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'Mental' nostalgia recap: It's getting too hot in here

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “House of Mirrors” | Aired Jul 17, 2009

Someone should really turn the heat down on Mental. If it’s not a patient trying to light herself on fire, it’s Jack smoldering in his new relationship with Zan (Jaime Ray Newman). Does anyone have a bucket of water handy?

An unusually serious Dr. Gallagher asks Chloe to give him a rundown of the ways teenagers try to commit suicide. The two discuss the differences between girls and boys in that respect: Girls think about the act more often, but boys are more likely to succeed. Cut to Heather Masters (Allison Scagliotti, way before she was Claudia on Warehouse 13), whose date night ends badly. She comes home and, horrified by seeing a faceless version of herself in the mirror, douses herself in Bacardi and lights a match. Two seconds later, she realizes this was a terrible idea and is rescued by her now-apologetic boyfriend Matt, who calls an ambulance that arrives at the Wharton Memorial E.R. Jack, as it turns out, has been waiting for the ambulance this whole time.

He lounges in the hallway while Veronica tries to console Matt and get information out of him at the same time. He insists that Heather is “really happy” and isn’t doing anything dangerous, while she tells Chloe and Jack that the fire was an accident started by her drinking with a cigarette, so obviously someone’s wrong here. Jack subsequently bails on a planned date with Zan—and the photos a private investigator has been taking in the continued search for his sister Becky—to meet with Heather’s father, Gary. Fun fact: Gary is played by Mike Dopud, who would later reunite with Chris Vance in an episode of Transporter: The Series.

Gary can’t understand what might be wrong in Heather’s world, except that her mother committed suicide when Heather was ten years old. Like all TV parents, he wonders why his kid didn’t say anything and blames himself for the present predicament. Jack takes his new information to the rest of the team and suggests that they analyze the various vitamins and supplements found in track-star Heather’s room. The results come back quickly: Why is she taking estrogen, and why has she been doing it since childhood? Isn’t that usually when most kids are still popping Flintstones vitamins?

After your reminder that Jack is getting lucky (he even turns up at work wearing the same shirt from the day before), Chloe asks Heather what’s up with the estrogen, and Heather reveals that her dad threw her out of the house when she came out of the closet. Gary’s response to the same question is to reveal that his daughter’s been seeing a psychiatrist. That psychiatrist, Dr. Paul (Erick Avari, from seemingly every show ever) comes into Wharton to ask that the team discharge Heather into his care, since he’s got precedent.

Jack isn’t willing to let go of his patient until the mandatory 72-hour hold is up, pointing out that the shrink obviously doesn’t know Heather that well if he has no idea why she tried to immolate herself. Furthermore, he implies to Veronica that the dude might be a quack. He asks Heather about him, and she admits that he’s the only doctor she’s ever seen for anything. Then she glimpses her faceless counterpart again and, visibly upset, talks about her late mother. “Before she died,” Heather sobs, “she couldn’t even stand to look at me. There were always tears in her eyes.” Good Guy Jack reassures her with a hug.

It’s time to have more words with Daddy dearest. Jack confronts him with a page from one of the psychiatrist studies and tells him that he knows the truth—that Heather is a boy being raised as a girl. Gary spills the beans about how Heather was born Henry, then the hospital he was born in screwed up the circumcision and offered Dr. Paul’s services to “help.” That’s where the estrogen came in. Gary’s convinced the massive lie is what prompted his wife’s suicide, but has still never informed Heather.

“Would it be more convenient if I dragged you out of here on your ass?” Jack asks Dr. Paul, because he’s awesome like that. Cue psychobabble attempt at damage control. Jack is literally speaking through gritted teeth as he accuses the quack of destroying Heather’s family for career gain, and is shocked to discover Paul plans on a second surgery to complete Heather’s gender reassignment. He informs Paul that if he attempts to contact Heather or her family again, he’ll find them a lawyer that will “burn you in a very public disgrace.” See, we told you it was getting hot in here.

What to do now? Jack wants to fully disclose everything to Heather, but Nora points out doing so would be a breach of medical ethics: Because she is a minor, that should be her father’s decision. Veronica is worried about doing further damage to the young woman. Ultimately, Nora agrees to look the other way. Also, now is not a good time for Zan to want to be all lovey and talk about her timeshare in Vail. Or get huffy when Jack doesn’t want to make Christmas plans with her. Haven’t you guys been dating for like, a week?

Our hero escapes this by taking Heather out for a run, during which he winds up comforting her again as she has another panic attack, convinced everyone else is laughing at her for being “not right.” He tells her about the gender reassignment, although we’re treated to some contemplative piano instead of dialogue, and she has an understandable breakdown. Jack takes her back to the hospital and stays there with her, which is why he witnesses her confronting her father. Then Matt dumps her. Hence a “rebirthing” ceremony where Heather gets to burn all the stuff from her childhood. Only at Wharton Memorial.

Mental is available on DVD.

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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