It’s understandable if, after the heavy drama of the past few episodes, this show’s creators thought that the audience would need a breather. But it was a curious decision to largely sideline the titular characters (i.e., the ones that are fun to watch and that keep this show from becoming completely overbearing) for an episode mostly devoted to Hunter the Brooder and Dr. Jack’s jealousy issues. Without the kids around to breathe some life into the proceeds, it was revealed again how clunky the plotting on this show is (there were several scenes where characters just happened to walk by at the right time to see or hear something crucial) and how determined the writers are to underline their themes as obviously as possible. (Charlie’s voice-over capped this episode off with, “The more we feel the need to control things, the more those things control us,” while we watched Emma struggle to eat her dinner. Deep.)
With Charlie awake but not quite out of his coma (he can stare ahead and occasionally blink, which is unnerving), all of the Red-Banders but Kara (who could give a damn, I guess?) decide they need to bring Charlie some stimulating things to look at in hopes that this will help his progress. This, of course, means boobs to a bunch of teenage boys. (It’s a dumb joke, but it works, particularly because of Ciara Bravo’s dumbstruck reaction and insistence that they focus on origami instead.) So after a pointless scene at a pet store (which, boo. Adopt, people!), Dash, Jordi, and Leo head to a strip club to … it’s not clear, exactly. Convince a stripper to give a preteen in a coma a private show or a lap dance or something? Honestly, these kids, some of whom we know have smartphones, are way overthinking the “how do we show our friend pictures of naked women” issue. (Though perhaps the kids just wanted a noble excuse to go to the strip club.) After Dash’s attempt to slip the bodyguard a whole $5 bill fails, he tells Leo to do the C&C Music Factory, which means “cry and talk about cancer.” (Dash is too young to make that reference.) The bouncer, who also happens to be a premed student, listens to Leo’s talk about osteosarcoma, and then, pointing out the amputated leg and his hair growing back, gives Leo between a 60 to 80 percent chance of feeling well enough to come back to the club when he’s an adult. This was the funniest part of the entire episode (especially because Dash was laughing the entire way through), and the second-funniest part was Emma asking “where’s the stripper?” when they meet up with her empty-handed.
After their car is (conveniently) towed and Dash and Leo immediately (and conveniently) catch the bus, Jordi tries to use the alone time to clear the air with Emma, who used her alone time from Leo to throw away the hot dog he brought her. Jordi wants to see if they’re still cool even though she’s with Leo now, which is a very Jordi thing to do. (Also, at this point, I’m not sure which character the show wants me to root for in this love triangle.) But Emma, who is clearly putting on a show for Leo but is not progressing fast enough in her treatment with anorexia, is just not in the mood to talk. (“Guys just want to make it about them. We’re cool!”)
Instead of going on the hunt for strippers, Kara decided to stay behind and brood about whichever girl she saw Hunter the Brooder getting all chummy with. After some mindfulness exercises with Nurse Brittany (she learned about them from her favorite author, Oprah. Also, she watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly because she thought it was the sequel to the Ashton Kutcher opus The Butterfly Effect. Clearly, the writers for this show get all their ideas for this character by searching #basic on Twitter), Kara discovers that Ashley the Mystery Girl is Hunter’s sister, and that he recently turned down her offer to donate him a kidney. Also, he had cancer as well as kidney issues. And most important, for Kara’s sake, he mainly dates skater-girl types.
After some awkward attempts to impress Hunter with her sweet skating skills and lingo (“Can’t a girl shred around here without getting the third degree?” Sigh), Hunter finally gives us his Tragic Backstory. Not only did he get cancer, but his younger brother died after jumping off the roof. So … he comes by his brooding honestly, and he’s not willing to let his sister risk her life, even though it’s not that risky of a procedure if it means she could die as well. Kara will have none of this, of course, and as someone who would rip a person’s heart out of their chest if she could, she browbeats him into accepting her sister’s kidney as well as her affection.
And then there was the Patch Adams shit that most of the episode was concerned with. It was excruciatingly saccharine and obvious, so let’s make this quick. Nurse Jackson and Mandy Moore/Dr. Grace brought in some special Ted Talk–giving genius doctor to cure Charlie, but as soon as he arrives, all Dr. Naday wants to do is talk about how he’s constipated and jam on the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” with Charlie’s Cool Dad, a.k.a. Thomas Ian Nicholas, a.k.a. the least-memorable male character from the American Pie films.
Dr. McAndrew, disgusted that this show is stealing “500 Miles” from How I Met Your Mother and that Dr. Naday is too special to look at all his charts and stuff, has a hissy fit at both Dr. Jackson and his boss/former fiancé Dr. Grace (and of course Nurse Brittany walks by at the wrong moment and gets the wrong idea) about how no one is paying attention to his super-cool test results, and both Dr. Jackson and Dr. Grace are all “yeah, our bad. Dude is wack.” But no! It turns out that jamming on some sweet adult-contemporary tunes helped get Charlie’s parents to quit bitching at each other, which is helping Charlie’s neurological patterns because, apparently, Charlie would rather stay in a coma than deal with separated parents. What a load of hooey this plot was. Jeez, the kids go searching for strippers and all of a sudden everyone else gets all “healing power of whatever” movie of the week on us.
And as long as I’m ending this recap on a rant, the name of this episode was “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” neither of which happens in this episode. I can appreciate a good pop-culture-pun episode title, but you have to actually earn it, writers.