A key episode in the series, “Alone Together” examines the themes of love in the face of incredible difficulties: Adultery, bitterness and the inability to find compromise, just to name a few.
Donor: Jackson White, West Virginian, intentional adulterer, accidental nudist
Recipient: Boyle, theater professor, intensely unpleasant person
Transplant Type: Liver
Medical Dilemma: There isn’t one, this is pretty cut and dry on the medical side of things. The drama we do have, however, is the struggle of Dr. Lee to do his best for a patient who takes every opportunity to be rude, demeaning, and derogatory to him in return.
RECAP, EPISODE FIVE
A police SWAT team gets into position outside an apartment door in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. Detective Philip Lombardi, backed up by a female partner, identifies himself and they move in to arrest their suspect. The detectives corner the criminal in his infant’s bedroom and there’s an intense standoff, which Lombardi resolves peacefully. However, as the arrest is being made, Lombardi falls to the floor in pain, clutching his left arm — it appears he’s having a heart attack. His partner calls an ambulance and directs he be taken to Three Rivers…
Kuol catches up with Andy and Ryan in the halls of the hospital and shows off his new Rock Band guitar controller, a gift from the church which is supporting Kuol’s stay in the United States. Kuol wants the keys to Andy’s hospital-based-hotel-room… not for the same reasons you or I would want them, but for access to the large screen tv he’s heard is in there – to enhance his rock n’ roll gaming experience.
Andy says no and tries to walk off but Kuol body-checks him in a way we can only dream of doing ourselves and asks again; Andy insensitively wonders how a guy from Sudan even ever heard of Motörhead (reminds me of Mick & Beth’s “I like Dashboard Confessional” / “No you don’t.”) and Kuol turns on the guilt, turning his request for Andy’s room key into his dying request, which, hmm…. we wouldn’t go that far to get into his room, now, would we? 😉
Andy teasingly threatens to cancel Kuol’s heart transplant if he doesn’t leave him alone and Kuol stomps off in a mock huff… as Andy realizes Kuol stole his room keys! Go Kuol!
The scene transitions to West Virginia (about an hour’s drive away from Pittsburgh) for a semi-funny, semi-serious scene of a naked man sneaking out of his lover’s house as his wife threatens everyone in the general vicinity with her revolver. Jackson, the cheating cheater, is hit by a garbage truck as he attempts to cross the street with only a pizza box covering his nethers. That had to be an ugly scene for the paramedics!
Back at Three Rivers ER, the ambulance has delivered Philip Lombardi to Lisa, who takes over his care. Andy appears in the ER and puts his arm around the female detective asking if she is ok, and this is Rena, the wife from whom Andy is separated.
Andy and Philip greet each other as old friends, and when Andy tells Philip that Lisa’s “the best,” Rena gets a jealous little glint in her eye. Some medical discussion occurs, Andy wants a chest x-ray, the head of the ER wants to proceed without it, and Lisa is caught in the middle… and what’s a girl to do? She lets Andy run the x-ray.
After the x-ray, Andy and Rena discuss Philip’s relationship with his fiancee, Rebecca, and Andy asks Rena if she’s interested in going to couples counseling – she says she has to think about it…
All the other show’s characters we haven’t seen thus far (Dr. Jordan, Dr. David Lee & Dr. Miranda Foster are visiting with a very difficult patient, Professor Boyle. He has thrown up on the floor instead of the receptacles provided, and is making rude and racist comments to the three of them. His liver condition is deteriorating rapidly. It appears this difficult man will soon be dead.
Back in Wheeling, WV, Jackson’s wife, mourning over her cheating husband’s death, has agreed to allow the hospital to collect his liver for donation. Ryan makes the match to Professor Boyle as the doctors and nurses celebrate, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – Boyle will soon be out of the hospital and out of their lives.
Dr. Jordan sends Miranda and Ryan to Wheeling for the procurement while David stays behind to do Boyle’s pre-op, seeing this assignment as a “punishment.”
Andy and Lisa review Philip’s x-rays and determine that the standard treatment for his MI (“heart attack”) could exacerbate other internal bleeding going on in his heart – a dangerous aortic aneurysm. Philip needs surgery right away or he will die. Unfortunately, those anti-clotting medications he was given to treat the heart attack he didn’t have make immediate surgery impossible; until his blood can coagulate again, surgery will have to wait. Rebecca is understandably distraught at this news, but Andy and Rena do their best to comfort her.
Dr. Jordan and Dr. Lee deliver the news to Boyle that he’s been matched to Jackson’s liver, and his reaction is understated to say the least. Dr. Jordan tells David to get on that pre-op work and Boyle requests that someone else – not a resident – does his treatment. He works in a few personal insults towards Dr. Lee in making this request. Dr. Jordan will have none of it though, keeping her assignments as stated.
Rebecca is permitted to visit with Philip for a minute before Andy begins surgery. Their love is so fresh, touching, and pure, coming later in life and all the more valued for that. Rena and Andy, looking in on them are highly affected, and hold hands as they watch.
Doing the pre-op work, Boyle continues to needle David, who does his best to put up a defensive front. However, an ill-placed comment about Boyle’s lack of visitors or gifts in his room generates a swift and strong reaction. It is revealed that Boyle’s partner died of AIDS during a time (anytime in the last 30 years up until last week, actually) when a gay man’s partners were not allowed visitation in their hospital rooms. David is sufficiently chastised and unable to respond or look Boyle in the face.
Dr. Jordan rips into Dr. Lee for his behavior in Boyle’s room. David defends himself, saying he didn’t say anything out of line. Dr. Jordan’s opinion is that patients facing their imminent mortality get a “pass” on their bad behavior. David pouts and asks if he’s just supposed to put up with Boyle and Dr. Jordan plays the ace up her sleeve: David’s a good doctor with the potential to be a great one. But he has to learn to “love the unlovable.” All his life he’s been on a pedestal, a child of privilege, smarter than average, charming and handsome. Blessed in every respect. He hasn’t run into much adversity and has always been well liked. Boyle presents a challenge which David has never yet encountered.
Wheeling, we have a problem. It appears the liver has been double-booked, and the local physician, Dr. Yorn, is about to procure it for his patient, making it unavailable for Boyle. Ryan gets on the phone to UNOS while Miranda frantically tries to intervene, to prevent the liver from slipping through their fingers.
Miranda tries to block Yorn’s enterence to the surgical suite and a scuffle ensues. She’s pulled away from the door by a security guard, and her arms fly into Yorn’s face, breaking his nose as if she’d punched him. Whoops! Miranda is hilariously, literally, BODILY LIFTED by the security guard and moved out of the operating room.
Rebecca and Rena are waiting in Andy’s office. On Andy’s desk is a picture of him and Rena kissing… Awww! Rebecca encourages Rena to patch things up with Andy on the basis of “if it all ended tomorrow,” as she tearfully considers a future without Philip. Meanwhile, Andy and Pam perform the aneurysm repair surgery on Philip. After a few tense moments, the stent is successfully deployed.
An alarm sounds and Dr. Jordan rushes into Boyle’s room. Boyle, feeling he is dying, wishes his old doctor, Dr. Foster (aka Miranda’s father) were still alive to treat him. His emotion evokes a similar reaction in Dr. Jordan — it appears the relationship between old Dr. Foster and Dr. Jordan was maybe more than a professional one… but just how close was their friendship?
Andy comes to tell Rena and Rebecca about the success of the stent but he’s hardly arrived when Pam rushes in with news Philip has crashed. It’s back to the OR. Instead of trying the same procedure again, Andy decides to do the full aneurysm repair, which includes cutting open Philip’s chest. Though there’s a chance Philip’s blood may not be clotting yet, it’s a chance they have to take. Pam and Andy work frantically to correct Philip’s aneurysm, but he’s bleeding profusely, making their work difficult and his blood pressure drop dangerously low.
Back in Wheeling…. the liver belongs to Boyle, Miranda begins her procurement. Dr. Yorn is going to send Miranda the bill for his rhinoplasty. She doesn’t give two flips. She got the liver and that’s all she cared about. Go Miranda!
Andy tells Rena and Rebecca the surgery was a success. Rebecca rushes off to visit with Philip, but before she does, emphatically thanks Andy and gets a great hug in while Rena looks on, impressed with her husband and happy her partner’s life is on the mend.
The liver has arrived so Dr. Jordan brings a heavily sedated Boyle into the operating room. Before he goes under though, he talks about how Dr. Jordan loved Dr. Foster… that they were lovers… Pam, attempting to leave Dr. Jordan with some dignity, says that people say crazy things when they’re under sedation. Everyone in the OR – and there are a LOT of people in this particular OR – nod vigorously in agreement.
Miranda walks in with the cooler containing the liver and everyone stares at her. Boyle’s still rambling on so the anesthesiologist puts a mask on him to prevent any further words…
Andy and Rena talk over their marital woes in the Three Rivers courtyard. In truth, they are both married to their jobs, places where their priorities are evident. “When’s the last time you didn’t spend Thanksgiving with Pam?” Rena asks, rhetorically. Andy finds there’s nothing he can say to Rena to make her relent. It’s a confusing situation. Andy wants kids. Rena maybe wants them with a man who isn’t addicted to work. But she admits she also prioritizes her career. Andy says that having a life with Rena is more important than saving lives at the hospital. But somehow, they can not get on the same page. They love each other though, so they kiss and part ways.
David Lee sits in Boyle’s recovery room waiting for his patient to come to. The surgery was a success. David brought Boyle flowers in apology and appreciation and takes the extra step to wipe the man’s tears, showing his true (if learned) servant’s heart. Boyle apologizes to David and thanks him. An amazing scene, moving and so well performed by these fine actors!
The next morning, Andy is startled awake by the sound of the Rock Band game, speakers apparently turned up to 11. It’s Kuol! Andy is cranky at the invasion but Kuol explains how lonely it gets in the hospital… and Andy’s just putty in Kuol’s hands. Andy doesn’t have a wife, but he does have a friend! Aww!
So what we have here is a very important episode of Three Rivers! Character growth for David Lee, development of Miranda Foster, background on Sophia Jordan and her relationship with Miranda’s father as well as finally meeting Rena, and seeing her with Andy! The trade-off for having so much character stuff was the minimum attention paid to the donor Jackson White – though we did get Sally White’s statement, which sets the theme of the episode: if you love someone, you must set them free.
NEW INFORMATION: If organ donation is not for you, there are other ways you can contribute to help your “fellow man” in need:
Blood donation One alternative to help those with blood loss is blood donation. One pint of blood, which takes about fifteen minutes to donate, can save three lives. And then you get a cookie! Visit America’s Blood Centers to find a donation center near you.
Bone Marrow From the website for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. “For people with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.” Imagine if your bone marrow could cure a child with leukemia! I encourage you to visit this website and register as a donor. This is a donation you make while still living and in the words of Rebecca from this episode, “if you save one life, you save the world.”
PIC SPAM TIME!