Chicago Med possesses the power to make you feel. It possesses the power to elicit deep emotions that cause you to forget that you’re watching a television show. It stays with you.
It’s enough that Chicago Med exists in an environment that sees as much loss as it does recovery. It’s enough that Chicago Med has dealt us its fair share of emotionally traumatic cases that have left us in a broken heap. And yet somehow it’s never enough how Chicago Med manages to put us in a hypothetical situation where we’re forced to consider these tough decisions we witness on our screens. It’s as if Chicago Med is making us a part of this world. It’s something that’s as equally satisfying as it is gut-wrenching.
Chicago Med’s latest hour was perhaps one of its most emotional of the series as a winter storm sent 30 victims to Med in what could only be described as controlled chaos. Where everyone from the doctors to the audience was holding on for dear life.
Not only did this winter storm cause a massive accident that sent a few dozen victims to Med, but it also was the cause of the blood shortage that rocked Med and nearly lost us a young boy among other things. It’s enough to have 30 victims wheeled into the emergency room in succession. But when you don’t possess the supplies needed to do your job – to save lives – it’s enough to make you downright angry and furious at how cruel and unfair the world can be.
“Cold Front” presented a difficult question to consider: How do you decide who is worth saving? When the stakes are the highest they’ve been, when there are multiple patients in immediate danger, how do you decide which ones to save over the others?
It’s episodes like this – where Chicago Med really makes us think about the circumstances that real doctors face every day and the decisions they have to make – when the show doesn’t feel like a television show. It brings a genuine humanity to the fictional world of television.
I cannot even fathom the heavy weight that falls upon these doctors to have to make decisions about who lives and who dies all while trying to maintain a sense of composure in the midst of chaos. But I admire how strong they stand when faced with even the most difficult of odds and the lengths that they go to to keep a promise to a patient even though time eventually runs out.
Let’s break this down:
Who Do You Save?
When it comes to making life-altering decisions you’d like to hope that you’d remain somewhat calm and collected if and when that happens. But the sad fact of the matter is that we can’t control how we respond to life-altering situations as much as we can control those life-altering situations from happening in the first place.
So when both your son and nephew are seriously injured in a brutal accident, and when there’s only enough blood for one of the boys, you’d like to think this would be an easy decision. I’d like to say if I were in the situation that I’d choose my son. That’s what you would expect. As a mother that’s your first instinct. But as we saw with one patient, this was far from an easy decision as she couldn’t decide between giving her son or nephew the remaining O-negative blood supply to survive.
For her – thrown into a serious and emotional situation after being involved in this wreck herself – it wasn’t as easy as choosing her son. This other boy was her sister’s son. How could she potentially sentence him to death?
The truth is, I don’t know what decision I’d make in that same situation. I’d like to tell you that I’d save my son over any other person. That’s what I would expect. But given certain variables and doctor advisement, I don’t know if I could say that with 100 percent certainty.
But that doesn’t make this woman a bad mother. She was following the advisement of a group of well-respected doctors who promised to keep fighting for her son even after he didn’t get the blood. A group of doctors that – led by Manning – instituted an in-house blood drive and eventually got the O-negative blood needed to save the woman’s son’s life.
As we saw, this woman is now questioning whether she’s a good mother because when her instinct should’ve been to protect her son – and choose him above everything – she didn’t. And that’s not something that’s going to be easy to get over. But knowing that both her son and nephew survived will certainly make it a little easier.
The World is Cruel and Unfair
While the world is a wonderful place filled with joys we cherish, we’re often reminded of just how cruel and unfair the world can be sometimes. How even the best of people can find themselves a victim of said cruelty. It’s not fair. But that’s how the expression goes.
In “Cold Front,” Dr. Choi took responsibility of a burn victim from the massive accident in a storyline that emotionally shook me. Dr. Latham initially warned Choi to make the patient comfortable until he would inevitably die. Choi isn’t the kind to let his patients die – or give up without a fight – so he took it upon himself to try.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that Latham was right and that this man’s organs would soon begin shutting down and that eventually he would die. And still, Dr. Choi remained by his side. When this man told Choi that all he wanted was to tell his wife goodbye, Choi took it upon himself to see this through. As we later learned, Choi had seen these similar situations in the military. When a dying man had been asking for a loved one before they passed. How it wasn’t possible to deliver their final wish. But with this patient, it was possible.
Choi had the man’s wife called and she was doing the best she could to get here in time. This man was in a race against the clock, but luckily the ventilator he was hooked up to would help give him that time to let his wife get here.
All this man wanted was to say goodbye to his wife. One last time. There was a heavy feeling in my gut that forewarned me that this man wouldn’t get the chance to do that. Because while life is cruel, it also isn’t fair. It’s not going to wait for you to get your affairs in order.
Given the overflow of victims and the ones coming out of surgery – the patients with the best chance of survival – Choi was ordered to remove his patient from the ventilator. Of course that would kill him. But this man wasn’t going to survive. He’d be dead shortly, and there were others that needed that room and that ventilator more. So Choi took it upon himself to help this man breathe without the ventilator. There was no way Choi was going to fail this man. So he fought. He fought like hell to give him the chance to get his last wish.
But when Choi’s services were needed elsewhere it was the final straw. Choi tried to get out of it – to have someone else do what they needed him to do – but his patient grabbed his hand and looked him in the eyes as a way to tell him, “It’s okay” and “thank you.” So Choi finally let go. And the man died without getting to tell his wife goodbye and I love you one last time.
This storyline put me through the emotional ringer. It was a reminder of the reality that we face in this world. Where we never know when our time might be up. Where we never know if we’ll get the chance to tell those we love that we love them one last time. It rocks you to the core. And it reminds you to live life to the fullest.
Leave it to Chicago Med to deliver an emotionally powerful hour in which the beauty that is Will and Natalie wasn’t even on my mind only to give it to me in the most beautiful way possible. As a veteran of the One Chicago franchise, I know how this works. The show’s central couple – in this case Natalie and Will – inevitably do they “will-they-won’t-they” game for the first couple of seasons before getting together at the end of the second season. We’ve seen it with Matt and Gabby on Chicago Fire. And we’ve seen it with Jay and Erin on Chicago P.D. So there’s no way you can hide the intent.
The past couple of episodes have been setting up this storyline as we wind down the second season. Nat broke up with Clarke. Will looks to be (potentially) doubting his relationship with Nina. All the pieces are falling into place. So “Cold Front” was a great episode to remind us of why we fell in love with Manstead in the first place.
Nat and Will rely on each other. They lean on each other. They encourage each other. They need each other. And we saw that in this episode even as they clashed professionally – as they fought to save their respective patients. But when it comes down to it, they care about each other. They’re willing to go above and beyond for the other.
So when Will’s patient faced potential death because there was no more O-negative (which had gone to his cousin, Nat’s patient), Nat organized an in-house blood drive where patients, doctors, nurses, and more were donating blood for those that needed it, including Will’s patient. When Maggie told him, the two shared a moment that reminded us why these two are going to end up together. It was so touching both as a means to help Will’s patient and Will.
As if that weren’t enough, the two had another moment as they were preparing to head home for the day. Will apologized for calling her emotional earlier, and Nat said that he sure does apologize to her a lot.
“There are very few people I care more about,” he tells her.
And the look shared between them is all we need to know…Manstead is rising. And we are ready for this ship to sail!
- This was one of the more emotional episodes of Chicago Med in a long time. And that’s saying something. This show isn’t known for going easy on the emotions. In fact, it’s rare when this show doesn’t leave me tearing up. But this episode was different. The weight of everything was so much more.
- I just wanted that burn victim to get to say goodbye to his wife. I had a feeling he wouldn’t get that chance, but I clung so desperately to it. And watching Choi go above and beyond to give him the opportunity – even though it was eventually too late – made my heart hurt.
- How do you decide who lives and who dies? That was, after all, the central message of this episode. It showed us an impossible situation and somehow these incredibly brave doctors were able to make a decision that I don’t know if I could ever make.
- Leave it to Chicago Med to give us some Manstead in the midst of emotional turmoil. It was the furthest thing from my mind – and I doubted that it would be a focus – but Chicago Med is so damn good at weaving these character stories in so flawlessly with these cases. Even this one. I’m convinced more than ever that Manstead is rising.
- It was satisfying to watch Dr. Charles give it to his Kellogg patient. This guy caused a scene in the middle of a waiting room. Faked his suicide. And got admitted to Med. That rat bastard. But Charles got in his face in one of the more emotionally satisfying moments of the episode.
Chicago Med airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.