‘Saving Hope’ gives us goosebumps on a regular basis, so it is no surprise that their Christmas episode delivers an overdose of feels. “Shine A Light” captures the holiday spirit and takes us on another emotional journey. As Hope Zion patients and doctors demonstrate, ’tis the season for giving, hope, and compassion. Have those hankies in hand, Hopefuls.
Laverne was hit by car while handing out blankets to the homeless under a bridge. Alex and Charlie treat Laverne and check on Jay, the homeless young man she was helping. Jay wants to help her any way he can and sticks around the hospital while ChAlex operates on Laverne. Her ghost appears post-op, asking if she is dying. Laverne feels like her heart stopped beating, but she shows more concern for Jay than her own well-being. She believes, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” (Now that’s the Christmas spirit I was talking about.)
Alex pages Dawn for help, so the cardiac surgeon abandons her Christmas plans and heads to Hope Zion. Dawn thinks Laverne is a lost cause and all of their efforts will only delay the inevitable. They do everything they can for Laverne, then Dawn kindly stays with Alex as she informs the family of their options. Laverne knows she doesn’t have long, but her spirit won’t let go until she makes sure things are set right. Per usual, we learn that things are not as they seem.
Jay is actually Laverne’s nephew! Poor Jay suffers from mental illness and turned to a life on the streets because he did not want to burden his family any longer. Laverne couldn’t just leave him out there on his own. She was trying to bring him back home to his family when the car hit her. We also learn that Jay was best friends with Laverne’s only child, Gabriel. Her spirit can sense that her boy is okay, but she still hopes he will make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye.
The family gathers around and says their goodbyes. Dawn warns Alex that if Laverne starts to code, they cannot revive her because it would be inhumane at this point. Gabriel hasn’t arrived yet, when she feels herself passing. Charlie tells Jay that his family needs him and he should be with them, especially during this trying time.
Laverne’s spirit lingers until Gabriel is by her side. As he says goodbye, Charlie brings Jay over. Gabriel is thrilled to see his cousin. Jay apologizes for leaving and causing his family so much pain. All Laverne wanted was to see them together again. Seeing that her family is whole once more, she is ready to move on. However, she is afraid of being alone and is still too nervous to leave limbo. Luckily, Charlie knows someone who can help.
The tale of Laverne’s family is moving, but this next story has us all in tears. Charlie sees the spirit of a boy named Aidan. He passed away in Hope Zion five years ago and every year since, his mother has come to see him. The hospital has a little celebration for the children, they hang their names on the Christmas tree and there is a reading of “A Christmas Carol.” Aidan fears his mother might have been in an accident on her way over, so Charlie says he will check the other hospitals to see if that’s the case.
After chatting with a woman who is familiar with Aidan’s family, Charlie discovers that the boy’s mother, Shona, had a new baby just a few months ago. Aidan is sad when he overhears the news because he thinks his mom has moved on. He begins to think he should do the same. Fortunately, he doesn’t hightail it out of there just yet. Moments after Charlie hangs an ornament on the tree in Aidan’s memory, Shona and baby Jamie arrive. Awww!
Shona misses Aidan even more after having Jamie and says he would’ve been a wonderful big brother. Baby Jamie makes eye contact with his brother’s spirit. He tells the little one to take care of their mom. As Aidan tells Shona he loves her, we get the feeling that they are both ready to move on. Pause for uncontrollable sobbing
Now that Lavern and Aidan have taken care of their unfinished business and know their families will be well, the time has come to step into the light. They are both nervous about leaving, so Charlie brings these two caring souls together. He knows they will give each other the strength to move on. Laverne and Aidan walk gently into the light, hand-in-hand. Goosebumps! This season of ‘Saving Hope’ is draining every last tear drop out of me. Both storylines are very well done. Bravo!
As Charlie’s busy day comes to an end, he teases that he thought there were supposed to be three ghosts (like in “A Christmas Carol”). Lo and behold, a third spirit bumps into Charlie. Luckily, this one is easy compared to the others. The old gentleman asks where he can find some kung-pow chicken, so Charlie re-directs him towards a movie showing upstairs since he can’t eat in his present condition. Cute one. However, Charlie’s little allusion isn’t the only fun “Saving Hope” writers have with nods to Christmas themes.
The Christmas puns keep flying when Zach and Maggie treat Brian McNaughton. He left his family a few months ago when he was in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He thought the spark was gone in his marriage and felt bored with his life. Eventually, he got lonely and realized what he was missing. (Seriously, dude?) He’s grateful that his wife took him back. But she wasn’t the only one he left. Guilt-ridden Brian wanted to bring a little extra joy into his kids’ lives and surprise them by coming down the chimney dressed as Santa. (That’s the first BINGO in Zach and Maggie’s game!) His unknowing wife lit the fire, then heard him screaming. Oops! If you think that’s funny, you’ll soon see that the writers are just starting to have play around with Christmas BINGO.
Zach looks at Brian and hates that he’s missing out on spending Christmas with his own children. He planned on starting a new tradition and being Super Dad to make up for all the other let downs. Maggie already promised to cover his shift if his sub doesn’t show. Still, Zach is extra bummed out because this might be the last year his boys even believe in Santa.
Awww. It is so wonderful to see Zach’s softer side. We’re used to him providing comic relief in the ER, but he is consistently there for his friends and truly cares about his family. Zach is a sweetheart. We always enjoy seeing more of him and we’ll never get enough of his wise-cracks. Speaking of which…
Brian has an unexpected development. His junk is messed up and he wants Zach to check him out instead of Maggie. He takes a look and advises Brain to let her operate ASAP. If he doesn’t, Zach warns, “You’ll be walking out of here with one less jingle ball.” There were quite a few funny puns, but that one had me giggling like a kid. Way to take advantage, “Saving Hope” writers. You all nailed it!
Once Maggie takes care of the issue, Brian is free to go. They even had his suit laundered at the hospital, so his kids can still be surprised. (So what if it isn’t the most realistic scenario, it is still a sweet sentiment, so we’ll just go with it. Okay?) As Brian gets ready to head out, Maggie comforts Zach. She knows he feels like a bad dad, but he helped Brian be a good one. Suddenly, Zach’s boys, Jacob and Oliver, come running into the ER and give their dad a big hug. Maggie told their mom that she’s got Zach covered, so they came right over. Awww! Yay! We’re so happy for Zach. Plus, The boys see Brian all dressed up and are thrilled to know their dad helped Santa. Brain tells the boys, “I needed a stitch in my sack.” Too funny!
Maggie really pulled through for Zach and made his Christmas wish come true. The doctors of Hope Zion grow even closer together than usual in this episode. Even Dawn and Alex share a bonding moment. Alex admits she got caught up in Laverne’s case. Dawn doesn’t mind, she knows Alex is the “Patron Saint of Lost Causes.” Still, Alex apologizes for spoiling her Christmas plans and for not getting her a Secret Santa gift. Dawn gets real with Alex. Her dad canceled anyway, so she was missing out on a lonely ‘Love Actually’ re-watch. (Hey, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until you’ve watched ‘Love Actually.’ It’s cool to see that’s one of Dawn’s traditions too.) Alex taught Dawn (a cardiac surgeon) about heart and she is grateful for that. Sigh
Well, it is not every day that Dawn confesses to learning something new and dishes out compliments. For that reason, this is another delightful goosebumps moment. The more we learn about Dawn, the more we realize that the doctors of Hope Zion are her real family. She doesn’t seem to have anyone else she can rely on. My heart has really broken for Dawn this season, but it is comforting to know she will always have support from friends.
So far, we’ve covered all of the warm, fuzzy and sad bits of Christmas. While everyone else embraces the magic of the season, Dana and Shahir try escaping from it in the “Christmas Free Zone.” As they chat and play chess, we learn why they are avoiding the holiday.
Shahir doesn’t like how people get “too huggy.” Ah, classic Shahir. But, he’s still spreading good cheer by covering for another doctor who wanted to be home for her kids. If you think about it, Shahir’s gesture is even better than a hug! Dana bluntly admits that she’s hiding from radiology. (Oh, Alex is going to be so mad at her for avoiding treatment like this.) Dana also says she misses the excitement of Christmas. She enjoyed celebrating the season with young Molly. Now her teenage daughter spends the holiday with dad. Wait, does this mean that Molly still doesn’t know Dana’s cancer has returned?! I understand Dana’s struggle, but it’s not fair to Molly to keep this a secret, if that is the case. Right?
Dana and Shahir may think they found the ultimate sanctuary, but Christmas soon finds them. The duo end up repairing toys for the police toy drive, mostly to avoid dancing with the nurses. But they begin enjoying the task at hand. They get all involved and are surgically precise with the repairs. They even reminisce over toys like robo-bot. While they operate on dolls, Shahir makes a confession. He didn’t want to spend the night with his boyfriend’s huggy family. Awww, poor Shahir. We know how much he has grown over the years and we’re proud of all of the progress he has made. It takes him time to open up and let new people in. If this guy is the right one, Shahir we’ll eventually feel more comfortable hanging out with his family.
Since Dana and Shahir get so carried away, they end up having only one toy repaired by the time the cops come back to collects the goods. They blackmail Dana and Shahir into dressing up as elves and handing gifts out to the kids. Or else they expect frequent pull-overs. Yikes, threatening coppers are not very Christmas-y. But being forced into Christmas brings Dana and Shahir some unexpected joy when they see big smiles on all the kids’ faces.
Shahir and Dana have an interesting dynamic. It is illuminating to watch them together because they are similar in some ways. Both are strong, private, and focused individuals. They do not like it when life gets messy, but they always manage to rise to the occasion. They also don’t enjoy asking for help, but know they have friends they can always rely on.
“Shine A Light” was another wonderful episode in a stellar season. “Saving Hope” is on a great roll. The cast has been phenomenal. Everyone has been delivering heartfelt performances all season long.
What did you think of the episode? Did you have any favorite storylines or moments? Did you laugh and/or cry? Were you moved or surprised by anything in particular? Share your thoughts below!