'Red Band Society' series finale recap
The fledgling Fox show is finally put to rest.
It’s weird watching Red Band Society knowing it most likely won’t be returning, especially since the last three episodes were filmed and edited before the creative team knew it. Going in, we know that there will be cliffhangers and unconcluded storylines. For a terribly curious person like myself, that is torturous. And yet, as I am very curious, I have to watch these final episodes.
The last bit of this show has been airing on Saturday evening, which is a great time for the series, since that is when my middle school cousin probably has nothing to do and wants to watch kids slightly older than her live out angst and drama. Like I said in earlier recaps, this show does not work on primetime on Fox. Much of the writing comes off as cheesy and shallow, but that’s because it’s written for a younger sensibility. This show should have been on ABC Family. While Saturday feels like a throwaway time, it’s probably finally getting to the age group of viewers that would appreciate the show.
“We’ll Always Have Paris” opens in the ephemeral, white hospital limbo where Charlie used to reside. Kara is having heart surgery, and while she is under anesthesia, she meets with Hunter in this eerie space. But limbo has gotten a whole lot cooler than when Charlie and Leo were there: Kara and Hunter can travel anywhere. And what cliché place do they choose to go to? Paris. They have a super romantic date, eating macaroons in a café next to the Eiffel Tower, walking past baskets of baguettes, kissing close to what looks like a set of the Arc de Triomphe. While it is all quite corny, it’s pretty sweet. After the Hallmark date, Kara battles between wanting to live and die, because she wants to stay with her beloved. He convinces her to fight to live, and she wakes up from her surgery with Hunter’s heart. Slowly, she looks over and sees a box of macaroons, sent from a mystery sender. If the dead can send you fancy Parisian macaroons without paying for shipping, well then Grandpa, where are mine?
Dr. Naday has Charlie playing some sort of video game so that he can do his manual physical therapy, then throws out this weird justification to Nurse Jackson: “Research shows that games activate positive emotions and hit all the dopamine reward systems in the brain. Like cocaine did for people in the 80s.” Her reaction, much like ours, is, “hm?” then she quickly moves along. What I love most about Dr. Naday is that all his annoying dialogue gives Octavia Spencer tons to react to. They exit the room, and Naday pressures Nurse Jackson about their upcoming date. But considering Hunter just died, she’s not feeling in the dating mood. After much back-and-forth throughout the episode, with Naday aggressively pursuing her, she breaks down (in every sense) and asks Naday to accompany her to Hunter’s funeral. It’s the antithesis to Kara’s Paris date, but much more real and touching.
This series always has tons of wayward romances, and it’s time to check in on Dr. McSexy’s love life. With Hunter dying, Leo’s surgery coming back, and Jordi’s drama, McAndrew is feeling super sensitive. So it is only inevitable that he and Dr. Grace find the moment to fight, and then make up and make out. Perhaps these doctors need to take some time in the psych ward.
It’s taken all season, but Dash finally has his own storyline. His online girlfriend (whom he met through his online cystic fibrosis support group) comes to the hospital for treatment. She’s an all out MPDG who obsessively takes photos with a REAL camera, not a smart phone, wears cat tights, and says quirky, peppy, things. Dash has never actually met her in person, and avoids her when he realizes she’s on the unit. Emma thinks he’s embarrassed, but then he imparts that since they have the same disease, they can’t be together and could actually kill each other. They finally talk, and their hormones get the better of them. They give each other a possibly deadly kiss (see what I mean by teenage sensibility?).
NEXT: So, let’s talk about Jordi’s Abeula.
Jordi’s Abeula has so much attitude! It seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because her daughter isn’t much of a charmer either. She is all up in Dr. McAndrew’s face for performing surgery on Jordi without her permission, and for calling her only once. After her arrival, Jordi loses his drive to have surgery, and wants to head home to Mexico. Once he decides he wants to head home, Grandma now wants Jordi to stay. This family has a really hard time making up their minds. Abuela convinces Jordi to have the surgery, and Jordi goes to Dr. McAndrew to inform him. The tone of the scene plays out like a marriage proposal, with Jordi happily accepting the ring from a shocked Dr. McAndrew. Dr. Grace even makes them hug it out.
Not much of Leo in this episode, as he is super depressed and silent about his cancer returning, and he stares out the window the entire episode. On the plus side, one episode went by without a Leo speech. But wait, since Leo isn’t giving speeches, Jordi goes to Leo and gives him one about Henry V, faith and fighting.
And with that, we quickly shift into the final episode, “Waiting for Superman.” Charlie, who has a lot of opinions, talks about superheroes and how they all started their stories with sad beginnings, so perhaps all these patients are well on their way to being super heroes. And as he discusses how superheroes always get the girl, we cut to Dash and his girlfriend, May, making out in the morgue. Nurse Kenji and Nurse Brittany catch them, and do everything they can to keep Romeo and Juliet apart, lest the kiss of death do them both in.
Nurse Brittany confronts Dr. McAndrew about he and Dr. Grace getting back together. He’s embarrassed at first, but she’s so cool about it, and the look on his face makes it obvious he wonders if he made the wrong choice. But then he probably remembers that Nurse Brittany and Dr. Grace look the same, so his confusion over who to pick is understandable.
Charlie’s swallow reflexes return, and he is now able to eat and drink on his own. Dr. Naday and Nurse Jackson happily inform his dad (sans guitar and sans wife) that Charlie can go home. They put Charlie in an electric wheelchair, and he zips around. Naday and Jackson, overjoyed at the sight, share a small peck. You get yours, Dina! The dad comes to pick Charlie up, and they inform him Charlie may never speak. They all happily agree that just getting him to where he is is huge progress.
Over in the psych wing, Emma and her parents do an intensive therapy session. Emma’s mother is all sorts of controlling and passive aggressive, but trying so hard to be a good mom. The first activity they do is a trust fall, which the therapist describes as ‘fun.’ But Emma doesn’t trust her mom, so she can’t fall into her arms. Emma’s mom takes this harshly, and she tries to reach out to Emma, but Emma has a wall up. After a day of discussion and therapy, Emma’s mother is about to bail, but an elevator ride with Nurse Brittany and a peppy conversations puts a positive spin on Emma’s life. Emma’s mom goes back into the therapy room and has a heart wrenching heart-to-heart with her daughter. It looks like some healing has begun.
Kara may have a new heart, but she still has her same old attitude. She yells at her mother, but she snaps back at Kara, telling her she can’t be this way anymore. As a result of the surgery, Kara’s chest skin is numb. At first she freaks out, but later, when she and her mom are outside, a bee stings Kara’s chest. Her mother panics and passes out, and Kara (who we are later informed shares a phobia of bees with her mother) just swats it. She now feels her skin numbness is a super power, and this episode is doing a not-so-subtle job of hammering the super hero theme down our throats.
NEXT: Charlie’s—and the show’s—goodbye
The harbinger of bad news, Dr. McAndrew, informs Leo that surgery is no longer an option, and they have to try chemo. He recommends Leo for a trial drug, which his mother knows is lingo for a last resort. Leo takes the news badly, as is expected. Alone with Dr. McAndrew, Leo’s mom talks about how she has, “learned to live with Leo being sick, but I just can’t live with him being so sad.” They discuss about how Leo is a champion, and by that I suppose they mean they enjoy all his longwinded speeches.
Leo is understandably very upset, albeit Jordi and Dash’s attempts to make him smile. They finally decide to kill two birds with one stone: cheer Leo up and distract the hospital staff so Dash and May can suck face. They have a plan called “Spartacus,” which means they are going to have a wheelchair race through the hallways, upsetting all the doctors, nurses, and security guards while elating all the patients. Their distraction works, and May receives a text to meet Dash on the roof. But on her way there, she is distracted by depressed Leo. Even the race didn’t pull him out of his sorrow. But never fear, for May is here. She tells Leo how she knows him a superman, because that is how Dash always described him on the internet. Then she goes on to say how having cancer again is fantastic, he should be relieved he has cancer again, because it means he’s not superman, and being superman has to get pretty exhausting. Somehow, this diatribe cheers him up. I didn’t really follow the reasoning, but hey, as long as he’s happy.
Dash eavesdrops as May makes Leo laugh, then runs away. When May finally tracks Dash down, he says he was selfish to kiss her, because she could die. She is so special, she could even make depressed Leo happy. He is okay with risking his own life for her, but not with risking hers. She is a peppy unicorn, and it is a sin to kill a unicorn. Like Romeo and Juliet, they don’t get to be together, but they may get to live.
Dr. McAndrew has trouble logging into his computer to sign Leo up for the trial, when sultry Nurse Brittany saves the day. He watches her with admiration as she manages to log on to some random website, then walks away. His look says, “she is not only hot and happy but knows how to use a computer.” Just when he begins to ponder about making the wrong choice, some information on the computer captures his attention. Leo has been accepted into the trial! He brings the good news to Leo and his mom, and Leo is happy, but doesn’t want to be treated like superman. He says he can “take the disease but he can’t take the pressure.”
The Red Banders meet on the roof to send Charlie off properly. They break out into singing “you can’t always get what you want.” Kara fights off the cheesiness, but then they unfortunately overcome her and all start singing. She succumbs to their corniness, and sings. Then, another voice chimes in: Charlie’s. He starts singing. Charlie can speak! It’s supposed to feel very monumental and touching, but it feels really, really, really fake and fast. No one treats this like the huge moment that it is, and Charlie just starts talking like a normal person, not searching for his words or struggling.
At the exit of the hospital, Leo and Nurse Jackson wave as Charlie rides off in the car with his dad (sans mother). The question lingers, who were they planning on having do the voice over for season 2? The world may never know.
Red Band Society