It's been pretty clear that A Gifted Man has been itching to switch seats from ghostly love story to straight-up medical drama from the beginning. In the latest two episodes, the show finally slides its second butt cheek off the stool of the supernatural and makes a break for pure medicinal soap opera.
The episode "In Case of Memory Loss" featured Jennifer Ehle in exactly two scenes. She spends most of the first in a chair with her feet propped up on the table. I mean, I always love to see her, but she couldn't look more like an assistant principal waiting out the last twenty minutes of the school year in her locked office if she tried. Mike muses about his patients and asks her if she ever forced anyone to take medication against their will. She vehemently answers "no" and that's the end of it.
It's on Mike's mind, because he has three patients that give him a case of the meddles. The first is a guy on a soccer field who may have tuberculosis (but refuses to get tested) and then may have HIV (but refuses to get tested) and finally definitely has some obscure disease (that Mike discovers after testing him beyond his will).
The second patient is a teenage girl who is self-harming because her best friend was shot in front of her. She refuses a drug that cause the patient to recount traumatic experiences until they train their brain not to respond to the memories with pain and panic. Mike wants the girl's mom to force her to get therapy. The mom stalls on it. Finally, the girl explains — once she's made a break for the roof and is sitting on the edge — that she wants it to hurt. Her friend died and she didn't, so she should feel pain. Mike ends up talking her into getting therapy, but clearly the only way to pull this series out of its mind-numbing groove is for her to become teenage Batman.
The last patient is a football hero whose spine Mike fixed years ago, but whose long football career injured his brain so much that he ended up on the street. He's semi-forced into an experimental brain treatment that makes him lucid enough to realize that he's only going to get worse, so he kills himself. Jennifer Ehle then pops up 30 seconds before the end and tells Mike that the guy's in heaven. Seriously? Is no one going to make something about the fact that the concept of heaven just got officially confirmed? Because if Mike went born again, it's the only other thing that could pick up this show.
In yesterday's episode, "In Case of Exposure," Jennifer Ehle just watches Mike sleep for a while. And at this point, Mike's so used to how superfluous she is that he blows her off. That's how unnecessary the ghost is. Yes, not even the characters believe the ghost is important.
Especially since she's been replaced by Rachel Lefevre's character. When Mike finds a brain tumor in a guy's head that has been causing him to act out with rage, the guy refuses to have it removed. He wants to die. Mike seems willing to let him go, when Dr. Kate goes right into guilt mode. She berates Mike for not convincing the guy and dishes out the emotional wisdom with a healthy dose of condescension. "How are you going to feel when you hear about his death?" she asks. "A guy you could have saved with one hand tied behind your back, if only he were smart enough to let you!"
First of all, he wouldn't have heard about the guy's death. The guy was a driver, not the Secretary General of the UN. Secondly, Mike already tried to convince him and enlisted the guy's wife to do the same. Thirdly, and this is something that Mike points out himself, finding the guy — which Mike isn't good at — will take time away from all the clinic patients who desperately need his help. So Kate upholds the standards of self-righteousness and stupidity that all The Good People possess in this series. No ghosts needed.
Not even when it turns out that the driver describes hitting a white woman with long red hair in Alphabet City two months ago. You can guess who! And Mike can, too! I have to say, the next scene with Jennifer Ehle in it (which lasts about thirty seconds and does not include Mike telling her that he knows who killed her) has her looking more radiant than ever before. I'm beginning to think this entire show is just Ehle's way of launching a make-up and hair color line. "Ehlegant Make-Up: So good, your ex will still be pining for you two months after you're dead." I'd buy it.
Ghost Jennifer Ehle finds out because she flashes behind him the moment he tells the man that he used to be married to the woman that the guy plowed into. She's upset, walks away, and disappears. And then it turns out that the guy didn't even hit her. Ehle pops back into existence long enough to hear that. And that's the end. I swear, it's like Ehle isn't even in this show and they just keep catching her when she's doing her shopping and coaxing her into these thirty-second scenes.
That, by the way, is another TV show I would totally watch.