I’m going to just say it and be done with it. The Resident season 2 Episode 1, “00:42:30” repeats several storylines that have already been done (in some cases to death) on a long-running medical drama on another network.
- A power outage in a storm (Check)
- Newborns in danger during said blackout (Check)
- Heart surgery in the dark (Check)
- Build a makeshift OR to save a kid’s life (Check)
- Doctor falling for a patient (Check)
- A cyber attack on the hospital (Check)
While part of me is impressed they are able to jam that many stories (and more) into 42 minutes and 30 seconds (hence the episode name) I’d be remiss not to tell you I’m worried.
Medical dramas copy each other; this doesn’t bother me. It’s just that… if The Resident slowed down a bit, it would be a much better show. I like it right now, so the fact that I know it could be even better if they just slowed the pace at which they’re copying stories pains me… a lot, to be honest.
Last season, the biggest storyline (stopping Dr. Hunter’s murderous fake cancer scheme) was unique enough to set the show apart. But “00:42:30” abandons any trace of it save Dr. Bell learning she will face the death penalty.
Perhaps that is foreshadowing more to come. We can hope.
One particular storyline on this episode that would have benefitted from a slower pace is the hacking aspect of the blackout. In order to make it plausible, Nic has to tell viewers that Joplin already weakened the hospital’s security system during a previous visit. Joplin has to outline her entire motive for us in a mini-monologue.
First of all, this blatantly breaks the “show don’t tell” rule of storytelling. While the rule is harder to follow than it should be sometimes, Joplin only has to be in one previous episode for the story to work better, and it doesn’t even have to be the one immediately before the blackout.
The surprise element is what made this story almost work the way it was done. But we don’t even have to know much about Joplin the first time we meet her in my more plausible hacker scenario. We only know her medical reason for being at the hospital, her student status, and perhaps part of her family history.
It’s a shame, really. TV is so sensationalized today that writers seem to think “big events” attract viewers.
Since The Resident was a mid-season replacement (meaning they had less time to tell Season 1 stories), the Season 2 premiere could have been a way to softly reset.
I’m not sure coming in with something as cliché as a blackout and packing so many borrowed stories into 42 minutes is the way to go.
The storylines are generic. But, there are enough “medical ethics” references at their core to remind the viewer that the show is about more than adults who happen to be doctors making out like teenagers.
Take my favorite line of the episode. Dr. Austin (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) summarizes for the viewers that protocol dictates he and Dr. Okafor stop operating on baby Mabel until full power is restored. When it’s established that everyone knows he won’t do that he says:
Okafor, if we continue and Mabel doesn’t survive, coin toss at this point, are you willing to lay your head next to mine as Bell lowers a steel blade to the back of our beautiful ebony necks?
There is so much story potential in this one line, on the condition that Mabel dies.
First of all, the “lay your head next to mine” bit. That’s about solidarity with coworkers in life-or-death situations. Would Dr. Okafor keep her word? She seems like that type.
But, Dr. Austin seems more likely to throw Okafor to the wolves to save his own career.
Then there’s the fact they have “beautiful ebony necks.” Right there is a potentially powerful story about race and workplace politics.
Last season, Bell stood by Okafor more than once. But would he do the same in the face of a PR nightmare involving a dead baby?
How about for the black man involved? Would Dr. Austin’s career survive?
Mabel lives, so we don’t need to be asking these questions. But I’d be so much more excited about this season if we did.
Of course, there’s always the potential that this is foreshadowing something else down the line. Fingers crossed.
As much as this particular storyline would’ve benefitted from a patient death, part of what makes The Resident so refreshing is that it doesn’t always rely on the “life or death” drama.
This allows room to explore other issues, like Nic’s total badass, womanly competence as a nurse practitioner.
Another favorite moment of mine in “00:42:30” is the scene where Joplin’s sister Rachel apologizes to Nic. Nic’s entire main storyline passes the Bechdel Test (here’s hoping for more than one story like that in future episodes). But this scene stands out for two reasons:
- Women supporting women: Rachel acknowledges that Nic is good at her job, Nic acknowledges that the sister was just protecting her sibling.
- Apologies: Rachel apologizes to Nic. “I’m sorry” is an extremely underused line in TV, but can do a lot to move a storyline forward.
Women say “I’m sorry” way too much. But, who would dare question a man’s competence…right? *Insert eye roll here*
“I’m sorry” is too scarcely used on TV. In this case, the words actually propel the story in a unique direction, Nic wants to protect Joplin (and Rachel) from consequences.
Whether that is realistic or not is highly questionable. But, if you like any type of drama, you have to suspend disbelief a lot more than you want to in order to stick with a show. I will not be dwelling on believability where it doesn’t drive me crazy if I can help it.
That said, I don’t know how much longer I can stand Nic “just” being a nurse practitioner. Nurses’ stories are necessary. Tell them and tell them loud. But she’s the only one we really know.
Sure, they are more relevant on The Resident than on other medical dramas. (Shout out to Nurse Linda and her bitterness for being the only naturally funny moment of the episode.) But, either put other nurses in the thick of things as much as Nic is or commit to a story about her furthering her degree soon.
I like Dr. Pravesh, and I know he’s learning but he’s a doctor — he needs to be way more confident (and competent) than to be proud of himself for catching anaphylaxis.
Nic would have caught it sooner and then gone on to discover the hacker. There’s only so long viewers will stand calling her a nurse.
And think of the potential storylines. “Boyfriend becomes teacher” has rarely (if ever) been done on a medical drama. It’s a small variation on a rather predictable romantic story, sure.
But in this genre? Everything’s been done so much that the variations do count.
The show is still experiencing growing pains. But despite its technically veteran status, it’s still a newish kid in an overcrowded genre. I’m willing to give it more time.
I’m more compelled to do this because of a tweet I received when I announced I’d be reviewing The Resident this season. Creator Amy Holden Jones replied telling me to consider reviewing three episodes at once as is done with some cable shows.
We watch along with viewers and post reviews as shows air unless they are on streamable networks, so I couldn’t take her advice. But it will be in the back of my mind this season, and I shared because I think it should be in yours, too.
- The elevator scenes are pointless and not funny at all. They could have been deleted to add more to other storylines. A good laugh comes naturally, not where a script blatantly inserts one.
- They need to show something more regarding Conrad’s military service. It’s one of his most interesting aspects, telling isn’t cutting it.
- Malcolm-Jamal Warner really shined this episode. His character truly intrigues me.
- While I like Micah, there is foreshadowing he’s going to die and perhaps Mina will seek comfort from her mentor. *Yawn*
- I ship CoNic. But I think I need flashbacks of their history to really become invested.
- It bothers me that I don’t feel the need to mention Conrad’s story at all. I wouldn’t have, except this is a problem that needs addressing. This has nothing to do with Matt’s acting. He’s the lead character though. If The Resident wants to last…they need to think beyond makeshift ORs in blackouts. Like I said, both have been done before.
- The soundtrack of this episode was on point. In more than one scene, it inspired more emotion in me than the acting.
The Resident airs Monday at 8/7c on FOX.
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