“La Famiglia” focuses on one of the main themes explored this season as we see Hope Zion’s finest struggle with balancing their careers and personal lives. Alex, Dawn, Dana and Cassie demonstrate girl power at its best when they perform a revolutionary and historical operation. Charlie may have quit his job, but he still provides a supernatural assist with their patient. Shahir and Jonathon are eager to welcome Falak’s newborn into their family, but face a challenging obstacle. Throughout the episode, we see doctors and patients fighting for their lives and loved ones.
Cracking the Glass Ceiling
I’ve always respected how ‘Saving Hope’ portrayed the challenges women face while working in the medical field. When the series began, we saw how Dana and Dawn were perceived as cold because they were fighting hard for their respective positions at Hope Zion. We’ve seen how Maggie, Alex and Cassie tirelessly labored to elevate their status in their chosen fields. After everything we’ve seen these women overcome and after the accolades they’ve received, we realize that they will always be fighting for their jobs in a field that is dominated by men.
Dawn, Dana, Alex and Cassie band together to bring the Sugarbaker Procedure to Hope Zion. If this operation succeeds, they’ll be the first hospital in Canada to have the exclusive right to perform it. We learn that this procedure was created by NYU’s Dr. Flora Johnson, who happens to be Cassie’s “professional hero.” She hopes to impress the groundbreaking doctor and win a spot on her team. What’s even cooler is that Dev and Billy act as their assistants, so to speak. Dev lends them a hand in the OR and since Billy is such a great people person, he keeps the patient’s family informed. Let’s meet the patient and her famiglia!
Santina Vanelli is a 65-year-old Italian immigrant who brought her whole extended family over by working hard over the past 40 years. Her daughter died five years ago and she’s been caring for her granddaughter, Bianca, ever since her son-in-law, Paolo, bolted to deal with his own grief and has been cast out. The whole family is there to support her now, expect for black sheep Paolo.
This historical procedure is a matter of life or death for Santina. Her appendiceal cancer has spread to her stomach lining, which means she only has a couple of weeks left. The surgery will hopefully give her another 10 years. During the 14 hour operation, the ladies of Hope Z are going to remove the cancerous tumors, directly apply chemo into her belly to kill the cancer and then drain the treatment, hoping it did the job. Of course, great pay-offs don’t come without a few hiccups.
Instead of Dr. Johnson, good ole Dr. Jeremy Bishop (Peter Mooney) shows up and rattles Cassie to her core. Okay, to be honest, I really liked Bishop and loved his playful banter with Charlie. I actually hoped to see him on the show more, so I was excited to learn he’d be back for the last few episodes. Nonetheless, his dalliance with Cassie was wrong. He was married and confused about his feelings and he broke Cassie’s heart.
Bishop catches us up on his life. His marriage ended, so he moved to NYC and is now working with Dr. Johnson. Cassie gives him a piece of her mind and conveys that there’ll be hell to pay if he ruins this opportunity for her. She’s determined to stay focused and prove herself worthy of working with Dr. Johnson. But there’s another glitch.
Paulo visits the hospital. His presence not only creates an uproar among the family, but causes Santina to have a severe panic attack. Bishop has doubts about performing the surgery when Santina is in such a fragile state and wants to see the CT results before moving forward. While they are waiting, Dawn learns some terribly upsetting news.
Shahir congratulates Dawn on being reinstated as Chief and thinks she’s still the perfect person for the job. If he had taken the job offer, he wouldn’t have gone through with the Sugarbaker Procedure. Awkward! Dawn thought she was first in line for the job after Charlie quit, but clearly she wasn’t. Ouch! He turned down the position because he needs to focus on his family, with the impending adoption and all. Dawn has a right to be annoyed, but she respects her friend and colleague, so she can deal with it.
What pushes her over the edge is when Shahir reveals that Dr. Storms (the jerk who snapped at Maggie a few episodes ago when his wife and former Hope Zion nurse was having difficulties during labor) also turned the job down. After the board approached two male surgeons, they finally offered Dawn’s old job back to her. Yeah, that is enraging.
Dawn is rightfully furious and she’s uncharacteristically loosing her cool. Alex and Dana try calming her down. I love how Dana has to then simmer herself down too when she hears the full story. Those misogynist jerks! The best way to prove them wrong is to make history. Besides, Santina is their primary concern, so they need to keep their heads in the game.
Santina’s test results come back and indicate that the cancer may have spread to her lymph nodes, but it isn’t for certain. The ladies know Bishop won’t operate with these results. They make a bold decision, follow their instincts and perform the surgery anyway. Bishop learns the truth during the procedure and fears they may have risked Santina’s life. Thankfully, her lymph nodes are cancer-free and the surgery is successful. Phew!
After the procedure, Bishop sings Cassie’s praises to Dr. Johnson and endorses her skilfulness as a surgeon. Bishop’s NY contract is up and he’s decided to stay at Hope Zion. Cassie is elated to have her dream job of working with her professional hero. Dana throws her an improvised farewell party to celebrate. Despite the bickering and break-ups, she leaves Billy and Dev with a few words of wisdom, encouragement and compassion.
Cassie isn’t the only one celebrating. Zach and his boys prepared a little part of their own to congratulate Dawn’s great achievement. Adorable!!! She looks at the family forming right before her eyes and realizes that she deserves better. She’s sacrificed her personal life before to ahead professionally and she won’t do it again. Yes! Why can’t she have it all in her personal and professional life?
Dawn calls up the board and re-negotiates the terms for her position as chief. You know they probably offered Shahir and Storms a better deal, which they both turned down. She locks-in a 5 year contract, asks for a pay raise, requests more resources for the OR, and wants six weeks vacation to spend with her family (Awww!). Go Dawn!!!
That’s two happy endings so far. Maggie got the girl, while Cassie got the gig. And it looks like Zawn’s happily ever after is underway. Let’s hope the others get what they hope for too!
Remember how Cassie has been receiving unsettling gifts over the past few episodes? Well, now we know who’s been sending them. In “We Need to Talk About Charlie Harris,” Cassie treated Jake (James Preston Rogers), a wrestler who ended up with mercury poising after smashing one too many light bulbs over his head during his gigs. He’s been smitten with her ever since their first meeting. We thought it was harmless flirting, but things get creepy when he shows up looking for Cassie at Hope Zion.
Cassie, Zach and Billy all try to politely rebuff his advances, but he won’t take “No” for an answer. Jake pulls out a pair of scissors and aggressively pleads his case. He gets hostile when he thinks Cassie has feelings for Billy instead. He is misreading all of the signals in that hospital. Jake is about to act on his wrath when Billy wrestles the big guy to the ground. Unfortunately, Billy ends up stabbing Jake in the self-defensive tussle. Uh-oh!
Dana and Cassie rush Jake to the OR and manage to save his life. Although Billy always came off as an aloof joker, you can tell this experience rattled him. Once again, we see level-headed ladies taking charge and getting the job done in the OR. Operating on Jake is a conflict of interest for Cassie, but she rises to the challenge. It further proves why she’s worthy of her dream job.
La Famiglia Matters
I really like Santina’s style and she may be one of my favorite patient stories. It was refreshing to see a big family coming together and sharing their culture with others. It’s like the team caring for her became part of their family by saving her life.
Right off the bat, Santina gives Charlie her necklace as a gift for their baby. It’ll bring their baby girl good luck. Well, ChAlex could sure use some of that. Given their rapport, it’s no surprise that she reaches out to him from limbo. She’s a persistent and clever lady. When Charlie claims he doesn’t work there anymore and should mind his own business, Santina convinces him to do it for Alex. Well played.
Santina regrets what she did to Paolo. He needed time to grieve his wife’s death. When he returned home, she took him to court to have legal custody over Bianca. Now she wants to set things right. After all, the most important thing in life is la famiglia.
Charlie pulls off his smoothest ghost whispering yet and finds a way to naturally get Paolo to open up. Santina knows her sister, Zia, may not be so forgiving and will need a little nudge. While Charlie chats with Paolo and Zia, he delivers a message from Santina by sharing that he once heard an Italian saying and always wondered what it meant. Paolo translates: “To have somebody to love is family. To have somewhere to go is home.
To have both is a blessing.” It was his wife Angie’s favorite saying. In that moment, Paolo and Zia begin to mend their family’s broken relationship.
In addition to playing Dr. Phil to la famiglia, he also gave Alex a heads-up about Santina’s heart during the procedure. Alex and Charlie aren’t sure if he should even be ghost whispering, but it doesn’t hurt to help. Santina wakes-up from surgery surrounded by her family and finds peace in knowing that she set things right.
Later that night, Alex comes home to find Charlie whipping up an Italian feast. Looks like Santina helped him out too by sharing a family recipe. Cute! Today, Charlie realized that everything he’s ever wanted is right here (#Blessed). Alex agrees. She wants to be family for real. After delivering two romantic proposals, Charlie is now on the receiving end of one. Alex asks him to marry her, he slips the ring on her finger and ChAlex is finally engaged again. Huzzah!!! Seems like we will get the wedding we’ve been waiting for by series end.
Shahir and Jonathon are elated to adopt Falak’s newborn son. They show her a keepsake album they’ve put together. As she flips through the pages, you can tell something is brewing. However, she still signs the paperwork to make it official.
When Falak begins to have doubts, her mother urges her to give the baby up. Later we learn that she had Falak at a young age and it changed her life plans. That’s why she’s been pushing the adoption. Well, way to make your kid feel like a crappy burden. Geesh.
Falak finally holds her baby to help them bond and realizes this will be the first and last time she’ll hold him. She disappears with the baby and there’s a hospital-wide search. The baby won’t last long outside of his NICU incubator. Shahir finds them and they have an honest conversation. Falak wants to keep him and be his mom. Shahir can’t take that away from her and promises they won’t adopt her baby. Falak names the baby Hamza, after Shahir. We learn the name means “steadfast,” which suits Shahir well.
Shahir is heartbroken, exhausted and discouraged from this emotional roller coaster. He isn’t sure if he can handle going through this again. Jonathon is hurt and upset to learn that Shahir rescinded the baby’s adoption. When Shahir confessing his doubts, Jonathon is too frustrated and mad to hear it. He walks away from Shahir and we’re not sure if it might be for good this time.
In the last episode Shahir told Falak that he and Jonathon are in this for the long-haul and now their relationship has hit a crossroads. Shahir was the first to mention fatherhood, which Jonathon was totally on board with. Now Jonathon is sure he wants a child, while Shahir has reservations about it. It’s frustrating as an observer, so you can only imagine how rough it must be for each of them.
We all know Shahir has come a very long way. He is on the cusp of having everything he’s been hoping for. He just needs to be sure of himself and commit to following through on what he truly wants in life. Whatever he decides, we are all pulling for his happiness.
What did you think of “La Famiglia”? Did you like the new patient dynamic with Charlie and the rest of Hope Zion’s gang? Did you enjoy the girl power? Were you surprised by Bishop’s return and Cassie’s exit? Are you bummed Shahir and Jonathon didn’t get the baby? Share your thoughts!
I have an insatiable passion for TV, Film, Music & Entertainment news (which is really a fancy way of saying I'm a TV addicted couch potato). I'm currently a National Examiner for "Galavant," "Once Upon A Time," "Saving Hope," and "Sleepy Hollow" on Examiner.com. I provide detailed, thoughtful, witty, and occasionally saucy recaps/reviews, as well as some fun and interesting interviews. You'll frequently see me tweeting away about my favorite shows. If you love chatting about TV as much I do, then join the fun and Talk TV with Tiffany!