Well, I didn’t hate it. I knew I was going to like Jason George, Rachelle Lefevre, and Mamie Gummer because I like them in everything they do. Even some of the new faces, Martin Henderson and Caroline Dhavernas, showed some promise and I was curious about their back stories. The setting was gorgeous, the acting was solid, and the pacing was good. BUT….there was nothing unique or different about this. And if I didn’t know this was a Shonda Rhimes show, I would have been able to guess it right away…medical show, good-looking cast, good acting, sexual tension, crazy cases, young doctors trying to figure out where they fit in and how good they really are. What show does that sound like? Basically put the original cast of Grey’s in the jungle instead of Seattle Grace and you have Off the Map. But again, I didn’t hate it. Right away the story with Squiggy and how he came to South America to say good-bye to his wife (she died before they had a chance to return back to the island) and Lily doing what she could to make sure he could spread her ashes in the “firefly” pond was really touching. But I feel like we have been there done that. Maybe because it’s her 3rd medical show, the tone of the show is very similar to Grey’s, and the romantic dynamic is nothing new. I don’t know.
Basically a new crop of young doctors are coming to the South America’s jungle to assist in a “Doctors without Borders” type of program. We are first introduced to the “locals” which would be Ben (Martin Henderson), Otis (Jason George), and Zita (Valerie Cruz) and then come the “newbies”, Lily, who specializes in emergency med (Caroline Dhaernas), Mina, infectious disease (Mamie Gummer), and Tommy, plastic surgery (Zach Gilford.) The locals aren’t too thrilled about more young doctors coming in to pad their resumes (especially Zita) but Ben is hoping for at least one good one that can stay and be a real help. When the newbies meet, some of the locals are attempting to remove a sting ray from a patient’s foot. When holding him down isn’t working, Ben punches him to calm him down and the sting ray is removed. The newbies realize they aren’t in Kansas anymore.
Ben explains that they were pick out of a hundred applicants and that they will learn more in a week with him than in a year of residency in the States. They don’t have high-tech equipment or fancy labs. They have their brains and a tropical rainforest with hundred of natural remedies out there. The newbies seem excited but a little out of their element and overwhelmed. Except for Tommy who’s more concerned about his tan than the medicine. Oh what a shocker. Here’s a character we are supposed to not like because he’s an ass (Alex Karev) but will eventually like and understand his assholeness because he has a sad back story. Moving on, Tommy is sent on a solo mission to a family Otis has been treating and enlist a young boy, Charlie, who will help him with his Spanish and show him how to get there. Meanwhile Mina and Lily are asked who wants to help Ben in the field, while the other stays behind to help out. Both volunteer but Lily is picked due to the fact that she has her own triage kit ready to go (and because she is eventually going to be Ben’s love interest….can anyone say Meredith and McDreamy?) Tommy visits a family that has TB and the mother has already passed away and the father is refusing treatment for himself and the rest of his family. Otis gave the mother antibiotics but her husband thought they were making her worse so he stopped giving them to her and he doesn’t want his family to have them. Tommy is really frustrated and says if that’s the case there isn’t anymore he can do. Meanwhile Lily has to save Squiggy whose arm is caught in a zip line (ouch!) Nothing like your first field appointment being 200m up in the air with a patient that starts to freak out! She calms him down and tells him he is not going to die (in an overly dramatic Shonda Rhimes way.) She gets him free and they send him back to the clinic. When Ben congratulates her on her first case back, she asks what he means and we learn that Lily took some time off due to a tragedy…she apparently lost someone she loved. Back at the clinic, an elderly woman comes in for some treatment and Mina tells her she just has a cold (earlier she over diagnosed a man with tennis elbow so she is trying to tone it down.) She sends her home but later that night she still sees the woman sitting there. Frustrated because they can’t communicate she tells her to just stay. Just then Tommy comes back and tells Otis that his patient is dead because the husband pulled her off his treatment. He got him to sign a liability waiver and Otis laughs at Tommy. He tells him he’s a joke and is only in medicine for the easy route. “You’re not stupid, you’re lazy” he tells him. He then instructs him to go back tomorrow and treat them or don’t come back to the program. Lily goes to check on Squiggy and she learns that he was there to spread his wife’s ashes in the lake she loved most in the world, where the algae light up at night and illuminate the entire lake.
The next day, Lily wakes up to Squggy’s alarms going off and notices lots of bruising around his stomach and chest area. There are massive internal bleeds so she and Ben go into the jungle to get coconut juice which has the same enzymes as blood. I wonder how much of this stuff is true or for TV. Because that could be the one really neat part of this show. They get back and are able to stabilize him with the coconuts. Nice! In the waiting room, guess who is back to see Mina and she can’t believe it. When she is about to send her home again, she collapses and isn’t breathing. She is able to get her some drugs to get her breathing again but you can tell how upset she is. She goes to the “pharmacy” to look for steroids when Lily comes in to tell her about her coconut transfusion. Lily can see she is upset and she said she was looking for complex diseases and almost lost a woman to asthma. Lily tells her “you know when they say you hear hoofbeats to think horses not zebras.” Thanks, like she really needed that bit of wisdom. Mina then tells her why she is really there. Her hospital was so competitive that she started picking up extra shifts at the county hospital and was working 20 hr shifts. When she was up for 72 straight, a kid came in with a fever and she sent him home with the flu. Turns out it was bacterial meningitis and he died. She was then kicked out of her residency. “So you see, sometimes it is zebras” she tells Lily and she leaves. And now Lily feels like a douchebag. Mina brings the old woman some of her own inhalers since there are none to be found. She shows her how to use it and the woman instantly feels better. The look on her face and she hugs Mina’s hands is wonderful. While this is going on, Tommy has gone back to see the family and he still isn’t having any luck. He finally tells the dad his story. He said his parents told him to go to college and study hard and he just partied his way through. They told him to go to med school to help people and he learned how to put boobs into strippers. They have no relationship anymore and he hasn’t seen his family in a year because he is too proud to go back. He asks the father not to make the same mistake with his family. Somehow, the father understands and agrees to let Tommy help them.
When Ben is being medivaced out, Lily stops them because he needs to go and say good-bye to his wife and spread her ashes. Otis and Ben say no but she eventually convinces them and they go to the “Firefly Lake.” It’s a suspension of disbelief moment because his life is still in danger and these chopper don’t come by often and I’m sure aren’t cheap. So I don’t buy that they would tell the chopper to wait while they go to this lake. But it was a nice moment so I can forgive it. Ben and Lily take him on the lake and it is beautiful and he is able to say good-bye and lay her to rest there. Yeah Squiggy!!!! And of course the google eyes between Lily and Ben start. We also learn that the person Lily lost, was her fiance, which is explains why it was so important for her to get Squiggy to say good-bye. Ben and her share a nice moment about the stars and the google eyes start again. Back at the clinic, Tommy and Mina are talking about seemingly being the last 2 people on earth, would she sleep with him and she said no. Just then the woman and her granddaughter show up to thank her and tell her that in 80 years on this earth, today she took her first real breath because of Mina. This is where Shonda Rhimes is great…hiting your heart-strings. As a thank you they give her….a chicken!!! You can tell Mina is taken a back but she politely thanks them and takes the chicken. I love when people who can’t speak a language think if they speak their language more slowly and use hand gestures, the other person will understand. Back in Ben’s office, the red-head from the beginning of show who was getting in a cab to leave, is back. There is obviously a back story here when she asks him if he is coming to bed. He says no. She then tells him “I know you miss her, but she isn’t coming back.” I wonder who SHE is. Wife? Daughter? Partner? Friend? Mother? Sex Buddy? I guess more on that later.
In the end, the newbies find their beach and claim, if there was ever somewhere to start over, it’s right here. They all jump over the cliffs and into the water and their adventure as doctors and friends has begun.
Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It reminds me of when Grey’s started. I will watch this a couple more times but I can only watch the same type of show, so many times per week. So we will see where it goes. If you don’t already watch Grey’s or PP or both, you will probably like Off the Map. But check it out and let me know what you think!