Code Black Season 1 Episode 4 Review: Sometimes It's a Zebra

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Whatever the writers did before sitting down to work on "Sometimes It's a Zebra" needs to become a ritual. 

I don't think I'm too bold when I call Code Black Season 1 Episode 4 the best episode so far. It captured just the right mix of interesting medical cases, emotionally engaging patients, and compelling character developments amongst the doctors.

I laughed, I teared up, I watched an intubation with rapt interest.

And on top of all that, Cress Williams joined the cast! His character brings a lot to the floor: what I can only assume are top-notch surgical skills, and outsider perspective to the attendings, and some family drama with his estranged father, Rollie. 

The writers really found the balance with the medical cases on this episode. While all the cases were skillfully handled, the humorous case of the orgasmic woman ranks high in my book. We need the awkward and funny cases like this one to keep from being one giant ball of emotion and dismay over the terrible things that happen to people.

The writers have made attempts at this in past episodes, like Code Black Season 1 Episode 2 with the old woman who swallowed the coins.

While that case allowed for some decent poop jokes from Taylor, the residents weren't that engaged. On the other hand, Joanie the orgasming woman was funny not just because of the titillating nature of her case but because of Angus and Mario's unease with it.

The fact that Jesse was the one that solved her problem was just the icing on the cake for me.

Dr. Mario Savetti: Are you kidding me? What did you do?
Jesse Salander: It's a gift, bro.

And that case saved us from sinking into total despair over the fate of humanity when it was revealed that Tina's father was, in fact, her kidnapper. What could have been approached as a "ripped from the headlines" case was handled deftly.

The slow shift from Tina to the Dennis as the villain of that story was great. 

What I really liked was it forced us, and the characters to continuously change perspectives on what was going on with this "family." I hope Christa learned a lasting lesson about not making judgments and assumptions about patients. She was definitely displacing her own feelings about failing her son onto Tina at one point. 

You lost a child, Christa. That means that every child that comes through here is a version of that child. It's not gonna change. You need to learn how to deal with it.

Dr. Leanne Rorish

The new surgeon, Cole Guthrie, wasn't around for most of the episode, but the scenes he had were good. I can't decide if I'm more excited that the character will open up some different medical avenues for the show or that his presence means we'll see more of Guthrie Sr, who has been criminally underused so far.

Guthrie Jr. is a little bit hard to get a handle on just yet. He's clearly antagonistic towards his father, and doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for Angels – begging the question of just why he applied for the job in the first place. Still, he doesn't seem like a total ass, or incompetent. I'm really eager to see where his character goes. 

Dr. Rollie Guthrie: You're so busy all these years trying to prove to me what a man you are. All you end up doing is showing me that you're still a boy.
Dr. Cole Guthrie: Night, Doc.
Dr. Rollie Guthrie: There you go again. You're forty-three years old, Cole. It's time to stop blaming me for all your problems. It's time to stand up, son.

I'm also excited that his arrival, along with the fact that several of the nurses are recurring regulars with actual names, indicates a larger cast to come. Having the show only focus on six doctors just isn't very realistic; having a background cast is key to making the show more medical than soap.  

If Code Black can keep up this level of writing and performing, I think it can become the headliner that CBS is banking on. The fifth episode, "Doctors With Borders," airs October 28th, and promises to give us a glimpse into Neal's life while he and the other doctors battle an epidemic. 

Other Thoughts:

  • Angus' snarky comments to Mario were pure gold.
  • Will Mario ever be able to make nice with his peers, or has that ship sailed?
  • Was I the only one that found Christa's lack of empathy about a mother possibly suffering from post partum depression or psychosis disheartening? It's called the Hippocratic oath, Dr. Lorenson.
  • What was with the attempt to make the creepy kidnapper/rapist even the least bit sympathetic at the end?
  • Malaya finally got to run an interesting case instead of playing a supporting role or doing scut work! More of that, please!
  • On the other hand, why didn't Malaya just run an ultrasound? 
  • When are Christa and Neal going to make out or something already? 
  • Fun fact: Code Black is Cress William's eighth medical show. He's had recurring roles on four of those: Providence, Grey's Anatomy, Heart of Dixie, and even the pinnacle of hospital dramas, my beloved ER. If you include his guest spot on House M.D., he's worked with doctors on all of the major broadcast networks!

If you missed "Sometimes It's a Zebra," you can watch Code Black online. We'd love for you to share your thoughts and join the conversation in our comments section!

Sometimes It's a Zebra Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Code Black Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

Dr. Rollie Guthrie: You're so busy all these years trying to prove to me what a man you are. All you end up doing is showing me that you're still a boy.
Dr. Cole Guthrie: Night, Doc.
Dr. Rollie Guthrie: There you go again. You're forty-three years old, Cole. It's time to stop blaming me for all your problems. It's time to stand up, son.

I liked it better when I was pregnant. Can we go back to that?

Keesha