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Chicago Med - Nothing to Fear - Review: "...But Fear Itself"



Chicago Med follows up a strong season premiere with a solid episode in “Nothing to Fear.” The aptly titled episode focuses on fear and how that fear affects our favorite doctors. Despite the show’s hospital setting, fear is a very real and present emotion that everyone can relate to. Fear can be a way of signaling danger, but it can also prevent us from living our lives. From standard stage fright to bigger issues like safety, everyone experiences fear on a daily basis. So it’s interesting to watch Chicago Med tackle this issue, once again following in Chicago P.D.’s footsteps when it comes to a philosophical debate/theme/dilemma that directly relates to our characters as seen through the patients.

The division between Dr. Charles and Reese continues this episode in the form of a potentially psychopathic patient. When a woman intentionally overdoses on insulin to get out of dealing with her divorce, she wants Reese to write a note, explaining the situation to the judge. While Reese believes the woman is just a con artist, trying to gain the system, Dr. Charles thinks there could be more to the story. So at Dr. Charles’ urging, Reese revisits the patient, only to have the woman steal Reese’s prescription pad so the patient can forge a note. This leads to a heated confrontation between Dr. Charles and Reese, with him telling Reese they shouldn’t punish the patient for her illness. However, Reese believes this was a waste of their time, as people like Dr. Charles enable this woman and make excuses for her. She states Dr. Charles is not holding the woman accountable for her actions, just like he did with the shooter. In my review of the premiere, I hypothesized that we would see Dr. Charles in trouble following the shooting, but now it looks like Reese is the one struggling. By Reese’s own assessment, Dr. Charles appears to be making progress in his recovery, but she seems to be having a harder time moving on. Whether it really has to do with her lingering fears for her safety or some repressed trauma from her past that the shooting brought back to the surface, Reese is letting her anxieties get the better of her. It affects how she treats the patient – albeit one with psychopathic tendencies – and her relationship with Dr. Charles. Even though their relationship has been strained since the premiere, it continues to fracture this episode as Reese feels like Dr. Charles doesn’t hear her concerns. Yes, she can’t do her job as effectively if she is afraid, but this patient may have also slashed her tires, so her fear may be warranted. While I’m glad we’re further digging into Reese as a character, I’m disappointed that the show seems to have scrapped any sort of storyline regarding how Dr. Charles is dealing with the aftermath of the shooting. He was clearly headed down a dark path in the premiere with his constant denial, but now it’s like the shooting didn’t even phase him. I was looking forward to watching him struggle to put the pieces of his life back together and deal with any sort of trauma, but it appears the writers have apparently decided that what happened to Dr. Charles was more of an inconvenience than an actual trauma. Besides this being extremely unrealistic, it’s definitely a missed opportunity to provide further insight into the reclusive psychiatrist. It just seems like lazy storytelling to me by focusing solely on Reese and ignoring any trauma Dr. Charles may be dealing with.

And if the audience, for some reason, didn’t pick up that the show was tackling fear this episode, there were also two other plot points that tried to drive the message home. The first was Manstead’s patient who was obsessed with eating healthy during her pregnancy. The only caveat was that fetus was severely malnourished, and she wouldn’t let the doctors help her, fearing the treatment would harm her child. Of course, Natalie going behind the patient’s back and forcing her to receive treatment didn’t exactly help to build trust. The patient was so obsessed with eating healthy, or what she believed was healthy, that she was literally starving her child and couldn’t see it. She allowed her fears and anxieties about protecting her child run rampant, almost letting her baby die by initially refusing to have an emergency C-section. While I appreciated Natalie’s anecdote about it being natural for mothers to fear for their child’s safety, she really shouldn’t have been allowed back on the case after she disregarded the patient’s wishes. I get that it was a way to draw a parallel between the patient and Natalie about fear and parenthood, but she should have gotten more than a verbal reprimand. If Will had pulled a stunt like that, he would have been fired. As for Manstead, it looks like the writers are taking their sweet time in developing this relationship. After two seasons of buildup and a kiss in the season premiere, the two doctors were planning on going on their first date after their shift. Will even went as far as to make a reservation for dinner at a super fancy and exclusive restaurant, but there was a change of plans as the duo ended up riding the Ferris wheel at the end of the episode. It was a sweet moment as Will pushed Natalie to confront her fear of heights, and I’ll admit they were absolutely adorable riding the Ferris wheel. These two are clearly in the honeymoon stage of their relationship, very excited and giddy to be giving this a try. Out of all of the couples this episode, Manstead had the least challenges to face, not letting to fact they are dating interfere with their work. That’s not to say the couple won’t face professional and personal difficulties in the future, but it has been smooth sailing so far.

As for Connor, he has certainly been burning the candle at both ends. As Dr. Latham points out, Connor can’t keep this up forever as he will eventually burn out from juggling a difficult career and caring for Robin. In the end, something is going to have to give, and it will most likely be his relationship with Robin. This episode didn’t let up on challenges Connor and Robin are facing as a couple. Connor is woken up at 4:30 in the morning as Robin is perseverating over meat and then called back to his apartment during his shift as Robin left the brisket in the oven while she went out, resulting in the fire department being called. To make matters worse, it initially appears that Connor screwed up during a surgery. As Dr. Bekker was so nice to point out, something like this was bound to happen with Connor working crazy hours and then going to a girlfriend who’s essentially his patient. While Dr. Bekker is a one-dimensional bully, she is right in that we all expected something like this to happen, just maybe not so soon. Dr. Latham even temporarily benches Connor after he goes beyond Dr. Latham’s back to the patient, saying Connor won’t be allowed back into the operating room until Dr. Latham thinks he is ready. However, once it’s revealed it was a faulty valve and not a mistake Connor made during surgery, Dr. Latham quickly reverses the decision. Even though it wasn’t Connor’s fault, it just as easily could have been; with the lack of sleep he’s been getting and trying to have it all, Connor could have made this mistake or another like it in surgery. Dr. Latham was right to bench Connor; in fact, I think Connor shouldn’t be back allowed to operate while he’s spread so thin. It’s only a matter of time before he makes a mistake – something which could end his career as a surgeon before it’s really begun. As sad as it is, Connor can’t give 100 percent to both his job and Robin. He’s splitting his focus and if he doesn’t make a decision soon, he will unfortunately fail at both. Dr. Latham tried to get this across but backs off once Connor assures Dr. Latham he is all right. I really have loved watching the relationship between Dr. Latham and Connor grow, but I think Dr. Latham is letting his affection for Connor cloud his judgment. Connor has constantly been there for Dr. Latham as he has explored his Asperger’s diagnosis and inability with social interactions. It’s a relationship that goes beyond the doors of the hospital, but Dr. Latham seems to be overcompensating when it comes to Connor. From giving Connor the unique heart transplant in the premiere to taking his word that he’s OK in this episode, Dr. Latham is letting his emotions get the better of him. I’ll be interested to see how this dynamic progresses going forward as Connor will eventually screw up for real, and Dr. Latham will be forced to take action.

And then we have Ethan and April, who are once again put to the test on how them sleeping together affects them working together. Unlike Manstead, Ethan and April face an additional obstacle due to their differing positions within the hospital hierarchy. Even though April is a nurse, she’s enjoyed more freedom than most when it comes to medicine, but this episode firmly cemented her and Ethan’s roles within the building. When a patient comes in for his monthly medication, Ethan continually wants to run more tests and procedures despite the patient’s uncertainty. In these instances, Ethan looks to April to back him despite her being unsure whether his decisions are the best course of action for their patient. April feels like Ethan put her on the spot, expecting her to agree with him just because they are sleeping together. Even after April’s voiced her opinion, she still feels the need to confront Ethan again when the patient develops a complication due to the needle aspiration. While April has always been extremely opinionated, she was way out of line in how she handled the situation. Does she really think Ethan is the kind of person or doctor who would hang something like their personal relationship over her head? I get that she’s used to speaking her mind, but in the work place Ethan is her superior. As the doctor, he doesn’t necessarily need to consult any nurse – not just April – when making medical decisions or receive any secondary opinions he didn’t ask for. There’s no doubt April is a competent nurse, but it wasn’t the time or place for her to get into this sort of argument in the workplace. Even April’s attempt to sort this out privately backfires as Maggie still gets wind of what’s going on and threatens to separate the two. In the end, I’m glad the show went the route of having the analysis reveal the patient had lung cancer and April concede to being wrong. It was important for April to realize that Ethan was just doing his job as a doctor and looking out for their patient’s best interest as opposed to him expecting her to agree with him because they’re sleeping together. I also liked how Ethan let April tell the patient the bad news since he knew she was closer to the patient. This episode showed how hard maneuvering a personal relationship can be at the workplace, but it was a good sign that they both now seem to realize the challenges they face. They’ll definitely face more obstacles as the season progresses, but if the lines of communication stay open, they may have a chance at happiness.

As for what else happened this episode, we saw Goodwin change her mind about whether the hospital should put metal detectors at all entrances after seeing how Manstead’s patient reacted. Goodwin apparently felt they couldn’t encourage patients to trust them if they didn’t trust the patients first. While her logic is sound, I feel like more weight should have been given to this decision. Yes, Dr. Charles argued that putting up barriers goes against being a community institution at the beginning on the episode, but should her decision have really been based on one patient? It’s not like the hospital was considering putting police officers at every entrance; they just wanted to make sure no weapons were brought in. I’m not saying I disagree with Goodwin’s decision; I just wish her mind hadn’t been swayed so easily. I get that this plot point is probably only there to drive home the thematic message of fear this episode, but I still think she should have given more thought to this decision. And last but not least, we have the continued burgeoning relationship between Noah and Reese, or should I say the one-sided burgeoning relationship. Despite Reese’s continued refusal to get a drink with him, Noah keeps asking her out. I can see Noah’s pursuit going one of two ways. Either Reese eventually gives in and they start dating or the show may attempt to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. I really hope the series goes the latter route because I think it would be interesting to see a sexual harassment storyline play out where the person isn’t just depicted as a bad guy. While it’s never OK to sexually harass someone, it could be thought-provoking to explore an instance when a character isn’t necessarily aware of what he’s doing is wrong as opposed to an obvious black and white situation.

So hit the comments to let me know your thoughts. Did the writers miss an opportunity to further explore Dr. Charles as a character? Should Natalie have been further disciplined? When will Connor crack under the pressure? Do April and Ethan have what it takes to go the distance? Where do we draw the line when it comes to fear?







 
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