The failure of 2.0 and Will’s resignation left huge problems for Gaffney, and it was anyone’s guess where the hospital would go from there.
But Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 1 jumped ahead a few months when things had settled down, the hospital had been sold, and a new doctor was ready for his first day on the job.
It was a creative choice that paid off. By throwing the characters into a new crisis, we learn what life at Gaffney is like now and determine whether Dr. Ripley is made of strong stuff.
The hospital seemed to be running smoothly. Jack Dayton and most of his technology were gone, and Maggie was back to running the ED floor during a crisis. It felt like the Med viewers have known and loved for eight years!
A multi-car crash or other disaster could have easily felt like a tired TV trope, but it made the most sense as a reintroduction to the type of medical drama we’re used to.
The crash provided plenty of life-and-death cases for the doctors to grapple with and offered newcomer Mitch RIpley a smooth entrance. Rather than awkwardly introducing himself to people, he jumped in to help patients and let Maggie explain who he was.
The only problem with this was that if you didn’t know who the new doctor was from Chicago Med spoilers, you had to wait almost half the episode to find out his name. That was distracting!
Still, Ripley established himself as a competent doctor, even impressing the generally impossible-to-please Dean Archer, before making a major faux pas because of his history as a psych patient.
His backstory was intriguing, too. We still don’t know everything, but over the hour, it slowly unfolded that he was once a juvenile patient Dr. Charles dealt with, that he was violent, and that he was overmedicated while incarcerated to keep him from acting out.
Usually, a backstory like this means someone will struggle with their issue throughout the season. Ripley made a quick enough turnaround, consulting Charles about a seemingly suicidal patient.
But his confrontation with Charles on the rooftop demonstrates that the issues between them are far from over. Dr. Charles will likely have to grapple with his past mistakes throughout the season while Ripley learns to forgive and to work with Charles instead of against him.
He has sound reasons for not trusting psych meds or Charles himself. He was drugged into a near-stupor, unable to move, as “treatment” for violent outbursts, so why wouldn’t he jump to the conclusion that his patient was overmedicated?
Still, Dr. Charles was right that Ripley was reckless. He should have consulted Charles or another psychiatrist (what happened to Cuevas?) before messing with someone’s mood stabilizers, even if their current medication regime was causing severe problems.
When Charles called him out, he should have admitted he was wrong. He didn’t know enough about how these meds worked, and that led to the patient becoming manic enough to require sedation.
It doesn’t matter that the hospital could monitor the patient and treat his psychiatric condition quickly. It caused extra stress for him and his wife and could have ended far more poorly than it did.
Ripley may be a good doctor, but he’s too bound up in his past to self-reflect, at least so far, and that’s a worse problem than the original mistake he made.
Still, that makes him a compelling but flawed character — something Chicago Med needs now that Will is gone.
Self-forgiveness was a theme that ran through the hour — is that foreshadowing of Charles and Ripley having to come to terms with their past this season?
Charles even had to encourage Hannah to forgive herself after her patient died.
Charles: Her pupils ar blown.
Hannah: No… let me see. She’s brain dead, isn’t she?
Charles: Let’s intubate. Put her on a vent til we confirm and hear from her contact.
Hannah: Did I miss something?
Archer: It was probably a subdural hematoma that the CT scan didn’t pick up.
Asher: Or I didn’t see. This isn’t what I do. I’m an OBGYN.
Charles: Nobody did. Hannah, these things happen. It’s not your fault.
Asher: Sure about that? Cause this isn’t your area of expertise either.
Hannah felt out of her depth doing general emergency medicine, so it’s understandable that she blamed herself for a mistake. But Charles was right that she wasn’t to blame — even if he’s also more familiar with his specialty than crisis care.
She didn’t dwell on it for too long, though, and she took Ivy’s hamster, so maybe that’s a sign that she can move on from this tragedy more quickly than she would have in the past.
She quickly moved on to encouraging Dean Archer to let Sean donate a kidney to him. She gave him great advice, but was his situation a distraction from her pain?
People who used to use drugs to escape are highly skilled at finding new ways to avoid dealing with things, and this felt like it might have been that, at least in part.
Asher: All this time I thought that you were worried about Sean giving up his kidney, but that’s not it at all. What really bothers you is he’s giving it up to you.
Archer: Yeah, cause there’s a 13-year-old girl out there who needs a kidney.
Asher: And you don’t? Look at you.
Archer: Listen. This is my son. And he wants to sacrifice a piece of himself for me.
Asher: Yeah, he does.
Archer: I don’t deserve it. I was a terrible father, you get that?
Asher: I get it. You feel unworthy. I’m an addict. I know what it feels like to fell unworthy. So does Sean. He knows what it’s like to be lonely. And drugs are a great way to fill that space.
Archer: Hannah, please.
Asher: No, you listen to me. Your son doesn’t ant drugs anymore. He wants connection. And he wants it with his father.
Still, Archer needed to hear that he deserved a kidney no matter how worthless he felt. From the previews, there’s more trouble ahead as he prepares for his transplant, but he took a step in the right direction.
His scenes with Kayla were some of the hour’s highlights, especially when she told him she was sorry he had kidney disease, too. His young patient’s compassion visibly touched Archer.
This softer, more vulnerable side doesn’t appear often, but maybe that’ll change on Chicago Med Season 9.
Archer is facing a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and being a doctor doesn’t make him any more able to deal with it or overcome it than anyone else.
That would be tough for any of the doctors at Med, but Archer is a Navy veteran who prides himself on being stoic and tough while harboring guilt, regret, and anger about his condition.
That’s heavy stuff. It also adds layers to his character, making him far more profound than the annoying, rebellious, snarky character he was when he first arrived at Gaffney Medical Center.
Finally, I was glad that Marcel asked to use OR 2.0. When Abrams said the proposed surgery was nearly impossible and that the child had only a 5% chance of survival, it seemed like a case tailor-made for the new tech.
Abrams was distrustful of 2.0 even before the glitch, but his ego won’t let him walk away from surgery even if he disapproves of Marcel’s methods. He has never learned that he’s not always the smartest person in the room; this case was no exception.
Understandably, after 2.0’s programming made it report false data that resulted in a patient’s death, Abrams was reluctant to trust it. Peter was convinced this was more liability than it was worth.
Peter: Dr. Marcel. The hospital’s new owners, they’re business people. This surgery goes south, they’re gonna want your head.
Marcel: I hear ya.
Peter [to Sharon]: They’re gonna want your head too.
Sharon: What else is new?
But the solution isn’t to go backward. Brice would have died if the AI tech wasn’t available to use, so banning it outright merely guaranteed his death.
It’s too bad Grace Song or another doctor knowledgeable about the tech no longer works at Gaffney. The Chicago Med cast is a revolving door, so Jack Dayton probably took his employees with him when he left, but having an expert in how to use 2.0 would help mitigate future problems.
Abrams’ refusal to believe 2.0’s assessment could have cost Brice his life. Fortunately, Marcel knew how to check things out and save the patient, though it felt like everyone was moving incredibly slowly while Brice’s vitals tanked and Sharon held her breath.
Thank goodness Marcel was able to save the day. Even though Brice had a slim chance of survival anyway, if he had died, that would have been the end of using OR 2.0, ever, and that would have been a shame.
The only drama I could have done without is the Maggie/Ben back-and-forth.
I thought that Maggie and Ben had reconciled, but it seems they’re on the fast track to divorce, and Maggie is burying herself in work and getting mad that people tell her how great Ben is.
I enjoyed Ben and Maggie’s whirlwind romance and marriage on Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 17, and their attempt to adopt a child afterward was a moving story.
But Maggie and Ben have had one split for the sake of drama after another, and this latest one happened off-screen.
Enough already. Either get divorced or get back together, but stop with the back-and-forth.
What did you think, Chicago Med fanatics? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!
Chicago Med airs on NBC on Wednesdays at 8/7c. New episodes are available on Peacock the day after they air.