Some hours of televison are so powerful and profound that no amount of words can do them justice.
I believe The Resident Season 2 Episode 20 is one of those hours.
It's one of the most incredible hours of the series to date and one of which will leave a lasting impact. Storytelling is best when it's influential and resonates -- when you walk away from it, and it makes you think.
As a general disclaimer, I don't like getting personal while reviewing shows, and yet, much to my chagrin it happens more than I would like, but that is the power of great storytelling.
"If Not Now, When?" was one of those hours where it felt all too personal, so just briefly, I was a teenager when my mother had my youngest sibling. I was there for the issues leading up to her emergency c-section, and I was in the room when it was performed.
The United States is the most dangerous country in the developed world to give birth in. There's no excuse for that.Bell
I was in the room and even got to hold him before he was whisked away with complications, and I recall vividly when my mom nearly bled out on the table and some of what happened leading up to that moment before I was rushed out.
I nearly lost my mother and my little brother that day, and the days (for her) and months (for him) were stressful and terrifying, and confusing.
Many of those days involved profuse but vague apologies and many things I'd rather not discuss.
But you wouldn't think -- I didn't think -- that in this day and age, with the technology that we have, and everything that we know, that a country as developed as the US would have staggering numbers for maternal complications and death.
Seven hundred women die every year with black women being 243% more likely to die than white women.
It's unfathomable, and yet, the numbers don't lie, and neither do the experiences of many. Offhand, there are a few shows that come to mind who attempted to address the topic, but none in such a provocative way as The Resident. I won't forget this episode, will you?
The hour had a different tone to it than usual, which I imagine is due to the collaboration of the writers with the fantastic storylines and the direction.
The Resident does action, angst, and drama well, and while it does have its moments where it reminds you of a movie (or like an episode of its Monday night companion 9-1-1), this hour did feel like a mini-movie that left you breathless from beginning to end.
AJ: What the hell happened?
Devon: Lea Davies wasn't a priority.
They didn't give us a single break or a moment, and given the importance of the topics, maybe it was best they didn't. It was more hard-hitting and emotional that way.
We jumped right into CoNic angst, slid into the shocking shooting, and took off with the rush of medical cases and the urgency which comes with them, even Jessie's storyline, which shockingly didn't take away from the hour, was a nail-biter and adrenaline/feels-inducing.
But back to Lea Davies and how and why she shouldn't have died. It was brilliant how the storyline was woven together with an intersectional aspect of it; it was more realistic by showing the complexities of multiple issues and the results when they come together as one.
The maternal mortality rate is exceptionally high across the board, but especially in black women, and it coincides with an implicit bias black people, especially women, face when seeking medical attention.
The history of the relationship between the medical field and black people is horrific, grotesque, and fascinating.
From Henrietta Lacks to the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment to Sarah Baartman it's sickening.
More fitting for this situation, even the father of modern gynecology notoriously experimented on black female slaves without anesthesia because he couldn't be bothered as well as carried on the pervasive belief that black women have a higher pain threshold.
Those types of bias are so deeply embedded in society that we still to this day see it through the manifestation of the strong black woman trope or in this case, someone like Stewart being so dismissive of Lea's pain.
The sad part is the Davies' experience with Stewart isn't exclusive to expectant mothers like with Kira Johnson or even Serena Williams (if you don't recall, she has a harrowing story of her own), but it's something prevalent from minor check-ups to life-threatening scenarios.
Even if we didn't know about the inspiration behind this storyline, the late Kira Dixon Johnson, it was evident the direction the story would take from Devon's first interactions with Stewart.
Stewart: How long have you been in the US?
Devon: My entire life. I was born in Jersey.
Stewart: Oh, well, good for you.
He assumed because Devon was brown, he was a foreigner, and it's that casualness of the statement that people reference when they speak of microaggressions. No, it wasn't malicious, but you can still call a thing a thing.
As the hour unfolded, you could tell Stewart and Colby weren't terrible people who actively did or said things that one would deem problematic. They were unaware of their biases and how they slipped out.
To them, they weren't malicious or mean-spirited so they couldn't think of themselves of people who allowed their standard of care to lapse from one patient to another.
As expected, they were even defensive when Devon pointed it out, and to his credit, he was subtle at first. He quietly observed but made that mental checklist, and he probably wouldn't have said anything at all if it didn't jeopardize his patient, but it did.
The journey from Devon internalizing it to being blunt was phenomenal. The series went from being subtle to brutally honest to the point where when Devon bluntly said the things he said to Colby and Stewart, I gasped and swore.
He didn't have the time to handhold them through seeing the light with civility though. Nurse Colby showed how easy oversights happen.
She glanced at Lea's chart, the camera scanned the African-American portion, and Lea dismissed Lea's pain as business as usual. She believed being short-staffed contributed to Lea's lack of care.
She didn't notice something as small (to her) but damning (to Devon who knows what to look for) as a nurse having ample time to play with a baby or someone finding the time to deal with the entitled mom speaking in her best "I want to speak to the manager" voice at the nurse's station."
Devon: Tell me you are not that guy.
Stewart: What are you implying?
Devon: That you haven't listened to me or to her husband, and you are not taking this case as seriously as you should.
Stewart: I treat all my patients the same.
Devon: I believe what I see, and in the ER I see you do way more with less information for patients who look like you.
Colby was a seasoned nurse who should've known Devon could put a rush on something, but again, she wasn't properly motivated to do so. The precious time that ticked by (six hours) as Lea bled out internally was astonishing and enough to make a person's stomach turn.
It was a collection of mishaps that didn't have to happen, and they were piling up by the hour. It wouldn't have killed anyone to run a few tests at the first signs of something potentially disconcerting, but it did kill someone not doing it.
The mortality rate and racial bias were significant but so was the importance of advocacy. Can you imagine how much worse the tragedy would've played out if Devon wasn't advocating for his patient?
If not for Devon, Wade Davies would have been the only one advocating for his wife, and his experience would've been more devastating. As twisted as it is, in his moments of grief, he can always carry with him that someone was there fighting for him and his wife too. There is comfort in being seen and heard and understood.
Devon: Why is it so difficult to look in on Mrs. Davies? I need to make sure she's getting proper care.
Nurse Colby: She's getting the same attention as everyone else.
Devon: Respectfully, it seems to me that she is not.
The relationship between Devon and Wade was moving. They became instant partners and made an instant connection and bonded by their concern for Lea and just life experience as men of color.
While every damn performance in the hour was exceptional, guest star Kamal Bolden was mindblowing, and it was Manish Dayal's best work on the series.
As a Devon fan, I craved some compelling material for Devon, and the Julian portion of his arc was disappointing, but Devon excels when he's with patients, and his experiences with the Davies show why.
All of his best traits are on full display during this hour, and Dayal's range is breathtaking. Devon confronting Stewart after Lea died was a scene that gave you chills.
Devon was at the forefront and in the trenches from the beginning with Lea's case, but AJ and Mina came once the situation turned dire. It was poignant that the three brown doctors had to scramble to save the life of this woman who slipped through the system.
Instinctively they knew what happened, and everyone's approach varied when they left the OR.
Devon: Ask yourself, would this have happened if Lea wasn't black?
AJ: Not now, Pravesh.
Devon: Then when?
AJ: This happens far too often to women of every color.
Mina: But it's four times more likely to happen to black women. That's a fact.
AJ attempted to be the peacemaker and was cautious in treading the waters in one of those touchy subjects.
Devon had enough, and Mina as a black woman was resigned and probably appreciative that someone else could speak about it without her having to because unfortunately when it comes to those touchy issues that may affect you or those like you, people are more receptive to a message from someone else.
It's how Devon maintained his role of advocate and ally, and his sentiment of "if we don't discuss it now then when will we" was powerful and likely why the episode title changed. It was a wise move.
No one wants to talk about matters which cause discomfort, but nothing can change unless we have the conversations. We're over a century deep into "not right now" or "now isn't the time," and it hasn't served anyone well.
Stewart was shell-shocked, so in addition to screwing the pooch, after scrambling to clean up the mess he made (because while unintentional and subconscious his bias still had harmful and deadly results), the three POC had to gather themselves together to go tell Wade the news about his wife while Stewart hid from the ugly truth.
If you weren't sobbing by then, AJ breaking the news and him and Devon holding the distraught man up while Mina quietly sobbed in the corner should've done you in.
Stewart and Colby were not receptive to hearing about themselves, but the same cannot be said for Bell whose evolution continues to be a bright spot of this series.
He didn't want to believe what Devon and Mina were telling him at first because of what he knew about Stewart and Colby, but he listened and trusted not just his employees but two doctors of color who have experiences he cannot fully understand himself.
He also listened to Devon, an intern, who proposed solutions to ensure what happened to Lea wouldn't happen again, and he took it to the board suggesting a review board to go over every maternal death the hospital had so they could learn how to improve. "I'm listening," is always a damn good start.
Devon: A tear in her bladder was fixable, and it wouldn't have killed her if she hadn't been ignored.
Bell: And you better believe I'm going to identify whether there is a system of failures that lead to this catastrophe--
Devon: More than that was involved, Dr. Bell
Bell: I know what you're thinking, but I've known Dr. Stewart and Nurse Colby for years, and I've never seen either of them treat a patient differently because of race.
Devon: People can have unconscious biases.
Bell: You're absolutely right.
Mina: This can't happen again.
Devon: Look, I have some ideas to safeguard every mother who comes into this hospital.
Bell: I'm listening.
Mina was right about apologies preventing hospitals from lawsuits, but Bell's apology to Wade was sincere. It was one of the first times he didn't apologize for the sole purpose of covering his ass; Bell meant it, and it was a heavy scene as Wade listened to Bell while holding his sweet baby girl.
Even sincere apologies don't change the fact that three souls entered that hospital and only two were leaving.
Bell's impressive leadership didn't end there. He was steady as a rock when he offered Kit an encouraging word during little Danny's operation.
You couldn't catch a break with this hour as the other significant case involved more gun violence, and the doctors rattling off the statistics for that was frustrating and exhaustive.
When it comes to gun violence in this country, we may never reach an agreement on how to handle it. However, we can all agree something needs to be done
It's getting progressively worse; it spares no one. Bullets don't have a name; it doesn't matter who or what you are. They rip through anyone in its path including an innocent family touring Atlanta.
I know in this situation an apology is not enough, but from the heart of this hospital, I'm here to offer one. Your pain can't even be imagined, and I want you to know that everyone here at Chastain is just devastated. Your wife suffered what we refer to as a never event. Something that should never happen. I can't tell you how sorry we are.Bell
The moment the shots rang out it was heart pumping action. We couldn't overlook how the only thing sparing Nic from being a victim was luck and chance.
It was another clever take to use an equally as troublesome crisis to juxtapose the Davies case. It was also business as usual with Danny and his family.
Danny's father could praise the hospital and the staff for their impeccable care oblivious that somewhere in another wing of the hospital Wade can't say the same.
The odds were stacked against Danny and his mother, and in many ways, their chance of survival was grim. Lea came in for something which should be routine, and she died.
Danny and his mother got the standard of care Chastain usually offers, but the Davies did not. Mina couldn't help but point that out since she worked both cases.
While Devon was affected by the Davies, Kit almost couldn't perform because of how affected she was by Danny. As a mother and grandmother, the circumstances that put Danny on that table at the mercy of her scalpel left her rattled.
I really hope no one came in with holes today.AJ
She is what kept Danny from death or paralysis when all the 9-year-old wanted was to go to a museum. Leeves conveys every emotion beautifully, and once her hand began to shake, I wanted to hug her.
Bell was a consummate professional and support, and their relationship brings out the best in him. Bell has come a long way from the man with the hand tremor to Kit's pillar of strength during her times of need.
I believe Conrad will be the same for Nic despite their breakup. Thank God the series wasted no time jumping into that "talk" the two of them needed to have.
Conrad kicked off the scene using his key to enter her home, and by the end of it he was giving her the key back. Talk about a punch to the gut.
However, I'm proud of Conrad for speaking his mind. He has held back for a while, and it was overdue for them to revisit this discussion about how stagnant they are in their relationship.
He wants to move forward; he wants marriage and the works, and he did everything he needed to do to get to that point. Conrad has jumped through every damn hoop, and now that he has done it he's met with crickets chirping.
Conrad: Looks like we're finally doing this.
Nic: Looks like it. You first.
Conrad: Oh, okay. Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and realized something you never understood before?
Nic: Uh, I guess. I mean not often, but yeah.
Conrad: I'm built to keep moving forward. If there is a mountain, I'll climb it. If there is a race, I'll run it. But what I don't do is stay in the same place...
Nic: That's what you think we're doing.
Conrad: I think, Nic, I think I want something you don't want. Movement towards our future. I'd marry you, Nic, but I don't ask because you don't even want to live together.
Nic: Why are you putting all this pressure on me now?
Conrad: Why is making more of a commitment to me a burden?
They say sh!t or get off the pot, and CoNic is at an impasse.
Their conversation got real and fast. It's almost like the tables have turned, except I don't recall Conrad being as belligerent as Nic.
Somehow Conrad expressing his feelings and telling Nic what he wants is pressuring her. I'm trying to understand Nic's perspective here, but I'm at a loss.
All Conrad wants is for Nic to talk to him, and she refuses. All the time she spent informing Conrad on what he needed to improve for their relationship to work, she should've spent working on herself too.
Whenever Conrad tries to be honest with her, she shuts down and wants to end the conversation, and it's so unlike the woman who spent all last season damn near begging him to let her in.
She didn't take well to his ultimatum, but he more than deserved to lay it out for her. He doesn't want to break things off with her, but she isn't giving him a choice.
Conrad: If you're not interested in going forward with me, then it's time to take a step back.
Nic: If that's what you want.
Conrad: That's not what I want.
Nic is not fair to Conrad, and at this rate, they should separate. I'm over it, and while I sympathize with Nic, I'm also tired of her.
She behaved childishly during their talk. Yes, she's in pain, but she won't acknowledge it. Conrad was correct in everything he said.
Despite their spat, Conrad made it clear they would work with one another no problem, and he kept his word.
Nic is going to need support while dealing with Jessie's declining health, and she will need to lean on her village if she does end up donating a kidney to Jessie.
It was no surprise Nic jumped at the chance to donate if necessary. It falls in line with who Nic is, but I do wonder if her father would volunteer too.
A transplant can put Nic out of commission for a while. However, the combination of making a transplant list and being sober for another six months before she can make it onto one will have Jessie out of commission for longer than she imagined.
Do you think this is the reality check Jessie needed to stay sober or do you think she'll relapse?
- Mina and AJ are so in sync; they even nap together. With each passing episode, I fall in love with the Mina and AJ dynamic. They are the most stable relationship right now.
- The beauty of QueenRaptor is despite the power dynamic at play, AJ treats Mina as his equal, and they are a true partnership.
- The pan away from Lea Davies, Stewart, and Colby's names on the door was genius.
- The final tribute to Kira Dixon Johnson was touching, and if you need to learn more about her story and want to join the fight to improve maternal healthcare, please go to 4kira4moms.
- It was an hour worthy of award accolades, and so was Manish Dayal's performance. He was outstanding.
- It's not looking good for Jessie, and I wonder how long it will be before Nic reaches her breaking point?
- Once again, the music was amazing.
What did you think about this hour? Should Conrad and Nic have broken up? How incredible was Devon? Were you aware of the maternal mortality rate and poor state of maternal healthcare in the US?
Hit the comments below and share your thoughts.
If you'd like to check the hour out again, you can watch The Resident online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.