Oh, Chicago Med season 1, what a not very long, fairly predictable trip it’s been. And that is completely said with love. I doubt anyone who’s followed the One Chicago franchise from good-looking firefighters to good-looking police officers now to good-looking doctors (and soon, lawyers!), was tuning in for a groundbreaking medical show. A fan of the franchise keeps up with the world-building because it contains shows that, much like the doctors who populate Med, you can count on.
Although the majority of story lines this season wrapped up in less-than-surprising ways — there was no way Halstead wasn’t getting offered that attending position at Chicago Med, that dude has nine lives when it comes to his job at that hospital, and Goodwin’s rocky marriage to the mysterious Burt was always headed for heartbreak — the closing chapter to Med‘s freshmen year did certainly place almost all of our doctors and nurses in some interesting emotional places leading into season 2.
Well, except for Dr. Choi who was trapped in some kind of bizzaro “if you’re a bird, I’m a bird” plot with an actual bird. Yeah, yeah, yeah the parrot suffers from PTSD and the two form a bond, but come on, people, Ethan Choi deserves so much better than running around his kitchen flapping his wings. But the rest of our doctors and nurses are left in some interesting emotional places.
Take Dr. Rhodes, for example. If you recall, Rhodes appeared on the scene as a bit of a mystery. The trauma surgeon was hiding his privileged past, had a rocky relationship with his dad (more D.W. Moffett next season, please!), and was confident in his skills. With good reason: The dude’s a pretty good surgeon. His unlikely mentorship with Dr. Downey added some layers to the character; he was being challenged, showed a more vulnerable side, and was second-guessing his choices, but all in the name of becoming a better doctor. So, when Downey takes a turn for the worse with his cancer, it is most difficult for Rhodes.
After an intense surgery to stop Downey’s liver from bleeding into his chest, the heart surgeon doesn’t wake up immediately, and that signals bad news to Rhodes. Downey’s cancer has spread to his brain, and it is inoperable. Well, either they operate and he loses a lot of brain function, or they don’t and he suffers some horrific sounding effects until he dies. Not great options.
Downey’s no fool (in fact, Gregg Henry has been pretty phenomenal in his portrayal of one of Med‘s most interesting characters), and he very softly, very calmly, implies that he would like Rhodes’ assistance in, you know, not sticking around to see how this whole brain cancer thing turns out. Rhodes, of course, reminds his mentor that he is a doctor and he can’t do that. But those tears in Rhodes’ eyes say the doc might just be mulling it over.
Someone else with something to mull over is April Sexton. Some drunk baseball fans invade the ER and accidentally whack April, causing her to fall on her side. Halstead wants to immediately take her for x-rays — Goodwin pointing out that a nurse indicating a pain level of 3 is actually a 7 was just so on point — but she refuses. She is fine. So, obviously, she’s not.
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She heads over to Tate’s for a cute date, which mainly consists of her providing child care for his son, and he immediately can tell April’s in pain. April explains what went down and that it wasn’t the first time she’s been knocked around while on duty; nursing is a dangerous job. According to Tate, April doesn’t need to continue nursing. He wants her to quit… and marry him. Beep! Beep! Can we back this up for a second? How long have these people been dating? And also, does he not realize April is destined for Kelly Severide? I’LL NEVER LOSE HOPE.
NEXT: An old Fire friend joins the party[pagebreak]
April seems like she’s leaning toward yes, but then Halstead shows up with the results of her x-rays. There’s no broken bones, but there is a lesion on her lung — April has tuberculosis. I know, it’s hard to tell because she’s not coughing into a white handkerchief in the 1800s, but it’s true. With the long recovery process she has awaiting her, her plans to marry Tate may have to be put on hold.
Speaking of putting romance on hold, Halstead may have garnered a big win by getting Goodwin on his side and allowing him to stay at Med, but he’s losing ground when it comes to Nat. Since recovering from her “broken heart syndrome,” Natalie is back at work and very noticeably not rocking her wedding ring. She’s ready to move on, and as Maggie points out to Halstead, timing is everything, dude. They share a very awkward and endearing conversation about Halstead now outranking Natalie, but sadly, Halstead may have waited too long to make another move.
Enter one Jeffrey Clarke. You may remember him as handsome firefighter Jeff Clarke on Chicago Fire. Now he’s back as handsome medical student Jeff Clarke. Which is handsomer? Please debate in the comments. Surprise! Clarke is old friends with Natalie’s late husband Jeff. They used to call them the Two Jeffs, you guys! Isn’t that just hilarious? Thankfully, Nat is a much better doctor than she is a nickname giver. Their rapport is instant, and Halstead takes notice. Maggie was right, friend, it is all about timing.
Medical Student wunderkind Sarah Reese is also in the middle of making a big decision — a decision that she’s been battling basically for the whole season. Watching the show, it’s obvious Reese was always going to end up ditching pathology for emergency medicine, but she needed a little more convincing, and she gets it in the form of little baby Michael.
Michael arrives in the ED in trouble. He cries, he codes, he ends up being diagnosed with an enlarged heart. While everyone waits for the results of the genetic sequencing tests, Reese gets attached to Michael. When her super sweet nerd boyfriend starts nerding out about how cool genetic testing machines are, Reese doesn’t even flinch. She’s too busy thinking about the patient. Joey knows Reese has been grappling with leaving the ED, but he thinks she should count her blessings for being matched with pathology, patients are icky and make me sad, he says, basically.
Not Reese. She’s in deep with Michael, and patient care in general. So deep, in fact, that she spends the night making sure Michael is okay, and she misses her graduation. Doctor Reese then makes a bold choice: She informs the head of pathology that she won’t be joining them. Yes, it means she has no job, but she wants to work with patients. It was always clear Reese’s story would veer in this direction, but it was still gratifying to finally watch her stand firm in her decision.
So what of Rhodes and Downey? Well, Rhodes begins to feel the guilt for how much Downey has given him through his mentorship — he’s even starting a cardio-thoracic fellowship! — and the fact that there is no way he can repay him. Rhodes visits Downey’s bedside with a lei and a message of thanks. He tearfully grabs Downey’s hand and it becomes clear that Rhodes is granting his mentor’s dying wish. It is one of the best scenes of the season; bless you and your tear ducts, Colin Donnell. It’s not long before Downey codes and a pained Rhodes walks away. As one final tribute to his friend and teacher, Rhodes takes Downey’s ashes to Hawaii and spreads them in the ocean — highly unsanitary, but very moving.
It’s not the most intense season finale we’ve seen from the One Chicago franchise, but it was a smart one. The whole gang is poised to tackle some uncharted territory in season 2. Here’s hoping for some actual surprises, a bigger bromance between Rhodes and Halstead, more Maggie (always), and 100 percent less birds. What are your non-avian related hopes and dreams for Chicago Med‘s next season? Hit the comments or find me on Twitter to chat all things One Chicago. The summer will be much less good looking without it.
We wrote a react for this episode, which means we just checked in for the finale, but if this is a show you’d like to read about each week next season, please let us know! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and suggestions.