The Resident 2×20 “If Not Now, When?” is one of the best episodes I have seen on television. Ever. Manish Dayal wins my performance of the week for this chilling episode that shed light on senseless gun violence and the lack of standard of care in postpartum treatment. For such a heavy content episode, the writers still managed to update viewers on the failing health of Nic’s sister, Jessie (Julianna Guill) and on the somber status of CoNic.
The Subtle Shame in Senseless Gun Violence
The Resident writers are really good. We know this. I am super impressed with the way that this storyline was incorporated with an already very prominent plot occurring and yet still managed to standout. That’s good writing. After Nic witnesses a shooting involving a vehicle, she rushes over to discover a family of three. The father (Joel Johnstone) exits the vehicle and is screaming about his 14 year old son, Danny (Paxton Singleton) in the backseat who appears to be suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. The mother (Charlene Amoia) is also bleeding in the driver’s seat with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The family was innocently driving to a science fair where Danny would be competing when their vehicle was sprayed with bullets. Sadly, a perfect example of ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.
And then both mom and son are saved but after several opportunities for dialogue and after 43 minutes with uncertainty of their fate. Bell and Kitt have this honest conversation about how many bullets they’ve removed from healthy, young men. She even talks about how her own daughter was entered into a science fair when she was younger and how they, too could have been innocent victims of gun violence simply by driving to a school function. Nic has her own moment of ‘it should have been me’ while she looks back and realizes she could have been hit if she hadn’t pulled her vehicle over.
Although the conversations are subtle and intertwined so discretely throughout the episode, the message spoke volumes: gun violence is a problem in this country. Innocent, young lives are affected every single day and until something changes, we will always be forced to think about whether or not it could have been us.
It COULD Have Been Us
The Resident brought attention to one of the most disturbing and lesser known facts about giving birth in the United States: it is the most dangerous country to give birth in the developed world. How is this possible? The maternal mortality rate also increases significantly if you are an African-American woman. Are you kidding me?
This episode shows Wade and Lea (Kamal Bolden and Vinessa Antoine) in the emergency room. Lea is pregnant and experiencing contractions. When Dr. Feldman (Tasso Feldman) and Devon listen to the baby’s heart rate, they realize that it is too low and that Lea will need an emergency c-section. Due to low staff (this is a common theme in this episode, Dr. Stewart (John Billingsley) asks Devon to scrub in with him for the c-section.
As Dr. Stewart is about to begin the procedure he looks up to Devon and asks how long he’s been in the country?
Yup. You read that correctly. And hold on to that thought.
Devon responds taken aback but graciously and informs Dr. Stewart that he was born in the United States and grew up in New Jersey. The c-section continues and the couple welcome a baby girl into the world.
Devon stops in to check on the couple later when they are moved to their room. Wade thanks Devon for helping to bring his daughter in the world safely. As Devon is walking out of the room, he notices a significant amount of blood in Lea’s catheter bag. Devon immediately locates Dr. Stewart and asks him to check in on Lea; however, Dr. Stewart essentially tells Devon to stay in his lane.
Viewers are subjected to watching the entire system fail Lea, her husband, and her two daughters (one at home waiting for her mother to return to her) throughout the rest of the episode. Dr. Stewart never checks on Lea despite Devon reaching out several times to him. The nurses never check on Lea despite the fact that Wade asks for assistance for his wife, who is in obvious extreme pain. The nurse at the front desk even ignores the call bell to Lea’s room. While Wade listens to the nurse at the desk explain that pain is normal after a c-section, he looks around in disbelief as other nurses are busy tending to women with balloons, women who are being discharged, and with patients who are clearly not in the severity of pain or discomfort that his wife lying in the hospital bed down the hall was in. So why is she specifically being ignored?
Devon ends up going to check on Lea again and realizes that no one is helping her. Devon calls out the nurse and tells her to order a CT scan and make sure that Lea is a priority for the medical test. And later when Devon returns, Lea is still not made a priority and the nurse blames understaffing.
Mina and AJ were tasked with trying to save Lea after Devon discovers that Lea is bleeding internally. After the best possible surgeons try to save her life, Lea ends up dying from a bleed in her bladder six hours after her emergency c-section.
And Devon says to Dr. Stewart what everyone was thinking as they walked out of the surgery. “Ask yourself would this have happened if Lea wasn’t black?”
AJ tries to insert himself and tells Devon that it isn’t the right time.
“If not now, when?”
Mina than educates the hallway that African-American woman are four times more likely to die postpartum. Dr. Stewart is left crying alone in the hallway as Mina, AJ, and Devon go to break the news to Lea’s husband.
I cannot commend the actors and writers of this next scene enough. The image of two male doctors holding and grieving with this heartbroken husband was stunning. Mina bawls in the corner behind them.
Dr. Bell listens to Devon’s suggestion and says that the hospital will initiate a new standard of care to make sure that this does not happen again to another patient like Lea.
At the end of the episode, The Resident shows a clip of a story about Kira Dixon Johnson, the story inspiring this episode. Her husband, Charles Johnson developed 4Kira4Moms, an advocacy group for better maternal care policies.
To learn more about Kira, her story and Charles’ mission in her honor, please visit:
This episode was heartbreaking and I applaud The Resident for once again exposing the truth about the faults in our healthcare system.
As emotional as this episode was, the writers did not spare us whatsoever. In fact, the episode began with the break up of our beloved CoNic. And honestly, I’m okay with it. I know it sounds a little hypocritical of me after slamming these writers for even threatening to break them up in the first place but it clearly needs to be over based on the place that Conrad is in: and that is a selfish one.
Before you hate me for saying that Conrad is being selfish, hear me out. I have watched Nic get blasted on Twitter the past few weeks. She’s tired. She burnt out. According to her own account, she’s been taking care of everyone else since she was essentially a preteen. Why on earth would this girl want to move in, get married, and move forward in a relationship when the ground around her is crumbling? Why would Conrad think that now is the time for moving forward when the fate of her sister is unknown? They even have to break the news to Jessie this episode that her kidneys will never recover. She will have to live on dialysis for the rest of her life or until she is eligible for a transplant.
And so Conrad says he cannot do it. He doesn’t want to be stagnant. And, though I appreciate his honesty about not wanting to be in a relationship that doesn’t progress, I think it’s really telling that he’s not looking out for the well-being and need of Nic right now. He wants a relationship that progresses. He’s being selfish. And that’s okay, too.
They are clearly both not in the same place and it’s not going to work. Right now. Because, I’m hoping that they really do figure it out: that it’s not about pace, or moving forward, or status, or where who lives. It’s about their very apparent love for one another.
I’m just hoping this break does not even go into a romance with Alec or Zoey or any other obnoxious temporary fill in. And I hope it’s short-lived.
My random thoughts section will let this speak for itself this week:
- “Each year an estimated 700 to 900 maternal deaths occur in the U.S.” – The New York Times
- “A black woman is 243% more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than a white woman.” -NPR
The Resident airs on Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.