‘Code Black’ Season 2, Episode 12 Recap and Review: ‘One In A Million’


‘Code Black’ crashes a helicopter as well as our hopes and dreams with a beautifully painful first installment of the new year.

Normally CBS‘s Code Black is the show that punches us in the gut first and yanks out our hearts second, but with “One In A Million” it’s the other way around.

Willis (Rob Lowe) is on the scene of a terrible medical helicopter crash and mobilizes the rest of the Angels Memorial team to help him with the badly injured victims. One of them is a man who was injured on a cruise ship and is desperate to contact his wife and young daughter, while another is the pilot and the third is actually melted to the copter seat thanks to the heat from the crash fire (which predictably turns into a fireball just after Willis is clear).

After the initial emergency montage – which includes the cringe-worthy sequence of having to remove the seat from the third guy’s back – Rorish (Marcia Gay Harden) reveals that the pilot has died. And the first guy finds out he’s now down his appendix and several bits of his intestines.

He’s in a better mood than Savetti (Benjamin Hollingsworth) and Angus (Harry Ford), who are arguing over a potential job in the athletic department of a local university. And while Campbell (Boris Kodjoe) saddles Elliot (Noah Gray-Cabey) with handling a kid injured in a spat and his equally childish father, Willis moves on to treat a young girl who’s autistic and only wants to communicate with her cell phone.

More from CBS

But wait, we’re not done! Rollie (William Allen Young) is back, getting a consult from a new doctor played by new recurring actor Jay Harrington (remember when he was in that terrible adaptation of Coupling?) about an experimental surgery. He’s not interested in the risk.

Cruise Ship Guy starts hemorrhaging everywhere which prompts Rorish to tell her team that they need to retrieve his family from the ship before he dies. Campbell, naturally, does not give a damn about the family and compares the ask to an expensive Uber ride, using the old “It’s not good for the hospital” excuse.

So that means Rorish has to explain to Cruise Ship Guy that there’s nothing more they can do for him and that if he wants to see his family, he has to live long enough for them to get back.

Meanwhile Willis finds a way to use his phone to communicate with his autistic patient and find out what’s wrong with her. He theorizes that she may have cystic fibrosis. Yay technology! Maybe he can use that to communicate to Savetti and Angus that they’re being boneheaded idiots. Oh wait, that’s what we have Jesse for.

We find out that Leanne sent the chopper anyway which proves to be a wise move because Cruise Ship Guy is getting worse. His wife and son arrive at his bedside and are told the terrible news. It’s a huge downer, so Code Black shifts us to happy mode with Rollie mending fences with Jesse and Jesse encouraging him to take the surgery. But Rollie says he has “some unfinished business” first.

Savetti and Angus finally make up, with Savetti theorizing that Angus’s father is pushing him for the new job because Mike has gone “out of town” since leaving the hospital. He also tells him that he’s a “great doctor” which incites a round of ribbing. And just like that, the bromance is back.

While Elliot’s patient makes it through surgery fine and makes his father stop being a jerk over his injury, Willis confirms his patient’s case of cystic fibrosis. “Why is she so unlucky?” her mother has to wonder. But he’s not going to let her get down on herself, and gives her a phone so that she can finally speak with her daughter for the first time ever. We all weep.

But there’s one last piece of business to get through. Rorish fetches Cruise Ship Guy’s wife and son so that they can see him, and what was supposed to be a last goodbye turns out to be a happy ending because he’s miraculously recovered. From a writing standpoint that might feel like a cop-out, but from an emotional standpoint we don’t care because how great is that for this guy, his family, and the flight nurse we forgot about who’s still over there doing okay.

Rorish walks away from the scene to remind Campbell that medicine is about a lot more than just medical science, and of course he can’t be that mad at her. So Jesse just reminds her about the time he (or was it they?) hijacked an ambulance for a taco. Now that’s a story we need to hear someday. Just after she absolutely doesn’t tell Savetti and Angus which of them got the university gig, because it actually went to Noa (Emily Tyra).

“One In A Million” is a different kind of episode for Code Black. It’s one that trades on heart and emotion rather than the show’s usual intellectual and ethical challenges. This is the kind of stuff that you might expect to find more on Chicago Med than here.

But there’s nothing wrong with that. The fundamental question we have to ask about any episode of television is if it’s worth our time, and this one definitely is. It breaks our hearts early with the bleak prognosis from the helicopter crash and the plight of the autistic patient no one can seem to get to, and then spends the rest of the episode slowly piecing them back together until at the end we’re sniffling right along with the families.

If there’s a sore point it’s watching Savetti and Angus argue again; you’d think at this point they would at least be professional enough not to have to be told to behave in front of the patients. Or have a little more respect for each other. The episode comes up with somewhat of an explanation at the end by revealing that Angus was pressured by his father, but that feels like adding on a justification after the fact.

The bigger question from that subplot is, are we about to say goodbye to Noa? She’s obviously getting a job outside of Angels Memorial so it’d be hard to see how she would remain part of the show. In that case, the series will have introduced three new residents and before the season is over have gotten rid of all but one. It really is going for that rotating cast idea that executive producer Michael Seitzman told us about in his preseason interview.

Next: Danica McKellar Talks Being A Mom, Playing One On TV

Of course hopefully Code Black gets to a Season 3. While “One In A Million” won’t rank as one of the best episodes of Season 2 it does show that the series can do the emotional side of hospital drama just as well as the scientific side – which is of course what the installment is all about in the first place. It just proved its own point, and the series is continuing to prove that it belongs on the airwaves.

Code Black airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS.