Tonight on Red Band Society: There was kissing, there was laughing, there was… Octavia Spencer singing! How many talents can one woman have? This week’s episode, “Know Thyself,” (they seriously need better titles) was about banding together with those you need and those who need you. Also, did I already mention Octavia Spencer has a gorgeous voice? But while Octavia may be the sun of this show, she is surrounded by many other great stars. Ciara Bravo pulled off a touching and profound performance tonight, as her subtle expression displayed the internal battle her character goes through.
In a storyline that has developed over the past two episodes, Nurse Jackson has been suspended from her duties as head nurse for switching out Charlie’s blood sample. Obviously, Dr. McAndrew is going to regret this harsh sentence, because, let’s face it, Nurse Jackson runs the show (both the hospital one, and the TV one). While her colleagues and patients imagine Nurse Jackson in a measly little apartment, filled with miserable meowing cats, she actually has a sweet home, complete with a kitchen island to cook on. Not to mention, she’s an incredible cook. (If this episode did anything to my internal feelings, it definitely made me hungry.)
In this dream of a kitchen, Nurse Jackson hangs out with her niece, who is visiting from college. We learn that after her sister died, Nurse Jackson became a nurse to support her niece. Before that, Dina Jackson was a budding back up singer with a promising career—her sister’s death changed everything. Her niece tries to convince her to resign as a nurse and pursue her singing career again. Kenji and Brittany are desperate without their leader, so they show up to Dina’s house to beg her to come back to the unit. Kenji asks Dina to apologize to Dr. McStupid (guess McAndrew finally got his Grey’s Anatomy nickname), but Dina’s niece tells Kenji that she wants her aunt to finally follow her dreams. Kenji and Brittany want to see these talents in action, so they take a trip to an amateur singing bar, where Dina steps up to the mic and shows off her talents while singing “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
While Nurse Jackson is having a fine time enjoying her suspension in her fabulous kitchen, Ocean Park Hospital is a veritable mess without her. The Red Band Society meets to discuss how they’re going to get Nurse Jackson back. Newbie Hunter waltzes in, saying that Nurse Jackson doesn’t really care about them. Animal kingdom tension builds between Leo and Hunter, as there can only be one alpha-male in this hospital unit. But that storyline is for a later date, as team Lemma splits from the group. Leo is ready to take the next step with Emma: introduce her to his non-hospital friends.
Leo introduces Emma to his two buddies. Somehow the show wants us to believe that emo Leo was some sort of jock before he entered the hospital. But if these friends of his are any tell, he seems to be more AV club than athletic club. They go to a Mexican restaurant to socialize. Emma panics when she hears they’re going out to eat, but tries to seem normal. Leo’s female friend, Lauren—who looks like Barbra Streisand and has a quirky, idiosyncratic way about her—nitpicks Emma. Lauren bluntly asks Emma why she’s in the hospital. When Emma tells her that she is anorexic, Lauren responds by asking her reason why, commenting that she’s obviously smart and not some vapid girl trying to be pretty. She can’t understand why Emma would damage her own body. Ciara Bravo’s acting here was on point, and she exuded the hurt and anxiety subtly but intensely. Emma sincerely answers that merely admitting to her illness is a huge step for her. Leo’s other guy friend tries to diffuse the awkwardness by comparing it to his coming out of the closet, and Lauren angrily asks him how he dare compare being gay to having a disease.
NEXT: The Red Banders and their high jinks