Oh man. They’re really pulling the comedy out of the bag mid-season, aren’t they? I honestly don’t really know how to feel about this one. Gave me a few good chuckles, but I’m not one for the in-your-face slapsticky comedy, so I thought Potluck was a bit too over the top and silly. But it also had great and thoughtful moments. Maybe it’ll win me over on a rewatch.
Written by Mark Rozeman
Directed by Rebecca Moline
Original airdate Apr 11, 2022
Where do I even start? So many. The whole surgical department plus Lea, except a handful of nurses, Glassman, Shaun, Morgan and Jordan. Everyone ate from the potluck, and thus ensued hallucinogenic hilarity and lots of puking.
I guess we should single out Alex Park, who actually ended up with appendicitis and had to have his appendix surgically removed. By Jordan. On her own. First solo surgery as a Second Year (under Morgan’s supervision). Score one for Dr. Allen! But I daresay well deserved.
No patients of the week this time around, for obvious reasons. Well, maybe that one with the hacked off toe. And those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cases like the dude with the wandering spleen, the guy with the electrocuted fingers and the one with the toothbrush up the rectum. We’ll revisit some of those later if you read on.
The Shroomy Potluck
What’s left of the surgical department is gathered in the surgeon’s lounge for a potluck (for whatever reason), a large part of the staff are at a conference in New York for the next three days. Everyone’s got their plates nicely filled, people are milling about, mingling, chatting.
Shaun’s plate is uncharacteristically empty, because apparently all the food has something in it that he can’t or won’t eat. Lea recommends he put something on his plate anyway, just to not appear rude and teaches Shaun the old napkin trick – just put the food on a napkin, pretend you’re wiping your mouth and then throw it away. “I am going to need a lot of napkins,” Shaun remarks.
He gets saved by the bell when he’s being paged to the ER for a consult. His patient is Jake Hunt (with girlfriend Brea by his side) who cut off his big toe during a camping trip. Or rather, Brea cut it off with a machete. She panicked when she thought it was a snake. Not surprisingly, because Jake is wearing socks with a pretty realistic snake print.
Shaun volunteers that his neighbour in Wyoming nearly died after hitting his foot with an axe. Sounds like Shaun saved the day on that one. Or at least I hope he did. Shaun reassures Brea and Jake that the toe can be reattached since the machete was very sharp.
The surgery goes pretty well, perfusion to the reattached toe is fine. However, Dr. Lim is not. There’s a snake winding its way around the patient’s foot, and the food she had is also suddenly rebelling in her stomach. She asks the surgical team to stay calm, but everyone is confused. What is going on?
Looks like the snake isn’t real—it’s a figment of Lim’s imagination. And then the puking starts. Uh oh, what was in the potluck food? (Side Note: I dig the trippy title theme music.)
When Shaun gets to the ER, it’s pandemonium. People are hurling their food into rubbish bins, many of them are behaving strangely. There’s complete hubbub and chaos. “What is happening?” an oblivious Shaun asks.
What’s happening is that everyone is high as a kite on… something. They’re still trying to figure out what. Morgan is doing her best to keep them afloat with the few of the staff who still have their mental faculties intact.
Andrews, Morgan, Glassman and Shaun meet for a crisis briefing in Andrews’ office. How do they tackle such a huge load of patients with so few staff? Where do they keep them all to observe and treat them? And how do they find out what the culprit is to treat it in the first place other than monitor gastric symptoms and give fluids?
Unfortunately, Andrews also consumed whatever it was, and soon he gets added to the pool of patients to be babied. He ends up in a treatment room together with Audrey, verbalising that he feels… floaty. And he likes it. They both admire his swirly pink sweater (which isn’t actually swirly), and then they get… passive aggressive.
Whatever they ate, it really messed with their inhibition, and so it’s open and honest confession time. Audrey doesn’t buy that he really cares about the hospital. He cares about his power-hungry ego. He, in turn, thinks her maverick daredevil schtick and her control freak streak aren’t doing her any favours. She also rags on his skin-tight clothes, and I have to grin because I’d be lying to say I hadn’t had that thought myself. The nurse advises them both to maybe better stop talking. Not a bad idea in this state.
In the meantime, Morgan is trying to find out what food from the potluck is responsible, and she enlists Lea’s help, even though Lea herself is high as a kite. However, Lea assures Morgan it’s “so not the worst trip she’s been on”. She works in tech, she’s been to her share of microdosing sessions. Yeah, I can get down with the idea that Lea’s tried a few things. Responsibly, hopefully. And she thinks that whatever this is, it’s most likely in the ballpark of LSD or mescaline.
It’s interesting Lea mentions mouldy rye, which can indeed be a source of hallucinogenic effects. There’s a fungus called ergot that contains alkaloids that can play a role. I think there was a whole The X-Files episode about this, actually. But I digress.
Lea does a pretty good job asking questions and documenting what everyone ate. But the answers are pretty ambiguous. Is this gonna help much? People don’t really seem to remember all the things they sampled.
Out in the treatment room where Audrey and Marcus are cooped up, she is awoken from her slumber by Marcus tapping on the wall. He wants to climb it. Like Spiderman. And apparently he really believes he can do it, because he takes a run-up towards the wall, but Audrey stops him at the last minute, apparently aware enough that that wouldn’t end well.
However, it’s hard to dissuade him from wanting to climb the wall, so she tries another angle. What is it that Spiderman valued the most? Yes, his secret identity. If Marcus has this power, then does he want the rest of the department who’s watching to know? He considers that for a moment, and sees that Audrey has a point. And then she gets very enamoured with his super soft pink cashmere sweater.
Lea and Morgan confer about the possible toxin, still no closer to knowing what it actually is. Lea has managed to eliminate the ribs and the pasta salad, along with a bunch of other items. And with Morgan’s help, they finally land on the sweet potato casserole that Asher made. Uh oh.
Asher and Jerome are put in front of the tribunal, consisting of Morgan and Lea. Asher insists he didn’t put any drugs in the casserole. He got the recipe online, he followed it to the letter. The next question is whether Jerome wanted to play a prank and spiked the casserole, which he also denies.
Jerome goes to his place to check all ingredients that Asher used to make the casserole and video calls the results into Asher’s phone. They eventually find out what the culprit is! It’s psilocybin – the psychotropic ingredient in magic mushrooms. They’re leftovers from a party hidden in a cumin shaker—a souvenir from one of Jerome’s old friends, and Asher used it, thinking it was actual cumin. Mystery solved!
Audrey and Marcus share a final bonding moment as the effects of the drugs wear off. Audrey is still rubbing Marcus’s cashmere sweater along her cheek, which apparently he must have surrendered to her at some point. Audrey never pegged Marcus for a Spiderman fan. “Always pictured you watching a 10-part Ken Burns doc on the history of pencils.”
He shares that his wife dragged him to the first movie, and he ended up loving it. “Peter Parker reminded me of myself at that age. Science nerds unite.” (Yay, I relate so much!) Audrey’s story is a little different. In her first year of residency, she had a nightmare shift, and one of her fellow residents suggested that instead of going home and falling apart, they go see the matinee of Spiderman 3, which cheered her up considerably.
“That was a good friend,” Marcus remarks. Audrey agrees. “Yep. Melendez was pretty cool.” And seeing the Spiderman movies became a bit of a tradition for them. She still misses him, and she hasn’t seen the new one yet because it feels wrong to do it without him. Marcus can relate. It isn’t the same without Isabelle either.
Marcus’s life didn’t quite work out like he had thought, he never figured it’d be no wife, no kids and a job for which people hate him. Audrey doesn’t hate him, though. Sure, the way he got the presidency wasn’t cool, but he makes it look very easy when it’s very much not that. And he’s not half bad at it. But he better not tell anyone she said that.
When Audrey gets home in the morning, all exhausted but too wound up to sleep, she plops down on the couch. Her phone rings, it’s Marcus. He suggests a weekly meeting to keep their lines of communication open, which she really likes. And he asks her to turn on the TV, channel 39. It’s a rerun of Spiderman 2, and they both watch it on their respective couches, quoting the most iconic lines from the movie to each other.
Shaun & Lea
So obviously Shaun didn’t have any of the potluck food. Good for him, cause he’s one of the few people who get to keep a sane mind during this whole wild and quite literal trip. Lea, on the other hand, is not so lucky.
I gotta say, at first I was a bit miffed that they deprived us of seeing an actually drugged and loopy Shaun. Because I think he would be hilarious. But we got a hilariously trippy Lea, and that was pretty cute, too.
Apparently Lea gets clingy and cutesie when she’s high. She full-body-hug tackles Shaun from behind with a squealy, “Shaunie! I missed ya!” Our completely unsuspecting Shaun lets out an unintelligible sound, accompanied by one of those hilarious Highmore grimaces and it still makes me laugh. Uh oh, Shaun thinks with a sense of dread. It’s hit my fiancée, too.
He takes Lea to an exam area to check her symptoms. She’s not nauseous, she’s great. “Almost as great as your hair.” And then she fingers it, twirls it lovingly. His hair is soft. How does he do that? Conditioner? (Wouldn’t she know?) Genetics?
Shaun is impressively unimpressed. Her temperature is elevated and her pupils are dilated. And she speaks in the same voice she uses to talk to their neighbour’s dog. I’m kind of amazed that he just goes, ‘Okay, she’s high and not thinking clearly, I’ll roll with it.’ She finally stops messing with his hair, and his cute little hair ruffle to get it back in place and the following ‘Help, I’m out of my depth’ pout are very trademark Shaun.
That’s about the extent of Shea we get in this episode, as Shaun was busy as heck trying to keep up with treating surgical patients and wasn’t very concerned with the effects of the drugs on Lea. We know Lea was waiting for “Shaunie” on a bench in the locker room in the morning, and I wish we could be privy to Shaun and Lea’s aftermath conversation on the way home and at the apartment later.
Side Note: We had an expansion this episode of the list of no-gos for Shaun where food is concerned:
In addition to what we already know:
I wonder if he doesn’t like the taste, or if it’s maybe a texture or consistency thing as well. Or just the amount of it, as in mayonnaise based salads. Haven’t we seen Shaun regularly eating turkey or chicken sandwiches? Wouldn’t they have mayonnaise on them? I really hope the continuity people on the show are taking notes.
Shaun & Glassman
The Shaun and Glassman dynamic was honestly the best thing about this episode. We get a first glimpse at it when Shaun assists during a craniotomy that Glassman is leading. And it’s interesting, because the other week I was asking if Shaun actually ever did a surgery with Glassman that we saw, and I believe there was only one, way back in first year, and Shaun was still a very young and very unexperienced grasshopper then.
Somehow, I had been hoping these two would have a great shorthand because they’ve known each other so long, but boy, was I wrong! Glassman’s style in the OR is kinda laid back, easy banter, make everyone feel at ease and comfortable. And Shaun? Shaun is all business, all medicine, all correct scientific terms and precision and little to no unnecessary banter. That’s a sure-fire recipe for clashing.
And clash they do. Glassman small talks a bit with one of the nurses about a golf course they both played at and a certain tricky bunker they both failed at conquering, and Shaun gets impatient. Can they not get on with it? The patient has a brain problem they need to fix, why are they talking about golfing?
Glassy gives Shaun the stink-eye, then totally ignores his rebuke and carries on with the small talk before they get to it. Shaun is clearly perturbed. This isn’t the clear-cut efficiency in the OR he’s used to, and that’s a blip on his annoyance radar.
After the surgery, Shaun reprimands Glassman that the cranioplasty took seven minutes longer than it should have. Glassman is okay with that, as long as it means they had a smooth surgery. But Shaun insists they need to move faster. There are too many cases and too little staff and time. They need to hurry things along.
The lesson that Glassman tries to teach Shaun here is that a stressful situation is usually better handled when you exude an air of calm, that being a leader means you need to keep the morale up and the tension down. And that doesn’t happen when you let people see and feel that you yourself are stressed. I think it’s pretty clear that this advice is lost on Shaun.
It’s Shaun who is leading the next surgery, together with Jordan. He moves and talks quickly, wants to get it over with swiftly. And indeed, Glassman’s advice totally fell flat, because Shaun tells Jordan Dr. Glassman implied the OR staff can’t handle a sense of urgency. “Which is why he moves too slowly and uses the wrong terminology.”
Jordan hopes that Shaun didn’t tell Glassman that, but he assures her that he did, and that it’s cool because he’s known him for a long time and usually doesn’t have an issue being presented with criticism. Props to Jordan for actually telling Shaun that he may have been out of line. In the OR, Dr. Glassman is a senior surgeon, and Shaun is still a resident, and he can’t expect everyone to move at his pace.
The advice that Shaun takes away from this is that if in any situation where he is the senior doctor, then he can expect of everyone to follow his pace. That’s great to know. He likes that. Jordan is immediately worried. “That’s not exactly what I meant.”
We see Glassman’s expert leadership at work when he treats a nervous patient in the clinic who came in with facial lacerations. Now, Glassman could have patched him up and sent him on his way quickly and efficiently, but Glassman takes his time and asks just the right questions. What kind of work does he do? Is there a lot of pressure at work? Is he sleeping okay? Is he self-medicating, maybe, to deal with the fatigue and the stress? And that’s how Glassman figures out the guy is on self-administered amphetamines. Something he wouldn’t have been able to ascertain if he’d treated-and-streeted the man.
Meanwhile, Shaun is trying to assembly-line patients in and out of the ER. It takes him about 21 seconds to get a young male patient to admit he inserted a toothbrush into his rectum because he was bored. Nurse Villanueva can barely keep up with writing down the symptoms at the rate Shaun talks. But it gets the job done. And Shaun gets frustrated that people can’t keep up with him, so he starts doing things himself. Yes, he’s definitely stressed now.
And it’s not just his own ER patients, nurses are now offloading Glassman’s patients on Shaun too, because Glassman is falling behind. Shaun doesn’t want to take on Glassman’s patients, but who else if not Dr. Shaun ‘Super Efficiency Mode’ Murphy? Why is everyone so slow?
Shaun’s next patient, one of those that Glassman didn’t manage to get to, is Mr. Cho who came in with elevated blood pressure. Shaun asks a few questions about history of stroke, heart attack or blood clots, and the patient is immediately worried that he’s having a heart attack. Shaun does nothing to reassure him—more like the opposite. He injects a dose of esmolol, a beta-blocker to lower blood pressure, then he’s off to see the next patient with swift efficiency, but it doesn’t quite come to that because Mr. Cho suddenly has trouble breathing. Shaun asks to get Dr. Glassman paged.
Glassman to the rescue, he diagnoses a mild asthma attack as a result of the esmolol. Shaun gets a little defensive and agitated when he’s being questioned as to why he didn’t check medical history information, which would have been in Mr. Cho’s chart. Glassman’s calm and reassuring manner saves the day, but then Glassman has to deal with a pacing and upset Shaun who’s waiting for him outside in the hall after Glassman sent him there.
“You didn’t have time to get a clear history?” he questions Shaun. The latter rattles off a superficial excuse about medical urgency. Glassman warned him about this, didn’t he? Shaun is stressed out, and he’s stressing everyone else out, in turn—including the patients. Shaun tells Glassman he would feel less stressed if Glassman was getting through his patient list faster, but who is Shaun to dictate Glassman’s working speed?
Shaun gets more worked up now, flying into a tirade about Glassman taking too long, and Shaun having to cover for him. “And if you had not been so slow to get to the patient… because I know you are not able to work at my pace, but your medical strategy is not working, no no!”
That’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, because now Glassman bristles. He stays remarkably calm at first when he asks Shaun to take a break and get something to eat. Shaun declines, he needs to get back to work, but Glassman plants himself firmly in Shaun’s way and actually yells at him. “I said take a break! If you don’t wanna eat something, then go take a walk! Now!”
Shaun flinches at the loud and harsh words, but he complies and walks away with a kicked puppy look on his face.
Did Shaun deserve this? I dunno, but Glassman is right that Shaun could use a break. They’ve been at this for hours, and Shaun’s blood sugar is probably super low. And Glassman is also right that Shaun was out of line, misguidedly favouring haste over thoroughness. Did that warrant going full ‘angry father’ on him? Maybe not, but they were all stressed, and Glassman could surely see that the situation was taking its toll on Shaun.
When I discussed this with NiceNiceDevice, she said Shaun had a good point, they were short-staffed and the cases they were seeing were emergencies that could not be postponed. But the way he verbalised it to Glassman was like a kid who would get pissed at his dad. There was none of the respect that is usually seen when a resident is addressing a senior doctor.
On the other side you have Glassy, who at that moment saw nothing but an angry kid. He probably knows how Shaun gets and fell on old habits. If it was Asher, for example, who would’ve said, “Dr. Glassman, there are a lot of patients waiting and perhaps we should try to work faster,” maybe Glassman would’ve listened.
At that moment, Glassman didn’t see Shaun as a doctor. His brain went, “Uh oh, Shaun is spiralling and I better put a stop to this.” Hence the enforced apple break, literally treating him like a child, saying, “You’re cranky and tired, go take a break and eat something.” Their relationship is complicated, and I don’t think they work closely together in a professional capacity very often. Clearly, that professional dynamic needs work. From both of them.
Next, we see Shaun poutingly spite-eating a sliced apple from a Tupperware box in a waiting area in the ER. It very much says, ‘Daddy said take a break and eat, so yis, I’mma take a break and eat, even though I really don’t want to’. NiceNiceDevice said: Shaun eating his apple in anger was one of my favorite moments in the episode because he knew Glassy was out of line. His ego couldn’t take it.
Nurse Villanueva interrupts with an ultrasound image of a patient’s spleen that looks really strange, but Shaun insists that he’s taking a break and is hence indisposed. However, Villanueva isn’t so easily deterred, so Shaun can’t help but sneak a look at the ultrasound she keeps holding under his nose. And strange it is indeed, it has Shaun’s interest immediately piqued.
The patient is a young dude with a wandering spleen, caused by a Jackass-style stunt recorded for his social media followers. Something about using a ball launcher to fire a basketball at his stomach…? Shaun is less interested in the guy’s social media driven motivations and more in the supercool surgery that’s required to get the spleen put back where it belongs. It’s a rare condition and not something you see every day!
Of course Shaun wants in on the surgery, but Glassman is the senior surgeon, and since they had this argument earlier, Shaun doesn’t really want to talk to him. So he asks Jordan to speak to Glassman and convince him to let Shaun scrub in. But Jordan doesn’t want to get in the middle of some personal dispute, so she says no and tells Shaun to sort it out himself.
And he tries very valiantly, but also very Shaun-ly. His angle is, “I should be included, this is a rare procedure.” Glassman, of course, it immediately annoyed. Did Shaun take a break, like he ordered? Yes, Shaun had an apple. Half an apple, he clarifies, because of course Shaun can’t lie.
It’s not good enough. “I understand if you’re disappointed, Shaun. I need a team who listens to me, who knows my style and who embraces it.” When Shaun tries to sway him, he cuts him off. “Shaun. You’re not in the surgery.” End of discussion. Shaun is left standing with that kicked puppy expression again. The second time today he’s being figuratively slapped in the face by his mentor and role model. What is he doing wrong?
After the surgery, Glassman compliments Jordan on a job well done. Jordan actually repeats something that Shaun told her earlier about possible complications, but Glassman isn’t stupid. He can tell that that was something out of Shaun’s mouth. Jordan chooses to go on the offensive and actually utter some criticism, and I love that she’s standing up for Shaun. She tells Glassman, “You’re stressing him out. You made him question himself.”
And it’s not just that. Maybe Glassman needs to give Shaun more credit. Because while Glassman is still a mentor in many regards, Shaun makes a hell of a lot of medical sense when Glassman is not around. He doesn’t quite have the same level or experience, but he has other strengths that Glassman can learn from himself. Like Jordan has. And maybe it’s time that Glassman lets Shaun return the favour. And that gets Glassman to thinking.
It’s nice to see that Jordan makes Glassman realise that perhaps he needs to take off the “parent” hat here and put on the “fellow surgeon” hat in order to see Shaun through the correct lenses for this situation.
Side Note: I wonder if there was a scene that was cut that somehow spoke more tangibly to the whole questioning aspect, because I where did Shaun question himself in the scenes that we actually saw? Did I miss something?
The machete patient with the hacked off toe makes a comeback, because further tests indicated that he has an anomalous coronary artery and is at risk for cardiac arrests. Shaun presents the case to Glassman, and since Glassman doesn’t want Shaun in the OR with him, he will have to fix the heart with Jordan and without Shaun.
Glassman looks at the imagining, thinks for a moment. “This is complicated. I’m gonna need a senior resident.” Well, subtle metaphors don’t always work on Shaun. “I’m a senior resident,” he states. Did he get it this time? “Yes, I know,” Glassman says, “let’s scrub in.” Shaun’s face is all smiles, he’s so happy.
Morgan interrupts. Alex is in OR 3 on the table, he’ll need immediate surgery since his appendix is about to rupture. It’s a quick laparoscopic surgery, but they’re still short staffed. Glassman suggests that Shaun start the procedure, but Morgan proposes that Jordan do it under Morgan’s supervision. She herself has assisted on so many of them in her second year, she can talk Jordan through. A little dodgy since spouse is not supposed to be actively involved in surgeries, but, well… I guess these are extenuating circumstances.
Shaun remarks that second year residents don’t get to do solo surgeries, but Glassman has faith in Jordan. “Go prep,” he says when Jordan asserts that she can do this.
Let me distract you with cute behind-the-scenes photos from this scene. Whatever it was that Richard Schiff said or did here (he should be there on the right, out of shot), I’m digging that he’s making his colleagues crack up with a joke or silly moment.
Shaun and Glassman open up the cardiac patient, and Shaun remarks on the massive stenosis, but then asks Glassman if he’d rather discuss sports or another topic. Look at our boy learning! Glassman appreciates the sentiment but they can stick to the medicine for now. He also takes Shaun’s suggestion for the surgical approach, which very much pleases Shaun.
They do the surgery as planned, but when they assess if it worked, the heart isn’t getting adequate perfusion. Shaun and Glassman brainstorm ideas for better fix, and Shaun suggests moving the left coronary artery from the right side of the aorta and re-implanting it to the correct side. Glassman thinks that’s a hell of an idea and lets Shaun take the lead. And he proudly does so.
After the surgery, Glassman compliments Shaun on a job well done. And he apologises to Shaun for cutting him out of the surgery earlier. The moment feels perhaps somewhat understated, but it’s actually kind of a big deal. Glassman doesn’t verbally apologise to Shaun very often. Shaun takes it in silence without actual eye contact. Maybe he’s not sure what to make of it?
Glassman is tired, though. It’s been a long time that he’s pulled an all-nighter. “I thought it was quite invigorating,” Shaun comments. Well, yeah, Shaun. You’re 30 years younger. Glassman gives him a look. “I need a Scotch.” Shaun protests because it’s only 8 am. “I know,” Glassman says, “Care to join?” Of course Shaun does. Fuck neatly folding the towel he was holding—having a drink with mentor-dad is way more important! Shaun’s little excited pirouette in the door on the way out is also adorable.
In his office, Glassman pours them both some Scotch, and he offers up a toast. “To us, evolving.” They clink glasses. Aw. So proud of these two. Shaun takes a sip and utters that he actually prefers Tequila. Can’t blame him, Scotch isn’t a favourite of mine, either. Definitely an acquired taste. And Glassman tells him he’s got a lot to learn. (Is it bad that this made me think of the season 4 blooper reel and how Freddie can’t figure out how to drink from a Scotch glass?)
I love how they ended on such a comfortable note here, the both of them just enjoying each other’s company after a long and taxing day that ended on a high note. Even after all these years, they are still evolving, indeed.
Asher & Jerome
These two. They are so sweet. I’m digging it. I’m loving the budding romantic relationship, the awkwardness, the getting to know each other journey. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We get our first glimpse of our loving couple when Jerome remarks that Asher’s sweet potato casserole was a runaway hit. It’s already gone before Jerome could even try it. (Kinda predictable on the foreshadowing here, but okay.)
When Asher asks about weekend plans for him and the boyfriend, Jerome explains that a few of his college buddies are in town, so he wants to catch up—without Asher, because it would all be boring college talk anyway. Asher’s a bit disappointed but tries to downplay it. Not sure if Jerome noticed.
Asher confesses his butthurtness to Jordan when she examines him in the ER, because of course he also ate from the spiked food. “Add insecure blabbering to the list of symptoms,” Jordan dryly comments.
The next person Asher pours his heart out to is Alex. They’re on adjacent cots in the break room, and Asher is still hung up on having been cock-blocked by Jerome. And then Asher realises that maybe Jerome freaked out because it was the first time that he called Jerome his boyfriend. Uh oh. Suddenly Asher thinks he messed up. What if Jerome is seeing other people? What if he doesn’t want to be serious? What if the breakfasts-after didn’t mean anything?
And then things get weird. Because Asher and Park lock themselves in the break room, and when Morgan and Jerome force entry, they find the pair, dancing on a table and singing along to Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’. Shirtless, no less.
Asher reaffirms that he has no qualms calling Jerome his boyfriend (and does it again a few times), Park insists that he has every right to keep his recliner wherever he wants. They get a little too adventurous with the druggy dancing, and eventually both tumble off the table to face-plant themselves on the floor. Ouch.
Honestly? Ugh. I didn’t like this scene. So over the top that it was cringey and painful to watch. Kinda felt like just a gratuitous plot device to show two cute guys being silly and shirtless. Sure, I mean, your mileage may vary on what someone considers eye-candy. I’m certain many fans loved the scene a lot more than I did, and that’s fine. Me, I’ll just file it in the “will fast forward on rewatch” drawer.
Jerome fixes up Asher’s head wound. Doesn’t look very serious, just a bit of bleeding. Certainly doesn’t need any stitches. They talk about the boyfriend thing, and Jerome assures Asher that he’s not seeing any other people. And he actually liked the boyfriend mention. Asher asks what it is that he doesn’t want him to meet his college buddies, and Jerome evades again. “I just thought you wouldn’t wanna listen to us rehash our glory days.” Still a lame excuse.
Asher learns more about Jerome when they’re being interrogated about the spiked casserole. Apparently Jerome used to be a big prankster, back in the day. And that worries Asher, because who is Jerome really? Does he truly know the person he’s with, or is he pretending to be someone else? Seems like the drugs are making Asher paranoid in addition to babbly.
In the morning, Asher is officially cleared for discharge, and he meets Jerome in the locker room to go home. He apologises for being kind of an ass before, but Jerome also does. He was right that Jerome wasn’t being himself with Asher. He used to be a total goofball in college, and it gets a little awkward when he’s with this buddies, because to them he’s still the goofball and not the nurse working an actually responsible job.
Asher is a bit perplexed that Jerome thought that what Asher wanted was someone serious and responsible. Asher has spent so much time in orthodox world, he feels like he’s still not sure how to live an “serious” life in the real world. So they both realise that none of them really have anything figured out, and that’s totally okay. Jerome invites him to hang out with his college friends after all, and when Asher leans in to kiss him, there’s Lea’s voice from behind the wall of lockers. “Say yes!”
They round the corner, and she’s lying there on a bench. They ask if she’s okay. “All good, just waiting for Shaunie.” She still sounds a little high. They laugh and they seal it with a kiss. I love these two and hope to see more of them!
Alex & Morgan
At the potluck, Alex and Morgan are discussing his recliner. Morgan thinks it’s old and ratty and doesn’t go with any of the furniture in her living room. So she wants it upstairs in the den where no one can see it. Alex isn’t quite so amused.
The next time they see each other, Alex is high and irrational and tackles Morgan from behind, playfully picking her up off the floor. “I know what I love about you,” he blathers. “You look like a Disney princess. But you’re mean. And that’s so…” he passionately kisses her right front of everyone before she can resist, “hot. I love you.”
She assures him she loves him, too, but he’s suddenly all about the recliner. She has no right to hide it in the den. “It’s living room or bust.” Okay. They’ll have to talk about that, but maybe after those drugs have worn off.
And the recliner is clearly a point of contention with Alex, because he talks to Asher about it next. How can Morgan just decide that his recliner doesn’t deserve to be in the living room? They need to talk about the recliner again, definitely.
When Morgan finds him later in the break room, Alex has some abdominal pain, but he brushes it off with probably just some bruising from the fall off the table. He druggy-babbles more about the recliner and why he deserves to keep it out in the open and how Morgan has no right to make that decision for him. “Because you’re embarrassed by it, you don’t respect it. And if you don’t respect it, maybe you don’t respect me. And before you know it, you’ll be hiding me upstairs in a house you’re paying for where you’ll be the boss and I’ll be nothing but a sad, lonely piece of furniture.”
I’m not sure Morgan sees his point, but I think she understands that the recliner is kind of a big deal, and it has become The Metaphor™ for a larger issue, but he’s also high and in no shape to have a rational conversation.
A while later, likely well into the night or early morning, seems that most of the staff have recovered from their little involuntary drug trip, Morgan seeks out Alex to say she’s thought about all the things he’s said about the recliner and other things, but before he can comment on it, he collapses in her arms with a groan. (Side Note: She calls him Park rather than Alex, even though no one else is there. Work habit?) Morgan asks a nearby nurse to run additional blood tests and a CT on Alex immediately.
A diagnosis of advanced appendicitis is made off-screen, but the surgery will have to wait until they have solved the hallucinogenic drug mystery. When they do, the surgery can go ahead because psilocybin doesn’t interfere with the anaesthesia. The surgery seems to go well, Jordan advises Alex afterwards no exercise for six weeks and that he should listen to his surgeon. She gloats a little, proud Jordan is cute.
Morgan sends Jordan away so she can have a heart to heart with Alex. She’s been thinking about the recliner, it can stay in the living room. But only if they get it reupholstered so that it’s something that represents them both. He easily agrees. No-go on purple, though.
She also checks if he remembered anything else form last night, but he doesn’t beyond the shirtless dance. So maybe they’ll have to talk about the whole “I’m not good enough for you” thing again at some point. Or maybe they don’t. We’ll see what the rest of the season brings.
Like I already mentioned before, I have fairly ambiguous feelings about this episode. There were a lot of really great underlying ideas here, a lot of topics that felt significant and interesting, but just… I felt the execution of it was lacking. NiceNiceDevice said that to me she felt the episode was like they actually filmed a fan fiction, and that’s a great analogy.
I’m also not a fan of slapsticky in-your-face comedy. I don’t find movies like There’s Something About Mary funny. (I mean, I’m German, and we’re said not to have a sense of humour, so go figure. 😊) So probably this episode just wasn’t for me, and that’s fine. I was still able to appreciate the finer points of it, for sure.
The Shaun/Glassman dynamic was good stuff, and they touched on a lot of really important aspects there. Their relationship is still evolving, even after all these years, and it was great to see that being showcased. That said, I would have preferred if they’d done it in a way that wasn’t quite such a stark contrast between clownish absurdity and profound character development.
Park’s appendicitis felt like a total plot device, too. What even was the point of that beyond presenting a reason for Jordan to get her first solo surgery a year early? Could they not have used another random patient for that? Why did it have to be Park? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think appendicitis is an expected or common side effect of either psilocybin ingestion or blunt force trauma. It came so out of the blue. And why then totally gloss over Jordan actually doing her first solo surgery? I feel like she got short-changed on that (although we could argue that they already had a whole episode centring around the residents’ first solo surgeries back in season 3).
I know I wasn’t the only person feeling this way. I’ve heard others say they thought the episode was somewhat tropey and people were acting the generic kind of druggy-crazy you’d expect. There could be better ways to write an “everybody gets high” episode. And while the Shaun & Glassman stuff was beautiful, all the shrooms stuff was incredibly distracting. The Shaun & Glassman evolution felt out of place in amongst all the chaos and might have been positioned better in a different episode in a different context.
Maybe this is also just me, but the pacing of the episode felt off or maybe not well enough outlined. When Glassman mentioned at the end that they had pulled an all-nighter, my reaction was, “Wait, you’ve been at this all through the night?” Somehow, that wasn’t clear to me at all, but I wouldn’t discount the fact that I didn’t really pay attention that aspect with everything that was going on. A simple way to do this would have been to intersperse captions with the current time throughout the episode at regular intervals.
What I always find interesting is when my own opinion doesn’t necessarily match up with that of others I talk to. Sometimes we vehemently agree on certain aspects, sometimes we don’t. While I’m still not really sold on this episode, I will share with you what Daniela had to say, which sounds wholly different and makes me smile, because it’s always great to know others got a huge kick out of the show, even when personally I didn’t connect with it on the same level.
In my opinion, it wasn’t superficial at all. Mark Rozeman was a real genius to mask deep relationships evolution and healing behind the mask of all the hilarious stuff. And I really loved Shaun-Glassy here. Literally every single scene they shared was a reference to the evolution of their relationship, with all their ups and downs, getting to the conclusion that they still have a lot to learn from each other.
The fact that they both found it difficult to be professional around each other, given their deep familiarity, was an important detail to explore. Shaun telling Glassy that he couldn’t keep his pace (come on, Shaunie!). Glassman getting angry and putting Shaun on a sort of time-out, as if he were still a kid. And Shaun totally complying (even eating some apples). LOL! And that toast at the end: “To us, evolving.” It made me tear up.
And then Park/Morgan. Asher/Jerome. Lim and Andrews. So many human relationships explored in such an unconventional setting. I’m not usually a fan of these kinds of episodes, but this one totally got me!
Season 5 Finish Line
We just learned that season 5 will consist of only 18 episodes rather than the 20 of the previous two seasons. No explanation was given as to why this season is two episodes shorter, though we shall note that seasons 1 and 2 also consisted of 18 episodes. There could be many reasons for this, and it’s a moot point to speculate.
Fact is that April 25 will be rerun day where they’ll be reprising Dry Spell (5×12) rather than a new episode, and the season finale will air on May 16, which leaves us with four more episodes to wrap up the season. It’s currently unclear whether we’ll be introduced to a whole new arc to end the season on, or whether we’ll just be seeing more standalone episodes and then wrap-up with a poignant season finale.
It could go either way, but I think there may have been hints in early season 5 interviews that we might be seeing another character arc yet to come. There was some speculation as to whether Marcie (Shaun’s mother) may return, perhaps based on something mentioned in interviews that referred to Shaun’s path of maturity that will heal old wounds. That sounds like a Marcie storyline to me. And there’s been a bit of controversy as to whether fans would actually embrace that or not.
I just hope that the writers know what they’re doing. The last three episodes in particular felt very busy and crowded, with too many parallel stories and character arcs. The whole reconciliation of Shaun and Lea after calling off the wedding felt incredibly rushed. I really hope they’re not gonna hurry along the end of the season in the same way—that would be very disappointing after they spent all this time on the Ethicure arc.
But ultimately, I want to trust the writers that they’ll do it right and they have something good in store for us for the season finish. Here’s to hoping!
State of the Shea
If you’d like to read Kelli Lawrence’s thoughts on the episode, please check out her blog post on State of the Shea.
Will be added later, stay tuned.