And here we are for episode three of “The Mob Doctor”, the ironically titled “Protect and Serve.” The show has outlasted “Lone Star”! As in previous weeks, the “mob” part continues to be more compelling than the “doctor” part. But this week, the two are intertwined with a certain elegance in a solid episode with a big reveal at the end. Olivia Watson and Flanigan (that’s how IMDb spells it) are present, but kept to the sidelines; Grace and Dr. Boyfriend almost manage to generate some sparks, and, as I said, nice twist at the end (spoilers below).
The premise – Grace and the other doctors treat a family injured in a crash with a drunk driver, not all of whom survive. Thanks to Constantine, Grace also finds herself treating the drunk driver, a bent cop with a role to play in Constantine’s plan to reclaim his empire.
This week’s washed-out flashback to Grace’s girlhood doesn’t really add much to our knowledge of the character. We just see little Grace, tired of her parents’ constant fighting and her father’s mistreatment of her mother, filling her backpack with clothes and trotting off to the nearest El station, determined to run away. (Or should it be “L”? I see both spellings. Some guidance, Chicagoans?) Adult Grace tells us in voiceover that even as a child, she knew the choices were hard.
Cut to a family of four being wheeled into the emergency room. Mom’s unconscious, and Dr. White has to drill into her skull to relieve the bleeding on her brain. Dr. Boyfriend wrenches the dad’s lower leg back into position. The son, in a soccer jersey, has a wounded leg as well. Grace is treating the little girl, the youngest of the family, who seems relatively okay until she complains of “feeling funny”, loses consciousness, and dies, thanks to a torn aorta. Dr. Watson wants to cut her open, which can’t bring her back, but which would somehow be very educational; Grace won’t have any of it. Then, of course, she gets the call from Constantine, whose “patient” is stretched out on a table in the back of the restaurant/bar that’s now his headquarters. They claim the guy fell through a window, but Grace makes the connection soon enough. The opening credits roll.
Grace threatens to call the cops, but Constantine explains the guy is a cop – a Captain Patrick Shaw, head of a gang unit. Grace checks for abdominal bleeding by sticking a tube torn out of a soda machine into Shaw’s stomach and pouring in distilled water; if it comes out red, there’s bleeding. As I’ve said before, I find Grace’s toughness during these scenes fresher and more appealing, not to mention more convincing, than her supposed overinvestment in her legitimate patients. The water comes out red, but Grace lies, and tells Shaw he’ll be fine. As Shaw gets ready to leave, Constantine grabs him around the head, re-opening various wounds, and bitches him out for killing a little girl. Again, William Forsythe really seems to enjoy this role.
While at the bar, Grace discovers her baby brother is now part of Constantine’s crew, and naturally disapproves. Back at the hospital, where Dr. White comments that it’s nice of her to join them, Grace finds a photo of the family together and presses it into the comatose mother’s hand. She sits in the dark by the lakeshore, Dr. Boyfriend joins her, and it manages to be less awkward than their previous scenes together.
Meanwhile, Baby Bro and the Mobbed-Up Ex are discussing Grace’s history with the Ex as they smash and torch Shaw’s damaged SUV. In a nutshell, Grace expected the Ex to propose when she was in college, but when he took off for New York for a couple of years instead, things kind of fizzled out. “Congratulations, you’re a felon,” the Ex tells Baby Bro as the SUV goes up in flames.
Next day at the hospital, the boy, who’s named Max, tells Dr. Boyfriend he plays as a striker on his soccer team and has eight goals and twelve assists already this season. Dr. Boyfriend hears this while examining Max’s leg, which is not looking at all good. Max also doesn’t know his sister, who was called Ruby, is dead. (Max and Ruby? The parents have very up-to-date taste in names.) Dr. White and Dr. Watson want to amputate (naturally), but Dr. Boyfriend argues for a risky procedure that could save the leg.
Elsewhere, Constantine and Baby Bro are sitting in a car, in the rain, while Constantine reminisces about the days when he owned everything, including the very tarmac they’re parked on. He talks about how much the neighborhood’s gone downhill since. He was ratted out by Marcellus, whose last name sounds like “Coin,” but which I’ll spell as “Coyne,” as that looks more like a name. Anyway, Marcellus Coyne heads a gang called the Disciples, who have flooded the streets with two-bit dealers working opposite schoolyards. Constantine, naturally, wants it all back, and tells Baby Bro he’d clean the streets up again. Grace later gets the same line from the Mobbed-Up Ex, who also explains that Shaw’s unit is about to round the Disciples up, hence Constantine’s concern for Shaw’s health. Grace looks nervous. “You did fix him up?” asks the Ex.
For the second week in a row, Grace and the Ex smuggle a patient in through the parking garage. This time with the help of Grace’s Sassy Best Friend ™, who’s already given Grace a speech about opening her heart too much to her patients which you can probably imagine for yourself, down to the margaritas-with-the-girls reference.
Dr. Boyfriend, prepping for Max’s leg-saving surgery has a similarly predictable encounter with Dr. White, who wanted him to get the dad’s permission for an amputation, but this scene is saved by the other surgeon, Dr. Guthrie, who just doesn’t care. He does care about getting to the Sox game on time, though – he has box seats. I like Dr. Guthrie and would be happy to see him again. Even though his leaving for the ball game results in Dr. Boyfriend closing Max’s leg with the wrong stitch, precipitating a medical crisis that interrupts Grace and Dr. Boyfriend’s second try for sexual chemistry.
Mother Devlin, whose name is Danielle, confronts Constantine about Baby Bro’s new job (Grace tipped her off). The real point of this scene is to show there’s history between her and Constantine, history which leads him to comment about how beautiful she looks and offer her a glass of the wine of her choice. He calls her “Dani” but she does not want to be on “Dani” terms anymore. Later, Constantine points out to Baby Bro that this life is not for everyone. But he does think it’s for Baby Bro. He tells Baby Bro to pick out a nice 3D TV from the many, many things that have fallen off trucks and into his garage, and take it home to his mother.
Back at the hospital, the mother of the car-crash family wakes up from her coma in time for Grace to make Shaw watch her reaction as the dad and Dr. White break the news about Ruby. “You killed her,” Grace tells him, giving him the family photo from earlier. Shaw still gets out of the hospital in time to mastermind the raid on the Disciples. We get a fun, vaguely Goodfellas-esque montage to this song. In the bar, Constantine and his crew pour shots and toast the future; on the street, various busts go down, and Marcellus Coyne’s reign is over.
We’re not done yet! After the raid, Grace emails Shaw’s medical records – detailing his accident injuries – to the police. We return to this week’s flashback, in which little Grace returns to her family as adult Grace explains that the hard choices are nevertheless the ones that let her sleep at night. This week’s flashback also obliquely addresses an issue some critics have raised with the show – why hasn’t Grace just left? For my part, I find her involvement with her family and her clearly unfinished emotional business with her father’s death convincing enough that I don’t feel the need to ask that question. (Besides, if she moved away, she wouldn’t have her mother around to take care of the cooking and cleaning.)
This week the flashback’s not the end. Constantine, it turns out, approves of Grace’s decision to expose Shaw. They’re walking out to his car when it blows sky high, turning the driver into toast. Seems Marcellus is not Constantine’s only enemy.
And here’s the big reveal. We see the Mobbed-up Ex driving up to a trailer parked in an abandoned quarry. Living in the trailer is Moretti, the mobster Grace was originally in debt to, shot and presumably killed by Constantine in the pilot. Moretti is alive! The Mobbed-Up Ex is a double agent! The Ex helped Moretti fake his own death, and he’s also the one who rigged up the car bomb. Moretti is now battle-ready and out for revenge. William Forsythe vs. Michael Rapaport? This could be fun! Fingers crossed that I get to see it happen…