Remember that time when a show that kept getting better and better each week was cancelled after six episodes? In case you didn’t hear the news, that’s exactly what’s happening with Emily Owens, M.D. But don’t worry: The CW is going to finish out the rest of the season anyway.
Let’s have a chat about this, Emily Owens fans. Because I feel awfully confused about it. Why do networks do this? Not cancel shows; I understand that, and I know it’s a tough ratings game with brand new players. But why make the decision, and the announcement, now, just halfway into the series? If you’re still going to finish out the rest of the season, why not wait until, like, the end of the season? Because this show really does just keep getting better. Yet for many people, I’m sure that it now seems kind of silly to keep watching. Why watch something you know is dead? Well, because it’s still a good hour of television, and I still want to know what happens to these characters, even if I only get to see them for six more episodes. At least that’s how I feel. I’ll obviously watch it until the end. But it seems a shame that others will be encouraged not to because of this premature ax-ing, when there’s still plenty of great work going on.
Plus, not only does this mean one less lesbian of color on TV; it also means one less show that’s created and almost solely written by women.
But, I digress. For those of you who are still here with me, let’s move on to the fact that this was one great episode this week. After talking gender and God last episode, this week we covered medical marijuana and illegal immigration. And rapists. And self-criticism. And dads who are accepting of their lesbian daughters. See why this show shouldn’t be canceled?
We start out by discovering that Emily Owens and Cassandra share the same birthday. Ha! Ha! This twist for these frenemies might be too easy, but I enjoy it anyway. While Cassandra is one of those people who loooves her birthday, Emily is one of those people who hate it. Obviously. She begs Cassandra and Will not to pass the word around, but Will just won’t believe she doesn’t actually want to celebrate. Will has a big heart but is also kind of stupid. He decides to organize a huge party at her apartment so she can’t get out of it. Emily is so pumped! Just kidding, she freaks out!
Emily then runs into Micah’s mom, who is in my running category of Best Mom Ever, who’s putting on a brave happy face like all the best moms do. But Emily can tell from signs on her face that she has been vomiting non-stop in reaction to her chemotherapy. She adorably gets around to what she really wants to ask: Can she have some medical marijuana? A friend said it helps. Emily smiles and says oh, yeah, it definitely deters nausea and helps with appetite. She thinks it’s a great idea. Not to get into any pot politics in too much depth, but I love this exchange so much; I love that it’s such not-a-big-deal. Since it’s not.
The doctors are all then whisked off to a serious meeting with the Chief and Bandari. They’re informed they will be intaking a criminal patient from a local prison, an announcement which takes place not-so-subtly in front of a wall dedicated to the Hippocratic Oath. They’re told the protocol: even though he’ll be monitored by a police officer, only treat him in pairs, never reveal your name, and don’t ask what he’s in jail for. All of which are rules that we know will be broken quickly.
Emily and Will are assigned to the case, and after they first meet him and he appears to simply be an amiable white dude, they joke in the hall about what his offense might have been. Emily suggests letting his dog loose without a collar. Oh, Emily and Will! Always be wary of the amiable white dudes! They are the WORST!
They proceed to then break protocol the first time by getting the scoop from his attending officer. [Trigger warning.] They’re told he’s actually raped four women, strangling the last one and leaving her in a plastic bag. Aren’t you glad you know now, guys?
Emily breaks a much more serious rule later in the episode, at the undoubtedly scariest moment this series has ever had, when she walks by his room and hears him repeatedly calling for help. Nagged by that Hippocratic Oath that she keeps trying to remind herself of, she walks into the room alone. Forgetting that she now has a sticker shouting EMILY in plain view that some nurses stuck on her coat previously for her birthday, she delicately starts to peel back his gown to take his heart rate. He notes that she’s scared of him. She denies it, poorly. He then drawls, in the creepiest way possible: “Emily…happy birthday. Wish I could give you a present. You’d really like it.” And reaches out his hand to try and touch hers. This is when Will comes in to save the day and essentially shoves her out of the room.
We next see Emily in the bathroom, splashing water on her face and shakily telling herself she’s fine. But she’s not fine. No woman would be fine. The fear and threat Emily felt, that we all felt in this scene, were real. While Emily’s shell-shocked reaction is perfect, I almost wish they spent more time on it later on in the episode, as this is the only time we see Emily really processing it. Will bursts into the bathroom to make sure she’s OK; she brushes him off and leaves. Will clearly shows an over-protective side towards Emily in this episode, one that I feel slightly torn about. In one way, I’m glad that he’s concerned about her, as she’s clearly not that great at always taking care of herself. In another way, I’m like, dude, calm down with the Handsome Protective Man shtick, she’s not THAT incompetent, and the Handsome Protective Man shtick is always annoying.
In our other, less bone-chilling patient storyline of the week, we get to meet Manuel, the flower delivery guy, who apparently every female in the hospital is madly in love with. I have to say, I don’t blame them; dude seems to have a heart of gold and it doesn’t help that today his ball of cute son is tagging along for his workday. Unfortunately, his workday is cut short as he collapses while delivering Cassandra yet more birthday flowers.
All in all, a hospital is a good place to collapse, but apparently not for Manuel, as he keeps asking if he can transfer somewhere else less expensive, as he doesn’t have health insurance. He is clearly distressed, and I’m invested in his well-being, but to be honest I am currently much more invested in the fact that Tyra has her hair up today and it looks wonderful.
Emily obviously approaches the Chief to ask for the use of the hospital’s discretionary fund to help pay for the surgery Manuel needs to clear the huge tumor in his lung. As she says, if an objectively bad person can get free health care, an objectively good person shouldn’t be denied it. We get to learn that the Chief isn’t such an awful person in this episode, as he immediately says, “Sure!” to this request. Manuel brought him flowers when his mom died. He gets it.
Yet as Emily starts to file all the paperwork for this request, she uncovers something she really didn’t want to: the real Manuel died in this very hospital six years ago. Manuel is here illegally and stolen the dead Manuel’s identity, the real reason he was so adamant about leaving the hospital. Emily approaches him about it with as much empathy but I-have-to-do-my-job-ness as she can muster. Since he has a heart of gold and all, he says to not feel guilty; he understands, she has to do what she has to do. But he doesn’t want his son to be deported back to Guatemala with him; as his son is a natural born citizen, he can stay here with Manuel’s cousin to have a better life. When the adorable son reveals to Emily that he caught part of this conversation, Emily says his father just wants what’s best. He says, what’s best is to be with my dad.
This is maybe slightly heavy handed, but yet not, as it’s a completely accurate and heartbreaking story that happens in the “real world” each day. I wish TV shows discussed immigration on a much more frequent basis; its complexities are some of the least broadcast realities in America.
Yet, when Emily approaches Bandari after Manuel’s successful surgery with the file that proves his illegality, Bandari wins over all of our already-won-over hearts by tossing it in the trash. Big hospital, she says. Records get lost all the time. As she tells Emily, “There’s protocol, and there’s judgment calls. We took an oath to heal the sick. We’re doctors, not policemen.” Yay! This is totally illegal but illegal things are sometimes the best!
Speaking of Bandari, this is in fact the second great moment of hers at the end of this episode. The first involves her yelling at Will after they get out of the surgery they were in together to place a new valve in Creepy Rapist’s heart. Bandari was asked to help out in Manuel’s OR during the middle of this operation, to which Bandari was obviously like, “No, dickwad, I’m doing this surgery right now.” Will can’t keep it in, and implores her: this guy’s a rapist. The other guy is Manuel. You should him, instead. Bandari promptly kicks Will out of her OR.
When he approaches her to apologize afterwards and says “I know, I lost my objectivity,” she faces him and says, “Look, asshole. I don’t care about your objectivity. I care about mine. So next time, don’t tell me I’m working on a rapist as I’m working on repairing his heart.” This is so good! Obviously she doesn’t give a crap about you, Will! Plus, her lab jacket is flying open and her hair is particularly flowy and she seems just slightly less perfect and uptight than she ever has before and that much more beautiful!
Finally, back to hair-up Tyra and her not-awful dad, they finally have a meeting after Tyra’s spent a whole bunch of time refusing to talk to him. They use Emily as an intermediary until she finally puts a stop to it, although the Chief originally calls her to his side for advice because he thinks she’s Tyra’s sweetheart. Ha! Hilarity! Although after she corrects him, he’s like, “Oh. Well, can you ask her to talk to me and tell her I’m sorry?” He doesn’t want to confront Emily about Tyra’s lesbianism; he simply wants Tyra to forgive him for cheating on her mom. After their long shift, Emily finally convinces Tyra to go see him, while Tyra is donning another completely amazing non-scrubs outfit.
When she goes to his office, she asks him why he cheated. After they talk about this for a moment, this happens:
Like almost everything related to Tyra’s storyline, I love this response: I couldn’t be 100% sure. How true is this, for almost everyone? Even with people that we know and love, there’s something inside that prevents us from being 100% sure, and that doubt can wreck us.
So now that we know for sure that Tyra’s dad loves her and that Manuel will stay in America, we can all get drunk at Emily’s birthday party that she doesn’t want to happen! Whoo! As Emily escapes the craziness for a moment in her room, a sort of drunk Will comes in and they have this heartwarming conversation about how she needs to stop criticizing herself so much because she’s actually pretty rad and stuff. Will also discovers that Emily plays the cello and playing the cello is most definitely rad. This scene makes my heart a little angry because Will is not the person she should be having this cozy scene with; obviously, she should be having it with Micah, who is also finally started to contemplate his Emily Feelings after his girlfriend told him hey, I think you have Emily Feelings. Plus, Emily, I know it seems like Will really cares about you and stuff, but if he only tells you these really nice things when he’s drunk, he’s not really worth it.
In any case, he convinces her to play a cello solo she was too afraid to play in high school in front of everybody at the party. Micah looks on and probably realizes that duh, of course he has Emily Feelings, because if you’re wondering if you might like someone and then they play a cello solo, well, you’re pretty much done for. Yet when he realizes that the meaningful glances Emily is throwing around are directed towards Will, he quickly slinks out.
We end with Emily giving herself a pep talk about not focusing on her flaws so much in this upcoming year and just giving herself a break, as Tyra comes around with a birthday cake. To which Cassandra leans in and blows all the candles out one second before Emily gets to. Which is perfect.
So who’s still out there watching with me? What did you think about this episode, and how do you feel about the upcoming cancellation? The remaining episodes will begin airing on January 1.