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Rebel - Heart Burned - Review

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Right after its fifth episode aired last Thursday, ABC decided to give freshman show Rebel the boot and canceled it. The series was not performing as well as they hoped it would and instead of giving it some more time to establish itself, the show was dropped right when it was about to find its footing. It is not news that the world of television is harsh and ruthless but canceling a show with so much potential after only a few episodes seems particularly mean. It is undeniable that the show has flaws but there really are not many TV productions out there that win an Emmy for their first few episodes. In fact, several popular shows had a weak first season but they were given a chance and consequently turned into masterpieces (e.g: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Parks and Recreation, Seinfeld…) It almost seems like ABC’s expectations for Rebel were all the way up the Empire State building since the show is (loosely) based on the famous Erin Brockovich’s life and has the network’s most successful drama show runner, Krista Vernoff, in charge. When the show did not turn out to be an overnight hit they seemed to immediately have given up on it. They did not wait for the remaining five episodes to air before making a decision on the show’s fate. I am not knowledgable enough about the television industry to judge whether the show was given a fair chance but from my point of view, as a viewer, it sure does not look like ABC was willing to give the series the time to find a wider audience. Announcing the show will not be renwed even though there are still five episodes that are scheduled to air makes the impression the network is taking the easy way out. They probably wont put any more effort into promoting the show which will make it especially hard for the series to gain new viewers despite the fact that it seems to get better and better with every single episode. However, the more viewers the show draws in in the reamining episodes the better the chances ABC will reverse the decision or, better yet, a streaming service will pick up the show. 

Fans of Rebel are trying to safe the show with a petition! Make sure to check it out! It already has quite a few signatures.

While I criticized in my last review that the show sometimes tries to cram too many storylines into a single episode, I am delighted to say that episode five did not evoke that feeling. It felt more balanced than previous episodes. There are two storylines happening simultaneously but it feels organic and not forced. The two stories do not distract from each other but come together nicely in the end.

In the show’s 5th episode Rebel (Katey Sagal ) is relentlessly trying to find a way to come up with the money for Helen’s (Mary McDonnell) surgery. Her defective heart valve needs to be removed and replaced by a new one immediately. Without the surgery Helen will die. It is heartbreaking to see how in between all the lawyers and doctors no one was willing to give Rebel a loan even though they all are perfectly aware that she needs it to save a life. Helen’s daughter Maddie (Daniella Garcia) wants to take the settlement Stonemore offered. She does not care about anything else but getting her mom that surgery. Rebel, however, knows Helen would not want to take that settlement under any circumstances so she is determined to find another way to get the money for her friend’s surgery.

At some point during the episode Rebel is at the end of her robe. Maddie is in labor, birthing a baby that is only going to live for a few days, whilst her mother is about to die because they cannot come up with the money for the surgery. We finally get to see Rebel be overwhelmed by everything that is going on which gives her character more depth and shows that she is human after all. When Ziggy (Ariela Barer) offers her college fund to pay for the surgery one could literally feel the love Rebel has for her daughter radiate from the screen. I too was so proud of the girl in that moment I might have shed a tear or two… or several. Rebel is hesitant about the offer, she wants Ziggy to go to college, she does not want to jeopardize her future. So she makes it very clear to her daughter that she might not be able to ever pay her back. Ziggy though, does not care. She has her mind set on going to law school and she will do it even without a college fund: "I’ll take out loans! Like everyone else!“
So ultimately it was the teenager who has no income of her own who saved Helen’s life and thereby risks her own future. I know not everyone is going to agree with me on that but I very much applaud Ziggy for that selfless action.

While Helen is in the OR getting her heart valve replaced Maddie is in labour. The young woman is in pain and on top of it completely terrified to lose her mom. Even before Rebel came up with the money for the surgery she promised Maddie that Helen will be ok. A very risky promise if you ask me. Thankfully, though, Rebel was right. Helen’s surgery went well. It turns out the heart valve they removed from her body shows signs of deterioration which is something that is NOT supposed to happen. When Helen’s doctor Misha (Abigail Spencer) wants to take a closer look at the valve it is gone. Someone stole it from the hospital. Rebel is furious! This faulty valve was going to win them the case!

The second storyline of this episode focused on Luke (Sam Palladio), one of Benji’s (James Lesure) associates. His ex-girlfriend (Georgina Reilly) purposely sent out a very private video of him to every person on his business contact list. Luke immediately resigns from the firm and checks himself into rehab for sex addiction. Apparently this is how scandals are dealt with in corporate lawyer circles. Cassidy (Lex Scott Davis) though, is very much against this strategy. She points out that Luke is the victim of revenge porn and as such he should fight back especially since he has all the resources available to do so. With Rebel’s and Lana’s (Tamala Jones) help (suddenly mommy's help is required again) they track down the ex-girlfriend and try to talk to her but she refuses to cooperate in any way and instead threatens to send out even more videos. The woman makes a somewhat crazy impression in general. It takes Cassidy and Luke some time but eventually they come up with a way to beat her at her own game. Apparently the ex girlfriend is a feminist influencer with a substantial amount of social media followers. So, Cassidy and Luke film a video in which they expose her as a fraud and threaten to post the clip on all social networks. Her influencer career would be ruined. She gets all panicky and promises to stop with her revengeful actions. Problem solved!

While Lana and Cassidy are trying to save Luke’s reputation, Cruz (Andy Garcia) is slowly but surely falling for Angela (Sharon Lawrence). The woman is doing an excellent job playing the most understanding, most attentive human being when she really is only using Cruz and his emotions to get information about their plans for the lawsuit. Angela even planted a bug in the lawyers office, which is how she and Duncan (Adam Arkin) found out about the damaged valve that was removed from Helen’s body to begin with. Angela was the one who stole the item from the hospital. That woman is definitely more sneaky than expected!

This episode was my personal favorite of the show so far! Share your thoughts on the episode and on the show’s cancelation below

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