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'Black Box' recap: An engagement ring and a bitter fling

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Exceptional or Dead” | Aired May 15, 2014

Let’s see how the team — and Catherine, in particular — takes on a case that hits a little too close to home.

The show opens with our resident docs-in-training, Ali and Leo, performing neurosurgery. Wait … what?!  It’s OK, it’s just a simulation. As we’ve learned from past episodes, Ali doesn’t exactly have a lot of self-esteem; with that said, she gets flustered and botches her “surgery.” Meanwhile, Leo is super-confident (remember, he has a hyper-memory) throughout the whole process — and he belittles Ali after her defeat.

Newly (re)engaged couple Catherine and Will are walking down the street. Catherine mentions something about getting her ring sized and the pair runs into Dr. Bickman. Catherine awkwardly introduces Will to Bickman, who in return is rather smug after learning that Will is not a doctor, but a chef. Pshaw. In retaliation for Bickman’s rude comments, Catherine gives Will an involved kiss goodbye.

Catherine’s boss, Dr. Morely, is playing chess in the park. Just as he wins, a frantic man, Mike (Gavin-Keith Umeh), runs up and calls next game. He stands on the stone chair, shouts “BAM!” a few times, calls himself a cabbie and wins the game. Clearly, something is askew. Dr. Morely invites him back to The Cube to “meet some people.”

At The Cube, Catherine and Bickman share an uncomfortable elevator ride together where she calls him a snob. Catherine then runs into a still-upset Ali. Catherine tells her to not worry about the simulator. After all, it was a neurosurgery simulator — something Bickman does — and Catherine doesn’t care about that. Ali reiterates her lack of confidence and  acknowledges Leo’s brilliance. Catherine tells her that she wants to “show her something.”

Dr. Lina Lark — who sounds like she should be working in the Marvel Universe or something — starts situating Leo into a funky contraption so that they can map his brain. The point? Catherine wants to show Ali how Leo won the “genetic lottery” with his incredible memory. Yes, it was something he was born with; however, Ali has her own gifts, too.

After the brain-mapping exercise, Leo gets a little too cocky with Ali. He slips up in his time frame and Ali takes note. Something is not right here.

Catherine and Will talk on the phone. Apparently, they are supposed to have an engagement party tonight at Will’s restaurant. Wait, didn’t they just get engaged — and then reengaged? Anyway … Catherine seems somewhat put off by the idea of having the party, but she eventually gives in.  Oh, and she inquires whether or not Will’s one-night-stand girl, Delilah, will be there. Will confirms that there will be no Delilah.

Dr. Lark and Catherine chat it up in the bathroom. And what better time to reveal your engagement ring? Dr. Lark goes girly and asks to try the ring on. These scenarios never end well, so — surprise, surprise — the ring manages to go down the bathroom sink.

A few moments later, Dr. Lark runs into Ali, who tells her about Leo’s odd memory errors. Meanwhile, Catherine calls her brother, Joshua, about a plumber. Due to the crazy, sitcom-like ring setup, this is how Joshua finds out about Catherine’s engagement. Joshua tells her that he’ll take care of the plumber.

Back to patient — and cabbie — Mike. He’s standing in a hospital room being interviewed by lady therapist Dr. Mahmoud (Sepideh Moafi). He gets pretty riled up in a sexual way, and has to be restrained by a male nurse — who then gets the brunt of the sexual advances (in other words, Mike grabs the nurse’s butt). A few moments later, Catherine overhears Dr. Mahmoud’s diagnosis as she tells Dr. Morely. Bipolar disorder. 

Again, Catherine casually reveals her engagement (because of the ring fiasco) to Dr. Morely. At this time, Mike runs down the hall at them and spouts, “I can cure cancer!” Before he’s taken away, we see that one of Mike’s eyes is wonky, not properly aligning itself with the other. Catherine is compelled to take a moment to defend bipolar disorder. Remember, aside from her family and Will, no one knows her secret.

Mike’s wife, Elmira, arrives at the hospital to talk to Dr. Mahmoud. Elmira explains how Mike’s behavior all came about suddenly. He has no history of mental illness, but he just recently started drinking, which led to some violence. Dr. Mahmoud touches upon Mike’s bipolar diagnosis. She explains that it’s a lifelong battle, but there is treatment.

The infamous Delilah.

The infamous Delilah.

At the restaurant, Will confronts Delilah. He tells her their “thing” is over, it was wrong, blah, blah, blah … but Little Miss Thing says, “I think you would do it again if you knew you wouldn’t get caught.” He sends her home.

Back at The Cube, we see several of the hospital’s doctors attempting to figure out how to retrieve Catherine’s ring from the bathroom sink. They are all baffled, and an amused nurse leaves to tell her coworker about the funny scene. Leo is there and explains his own knowledge of plumbing — using his stethoscope as a tool. As this was not a joke, the staff become a bit worried and ask him several more questions — i.e., “Are you a ninja?” To which he assuredly replies yes. Catherine enters and determines that Leo is not lying — he just thinks he’s right. A CAT scan reveals that he has a brain tumor.

Joshua and his plumber friend, Bruce (Cameron Scroggins), are working on the ring situation. Dr. Lark enters and is introduced to Bruce — and there’s a bit of chemistry in the air. Good thing they cannot find the ring in the bathroom’s pipes — now, Dr. Lark has to show Bruce to the basement for further investigation!

Catherine, Bickman and Dr. Morely discuss Leo’s diagnosis and options. Confident Bickman says that he thinks the tumor could be benign and would like to operate to fully remove it. The risk is that Leo could go blind due to the tumor’s proximity to Leo’s optic nerves. Catherine would prefer radiation; however, this means Leo could lose his hyper-memory.

Next, we see Leo scribbling some scientific equation on a chalkboard. He draws a flower and looks confused. He drops the chalk and his vision goes double.

On to our other patient: Mike is in his hospital room with his wife and a sitter. He’s very anxious, pacing around the room. He knocks the sitter out with a chair and rushes out of the room.

Catherine, Ali and Dr. Morely discuss Leo. He’s missing — oh, and now Mike has become violent! Mike finds and takes Dr. Mahmoud hostage, holding a knife up to her throat. He blames her for the “rats” in his brain. Inevitably, Catherine enters the scene and talks Mike out of the dire situation. Afterward, Catherine and Dr. Morely agree that Mike’s behavior is in fact not bipolar disorder, but a possible aneurysm.

Back in the basement, Dr. Lark and the Plumber don’t seem to be getting along — until he mentions Lord of the Rings. Ah, a fellow geek. Instant love!

It’s been a tough day (and it’s still going strong), so Catherine calls Will. The engagement party gets postponed another hour. Will is perfectly agreeable. They hang up. He sees Delilah still working. He again asks her to leave. Something’s up with this girl.

It is confirmed that something else is wrong with Mike and he needs a biopsy. Time to page Bickman. In the meantime, Leo is frantically trying to escape. He runs through a stairwell and races to a bathroom to splash cold water on his face. We hear more pages for Dr. Bickman. A hospital employee walks in and asks if Leo is Dr. Bickman. NO! Always-right Leo says, “yes.”

Leo is suited up in the operating room and actually gets to the point of drawing a little blood on Mike’s head before the real Bickman enters. Leo seizes and passes out.

Surgery is done. Catherine, Dr. Morely and Bickman are wrapping up. Bickman is furious at Leo’s condition — for the wrong reasons. Yes, he may have been lying for a while, but it wasn’t his fault. Leo’s parents make the call to operate (even at the risk of blindness). It’s implied that they don’t want their son to lose his “gift,” because that’s what makes him special.

Leo is about to be operated on and Ali expresses concern and fear for Leo. She tells Catherine that Leo’s parents expect him to be exceptional. If something goes wrong with the surgery, this could all go away. Operation goes down. All docs watch Bickman perform his magic. A problem occurs (that resembles Ali’s simulation test); however, Bickman emerges triumphant. Let’s face it, he is a good surgeon. And Catherine knows this. She admires him from the observation room above and the two share a look. OK, I think she’s a little turned on too.

All is quiet again at the hospital. Ali sits by Leo’s bedside. Mike talks to his wife — perfectly normal. And back to the basement, where Dr. Lark and Bruce are at a loss as to ring’s whereabouts. Except for that one pipe they forgot to check — lo and behold, the ring is recovered! And then they make out.

The happy couple...?

The happy couple…?

It’s (finally) engagement party time. Catherine is incredibly nervous because she still doesn’t have her ring back. Just as Catherine admits to the ring disaster, Bruce arrives to save the day. Will and Catherine share some dancing — see, they had to get her dancing at some point in the show. We’re 4/4 on Catherine dancing scenes. Just as everything looks happy and right with the world, outside we see a very bitter Delilah watching the dancing couple.

And there you have it. Some medical drama with a dash of soapy stuff. I have to admit, I kind of like the whole Delilah bit. I can’t imagine that story will go too far, but it’s a little guilty fun right now.

Want another confession? Because I can’t really get behind Catherine and Will’s relationship, I’m also enjoying the flirtation with Bickman. Are you secretly enjoying this show too?

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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