TV doctors tend to err on the side of heroism, and Chicago Med's doctors are no exception.
On Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 12, three doctors and a nurse all fought hard to do the impossible, with mixed results.
It made for one hell of an emotional hour of television.
Even Ethan was on the right side this time.
He often gets on my nerves because he puts his nose in patients' business -- see, for example, Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 11 -- but this time, he used his cynicism and skepticism for the greater good.
If that was our daughter, we'd tell the doctor right away about the smoking history. It makes me wonder what else they're not telling us.Ethan
Ethan was sure that the parents were lying about SOMETHING important to figuring out what was wrong with their daughter.
Of course, this time it was dumb luck that won the day, because if he hadn't seen Alice's father vaping on hospital grounds, he never would have put it together.
But without his tendency to be suspicious and pushy, he wouldn't have made the connection.
And once he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that vaping was the cause of Alice's breathing problems, he showed a shocking amount of sensitivity when he gave the parents the bad news.
It was an effective PSA about the dangers of vaping, especially among teenagers, as well as repairing some of the damage Ethan's many attempts to control patients has done to his character.
Maggie: Marcel is coming into the ED with two crash victims. I'm going to need you to assist.
April: Can someone else work with him? I know it's messed up, but I can't stop thinking about that night.
Maggie: You're going to have to get over it.
And even better, it kept him and April away from the love triangle with Dr. Marcel, for the most part.
Of course, the writers didn't leave it out completely. There had to be that one annoying scene near the end where April stared across the room at Marcel while Ethan went on about the importance of telling the truth.
Way to be subtle, Chicago Med.
But that was a blip in an otherwise strong episode, so I can't complain too much.
April's reluctance to work with Marcel tied into the night's theme well. It seemed she needed Charles' advice about not letting your personal feelings cloud your professional judgment as much as Will did.
I'm thrilled that Chicago Med is taking on the issue of safe injection sites.
Stories like this can go in one of two directions.
Either the doctor who engages in illegal activity for the greater good is a hero fighting an unjust system or he is a maverick who disregards rules that are in place for good reasons.
Charles: This patient, you didn't happen to run across him at the safe injection site, did you?
Will: I know you think this is a bad idea, but we're doing a lot of good.
Charles: It's illegal, bud. You won't do anyone any good if you lose your license or go to jail.
Will has a history of being a maverick, so it's not surprising that Dr. Charles disapproves of this latest endeavor, especially since Will seems more driven by guilt than anything else.
Yet at the same time he's right: the safe injection site saves lives.
I wish that Chicago Med would go more deeply into the entire philosophy of harm reduction, which is what is behind safe injection sites.
The idea is that rather than forcing people to be abstinent before they can get treatment, medical personnel should seek to help addicts make positive changes that reduce the harm they do to themselves via drug use.
This model gives addicts more space to make decisions and allows them to get treatment that might eventually lead to them getting clean rather than denying treatment to those who can't or won't stay clean.
Latham and Charles' argument with Will about whether or not to give Mike a new heart valve was a clear-cut example of the difference between the abstinence-only module and harm reduction.
Charles and Latham both took the position that if Mike didn't get clean, he would destroy his heart valve yet again and therefore he shouldn't have the operation, while Will was more focused on saving Mike's life right that second.
Charles may have been right that continuing to use would ruin Mike's heart health, but there's a middle ground that wasn't discussed at all, and that was how to help him to cut down on his drug use to minimize the chances that he had another heart issue.
Hopefully, since Val thanked Will for saving her life, he will continue to work at the safe injection site and future episodes will go more deeply into this.
Elsewhere in the hospital, Maggie had yet another heartbreaking storyline.
You know how this goes. One day your numbers crash and the next day they go up again and you're on top of the world. But this time feels different. I don't know if I have another up left in me.Gary
When she found a donor for Gary against all odds, I thought she was going to be two for two with the medical miracles.
Then Chicago Med pulled the rug out from under viewers by letting Gary die before he could get the good news.
Man, that was a tearjerker. Doctors and nurses try to continue compressions after a patient dies so often that it's become a trope, but I felt for Maggie.
All that determination and her friend still died. That sucked.
It was great that she saved a whole lot of other people, but her friend was gone, so Sharon's news wasn't all that comforting.
And that came right in the middle of one of the most high-pressure cases Chicago Med has ever had.
Marcel's determination to save both kids seemed to fit both his character and the theme of doctors fighting against all odds for their patients, so I didn't think anything was out of the ordinary with that.
The story was tense and interesting, and it gave him more layers, but that was about it.
Natalie: I understand all that. I just don't understand why you're playing it safe all of a sudden.
Marcel: Because I've done enough damage today and I don't want to do any more.
Up until this point, Marcel's always been the tough-as-nails surgeon who takes risks and always comes out on top. This was the first time he'd shown any fear of screwing up, and that gave his character more depth.
His burgeoning friendship with Natalie is more compelling than this April nonsense, too, and as a bonus, nobody had any kisses of questionable consent.
And that reveal ... wow.
Marcel is not the first tortured and torturing Chicago surgeon to have lost a child -- Mandy Patinkin played that brilliantly on Chicago Hope circa 1996 -- but now there's finally a backstory that I care about instead of all of the sleaziness Marcel has been projecting since he arrived at Med.
Obviously, whatever happened is too painful to talk about and drove him to drink (bad move Marcel!), but I'm looking forward to more of it coming out.
Your turn, Chicago Med fanatics.
Is Will going too far, or is he right to work at the safe injection site?
How heartbreaking was Maggie's loss this time?
And what do you think the deal is with the child Marcel lost?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS to weigh in below, and don't forget you can watch Chicago Med online if you missed anything.
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Chicago Med continues to air on NBC on Wednesdays at 8 PM EST/PST.