18 November 2015


Early Edition: Faith Healing

"What if The Paper is wrong? Did you ever think about that?"

We already have one case of which it's plausible to say that The Paper deliberately gave someone incorrect information . . . but this episode doesn't make a worthy follow-up to it. It turns out that The Paper is terribly wrong about the hit-and-run accident at the beginning, but how it could have been wrong--and more importantly, why it would have been wrong--is left a mystery.

There must have been a better way to put Gary in hospital and throw him in the way of a little girl with a lot of faith. But I'm not paid to write for TV, so what do I know?

It wasn't just the sloppily-written mysterious beginning that left me unimpressed with the faith angle. I think it's a matter of plain sense that when a source proven to be trustworthy assures you that something will turn out badly, it would be foolish to go ahead with it thinking that nothing is ever 100% certain anyway and we can still "have faith" that things will work out. In this second case, yes, perhaps some miracle could have turned the incompatible heart into a compatible one; but in general, it's reckless and frankly presumptuous to think that we can do whatever we please because divine providence will save us from the consequences of our actions.

So I was pleased to see that the writer of this episode had some real complexity up his sleeve . . .

Yes, he's the same guy who gave us "The Choice" of Episode 2

So who will it be, Gary? The sixteen-year-old boy who dies while attempting to rob a convenience store or the eleven-year-old girl who could drop dead any minute if she doesn't get a new heart? If it had been any other little girl, I doubt Gary would have thought twice about saving the boy; and ironically, he just might have done it with great faith that the girl would have been all right! But he has spent most of the episode getting to know the girl--and suddenly faith doesn't seem enough.

I'm not going to tell you what happens next, but I want to point out that the episode hits the great ethical dilemma of organ donation squarely on the head. For there is no way to give a vital organ to anyone without first taking it away from someone else. Gary's choosing the boy would be saving him from two threats: the bullet that puts him in hospital . . . and the doctors there who have no problem declaring one patient "brain dead" in order to save another.

Now, I've never been easy about harvesting organs from the "brain dead." If an unconscious body is warm, has a heartbeat, metabolises food, produces urine, often moves in response to pain, is capable of undergoing sexual maturation (in the case of a child) or carrying an unborn child to term (in the case of a pregnant woman), I can't see why their simply needing assistance to breathe is enough proof for us to say that that body is dead and not asleep. I can see why there would be incentives for us to say so.

Yet saying so remains very hard, even if we're only speaking in response to a fictional story. This episode may seem to give the audience an easy resolution, but there's no way it can. And so the only one who can walk away from this set up without any guilt is Gary, for he didn't just sit back and let others act for him.

Your Turn to Be the Hero: Are you an organ donor?


Brandon said...

The opening is the sort of thing that should have massive consequences for how everybody thinks of The Paper, but which apparently won't; that's very disappointing. I found the episode as a whole very disappointing -- although it was nice to see Robert Picardo (Gary's doctor), who is always good. But it is interesting that we occasionally get these episodes in which it is suggested that Gary is too attached to The Paper.

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, The Paper is currently the only thing that gives his life a higher meaning . . . But yeah, it doesn't have to be this way. We could even say that The Paper itself was gamely giving Gary a way out in the recent episode with Emma, acting as his wingman twice. But Gary just doesn't want to let go.

Would you remember if the writers pursued this point in later episodes or beyond this first season?

Brandon said...

Unfortunately, I only saw parts of the later seasons (I don't think I saw the last season at all), and those long enough ago, I couldn't say much that would be definite. I do know that Gary continues to have problems with women because of The Paper, but I don't know if they followed up on this particular aspect of it.

NoelCT said...

As someone who's sister was once declared brain dead only for that to no longer be the case after even just a few months of intensive therapy, I concur.

Enbrethiliel said...


Wow. I'm so glad that there was a happy ending for her and your whole family!