As the series approaches the midseason finale, the show comes back full swing.

By Madina Papadopoulos
Updated November 20, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST
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Red Band Society
Credit: Guy D'Amico/Fox
type
  • TV Show
network
  • Fox

Best. Episode. Yet.

And hopefully with many more to come. This show is back with a vengeance! Red Band Society was slowly teetering back up to its pilot promise. Some feared it wouldn’t heal fast enough. But tonight, it made a full recovery, surpassing even the quality of the pilot. Chills, giggles, and drivels galore in “Get outta my dreams, get into my car.” (Yup, the titles still need some work.)

Lest you forget, Red Band Society ended on quite the cliffhanger: Charlie opened his eyes. Now he is somewhat responding through blinks, though not yet moving or talking. Seeing the joy and hope of Nurse Jackson and all the other Red Banders gave me the chills. For as annoying as Charlie is, he is the glue of the characters and the show, connecting them all in hoping the improbable/impossible will happen for them. His parents instantly come to his bedside, but the scene of them speaking over each other felt belabored. Luckily, the much-anticipated Dr. Naday (Adrian Lester) arrives.

Dr. Grace and Nurse Jackson hope this famed man will be the solution to all of Charlie’s problems—but instead are taken aback when he seems to be more witch doctor than medical doctor. Dr. McAndrew describes the guitar slinging doctor as an arrogant charlatan. Rather than look at Charlie’s stats, Dr. Naday serenades. Dr. McAndrew is instantly skeptical, but Nurse Jackson says that that is his ego getting in the way. But to his surprise, Dr. Grace agrees that Dr. Naday is a quack. Nurse Brittany looks on jealously as they bond over Naday’s weird practices.

After too much singing and being called “Dina Dina bo-bina,” Nurse Jackson’s B.S. meter has maxed out. She confronts Dr. Naday for being a fraud. He responds by flirting with her, calling her “Funky Cold Medina.” Somehow, his bizarre ’80s reference works on Nurse Jackson, who softens toward him. He explains that all his singing brought peace between Charlie’s arguing parents, showing them singing together to Charlie, thus giving Charlie something to yearn to wake up to. Very Kumbaya.

NEXT: Kara chases her heart

Usually TV shows, movies, books, basically any love story show the female being chased and the male doing the chasing. It’s refreshing to see go-getter Kara playing the predator, sticking to her guns even when Hunter is unresponsive. But just as Kara makes headway, an older, beautiful, woman dressed in leather shows up to the hospital. Hunter is too happy to see her for Kara’s comfort.

Kara spies on the mystery woman and Hunter, but at nurse Brittany’s behest, does not intervene. Kara is happy when she sees Hunter fighting with the mystery woman, who then approaches Kara. Kara opens with, “I apologize if I sparked a rift between you two. But in my defense I was born with this slammin’ body.” To Kara’s embarrassment (and our relief) the woman is not Hunter’s adult girlfriend, but his sister, Ashley. She has come to donate her liver to Hunter, but he has refused. She enlists Kara’s help to convince Hunter to accept, saying that Hunter has spoken about Kara in their conversations. Although Kara is happy to hear that Hunter has mentioned her, she does not like hearing that cheerleaders are not his type. His type: skater girls. But Kara is always up for a task, and uses Dash’s clothes to transform her look into “skater girl.”

Hunter is none too pleased to see Kara posing as his supposed dream girl, and he’s also aggravated at her insistence to accept his sister’s liver. Hunter imparts the story that his little brother had an accident, fell into a coma, and never woke up. Kara now understands why Hunter was so affected by seeing Charlie wake up from his coma. He is brokenhearted over his brother, and can’t bear the idea of something happening to his sister in sacrifice for him. Kara goes back to speak with the sister and tells her that she can’t convince Hunter, as sick people can control very few things in their lives, and this is one thing she can’t take away from Hunter, regardless of how much she wants to give him her liver. She and Hunter meet on the balcony and share a passionate kiss.

It’s so sweet to see the kids excited about Charlie’s progress. They are not only genuinely happy for him, but it gives them hope for themselves. Charlie was the first Red Bander to arrive at Ocean Park Hospital, and even though they’ve never “officially” met him, they feel a huge amount of affection toward him. They all want to help Charlie progress now that his eyes are open, and they know he can hear them. To stimulate him, Dash wants to show him a picture of boobs, Emma mentions origami, Jordi mentions a puppy and pizza, Leo says to get it all. Nurse Jackson gave them the okay to leave campus (like that’s ever mattered), and the four decide to go on a joyride.

The venture is not as fruitful as they had planned. They buy an iguana instead of a puppy, an origami book instead of making origami. In a hilarious scene of earnest teenhood, they go to a strip club to find a lady for Charlie, and Dash tries to bribe the bouncer with a $5 bill, while Leo attempts to use his illness to pity parade himself straight into the joint. Just when you think the bouncer is gonna buy it, he tosses them out. And the car ends up getting towed with all their belongings, so they actually end up with nothing for Charlie. Later Dr. McAndrew retrieves the car for them, sans iguana.

NEXT: Teens and their troubles

Throughout all this levity, there is gravitas when it comes to Emma’s inner turmoil. Emma is seemingly normal in her safe space of a hospital. The moment she leaves that womb, however, she becomes anxious, insecure, and extremely self-conscious. While she made progress last week and ate a little bit, her healing process is two steps forward, one step back. After eating some flaming cheese things, she enters a state of panic that derails her for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the cheese remains on her fingers, and she could just be a heathen and suck it off, but the idea of ingesting those 5 calories would kill her.

Leo, Dash, and Jordi go back to the simple plan of ordering Charlie pizza and end up hanging out in the room. This company and camaraderie makes Charlie happier than anything else could have. And, in a serendipitous twist, the iguana they got for Charlie ends up under his bed.

This show gets criticized for its lack of realism (very healthy looking, attractive sick kids, happenstance medical procedures/diagnoses, the list goes on), but what rings true is the emotion of the show. Teenagers have a thirst for life. Yes, these teenagers are sick, but they’re still teens, and no heart condition or cancer is going to stop them from feeling angsty (Leo), poetic (Emma), dramatic (Jordi), silly (Dash), hormonal (Kara/all of them). Their desire for living is as contagious as it is inspiring.

Group Therapy:

– Hunter, about Kara: “You’re the best terrible person I’ve met in a long time.”

– Kara: “Taking what I want, getting my way is my superpower.”

– Did I miss Ruben leaving Jordi his car?

– What do you think of a romance for Nurse Jackson? Does Dr. Naday deserve her?

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Episode Recaps

Red Band Society

A group of teenagers band together in a pediatric ward—the result is full of humor and heart.
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 1
rating
status
  • On Hiatus
network
  • Fox

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