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The Night Shift - Do No Harm - Review: "Last Goodbye"

I had a little trouble starting the recap for this episode. What should I go over first, the events of the episode, the handling of Topher's death, or the ending that rocked me to my core? So I guess I'll start with a warning: if you're reading this to see if you'll enjoy watching the episode, or you don't want to get triggered by discussions of suicide, be careful.

The episode started off so innocently, I thought it was just going to be 45 minutes of standard medical filler As Kenny (JR Lemon) screws a plaque that reads "Topher's corner" onto the ER station, he and Drew (Brendan Fehr) discuss remembering Topher (Ken Leung). In show time, it's been a month since his death. To me, it still feels like an open wound. Personally, I would have preferred an episode with a funeral, or one filled with flashbacks from when he was here. But I like the plaque gesture. I know that in future episodes, I'll be looking to see if I can spot it in the background.

The discussion of Topher's memory quickly gives way to light roommate banter, as Shannon (Tanaya Beatty) came along and almost places her coffee cup and bag of chips onto the plaque. Kenny chewed her out, and they argue about each others' respective roommate behaviors. Drew, ever the voice of reason, asks them what Topher would think about them arguing like this, to which Shannon replies with the best line of the night, "Are you gonna finish those chips?". Kenny follows that up with a perfect impression of Topher complaining about how he wouldn't want to deal with arguing at work when he has kids at home. In an episode with such a depressing end, it was nice to have this exchange in the beginning. It was also a nice way to acknowledge Topher without falling into melodrama. It was even better that it was Shannon and Kenny, two people that aren't as directly connected to Topher as Jordan or TC, do the impressions. It just shows that the staff at San Antonio Memorial really did love Topher.

Of course, Topher time must give way to medical drama. In Syria, as TC (Eoin Macken) and Amira (Rana Roy), are treating civilians, they run into a young boy desperately in need of surgical attention that the army base cannot give because of rules in place. The main Syria storyline asks the question: Can you risk one person's life to save hundreds? Thousands? Millions? If the boy is admitted into the army base, then he survives, but that means the base is flooded with needy people and cannot operate. If the boy isn't admitted, then he dies, but that ensures the base continues running smoothly, and that means TC and Amira can still give basic medical to non-military civilians without much interference. It's a complex question, and the two
sides are expertly acted by Eoin Macken and Rana Roy. In the end, TC somehow convinces the young boy's mother to trade information to the army for her son's medical care. The boy is saved, but there is doubt on whether the information provided by his mother is true. The information still seems to be substantial enough for the military to send a squad out on a mission.

To be honest, I'm really hoping that TC's loose relationship with the rules doesn't come back and bite everyone in the ass. The morally complex issue was portrayed well. The audience wasn't meant to learn a lesson, to necessarily agree with one side or the other. To have everything backfire spectacularly for dramatic effect would undermine "Do No Harm" and TC's storyline as a whole.

Back at San Antonio, an oil rig explosion has everyone in a tailspin. Jordan (Jill Flint) and Cain (Mark Consuelos) deal with a patient who had gotten impaled. After getting their patient away from the site – with the impaling spike still present in the patient in order to prevent blood loss – Jordan, Cain, and the patient suffer a car accident on the way to the hospital. With no time to waste, Jordan and Cain are able to remove the spike and keep the patient stable until they arrive at the hospital. The storyline felt like filler in this episode. There were fewer emotional ramifications with this patient than with the others, and it felt like this plot got less screen time. While the plotline was well-written, and I did enjoy seeing Jordan and Cain work together, it would have been better to devote this time to fleshing out the more meaningful storylines.

While being impaled is always an event, the star of the oil rig storyline was a disembodied hand. During the episode, Drew (Brendan Fehr) and Scott (Scott Wolf) deal with a patient whose hand had gotten blown off. The patient asks the doctors to try and save his hand, because he needs it to work and provide for his family. All the while, he displays mysterious symptoms such as nausea and abdominal pain. In a moment of character development, Drew empathizes with his patient, a blue-collar worker whose worked the night shift at the oil rig for years, trying to provide for his family. In his patient, Drew sees the people he grew up with, stuck in their jobs and unable to get out. In a moment with Kenny, Drew muses about how he was lucky for being in the right place at the right time, for being in the army with someone who could see his talents, for getting the opportunity to become successful doctor. Backstory often takes the backseat on The Night Shift, so it's good to see something new for Drew. The connection created makes it all the more satisfying when Drew is finally able to catch the cause of his patient's symptoms: lead poisoning from water at the oil rig. The patient is able to be saved, and a cutting-edge procedure is able to reattach his hand. As the patient sadly bemoans the state of his hospital bills, Drew smiles and assures him that there's nothing to be worried about, because the oil rig company is going to be issuing some pretty big worker's comp checks after the explosion and discovery of lead. In the time of hellish healthcare, it's good to see people being able to afford hospital bills, in some magical way. It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Despite my love for Drew's plot in this episode, it is with a heavy heart that I say that Annie Callahan (Sarah Jane Morris) was the true standout. Last we saw her, she was headed off to rehab. Now, she's back in the hospital, after bringing in Alan (Preston James Hillier), Scott's AA sponsor who ended up breaking his sobriety, into the ER. After initially refusing to operate on Alan, Scott gives in and saves his former friend. After the surgery, Annie and Scott talk. At first, it seems like a reconciliation. They're holding hands, and they're looking into each others eyes, and even though I wasn't a big fan of them while they were a thing, I thought it was cute.

But, in a shocking twist, Annie breaks up with Scott, saying that their relationship is not healthy for them. After all, Annie's former enemy was Jordan, Scott's ex, and Annie's the sister-in-law of Scott's former enemy, TC. She says that she needs to go off and find herself, like Reese Witherspoon in Wild (her words, not mine. I haven't seen that movie, and I'm pretty sure that Wild doesn't end like "Do No Harm" did). When Annie said that, I was shocked, but I was so proud of her. Here was a former addict recovering. She looked healthy and happy. I was so heartbroken when she was caught relapsing after showing progress in season three, and her happy comeback here made me the happiest I've ever been since Shannon and Paul kissed for the first time. I would have been fine if we never heard from her again after that, because her story was done. She made peace with Jordan, she found happiness with Scott, and she found herself. Sarah Jane Morris conveyed so much complexity for Annie within the limited screentime that she had throughout this show, and I am so grateful for her.

You know what I'm not grateful for, though? The last few minutes of the episode. If you are sensitive to discussions of suicide, I pray that you look away for this review and for the episode. The final scene takes place three days after the events of the episode. We see Annie on her Wild journey, and we believe that she's found peace. But then we see her jump off a bridge, attempting suicide. As I write this, I'm racking my head, wondering why The Night Shift thought this was a good idea? Did they see all the buzz around Thirteen Reasons Why, and try to follow the wave? Did they want to add excitement to the season with another death that no one needed? Or are they going to have Annie miraculously survive, telling us a story about healing from mental illness?

I sincerely hope it's the last one, though with The Night Shift's history of dealing with mental illness, I can't be positive. They got rid of their psychiatrist character after the first season, and I'm not sure their portrayal of dissociative identity disorder during the second season was exactly respectful, either. As someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts, I'm really disappointed. The season started off so strong, and the episode was so good, until the stinger really destroyed me. I hope The Night Shift can recover from this moment, and fix their portrayal of mental illness. But until that happens, I guess I'll be watching.

What did you think of this week's episode of The Night Shift? Do you still miss Topher? How were you impacted by the final scene? Share your answers in the comments below!