Sunday, May 7, 2017

REVIEW: 'Mary Kills People' - Mary's Operation Gets Complicated Because of Grady in 'Wave the White Flag'

Lifetime's Mary Kills People - Episode 1.03 "Wave the White Flag"

Ben and Frank get closer to the truth, and an unexpected visitor to the ER sends Mary into a tailspin.

The briskness with which Mary Kills People tells its stories is very fun and refreshing. It has to be because this season only has six episodes and it's juggling a lot of different stories. It never lingers on one thing for too long. Secrets aren't kept forever. Everything that is introduced is made complicated almost immediately. The show is aware that it's a lot more interesting to watch these characters as their lives become more complex and difficult because of their decisions. What Mary is doing is very precarious. She believes in it completely. But it's very dangerous. She is risking everything in her life because she wants to help people die. She wants to give dignity to the people in this world suffering the most. She wants to make a difference. Her actions can just be perceived as criminal. She's very smart. But she's not perfect. She's only barely evading capture by the police. She's one step ahead of them instead of ten. They are close to catching her. That gives the season its main story engine. It's already gotten so complicated three episodes in.

"Wave the White Flag" spends more time on the criminal elements than the previous two episodes. The series opened with Des wanting Mary to stay away from Grady. He was his drug contact who provided the drugs for their endeavor helping the community. But he's a very dangerous man who doesn't have the same ideals and morals as they do. Grady will kill someone for the pleasure of it. He'll kill people if they present a risk to his business. He'll do whatever it takes to keep things operational. And Mary met Grady last week. She was forced to do so because they needed drugs right that moment. This week Mary and Des are able to keep control of the drugs they already have. They don't suddenly need to be destroyed so that they can interact with Grady. But he still pops up to be a major problem for them. It's very intense too. Simply because Mary met him, he is now finding ways into her life. He's manipulating her in a situation where he really needs her help. It just forces Mary to be very uncomfortable. That's the appropriate reaction to have. It's probably only going to get worse in the future too.

One of Grady's men shows up in the ER with a gunshot wound. He is under arrest as well. But it's much more important that he recognizes Mary. He's a risk to Mary's secret job outside of work. Of course, her co-workers are mostly clueless. Des and Annie are the only ones who know the truth. No one is especially worried about her secret being exposed. But Grady does show up asking Mary to sneak his friend out of the hospital. That seems impossible given the current situation. And yet, Mary finds a way. That seems to be a consistent quality with her. She always finds a way out of her situation no matter how dire it appears. She's scared of Grady. He is menacing - albeit in a very one note way. Mary agrees to his demands because he is able to track her teenage daughter down when she decides to skip school. It seems very easy for him to do so. It also seems easy for Mary to break the guy out of the hospital. At first, it seems like the escape will happen during the crowded elevator ride that doesn't include the officers. But instead, it happens when they leave his room for privacy. They don't know that it's a conjoined room where Des can sneak in and out very easily. It's nice that Mary is the one who ultimately finishes the job though. Des is nice but he's not really the driver of story. Mary needs to be the one at the center of all of this. The trade off happens successfully. However, it's strange that she doesn't ask about the safety of her kids. She tells him never to come near her family again. But she doesn't know that her daughter is actually safe.

And yet, this story reveals something very crucial and important about Mary. Death still affects her in some profound and shocking ways. Grady kills his man after Mary risks so much to get him out of the hospital. He does it because he believes the guy is either working for the police or his competitor. Instead of getting definitive answers, he just kills him the moment Mary leaves. She's still a doctor in that moment. Telling the guy how best to treat his injuries moving forward. But that's all useless. That's what all of this feels like to Mary. She understands death. But she sees it as this beautiful thing that comes at the end of a long journey. Her patients see it that way as well. It's them taking control over their lives. Dying now gets rid of their suffering and the pain they are inflicting on others. Mary does it for her patients. She helps those who need it in this way. She has no problem with it. She is seen as a criminal but doesn't feel like one. So associating with criminals like this is very disorienting for her. This isn't the world she wants to be in. She doesn't understand how she got here either. But she's here and it's doing a lot of psychological damage to her. She doesn't know how to cope with the fact that she led this man to his death simply because they are connected with the wrong type of people.

Mary taking her frustrations out on Des feels very genuine as well. They are partners in this endeavor. They have each other's backs - even though one is a doctor and one is not. Mary blames Des for all of this because he brought Grady into their lives. Mary doesn't feel like she had a choice. But all of this is happening because she decided to pursue this side business. She's very passionate about it. But it's causing complications she couldn't predict. It's also opening strange new doors for her. She's fighting with Des. And thus, she decides to seek comfort with Ben instead. That could be a massive mistake on her part because he's investigating her for murder. It's certainly a weird dynamic between them. It's very sexual. That's what makes it seem so forced. There is something so tantalizing about them wanting to sleep with each other when they should be staying away from each other. It doesn't really work with everything else happening on the show. However, it could reveal just how smart Mary actually is. She knows that Ben sleeping with her compromises his investigation. As long as they do this, it becomes that much easier for an attorney to drop the charges should she ever be arrested. So, it ultimately makes Mary smart and honest. Meanwhile, Ben comes across as very dim and thinking with the wrong head. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Wave the White Flag" was written by Marsha Greene and directed by Holly Dale.
  • In the first two episodes, the character played by Jay Ryan was known as Joel. But that has since been revealed as his undercover alias. Instead, his real name is Ben. And that's how he'll be referred to here moving forward. 
  • The subplot with Mary's daughter still isn't totally working. She is aware that something more nefarious is going on with her mother. She goes back and forth on whether to confront her about it. She seemingly does in the end but it doesn't really mean anything.
  • Ben and Frank are looking at hospital records to see which terminally ill patients Mary may have killed. They find a promising lead with Troy, the man whose death went wrong in the series premiere. That death was close to murder. It just doesn't seem like Ben and Frank get much momentum with it though.
  • Last week it seemed clear that Mary needed to have a conversation with Annie about Ben. He fooled her into believing he was a dying patient. Their conversation here is a little too short. It serves as confirmation that Annie is still going to help Mary in the future.
  • Des' girlfriend has not been an important character so far. She's more like a sexual object that shows that he likes them young. But there is a growing intimacy there. He even tells her some (not all) details about what he does with Mary for work. That's huge!
  • Mary helps two people die this week. The first is a loving wife who is perfectly content with this being her final day and sharing it with these people. The second is Mary helping a loving girlfriend decide to take her boyfriend off life support because he didn't want it. Both were effective story beats.