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Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/ABC

'Black Box' recap: Distorted vision, a functioning pyschopath and rubber bands

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Who Are You?” | Aired May 8, 2014

Okay, let’s see what kind of weirdness we can get into this week.

The episode begins with a sleeping Catherine. She awakens to see Will cooking breakfast. It looks delicious — he is a chef, after all!  He aligns his food perfectly on the tray — as well as Catherine’s daily meds — and brings the tray into the bedroom. “I don’t deserve this,” Catherine says. Will agrees: “You cheated on me.”

Full disclosure: Here is where my local ABC news station interrupts the show with an odd breaking news alert. It was only for a minute at most.

And, we’re back … Catherine is talking about how her meds numb her. Will asks her which is the real Catherine: medicated or not. Catherine attempts to reassure him that the Catherine he knows is the real Catherine. Will rather abruptly changes the subject and begins talking about the pretty-young-thing hostess, Delilah, at his restaurant. Oh, and then he tells Catherine that he slept with Delilah. He walks out of the room.

Dr. Ian Bickman (Ditch Davey)

An ambulance arrives at The Cube, bombarded with paparazzi. It turns out Dr. Bickman saved the life of a famous opera singer when she choked on some food. But she hit her head and now needs emergency surgery to stop a brain bleed. And she’s very pregnant. Radiologist Dr. Lina Lark and a nurse argue about whether or not this was a PR stunt for Dr. Bickman. As Dr. Lark points out, he used a steak knife to cut her trachea. Why didn’t he just do the Heimlich maneuver? Dr. Lark thinks Bickman is a functioning psychopath, so she decides to evaluate him based on series of scientific questions.

Case time!  Catherine and her two docs-in-training, Ali (Aja Naomi King) and Leo (Tasso Feldman), see patient Mona (Jodi Harris) and her daughter Maddy (Colby Minifie). Basically, Mona fainted during her Zumba class and they’re trying to figure out why. Mona wants to be “fixed” in time for her birthday party the next day. Catherine orders a head scan.

Later in the hallway, Dr. Lark casually asks Bickman a few questions pertaining to the psychopath test — all of which point to confirmation that he is in fact a psycho. Nearby, Catherine is looking up Delilah the hostess’s restaurant profile on her phone. Bickman takes note.

In her office, Catherine has a surprise visit from sister-in-law Regan.  Regan has decided to conditionally lift her ban on daughter Esme communicating with Catherine. Esme has a school project to create a documentary about her life, and she wants to interview Auntie Catherine. Regan is amicable, but reiterates that she is Esme’s only mother.

Elated with the news of being able to speak to Esme, in typical Catherine fashion, she does a little dance in the hallway. This is going to be a thing now, isn’t it? Dr. Lark approaches her and tells her the CT scan is pretty normal except for a small lesion. Catherine is disappointed because she was hoping to have an actual diagnosis. The two then have a little back-and-forth banter over Catherine’s age — clearly brought on by her insecurities over Will’s hook-up with the young hostess.

Elsewhere, Mona is checking out of the hospital.  She looks down to sign her discharge papers, but the left side of her vision is blurred.  It eventually goes black. Her daughter, Maddy, asks what’s wrong. Mona denies any problem and the two head to the elevator.

Second case time! Catherine and her docs meet to discuss a study of a rare disorder. A weird disorder. Capgras syndrome (fact checked!) is basically where something happens in the brain and you don’t recognize your loved ones. You think they’re impostors. Docs-in-training Ali and Leo are very different. Remember, Leo has a crazy-great memory disorder where he can remember every detail of his life. Ali, on the other hand, is quite unsure of herself. This is demonstrated when Catherine questions the two docs on Capgras.

Later, Dr. Bickman is operating on his pregnant opera singer. Dr. Pratt, an obstetrician, is waiting in the wings to monitor the baby’s stats while Bickman does his thing. The two men argue over administering fluids to the singer; they are clearly looking out for different patients. For Bickman, it’s the opera singer. For the OB doc, it’s the baby. A childish fight ensues and Dr. Pratt storms out. Baby’s heart rate goes haywire and Dr. Pratt is paged. When he fails to answer in time, Dr. Bickman performs the emergency C-section himself. All goes well, but Bickman is pretty aloof about it all. Like it just wasn’t a big deal and he knew it would be fine.

That evening, Catherine heads to Will’s restaurant. She comes face-to-face with Delilah, assuring the hostess that she knows exactly who she is and what she did. She goes to Will and kisses him. Catherine admits to feeling like she doesn’t really know Will, but she’s enjoying the good surprises. He says he could live with a few fewer surprises.

Back at The Cube, Ali meets with a couple, Claire and Anna. The latter is believed to have Capgras syndrome. Prior to a skiing accident that involved Anna, the two suffered from LBD (lesbian bed death: where lesbian sex dies over the course of a long-term relationship — fact checked!). After said accident, their sex life is great because Anna doesn’t recognize Claire. Anna thinks she’s having sex with a stranger.

Regan and Esme are outside The Cube, about to film Catherine’s part of Esme’s school project. As Regan prepares to begin recording, she lectures Esme on an annoying little habit: continuously snapping a rubber band on her wrist. Take note. This might be important. Catherine greets them and she and Esme proceed to fawn all over each other. Esme repeatedly compliments Catherine’s blouse. Regan looks hurt. Esme looks annoyed by her mother. Regan leaves.

Down the hospital hallway, Esme films and Catherine casually discusses who they will talk to at The Cube. Dr. Bickman walks up and flirts. Enter patient Mona, who is severely disheveled. She looks as though two different people dressed her, in the dark.

Mona is now in a room. Catherine gives her a test: to copy three drawings. When looking at the pictures, Mona only sees the right side. A new CT scan discovers development in the legion on her brain. Catherine confirms that Mona only drew the right side of the pictures. At Mona’s birthday party, she only blew out the candles on the right side of the cake. And the weirdest part of it all? Mona doesn’t recognize that she can’t see the left side. Her brain just overcompensates.

Back to Case Number 2. Patient Anna is hooked up to a machine to read brain imagery. In an attached room, she hears her wife Claire’s voice and fully recognizes it. When Claire enters Anna’s room (to the dismay of doc-in-training Ali), Anna again doesn’t recognize her. Claire runs out, upset.

Here is a moment of levity where Esme is waiting in the lounge with a bunch of Capgras syndrome patients. The man sitting next to her has a dog with him. He claims the dog is an impostor. Catherine enters and explains the disorder to Esme. Catherine says that this ailment affects the brain to the point where what we see doesn’t connect to what we feel. Esme says she can relate, and that she doesn’t connect to her mom. Jokingly, she says she must be adopted. Uh-oh! Have no fear: Catherine actually lectures Esme on how much of a mother Regan is to her. Esme thanks Catherine and then exits the building to meet her waiting mom. We see the two embrace and Catherine watches — smiling, in fact.

In her hospital room, Mona and her daughter, Maddy, read a get-well card. Again, Mona can only see half of the card. Catherine enters and Maddy says things are getting worse for her mother. Catherine says they’re going to do a biopsy to see what’s wrong. Dr. Bickman enters and Mona immediately recognizes him. So apparently he and Mona work together at a homeless shelter! Wait, self-absorbed Dr. Bickman volunteers at a homeless shelter?! With this new development (in Bickman’s personality), Catherine figures out what’s wrong with Mona — she got tuberculosis from working at the shelter! Catherine tells Bickman, “I owe you lunch.”

Catherine and Dr. Bickman are outside, headed to a food truck. Catherine ends up telling him about the psychopath test Dr. Lark was performing on him — and clearly, working at a homeless shelter means he failed the test. As they approach the truck, who does Catherine run into? Delilah. Catherine grills her about being there, accusing her of basically being a stalker. A little ridiculous. Catherine also calls her a stupid little girl holding on to a one-night stand. Delilah then does proceed to tell Catherine about the duration and quality of the hook-up with Will. Okay, Delilah does kind of suck. Which is why Catherine spills a smoothie on Delilah.  “You’re crazy!” says the hostess. Catherine’s reply? “Maybe I am.”

That evening, Will comes home to Catherine and the two have a weird argument. He basically accuses Catherine of being unreasonable — pretty much siding with Delilah. What?! And then he asks Catherine if she’s taking her meds. Big mistake. She tells Will to never ask her that question. Catherine tells him that he can’t handle her. He disagrees and says he’s not going anywhere. They hug. They have sex. The next morning, they get re-engaged when Will puts the ring (which she threw at him in the pilot episode, remember?) back on her finger. I don’t get these two. Weirdest relationship ever.

black box - who are you 1Later, Catherine comforts Mona while she is being given a lumbar puncture (OUCH) by Dr. Bickman. She vomits, confesses to seeing double vision and goes cross-eyed. The lumbar puncture was to confirm tuberculosis, but Catherine says they need to start treatment immediately — which they do, despite her superior’s protests. A test later confirms TB and Mona gets better.

And with that case wrapped up, we’re brought back to Anna and Claire. The two are seen leaving the hospital — happy. Ali “fixed” the problem by making it so Anna only hears Claire’s voice — so she’s recognizable. Catherine’s impressed by Ali’s work.

The episode ends with Esme talking to her dad, Joshua, in her bedroom. Regan walks in — wearing a similar blouse to the one Catherine wore earlier, the one Esme fawned over. This time, Esme says her mom looks ridiculous. Esme exits and Regan looks hurt; however, Josh tells her she can’t be cool because she’s Esme’s mom. So that’s okay. Regan is better and walks over to Esme’s computer. An editing program is open and Regan begins looking at some clips from her daughter’s project. We see various Cube staff talking about how wonderful Catherine is. Then we see Catherine as she is being filmed without her knowledge. And what is she doing? Snapping a rubber band on her wrist — just like Esme was doing earlier. Regan looks frightened.

So does that mean Regan thinks Esme is bipolar — just like her biological mother, Catherine? Or does it mean Regan will always have a reminder that Esme is someone else’s daughter?

In truth, I liked this episode a bit more than the first two. It was a little more grounded. A little less crazy. It still dealt with Catherine’s personal life, but we also got a good taste of procedural drama with the two medical cases. And on to the next one …

What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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