“Emily Owens, M.D.” recap: Gonorrhea and Gymnastics (Ep. 3)

Hey! Want to see a Class A high school jerk get beat up by a bunch of girls and then test positive for gonorrhea? Want to see a black lesbian call out a straight white girl? Well then, step right on up to this week’s Emily Owens, M.D.

We start off episode number tres with Emily continuing to pine over Will (yawn), and Cassandra and Emily going head to head in a pop quiz created by Dr. Bendari about who knows the most about gallbladders. Nerds. Emily loses because Cassandra psychs her out about her excessive armpit sweat, which is a thing. We’ve been told multiple times that Emily was called “Pits” in high school. I really enjoy this bit though, because if you’ve never been embarrassed by excessive pit sweatage, then you’re probably not human.

We move on to the two primary patient storylines of the week, both involving teen girls. One is a high school girl with gonorrhea. The other is a teen gymnast with a concussion. Except after the diagnosis of only a concussion, this gymnast girl of course then has a seizure, and then gets a weird rash, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I like this storyline because weird stuff that the doctors have a hard time figuring out is always fun to watch, and also the three doctors who are assigned to the case are Emily, Tyra, and Micah, otherwise known as Jill’s Dream Team.

I just wanna hang with you three all the time.

In between numerous tests for mystery disease gymnast girl, Emily sees Dr. Bendari in a good mood and decides now is the right time to sidle up and apologize about getting off on the wrong foot with her. Bendari obviously replies with a “please, bitch,” look, but with such a ridiculously perfect face! Emily asks if they can start over. Bendari says, “No.” This reminds me of one time when I was at the Haunted House in Disneyworld and my friend Kim was scared and went up to one of the workers and asked in her most polite voice how long the ride would last. The worker replied, “For you, forever.” Kim returned and was all, “She was mean!” And we were like, “Kim. She’s supposed to be mean.” Emily. Dr. Bendari’s supposed to be mean.

Those eyes. Those eyebrows. Those lips. You’re fake, right?

Because of working together on mystery disease gymnast girl, we get to see a lot of Emily and Tyra interactions, the best of which is while they’re waiting for results on some terrifying looking brain test. Emily is lamenting on how much high school sucked. Tyra responds, “Says the straight white girl to the black lesbian.” Emily confirms that this is a good point. Then this conversation ensues:

Emily: When did you know?
Tyra: That I was black? [Boom!] It’s so interesting. People always ask the gay girl when she knew she liked girls. No one ever asks the straight girl when she knew she liked boys.

This is a line of defense I’ve heard so many times before that I almost want to chalk this up to lazy writing, but then again, maybe I’ve heard it so many times because I’m gay. And maybe hearing this line of logic is still important for a lot of other straight viewers to hear. So I’ll let it pass. In addition, I love that Emily’s response isn’t to hang her head in shame or say “OMG, you’re so right!” or some other type of expected reaction. In fact, she answers her. She knew she liked boys when she was nine. This frankness allows room for Tyra to actually answer honestly, too.

Tyra: There’s no a-ha moment. You know from an early age that you’re different. And you start having these intense friendships with other girls and you think it’s normal. All girls feel passionately about their best friends, right? Until your best friend starts dating a boy. And you feel like your heart’s going to explode.

Oh, Tyra! You may have just given one of the best explanations of growing up lesbian a mainstream audience has ever heard! I want to hug your exploding heart.

I also love that this is just a tiny moment in the episode; it doesn’t change anything between Emily and Tyra in the least; it’s not an episode dedicated to Tyra’s coming out story. It’s just normal character development of a normal character. Y’know? It’s not an “issue.” This isn’t to say that gay storylines don’t deserve more prominent roles or plotlines in shows; they always do. But it’s progress for it to not be addressed as a problem, or as something that’s only included in a “let’s tackle the gay thing” episode. Tyra still has to come out to her dad, yes, and that’s a storyline that’s clearly going to be developed more throughout this season, but she’s been out since the first episode and Emily has never seem flustered about it once. A+ for Tyra and Emily.

But back to the gonorrhea. Emily found out that the girl she treated was the 8th girl from that high school across the street to be treated for it; after alerting public health authorities about the outbreak, Dr. Bendari sends Emily over to give a little sex talk to the female populace of the school. Commence pit sweating. One of my other favorite parts of this episode was Emily using a number of ridiculous vocab words; for instance, she uses the word “glib” in reference to Will twice. Glib! Who says that! Whilst freaking out about this high school appearance, she also tries to explain to Dr. Bendari that public speaking isn’t exactly her “milieu,” which she says with a nervous laugh. Dr. Bendari obviously replies with another “please, bitch” face. Off to high school we go!

In the hallway, Emily meets up with the same high school girl who mocked her in the first episode. I enjoy the reappearance of this girl, because she’s so good and angsty and such a lesbian in training.

Ugh, that sex talk. Just don’t embarrass yourself.

The chat with the high schoolers goes as expected: Emily is kind of shaky and awkward and the girls are mean to her but she still manages to portray a lot of good information. Like, females contract STDs easier than guys and they can really mess you up so if a guy’s being a douche you need to call him on it. And the reveal that at least eight of them have gonorrhea clearly dampens their jolly party a bit, although they manage to regather themselves enough to throw condoms at Emily, so. On the plus side, whenever she’s not in scrubs, Emily clearly has the layered/cozy sweaters/Colorado girl vibe going on, and I dig it.

Let’s drink hot cocoa at the ski lodge sometime, you know, if you want.

But even with the condom throwing, the girls have apparently taken Emily’s advice to heart, and Gonorrhea Boy soon shows up at the hospital. Not because of the gonorrhea, but because a bunch of girls have taken it upon themselves to beat the crap out of him. But is Gonorrhea Boy deterred? Ashamed of his wrongs? Hells to the no! He continues to display his deep respect for women by referring to them all as bitches, including Emily (“Dr. Bitch”) and all the girls who beat him up. He in fact says, “I can’t believe a bunch of bitches beat me up. What a joke.” This seems like a strange statement, because there’s actually a bunch of blood on his face and he also has some bruised ribs, so it doesn’t seem like that funny of a joke, but whatever.

Bitches like me.

Emily is clearly disturbed by this and sends Will over to try to talk sense into him, as Will is a dude and not a bitch and so might help. Yet Gonorrhea Boy is an equal opportunity jerkface and is just as horrible to Will. He refuses to get tested for gonorrhea and tells Will straight out that he doesn’t care if he spreads it to the entire female population, because, I don’t know, he’s a psychopath/on his way to a successful career as a white male politician?

This kid is so godawful, in fact, that I’d like to chalk this up to bad writing too, because he just seems unreal. But I can’t, because I know that there actually are a lot of dudes exactly like him out there. And it sucks.

Afterwards, both Will and Emily want to break stuff, so they meet on the roof and Will brings a baseball bat. Because obviously, as an all American boy, he loves baseball. Then this awful scene happens where he teaches Emily how to properly swing the bat in a prolonged sequence that was so intimate that even I felt like I was being overtaken by the smell of him. Emily has been searching for ways that he’s a jerk all episode, but I think engaging in this crap is the most jerky thing he’s done. Are you stupid, William?

You’ve made it clear that you’re in love with me and are trying to get over it, so I thought this would be a good idea.

They do realize during the baseball lesson chat though that because of the bruised ribs, they already have a urine sample from Gonorrhea Boy and can test for STDs whether he wants it or not. They’re able to save the day by giving him the results in front of his mom. Sorry, bro!

But back to the patient who actually has a heart. Emily and Tyra continue to work on gymnastics girl as she continues to display increasingly sucky symptoms. Shockingly, they eventually figure out the obscure fungal infection that it is!

We are intern geniuses, and no one saw it coming!

The treatment is tricky though because it could mess up her inner ear/balance, and accordingly ruin her gymnastics career, which she’s been working on every day since she was six. So everyone’s all, oh no, and then the tests come back and she’ll be okay! And everyone’s like yay, but then gymnastics girl cries and they’re like what? And it turns out maybe she doesn’t want to do gymnastics twelve hours a day every day and Emily’s like, you can be whatever you want to be and the girl’s like really? And then they go back to her dad and the girl’s like “Guess what, I can still do gymnastics!” and Emily’s like huh? In the end, turns out life is complicated.

Maybe I’ll get to be happy later.

As they walk down the hall afterwards, Tyra understands the girl’s plight. “Sometimes it’s easier to live a lie than disappoint your hero.” Again, I like Emily’s reply: “You’ll come out to your dad when you’re ready.” Hurrah for no coming out pressuring!

Other things that happen: Cassandra chokes during a big surgery opportunity with Dr. Bendari; Micah goes out on a date with some other doctor (boo); and a Liza Minnelli look alike played the most heartbreaking role of them all, pretending to be a happy, supportive third party to her ex-husband and his new young wife as he went through surgery. Her part was small, but she was my favorite.

Your bravery in the midst of your sadness is humbling.

What did you think of the third episode? Who’s shaping up to be your favorite character?