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'Black Box' recap: 'Free Will' and #TeamBickman

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “Free Will” | Aired June 26, 2014

Let’s start with our future patient, shall we?  This week’s episode opens on a man sitting on the couch of a fancy-looking home. A woman enters the house carrying groceries. She calls for “Danny” a few times, looking for him. She exits off-screen. We hear a gunshot and see blood splatter. “Danny” enters, carrying a shotgun, and sits back down on the couch. He opens a notebook — a diary of sorts — and we hear his voiceover: “I cannot pinpoint a reason on why I killed her. I am not in control of my emotions.”

That’s quite an opening, but let’s get back to Catherine …

Last week left a door wide open when Bickman asked Catherine for a drink — are you ready for the follow-up? We see Catherine waking in her own bed, BUT she immediately flashes to a rather steamy hookup she had the night before with Bickman. So there you go. It happened (again). Next, we see Will walking on the street, attempting to call Catherine. Again, Catherine flashes to last night’s romp. Before leaving Bickman’s place, she writes a simple note for him: “No obligations, no strings.”

Will walks into Catherine’s apartment – she’s still in her post-coital haze and seems perfectly unfazed by his concern. She gets slightly miffed when she learns she overslept because her phone alarm didn’t go off (because she can’t find her phone). In almost an effort to get a reaction out of Catherine, Will spills the previous night’s events concerning a certain naked hostess. Cool as a cucumber, Catherine calls her a crazy bitch and tells Will that he needs to get rid of her. Catherine finally finds her phone, which has been turned off. The two leave her apartment.

Our doc-in-training-turned-temporary-patient, Leo, is back at The Cube. He’s greeted by smiles and hugs from various nurses and staff, including his fellow doc-in-training, Ali. At this time, we learn that his superpower, a hyper-memory, has not come back following his brain surgery, and he’s scared for his future at The Cube. Ali shares his nervousness.

Second patient alert! Catherine meets with Gordon and his fiancée. Turns out Gordon has “alien-hand syndrome,” a rare complication from brain surgery that basically allows your hand to have a life of its own. Due to this condition, Gordon was fired from his job at a bank — because his “alien hand” kept stealing money. There is no cure, but there are coping methods.

Black Box 108 - Patient

Catherine and Ali with Gordon and his “alien hand”

Catherine heads to Bickman’s office. There, she tries to “clear the air,” but really, she isn’t too sure of things herself. Both admit to not knowing where things are going for them, but Bickman does say he likes surprises. Catherine has a little fantasy about kissing Bickman. He queries about dinner — but she tells him that she has to figure things out first. Oh, Catherine

Our crazy killer (future) patient, Danny, is seen sitting in an office — Dr. Hartramph’s office, in fact. He tells her he needs to see someone because he’s having frightening thoughts. He has a scary scene with the good therapist. Danny admits to having physical symptoms — headaches, insomnia, vomiting every day — and she tells him that he should be seeing a neurologist (ahem, Catherine).  He refuses. He just wants to see Dr. Hartramph.

In the meantime, Catherine takes a city walk with her brother, Joshua. She tells him that she needs to end things with Will. He argues a little, telling her that Will is good for her. Joshua asks if there’s someone else, but she denies the accusation. In the end, he tells Catherine that if she cares enough about Will, she’ll find a way to work it out.

At his restaurant, Will (obviously) encounters Delilah. She apologizes and says she was just trying to get his attention: “It won’t happen again.” He rebuffs her apology and tells her to stop trying to manipulate him. And then Delilah’s crazy comes out a little. She says that Catherine will never go through with the wedding and that she doesn’t really love him. Delilah then proceeds to say something about giving her the chance, because she could love him. OK, girl, you had one skanky hookup with him. Then you kind of stalked and tricked him. Obsessed much?

Back at The Cube, Leo and Bickman meet to discuss Leo’s future. Bickman discloses that he can’t write Leo a letter of recommendation because his work has only been satisfactory, crushing Leo’s spirits.

And then back to Danny and Dr. Hartramph … While sitting at her desk, she scans news stories online about Danny — being wanted for the murder of his mother. All the while, he keeps hearing voices in his head to “not hurt her.” She attempts to call for an ambulance for him, but he knocks the phone away. He envisions his mother in the doctor’s place and runs out of the office.

As with House, this show tends to have one minor — often humorous — case going on as well. So it’s back to Gordon and his alien hand. She injects Botox into his muscles to help relax his willful hand. He mentions that he hates doing things he can’t control. Ah, the parallels. Sound familiar, Catherine?

A few moments later, Leo overhears Catherine tell Ali about a positive letter of recommendation, again crushing Leo. At this time, Catherine gets a call from Dr. Hartramph about Danny. She warns that he might he headed that way. Catherine agrees to alert security.

Cue Danny trying to enter The Cube. He sees his face being pulled up on screens and instead heads to the stairway — to get to the roof. (It’s a good place for a guy with a gun.) He pulls out said gun, this time a sniper rifle, and points it over the edge of the building. Again, he hears all kinds of thoughts: “Don’t hurt them … kill them all.” Through the gun’s scope, we see him point the gun at Leo and Ali, standing by a food truck. Commercial break.

Leo breaks the news to Ali about Bickman’s satisfactory rating. Leo says he’ll go into radiology instead and, in an unexpected moment of cuteness, he admits that Ali is his best friend (and he doesn’t want to leave her). Cute moment ends when we hear gunshots — and then more gunshots.

First gunshot victim is rolled into The Cube on a stretcher — and it’s Bickman! Meanwhile, the police rush the roof, where Danny collapses and seizes.

Dr. Lark and Catherine examine Bickman’s scans. He is fine — nothing major was hit. This doesn’t stop Catherine from worrying. Moments later, Leo informs Catherine of their new patient — Danny.

Catherine visits Bickman in his hospital room. He wakes up and says he’s fine, that he doesn’t want to be admitted in the hospital. It should be noted that a nurse is present and fully observes Catherine’s rather excessive concern for Bickman.

Danny’s head scan proves interesting when a tumor is discovered — a tumor that is pressing on part of his brain and causes extreme rage. Catherine has a brief altercation with one of the male nurses. He basically thinks it’s OK if Danny dies — because he deserves it. Catherine lashes out and tells him they are there to help people and if he thinks otherwise, he should find another job.

Time to operate on Danny — and Bickman enters the OR thinking he’s the one to do it. Leo jumps in to assist. They both scrub up and Leo notices that Bickman is still bleeding, but he proceeds — with Catherine and Ali watching from the observation room. The operation goes OK and the tumor is removed. Bickman is clearly in pain and starts to black out, while Danny begins to hemorrhage. And as can be predicted, Leo saves the day. Later, Leo gets a “good work” from Bickman.

That night, Will heads to Catherine’s apartment. Empty. He calls her and she answers (from her office). They were supposed to have dinner — but then she tells him about her day. A shooter is a pretty good reason to miss a dinner date. He offers to join her, but she declines and says she’s going to spend the night there. In the meantime, Will finds a pen — from Bickman’s hotel.

At The Cube, Leo and Ali have a little talk. He says he’ll stick with working radiology with Dr. Lark; however, he’s meant to be a neurosurgeon, and he’s not giving up on his dream.

The next morning, the same male nurse from earlier wakes Catherine in her office. He tells her Dr. Morely (who has been completely absent from this episode) wants her to call him. Oh, and Danny is awake and stable.

In a random little scene that confirms something from a previous episode, Leo catches Dr. Lark leaving her “closet” (the one with the built-in bed). Turns out, she does live at The Cube and she’s agoraphobic and never leaves the hospital. Dr. Lark then threatens Leo to never mention what he saw.

Hand patient Gordon has a quick wrap-up. He’s doing well and has regained control of his hand.

Now for the sad stuff. Bickman and Catherine meet with Danny as he wakes up. He’s confused and doesn’t know where he is. In fact, the last thing he remembers is Christmas shopping for his mom (it’s February on the show, BTW). He begins to remember that he was sick, but he doesn’t remember anything he’s done. At this point, he realizes he’s handcuffed to the bed. Without giving any specifics, Catherine tells Danny that he’s going to be transferred to the hospital prison ward. He asks for a favor — he wants the doctors to let his mother know, so she doesn’t worry about him. Eek, it breaks your heart a little, doesn’t it? Go on, you can admit it.  

Black Box 108 - RingLater, Bickman comes to Catherine’s office. The two share another magical moment where they both admit that The Cube is the only place they want to be. She then hugs Bickman and tells him she’s happy she didn’t lose him.  There’s a good camera angle here while the hug goes on — her engagement ring is in plain sight (see pic).

So, after the show ended, I professed a little growing affection for Black Box on Twitter. I even confessed to being on #TeamBickman. The affection was returned when the show creator, Amy Jones, gave me a retweet!

Black Box, rated TV-PG, airs Thursdays at 8/7 C on ABC.


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