If this was the mid 90's, I'm pretty sure Jesse would be an actual angel.
Amidst the undead descending on Angel's ER on Code Black Season 1 Episode 17, Mama was handing out his dead to rights insights on the heart to patients, and holding Leanne accountable for the nursing staff's budget woes.
If that's not worthy of Roma Downey and Della Resse, I don't know what is.
While Jesse was touching lives, Angus was starting to spin out of control and Christa was too busy being consumed by unfounded jealousy to get a good read on her patient. Newcomer Dr. Campbell managed to keep busy by alternately flirting with Grace and making Neal's life a living hell.
So, while the zombie but was good for a few initial laughs, it was not executed nearly as well as the other stunts that the Code Black writers have tackled. It was an attempt to capture some of ER's signature subtle comedic magic, but it missed by a long shot.
By focusing so heavily on just a few large traumas, the Eye's offering hasn't left room for the light hearted stories like the Peacock's flagship medical drama did. There is no downtime in Angel's ER – everyone is constantly focused on the next urgent patient. County General had plenty of downtime, especially in the beginning of the series.
And that's why it could get away with gag cases like mass food poisoning at a German smorgasbord restaurant. There was an attempt early on to have a few of these non emergent cases pop up on on Code Black (the old woman who ate change for example), but the focus shifted back to a disaster of the week take pretty quickly.
You want an elite experience for them, but this isn't an airline loyalty program.Leanne [to Harbert]
It's this unevenness that has me worried about renewal for the freshman series.
There's been a notable change in second order of scripts from the original thirteen episodes, and a lot of that has to do with getting feedback from audiences, critics, and network executives. Casting changes have also been problematic.
I'm not saying that I think it won't be renewed, or that I want it to be canceled. Far from it. I think the changes are working for the most part, and my only notes would be that a few of the nurses be bumped to series regulars and that we learn more about them.
"Nurse" comes from the word nourish. Did you know that? You develop the plan, write the orders. We have your back. We double check your doses, cover your mistakes. We don't work for you, Leanne. We are you. Your care depends on us.Jesse
Zombies and renewal worries aside, let's talk about what did work on "Love Hurts."
Jesse basically stole the show, proving once again that he is that heart of Angels. Are we sure that he doesn't secretly have a PhD in psychology or something? He has brilliant insight to people and gives amazing advice.
He could make some extra money moonlighting as a radio talk show host or an advice columnist and finance all the nurses he wants quite frankly.
Jesse: I guess you don't want a new mom, huh?
Jesse: Yeah, I wouldn't want one, either. But you know what I can always use? A friend.
This was the first time that we've really seen him in opposition to Leanne, and it was a superbly effective way to highlight her transition to administration and what that means. Promoting her to administrator might leave us bereft of Perello and Taylors sharp wit, but it opens up new storylines.
As does moving Neal up to the OR and having some of the surgical team featured more heavily. Neal on the defensive is something we haven't really seen yet, and he didn't handle it in his usual calm manner.
For everything that Will Campbell has done to make himself the villain, seeing him interact with Roseline ruined all of that for me. Even his egotistical power plays with Neal make sense once he takes the time to explain himself.
Down there, it's all about the first ten minutes. Stop the bleeding, plug the holes, and do it all fast enough to keep them alive. But see, up here, precision is what matters. Down there, it's all about bougies and sutures and duct tape. In here, it's about hands. So far, all you've shown me are the hands of a carpenter. What I'm waiting to see is if you have the hands of an artist.Will [to Neal]
Angus' storyline was excellent, even if it moved a little too quickly. I like where it's headed, but like a lot of the plots introduced in the second round of scripts, it just seems late in the game to be throwing these pitches. I would have liked to have seen it drawn out a little longer before anybody got suspicious.
The Adderall was a great device because it not only allowed Angus to begin spiraling out of control, but it's adding another layer to the increasingly inscrutable Heather. Her casual abuse of the amphetamine could be seen as a generational thing, but the fact that she's a doctor (and wasn't concerned about dosage or addiction) is concerning.
Angus: What's this?
Angus: You have ADHD?
Heather: No, I'm a surgeon who works thirty-six hour shifts.
- I'm surprised at Christa not handling the whole Grace situation with a little more class and maturity. This jealousy thing is so high school, and just seems so out of character.
- So, Harbert seems to have a soul after all. Interesting.
- It looks like Malaya is over the attack, which makes her shaking hands scene from code Black Season 1 Episode 16 seem like a bit of a loose end, or just pointless
- Normally I'd say the likelihood of a doctor being ordained and able to perform a wedding would be pretty low...but this is Rollie Guthrie we're talking about. Somehow I doubt he had to rush to find an internet church's website.
- Was the zombie episode timed to line up with the return of Walking Dead, or was that just coincidence?
- If Jesse's nursing shifts get cut, he could probably find work as a part time makeup artist if his zombie bride transformation is any indication.
- Sprague Grayden (of Jericho, 24, The Following, and Sons of Anarchy to name a few) killed it as young Luke's step-mother-to-be. Seriously, the casting director on this show does such an amazing job. She perfectly captured the frustration and pain of being rejected by a child you care about.
Heather: Have you seen those videos of dogs dreaming? They're chasing something, and all of a sudden they just wake up, and they run straight into a wall. [laughs] It's hilarious.
Angus: Unless you're the dog.
The season finale, Code Black Season 1 Episode 18, will air on February 24th. Will it be the last episode ever? Only time will tell. The writers are tempting fate with an explosion at Presidential debate, and governor as a patient seems like a good guess as to how Leanne finds a solution to her budgetary problems.
Angus' addiction looks like it will be short-lived, which is no real surprise as I mentioned above. I just hope it doesn't feel forced and rushed. Christa is apparently going to "discover" something about Neal and Grace's past; my money is that there was a proposal at some point.
Remember, you can always watch Code Black online if you've missed an episode, or if you just want to catch up. As the season winds down, what are your thoughts on renewal and on the season as a whole? Let us know what you think is working (and what isn't), and your opinions on the evolution of Code Black – the comments section awaits!
Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.