Chicago Med season 3, episode 17 recap: The Parent Trap

CHICAGO MED -- "The Parent Trap" Episode 317 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Gehlfuss as Will Halstead, Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "The Parent Trap" Episode 317 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nick Gehlfuss as Will Halstead, Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Were Chicago Med’s Will and Natalie able to work together? Did Reese’s dad survive? Here’s what happened in Chicago Med season 3, episode 17.

This week’s Chicago Med brought parents back into the equation, but who could have used some parental advice to help deal with their problems? And whose problems just wound up getting even worse?

Tuesday’s episode is called “The Parent Trap” and it starts as Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee) is irritated with his sister Emily (guest star Arden Cho), who still has his car. Could it be Emily is back to her troublesome ways? Probably.

While he worries about that, things are a lot worse with Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell), who has to deal with Robert Haywood (guest star Michel Gill). Connor tells Dr. Sarah Reese (Rachel DiPillo) that it’s not looking good for her father, and she may want to consider saying goodbye now.

Choi checks on the kids at the homeless encampment. No one’s expecting a baby this time, but he’s worried Josh may have leukemia. Emily, who’s turned up with the car, tries to convince Choi not to call Josh’s parents so that Josh agrees to come into the hospital.

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But maybe it’s good Ethan isn’t in because things are uncomfortable elsewhere. Connor finds out that Dr. Ava Bekker (Norma Kuhling) has been socializing with his father, enough that Cornelius is sending her flowers.

Is anyone else as weirded out by this as we are? Other than him, of course.

Meanwhile, Maggie Lockwood (Marlyne Barrett) warns Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) that she needs to get over it before assigning her to work with Dr. Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss). That’s sneaky, Maggie.

But it could work out, because Will knows their patient’s previous doctor, and knows he’s a quack who does more harm than good.

Speaking of harm, Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt) has some psuedo-fatherly advice for Reese about her actual father:

"Charles: I think that if he should die before you have a chance to speak, then that could very possibly be something you could come to regret."

When he can’t convince Reese to change her mind, Charles goes upstairs and tries to talk to Robert instead. All he gets is plenty of snark, with Robert blaming Charles for his non-relationship with Reese and saying “you play a good game.” How many more attempts to get through to this guy will we make before we just accept it won’t work?

Speaking of annoying dads, now Cornelius (guest star D.W. Moffett) has shown up at the hospital and he’s getting Ava coffee. He wants her to have dinner with him. Norma Kuhling’s face in this bit is spot-on, as Ava realizes that her ex-fling’s dad is hitting on her. She tells Cornelius that their relationship will be no more than professional and promptly leaves. We’re just disappointed that she didn’t throw the coffee in his face.

Luckily, Connor is downstairs in the ED when this happens, treating a poor guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s dismayed to realize the man is braindead, but then figures out that if he’s an organ donor, his heart could be given to Robert. Though the heart is iffy, Connor tells Ava he’s going to repair it for transplant.

"Ava: You’ll kill the recipient on the table.Connor: So don’t scrub in."

In another room, April and her brother Noah Sexton (recurring guest star Roland Buck III) deal with a woman who can’t accept that her father is a drug addict. While he refuses to get another doctor, Will and Natalie are stunned when their patients’ parents refuse their advice.

All that stops them from taking their son out of the hospital is Natalie agreeing to continue their original course of treatment at Chicago Med. Will hates that she essentially lied to them, and the two have another argument.

But that’s not as bad as Noah and April realizing that the drug in question is fentanyl—about the worst drug that anyone could be exposed to. Their patient isn’t an addict; he just came into contact with it and this happened, and it could happen to anyone else who goes near him or his belongings.

(This is legitimately terrifying; watch this CBS News story to learn more about just how deadly fentanyl can be.)

Time for another hospital alert, this one involving a lot of decontamination! While Sharon Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) worries about that, Will tries again to convince their patient’s parents that they need to do something else for their kid. Natalie continues to play along with them, which leads to Will uttering words he needs to take back:

"Will: It must be nice, always being right."

This explodes into another argument, with Will saying Natalie has to have everything her way and that she’s so perfect, while Natalie throws Will’s drunken mistake in her face. She then finds their patient’s mother in the bathroom and sees that the woman is clearly OCD. Natalie tries to explain that OCD Is genetic, but Mom doesn’t want to hear it.

Choi is surprised to hear Dr. Charles’ diagnosis of his patient: that Josh has an attachment disorder. That makes things more complicated, as Choi has already reached out to the kid’s parents, as he’s required to before treating his cancer. They’re in the waiting room, but Josh has done a runner and he left with a woman—possibly Choi’s sister Emily?

Over the valve repair surgery, Ava needles Connor about his relationship with his father and he makes more jokes about his father’s unhealthy interest in her. What is it with these two and their odd conversations in the middle of the OR? Anyway, they’re able to repair the heart so maybe it will go to Reese’s dad after all.

Meanwhile, we’re going to get Goodwin vs. the hospital board round whatever it is when Maggie tells her the board has overridden her decision to put the hospital on bypass after the fentanyl exposure. She interrupts their meeting to ask what they’re doing, since someone could die. It’s no surprise that her move doesn’t go over well.

"Peter: The board feels that you are not making decisions that are aligned with this hospital’s interests…You keep taking an adversarial position vis-a-vis the board, and they will fire you."

While she thinks on that, Chicago Med shifts to Reese checking in on her father, who proceeds to deride her for having an “ulterior motive” and suggesting she has a personality disorder. Seriously, why does anyone bother with him? She walks out and right into Connor, who knows all about dad issues. Unfortunately, he’s not there to help her; he’s there to tell her that Robert is getting that heart transplant.

Choi tracks down Josh and Emily, who explains her decision to take Josh out of the hospital by revealing that she’s been homeless. Meanwhile, Noah’s patient crashes and dies, leaving his daughter in tears, and Will and Natalie’s patient finally gets the help he needs when his mother admits her OCD diagnosis—which upsets his father.

Perhaps motivated by seeing Noah’s patient die, Chicago Med has Reese go upstairs and tell Connor that no, the high temperature her father is experiencing is normal, which makes Connor go forward with the heart transplant. After the successful procedure, Connor tells Ava that he wishes she was single. Uh, you missed that boat a few episodes back, dude. At least he knows she’s not really dating his dad.

Choi brings Josh back to the hospital, where he makes up with his parents even though Charles doesn’t think he’ll ever really be able to connect with them. Choi also thanks Emily for helping out on the case, and suggests she stick around. Plus, Will and Natalie make up, and Reese’s dad is going to live. So how much more trouble will he cause?

“The Parent Trap” takes Chicago Med season 3 in some directions that fans probably saw coming if you’ve been watching the entire season, and some that are definitely bewildering.

The idea of Goodwin’s job being at risk, for example, is something that we’ve been saying was possible for months. Especially after last week’s episode where she ticked off a major donor, the writing has been on the wall. Ditto Choi’s sister being up to potentially no good; that was part of her character from the moment she was mentioned, even before she appeared.

These plot twists are predictable, and while predictable is usually not good, at least they make sense and give us a through-line for the last few episodes of the season.

Things go completely sideways, though, with Reese and Connor’s storylines. Reese’s dad has always been frustrating, but in “The Parent Trap” he’s so downright cruel and offensive that it’s stopped being understandable at all why Reese, Charles or anyone else would even give him the time of day. So many characters are wasting so much time and energy on a person who they, and the show, are better off without.

And the whole idea of Connor’s father hitting on Ava, which in turn makes Connor jealous? That’s just creepy and wrong on so many levels. If Chicago Med wanted someone to make Connor jealous anyone else would have been fine. But his dad makes it incredibly wrong. It’s not funny, it’s not dramatic, it’s just wrong. Not to mention that Cornelius hitting on anyone is just off-putting.

Plus, and we’ve said this before, why do these two have to talk about their personal lives in the OR? And why does Connor come to the realization now that he’s still interested in Ava? Where is that coming from? We haven’t seen them do much other than fight, unless you count him saving her bacon last week.

There aren’t any attention-grabbing plots in this episode, and the ones that function well are overshadowed by the ones that very much don’t. Hopefully Chicago Med will give us some context to this episode going forward, because right now it’s one that just didn’t work out on many levels.

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What did you think of this week’s Chicago Med episode? Leave your reaction to “The Parent Trap” in the comments.

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