‘Code Black’ Season Finale Recap and Review: ‘Fallen Angels’


Season 2 of ‘Code Black’ ends with an episode that wraps up the show’s first two-parter and in fact, much about the show to date. Where will it go from here?

The second season of CBS‘s Code Black has broken a lot of new ground. Thus it’s fitting that the season finale “Fallen Angels” helped turn the page on not only the season, but several important aspects of the series. And as the show fights for Season 3, it leaves a clear path for where we could move forward.

Picking up where last week’s episode left off, Angels Memorial Hospital is now under a full-scale quarantine with big guns and bigger panic. Mario (Benjamin Hollingsworth) is taking the death of ex-fling Heather (Jillian Murray) particularly hard. “I miss her,” he tells Malaya (Melanie Chandra) and Angus (Harry Ford).

Leanne (Marcia Gay Harden) is still trying to get through to Ariel (Emily Alyn Lind), who’s in full fledged 13-year-old brat mode and walks away from her. So Leanne hooks up with the rest of her team to try and come up with a solution to the virus that doesn’t involve letting the CDC run the show. Mario, Malaya, Elliot (Noah Gray-Cabey) and Ariel have about ten hours left on their lives unless something drastic changes.

Mario gets the address of Yolanda, the first victim we were introduced to, so that Leanne, Willis (Rob Lowe) and CDC doctor Gretchen Reed (Caitlin FitzGerald) can check it out. Gretchen can’t believe there’s a CDC van in the driveway and realizes that the outbreak is the result of her agency losing a container of the virus. Well, that won’t look good on someone’s performance review. Neither will Patient Zero attacking Leanne.

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Willis jumps on CDC Deputy Director Reddick (Patrick Fischler) for not being honest about the missing truck and an available vaccine. Of course it’s Willis because busting balls is what Willis does as a hobby and of course Reddick doesn’t budge because the bureaucrat never does.

So Willis goes over Reddick’s head, which prompts Reddick to reveal that he didn’t mention the vaccine because it wasn’t really a cure. In some cases it actually sped up the virus and killed people faster.

The news of Leanne being potentially infected spreads like wildfire, but she swears up and down that she’s fine, because that’s what a leader does even as the CDC pushes her into the quarantine tent. “I was feeling a little left out,” she tells her team. But at least she’s there as Ariel coughs up blood. That prompts Leanne to volunteer as a guinea pig for the vaccine.

Back in the rest of the hospital, Rollie’s (William Allen Young) patient Bill is the first person to get any good news. He’s supposed to be getting a new heart but Reddick wants to stick his nose in there too, saying the transplant helicopter won’t be coming. And it doesn’t matter because Bill dies a few moments later. Man, Campbell’s gonna choke somebody. So it’s time to call in Chief Morale Officer Angus Leighton.

Jesse administers the vaccine to Leanne, who begins to realize how isolated she has been since the deaths of her family as initial tests of her blood show that the vaccine is a failure. With that news Reddick and Reed declare their intent to walk away from the hospital and let the remaining victims die. Oh, heck no. That’s not how this show works!

Willis has a declaration of his own. He’s not going to stop until he finds someone in the hospital with a natural immunity to this particular strain of the virus, even if he has to test everyone in the building. Reed agrees to help him, Angus, Campbell and Jesse go through hundreds of samples for that one last chance. Lo and behold there’s a match.

But the situation gets worse when Bill’s daughter Anna tries to run into the quarantine tent and is shot in the back by an overzealous soldier, and inside the tent Leanne collapses. We’re ten minutes away from the end so we’re due for something to look up, right?

Anna gets her pulse back while Willis finds Pedro Chavez, who’s got the antibodies that everyone needs. He sets up a person-to-person blood transfusion from Pedro – who for his part is totally game and doesn’t whinge about this at all like what would happen on any other TV show – and Leanne.

Take a few steps forward and the quarantine is over. Campbell tells Leanne that no one else died from the virus thanks to Pedro. Anna gets her fiancee back, Noa finally kisses Mario, Campbell has to take Heather’s name off the board, and life returns to normal at Angels. Because there’s always another patient to save.

But at least Leanne finally takes a day off and we find out that she’s let Ariel move into her kids’ old bedroom. They’ve got their own family unit going. Leanne has found what the heck she’s been looking for since Season 1.

The good news is “Fallen Angels” didn’t kill off any more main characters. It could have easily said goodbye to half the cast, and maybe another show would have picked off one more for dramatic impact. (Admit it: you thought Elliot was a goner when he started hallucinating.) But instead of getting its tension out of a body count or too many scenes of victims suffering, Code Black kept the intensity up with more of the emotion of being in the middle of a virus outbreak.

If you actually took two seconds to breathe you knew that Leanne wasn’t going to die. There is no way in hell this show would work without Marcia Gay Harden and it wouldn’t want to lose her either. But this is where this series is different: that’s not the point. It’s not just about what’s in front of your face. This wasn’t really about Leanne living or dying. It was about her realizing that she was alone, had allowed herself to be alone, and then that she didn’t want to be alone. It was about moving her character forward.

Most of the other characters have someone, whether it’s a lover or a family member. Leanne has never had that. And if anyone deserves it, it’s her. She’s given so much to the hospital and every person who works there. Now in Season 3 she can possibly go on a date. Maybe. Half of a date.

Speaking of Season 3, we’ve got a few different things to play with here. Campbell is starting to come down off his anger horse and be humbled, just as Leanne predicted he would. He’s going to grow as an administrator.

Willis is only going to further integrate within the team and keep raising their game; speaking of which, let’s take a moment to applaud Rob Lowe and how he’s been giving his best performance since The West Wing. He could have easily come in here and turned this into The Rob Lowe Show but he’s been a complete part of the team both on and off-screen, and a huge part of what has made Season 2 so dynamic.

Losing a doctor and a resident has been heartbreaking, and Noa may or may not be back (her out of the hospital job could easily be a way to write her out). But there could be new residents. And Elliot is going to grow. And for that matter, so will Angus, who finally got out of Mike’s shadow. So many characters stepped up this season and we should see where they go next.

But will we? Well, that’s now in the hands of CBS. Yet we have faith that this show will be back next fall. It’s too good not to bring back, and there’s too much it has to say and gets us to say to cut the conversation short.

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What did you think about the season finale of Code Black? Did you enjoy Season 2 in general? Leave us your thoughts about this episode and the entire season in the comments.