Red Band Society “The Guilted Age” Review (Season 1 Episode 11)


Every season there’s a show that starts out strong, meanders through most of its first season, and then finally finds some purpose too late to save itself. Before the long hiatus, Red Band Society‘s problems were outweighing its virtues, making it hard to fight for the show’s renewal but, after ‘The Guilted Age’, I worry that it’s that show that gets it’s act together too far along for it to matter.

Because for those shows, being a fan can often feel like screaming into the abyss, and when it steps up the quality to this degree in the eleventh hour, it hurts even more.

So we pick up where we left off, with Hunter in surgery, Kara and Leo feeling hella guilty about their hookup and Emma back in hospital after her collapse. In other words, no one’s in that great a state, and the rest of the episode is largely about the characters accepting some home truths about each other and themselves.

Starting with Kara, who has always been the most consistently written and consistently interesting character on the show, he thawing of her icy heart appears to be complete. The heavy-handed symbolism of Hunter quite literally offering up his heart to Kara should he not pull through didn’t really bother me – at this point, it’s just a part of Red Band Society‘s style – and it was worth it to see the humanity pour out of Kara.

Because of course her first instinct would be to self-sabotage – that’s what these kids do every time something happens to them they’d rather not deal with. And that’s what this is. Kara doesn’t know what to do with someone loving her that much, which is why she slept with Leo and why she doesn’t want to accept the heart. I’m so glad more was made of this than any feelings towards Leo, because it was beautiful to see her accept some good into her life.

Which also applies to her friendship with Emma, despite the mercifully quick divulging of Leo and Kara’s escapades. It’s still a soap opera plot, but at least it wasn’t a big secret that carried on for weeks with no one knowing. What Red Band Society did with the event was far better – it used it as a way to get all the characters to be honest.

Dash continues to be the MVP of every episode, doing nothing but setting his friends straight on their collective bullshit. I almost punched the air when he told Leo how he makes Emma worse, because it’s what I’ve been saying since the beginning of their relationship. Even better is that Leo accepts and understands it, and Emma is still willing and able to comfort him after more bad news arrives.

This is the Red Band Society that cares more about its characters than its plots, and that’s the show it was clearly always meant to be. Bring on the remaining episodes, even if they’re the last we ever see of the Red Banders.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.