Okay, let’s get it out in the open right away: Last week’s episode of GENERAL HOSPITAL: NIGHT SHIFT was better. But that doesn’t mean last night’s was poor; far from it. I enjoyed the “wrapping up” aspect of the story. (I was one of the people who didn’t mind the…uh, leisurely closing of Return of the King.) This felt like everyone clarifying relationships and saying goodbye after summer camp. I liked the show putting a bow on things and tying off relationships, because while I don’t mind being strung along, I hate being left hanging!
I liked that the show dealt with the explosion quickly and then moved on. The best part was integrating Patrick and Jagger defusing the bomb with Saira flatlining. Let the parent show revel in violence; this series is about emotion. And there was plenty of that on display in all the stories, but especially the Scorpio clan. I knew it was going to be touching when Robin mentioned the clinical trial in Switzerland. (Eric went to a trial in Portland — gee, maybe GH should start hosting clinical trials!) And poor Robin had to go from sitting vigil over her father to worrying about gal pal Saira. Leo took the chance to turn on the waterworks again, as the man of science appealed to faith in the face of death. His prayers were answered — but only sort of. Saira lived, but she chose to go on living without him in her life. (“I forgive you, but I can’t be with you,” she said. Can a line be any soapier?) I was glad Leo’s brother, Kyle, shared a rapproachment. Kyle also made up with Claire, but it seemed like a bit of a cop-out to make her resign and then return. (Are intern programs that easy to drop in and out of?)
Patrick found it easy enough to leave the chief of staff job behind (He hated it anyway), because it meant more time with Robin. Jagger will be spending less time with Robin or Saira, since he moved back to San Francisco to fight for custody of Stone. (The child’s mother never was named, but at least we know she isn’t Brenda, because Jagger told Robin she doesn’t know the mother. Unless he was lying….) He promised to make good on their vow to raise their children together. Toussaint decided to reconnect with his secret son, and Epiphany encouraged Jagger to reconnect with her.
The real emotional stinger of the episode came courtesy of Robert and Anna. They had their grand scene in which Tristan Rogers delivered the perfect line, “Oh, I dolove you,” and she replied, “I love you, too.” Like Frosty the Snowman, he promised Robin that he would be back again someday “for a nice, long visit.” But he decided to go to Switzerland alone. He left her a terse note, and she understood not to follow. As Robin embraced her tearful mother, it encapsulated all the pent-up emotion of the storyline. And ending the series with Robin and Patrick getting busy on his desk was the perfect bookend to the series, which began with them canoodling on a couch. Well done, NIGHT SHIFT. I hope to see you again next year.
THE SHIELD is really gaining momentum now. With Shane outed for putting a hit on Ronnie (in a high-tension sequence that had me on the edge of my seat), and Vic resigning so he can hunt down his old friend himself, anyone who doesn’t think this is all going to end very badly over the course of the final five episodes has not been paying attention.
I am envisioning an end for Vic and company that will be even bloodier than the Holly’s Diner massacre that opened last night’s episode of FRINGE. (I wasn’t the only one who was reminded of Dr. Destiny’s rampage in issue No. 6 of Neil Gaiman‘s “Sandman” comic book, was I?) After Emily Kramer mentally microwaved the eatery patrons and then went all Scanners and her head blew up, the task force arrived. Walter was in fine form from his first scene, brutally jamming a common meat thermometer into one corpse’s ear (nice sound effect!), then requesting a bowl of the same french onion soup that sat uneaten on the lunch counter. Ah, to be an eccentric genius…
FRINGE upped the gore factor by showing Emily’s corpse sans head from the neck up (take that, CSI!), but the harshest scene had to be the execution of Mr. Papaya. In order to demonstrate how Emily used radiation to boil her victims from the inside out, Walter dressed up a papaya with Mr. Potatohead features like a face, then zapped him, resulting in Mr. Papaya exploding. To be fair, Walter did feel bad about blasting “the friendliest of the fruits,” but his “goo-ification” proved his theory that an implanted capsule of Strontium 90 had turned Emily into a weapon.
The person responsible — though his intentions remained somewhat murky — was the wealthy David Esterbrook, played by the excellent Chris Eigemann. (Allow me to digress here to recommend watching Eigeman’s work in director Whit Stillman‘s under-appreciated “Urban Haute Bourgeoisie” trilogy, Metropolitan, Barcelona andThe Last Days of Disco.) Did you notice the Observer in the background the first time Olivia met Esterbrook? I would love to see Esterbrook return (with cute-but-twisted Dr. Sarnoff once more by his side) to menace Liv and the task force again. (Hey, can Broyles give this task force a name, please?)
While the plot was a big improvement over last week’s, the real value of the episode was the insight into Olivia’s character. This case occurred on her birthday, when she dreaded the pending arrival of a card from her stepfather because, as she explained to Peter, when she was 9 years old she shot her drunken stepfather for abusing her mother — but didn’t kill him. Now she views that as a mistake, and her stepfather as the symbol of evil in the world — a role he delights in, as evidenced by the annual cards. Later, when Broyles questioned Liv’s public grandstanding, she vociferously (well, for her) defended her “emotional” approach to her work, claiming it makes her a better FBI agent because she empathizes with victims. She challenged Broyles to fire her, but he warned it wouldn’t be that easy.
And let’s not forget the developments for Peter: Nina Sharp revealed that she and Walter were “quite close” when Peter was young. (Cue the “Nina is Peter’s mother!!!” hysteria.) I liked that Peter has started to notice a pattern to the Pattern (namely, repeated instances of human guinea pigs) and wondering if mankind is being “prepared” for something. Hmmm….