Things for Eli Stone start out a little rough this week. Despite having survived the disbarment attempt, he’s relegated to a cubicle doing scut work, and refers to himself as "the world’s highest-paid intern." And Maggie the Optimist shuns him in the staff meeting. No matter — in a minute he dives for the floor because he sees a fire-breathing dragon heading toward the conference room windows.
Eli goes to meet a client, 15-year-old Peter Johnson, and is surprisingly jerky to him until the kid tells Eli that his mother died after being given the wrong anesthesia, and he wants to sue the hospital. Peter pulls out a giant file — he’s been turned down by six other attorneys. The anesthesiologist’s name is — wait for it — Dr. Agon. Get it? A ha!
An interesting turn of the tables ensues. Our hero must for once enlist Maggie’s help for the case, rather than the other way around, even though she’s on his case for "trying to suck up to God" because he’s afraid of dying. "Go find yourself another peon to pee on," she says. But he convinces her, and as a first year she needs Jordan’s permission and Eli has to stay on the case — but he can’t say anything in court. She starts out mighty freaked out, but in a deposition at the hospital where Peter’s mother died, she begins to come into her own — even though it’s Eli who gets the bright idea to drop the lawsuit against this hospital and sue St. Vincent’s, the one where Dr. Agon had worked before, which had covered up his negligence. And of course, St. Vincent’s is where Eli’s brother Nate works.
In court, Maggie — with the help of Eli’s odd hand signals (weirder, given the B story of the baseball
player accused of murdering his wife’s boyfriend who’s his third-base coach) — finds her footing, little by little. Dr. Agon was involved in three cases in two months where patients died, but the head of St. Vincent’s characterizes his record as unassailable. By the end of the day, Maggie and Eli are pulling together as a good team, so reminiscent of the William Hurt-Holly Hunter-special-report scene in Broadcast News that later on Maggie makes a "it was like I was inside your head" comment.
On the stand, Dr. Agon talks about how medicine’s not an exact science, and how none of the complications suffered by the three patients who died could have been foreseen. It’s all in the confidential transcripts of the morbidity and mortality conference (which we’ve seen plenty of on ER and Grey’s Anatomy), which aren’t admissible in court.
Meanwhile (I throw this in here because I just can’t wait to get to it), Taylor gets tickets to a charity concert and takes Eli. It’s George Michael! At first Eli thinks it’s a hallucination, but later he’s delighted to realize it’s real. And again I say, George Michael, whatever you’re doing — even if it’s naughty or, well, illegal — keep on doing it, because you look fantastic. Seriously.
Leaving the concert, Eli has another vision of a dragon — and a knight on horseback fighting it. Which turns out to be Nate (Matt Letscher). Yeah, it’s a little bit like the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke, while training on the Dagoba system, has a vision of a fight with Darth Vader, cuts off his head, and sees his own face staring back at him from the helmet. Except, you know, not really at all.
Speaking of middle acts, the baseball player story continues, and while I like Matt Dowd (Sam Jaeger) and new guy Keith Bennett (Jason George), it’s just not all that interesting, in my book. The latest: the DA’s office has an anonymous tape of their client perfectly batting to third base, killing their defense that no one could bat accurately enough to aim and kill a guy. They end up getting the tape ruled inadmissable, and advise their client to admit to using steroids and claim insanity. Stay tuned.
Back to the A story. Eli confronts Nate in the middle of the night, explains his vision and insists that Nate knows something that could help him. He was at the M and M conference. And he admits he thought Dr. Agon was incompetent — and that a nurse referred to him as a lawsuit in scrubs. I really like the fact that Eli’s getting more confident about his visions and understanding what they mean — it’s nice to see the progression.
Maggie puts the head of the hospital back on the stand, and fakes him out by pretending to read from a file folder supposedly containing transcripts of the M and M conference — so well, in fact, that he admits there was significant negligence and that if Dr. Agon hadn’t resigned he was going to fire him. The next thing you know, they’re talking settlement, and St. Vincent’s offers $1.5 million. Peter, bless him, says no — let’s roll the dice on the jury’s verdict and see what kind of justice we can get. Good move, kid. They award $28,000 in compensatory damages, and $8 million in punitive damages. It won’t bring his mother back, but it was a good day. Now if only Maggie hadn’t planted one on Eli in celebration.
At the office, Eli’s summoned to see Jordan. He’s heard the courthouse gossip that Eli was the chief strategist of the case — and so has Arvin Selinsky, their newest high-profile client. Taylor had gotten on the case, but now Mr. Selinsky wants Eli on too, and Taylor will co-counsel. And after they promised to give each other a little space at work. Ah well. In the end, Eli ends up stationed in the firm’s library (at least it’s got walls and a door) rather than a cubicle, and Patti, who really really really didn’t get along with Taylor, is back as his assistant. Peter drops by with a thank-you gift: a book of medieval tales and adventures that his mom read him as a little boy — with a knight on horseback and a dragon on the cover. Aw.
What did you think? Are you resigned to what increasingly looks like an Eli-Maggie pairing? Do you think the writing remains as fresh as it was in the first couple of episodes?