It’s the season, very possibly series, finale of Code Black and suddenly it’s an episode of 24?
Mario, Angus and Angus’s Adderall habit are the on-site docs at a Presidential Debate (sensibly involving made-up candidates instead of real ones – I don’t think the show needs that particular level of controversy) when a suspicious explosion causes mayhem: all of a sudden, there are blood and guns everywhere, Secret Service running about shouting things like “I’ve got Skylark!” and “Flamingo’s on my six!” and everyone’s at DEFCON ONE.
The Senator, his wife and daughter, and the Governor and his wife are rushed to hospital by chopper and various cars, with sniffer dogs and black-clad agents getting all up in the medics’ business. Or at least trying to; nobody at Angels Memorial is going to let law enforcement tell them how to treat their patients, no matter who their patients might be.
Matters are complicated, however, by the Governor’s wife and a poor janitor having exactly the same injury requiring exactly the same surgery at exactly the same time, when – who’d have guessed it? – only one surgeon is available to do it, and also by the fact that Angus is hyped out on his drugs, Heather is a psycho blackmailer and Christa has suddenly become a jealous teenager. “Do NOT cast me in the role of needy girlfriend,” she tells lovely Dr Neal, “I’m better than that and you know it.” While spending the entire episode acting exactly like a needy girlfriend and finally – I think? Maybe? – breaking up with lovely Dr Neal because she was once married (so?) and he once asked Grace to marry him. A year before he even met Miss Better Than the Role of Needy Girlfriend. FFS.
Look, it’s bad enough that Grace is annoying as anything – watching her successfully patronise the Governor’s wife into calming down is both unbelievable and stupendously irritating – but it’s insufferable that her addition to the cast has also turned the usually sensible and delightful Christa into an idiot. And it’s a particularly unfortunate way to end the season when the show’s precarious “on the bubble” status means this might be the last time we ever see Dr Lorenson at all.
I really liked Christa and Neal together, we waited ages for it to happen, and there was no reason for the writers to mess with that just yet. Change things up about the show, sure, but not the things that work!
On the changes that did work front, though, I wasn’t sure about Mike at first, but he’s turned out to be a far superior replacement for Guthrie Junior, and his scenes with Angus this week are unexpectedly poignant. Campbell might be an arrogant jerk, but he’s an interesting, charismatic one who should stick around if season two is actually commissioned after all. Leanne has gradually become less of an unbearably demented walking soundbite-generator and more of a largely inoffensive stereotype tv doctor as the season has worn on, so I suppose there’s hope for her too, as long as the tremendously watchable, decent Jesse is around to keep her in check. (I’d swap her for Dr Taylor in a heartbeat, though.) And hospital boss Dr Halpert got off to a rocky start, but he’s unexpectedly turned out to be all right, as well.
As were the finale, and, for the most part, the season in general. I won’t pretend that Code Black was ever essential viewing, nor that it had anything new or particularly powerful to add to the already-crowded field of hospital drama. As I’ve said before, that’s probably be too much to ask for, anyway – after 15 seasons of ER, 30 seasons (and counting) of Casualty and the hundreds of other shows in between, audiences are unlikely to be surprised by yet another GSW to the chest, yet another surgery/ER turf war or yet another new resident’s trials and tribulations. But despite Code Black’s flaws and cliches, immensely likeable performances from Raza Jaffrey, Bonnie Somerville, Luis Guzman, Kevin Dunn and (all-too-briefly!) Christina Vidal meant I grew to quite like it. I wouldn’t be heartbroken if the show were cancelled now, but I’d watch a second season if it were renewed, which – in the insanely crowded current tv landscape, when I’m giving up on shows all over the place – I mean as no small compliment.