Chicago Med season 3, episode 13 recap: Best Laid Plans

CHICAGO MED -- "Best Laid Plans" Episode 313 -- Pictured: Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "Best Laid Plans" Episode 313 -- Pictured: Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Did Chicago Med’s internal conflict affect the hospital’s patients or its future? Here’s what happened in Chicago Med season 3, episode 13.

Tensions ran high in this week’s Chicago Med, so what effect did all the fighting have on the hospital, the patients and of course, the doctors and nurses?

Tuesday’s episode is called “Best Laid Plans” and it begins as our cardiothoracic surgeons are hard at work. But Dr. Ava Bekker (Norma Kuhling) and Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) are still snarky with each other.

It doesn’t help when their donor heart begins to fail, leaving their patient in a life-threatening lurch. He’ll have to go back on the transplant list, and they disagree on what to do in order to keep him alive long enough to get another heart. Man, you have to feel for Peter.

Connor gets a message from Dr. Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) about another patient who’s back in the ED, and heads downstairs. Time for more awesome Connor and Will teamwork! We can never have enough of that.

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The guys are stumped about Dan’s case, and like Peter, he’s pretty far down on the transplant list. Connor does his best to console Dan, his wife and their adorable kid, but this is not a great start to the episode for him.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sarah Reese (Rachel DiPillo) has been asked by her father to co-sign for his loan. Has she never seen Judge Judy? Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt) shares our skepticism.

"Charles: Finances and family, they don’t always mix."

While Reese assures Charles that of course her dad is good for the money, April Sexton (Yaya DaCosta) and her brother Noah (Roland Buck III) treat a woman who might be overdoing it on the spin classes.

And Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee) gets the very weird case of a woman who’s passed out in the ED waiting room and will not come to. No one’s even sure why she was in the waiting room to begin with, so it’s a frantic rush to figure out her story while also trying to treat her. We’ll even take the help of Dr. Stanley Stohl (guest star Eddie Jemison) on this one.

(Did you ever realize that Choi gets a lot of the bizarre cases? The panda—although he brought that one in himself—then the dead Santa, and now this. What is it about him that attracts this stuff? He’s like the Trooper James Casey of Chicago Med.)

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Dan tells Connor to do what he thinks is best, and Ava shares the same cautious optimism about Peter. Do you see the inherent conflict that we’re hurtling toward? Both patients desperately are in need of a heart, and do you think there’s going to be two of them available? Nope.

There’s just the one, as there’s a motorcyclist rushed into the ED after riding without a helmet, in one of those convenient moments that only happens on TV.

Connor is brooding when the motorcyclist is wheeled upstairs, but it’s Ava who immediately jumps on the idea, and tells the nurse to find her as soon as the motorcyclist’s blood typing results are in so that she can see if the heart is a match. Seriously, she couldn’t wait more than a minute?

And then Dan starts crashing, which also forces the issue for Connor. You know when Connor gets that sad, desperate look on his face that this is do or literally die. He keeps Dan alive, but for how long?

Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) arrives and is immediately put to work on the case of Sam, a 27-year-old man in a vegetative state after a surfing accident five years earlier. His mom and his siblings are with him, but no one knows exactly what his problem is. That’s for Natalie and a whole lot of tests to find out.

Plus, Dr. Charles gets even more bad news about Dr. Reese’s dad. The phrase “class three heart failure” is never good. It also begs the question of how many failing hearts can be in one Chicago Med episode.

Time for another talk with Robert (returning guest star Michel Gill), who continues to not give a damn about anything Charles is telling him. He throws the doctor-patient confidentiality idea in Charles’ face, but Charles says he has to report his findings to the committee evaluating Robert for a future heart transplant of his own. Including the personality disorder that may work against him in that respect.

"Charles: What the committee is looking for is self-sufficiency. Fiscal responsibility…There are simply too many people waiting for too few organs."

Chicago Med circles back around to Natalie’s patient Sam. His results are in; he’s got pneumonia. That’s not great news, but it doesn’t sound so bad. That is, until she notices Sam’s trach tube has something in it and wonders if his mother is having trouble caring for her son properly. When she asks Mom, Natalie is shocked when she’s told that Sam “wants this over.”

Noah’s patient is still in pain; it’s not a muscle strain but she’s going into labor with a baby after menopause. That is a wild swing in diagnosis! And across the way Choi is alerted to the arrival of his patient’s husband, who simply says “Here we go again” when he realizes his spouse has apparently overdosed.

Connor tells Dan’s wife he’s going on ECMO (the same thing that made things complicated last week), but insists he’s not giving up. And when Ava hears the news that Dan is ahead of Peter to get the motorcyclist’s heart, she screams at him for a good, solid two minutes.

"Ava: You’re taking a heart that does not belong to you…This isn’t right. And it isn’t over."

Between breaks, Reese’s father turns her against Charles, claiming that Charles “threatened” him and that there was “blackmail” involved. Reese confronts Charles on the street, so Charles finally tells her how he—and we—really feel. But instead of responding she storms off silently, in front of Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson).

The one laugh out loud moment in “Best Laid Plans” comes when Noah’s patient’s husband is trying to figure out how he got his wife pregnant. But she is, indeed, pregnant and delivers a baby while Will advises Natalie that it’s a criminal matter if Sam’s mom is intentionally trying to cause her son’s death. Naturally, Natalie sides with the mom and refuses to make the call.

So Will makes it for her, while April tells Natalie what happened last week with the patient Will let die, implying that she thinks he’s a bit of a hypocrite. Her opinion doesn’t matter because when Will gets to Sam’s room with the cops, Mom has apparently managed to finish the job and Sam dies despite Will’s best efforts.

Natalie confronts Will with the news she learned from April, saying that “You forced that family into a decision.”

Speaking of fights between couples (or would-be couples), Goodwin gets involved with Connor and Ava’s debacle and she sides with Ava, awarding the heart to his patient. This only prompts Connor to strike up another fight with Ava on the topic.

"Connor: It is not fair that he gets a third heart before Dan even gets his first."

So Connor pulls a stunt of his own and gets the heart back for Dan, leaving Ava literally struck speechless. She accuses him of “making Dan look like a better candidate than he really is” and storms off again (there’s a lot of that going on this episode). At least Dan and his family will get a happy ending.

In the final few minutes, Choi’s patient eventually comes to and is reunited with her tearful husband, while April and Noah meet Choi’s sister Emily (Arden Cho). Reese tells her dad she can’t co-sign on his loan application; is she getting the painful hint?

“Best Laid Plans” is a Chicago Med episode that survives on the strength of the performances, as the script has a wonderful concept but there’s some controversy and some struggles to quite get it to where it could’ve been awesome.

Colin Donnell, Norma Kuhling, Nick Gehlfuss and Torrey DeVitto are all turning things up a notch this week, creating the tension that’s needed to drive the episode. You can create all the conflict you want, but the actors have to sell it. Particularly Donnell and Kuhling really are at each other’s throats, and it’s great to watch from an entertainment standpoint.

And these conflicts are good for the show. It seems like there’ve been half a dozen episodes where the synopsis says Will and Natalie disagree, but they never really have a serious fight; this is a very serious fight, and one that they’re due for. They should have butted heads like this at least once by now.

And to see Ava and Connor continue to be professionally competitive (some could even say ruthless) is reassuring as the show really isn’t forcing their romance the way that the promos have it looking like it would. We need to keep the medicine in Chicago Med, and it’s working. Whether or not you agree with the arguments—and both of them have some questionable stuff in them—we need more episodes where things don’t go well.

What’s weird about this episode is that we see things that have literally just come up in the past episode. Last week we had a patient who wanted to die and whom Will let die; this week there’s a patient who wants to die and whom Natalie wants to let die.

And there’s some stuff that is the epitome of “dramatic license.” A motorcyclist crashes and has a heart available within moments of Connor and Ava’s patients both needing one? For that matter, they both have patients who need one and get worse on the same day? We understand the story that Med is trying to set up, but the way it’s set up feels awfully convenient.

Plus, as we mentioned above, some of this stuff is up to interpretation as to whether you think it’s right, or even in character. Ava basically accuses Connor of lying; does that seem like something he would do? Is Natalie right in being infuriated with Will, when she so often pushes her own opinions to a fault? There are little quirks in the script that don’t sit quite right, but on the whole, better to have a script that at least leaves us talking than one that doesn’t.

Next: Chicago Med's Norma Kuhling dishes on Ava

What did you think of this week’s Chicago Med episode? Leave us your reaction to “Best Laid Plans” in the comments.

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