flaky Maggie. One night stands, hook-ups with Joel, a committed relationship with Gavin, dumping Gavin after their miscarriage, uncomfortably flirting with Dr. Dey and now having a tryst with Dr. Katz. Yikes! Not every character can be grounded, but Maggie is becoming a joke. She feels like a restless and whimsical writing experiment.
What is Maggie’s deal? Maggie keeps pairing with random people, but what does she really want? Will she keep hooking-up until one of them sticks? Does she want to be in a relationship? Who does she want to be with? Is this all part of her unraveling after the miscarriage? Or is she finally finding her true self with Katz? Does she even care how many people she can hurt in the process of these affairs? She shamelessly flirts with Dey, while secretly sleeping with Katz. It’s the same behavioral pattern, just with different partners. Maggie is about to cause a heap of trouble. How do you feel about Maggie’s character development? Do you like how her life has been so chaotic? Does her character development or lack thereof bother you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
“Saving Hope” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on CTV.
This article was originally published on Examiner.com on January 30, 2015.
UPDATE (Summer 2016): ‘Saving Hope’ now airs on ION Television in the U.S. and still airs on CTV in Canada. Visit ‘Saving Hope’s’ ION TV homepage (HERE) or CTV Homepage (HERE) for details.