Summary for "Great White Hope"

From bevsouth@aol.comTue Mar 14 18:16:37 1995
Date: 14 MAR 1995 19:04:26 -0500 
From: BevSouth 
Subject: Summary, 1-16-95 episode 

The following summary was written by JenLCB and edited by BevSouth. We
share responsibility for all grammatical and continuity errors, but all
opinions are that person's alone. If anyone knows the title of this
episode, please let me know.

CHICAGO HOPE, Season 1, Episode 1.12, "______________"
Written by John Tinker
Directed by Claudia Weill
Original air date, January 16, 1995

Phillip Watters is brutally hammering a punching bag at the local boxing
gym, a favorite way to dispel the stress he brings home from Chicago Hope.
He's even dragged Jeffrey Geiger along, knowing full well that Jeffrey has
no particular love for the sport of kings. Annoyed with Jeffrey's constant
complaining, Phillip asks him if he wants to learn to box or not, and
Jeffrey replies, "Do I want to? No. Should I? That's somethin' else. God's
honest truth, I'm not athletic." After Phillip explains that he thinks
boxing might help Jeffrey vent his anger, Jeffrey argues that his anger
keeps him warm at night. Phillip, acting insulted, asks Jeffrey not to
ruin his hobby for him by insulting it. Their discussion is interrupted by
a commotion in one of the sparring rings, where a young boxer has gone
into convulsions.

Melissa Connell, age 15 and very pregnant, is having an ultrasound in an
effort to find out the source of her recent cramps. Although she is trying
to act indifferent throughout the procedure, she perks up when Alan
enters the room. Melissa addresses him, but he does not remember her at
first. Finally, his memory is jarred, and he realizes he had promised
Melissa that he would find adoptive parents for her unborn child but has
forgotten to keep his word. The diagnosis from the ultrasound is
forbidding: the child has a ventricular-septal defect, or a hole in its

Melissa, angry at Alan for neglecting and forgetting both her and her
unborn child, knows full well that no insurance company in the world will
cover either her or her baby now. Melissa rages at Alan, "I want it in
your color catalog that my baby was born sick and Chicago Hope just  . . .
 just  . . .  you bastard!" Alan is becoming more fond of Melissa by the
hour, and responds, "Hey, hey, hey, hold on a second, lady. Yeah, I'm
callin' *you* lady, 'cause lady goes with having kids. You wanna lay this
little tragedy on me? Fine, do it. That's the child part of you, the
teenager. But having a baby forces you to grow the hell up. Forces you to
take some responsibility, 'cause you know what? No matter how much you
wanna hate me, hate the hospital, you are a player in this. I don't care
how young you are, now is the time to grow up. Because you made it that

Later, Melissa is standing at the hospital's nursery window, looking in on
the newborns, when Camille stops to join her. When Melissa makes a comment
to Camille about how helpless they are, Camille tells her that her sister
has three boys, and says "Pregnancy is nature's way of getting you in
shape so you can take care of them."  Melissa explains to Camille that she
is giving her baby up for adoption, then suddenly begins to go into labor.

After Melissa is taken to the obstetrical wing, Camille runs into Alan
and expresses her possible interest in adopting the baby, reminding him
that she must first discuss it with Aaron. When Alan goes to check on
Melissa, he finds her pacing the halls in pain. He helps to steady her,
braces her when she nearly falls, and rubs her back with each contraction.
Back in her room, she explains to Alan that not only does the father of
the baby not know she is pregnant, she's not even who the father is,
although she thinks she's got it narrowed down to one of two young men.
After another strong contraction, Melissa decides to take a shower, and
when Alan starts to leave the room, she begs him to stay and help her.
After she has disrobed, stepped into the shower and started the water
running, another strong contraction hits her. Alan, seeming a bit
perplexed, nevertheless removes only his suit jacket and climbs right into
the shower with her, again rubbing her back through the contraction.

On the way to the delivery room where she will undergo a caesarian
section, Melissa is frightened and begs Alan to stay with her, and he
agrees. As her labor progresses, Alan remains close to her, by turns
encouraging and soothing her anxiety, pain and fear. The baby is near
delivery. Melissa is afraid to look, afraid that if she sees her child,
she won't be able to go through with the adoption, or perhaps that her
present and future emotional pain may be even greater than she'd thought
possible. Finally, with Alan by her side, Melissa gives birth to a baby
girl. Within moments, after it is clear that the delivery went as well as
it could under the circumstances, Melissa asks Alan if it was all right
for her not to look, and Alan comforts her with the words her that she
was very courageous throughout the ordeal.

When Alan tells Camille and Aaron that the baby is a girl, he learns that
they have decided not to take on the burden of adopting a sick child.
Aaron has admitted to Camille, "I can't be as strong as you're asking me
to be." Alan is crushed, even though Camille had not promised him they
would adopt the baby.

As Phillip is on the way to check on the boy from the boxing gym,
fifteen-year-old Lannie Sutton, several hospital windows crash inward, a
result of high winds outside. The crash seems to startle Phillip more than
would be expected.

Lannie's blood pressure is elevated, and Dr. Nyland asks his father, who
is also his trainer, if he is on any medication, which he denies. However,
when the boy begins showing symptoms of steroid use, Nyland suggests to
Dr. Watters that the father might be lying. In his office, Watters
confronts Sutton about the needle marks on his son's arms, but Sutton
claims he has been giving him vitamin B-12 shots, nothing else. Watters
does not believe him, and asks Sutton to leave the premises.

In Lannie's hospital room, Watters tries to convince the boy that his
father has been injecting him with steroids, and that he has the potential
to be more than just a boxer. Phillip, also a child of the ghetto, perhaps
undermines his efforts by telling Lannie that his father is not a smart
man, and is passing his limitations onto Lannie. Sutton arrives to take
Lannie home, but before he can leave with his son, Watters warns him that
more steroid use will kill the boy. Sutton refuses to listen, insisting
that it would be better to give him steroids if it'll help make him the
best boxer and keep Lannie off the streets.

Lannie later returns to Chicago Hope by ambulance after suffering cardiac
arrest, but all of the staff's efforts cannot save him, as Phillip keeps
muttering, "He's only 15. He's only 15." The police are called, and Sutton
is arrested. Watters sympathizes with Sutton, but stands by his decision,
saying, "I know you loved him, Mr. Sutton. But you also killed him."

Aaron, arriving in his office, complains about his drive to the hospital
on the slippery, treacherous roads, but when Jeffrey reminds him of his
tax audit that day -- pointing out that he shouldn't have worn an
expensive Italian suit -- Aaron tries to convince himself not to worry: "I
shouldn't have a problem. I've been thorough. I've been honest." Jeffrey's
been through this before, though, and knows what Aaron is in for: "You
think it's cold outside, wait'll you get in your office." The IRS agent
turns out to be Louis Grimm. "Agent Grimm?" Aaron repeats. "Well, that
sounds encouraging." Hastily removing his jacket and mussing up his own
hair, Aaron asks Jeffrey, "Is that better? I mean, worse?" as Jeffrey
rumples his shirt for him even more.

Later, a hint of scandal rears its ugly head as Jeffrey catches Angela
listening at the door to Aaron's office. "I feel so responsible," she
says, weeping. Jeffrey responds cheerily, "You're always responsible,"
then warns her not to cry in front of him, "We have a deal!" Aaron emerges
from the audit moaning that Grimm is pointing out discrepancy after
discrepancy, demanding that Aaron prove his own explanations. When Aaron
asks Angela if she has found his accountant yet, she tells him he's "still
tied up in court," to which Jeffrey replies, "Oh, that's a good sign."

As Camille shows up to talk with Aaron about adopting Melissa's baby,
Aaron pops out of his office, gasping, "I don't know how much more of this
I can take! It's -- it's -- it's like torture. I'm ready to confess to war
crimes!" Jeffrey suggests that Aaron try telling Grimm a joke, but Aaron
wordlessly reenters his office. "Few more hours he doesn't come out,"
Jeffrey tells Camille, "we'll go in after him." Grimm seems to relish his
job, not even taking a break to use the "facilities." In fact, in the
men's room, Watters can see two pairs of feet under two separate doors,
and overhears Grimm asking Aaron about "Line 17 . . .  compact disc

Returning to Aaron and Jeffrey's office, Angela brings with her some
things she had borrowed from Camille (a black camisole, an Alpaca sweater,
a pair earrings and necklace to match, an evening purse, and her copy of
"Like Water for Chocolate"). Jeffrey asks if she has anything in her bag
for him, and she replies, "Yes. This," and plants a kiss on his lips,
saying, "Ah. Had to do it just once. Excuse me." She walks off, leaving
Jeffrey speechless and stunned.

Later, Angela returns to her office and shares a bottle of wine with
Camille, toasting her with the words, "May the saddest days of your future
be the happiest days of your past." Suddenly Angela hears Aaron shouting
her name from inside his office, and she races for the door. Aaron emerges
and angrily explains to Camille that Angela has been embezzling money from
him. Although Angela subsequently returns in an effort to explain to Aaron
that she didn't actually steal money, she just transferred some on paper
to set up an insurance plan for some of the hospital's custodial staff who
couldn't get coverage, rationalizing her actions with the thought of how
crazy it is that people who work in a hospital can't get medical care or
insurance coverage. Aaron is too hurt to understand or care, and when she
asks Aaron if she is fired, he answers, "Whether you work for Jeffrey or
not is his business. You're done with me. Please leave."

Aaron is devastated by what he perceives as Angela's dishonesty. Even
while explaining what Angela has done to Camille, though, he seems to
admire her technique and courage, but none of this can change the hurt and
betrayal he feels.

Jeffrey is trying to console Phillip, who is still sick at heart over
Lannie Sutton's death. Phillip tells Jeffrey, "You know, when the windows
exploded, I thought it was just my head. Everything seems to be pushing
in.  The explosion  . . .  coulda been my head." Opening his Christmas
gift from Arthur Thurmond --a box of cigars -- he muses out loud, "I miss
Arthur. I could always count on Arthur. You know, I feel it's in my job
description to hold all you people together. But I shouldn't have to keep
hospital windows together. I shouldn't have to tell fathers not to give
their kids steroids. I can't do everything, Jeffrey. I can't be expected
to hold everything together."

Visiting the nursery, Alan learns that Melissa does not want to feed the
baby, but that she has suggested to a nurse that Alan feed her. The nurse
hands the baby to Alan, who, unexperienced in baby ways, is startled and
delighted all at once. As he is seated in a rocking chair, the nurse hands
him a baby bottle, leaving him alone with the child and without further
instruction. Turning to find the nurse gone, he tells the infant, "We'll
just have to figure this out together." For the first time, Alan
considers adopting the child himself, singing "Ten Thousand men of
Harvard" to her as a lullaby.


As Angela leaves the building after Aaron discovers her diversion of his
funds, she passes Mr. Sutton, being led to the elevator in handcuffs by
police. She seems to be thinking "There but for the grace of Aaron go I."

The situation with the windows symbolizes Phillip's life crashing down
around him. His final speech to Jeffrey in his office makes this obvious.

The episode shows Angela and Camille's friendship, and I think it makes it
all the sadder that she is fired. We see so much of the friendship between
the men, but so little between the women of the cast. I would be somewhat
surprised if Aaron does not at some point reconsider his decision about
firing Angela, after he has time to cool off, and think about what she had
been trying to do. She felt she could get away with helping the sixteen
members of the custodial staff before he could find out, and he really
seemed to admire her skill in doing so. I think she was correct in that he
would never have allowed her to do this if she had asked. She had risked
her job to help those less fortunate than she, and I think she deserves
some credit for this, even though what she did was technically illegal.

I also thought it slightly interesting that Melissa made a vaguely
pro-life statement. When she remarked that she should perhaps have had an
abortion when she had the chance, she felt a violent cramp, and she says,
"I guess I deserved that." I guess I just thought this was interesting
because I seldom hear television characters make statements like this. I
could be totally wrong.


For me, this episode was all about rationalization and how we use it to
defend our actions. Angela has rationalized that by moving money around on
paper, she has helped people get medical care when they might otherwise
not have access to it; all the while, she still knows that was she has
done is illegal. Mr. Sutton has rationalized that by injecting his son
with steroids, he has kept his son off the streets and thus increased the
chances that Lannie will live a longer and better life; but his actions in
the end kill Lannie, and he knows it.

The Melissa-Alan plot is a bit deeper, and the conclusions much brighter:
Melissa initially tries to place as much blame for her predicament as
possible on Alan and the hospital, but she finally understands that she
alone is responsible for her actions, even though she has placed Alan in
a role he does not understand and initially does not want -- and she does
nothing to help Alan step out of that role. For his part, Alan has, at
least on the surface, agreed to take responsibility for Melissa and her
child, finally awakening to the realization that a child's life is in his
hands -- quite literally. And although he has engaged in some
rationalizing of his own in believing that he has helped Melissa and the
baby by just being around, his sudden awareness of the possibilities and
risks involved don't seem too overwhelming. His almost immediate
acceptance of and love for the little girl is deeply moving, evidenced by
his lullaby from the institution that defines who he is -- Harvard.

I agree with Jen's thoughts about the windows. The shattered glass is a
metaphor for Phillip's feelings of helplessness and despair for people and
things over which he has no control.

Beverly and Jenny
Editor and Writer
The Chicago Five

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