Emily Owens has finally made it to the place in her life that she’s been working 23 years toward. After having her nose planted firmly in textbook nearly all her life, the former high school outsider has graduated from medical school and landed a first-year residence at Denver Memorial Hospital. It should be a time of celebration and self-congratulation, of Emily basking in the glow of her accomplishment and putting the knowledge that she’s accrued to good use. However, the pilot of Emily Owens M.D. found Dr. Owens having a bit of trouble finding her footing on her new uncertain ground.
Will…You Be Mine?
Helping her in the journey to adulthood is Will Collins, her med school friend, co-worker at Denver Memorial, and crush. He’s the first person Emily sees upon entering the pristine, multi-level hospital, echoing her fears of being on the bottom of the social food chain once again. Neither were ever Mr./Ms. Popularity, but they went from being highly touted students with a certain level of seniority to the scrubs that will have to do adhere to their attending physician before they have any type of freedom at their new job. Emily has that extra level of discomfort due to her feelings for Will, constantly second guessing every little move that she makes and dying a little inside when he put his arm around her on the way to their first meeting.
That attraction almost gets in the way of her job when her attending takes the entire group of first-years to evaluate a patient, Emily lost in thought admiring Will’s jaw line (and how she wanted to caress it). Granted, she still got the diagnosis right, but she’ll have to get out of her own head in order to excel at the job. Not knowing how he feels, Emily psyches herself up while the two are waiting on an MRI, telling herself that if he doesn’t move away when she inches toward him (or looks at her directly), he likes her. However, when Emily gets the chance to talk to him and confess in a quiet environment away from people, she chokes; another encounter while observing a surgery leads to the same thing, Emily getting too anxious once Will complimented her hands and not being able to say anything at all..
Will’s pretty oblivious to Emily’s feelings, evidenced by him making her hug him after she gets chewed out by their attending physician. That act of kindness is the final crack in the dam that’s held Emily’s emotions away from him for quite some time, as she finally breaks down and tells him that she likes him; Will, however, doesn’t see her like that, rejecting her advances. Emily just made things exceedingly awkward with the one true friend that she had going into this new experience, so she’ll have to do major damage control in the coming days.
A Big Lesbian Crush on You
Although Emily only had Will at the beginning of the day, she found a friend (or something like that) in Tyra Dupre, a fellow first-year who approached her on the way to their first meeting and tried to help Emily understand the hospital dynamics. For example, the jocks are in ortho, the mean girls are in plastics, and the stoners are in anesthesia, while surgery is just a big melting pot of people that don’t exactly get along, kind of the misfits of Denver Memorial. Almost immediately, Tyra comes out to Emily, telling her that her father (Chief of Staff Tim Dupre) isn’t a fan of her lifestyle before asking her new friend to put her gaydar to the test with a nurse named Jessica that had been staring at her. Initially resistant, Emily goes over to the desk and makes a bit of a fool out of herself, asking if the receptionist goes to straight bars and telling her how much she likes cheese; this leads to the nurse telling her that she’s not gay and if she was, Emily wouldn’t be her type.
Tyra catches up with her later and tells Emily that she has a reputation among the nurses – of being a weird predatory lesbian. After confessing that her father actually is okay with her lifestyle and that she just feels like a kid around him, Tyra informs Emily that “you’re cooler than you look” and a friendship was formed.
Cassandra Kopelson, M.D.
All this sounds well and good, right? Well, the other shoe fell on Emily once she ran into Cassandra Kopelson, her former high school bully that had gotten into the same program that she and Will were in. Cassandra used to prank call her house, urged on the nickname of “Pits” following a nervous debate performance (that she herself had caused, knocking over Emily’s index cards), and generally made Emily’s life in high school hell, so the prospect of having her in such close quarters for something as important as this isn’t the best news for Emily on her first day. That nervousness resulted in Emily losing the pager that her physician gave her and blaming Cassandra, thinking that she took it and hid it to get Emily in trouble and off on the wrong foot. Tyra found it a little later stuck in behind a couch cushion, though Emily had already missed several pages and gotten under her physician’s skin.
For what it’s worth, Cassandra denies it, almost getting into an argument with Emily in front of a patient…that they eventually lose track of. Luckily, another doctor finds her and covers for them, but Cassandra takes another stand against Emily later on in front of a patient’s daughter; the daughter had grown tired of taking care of her Alzheimer’s afflicted mother and didn’t think she had the strength to keep doing it. Cassandra informed her (and Emily) that her brother had cystic fibrosis and that had a major impact on her life, as she couldn’t bring friends over for fear of him catching a cold, but she wouldn’t have traded his love, affection, and appreciation for anything.
The reason that she’s gone after Emily for years, then? Jealousy. Everything academic always came easy for Emily and Cassandra hated that, so she took what opportunities there were for them to be on an equal playing field for once, in her eyes.
Faculty and Staff
The Emily Owens M.D. pilot introduced three main staff members that will be holding Emily’s fate in their hands. The first was Tim Dupre, Tyra’s father and the Chief of Staff at Denver Memorial. Dupre is a grandiose, intimidating presence, expounding the virtues of being a doctor and the miracles that they’ll be performing on a daily basis from here on out. However, that sense of virtue and duty didn’t extend to his personal life, as Emily catches him making out with Jessica in the stairwell at the end of the episode. Will she tell Tyra?
Next was Dr. Gina Bandari, renowned cardiothoracic surgeon responsible for the percutaneous valve replacement. Bandari will be the attending physician for Emily’s group of first-years, immediately doling out pagers in which they have 60 seconds to answer and shooting down anyone brave enough to ask about O.R. Dr. Bandari demands excellence and seems to relish putting the group of newbies through the wringer to see who can handle the pressure, keying in on Emily as a recipient of her “tough love.” Once Emily gets a question correct on their rounds, she gives her the discharge paperwork to take care of, in addition to haranguing her for intimating that a patient could request her presence in the operating room.
Finally we have Dr. Micah Barnes, a resident at Denver Memorial. He found Emily and Cassandra’s errant patient and calmly brought her back to them, covering for the two when Dr. Bandari makes an ill-timed appearance that nearly catches Emily without a patient. Later, he comforts Emily after her “worst day” once she takes to the stairwell to eat stale junk food from the vending machine and wallow a little. However, instead of playing into her sadness, he tries to give her perspective, taking her around the floor and mentioning the terminal patients that are dealing with problems tougher than hers. For example, the woman in room 501 – that had undergone tests that revealed a terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis – is his mother, though he didn’t tell Emily that. Just yet.
Emily Owens M.D. had three patients in its pilot episode, the first being Julia, a 12-year-old that had fainted twice during gym class. Initially, her condition is pegged as vasovagal syncope, or an overreaction by the body to outside triggers that leads to a drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the brain. Julia mentions that there’s a boy in her gym class named Cody that she likes, which could be the root of her problem, as her nerves and anxiety could be taking control and getting the best of her body. However, when everyone but Emily left the room to go to the next patient, Julia coded, showing no signs of a pulse and rapidly dropping blood pressure. A team of nurses comes rushing in and Emily has her first chance to show what she’s made of, bringing her back with an injection.
It turns out that Julia has pericardial effusion, or fluid around the heart, which requires surgery to remove as it makes her heart pump improperly. Julia talks to Emily later and requests that she do the surgery rather than Dr. Bandari, who doesn’t have the best bedside manner in the world; Emily can’t, but she tells Julia that she might be able to request her for the operating room, infuriating (and undercutting) Dr. Bandari in the process. However, Emily does get to observe Julia’s heart surgery and has to provide a helping hand, as Dr. Bandari needs her to put a finger on the pericardium (the sac containing the heart) while she makes the proper incision meant to drain the fluid. It succeeds and Emily has finally earned the respect of her attending – until she goes in for a high five and ends up with Julia’s blood (literally) on her hand.
A car accident resulting from a DUI leaves one brother in critical condition and the other with bumps, bruises, and scrapes, though otherwise alright. The one that came out of the accident (relatively) unscathed claims to be the one driving, guilty that his brother Dan is currently in surgery and could possibly die due to his actions. However, Dan (the “good” brother) was the one that was driving, evidenced by the seatbelt indentation on the other brother’s shoulder that was only discovered after surgery began. Dan makes it out of surgery okay and after Emily talks to him about his brother’s guilt over what happened and the possible criminal charges that could result, turns himself in to the authorities.
Mrs. Ellish is a 78-year-old afflicted with Alzheimer’s that’s looking for her daughter, who she had been staying with before coming to the hospital. After wandering away from the room while Emily and Cassandra argued about the missing pager, Micah brought her back to the former, who tried to interpret the daughter’s messy signature on one of Ellish’s forms in order to contact her. Once she finds the daughter (Maryann Kramdan), though, she didn’t get the reaction that she expected; the daughter has been taking care of her mother for three years, 24-7, and the mother doesn’t remember who she is each morning. Maryann’s tired of dedicating her life to something that shows no hope of improving and wants to sign the papers to have her mother put into a facility, but Emily won’t let her. First, she makes her wait for two hours before getting her the papers and then she tries to talk her out of it, only to be rebuffed by Cassandra’s story about her brother. It turns out that the story does more than any judgmental rant could have accomplished, as the last we see of the two is Maryann combing her mother’s hair in the hospital room.
Might Cassandra not be the evil being that Emily thinks of her as?
Additional thoughts and observations:
-The scene where Tyra runs down the cliques at the hospital = this. No?
-The opening/closing with the girl at the school across the street was kind of cute. I also really liked what the voiceover had to say about the transition to adulthood and insecurities.
-However, the writing underlined the theme of “hospital = high school” a few too many times for my liking. I’ll chalk that up to pilot weirdness. For now.
-Speaking of the voiceover, where do you stand on it? I don’t mind it in theory, but I think the episode had too much going on as it is, including the amount of voiceover. It can be an effective tool, though, so I’d rather it not be completely dropped.
-Cassandra and Will flirting – Cassandra merely trying to stick it to Emily or genuine connection?
-I’d like to apologize ahead of time for my medical terminology ignorance. I’m not a science guy and tend to stay away from the hospital unless necessary, so if there’s a technical term that I don’t have or something that’s misstated, look over me.
–Next week on Emily Owens M.D.: Emily tries to move past what happened with Will, while Micah’s mother has an unexpected visitor during her chemotherapy.