Some thoughts, before I plunge into the details of tonight’s episode:
Watching someone remove a bullet from her own leg using needle-nosed pliers is still easier than watching surgeons remove a cyst made of worms. At least for me.
Whoever comes up with the show’s medical plots is definitely working through some anxiety-of-influence issues concerning House, M.D., as tonight’s medical mystery is pretty much an homage to the to the Robin Tunney plot in the pilot. (See above, re: worms).
We’re told at the end that next week will bring a new twist, when we learn that “someone is not who they say they are.” This comes at the end of an episode in which Constantine has repeatedly threatened to kill anyone who hurts Grace, addressed her as “sweetheart,” and stared pensively into the mirror above a fireplace mantel with a big picture of Grace as a little girl on it. So am I right? Or will we learn instead that Dr. White is the secret kingpin of the Southside mob?
So tonight Constantine collided with Moretti, and Grace’s life at the hospital collided with Grace’s life with the mob. Constantine and the mob both chalk up wins, at least in this first round. Oddly, what I liked about this episode was the fact it was not insanely hectic and action-packed, as the pilot and “Change of Heart” were. Instead, the show’s creators gave the key developments plenty of time and space (almost too much, in one case). We got to see Grace being a badass, and the curiously intense Oedipal bond between Constantine and Grace got plenty of air time as well. As these were the elements of the pilot that first grabbed me, I’m happy.
For once there’s no artfully faded flashback to kick things off. Instead, we get a brief flash forward, as Franco surprises Grace in the hospital garage. He apologizes in advance for what happens next, which is that Moretti jumps out and grabs Grace. Then we flash back six hours.
What happened six hours ago? A woman who’s been hit by a speedboat while swimming in the lake is rushed into the ER, where Grace just manages to save her, with the help of Dr. Boyfriend. It’s also established that Dr. White has invited Dr. Boyfriend and Olivia to give a presentation on the brothers with the genetic condition from last week, while Grace will be giving a presentation on the heart transplant she performed.
Elsewhere, a sinister bald guy watches Constantine, who’s having a not-so-subtly menacing conversation with a local politician whose vote he needs (the poker machines). The bald guy reports back to Moretti. Moretti’s crew express contempt for the politician, on the grounds that he once voted down a pay hike for teachers, which I find a nice touch. Moretti, however, doesn’t care about that – he just wants Constantine dead. Franco looks worried, and starts trying to contact Grace, but she’s not responding.
At the hospital, the swimmer wakes up and insists she could not have been out swimming, as she hasn’t gone swimming since high school. The guy who hit her with his boat says otherwise; he’s a nice man who chose today of all days to make an impulsive boat rental. He’s torn up with guilt and has rescued her dog, Barkley. He got her information off Barkley’s ID tag, and has figured out they’re neighbors.
Constantine and Nate bond over stories of Constantine’s own first major beatdown. Things are going well for Constantine, the politician’s changed his vote, and everyone is getting an extra thousand in their envelopes this week. Things are going less swimmingly (sorry) between Grace and Dr. Boyfriend, who’s annoyed and skeptical when she announces she’s going home to grab a few hours of sleep. But she never gets home, as this turns out to be the moment when Moretti grabs her and stuffs her in the trunk of his car. He’s going to use her to lure Constantine into an ambush.
Moretti and Franco drive out to the site of the intended ambush, which is, I must say, a filmmaker’s dream – an abandoned lakeside industrial site with a row of empty grain silos, and acres of long grass waving in the wind off the lake. The distant Chicago skyline sits toylike on the far horizon, and it’s one of those days of drifting, ominous clouds favored by the Dutch masters. Very well-chosen.
Moretti forces Grace to call Constantine. She spins some wild yarn about how she needs proper facilities, and has lined up a meeting with someone who has a lot of stolen medical equipment to sell. Constantine needs to be there himself, at four, but when he hesitates, she abruptly tells him to forget about it. Constantine signals to Nate while Grace is still talking, then tells him it all “smells wrong.”
Back at the hospital, Dr. Boyfriend previews Olivia’s half of their presentation, while asking Grace’s alleged BFF about Franco (I thought he knew about Franco?). Their conversation gets cut short when the swimmer goes into respiratory failure. After reviving her, Drs. Boyfriend & White find tapeworms in her lungs. I really, really hate worms. Poor Barkley gets the blame. The patient also develops tremors which, along with jumping in the lake, suggest a brain problem. Yep, just like Robin Tunney on House. On the upside, we can now safely ignore this plotline in favor of Grace’s problem, which is more interesting and does not involve internal parasites.
At the abandoned site, Grace and Franco have the first of several long-winded dialogues about how he’s betrayed her by secretly working for Moretti, and by leaving her five years before. I’m not sure how much of this we’re meant to take seriously, and how much is just cover while Grace looks for a way out. What with being held hostage by her turncoat ex-boyfriend, Grace misses her presentation. Dr. Boyfriend valiantly tries to drag out his end of the joint presentation with Olivia, which really, really pisses Olivia off. She tells him he’d be better off without Grace.
Grace, meanwhile, coldcocks Franco from behind and makes a run for it. She takes a bullet in the thigh from Moretti, who then waves the gun in Franco’s face, accusing him of letting her go. Grace makes it to an old factory, where she successfully hides from Moretti’s men. Then, when the coast is clear, she sets about removing the bullet from her own leg with a pair of needle-nosed pliers and the dregs from an old gas can she finds in the factory (I assume the gasoline is for sterilization). Which is pretty awesome, if you ask me.
With Nate’s help, Constantine has figured out that Grace is missing and in trouble. Promising vengeance against anyone who hurts Grace, Constantine sets out for the meeting. The sinister bald guy reports to Moretti that they’re on their way. “Start digging the hole.”
Back at the hospital, Dr. White expresses mild annoyance with Grace for disrupting the schedule of an otherwise satisfactory afternoon of presentations.
Grace ties a tourniquet around her leg and goes on the run again. She finds an outbuilding with a working phone, and manages to warn Constantine about the ambush just as he pulls in. Bullets fly (with Constantine getting off the first shots) but no one important gets hit. Constantine, driving off with Grace and Nate, swears that Franco will pay for his betrayal.
Drs. Boyfriend and White operate and remove a giant worm cyst from the patient’s brain. I find this much harder to take than Grace tending to her own bullet wound in the factory. Things get a little hairy, but she seems to be OK, and the implication is that she’ll find happiness with the neighbor she met when he ran over with the speedboat. Now, if this were an episode of House (other than the pilot), House would have pointed out that the man’s renting the boat was just as impulsive and uncharacteristic as the patient’s going for a swim. He would then use this as proof that both are suffering from the same parasite, clearly picked up at a neighborhood sushi bar frequented by both, thereby establishing poor Barkley’s innocence. Moreover, the pattern of restaurant patronage displayed by one of them would prove that person was having a torrid affair with the sushi chef, and that any relationship between them is therefore doomed before it even begins. But this isn’t House.
Back at the Devlin house, in the interesting part of this show, Grace dresses her wound in a more conventional and sanitary way, while Nate observes that he’s sent their mother off for a visit to Aunt Kate. Dr. Boyfriend calls, but hangs up when Grace evades his questions. Constantine shows up, radiating paternal concern. “How are you doing, sweetheart?” he asks tenderly, before praising her bravery and announcing that Moretti and Franco are dead men. He says he’s promised to protect Grace no matter what. When he leaves, we get a long, lingering shot of Grace in silhouette, watching until he drives off.
Next week: Secrets are revealed, and I have to learn Dr. Boyfriend’s real name, because apparently he’s retiring that title.