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"You I'd throw to the wolves if I could."

I've apparently fired all television that is not ABC Wednesday minus gross Modern Family. I never want to think about anything else during the week except seeing these hree shows, in ascending order of anticipation.

7:00: The Middle is so cute, all the time, I can't believe how precious it is, especially Sue being the most/only realistic middle schooler on television. Her normalcy blows my mind. Neil Flynn also surprises and delights on a weekly basis.

8:30: MR. SUNSHINE. That's it; I love it unequivocally (and it wasn't even that good this week). Even Allison Janney entertains me now -- I've realized Crystal is basically the humorous appeal of Sue Sylvester without the evil malice. What do you mean, only two more episodes?!

9:00: Off the Map: Unsurprisingly, pretty boring whenever Ben was not punching the crap out of people

1x11, "Everything's As It Should Be"

I only had hope for one storyline in this hour, since this show's promos are completely straightforward, and sure enough it was the only one to deliver -- but HOW it delivered! Is hard to say what I enjoyed more, Cole jealousy sulking about Ben's new-old bromance, or all the painful reaction shots of Ryan enduring The Abby Reminiscing Hour. But obviously, the answer is B.

Past Me: My brain is so busy with Ryan's storyline that most of the time I forget [the hospital scene in San Miguel] exists, because it adds a whole layer of complication to any relationship analysis sleep-deprived people like RS might try to lay out. Where does Abby fit into all this, exactly? I feel like there are a thousand different ways they could play this and I'm afraid to mention any of them because there clearly isn't going to be time to explore any.

Well, all right then -- this will do nicely as far as shedding all the light in the world on this, and turns out it's exactly what I had my fingers crossed for. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a moral quandary on TV as much as I'm enjoying this. Ryan is half the current OTP and nothing's going to change that, but I am very fond of the idea of Abby -- why yes, we do have a Claire Taylor situation going on here -- and with the aid of this episode's history lesson, I love picturing what it must have been like in the earliest days of the clinic.

Jonah: You remember what Abby said the first day we opened the doors?
Ben: "Every day we have a chance to do something great here."
Jonah: Sentimental as any chick, but smart as a whip, that woman.

Also helpful: the image of Indiana Keeton wrestling a caiman off a guy's face. Haha, I love everything about the scenes these two share. I am not kidding about wanting flashback episodes, Universe.

I may or may not choose to believe there was a duel for Abby's affections at one point, way back before the marriage. Not necessarily a full-blown love triangle, but I heard one too many comments on how wonderful and brilliant and beautiful she was to not make that leap. Maybe not very seriously, but definitely something on Jonah's end. Kind of like Fuller and Minard, minus the one night stand, and if Mina had been swept off her feet by someone serious instead of...Pher.  (I am still disappointed that Jonah did not turn out to be the new guy who caught Mina's eye. I got myself all revved up for nothing. Less than nothing, actually, given the alternative)

Wait, roughly five paragraphs ago I started talking about Ryan and then wandered off track. Right! All this backstory is only underscoring how much I enjoy the painful awkwardness every time Jonah starts blathering on and they both look trapped. I live off all the unspoken words between his guilty looks and her visible attempts to not react. Also, this insight:

Cole: Why aren't you in there?
Ryan: Because I have this new tendency to pass out and/or stop breathing at crucial moments without warning. He was clearly close with Abby.
Cole: And there it is.
Ryan: I know Keeton still loves her. I know that. I just never felt like the other woman, until today.

It's hard to really consider her the other woman, except in a technical sense (I do so enjoy it when television paints adultery into a morally gray corner), but I like the sting this episode is bringing up. What I have liked from the beginning is the sense that she can't help being in second place, even if she usually seems OK with the status quo. Rather than taking away from this relationship, except to add some top-notch angst, it only further fuels the story of the great romance & partnership I have concocted in my head about Ben & Abby. Come on, it is hard not to love the idea of them walking away from UCLA to found a volunteer clinic. It's the kind of thing inspiring memoirs are made of. Which further underscores the question: How do you completely reconcile moving on from someone you can still see and touch, even if they'll never move or talk to you again, when that person was your life? AND THERE I GO AGAIN WITH THE OFF-TOPIC WANDERING.

Basically: Ryan's wistful acceptance breaks my heart, but I also don't want her to want anything else. No wonder Ben is my favorite new character of the year; I am in exactly the same headspace.

Past Me: More anger. Always more anger, it's a good look on him.
Thank you! After half an episode spent in great bantery fun, the second half makes good use of his emotionally volatile self and grants everything else I could possibly want, culminating in a full-on brawl with excessive punching. One in which Ryan is swiftly on the scene to enlist Cole's help to break it up and then lead Ben off. YAY. But there is also a lot of wonderful stuff in the verbal fight beforehand, between the steely glint in Ben's voice, condemnation for another case that hits close to home ("You know, Clark needs a new heart . . . It's people like you that screw people like her. She's doing the right thing, she's waiting."), and Jonah fairly awesomely turning the tables.

"You know what, mate, we're all selfish bastards here, aren't we? I mean, look at you, you've got a wife in a coma, girlfriend on the side --"
"All right, don't talk about Abby."
"She still have that pesky trust? When she dies, money goes back to her family?"
"Shut the HELL up."
"So you ARE still using her to fund the place, wooooow! Mate, pot, meet kettle."
"I said shut up!"
"Here's what I don't get: you say Abby was a woman who knew what she wanted, so you've got to know, you have to know, there is nothing she'd hate more than where she is right now. Hooked up to machines, feeding tubes -- how do you get off, taking one of the most talented, beautiful doctors I've ever known and using her as a bloody ATM?"

Whereupon Ben finally wheels and decks him, thus explaining the last bit of confusion about the "don't fool yourself into thinking I'm some kind of a hero" bit. I stand by my initial reaction, and I don't think it is the only reason she's still alive even if it's the main one, but it is nice to have the reason for the self-loathing spelled out in detail.

If there's one fault to the quiet ending with Ryan, it's that I want more discussion out of it, instead of her determination to avoid the issue. Although I guess she's made her "she's not coming back" stance pretty clear, so there's not much else to add. And considering the fleeting fear that he was about to break this off, I'm good if the conflict stays internal and comes from a "it's not fair to you/not what she would want" place. ...and then I keep forgetting what I meant to say, as I just wind up getting lost in staring at the screen during this part. He has really, really, ridiculously-good looking eyes.

Ahem! As for the boredom festivities:

First: HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE FOR LILY TO BE SO DULL. You're permanently fired to sixth favorite, Brenner. By the end of the season, Zee might overtake you. Her best moment this round was while Tommy was awkwardly sidling up for advice. We need more of these two being unlikely buddies. What we need a LOT more of are the adventures of the three of them being roommates. Loved the shouting match with Lily as a sideline spectator.

Second: Still only aesthetically shipping Tommy and Mina (but keep letting your hair grow out like that, sir, and it will be irresistible). But I am very enchanted by the resurgence of his white knight ideals now that there's a(n inferior) challenger for the nearest available pretty lady's affections. He's very herd-stallion-territorial that way. Meanwhile, their actual patient care storyline had me impatiently rolling my eyes and checking the clock every two seconds until we could get back to the bromance novel.

Third: What was that thing I was saying about nothing and nobody scarring my eyeballs just yet? AUGH, LINDO & LOCA, STOP THAT RIGHT NOW. I was already very "do not want" in the demonstration scene; I did not need clothes being ripped off in supply closet unless in the scenario described by Charlie a few episodes back. The fact that Ben & Ryan's last scene immediately follows this one means I have to see it over and over while skipping to that part, and it is nauseating. Zee's patient was even duller than the toeless hippie. I did enjoy this exchange, though --

Zee: Right, I should call social services. Ah, funny thing, they don't exist in the jungle. Now, who's free to help me?
Clark: Heart condition! Not it. [RS: Hah! I've been waiting for that excuse.]
Zee: Don't worry, I'm not going to make any accusations, we're just going to question them both separately.
Cole: That's good. Use the advanced interrogation tactics.

In conclusion: wildly amazing some of the time, least favorite episode otherwise.

---------
But NEXT WEEK. HOLY CRAP, NEXT WEEK. Let me just summarize, for my own benefit, all of the things that are right in this preview:

-Pretty kissing!
-Clark suddenly looking like death in a hospital bed
-"I think I'm losing my pulse."
-Zee snapping that they're gonna lose her
-Keeton, quite pissed to be out of the loop on the whole Clark-looking-like-death thing
-Mina, rod of steel, informing him she makes her medical decisions now.
Ben: The hell you do.
-*Standoff continues outdoors: "I lost my wife. You're out of your mind if you think I'm going to let that happen again."

(which, yay! one of the things I have wanted is more interaction between these two. If it takes direct confrontation, so be it, at least he's noticing her)

*This line sounds oddly cut in at least one if not two places; I will not be surprised if it comes out different

See? I knew we were going to unpack a wagonload from "Mina is forced to take control of Ryan's care."

---------
And then I gave the internet a slap, and the press-release summary for the finale fell out:
"The country’s Holy Week festivities take a chaotic turn when a truck float crashes, and Ben makes a difficult call as Ryan’s health deteriorates. Meanwhile, Lily forces her own issues aside when tragedy strikes Mateo’s family farm."

I only care about the bold part, obviously. Noooooo! Reset button, reset button! Given that Jonah's apparently in this, I'm gonna hypothesize the difficult call is whether or not to give her an ill-gotten heart. I would like to be wrong, but my only other hypothesis is the place of crazy speculation I am determined not to go to unless and until they're clearly headed there.* I am pretty sure that no matter what happens, I will end up in tears, so now all I'm hoping for is a satisfying trip through the emotional wringer.

*update from future me: Just because dropped threads bother me, I will fess up. My crazy speculation was that he'd finally take his wife off life support and direct her heart to Ryan. I have no idea if organs from long-term coma patients are even considered viable, but to my untrained mind that sure seems like an agonizing yet plausible setup.

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