The Mob Doctor has now matched Lone Star’s epic two-episode run in the fall of 2010. Will it make it to week three? I don’t know. Here are a few statements I am willing to commit to: The pacing of this week’s episode was far less manic, which makes life a little easier for your recapper but may mean that drinking game I suggested last week won’t work. William Forsythe as Constantine is by far the best thing about this show, a mix of slow-burning paternal concern and understated menace; he could, and maybe should, be his own show. Jordana Spiro continues to be pretty good as Grace Devlin, and there are definitely things I like about how her character is written. Zjelko Ivanek has apparently been hired to wash his hands a lot, look at patients’ charts in a concerned way, and make occasional wry comments about the phone calls he takes from Grace’s mother.
Oh, yes, and no one’s impregnation was explained via a Star Wars metaphor, so you could say things are looking up.
But first, a question about the pilot that hit me during the ”previously on’’ bit. What‘s wrong with the following statement?: “Recognize him?…In witness protection for more than a year.” Umm, isn’t the point of witness protection not being recognized? If the guy’s face was that recognizable in Chicago, shouldn’t he have been, you know, not in Chicago?
On to this week’s episode. We start again with a washed-out flashback to Grace’s troubled Southside childhood, so I guess this will be a regular thing. This week it’s her sixth birthday party, highlighted with acidic pinks and greens; her mom has told her that Dad’s not there because he has to work, but little Grace sees him staggering around drunk in the street, as seriously ominous music plays. The moral? ‘’Sometimes we lie to protect those we love.”
In the present day, Grace is bringing her boyfriend home to dinner, to Mom’s delight. Baby brother is hanging around being edgy and useless. Constantine is out in the cornfields of Illinois, visiting a fellow gangster in hiding; Constantine apparently wants to take Moretti’s place in some deal relating to soon-to-be-legalized poker machines. The fugitive, Dante, has a cough that’s not getting any better. Back at the hospital, an unresponsive old guy with no family is wheeled in, but the big excitement is a bride staggering in, blood streaking her white dress, pouring out of her eyes as if she’s just walked out of the Bloody Mary episode of Supernatural. (Early Supernatural – good times. Sigh.)
But Dr. Boyfriend and Dr. White (Zjelko Ivanek) will have to handle this on their own – Grace is chauffeured out to the farm by Mobbed-Up Ex-Boyfriend to see to Dante’s ever-worsening cough. Dante’s brother, who looks really familiar, explains that no one knows what diseases anyone in their family is prone to, as they don’t usually die natural deaths. Grace mentions that Dante should be in a hospital, but is neither surprised nor put out when he refuses – she just asks for a urine sample in a convenient water bottle.
Now, here’s what I like about Grace and the way her character is written. Over the weekend, I happened to rewatch the first episode of Buffy I ever saw – “Anne”, the third-season opener, where Buffy is living in LA under an assumed name after killing Angel. What grabbed me about the episode was that Buffy was not just heroic; she was also allowed to be both angry and withdrawn, behavior which is usually considered toxic in women, especially young, pretty ones. Not that this show is comparable to Buffy, but I’m happy to see Grace allowed some of the same characteristics. She doesn’t plead with tears in her eyes for Dante to save his own life; she shrugs her shoulders and moves on. Though once she’s discovered he’s in renal failure, she does devise a plan to sneak him into the hospital by stealing the identity of Mr. O’Donnell, the moribund old guy who came in earlier.
Meanwhile, Dr. Boyfriend has discovered that the bride’s bleeding eyes were not caused by saying “Bloody Mary” three times in the mirror. She had a severe panic attack – it seems a severe enough panic attack can cause bleeding from the eye sockets, which is probably not something to dwell on next time you’re feeling panicked. Dr. Boyfriend’s exam requires him to manipulate her chest; hey, there’s more chemistry between the two of them than between Dr. Boyfriend and Grace.
Oh, yeah – the attack hit just after she put a decorative corset on over her gown. This turns out to be important a bit later, when Dr. Boyfriend tries to do an ultrasound on her kidney and she goes nuts again; she has an adrenal growth, and pressure on the area brings on a massive rush of adrenaline.
Baby Bro – the one whose gambling debts got Grace into this mess – swings by the hospital, supposedly to bitch her out about how she makes him feel he has “two moms,” but really so he can witness Grace smuggling Dante into the hospital. Dante and the Mobbed-Up Ex aren’t too happy about sharing the room with a corpse, so they stash Mr. O’Donnell in the closet. Later, Grace sneaks him into the MRI, where he hits on her and then starts talking about her father.
And apparently I was wrong last week – Grace doesn’t know who killed her father, and seems surprised when Dante tells her she should ask Constantine if she wants to know more. Dr. Flanagan, last week’s baddie, comes snooping around to find out why Grace is running so many tests on a dying 92-year-old. He accuses her of “over-empathizing” again, and is it just me, or do Flanagan and the “over-empathizing” thing both feel like holdovers from some earlier draft of the show? (Hey! I just realized the insufferable Dr. Olivia Watson didn’t show up at all this week!) Mobbed-Up Ex, pretending to be the dead guy’s grandson, gets in Flanagan’s face with threats about calling a lawyer if anyone interferes with his treatment, and Flanagan scuttles off.
Dante, who’s overheard, wants to leave. Once again, Grace doesn’t argue. She just tells them to use the service elevator, and to put Mr. O’Donnell back in bed first.
Surgery on the Bleeding Bride. So, are Grace, Dr. Boyfriend, and Dr. White the only surgeons in the hospital? Afterwards, Dr. Boyfriend talks about how it was “the first time I dissected a fungate (?) mass around a renal artery!” in what I can only call a very sexual tone of voice. If he sounded this aroused and gratified by any of his other contacts with Grace, this would be a very different show.
Grace sends him ahead to her mom’s for dinner, while she goes to ask Constantine about her father. (Understandable; he’s way more fun.) Constantine swears he didn’t kill him. Now, my guess is that Constantine is either a. her father’s killer, directly or indirectly or b. her real father. Anyone else want to chime in on this?
Naturally, Dante’s collapsed back at the farm. Grace figures out he’s suffering from cyanide poisoning, because his nail beds are pink and the only time his symptoms go away is when he uses amyl nitrate poppers during sex. I always thought cyanide killed more quickly – did Agatha Christie lie to me? Meanwhile, his devoted wife is tearing down the driveway, answering any lingering questions about who might have done this. Constantine graciously offers to “take care of” her, but Dante’s brother prefers to keep things in the family. (She shows up later in the ER, dead of cyanide poisoning, her ring finger hacked off.)
Constantine also apologizes to Grace for making her late for dinner; she ends up being even later, because Baby Bro has followed her and there’s the requisite confrontation. Meanwhile, Dr. Boyfriend and Mother Devlin are eating dinner together. They, too, generate far more sparks than Dr. Boyfriend and Grace.
After wrapping up this week’s subplots – Constantine makes the poker-machine deal on his own terms, Baby Bro asks him for a job – it’s flashback time. Again, we end in a dark place. The wish little six-year-old Grace made as she blew out the candles on her cake was for Daddy to never come home again. And she got her wish – he was killed that same day.
My verdict? Same as last week. I like Grace’s hard edges, and her relationship with Constantine. The medical procedural stuff, not so much. And, as I may have hinted once or twice, the relationship with Dr. Boyfriend is just not working for me. Baby Bro’s kind of a drag as well. Overall, I’d like more mob and less doctor. Anyone else?