‘Chicago Med’ Season 2, Episode 9 Review: ‘Uncharted Territory’


‘Chicago Med’ returns with an episode that allows Brian Tee to shine while throwing in plenty of wrenches along the way. Did you really expect otherwise?

It hasn’t been that long since we last saw NBC‘s Chicago Med, but the show feels like it’s starting fresh again with “Uncharted Territory.”

April (Yaya DaCosta) is much sunnier than we last saw her; she’s back at the hospital, planning her wedding, and still pregnant. Yet her parade gets rained on when her OB/GYN sees a warning sign that her TB meds may indeed have harmed her baby. Because you knew she wasn’t going to get out of that unscathed. Tate broaches the idea of terminating the pregnancy; April balks.

But downstairs Choi (Brian Tee) and Jeff (Jeff Hephner) have to deal with a pair of battered MMA fighters and their equally combative brothers. The best part of this is that Jeff Hephner gets to momentarily bust out a little bit of his Agent X skills in separating the latter. He and Brian Tee could totally be action heroes on some other show, but they’re pretty cool in this episode.

Choi struggles as one of the fighters slips into a persistent vegetative state thanks to his head injury and the other shows absolutely no remorse. Finally both sides make amends once the bleakness of the situation becomes painfully clear and we all weep a little.

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This is a wonderful episode for Tee, who moves to the forefront after spending large parts of the first half helping everyone else. It reminds us that underneath his usually Zen demeanor, Choi is a tough dude who doesn’t take any crap from anyone and isn’t afraid to hold people to a higher standard. Hopefully we see more of him in the remainder of Season 2.

Will (Nick Gehlfuss) isn’t happy to see Dr. Stohl (guest star Eddie Jemison), the returning Chief of Emergency Medicine, who immediately wants to school him. If you thought Latham was a jerk, Latham would kick Stohl across the parking lot. At least Latham doesn’t intend to sound like a toolbox.

Meanwhile Connor (Colin Donnell) and Robin Charles (Mekia Cox) are definitely a couple now, enough that they’ve picked out a “usual spot” for dinner and aren’t afraid to share a kiss in front of her still-disapproving father. Could that be coloring his judgment as Daniel (Oliver Platt) evaluates a woman for a heart transplant? Or is it that Daniel is projecting his brother’s tragic past onto the candidate?

And Natalie (Torrey DeVitto) tries to ask Jeff on a vacation but Jeff reveals that he once told her late husband that he had feelings for her, which is why they stopped being friends before. That causes Natalie to explode in his face instead but after she loses yet another patient she has worse things to be upset about. Who’s there to comfort her first? Of course it’s Will.

There’s an obvious time jump in “Uncharted Territory.” It’s clear in how April is now twelve weeks pregnant and in how Connor and Robin have been an item for some time when they were last seen going out for the first time in the previous episode. Since the show itself has been on break since Nov. 10, we can assume the creative team kept the story rolling along while we were away.

That allows the writers to clean the slate and introduce new material. Some of it works, like Choi getting the screen time he deserves. Chicago Med has a great ensemble but it can’t feature all of them each week, so some characters have to wait for their turn, and now it’s Choi’s turn.

It’s also interesting to see a story about MMA given that there’s been renewed talk among MMA fans about the life-changing injuries and even deaths that can result from the sport. That’s a huge risk and it does make for compelling medical drama.

And let’s take a moment and applaud that there’s an episode in which Jeff not only gets a fair amount of screen time, but doesn’t get yelled at – in the hospital, anyway. The guy has been trying so hard all season to hang in there and medically speaking he does well this week.

Other parts of this episode are a little harder to figure out. What point does Jeff’s confession to Natalie serve other than to give one more reason to break them apart? You can sort of grasp it (he was drunk and envious of his friend’s stable marriage) but the underlying intimation that these two may have been eyeing each other all along isn’t cute. It’s just uncomfortable, and feels like it’s undercutting both of their previous relationships. Both Jeff and Natalie are known for their loyalty so it doesn’t seem like something they’d do either.

Then we’ve got Daniel. The idea of him projecting his brother’s battle with addiction onto Connor’s patient is interesting, but it takes too long to get there. The show wants to fake us out thinking it might have something to do with the fact that he doesn’t like Connor dating his daughter, and it succeeds there, but it would’ve been more interesting to forgo that and just focus on exploring Daniel’s past further. Poor Mekia Cox gets to show up and serve almost no purpose except to show us that Robin gets to kiss Connor now.

The core of “Uncharted Territory” is a strong main case, supported by a wonderful performance by Brian Tee and extra screen time for Jeff Hephner as the Robin to his Batman. The other aspects around it could use some work, but we’ve got the rest of Season 2 to see if any of it is leading to something else.

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It’s good to have Chicago Med back on our TV screens and resume appreciating how talented this cast is and how the show can tug at our heartstrings so much. (Seriously, how many times can the writers upset Natalie?). This episode shows promise even if it doesn’t hit it out of the park.

And if you’re a fan of the show or any of the One Chicago series, be sure to check out our new site One Chicago Center.

Chicago Med airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.