Wednesday, December 9, 2015

REVIEW: 'Chicago Med' - Everyone Reacts Horribly and with Judgment After a Mass Shooting in 'Mistaken'

NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 1.04 "Mistaken"

After shots ring out at a movie theater, the doctors work to treat the victims while Sharon attempts to keep the press at bay. To treat a teenager with an eating disorder, Natalie enlists the help of Charles, but his unorthodox methods rub her the wrong way. April, Will and Choi treat a racist patient whose strange form of bigotry surprises them all.

Chicago Med really hasn't earned the right to tell a story about gun control and mass shootings - especially ones that take place at movie theaters. It's a very important issue that is very relevant in today's society. And yet, the execution in "Mistaken" is very exploitative and makes the whole story feel icky. The show doesn't have a strong understanding of itself and its characters yet. So that makes it nearly impossible for it to approach a story like this one with a distinct point of view. At times, it feels like the episode is actually aware of that and wants to pivot away from the story altogether. It has several patients who aren't really connected to the main story at all. They just exist to showcase the characters' various bias. But even that doesn't have much purpose because it's not doing anything interesting with the characters. It just wounds up being an hour with laughable and predictable narrative twists that are then riddled with very cliche dialogue. That's disastrous for an episode that has some lofty ambitions that were always going to be unachievable.

This episode basically proves that Will is a very selfish person who lets his personal feelings dictate his actions as a doctor. He isn't very professional at all. He's the one making comments as soon as the news breaks about this shooting. He's the one saddled with most of the cliche dialogue about this being a society where this happens and how the media's response can be just as crippling. There are interesting story threads within that dynamic and perspective. The show just has no idea how to commit to any point-of-view that adds value to the proceedings. Will is quick to judge and that severely affects his ability to do his job. That's not only apparent in his professional life though. The show is really turning into the skid when it comes to Will and Natalie's relationship. They are friends who aggressively flirt. That dynamic has no nuance and that's basically all that happens whenever they spend time together. Even Maggie and April commenting on it doesn't make it more appealing. It just shows just how much of a sad sack Will actually is. He's not endearing because he's willing to drive Natalie to the hospital when she goes into labor. He comes across more desperate than anything else.

Will also treats an elderly patient who wasn't at the the movie theater but claimed she was just to get treated for her very minor and typical symptoms. She's a horrendously stereotypical character. She's old so that means she's also a racist. The doctors and nurses than respond horribly because of her very blunt and horrifying comments towards them. Choi is the only person who comes across reasonably in this story. That's a miracle because Choi is such a bland character. His kind of fun in the handling of this case is playful because it doesn't affect his ability to do the job and take the patient seriously. Will and April are very mean-spirited in their need to flaunt test results that show this woman has some African American ancestry in her. That's unprofessional. And yet, it's played for comedic effect. It fails at doing so in an hour where every other story wants to be taken as seriously as possible. So it actually hurts the characters developing perspective and purpose more than it helps them.

Honestly, the only case that has to do with this shooting in the theater is the actual treatment of the alleged shooter. He's just a kid who wanted to pull a viral prank. He brought a leaf blower into the theater to scare people. A man there just happened to be armed and reacted accordingly. That man is treated as a hero at first. Everyone is quick to judge and form an opinion. And yet, the truth is what's the most important thing. Once the facts start to emerge, the case is really flipped on its head. However, it just leads to the very formulaic and predictable twist of the "hero" ultimately taking his own life after he couldn't handle the media scrutiny. That felt like a foregone conclusion the moment that Dr. Charles couldn't finish his conversation with him. He learned the truth and then just took off as soon as he was cleared. It's the kind of resolution that is easy and simple for the show to do. It's tragic but it really doesn't showcase the complexity of the case. It's just the show wanting to be done with the story but not in a way that actually resonates or provokes a meaningful thought.

Similarly, the need for a man to allow the liver of his dead wife to be transplanted to the prankster to keep him alive was also a silly twist. It's heartbreaking because that family was the point of entry for this big story at the top of the hour. But it's something that went away just as easily as it started and wasn't important again until a half hour later. It was all just so Connor could be passionate about saving this young man's life so that he could face justice for what he just did. Connor appears to be the only professional in this place. And yet, that passion also clouds his judgment - to the point where he lets the husband of the donor angrily berate the prankster in front of his parents. That was a horrifying moment that Connor should never have let happen. However, it's suppose to be okay because at least Connor ended the day sharing a bed with Dr. Zanetti. All of it just didn't feel right and it hurt the show from developing any sense of momentum.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Mistaken" was written by Eli Talbert and directed by Donald Petrie.
  • Natalie's case with the overly nauseous teenager and her overprotective mom was very weird. It felt misplaced in this episode. It was better than anything else that was going on. But it didn't fit in. It also had one really weird resolution with the teenager basically choosing a feeding tube because her mom would rather have her have a risky surgery.
  • Additionally, the tension between Natalie and Charles during that case with the kid was too manufactured. Shouldn't she know by now that Charles has a certain way of doing things in this hospital and that he is always right in doing so?
  • In hindsight, it's clear that the husband agreed to donate his wife's liver to the prankster because he wanted a chance to threaten the kid. And yet, in the moment, it had a very whiplash effect because he didn't agree but then signed the papers anyway.
  • Charles didn't get to finish his conversation with the shooter because Sarah interrupted to tell the patient that his scan was clear and that he could leave at any time. So, it's basically Sarah's fault that he wound up dead.
  • The show should really slow down with these romantic pairings. They are being pushed into them without really knowing who the characters are.
  • Also, how does Connor have so much money if he's so estranged from the rest of his family?