There have been many powerful episodes of “Chicago Med” so far through season 2, but we’d still be willing to wager that for many reasons, Thursday night’s new episode “Inherent Bias” rises to the top of the list.
The biggest one starts with the sheer excitement that comes from seeing an actor of S. Epatha Merkerson’s caliber at the center of most of the drama. While there was a medical crisis that she oversaw, it was a personal one revolving around Reggie, a photo-journalist who just so happened to also be her first love. She hadn’t seen him in several decades, but the moment he turned up in the hospital all of those memories rushed back. The beauty of this story came via the timing; in the midst of her separation, a time of great personal heartache, here came this man, who was attached to a far more simple, innocent time in her life. Even though the relationship ended, there was so much water under that bridge. They could sit and reminisce about the happy times.
Unfortunately, Goodwin had to realize that she needed to let the past go, as Reggie’s condition due to a parasite worsened to the point that despite her insistence that the medical team save him, there was nothing that could be done. The best she could offer him was a death with dignity. There was no going back to the past, though she could use the opportunity to look back at it with fondness and appreciation for what Reggie meant to her at that time. In the closing minutes, that’s what she did, and she can remind herself that she was there for him at a time when he was facing great fear with the other side, whatever it may be, on the horizon.
There were some happier times in this episode, and we will get to them, but first we have to navigate through a pair of other important stories that were also about making difficult choices. For Dr. Rhodes, he fought against Dr. Charles and even went over his head in order to save Pamela, a patient he was convinced needed a surgery. Daniel didn’t constitute what Connor received as consent to operate, but that in the end didn’t matter. Goodwin, after doing whatever she could to help Reggie, stood with Dr. Rhodes, and in the end Pamela was given an opportunity to recover. We could see the simple beauty that was Dr. Charles’ connection to this case, as her arrival carried with it a dependency and an appreciation he rarely receives. What was best about this storyline was that it did not necessarily tell you that there was a right or wrong way to practice medicine. There were simply ways, and sometimes both of them can yield successful results.
Just as there are various ways to treat patients, there are various ways to help them outside of traditional means, and this is what Dr. Sarah Reese faced when it comes to Danny. After he floated the idea of staying with her, she understandably felt herself walking on a moral tightrope over the right or wrong thing to do. He took her hesitancy as an affront and bolted the hospital, and she is now left roaming the streets to find him. We don’t blame Reese for any move she made here, given that there is a stark difference between helping a patient even outside of the job and then waking up to see them every morning. She’s recruiting both Erin Lindsay and Dr. Choi to help, and this is a story we will revisit.
Where humor and fear collide – We thought for most of the episode that we’d be celebrating April’s engagement, especially since the way she introduced the ring to her co-workers was funny and wonderful. Seeing her suffer what seemed to be an effect of tuberculosis at the end of the episode, unfortunately, washes that away.
At least there was the story of Dr. Halstead this week to offer some levity. April’s brother Noah roped will in to participate in a house-call app, where they would visit a patient and, for a fee, treat whatever they needed. It was almost the Chicago tech version of HankMed from “Royal Pains.” Unfortunately, the case didn’t end nearly as well as they tend to for Hank over on the USA show. Will recommended that the patient go to the hospital, where eventually he accumulated a bill of over $2,000. Noah didn’t think all of this through in terms of bringing on board a doctor who didn’t want to risk any possible problem in the future, and din’t really explain away the charges all too well. Suffice it to say, we’re not sure of the house-call app’s future, and Halstead’s not going to be a part of it.
Luckily, he still found another way to better secure a more financially-stable future: He and Nina may be moving in together! There’s your own moment of hope in what was at times a fairly grim hour of television.
Overall – Grim as it may be, this was the strongest “Chicago Med” of the season. With strong performances across the board and writing that suited each character, we saw genuine evolution. In the long-game of the show, that matters more than the individual case. Grade: A-.
Next week – We’re going to be seeing the Danny case continue. Also, is there a new romance blooming? Head over here to get all of the details. (Photo: NBC.)