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'Black Box' recap: Brain worms, lightning and music

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Sing Like Me” | Aired July 3, 2014

This week’s tale opens with a Hispanic TV show—something similar to American Idol. The host introduces a young talent, Sophia. She begins to sing, and it’s quite awful. Cut to an old man playing the saxophone on the street. His hand shakes, and he can’t play the instrument. Now, cut to a car driving on a stormy night. A couple argues over the radio stations. The woman stops the car and the man, Mark, gets out and says he’ll just grab a cab. While hailing for a taxi, he gets struck by lightning and collapses. The woman rushes to his side. He opens his eyes. And that’s our opening.

Back at The Cube, a bunch of musicians and singers gather in the lobby, performing and playing their pieces. Catherine enters with a new doc-in-training, MacKenzie. And, well, MacKenzie is pretty irritating. She’s overeager and a bit of a walking encyclopedia. Oh, and the musicians and singers account for a music study that Catherine is conducting.

In an exam room, the old saxophonist, Wade (Frankie Faison), meets with Dr. Mahmoud (remember, she’s the slightly judgmental therapist who seems to always disagree with Catherine). Wade takes a swig of gin, and Dr. Mahmoud immediately says his shaking hand is from alcohol. Wade disagrees and says he drinks because of the tremors. Catherine and MacKenzie enter the room. Catherine performs some magic pen-holding test and comes to the conclusion that his shaking has nothing to do with drinking.

Moments later, MacKenzie offers up Wade’s background. It turns out he fell into depression after his wife died from a medical error on the operating table. Dr. Mahmoud is quick to ask Catherine if she could be in her musical study, and then Mahmoud breaks out into song; opera, in fact. Catherine is pleased and admits to being tone-deaf.

MacKenzie meets with the young singer, Sophia, and determines she has acquired amnesia, meaning she can’t remember how to sing. The good news? Because it came on all of a sudden, there’s most likely a reason for the amnesia, so it’s probably curable.

Last week, Bickman and Leo had a good buddy moment where Leo basically saved Bickman’s butt in the OR. This week, Leo wants Bickman to reconsider Leo’s evaluation. Nope. Bickman is not going to budge, despite their new bond. Leo pleads with him, but the only advice Bickman has is to ace his next big exam, the Step 2.

Shortly thereafter, Leo meets with Dr. Lark. He’s discouraged and says he wants his hyper-memory back.



In a goofy little moment, Catherine slinks into Bickman’s office. She proceeds to admit that she has actual feelings for him. He doesn’t seem fazed by the confession and says it’s possible to have feelings for someone without making a long-term commitment. She says that before things can go further, she needs to figure out the Will situation, AKA her fiancé situation. Again unfazed by this, Bickman says she could continue to see him and just not tell Will. Wow—that’s what Catherine says. She seems put off by this … but Bickman says he’s been nothing but honest with her. Which is kind of true. He says she’s bored with Will—so why try to make Bickman like Will? The man is kind of slimy, but he does have a point.

Hunter and Esme.Catherine takes a cab to her brother’s house. She hears music playing from outside and smiles. A happy and somewhat surprised Reagan answers the door. You see, Esme is in the middle of a music lesson with Catherine’s estranged dad, Hunter (David Rasche). He’s been teaching her for about a month. Reagan tries to convince Catherine to go say hi. She gets as far as standing outside Esme’s room, listening to her father and daughter having a pleasant time. But then Catherine flashes back to her younger self writing a sad, angry letter to Hunter. Present-day Catherine walks away from Esme’s room.

At The Cube, Dr. Lark, Catherine, Bickman and MacKenzie meet to discuss Sophia’s MRI results. Turns out she has a worm in her head—yes, a worm—from contaminated water. Bickman is up on deck to remove the bug.

In the lobby, a nurse, Tinker (thank you, IMDb), sees one of The Cube’s maintenance workers, Babu, with the rest of the musicians. He asks for help because he has a song stuck in his head.

Remember the guy who was struck by lightning? It’s his turn with Catherine. Since his incident, the guy, Mark, developed a crazy interest in music and subsequently learned to play the violin in prodigy time. His diagnosis: acquired savant syndrome. Fascinated by this, Catherine meets with Dr. Lark and Leo to view his MRI results. Ultimately, Mark’s brain looks normal, and Catherine is disappointed.

Wade checks out of The Cube with Nurse Tinker. He admits that without having his wife or music, there is nothing to live for. Tinker tells him that Catherine can help, and he shouldn’t give up just yet.

That evening, Catherine heads to her office. Surprise! Hunter is waiting for her. An obvious fight ensues. She tells him she wants an apology. He does so. She doesn’t believe it. He admits their broken relationship hurts him because he loves her. He gives her a gift: a necklace of her mother’s. It was a gift to her mother when Catherine was born. Smiling through tears, she calls her father a manipulative bastard. He tells her that she is so much like her mother. Wrong move. She disagrees and leaves.

In therapy with Dr. Hartramph, Catherine confesses to feeling envious of Esme’s new relationship with Hunter; nonetheless, Catherine says she doesn’t think people can change. While Catherine says she doesn’t care what her father does, in an obvious statement, the good doctor says, “If you didn’t care, he couldn’t get to you this way.”

Dr. Lark and Leo.

Dr. Lark and Leo.

Leo is studying for the Step 2 test. Dr. Lark, Nurse Tinker (who also has an unusual barbed-wire neck tattoo—look for it!) and MacKenzie hang around. Babu, the earworm victim (not to be mistaken for the brain-worm victim) approaches, and Tinker suggests Leo practice with Babu. Leo’s advice: Replace one earworm song for another. Cue “Yankee Doodle.”

Babu crosses paths with Bickman, transferring “Yankee Doodle” to the surgeon in hums and whistles. Bickman then proceeds to operate on Sophia, successfully pulling the actual worm out of her brain. All while singing the earworm.

Wade (Frankie Faison)

Wade (Frankie Faison)

Later Bickman shows Catherine the worm. She tells him she needs patient advice. He responds with cute flirtations and the two walk off to see Wade. Bickman explains that an operation that could help Wade’s tremors. During the middle of the operation, Bickman would wake Wade from anesthesia, allowing the doctors to test his abilities to play the saxophone. Because of his wife’s death, Wade is fearful of any and all possible complications and denies the operation.

Cut to a quick scene of a distressed Babu walking with imaginary fife and drummers playing “Yankee Doodle.” He runs into Leo and offers up a sarcastic “Thanks.”

Later, Dr. Lark and Leo discuss more of his Step 2 preparations. He says he bombed another practice exam and admits defeat. At this moment, Dr. Lark pulls out an experimental machine that delivers electrical currents to possibly improve neurological functions. It’s her way of thanking Leo for not spilling her secret: the fact that she’s not left The Cube since she started working there (over a year ago).

Wade is back on the street, attempting (and failing) to play his sax. Catherine and her father meet a few yards away, watching Wade. Hunter immediately recognizes Wade and goes over to him. Likewise, Wade knows who Hunter is. In a roundabout way, Hunter convinces Wade to do the surgery. Hunter says he’ll be there and they can play music together.

Operation time. Bickman, Catherine and Hunter are all down on the operating floor. Hunter waits with his keyboard. It’s time to wake Wade. As expected, Wade is able to play the saxophone again, and he and Hunter play some jazz together in the operating room. The rest of the cast watches from the observation deck, and Nurse Tinker requests the music be played throughout The Cube. Hearing the music from the speakers, both lightning-victim-turned-violinist Mark and brain-worm-singer, Sophia, join in the music. What’s more, Babu hears the music and the fife and drummers fade away. All is right with the world again.

BB109 - 9Catherine and her dad walk and talk on the street. He tells her how he’s impressed by her work today and that he never fully understood what she did. He also confesses to music being his number-one priority, and he knows it hurt Catherine and her brother. And, finally, he apologizes. He invites her to a family dinner at Joshua’s house—oh, and she should bring Will.

Cue this family dinner. Esme is talking to Will and basically asks for a job at his restaurant. He amicably agrees and gives her his number—using the same Hotel Mirabella (AKA Bickman’s residence) pen that he found at Catherine’s apartment the week prior. Esme sees the pen and casually—unknowingly being kind of a snitch—tells Will that she and Catherine ran into Bickman at that hotel. Esme also reiterates how good-looking Bickman is. Ouch.

The happy family—Esme, Joshua, Reagan, Hunter, Will and Catherine—sits around and sings together. This time, we hear how tone-deaf Catherine is. All the while, Will is looking like he already knows what Catherine did.

BB109 - 10Later, Catherine leaves the house—alone. She walks right into a lightning storm. She’s thrilled, reaching her arms out in hopes of getting struck and rewiring her brain to find her own musical ability.

This was an incredibly Will-lite episode. We already know it’s not going to end well for the engaged pair, so I really didn’t miss him; however, I am curious to see if the newly hired Esme is going to witness some Will-Delilah shenanigans at the restaurant. Next week’s promo looks more bipolar-focused. Did you almost forget this side of Catherine? Let’s wait and see what happens.

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


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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