Saving Hope “Heartsick” Review

Saving Hope (NBC) Heartsick Episode 8 (1)

With Charlie two months into his coma, Saving Hope decided to address the hard questions. Unfortunately, they had to use a horrendous plot device to get us to this place.

The ex-wife storyline has never worked. Charlie never mentions her except to talk about how she doesn’t hold a candle to Alex. She’s essentially been this mystery character who wants to end the life of our tuxedoed friend. Despite the fact that her and Charlie are no longer married, she felt content to come by and get involved in his situation for reasons that were apparently a big secret.

This week, she finally revealed the reasons for her actions: She’s still in love with Charlie. While the entire situation opens the possibility of discussion on how loved ones should people in persistent comas should be handled, I don’t think the show is striving to have that discussion. Instead, she just takes the opposite stance from Alex. Instead of having the struggle being an internal one with Alex, they decided to make the opposing view come from the outside.

Normally, I’m all for using external forces as plot devices, but watching Alex Reid internally struggle with what to do about her fiance in a coma would have been far more interesting. On top of that, it puts all the onus for the conflict on Erica Durance. While I’m not Durance’s biggest fan, she’s A LOT better actress than Michelle Nolden as Charlie’s ex-wife. The scenes between the two of them only got worse as Charlie’s ex-wife revealed herself to be the other side of the same coin. Watching the two of them cry-shout at each other did nothing but make the audience work to try to understand what they were saying. (Sorry, ladies. Only Bane can pull off the barely comprehensible speech effectively.) They both may love Charlie, but that never led to any chemistry onscreen.

In many ways, I’m glad the show decided to do something about Charlie. He had become a sticking point for the show. The science was definitely not in his favor (as pointed out by Charlie’s ex-wife). It had gotten to the point where they couldn’t wake him up without it seeming completely preposterous. The choice of pacing for the show led them to this point. Paced in a completely different way, this show wouldn’t be faced with the trouble of having to kill off Charlie in episode eight. Instead, they decided to pace the show fairly erratically and led us to a place where Charlie has to go. It no longer really mattered the mechanism they used for it, we had to do something about him. You can only do so many scenes of Erica Durance talking to a comatized version of her fiance.

Now, we have to wait and see what the next episode will bring. Unfortunately, both options are problematic. If Charlie passes on, it leaves a show already starved for interesting plot lines without one of the plot lines that passed for interesting. If he’s alive, I’ll pass out from anger. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. If the goal of this episode was to address every conceivable complaint about the narrative of the show, then it succeeded wonderfully.

*Some quick thoughts:

*The opening scene when the doctors are in mediation discussing Charlie’s status was laughable. Evidence included a photo, “feelings,” and the fact that Alex was “still here.” The lawyers in that scene should be arrested, because they stole money from Alex and the ex-wife.

*I honestly thought Goran was knowingly giving the faking cop drugs just to get him out of his hair. Then, it’s revealed that a fast one was pulled on him. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to make your genius doctor look like an idiot.

*The cop’s suicide: Did Goran flee the scene? How does no one know what happened? How did no one hear anything?

*The scene where Reid comes to Goran after mediation is kind of fascinating to watch. Are the writers trying to say that Alex’s single-minded focus on Charlie has made her selfish and unaware of other’s feelings? I’m not sure that’s what they were going for, but it definitely played that way.

*I’m glad the Psych guy made a move on Dr. Lin. Hopefully, they will get married and move far, far, far away from Hope-Zion Hospital.

What did everyone else think? What do you think should be the resolution to the Charlie storyline?

  • Your explanation for why you believe the ex-wife (her name is Dawn) storyline hasn’t worked doesn’t work for me because it’s based on the mistaken impression that she has been a mystery character. The show has aired 8 episodes. Dawn has been in 3 of them, but her presence was felt in more than just those. Charlie and Alex mocked Dawn and Charlie’s wedding in the Pilot as being too fairy tale. Then Dawn was featured in the second episode in which she discussed treatment options. The following episode, her presence is felt in Alex’s decision to persevere with the coma arousal therapy Dawn suggested. So, in addition to 3 episodes of her physical presence, Dawn also had a presence in 2 other episodes. That’s 5/8 episodes or more than half. Additionally, it is unfair to reduce Charlie’s discussion of Dawn to something as simple as “she doesn’t hold a candle to Alex.” Charlie actually explains why he feels that way and how that played itself out in their relationship–an explanation that foreshadowed Dawn’s actions and illuminates Dawn’s motivations.

    Dawn’s reasons for wanting to make Charlie DNR were not treated like a big secret. She didn’t even introduce the idea until the episode prior because, until then, she wasn’t considering it. As she told Alex, she was waiting for signs of improvement after trying all available interventions but once that checklist was finished without the goal being reached she concluded nothing could be done. So only last week did Dawn give up because of no improvement and last week she told us what giving up meant to her. She said her new course of action was to fulfill Charlie’s wishes as she saw them; she felt Charlie wouldn’t have wanted his life to be like it was or end like it was. That her passionate defense of this came from her enduring love for him doesn’t change that fact nor is it a big revelation, as it was made clear that Charlie and Dawn’s marriage ended because Charlie was dissatisfied with it, not her.

    I’m also stunned that you would conclude that the show wasn’t “striving to have” a “discussion” about the internal struggle one goes through in this kind of situation simply because there is external pressure. First, Alex’s struggle was already explored in the first two episodes of the season. In her scene in Charlie’s office in the Pilot with Joel, Alex talks about the indignities and improbabilities of Charlie’s predicament. She was more pessimistic at that stage. In subsequent episodes, several people encourage Alex to be more hopeful. She adopts this attitude. It is challenged when the first optimistic sign (Charlie’s hand moving) turns out to be a fluke and is challenged further when he develops pneumonia. In short, Alex struggled with the end of life issue at the very start of the season and decided to be hopeful; that was the moratorium she had reached. What, then, needed to be challenged wasn’t her view of DNR but of her optimism. This was why Dawn and the board’s focus was on Alex’s objectivity. Dawn and Alex’s conflict was not, as you superficially describe it, between kill or not to kill. Rather, it was between science and emotion, evidence and feeling, pessimism and optimism. 

    That said, I have to wonder how you can presume a television show illustrate an internal battle without the use of other characters or situations to prompt it externally. Did you want narration or something? Even in real life when people are dealing with these issues, they can only work through them–and one can only see them work through them–when they talk to people who disagree, agree, or simply provide objective counsel on the issue. And, please, the scene between Durance (Alex) and Nolden (Dawn) was very comprehensible and audible. Why must you talk for the entire audience in your review when you can only speak for yourself and your deficient listening skills? Then you end the paragraph with a sentence about chemistry that relates to nothing you just said or what you were going to say. It’s a sentence from no where that goes no where. Alex/Charlie, by the way, was featured in a favorite summer couples article for TV Guide. You may not see chemistry, but others do.

    I think the pacing makes sense because they obviously didn’t want to make the audience sit through an almost “24” like day by day series that would draw out Charlie’s coma with little change or drama for months on end. This way they were able to explore the situation with more depth and drama. I can tell that you understand this because even you say, “there’s only so many scenes of Erica Durance talking to a comatized [it’s comatose, by the way] version of her fiance.” If you appreciate the problem with that, why the heck would you even bring up the idea of a form of pacing that would require even more of that?

    You’re so narrow minded. You think the only options are Charlie is dead or Charlie is alive. Why not consider the other options? Charlie may yet live but with interesting ramifications, like memory loss or an actual memory of everything he experienced (unlike others who have awoken from an unconscious state with no memory of limbo). He could possibly even retain a connection to those spirits and struggle, as the Great Randall did in his eponymous episode, with the pressures that puts on his life. And, as a reviewer, not explaining why you’ll “pass out from anger” if Charlie alive isn’t very helpful to your readers because it’s unclear why that would be so problematic for you.

    Your explanation for why the mediation scene was “laughable” to you is feeble at best. Did you ever consider what kind of evidence or arguments people could realistically present at such a hearing? Unless people have an actual living will, then all loved ones have to argue with are impressions of who a person was and statements of how one feels that person would feel about the dilemma.

    I’d have to rewatch, but where did you get the impression that no one knew what happened with the cop. Joel probably notified the police, provided a statement, and then left. The police are still obligated to treat the scene with care. And, of course they’re suggesting Alex’s own emotional turmoil makes her selfish. I think that’s a valid and understandable emotional response.

    I wish I could appreciate your reviews more, but your criticism is far too presumptious for my liking.

    • Abby

      I want to start by saying that I enjoy the show Saving Hope, yet I do appreciate Adam’s critique of the show.  I, personally, would always opt for critical reviews of shows instead of fluff reviews.  There are tons of shows that I love and would defend to the death, but I can also realize that some of them have gaps in plot lines or flaw in characters…and that’s okay! 

      I will admit that my interest in Saving Hope has waned a little since the pilot.  I have hung on intently to the relationship between Alex and Charlie, but I agree that the show could have done so much more. Instead of introducing Dawn’s character, I would have liked to see Alex have the same conflict (hold out hope for Charlie’s return or have to make a decision to remove medical assistance) with herself.  This internal conflict would obviously be revealed through conversations with friends and colleagues, but I would have preferred to see Alex come to that place herself instead of being forced into this situation with Dawn.  You state that, “Even in real life when people are dealing with these issues, they can only work through them–and one can only see them work through them–when they talk to people who disagree, agree, or simply provide objective counsel on the issue.”  I completely agree.  But, the situation with Dawn did not allow for rational conversations revealing objective views, it simply boiled down to a power struggle between two emotional women.  Most baffling to me was the fact that the single lawyer made a ruling in this situation based off of Dawn’s “evidence” from 2003! (I believe it was 2003, but I’m sure that after reading the condescending tone of the above comment I will be corrected if I remembered that year incorrectly.)  I am a vastly different version of myself now than I was nearly 10 years ago.  I am sure the same is true for Charlie.  Also, I believe the “chemistry” that the reviewer was referring to in the 3rd full paragraph was the onscreen chemistry between Dawn and Alex, not the chemistry between Charlie and Alex as you believed.  No one is debating the chemistry and love between Charlie and Alex.  

      On a final note, I love the internet and the fact that we can all have an opinion (obviously, that’s why I’m commenting.)  That being said, it is difficult to read review comments where people get so up in arms because someone else holds a differing opinion.  IF you are so opposed to this reviewer’s critique of the show, find a different review to consume each week.  If you appreciate the opinions of others, but simply disagree (which is completely fine and normal) continue to read this one and construct your opposing comments in a way that is not condescending.  

      • Lellis1977

        I did not find anything condescending about the responses…it was a difference of opinion. everyone has their own opinion and not everyone will agree. it is funny that you say “….people get so up in arms….” because it seems that reply has done just that for you. Lol, surely that irony is not lost on you. your last paragraph is a complete contradiction. “Express your opinion…but if it’s different, don’t do it here” ….give me a break.

        • Abby

          I agree, the parts of the comment where Libby shares her opinion are not condescending and I always appreciate a difference of opinion and a well crafted argument. The parts that I was referring to, however, are the parts of her comment where she transitions from constructive criticism to making personal attacks on the reviewer.  Here are some examples: “Why must you talk for the entire audience in your review when you can only speak for yourself and your deficient listening skills?”,  “I can tell that you understand this because even you say, “there’s only so many scenes of Erica Durance talking to a comatized [it’s comatose, by the way] version of her fiance.”, and “You’re so narrow minded.”

          That being said, I am fully aware that I intentionally inserted a condescending comment into my response when discussing the issue of the year mentioned in the hearing.  My final paragraph, however, was misinterpreted.  Everyone is welcome to their own opinion and sharing that opinion.  This is a perfect venue for that.  I was simply stating that the author of the initial comment may prefer a different type of review if she is going to have a problem with avoiding personal attacks of the reviewer when sharing her alternative opinions. 

    • Anonymous

      DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this review are those of the reviewer.  The opinions expressed do not represent the opinions of the Saving Hope audience, TV Equals, or anyone else on planet earth.

      However, the reviewer does respect the right of others to have opinions different than his own despite how disrespectful to him people are in expressing those opinions.

    • Lg257

      I don’t usually watch network tv, but this show got me looking for it on Thursday nights.  As usual, I was trying to guess what would happen as everything that happened made sense to me-including Alex being pre-occupied, how could you not be?

      If he dies, I guess they will leave him in the hospital, but unless he can start to connect with someone it won’t amount to much.  However I think the idea that another person wrote, about him coming back and possibly still being able to connect would be interesting.  I did think it was a cheap shot to introduce someone that could actually connect only to have him try to extract $ from Alex……that was so Hollywood.

      At any rate, I will look forward to seeing what does happen.

  • gloria

    I really like the show, and they should NOT kill Charlie off!

  • Nmasterson8891

    i love the show, hope it stays on US TV.

  • Trish MP

    I think Charlie shoud live, remember everything, and be able to still see the people that are dead- just like the psychic could see him. Of course he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what he could see them, in fear people would think he was crazy. I think it would be interesting. People have been rumored in the supernatural world to have special abilities after coming out of a coma, right? I watch this show because I like Charlie and Alex together as a couple. If Michael Shanks was gone, I wouldn’t be interested in the show anymore. His character of Charlie makes the show what it is.

  • LadieFox04

    I think that Charlie should live. I have a brother who was in a coma and came out of it against what the doctors thought. What gives us hope is to hold on to the very rare times when something good happens despite all the odds, the science, telling us differently. The show is after all called “Saving Hope” so why not do that? Killing Charlie would kill the hope we all have that Miracles, though, they are rare happens in life. So let Alex and Charlie have a miracle. It would keep us all holding on to hope.

  • ptjackson

    Major tears shed last night over this ending, that is now cruelly left hanging for three long weeks. For my part, I am holding out hope that Charlie survives. I know, it is against all odds, but that is what TV is for right? 😎 I mean, look at other shows where the odds are overwhelming in favor of the good guys being massacred…. and yet they survive, by luck, divine intervention, and just plain “they’re the stars.”

    As we discussed in a past review, however, I would like to see repercussions from this – he can’t just wake up and everything is hunky dory. I’m still hoping for diminished abilities, but some of the other ideas suggested in the comments here could also work well.

    So, tell me, does it happen in real life as much as on TV – that someone loves someone else, and pines and then kisses them, and the person rejects them as not being “the one” who is someone else? Because it sure happens a lot on these programs. You are right, the two of them (Lin and the psychiatrist) need to get married and move away.

    I do think that Goran told people – because how else would Lin know to tell the psychiatrist about what happened? And, geesh, perfect opportunity for the psychiatrist to do his doctoring thing, so…. nothing? Goran needs an intervention on this one. I’ll make the appointment for him if he doesn’t.

    • Anonymous

      That was kind of my point about Goran. I assumed that a few people knew, but why wasn’t anyone talking to him? Surely, the police would have had more questions or, like you said, some sort of psych work would have been done. At the very least, they could have thrown in the psych guy trying to talk and Goran doing the macho “Leave me alone, I’m fine” thing.

      • ptjackson

        LOL…. I can so totally see Goran doing that too, is that a bad thing (for me, I mean)?

        In my opinion, they do tend to gloss over stuff on this show that is not necessarily part of the A story. Maybe if they released the “extended cut” we would get those scenes……. 😎

  • Not to mention the fact that no, ex wife and fiancee are NOT quite the same to the law. Alex’s laywer should have argued that Charlie divorced his ex and therefore did not trust her judgement at all. Alex’s lawyer should have argued that if she is not capable of making decisions then an independent conservator should be appointed. NOT the woman that Charlie walked away from. From a “what did Charlie want” point of view, anything he said to his ex could be considered garbage since he divorced her. He could have changed his mind. And the fact that he was on his way to get married shows proof that he was not going to stand Alex up at the altar and thus trusted her. It was really poorly handled. If they were going to show this then they really needed to show the medical expert testimony of experts OTHER than Alex and the ex. 

  • dd

  • How can the ex wife have a say in this mans life? When you get divorced, you do not like or agree with the person you are divorcing! You terminated that relationship. Next, I have been asking myself how they are going to keep this going from episode 2. It just does not work with him in the coma. I want to like this show, I really like the two leads characters and the “player” doctor has potential, but the rest of the characters I am not interested in. I do like the shrink too.
    Having him come out of the coma and to still see dead people is the best option to me. Kinda like the Canadian show that got canceled Spirited. I really liked that show. They could take some ideas from that and it would be quite fun. I think that is what may happen. Other wise it is just a another medical show and it just is not good enough to pull that off.

  • Carol Bruyere

    I was getting into this show.  Then, of course, it went off the air, never to be seen again.  Does anyone know if this show is going to be back on TV this year???


    • ptjackson

       The last two episodes of the season were only viewable in the US by going to the NBC website. They are no longer there.

      However, they are on the CTV website here:

      The second season will only air in Canada, but I plan to watch them on the CTV website.

      Hope this helps!

      • Carol Bruyere

         Thanks so much, yes that does help me a LOT.   Have a great Day.

        • ptjackson

           You are welcome, and I hope you have a great day too!