This, the fourth episode of Mob Doctor, was a very busy episode. We had Grace treating an old friend from the neighborhood, Grace delivering the baby of a high-priced call girl who’s been impregnated by a politician whose votes Constantine needs, a famous cardiac surgeon coming by the hospital to do a special procedure, choosing Olivia over Grace as her assistant, and regretting her choice; and last but not least there’s Moretti, who’s not dead after all, stalking the daughter of the witness he wanted Grace to kill in the pilot. That one does not end well. Fittingly, Grace’s dark green Cherokee is back, and at least twice she ends conversations in a way that may be interpreted as storming off.
In case there are any thirtysomething fans out there, let me point out that the crooked alderman whose illegitimate child Constantine hopes to use as a bargaining chip is played by Timothy Busfield. (It may not be a coincidence that Ken Olin is listed as an executive producer, and also directed last week’s episode, “Serve and Protect.” Good job on that one, Mr. Olin. )
Opening washed-out flashback – Grace remembers the time a strange man moved into the neighborhood against the adults’ wishes, and all the children were warned away from him. From the lingering images of Grace’s friends playing hopscotch on the sidewalk, he’s meant to have been a child molester. Then a man who could do what the cops couldn’t came to beat the guy up. No prizes for guessing who it is.
We start in a pool hall in Grace’s neighborhood, and Dr. Boyfriend is clearly turned on by observing her in what he calls her natural habitat. She talks about stumbling around the pool hall wasted at the age of fourteen, and it’s evident from the way Dr. Boyfriend’s eyes widen at this that Grace is his Bad Girl. Speaking of wasted, a group of Grace’s old high school friends come by, and one of them splits his head open falling off the furniture. Grace and Dr. Boyfriend urge him to go to the hospital for stitches, but he finds their temporary fix good enough and heads off to yet another bar. There’s also some exposition in which Grace & Dr. Boyfriend discuss the upcoming visit by the superstar cardiac surgeon.
Constantine pages Grace, and it’s green Cherokee time. She’s greeted by Franco, aka the Mobbed-Up Ex-Boyfriend; I’ve decided to call him by his name as he’s showing signs of being a character rather than a plot function, and because it’s shorter. He expresses regret over Grace’s proximity to last week’s car bomb (which he planted for Moretti), then urges her to leave Chicago and take her family with her. And when he tells her he’s taking her to see a pregnant woman, he wants her to be clear it’s not his child.
The pregnant woman, who is named Traci and who is from Detroit, is very anxious to assure Grace she’s “really not a bad person.” Constantine’s hovering around through all this, and though it’s not his child either, there’s an odd sexual tension in the air. Meanwhile, Moretti sets Franco to trail a woman named Peggy who he says is “ticket back to Chicago.” Apparently, Moretti’s “death” was not reported outside mob circles, and the government, assuming he’s on the run, is proceeding with the case against him. We learn about this, and about how baby daddy Timothy Busfield is the holdout vote on the poker machines, from the TV in Constantine’s bar – there’s a lot of information coming from all directions tonight.
Back at the hospital, Grace is attempting some girlfriend chat with her alleged best friend whom we have never seen her talk to outside of work. I assume the only reason this character exists is because a. Grace needs an ally inside the hospital and b. this ally might as well be female, as we’ve already got two love interests of sorts, and Grace’s world is pretty much all male, except for her mother. Speaking of which, Grace’s old buddy with the split scalp shows up for stitches after all, because he’s bleeding and in an hour he starts his shift at “the shop” (not a Prada boutique, I’m guessing). Grace gets another tough moment when he tells her to hurry up, and she obliges by going crazy on his head with a surgical stapler. But then Grace notices a halo effect to one of his bloodstains, and diagnoses a leakage of cerebrospinal fluid.
She then hurries off to the pre-surgical meeting with famous heart surgeon, an elegant woman with an accent and, possibly, a speech impediment as well. Grace again saves the day by being the only one to know the patient has a family history of allergic reactions to the planned anesthetic, but Dr. Superstar names Olivia as her assistant. Like the green Cherokee, Grace as hospital hero and the rivalry with Olivia are throwbacks to the pilot. I could do without them.
More complications! The cerebrospinal fluid did not come out of Split Scalp; it came from another pal, Jimmy, who now has it pouring from his nose. He’s got some kind of bleeding on the brain. Jimmy’s wife shows up, and lashes into Grace for not being the one to explain her husband’s condition in simple terms.
Even more complications! Traci goes into premature labor, and Grace races off to deliver the baby, taking her best friend along to help (so I shouldn’t say they never get together outside the hospital). More information, too – Constantine makes the call while meeting with someone, presumably another corrupt politician, to whom he gives a gold watch for “fifteen years of loyalty.” I wouldn’t mention this, except for the fact that the guy keeps looming up ominously for the rest of the episode in a way that suggests he’s going to be significant down the road.
Grace and her friend deliver a seriously enormous-looking baby, whom Traci says she doesn’t want to see – she just wants her money. (Constantine’s providing a foster family who presumably won’t interfere with his use of the child as bargaining chip). Then she starts bleeding uncontrollably and Grace and her friend have to perform an emergency hysterectomy on the spot to save her life. All this is intercut first with Franco’s trailing of Peggy, then with the operation performed by Dr. Superstar, during which Olivia screws up.
Grace waits until Traci wakes up again, then explains about the hysterectomy. See episode title for Traci’s reaction. For those keeping score at home, the next few minutes involve the green Cherokee pulling up at Constantine’s gates, pre-confrontation, and Grace storming out in anger, post-confrontation.
Back at the hospital, Dr. White’s found something ominous on Jimmy’s post-operative brain scan. He has an AVM, a malformation Grace likens to a “time bomb” which has a one in ten chance of rupturing and killing him. Grace wants to operate, though the risks of surgery include stroke and blindness, among other things. Jimmy’s wife thinks it may be better to take the nine chances out of ten that nothing will ever happen. This spirals into another blow-up with Grace, followed by Jimmy’s wife talking to Grace about how Grace has always been the one who defies the odds, who does things like becoming a surgeon, but that she and Jimmy just don’t do that. They’re content with what they’ve got. It’s an interesting insight into how the people in Grace’s community perceive her, and I wish we’d gotten it in an episode that was not trying to do so very much.
The next scene provides a counterpoint: Dr. Superstar explains that she felt hospital politics almost obligated her to choose Olivia, but she wishes she’d chosen Grace (thanks to Olivia’s mistake, the patient will never speak again). She talks about how her father escaped a revolution so she could go to medical school (so she’s Iranian?) and urges Grace to “grab the rose” but “respect the thorns.”
Grace smuggles a plane ticket to Traci, so she and her child can start a new life elsewhere. Franco, who’s happy to stay quiet about Traci, gives Grace a ride back to the hospital. He talks about how things haven’t quite turned out as expected for either of them, and apparently hits a nerve, as Grace storms away in tears (very believable work from Jordana Spiro here). He’s gone to comfort her when Dr. Boyfriend strolls up. Awkward. Again, I really wish we’d gotten this emotional development on a slower night.
Franco might not really be a bad guy, as he tells Grace, but Moretti certainly is. He uses Franco’s information to find Peggy, takes her hostage, and forces her father – Severino, the witness from the pilot – to shoot himself via video chat. It’s a dark, nasty scene, even if we see relatively little violence.
Moretti’s irredeemable, but Constantine’s not. When he confronts Grace about Traci, he pulls out a wad of cash and reimburses her for Traci’s plane ticket. So he’s allowing her to act as his conscience, doing what he secretly thinks is the right thing? Grace hesitates over taking his money, then does it.
Flashback. The man who could do what the police couldn’t was Constantine, of course. It’s a little predictable, but it’s interesting actually to see how Grace hero-worshipped Constantine as a small girl; in her eyes, he was everything her father wasn’t. As I’ve said before, this is one intriguingly warped relationship.
We end with Moretti planning his triumphant return to Chicago, but we’ll have to wait to see it – next week it’s major league baseball, and the next new episode doesn’t air until November 5. I was surprisingly disappointed to hear that – for all its flaws, the show’s convinced me it’s got a story to tell.