Wednesday, November 20, 2019

REVIEW: 'Chicago Med' - Natalie Makes a Huge Declaration While Charles Prepares for Loss in 'I Can't Imagine the Future'

NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 5.09 "I Can't Imagine the Future"

April receives unfortunate news that makes her question her future with Ethan. Dr. Charles and Maggie see tough times on the horizon. Natalie's memory from the accident starts to return.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Chicago Med.

"I Can't Imagine the Future" was written by Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider and directed by Charles S. Carroll

It's amazing that half of the show is outrageously awful right now while the other half still has good storytelling instincts grounded in earned emotional moments. It creates such a severe whiplash feeling. One where it could easily turn off viewers who have simply experienced too much of it as of late. The viewers ultimately have to be respected. After five seasons, the pattern has not been broken regarding Will and Natalie. One of them always happens to be in love with the other. It just happens to be at a time when the other disagrees and argues that they shouldn't be together. The show just no longer seems interested in justifying those moves. It was cathartic when Natalie pushed Will away a couple episodes ago. It was her fully embracing just how awful and controlling he can be. And now, her memory from the traumatic accident suddenly comes back and she magically changes her mind once more. It's uninspired. It was the predictable ending that anyone could have seen happening. It's not a celebratory moment though. Some viewers still obviously root for Will and Natalie as a couple because of the time invested in them. The twist of it all comes from Will rejecting her. That's the way the show aspires to undermine audience expectations. But again, it doesn't make any sense. The show hasn't earned his sudden revelation that they are terrible together. He was devastated when she rejected him just as he thought he was her knight in shining armor defending her from Philip's own controlling nature. He has always seen himself that way. It's been so annoying and cliche. He has always thought he needed to protect her. She was perfectly capable of making her own decisions. Sure, what she decides here may be questionable. Meanwhile, the episode highlights just how heroic and great Will is by giving him a case where he treats a patient with Down Syndrome who just wants to ice skate. It is an uplifting story. But it's also fairly obvious that the show conditions the audience to once again accepting him as great even though he has a past pattern of horrible behavior. He hasn't put in the work to correct those mistakes. And now, he just brushes Natalie off after she tells him everything he has wanted to hear. He has moved on just like that. It's baffling and propped up just to create an intriguing cliffhanger. It doesn't work. It's the show just jerking the audience and these characters around with no consistency whatsoever. The same is true for Ethan and April. They were built up as a healthy couple at one point in time. But now, it's suppose to be obvious that April is pushing away and having doubts simply because of her pregnancy struggles. It's a medical issue given some more context at the start of this hour. That is necessary. But it also fundamentally shows a lack of communication. It's easier for April to give into the temptation from Marcel instead of trying to figure out what she wants regarding a potential family. It's wildly odd and jarring to watch. It's hard to make any sense of it whatsoever. These characters should be seen as more active and viable than simply the whims of the various storytelling machinations. Sure, it's also true that the show is emotionally manipulative in Maggie and Charles' stories. Those just happen to be more effective because they are drawn out in engaging ways. Sure, it's still rushed that Maggie is devoted to Ben after barely knowing him. And yet, that's what makes it rewarding when he makes a miraculous recovery. This is a melodramatic moment. But it no longer has to be. It can be uplifting once more. It just highlights some of the true perils of fighting cancer. It can be an emotional experience. Meanwhile, Charles is planning for Caroline's death. Everyone knew that this was coming eventually. They have enjoyed quite a bit of exciting and fun times together this season. They have brought a sense of joy and hope to the proceedings this year. But now, there is the certainty that it is all coming to an end. Caroline can control that narrative. She is celebrated how she wants to be. That is a beautiful thing even though Charles and Robin are fighting to maintain some sense of control because they love her so much. That is an understandable impulse that allows these characters to full whole and relatable. That impulse just isn't present throughout this narrative on a consistent basis. The creative team no longer seems fully in control of what should be happening to these various characters and what actually makes their stories dramatically satisfying.