The overall theme of “Three Words” was trust. Viewers were privy to trust issues in a marriage between two patients. We saw the broken pieces of a parental relationship between Conrad (Matt Czuchry) and his father possibly slowly being put back together. The uneasiness and deceit of a business relationship between Dr. Bell (Bruce Greenwood) and Marshall Winthrop (Glenn Morshower) was revealed. Viewers saw a rare moment where Dr. AJ Austin’s (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) trust in himself and his own decisions wavered briefly. Devon revealed his own trust issues in a medical device provided by Julian Booth (Jenna Dewan) in an elderly patient. Finally (FINALLY!), we were let into the very beginning of CoNic (Czuchry and Emily VanCamp) and what went wrong the first time they attempted a relationship.
The Crisis of Saline Bags
The storyline involving the saline bag shortage is exactly why I enjoy The Resident so much. After the devastation of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico last year, there was a significant shortage of hanging bags across the United States due to the impact of the storm on a manufacturing company of these medical bags located in Puerto Rico. I read about it in the news and heard of the issues from friends in the medical field. Patients couldn’t get a medical necessity as simple as saline in a bag. The Resident not only shed light on this medical crisis, but also divulged the realities of companies profiting off of a crisis such as this.
This saline bag crisis leads into the standoff between Dr. Bell and Conrad’s father, Marshall Winthrop. Dr. Bell proposes that he wants to go into business manufacturing the saline bags with other hospital CEO’s, to create profit for the hospital and also solve the shortage crisis. Winthrop resists Bell’s proposal suggesting that Bell doesn’t understand business and goes as far as to embarrass Bell in front of potential partners due to their questionable history as CEO’s. Just when Bell seems to have earned himself a win after six prospective CEO’s want to sign onto the saline bag project, Marshall Winthrop buys a manufacturing company and funds the project himself after all of the work Bell had completed to fund the project. This causes Conrad to question whether or not he trusts his father. Is Winthrop making these moves to stay in Conrad’s life or is this just another calculated business decision?
Malcolm-Jamal Warner has become one of my favorite pieces to this show. It’s hard to believe that he just became a series regular. I also love that this show had their cocky, over-confident, and quirky heart expert question himself and his own integrity this episode. Bell gives Dr. Austin a lecture at the beginning of the show suggesting (demanding) that Dr. Austin start using the robotic arms during surgery so that the hospital can start billing more for its use. Austin insists that surgery with his hands is more accurate and takes a literal barrier between himself and his patient away. Bell threatens to fire Austin if he doesn’t listen to his demands. Mina suggests to Dr. Austin that he needs to listen to Bell, due to the fact that Bell is reckless with decision making when it comes to his ego. Dr. Austin questions his decision throughout the episode and even seeks the advice of Conrad. Conrad advises Austin that he needs to choose between keeping his job and conceding to his beliefs. True to his character, Dr. AJ Austin stands up to Bell and is not disciplined because Bell, naturally, needs a surgeon like Dr. AJ Austin at Chastain.
One of my favorite parts of this episode is when Mina tries to “teach” Dr. Austin how to use the robotic arms. She believes that Austin refuses to use them because he must not actually know how to use them. When he takes control of the arms and building blocks are thrown everywhere, viewers are led to believe that he has no idea what he’s doing. Austin begins describing the attributes of a raptor, the nickname that workers in the hospital have graced him with. He explains that the raptor is “king of the sky” and “prey to none.” He then reveals that as the building blocks were flying and through chaotic, deceiving movements he had actually constructed a perfect building-block replica of a raptor. He didn’t want to use the robots not because of lack of understanding, but because he truly believed that the use of robotics was not as good of a tool as his hands.
Matters of the Heart
Devon is once again pushed into a story-line where he must interact with Julian Booth, sales rep for fancy medical equipment. I am doing some epic eye-rolling right now. When a pacemaker that Julian’s company has manufactured starts malfunctioning, she is beckoned to determine what the issue is with the equipment. Devon starts questioning Julian on the validity of these tools. Are devices solving the patient’s problems or are they creating them? Julian snaps back at Devon and later apologizes, stating that she gets defensive of devices that only help the medical field. This pacemaker malfunction leads to a fast-paced medical procedure performed by Devon and supervised by Dr. Austin which then ends with a slow-dancing Julian and Devon. He reveals secret dreams of creating a medical device of his own. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Tell that secret to Priya; not the medical device rep! There is nothing about this storyline that I like. I don’t understand why his character had to be thrown into a dramatic mess of garbage when he could’ve had the medical device storyline all on its own. Hopefully Mina, who oversees this disaster, talks some sense into him next week. I cannot watch this train-wreck for much longer.
CoNic and the Mystery of the Pottery
This was THE episode for CoNic fans. Viewers finally got to see the origin story behind this amazing couple. Nic Nevins beat Conrad in a game of pool at a bar the night before his first day at Chastain as an intern. Later we learn that it was a procedure that is performed during this episode on a woman questioning her husband’s trust and fidelity that brought Conrad to (kind of) ask Nic out on a first date. Nic, in very Nic-fashion, basically laid out all the details for him (casual, no white tablecloths etc.). The first time he completed the procedure Conrad was a solo intern and Nic tried to stand in Conrad’s way only to be told that the patient would die before an attending could arrive to the room. Nic, also going “rogue,” assists Conrad and they save the patient together. I am so glad that the writers stayed true to classic CoNic who always puts the patient’s needs and life before their own. Naturally they would connect when they were both rule-breaking to save a life.
In a heart-wrenching scene, viewers are shown a crying, disheveled Nic on a couch. Conrad enters an apartment with what appears to be all of the necessities to take care of her. He sits to comfort her and tells her that it is not her fault that she lost the baby…. And that’s when my jaw hit the floor and I sobbed. How could I not sob at a scene that was both gutting and painfully real? I have watched Emily VanCamp for a long time on many shows but this – this scene – was the best performance I have ever seen from her.
Suddenly, it made sense to viewers who have questioned for an entire season why a couple who seemed so perfect together were shattered and unsure. In a final flashback scene, Nic and Conrad are at the very same bar where they first met. They seem to be hesitantly enjoying themselves and when Conrad goes to get another drink, Nic is touched on the butt by a strange male bar patron. When she stands up for herself and pushes the guy, Conrad is there in seconds dragging the guy into a bathroom, locking the door, and using military tactics and maneuvers to force the guy into exiting the bathroom and apologizing. Nic is frightened. She says she cannot handle Conrad’s unexpected rage and outbursts, his undealt feelings of war trauma, and his clear grief from the loss of their baby. She tells him that she cannot be with him anymore and walks out of the bar.
During the episode they are treating a recently married couple who are both experiencing similar symptoms of difficulty breathing and organ failure. The wife reveals to Nic that she is constantly questioning her trust for her new husband because he once cheated on her but during their break-up she needed a liver transplant and he didn’t hesitate to offer his liver to save her life. This causes Nic to question whether or not Conrad has actually changed or whether they are only back together because of Lily’s death, the return of Conrad’s father, or her arrest from last season.
In the search of the cause of the couple’s illness, Conrad and Nic stand in the home of this broken couple and Conrad tells Nic that he loves her. Nic expresses that she is still uncertain of their outcome with their damaged past. That’s when Nic discovers that there’s pottery all over the house and they learn that the couple make pottery in the basement without proper ventilation causing their illnesses.
Leap of Faith
By the end of the episode, Conrad reveals that he needs to give his father a chance if he expects others (Nic) to give him a second chance. The married couple with trust issues gets a second chance after a successful surgery on the husband. The episode ends with Conrad playing pool in the same bar that he met Nic Nevins three years earlier. Nic walks in and tells Conrad that she loves him, too and that she believes it will be different this time. I hope for the sake of my heart that they can find a way to make their relationship work because I am emotionally spent after this episode.