Chicago Med 2×13 Review: ‘Theseus’s Ship’

An 8-year old boy dying of cancer. A crazy cat lady with diabetes. A woman with a transient being living inside of her.

That’s all what happened in just the first 15 minutes along of Chicago Med’s powerful new episode that left me convinced that this is one of television’s best shows.

When it comes to Chicago Med there is no storyline too big or too farfetched that this series hasn’t tackled. That’s the name of the game with Chicago Med, and it sometimes manages to weave several together in one episode.

Questioning morality. Questioning sanity. Questioning relationships. This episode was all about second guessing initial opinions and arriving at the opposite conclusion. These storylines really focused on exploring different dynamics that we aren’t quite familiar with in their unique nature – except maybe Nat and Will’s relationship – which gave it a fresh feeling to accompany the fascinating nature of this thrilling hour.

Let’s break this down:

Right or Wrong?

It’s incredible how Chicago Med is able to take a patient and a storyline and so profoundly affect you as you second guess your own moral code. Right and wrong. It’s something that we all struggle with on a daily basis. What’s the right thing to do? What’s the right decision to make? What’s the wrong thing to do? Was that decision the wrong one to make? And while some decisions are black and white when it comes to judging their morality, others aren’t as clear as they seem.

That was the case in “Theseus’s Ship,” where an 8-year old boy who was dying of cancer was brought in to be treated but his father made a shocking decision that left me, Dr. Manning, and everyone else watching, I’m sure, when he basically refused to let Manning treat his son because it wasn’t his decision to make. Basically, this father was just sitting there and letting his son die.

I found myself so infuriated as I watched this transpire. I’m thinking to myself, how could a parent possibly do that? Sure, he wasn’t refusing treatment because he wanted to, he refused the treatment because that’s what his son wanted. Even though his son is only 8 years old and – you’d think – shouldn’t be making life-changing decisions like this.

But much like you approach any situation in life it’s best to do some research and really get a good understanding of the situation at hand. That’s what Manning did when she sat down with the young boy and talked to him about what was happening and encouraging him to keep fighting for this one life.

But it wasn’t until this young boy actually opened up about how he was feeling about all of this that I started to notice my mindset change ever so slightly.

“Everybody has their time to live. I’ve had mine. I want to see what’s next.”

Heartbroken. Simply heartbroken. That boy had such a clear understanding and awareness of the situation that was happening to him that it rocked me to my core. He was getting tired of fighting. He was trying to make peace with the likelihood that he was going to move on to whatever is next.

Circling back to the father – when I initially watched as this father refused to let his son have more chemo in order to save his life, I wondered how in the hell could a parent possibly do that to their child? Why wouldn’t they want to save him/her? Everything felt so wrong to the point where it made me angry.

But like I said before, it’s hard to truly understand a situation without context. We knew absolutely nothing. But watching the father sit by his son’s side, shower him with love and inspiration, and thank him for being such an amazing son there was a dawning realization that this man wasn’t a terrible person. He was doing what his son wanted him to do. And I can’t imagine how hard that must’ve been for him to give up that control and that desire to do whatever it takes to save his son.

Ultimately, the call to not treat the young boy with chemo actually ended up saving his life. Without chemo, the young boy’s immune system was able to fight off the infection that was plaguing him.

This was also a nice shout out to faith. There was a certain level of belief that comes with putting your son’s future in his own hands; in leaving it up to God to make the decision. And it was truly inspiring and satisfying to watch this story get a happy ending.

The Road to Manstead

As a fan of Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med, I’m no stranger to those OTP romances that we really have to pay our time before we get the satisfaction of enjoying said couple. I’ve done my time waiting for Dawson and Casey on Fire. I’ve done my time waiting for Lindsay and Halstead on P.D. And certainly I’m currently serving my time waiting for Manning and Halstead’s romance to come to fruition. But guess what folks, that time is upon us.

There’s a pattern with these One Chicago shows. I’ve seen it with both Fire and P.D. It’s usually the second season where the main couple is tested. It’s usually the first time when they’re “together” as a couple, which is soon followed by some angst until a season 3 reunion. I know my way around the ropes.

So you know damn well I was on high alert when two minutes in Halstead comforted Manning with a touch on the shoulder that sent my nerves on fire. Nina also caught the show and got a front row seat to the shoulder touch, which was so magnetic that the flames of their chemistry could be felt from a good 20 feet away.

Obviously Nina saw something that she didn’t like – well, more like something that she wanted clarification on. She wanted to know if there was history between Will and Natalie. Will, caught completely off guard, told her that there wasn’t. And to be fair, he wasn’t actually lying. The two never dated and shared an awkward kiss that left me and my feelings completely victimized. But Will wasn’t honest either.

Let’s focus on that aspect of this situation where Will struggled to be honest with Nina about him and Nat. It was something that he couldn’t bring himself to do – not in the moment and still not again at the end of the episode. And why?

Obviously there are some underlying feelings that still remain. The stolen glances and the small touches – there were definitive implications there brought forth by the intent. Will has always liked Nat. Dating someone else isn’t going to shut those feelings off. He never got closure. So those feelings are still there. They might’ve been suppressed, but they’re still there.

Basically, Will can’t be honest with Nina because he can’t be honest with himself.

There were also a couple moments, especially in that final scene with Will and Nina, where you could see Will playing out scenarios in his head and really thinking about the situation. He was trying to be honest with himself so he could better understand what he was feeling. So that he can learn – once and for all – if he can actually move on with Nina or if he’s still hung up on Nat.

I think we all know the answer to that one.

A Fictional Character Within

Chicago Med has been home to many an unusual case. Ones that make you sit up a little straighter and leave you genuinely surprised and satisfied. That was the case with the Tulpa storyline, that ended being perhaps one of my favorite cases in recent memory.

A woman was brought into Med after she got in an accident. It seemed ordinary on the surface until we learned that this woman had a Tulpa – a transient being that exists inside of someone. It was something that made me stop for a moment and think. And it also caused me to do some research during commercial breaks to figure out more what this Tulpa means.




Basically a Tulpa is a transient spirit that is created by sheer will and discipline. In our modern times, there has been evidence that people that experience loneliness or anxiety have created these Tulpas as a way to cope.

Grace’s Tulpa was Becca, who she created when she was in high school. From what I gather Grace is someone who is introverted and found solace in online forums and friends that made her feel comfortable. Becca has a personality of her own, Grace talks to her, and Becca sometimes takes over, as she did in the crash.

Basically, this woman has created a fictional character that exists inside of her and is a part of her.

Your first reaction is to shout – “CRAZY PANTS.” But as we know with psychology, there’s so much more to the surface. After getting to see Becca in action and hear what she had to say, as well as watching as Becca was able to calm Grace down from a panic attack, you really got the sense that this was serious. Just because you don’t believe in something or don’t take it seriously doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t.

Six Things…

  1. This episode made you question what’s right and what’s wrong. It really caused you to reevaluate your stance on something depending on the situation. We don’t know the situation; we don’t know what’s happened. So how can we rightfully make that moral judgement?
  2. Manstead is preparing to sail! You can fight me, but the storyline regarding Will and Nina – and Will’s “past” with Nat – was setting up a Manstead romance that’s to play out this season. WE. ARE. READY. (P.S.: That shoulder touch and letting the eyes wander, damn near gave me a heart attack.)
  3. The Tulpa storyline was so intriguing! This was definitely something I wasn’t expecting, but I’m so damn glad Med addressed this storyline because it was so fascinating. This woman created a fictional character that lives inside of her and has the ability to talk her off a ledge. Amazing.
  4. Nina Shore has finally returned! While I might be a hardcore Manstead shipper, I am in love with Nina Shore. It’s been too damn long since she’s been gone. But with Will appearing to be doubting their relationship – and with the tease of a death forthcoming – I’m seriously in fear for Nina’s life.
  5. I’m living for Rhodes and Latham’s bromance. Who would’ve thought that these two men – who started off as misunderstood – would grow to become friends. Watching these two interact and inspire each other – especially Latham helping and encouraging Rhodes because he wanted to – makes my heart full.
  6. There was a cat lady that had 12 cats each named after the first 12 presidents of the United States. I don’t know why that stuck with me throughout the entire episode, but it did.

Chicago Med airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.



Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment | Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes | Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters | Co-executive Editor, TV Editor and Sports Editor for Fangirlish | Contributor for Bears Wire at USA Today SMG | Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.