Code Black Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Doctors with Borders

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This show just keeps getting better!

Code Black Season 1 Episode 5 proved it's chops a mysterious outbreak, a seemingly simple cause gone wrong, and some family drama just for kicks.

With the tension between Neal and his father unfolding naturally while he has to treat his own mother, the writers have finally hit the sweet spot of medical dramas.

Even without the added drama of Neal's mother being one of the affected patients, the story of the respiratory "outbreak" made for a hell of an episode. It gave us a large scale incident that wasn't caused by some outrageous, unlikely catastrophe like, say, a bus exploding in the middle of hurricane (looking at you, Grey's Anatomy).

The twist of the "outbreak" being a case of chlorine poisoning was clever. I suspected earlier on that it may not be a true infection, but ate up the red herring of the caterer and was guessing at some kind of food poisoning or contamination. 

I really enjoyed how the case allowed us to see some different sides to the characters. Taylor finally did something other than call a food truck and make (hilarious) inappropriate comments! Christa was still overly emotionally invested in her patients, but she's starting to learn how to make that work for her. But Neal was the star.

All right, there's a protocol to follow here people. So let's remember our practice drills. Anybody who was within two meters of any one of these patients, get on that side. Those of you who aren't familiar with the metric system, that's eighty inches. Also, the height of Kobe Bryant.

Dr. Mark Taylor

Of course, he usual self-possessed teacher persona was strongly featured, but we we also saw his vulnerable side as he treated his mother. His conflict with his father was more than a little cliche, but then cliches exist for a reason. I didn't even care, because the reveal of his back story was done so much better than the other characters.

It seems the writers finally got the note about "show don't tell." Sure, there was a little bit of that with the Drs. Guthrie in Code Black Season 1 Episode 4, but this took it to a whole new level. I much preferred seeing Dr. Peter Hudson's disparagement of Neal's life choices to the break room gossip reveals we've suffered through so far. 

I mean, I'm still curious about what caused their break in the first place, so hopefully the Hudsons will stick around while Neal's mom heals up. At least got a nice apology out of his dad; whether anything really changes between them remains to be seen. 

Earlier, when you said you came here to learn from the best, and that afterwards, you decided to stay. You humbly left out the middle part -- you learned from the best, and then you became the best. I'm sorry I couldn't see that until now. You make me very proud.

Dr. Peter Hudson

I really like how even with this major mystery case shutting down half the ER, and threatening the operating status of the hospital, we still got a bonus case. And not just some straight forward, light hearted diarrhea, or something shoved up an orifice either! 

The secondary case was just as medically interesting (okay, maybe not quite as much of puzzle, but it was still good) that allowed the doctors to connect emotionally and show personal growth.

Leanne's personal trauma was not explicitly mentioned with this case, which was refreshing. Of course, it came up elsewhere when she shored up Neal, but it was toned down a little from what we've seen in the past. Am I a bad person if I say I wish we could move on from this?

The tragedy is...when you're absolutely the finest, the most skilled doctor there is, and you have to turn them over to people less skilled than you. So you're lucky. You're mother is lucky. Because there is no one anywhere better equipped to save her than you. You have the opportunity to do what I couldn't do with my own family. I envy you that.

Dr. Leanne Rorish

Despite making a few mistakes with the impaled electrician, the case brought Angus and Mario closer together. I'm not really sure how I feel about that. While Dr. Guthrie Jr. is certainly going to be antagonistic, there's always room for more than one jackass in a hospital.

Keeping Mario as an outside obviously wasn't going to happen in the landscape of today's medical drama, where the character's personal lives drive more of the story than their careers. Grey's set up the expectation that everyone is friends, or has at least slept with almost everybody else.

But I like a good workplace conflict (which ER, for example, repeatedly mastered), so as heartfelt and revealing as Mario's apology was, it was a little disappointing. Of course, stabbing friends in the back is so much more dramatic than stabbing your enemies, so maybe this could still go my way!

I'm never going to be that guy with the white coat, you know? The office in the medical-arts building. You know, half the time when I tell people I'm a doctor, they don't even believe me. If I fail at this...if I can't do emergency medicine, I got no place else to go. I just got scared. I'm sorry.

Dr. Mario Savetti

Other Thoughts

  • What was Angus thinking going at the rebar like that? Maybe it wasn't turning the patient that shifted the rebar, but his careless attempt to break it off.
  • Seriously, Christa was the only one to volunteer to go into the quarentine area?
  • Neal really needs to balance his time better between the interns. I know he's all hot for Christa, but it would be good to see him spread his mentoring skills around a little. 
  • Would chlorine burns take that long to produce noticeable symptoms? Didn't anybody notice the smell?
  • What are the odds that we're ever going to leave the hospital, and does anyone believe it would be for anything other than a trauma case?

If you missed "Doctors With Borders", catch up and watch Code Black online with us! You can join the conversation in the comments section.

Do you think the order for six additional scripts is a good sign, or are you skeptical that they'll every come to anything? We'd love to hear what you think!

Doctors with Borders Review

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

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Code Black Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Oh look -- from your mouth to the CDC's ears. Prepare for Code Brown, where the CDC crawls so far up my colon, I'll be crapping federal bureaucrats for a week.

Dr. Mark Taylor

All right, there's a protocol to follow here people. So let's remember our practice drills. Anybody who was within two meters of any one of these patients, get on that side. Those of you who aren't familiar with the metric system, that's eighty inches. Also, the height of Kobe Bryant.

Dr. Mark Taylor