The Red Banders write a manifesto and Nurse Jackson busts out a song.
Credit: Tina Rowden / FOX

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

Needless to say, Emma did not have a good time on this outing. Back to the hospital, she angrily attacks Leo for not defending her. Leo sweetly responds that he can’t defend her because he agrees with Lauren. He wants Emma to get better, he wants to help her get better. He describes a heartbreakingly hopeful future where he and Emma come out of the hospital together. Emma walks out, and runs into Lauren (she conveniently forgot her phone). Lauren apologizes for how she spoke to Emma, but leaves her with this warning: Leo’s a really good guy, and he’s going to try to help you as much as he can. But he’s not a saint, and if he realizes there’s no helping Emma, he’s not going to stick around. This frighting flash of her future seems to be the kind of tough love Emma needs. She returns to Leo’s room, looking to make up. She notices he has a box of sweets she used to eat as a child. She looks longingly at the desserts, obviously torn as to whether or not to try one. She looks like an equestrian who was thrown off a horse and is building up the nerve to jump in the saddle again. Bravely, Emma asks Leo if she can have one, and with joyful surprise, he answers, “yes.”

But where oh where are the other Red Banders? Well, they started by trying to write a letter as to why Dr. McAndrew should get Nurse Jackson back. But when Leo and Emma leave, newbie Hunter distracts them by showing them how gruesome surgery is when you’re not asleep on the table. With Hunter in the lead, Kara, Jordi, and Dash don doctors’ surgical scrubs and sneak into an operating room. The thrill of breaking the rules excites them, but it seems to be too much for Dash, whose cough worsens. All good things must end, and they eventually get caught (not too soon, though, because this hospital is a MESS without Nurse Jackson). Back in Charlie and Kara’s room, Dr. McAndrew is chastising them about their bad behavior, when Dash steps up to speak. But before he can say too much, his coughing gets out of control, and he spits up blood. They rush him onto a gurney, and all the Red Banders are wrought with worry. Luckily, Dr. McAndrew knows just enough about medicine to get Dash out of the woods.

Hunter and Kara discuss the Red Band Society, with Hunter pointing out that it’s stupid and Kara (shockingly) defending it. Kara is obviously one of those people that is inspired by being challenged, so she takes it upon herself to write a letter/manifesto as to why the Red Banders need Nurse Jackson. She then copies it and posts it all around the hospital.

With Dash in the state that he’s in, Dr. McAndrew calls nurse Jackson back in. She admits she may not have acted completely right, which is the closest thing to an apology she’s going to give, and Dr. McAndrew accepts with a smile. It seems her singing career is going to have to be put on hold, again.

While he’s asleep, Dash goes into the parallel universe where all the Red Banders see Charlie. But, in the dimly lit, empty halls, Dash finds himself alone. It seems for a scary moment that Dash may have passed on to the other side, or perhaps Charlie did. But back in reality, Nurse Jackson goes to check on Charlie. She is shocked to see that his eyes are open.

Guess she did keep her promise to him: She was there when he woke up.

Episode Recaps

Red Band Society
A group of teenagers band together in a pediatric ward—the result is full of humor and heart.
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