The jungle seems like a nice escape from all that.
Off the Map, 1x10, "I'm Home"
Note to self: If the finale breaks your heart for any reason and you need to pretend some things never happened, you're going to hit the reset button to right here. With everything ending on an emotionally resonant yet relatively stable note, this actually would have made a satisfying series finale.
Which of Ben and Ryan's zillion scenes did I enjoy most in this one? Good question! I have no idea, because they just kept coming, each one seemingly better than the last. It was like a whole season's worth of moments crammed into one episode, and the whole season has already been crammed full of moments.
I) Plane Exit
Unsurprisingly, we skipped right over New York, although they did at least give a few placeholders for the non-existent fic writers to build their story around. For starters, "I've been telling her all week to slow down, but she's sick of hearing it from me, so..." Don't worry, he's assured, they've got his back. I love the totally fake "aw, darn" look on his face while pretending to sympathize with her that there are no exciting cases happening. At least, not until Cole spills the beans about that exciting viral outbreak at the prison. After Ryan practically skips off the screen --
Ben: You got my back. Thanks.
Cole: She looked so sad...I knew a prison outbreak would cheer her up!
Zee: Oh, shut up.
(sidebar: It seemed oddly coincidental that, after hearing Ryan is on the transplant list but "pretty low down," the Scrubs rerun that aired that night included the line, "Patients who stay low on the transplant list die while waiting for one.")
Bouncing back to a pilot reference here, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the three of them on the cliffs before the baby docs arrive, and this little reunion reminded me that reason #71 to be sad about this show's cancellation is that there will never be a flashback to a time with them in the past. I overlook how long these three must have worked together. Another thing the Epic Series Replay of the past week convinced me of is that there should be more Ben/Zee interaction where she calls him on his crap.
II) Prison -- Arrival
This is roughly the sixth episode in a row where he has spent all of his spare energy looking concerned and/or worrying about her, but it just does not get old.
As the transcripts put it, the current lovers are calmly ignoring the squabbling one-time/ex-lovers as we pan over to a parallel struggle between Clark & her shiny new medalert bracelet, which she is proclaiming a bitch to get off. Which is kind of the point.
"Hey, it's important that a first responder knows about your heart condition."
"I'm not going into a prison with a label that says easy prey. I'll get eaten alive."
"You're making me feel weak, Keeton. I need you to make me feel strong." But first she may or may not need him get the bracelet off her wrist. Heh. I like how pointedly he snaps the clasp open. "Happy?"
I like to highlight it whenever he specifically calls her by proper first name, too, because it is kind of a rarity reserved for particularly serious moments.
III) Prison -- Treatment
The only thing greater than his look of alarm when she announces she's moving on to the next cell (alone) is her assurance that she'll be fine ("I didn't say a word"), which is evidently code for "in about five seconds I'm going to get body slammed against the wall." Despite catlike reflexes to twist out of it, I still get to appreciate him showing up to pull her out of the cell.
"I know what you're gonna say. Don't. I'm fine, I'm fine...we handled it."
"I didn't say a word," but with much more of an edge than before.
Ryan, unstoppable humanitarian force, demanding permission to give surgical care to a homicidal convict, because "he's still a human being" until the guard gives in.
Ben: Yeah, she's way more agreeable when you...agree with her.
Hah, okay. And, all kidding aside, I quite like this early part where he bites his tongue and goes against his better instincts to respect her wishes about not being treated like a damsel in distress. Because really, she's not, and that stubborn/independent streak is a large part of what I like about their dynamic. ...I just also happen to like it that circumstances are kind of forcing the role on her anyway, even as she fights it tooth and nail.
IV) Surgery -- Prelude
There's another piece of your puzzle, writers -- you get to focus on at least one visit to Chinatown, including a meal. Now fill in the rest. (This is like Wheel of Fortune, only instead of letter spaces, you get a timeline and a couple of major events.)
On an extremely random note, I'm rather fond of how good these two look in bandannas. It's important for you to know that (or not. But now you know anyway).
V) Surgery Emergency
(not to be confused with Emergency Surgery, which is the boring thing happening on the table)
Welllll, hi there, everything ever requested. Ryan collapsing, Ben not being able to help her because he's busy holding an artery shut (bonus challenge: how many more seconds would he have held out before he let go?), screaming for someone, anyone to get in there and help -- I was amazed the sneak peek didn't cut off right there, because that was more than enough to warrant rewinding and took 15 minutes to digest on its own. BUT WAIT THERE'S STILL MORE, as she isn't breathing. And speaking of highlights: "Come on, Ryan, wake up." Stop it, show! It's not even my birthday yet!
The show opts against stopping it, but rather continues full steam ahead, as post-crisis he's in full set-jaw lecture mode.
"Can I say something now? You're in congestive heart failure, and you overexerted yourself today."
"I'm not done." And here is where RS cheats and closes the direct quote because she cannot quiiiite determine every last word, but basically: Unnecessary, reckless, and he stupidly stood by and let it happen; done with that now. "Now you may need me to make you feel strong, but I need you to live. So you're not strong -- you're weak."
Harsh words she needed to hear, albeit perhaps not quite that harshly. Aw, she looks so sad, and there's not even a new prison outbreak to cheer her up.
On a less flippant note: more anger. Always more anger; this is a good look. I mentioned how my newest favorite part of 1x06 is the clipboard hurling, right?
VII) And Close
And then nothing happens for what seems like an interminably long time, as they have to wrap up nine hundred other story threads. I swear there are more endings here than Lord of the Rings, and I am growing increasingly impatient even if I do suspect my pair is going to finish the hour, so when Lily and Mateo come back for their SECOND round of closing statements I am nearly ready to throttle someone. But then the Orchestra of Sadness shows up on the doorstep and starts unpacking its instruments.
(I jest, but I'm serious; the music gets so pretty right here, especially with the low woodwinds, that I dream of knowing whether it is part of an obtainable composition and despair that it is probably a mere part of the in-house score. It's the kind of thing you don't notice until your 98th replay, but once you hear it, you can't focus on the dialogue anymore. Never mind the way the deep and mournful last notes of the...cello? just crush my heart.
The way she holds out her wrist like a surrendering prisoner, and how he just as reluctantly fastens the med alert bracelet back on like a shackle, seems like obvious symbolism yet thrills me to no end that they used it. And while normally I would be very much, "GROSS, TATTOOS. GROSS, INNER WRISTS," I love how she has "invictus" inked there. I love even more that the internet tells me that's an actress detail rather than a character one, but it makes so much sense for the character.
I also quite love the resplendent art direction as he turns her hand over and we get a somber closeup of her new label:
But not as much as I love the tear falling down her cheek or the subsequent hug. At this rate I am going to get Fandom Gout from overindulging in too-rich daydream food. Didn't know what was a thing, did you? It's a new diagnosis.
"I promise you it's gonna be okay."
The Continued Fallout Of the Ill-Advised Hookup
So awkward, and still so great, starting with fumbling to help her unclasp her necklace. Tommy spends so much of this episode fumbling around and looking ridiculous, it cracks me up. Why am I enjoying this, instead of DYING via secondhand embarrassment? I don't understand. Somehow I am not affected at all, except in a positive way. I don't even know if I legitimately ship that (well, I do. But only aesthetically, so far), because the theater screen of my brain is rejecting actual couple-y images and refusing to play with them under any couple-y circumstances, I just like watching their struggle to maintain a friendship after that.
-Big fan of Zee warning them to get it together and figure it out. 'Just not in my garden."
-Bigger fan of Awkward Luncheon Of Awkward, especially after it's just Tommy and Lily, whom we don't get to see alone together nearly enough, with the former dumping all his woes on her about his problematic new inability to work with Mina without picturing her naked (Lily: *scrubs brain with bleach*). Also:
-Lily: What are you doing?
Mina: I'm eating Zee's lunch:
-And of course, this. [Sometime in 2012: OI, PAST SELF, that's lazy. I don't have time to run all over the internet clicking links just because they have prettier font and coloring effects. Use your words.]
[2011 Self: *sticks tongue out* But I do like the concept of the three of them being home for each other. See, this is why we need years -- to fully develop these bonds]
Not to be confused with Prison Breakout, although that kind of happens too.
Among the many things I will miss about this show: Ben providing Tour Guide Exposition on their way to a shiny new location that will eat the baby docs alive if not properly prepared.
I came to a startling realization during this episode: Not only has Lily plummeted from a plum first-place position to tied for fifth/sixth on the character totem pole, but when Cole is around Keeton and away from Zee, he squarely knocks her down to sixth. (of course, she can retaliate and do the same thing if *she's* the one around Keeton, but he never used to be able to best her) MATEO, YOU ARE DESTROYING HER CREDIBILITY.
But that's next section. This section is about how much I enjoyed the prisoner love through a shared wall, and even though it turns out that's the kind of storyline I never want to see a second time, I liked watching it in the moment. Poor girl. Remind me never to get thrown in a South American prison. Best accomplished by never setting foot in South America.
Is it bad that my first and only thought when she escaped, though, was "Wow, now the clinic is REALLY going to be on the police's shit list"?
Back at the Clinica
I have another confession to make: Mateo has absorbed so much of my default omega hate that I don't have much left over for Zee anymore. Mostly I've warmed up to the little Spanish pet names she calls Ryan, and decided I love the hell out of their friendship (it's like Carla & Elliot on Scrubs...but where Elliot isn't annoying), but in this brief interaction with Lily, for the first time I was forgiving of her short temper. Ugh, I have become understanding and sympathetic to her particular quirks! She's still seventh in line for my affection, but it's less distantly than before.
(sidebar: for those of you still keeping track, we may or may not have gotten our third and final clue about New York Week; it depends on whether or not you believe Ben & Ryan actually saw "Wicked." I'm having trouble swallowing it, but I want to believe, based solely on the snicker of unholy glee with which Lily reacted to the news of him seeing it.)
This section is supposed to be about Lily and her new patient, a story I enjoyed a lot more when Loser Face wasn't hanging around. It's the most fun Lily's been in weeks. This was the weak spot in the episode's overall quality, don't get me wrong, but at least his mom was a fun character for a patient of the week.
At least until the part where she talked about how by growing just a leaf, "I see my children growing up with their bellies full." (you mean those children who are now all grown up and presumably able to support themselves through legal means?) So bizarre. It was like they were trying to equate it to tobacco, except MORE HARMFUL and NOT AT ALL THE SAME.
In conclusion: Once again, I am reneging on my claims. You are not allowed to cancel this show for The Crossing (or Reconstruction, as some people are now claiming -- lamesauce change!). Not only am I unwilling to exchange the established fact of Ben being a perfect human being for the unknown variable of Jason, torrid affair promises or not (WHO AM I AND WHY DOES THAT SOUND LIKE A POSITIVE TO MY EARS), but I simply refuse to be kicked out of this environment.
I can't imagine a world where I do not get to roll up on Wednesday and hear the bouncy jungle beats welcome me into the scrappy little rural facilities. You can't shut me out! I want to spend years with these people, watching the work they do. :(
You know what's worse than having a song stuck in your head? Having 20 seconds of incidental music that isn't even part of a song, just instrumental background music in a TV show.