California Literary Review

The Mob Doctor Recap: ‘Turf War’ (Season 1, Episode 7)

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November 20th, 2012 at 9:34 am

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The Mob Doctor: Turf War

©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co., Photo: Jean Whiteside/FOX

To my disappointment, we did not find out whether Constantine is Grace’s real father (I still think he probably is). Constantine does tell Grace, in what may be a significant tone of voice, that she’s “a natural” at the mob thing, “a real natural.” But we leave this scene for the actual reveal: Franco the double agent is really Franco the triple agent – he’s an undercover Fed. So he’s like Johnny Depp in Donnie Brasco. Though at this point, he’s got so many conflicting loyalties piling up he may be even more like Sam Neill in Children of the Revolution.

And that’s not all – Grace moved a few steps closer to the dark side, and the show moved a few steps closer to being a crime show with medical trimmings, which is fine by me. I’m not the biggest fan of hospital dramas generally – House was the exception for a number reasons, Hugh Laurie being prominent among them. I’m hardly the kind of viewer who gets annoyed when someone asks for the wrong kind of clamp, or makes the wrong kind of incision, or violates medical protocol in some subtle way. As a consequence, I’m probably a laxer judge of The Mob Doctor’s depiction of medicine than some.

On the other hand, I do like antiheroes, and I like female characters who don’t necessarily have hearts of gold. And The Mob Doctor’s never really been about an idealistic, good-as-gold young doctor unfortunately trapped in a deal with the mob; the show’s consistently suggested that Grace is more at home with the mob than with the other doctors. It’s not just a matter of her background, either. Risk-taking, lightning-fast decisions, and a considerable degree of comfort with moral gray areas are more in Grace’s line than procedure, protocol and the careful deliberations of an ethics committee. Whether these predilections are genetic will have to wait for another week.

So what actually happened? This week’s flashback showed us the younger Grace stealing a key so she could find what her mother was keeping in a secret drawer – a gun. Cut from young Grace pointing the gun at the camera to older Grace dressing her bullet wound from last week. She also transfers the bullet she pulled out of her leg from the drawer where she first hid it (wrapped lovingly in a scarf like a souvenir from sleepaway camp)to a pill bottle. Three days have passed, and she’s in hiding in her own house, with a bodyguard posted by Constantine out front (he’s also providing pizza). She’s told the hospital she has the flu.

Moretti, frustrated in his efforts to retake control of the neighborhood, decides to send a message to Constantine by smashing up the new video poker machines. But Constantine has been tipped off by an old associate who doesn’t appreciate Moretti’s heavy-handed approach, so when Franco and company break into Constantine’s warehouse, they find a lot of empty boxes and an ambush. The ensuing gun battle spills out into the street, where a mother and daughter drive into the crossfire and are hit – by Constantine’s men.

Grace’s alleged BFF, who’s called Ro (short for Rosa), is delivering medical supplies to Grace when she gets the call about the gunshot victims. Grace insists on wolfing down some painkillers and heading back to the hospital as well. She recognizes Gio, an associate of Constantine’s, as he’s wheeled into surgery. She and Dr. White tend to the younger woman, Paige, who was driving and who took two bullets. The bullet lodged in her abdomen missed her major organs, but the bullet in her head is causing bleeding on the brain, as they discover when she goes into a seizure.

Paige’s mother has a relatively minor injury to her arm. It’s she who Grace asks to make a decision about Paige’s care – surgery to remove the bullet that would most likely leave Paige with significant motor and speech “deficits,” or medication that carries fewer risks if it works, but which may not work. Paige’s mother begs Grace to decide for her, then chooses the medication.
Constantine is questioned by an Agent York, who then heads over to the hospital to talk to Gio. When he encounters Grace, he reminds her that he met her while handling the Severino case (did he? I can’t say I remember him). He notes that leg injuries like Gio’s don’t usually cause such extensive memory loss.

The next to encounter Grace is Dr. Boyfriend, who’s just initiated the so-you-lied-about-having-the-flu conversation when Grace is called to Paige’s room. The medication didn’t work, and Paige has just died. Grace leaps onto the bed in a frantic attempt to resuscitate her, as Dr. White calmly tells her it’s too late. (While Zeljko Ivanek doesn’t get much to do, I like how little he’s willing to do with what he gets. He mostly just observes the other characters as if they were bugs under a microscope. I can’t decide if Dr. White knows far, far more than he lets on, or if he can hardly be bothered to remember these people’s names.) Grace insists on being the one to tell Paige’s mother about her death. The mother blames Grace for her decision, saying Grace’s description of the “deficits” arising from the surgery hardly left her with a choice.

Moretti’s grabbing a bite in a diner when he looks up to see Constantine, then realizes the place is full of Constantine’s men. “What do you want?” he snaps. “You, dead and gone,” says Constantine softly, even casually. I love William Forsyth in this role. But first Constantine wants Franco. Moretti tries to bargain for part of Constantine’s territory, but realizes his mistake when Constantine pins his hand to the table with a fork.

And at this point, the action in tonight’s episode came to a virtual halt so Franco and one of Moretti’s lieutenants could have a surprisingly heated debate over whether the sandwich Franco is eating has provolone on it. An enraged Moretti shows up with a bandaged hand, telling them all to prepare for a visit to Constantine’s that night, but this doesn’t get as much airtime as the provolone issue. Franco sneaks into the hospital to warn Grace that she should lie low for the next 24 hours or so. Grace tells him to leave and never come back.

Paige’s mother is sitting next to her daughter’s lifeless body. She tells Grace she was unfair in blaming Grace for her choice; she had moved in with Paige because she had trouble caring for herself, and she couldn’t face the prospect of caring for a disabled Paige as well. Grace then finds Dr. Boyfriend, who quietly retires that title when Grace makes clear she won’t tell him what’s going on. “I can’t be an afterthought,” he says. Dr. White commiserates with Grace over Paige’s death, and casually mentions that at least the police will have good chance at finding the shooter, as they can retrieve the bullet still lodged in Paige’s abdomen and run it through the ballistics database. Grace suddenly perks up.

Grace may not have been willing to tell Dr. Boyfriend what was up, but she’s willing to tell Ro, because she needs her help again (why Ro is so willing to help is another question). Grace now removes the bullet from Paige’s body, and replaces it with the bullet from her own leg, fired from Moretti’s gun. (Conveniently, she still has the pill bottle in her pocket.)

So Grace frames Moretti for Paige’s murder. On her own initiative, to protect Constantine and his crew, and presumably to avenge herself on Moretti. That very night, after Moretti gives his team a pep talk on how they’re going to take down Constantine, he walks out to find his lair surrounded by police, led by Agent Ford, who seizes Moretti’s handgun as evidence before arresting him. (Those ballistics tests must be fast, seeing as how the police can only have had the bullet for a couple of hours.)

Grace goes to visit Constantine, who greets her as a colleague. He thanks her for disposing of Moretti and dwells happily on the welcome his friends in prison will provide for Moretti. But Grace cuts him short: she wants to talk about Paige’s mother, who’s been left alone in the world thanks to Constantine. She wants Constantine to promise that Paige’s mother will be looked after and provided for. “Consider it done,” says Constantine. And it’s here that he praises her as “a real natural.” You can interpret the pride and warmth in his voice however you want.

I was hoping for more, of course, but as I said, we leave them there. We get the second half of the flashback, in which we learn that Grace’s father (at least, the man she always thought of as her father…) beat up her mother when he discovered the gun – which, Grace speculates, her mother might otherwise have ended up using on him. The lesson, apparently, is about conflicting loyalties and unintended consequences.

And back in the present, we see Agent Ford meeting with his undercover informant – Franco. Franco’s job is done, he says, and it’s time for him to disappear. Franco wants the chance to go even deeper into the organization. Ford notes that that’s what undercover agents always say, when they’ve fallen for the life, or someone in it. But apparently Franco wins this round, one way or another, because there he is in next week’s previews.

So Franco’s not a really a mobster. But Grace is, or at least she’s on her way to becoming one. Is she having her own Walter White moment? Whatever it is, I kind of like it.

  • ozonator

    Mob Doctor is the best show on Monday night. Fast paced, strong and smart women, white males better than the usual stupid clothes horses, unexpected twists and turns, and always making me think.

  • Alicia Marie

    I love this review. However, I don’t think the father abused the mom because he found a gun. I think it was a general fight in which Grace found out that the gun was her fathers but her mothers. Had she not hid the gun, her “father” could have died. I’m all aboard for the Constantine being the father storyline. :)

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