“Emily Owens, M.D.” recap (Ep. 8): Picket Fences

Happy New Year, AfterEllen-ers, and happy return of our favorite dead-in-the-water yet-we-still-love-watching show, Emily Owens, M.D. Indeed, after what felt like an eternity of holiday madness and dearth of good TV, the return of uber-nerd Emily and still-so-hot Bandari and flippant-but-loyal Tyra unexpectedly filled me with warm fuzzies, like I was returning to a gang I just started to realize I really liked, even though I knew they’d be gone soon. Sort of like making good friends at the tail-end of your senior year before everyone goes off to college. It’s strange, but you’re still glad it happened.

And the pacing of this episode was so good, full of palpable suspense, peppered with just the right amount of Emily neuroses. We begin by looking at a whole spread of crazy X-rays, all of which look bad and scary. Bandari says that the patient will be “a medical miracle” if they pull through.

Then, in a blink, we’re pulled back to two hours prior, where suddenly life seems cheerier as all Emily currently has to worry about is studying for some Intense Intern Exam. As she prances through the halls with her laminated, rainbow colored rolodex of Study Cards Created By Someone With Too Much Time On Their Hands, which is weird since hospital interns aren’t really supposed to have too much time on their hands, she is practically Julie Andrews twirling atop the mountains of Switzerland. Because, like all the cool kids, taking tests is her THING!

The SATs were the best day of my life!

We learn that Emily’s study cards have been legendary throughout med school and that Will has obviously purloined them many a time and wants to now, setting up yet another competition-for-Will’s-favor between Emily and Cassandra. Cassandra, however, quickly takes the upper hand when she finds an app for that on her phone, which Will decides to take advantage of instead. Emily seems bummed because she’s no longer Will’s go-to “smart friend that makes studying easier,” but what I actually find devastating about this scene is that an act which she has obviously nursed with too much time and care and satisfaction has, once again, been replicated in a less personal but more efficient manner by technology in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I have technology feelings.

My iPhone is better than you.

We then meet one of the secondary patients of the episode, a young woman who is “obviously a model” who may have cancer in her jaw. I have a few problems with this storyline in that everything about it seems too stereotypical. She’s overly full of herself, has a European boyfriend, and says this horrid line when expressing her concern about her face possibly being marred: “That whole beauty is only skin deep thing is really just something that ugly people say to feel better about themselves.” Do people who are over the age of 16 and not part of a mean girls clique ever actually say this? And believe it? I don’t think so. She also then randomly blurts out to Emily how she thinks her boyfriend’s going to propose and she’s soooo excited and obviously Emily will eventually squeeze some more humanity out of her, but right now, whatever. And when are we going to get to that super dramatic storyline from the first five seconds, anyway?

I’m pretty and cancer better not get in the way of our trip to Ibiza.

The answer is, we’ll get to it now. The interns are all beeped to the ER, where they greet one harried teenage boy who’s just been in a car accident and, while slightly bloody, is running around in a frenzy and seems fine. So we know it can’t be him, because he doesn’t fit the X-rays of the first first five seconds that so wonderfully set up suspense. Then the second ambulance pulls up with the other teenager who was in the car, who was in fact ejected from the car, but found conscious on the scene. They slowly pull her from the ambulance until we see the reveal, in some true classic hospital drama shit: the girl has been totally impaled with a metal fence picket, all the way through.


Accordingly, Picket Girl and her picket cannot be moved in any way, and her slow movement from the ambulance through the hospital by a team of doctors is breath-holdingly tense. Things seem to be going smoothly, until they get to the CT machine thing and Emily Owens is somehow the only individual in a room full of people who sees that the picket will not fit.

I have this crazy notion that something is wrong.

So maintenance comes in and saws half of it off and then we see those X-rays again and then they start into surgery in shifts. Meanwhile, bloodied boyfriend is wandering around the hospital in guilt and panic until he eventually finds Emily and faints on her because duh, something is wrong with him too.