Someone somewhere must have (or have had) faith in The Mob Doctor’s future. This week, the show forged ahead with the expansion of its fictional universe and the complication of its basic plotlines. Jennifer Beals, who proved she could do the accent in the short-lived Chicago Code1, shows up as an old flame of Constantine’s who is also married to the north side boss who was once Constantine’s mentor. We meet even more members of the Chicago underworld when Constantine hosts a sitdown for its many factions. And Grace continues to explore the gray area where her two worlds overlap.
No grayed-out flashback, though. Are we done with those? I kind of liked them. Anyway, we open on Grace meeting with Constantine to give him his insulin shot (have we seen this since the pilot?), intercut with Franco explaining the structure of Constantine’s crew to Agent Ford, with the help of some very nice charts on white poster board. (Franco, remember, has been revealed as our Donnie Brasco). Constantine praises Grace’s loyalty and service, while she anxiously notes she’d like a conversation about her future. He suggests she come by for dinner one night. Meanwhile, Franco tries to persuade Agent Ford to let him go back under cover. But when Ford asks about Grace, Franco insists she’s “just a civilian.”
Grace gets an urgent call from an old family friend, and it’s green Cherokee time. The old friend, Susan, has a teenage daughter, Katie, who’s trying to withdraw from heroin. Katie insisted on going cold turkey (it worked for Miles Davis), but now things are not going so well. Plus she had her mother handcuff her to her bed, and the cuffs are cutting up her wrists. Grace calls 911 to have her taken to the hospital.
Back at the hospital, Franco sneaks in to chat with Grace. When she threatens to scream for the cops, he explains he is a cop. He pulls out a Chicago PD badge; apparently, he’s on a joint CPD-FBI task force. When he left town years before, saying he was a wanted man, they actually wanted him as a recruit. By the way, I like this as an explanation for Franco’s occasional discomfort with mob life more than I liked the idea that he’s just a mobster with a heart of gold. Franco tells Grace that he was able to protect her as long as he was working the case, but he doesn’t know what will happen now. This, he says, is why he wants her to leave town, or at least, stay away from Constantine.
Meanwhile, Dr. Brett Robinson (aka Dr. Ex-Boyfriend) and Dr. White are treating a man who broke various bones BASE jumping off a skyscraper. The jumper seems to be here to give Brett some screen time, and provide us with the nominal medical mystery of the week. Grace and Brett are both called in to assist Dr. Sanjay Chopra in repairing the man’s fractures (So the pelvis – Grace’s alleged focus here – is part of the thorax?) I like Dr. Chopra. During surgery, he tells Brett he has nice eyes, asks if he’s ever dated Indian girls, and sets him up on a date with his daughter, apparently with Grace’s blessing. The doctors also discover the patient may be suffering from lymphoma.
Back in the underworld, Constantine is arranging his sitdown. He calls on Seamus, his old mentor, at home. There’s a very nice POV shot of William Forsythe opening the car door as the car is still rolling up the driveway, and hopping out just as the driver brings it to a stop. He runs to hug Jennifer Beals, who hugs back, then proffers hand sanitizer. Seamus, her husband, is a germaphobe who won’t leave the house because he thinks he has hantavirus. He read all about it on the internet. He won’t see a doctor, though, because doctors’ offices are “germ factories.”
Jennifer Beals’s character is named Celeste, we learn, and she runs the biggest escort service in the Midwest. This will be important later. Constantine, naturally, offers Seamus Grace’s medical services, but for once that doesn’t work. Grace, now deeply unnerved by Franco’s revelations, blows off Constantine’s calls.
Katie, the heroin addict, leaves the hospital with Gary , her sleazy dealer boyfriend. She’s 18, so there’s nothing Grace or her mother can do. Legally, that is. The last point is made to Grace by Ro. Even if Grace is going to quit the mob, says Ro, in the mean time she may as well use her influence to go after Gary . Grace calls Nate and says she needs a favor.
Brett goes to inform the jumper that he has lymphoma as well as a lot of broken bones. I saw the next twist coming – the patient knows about the lymphoma; that’s why he’s doing things like BASE jumping off tall buildings. He‘s working his way through his bucket list (is anyone else really tired of that phrase?). He watched his mother die of ovarian cancer and, like Wilson on House, would rather just enjoy his remaining time.
Grace finally goes to see Constantine. That creepy lawyer, or whoever he is, who’s suddenly Constantine’s right-hand man bitches her out, but Constantine greets her with a smile and a warm “Look who’s finally here!” His mood changes, though, when Grace announces her desire to quit (she figures she’s repaid any remaining debt by framing Moretti). He tells her that she’s “a part of something.” But when she insists, he simply says he’s “disappointed, very disappointed” and walks away. Right-Hand Man is not so gentle. As Grace leaves, he grabs her. The mob, says Right-Hand Man, is “in your blood, you’re one of us.” (Wish I knew if he was speaking literally or metaphorically…) He also says he’s been keeping records of all her work for them, and if she quits, all will be revealed: ”Constantine has a soft spot for you, but I don’t.”
Grace breaks down crying in her green Cherokee which, to add to the drama, almost doesn’t start. I’m reading her breakdown as being about her conflicting loyalties and her attachment to Constantine as well as her frustration and fears of exposure.
Oh, and Franco’s watching the whole thing from across the street. With night-vision goggles.
Grace ropes in Nate and some bouncer friends of his to have a chat with Gary. Nate, who’s either been working out or is just wearing very flattering sweater, also grabs the opportunity to ask Ro out for ramen. Constantine continues to plan his sitdown for representatives of Chicago’s various crime organizations. He believes in a big tent, with room for all ethnicities. He even wants a round table, like King Arthur’s, so everyone will feel like an equal.
Nate, Grace, and friends track Gary down in some dismal field that appears to be an outdoor shooting gallery. After finding Katie – who Nate remembers as a Girl Scout selling Thin Mints – near death from an overdose, Nate lays into Gary. He quickly forgets that Grace only wanted them to talk to him. As he beats Gary, Grace watches it all with an ambiguous expression. Things get even more ambiguous back at the hospital. She tells Katie’s mother that the best way to detox Katie would be to put her into a kind of coma. As she’s 18, Katie would need to consent to this. But, adds Grace, if Katie asked her mother to handcuff her to the bed, hasn’t she already consented, so to speak, to whatever seems necessary? The mother likes Grace’s reasoning. As Constantine says, Grace is a natural at this.
Constantine’s sitdown goes well enough, despite the obnoxiousness of a certain Trappani, boss of the west side, who mutters about needing to hide his wallet in his sock when he sees gangsters of other ethnicities in attendance. (Trappani is played by a very familiar actor whose name I couldn’t find, but whom I clearly remember from Goodfellas as the airport security guard who tips Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro off to the Lufthansa heist). Celeste shows up in Seamus’s place; the others accept her when she offers up her little black book with the names of all her clients – including some very useful judges and politicians. What no one knows is that Franco has photographed all the comings and goings from across the street.
Meanwhile, in medical mystery land, the lymphoma patient has woken up blind. Dr. White sticks a needle into his eyeballs to collect fluid for testing; it’s all presented in closeup, which I could have lived without. Turns out the guys has toxoplasmosis, which also – drumroll – can be misdiagnosed as lymphoma. He’s not dying, he’s just very deeply in debt from all his pursuit of happiness (didn’t Wilson get sued in a similar situation?). That’s that; it might as well all have happened on a different show.
In conclusion, Katie’s mother tells Grace she’s “a frigging saint, and don’t let anyone tell you different!” Franco shows Ford his photos of the sitdown, and talks his way back onto the case. Grace then meets Franco by the lakeside. He enlists her in his cause, telling her the only way they can get out of the mob life is “to get back in.” So Grace’s loyalties are about to tested in yet another way, which seems to be what next week is about.
1 As she should; Beals is apparently a Chicago native.