TV Recaps

'Emily Owens, M.D.' Series Premiere Recap: "Pilot"

Emily Owens, M.D.” premiered tonight on The CW and if you read my preview (you did, right?), then you already know that I’m a big fan. As much as I love The CW (and I do), their promo campaign for the show was kind of the worst and ever since I watched the screener, I’ve been telling (begging) people to just ignore the promos, watch the show and see for yourselves just how awesome it is. Hopefully, people listened because I need Justin Hartley on my TV weekly. But on the off chance people still need convincing; here’s a recap of the first episode simply titled, “Pilot.”

We meet Emily (Mamie Gummer, who is fabulous on every level and the spitting image of her mother, Queen Meryl Streep) as she stands outside the hospital; her voiceover describing how excited she is about finally being an adult and taking the next step in her life so she can leave the past behind and then this high school kid starts making fun of her. Emily argues with the girl, insists that she’s not a loser and then embarrasses herself in front of an adult at the school, who comes to see why an adult is yelling at a child. Awkward, but Emily shakes it off and steps inside the hospital to begin her new life.

The first person she runs into is Will (Hartley), her med school crush and she mentally berates herself to be cool so of course she’s the opposite. Will tells her that he’s really glad they’re both doing their internships there because he’s heard hospitals are cutthroat and just like high school. Will puts his arm around her and tells her that the two of them need to stick together and Emily pretty much melts and forgets how to use her brain (But can you blame her? Take a good look at Will. I rest my case). The two head into the locker room and Emily is horrified when she hears someone call her, “Pits.”

Cassandra (Aja Naomi King) was Emily’s high school rival, her tormentor, the person who made her life a living hell (again something that is easy to relate to. Everyone knew a horrible girl like that or maybe you were that horrible girl. To each her own), and of course Cassandra is there for the same reason Emily is, to work with the amazing Dr. Gina Bandari. Will asks about the nickname, but Cassandra says she doesn’t remember why they called Emily that and Emily certainly isn’t volunteering. Cassandra has eyes so she checks out Will and Emily is not amused. The two seem to bond quickly and then Tyra (Kelly McCreary) introduces herself to Emily. She’s the chief’s daughter, she’s a lesbian and she also believes hospitals are just like high school.

Next, we meet Dr. Bandari (Necar Zadegan), who is completely no nonsense and tells the interns that they’re basically at her beck and call and maybe, someday, if they’re lucky, they’ll get to see the inside of an operating room. She introduces them to their resident, Micah Barnes (Michael Rady), who is a little (a lot) nicer than Gina and reminds Emily to breathe as they begin their rounds. The first patient is a 12-year-old girl named Julia, who fainted at school. As Will presents the case, Emily is distracted by his jaw and how much she wants to caress it, but she manages to hold herself together when Dr. Bandari calls on her. The diagnosis is simple fainting and Emily is left alone with the patient to discharge her, but she starts coding.

Emily freaks out and shouts for a doctor before a nurse reminds her that she is one. Emily saves Julia and all the interns are really impressed, until Cassandra points out the flop sweats that Emily was suffering from and said that was why they called her, “Pits.” After that, Emily’s pager is missing and she’s convinced that Cassandra took it from her. There’s an emergency being brought in; two brothers who were in a car accident because one of them was drinking. One brother is hurt more severely and his pregnant wife freaks out on the brother who was driving for being so irresponsible.

As Emily and Will wait for the test results, Emily tries to work up the nerve to tell Will how she feels about him and mentally says that she’ll move closer to him and if he doesn’t move away, that means he likes her too (if you’ve never played this game inside your own head, saying that if “A” happens, it means “B”, then you’re probably not human). But Emily decides not to say anything. Later, she accuses Cassandra of stealing her pager, which she denies. Micah asks the two of them to help a woman who has dementia by tracking down her daughter. But the two women keep arguing and the patient ends up wandering away from them. Luckily, Micah finds her and covers for Emily with Dr. Bandari.

Tyra finds Emily’s pager and asks her for a favor in return. There’s a nurse that’s been staring at her and she wants to find out if she’s a lesbian. It turns out the chief has no idea about Tyra. So Emily awkwardly tries to make conversation and the nurse tells her that she’s not gay, but if she was, she’d never go for someone like Emily (ouch). Will finds Emily standing outside the OR watching a surgery and the two talk about their first cuts. Will tells Emily how impressed he was with her and once again, Emily tries to make herself tell him how she feels, but can’t make the words come out.

Emily figures out that the brother was lying about who was driving because he was the screw up and he didn’t want to see his brother’s life ruined. The daughter of the dementia patient arrives at the hospital, but Emily doesn’t like that she’s so willing to abandon her mother so she refuses to give her the papers to sign. Emily goes to check on Julia and she tells her that she has a date with her crush and encourages Emily to tell Will that she likes him because she thinks he likes her too. Julia asks Emily to be there for her surgery and Emily tells her to ask Dr. Bandari. That request does not go over well and Dr. Bandari lets Emily have it, making it clear that she is on her bad side.

Will comforts her and reminds her that she’s great and Emily finally opens up and tells him that she wants him and she’s liked him for a long time and Will just stares at her with this pained expression on his face (I seriously wanted to die for her. It was the most awkward, uncomfortable moment in the whole world). Will tries to let her down gently and tell her that he just doesn’t see her that way, but they can still be friends, but the damage is done and poor Emily heads to the stairwell to drown her feelings in vending machine food (again, I dare you to tell me you’ve never been at that point).

Micah finds Emily and she tells him that she’s having the worst day, but he points out the people in the hospital are having a much worse day than her. Emily feels bad, but he’s very sweet about it (admittedly, I’m Team Micah right now as far as the triangle goes, even though I feel guilty rooting against Will, but hello, awkward). Emily lectures the dementia patient’s daughter and Cassandra steps in and takes Emily to task. It turns out Cassandra has a brother with cystic fibrosis so she understands the hardship the daughter is going through. Cassandra warns Emily that she doesn’t want her pity and she’s still a bitch. Emily agrees, but wants to know why. Cassandra admits that she was jealous that school came so easily to Emily. She warns her that if she tells anyone, she’ll deny it and spread a nasty rumor about her.

Emily gets to observe Julia’s surgery and something goes wrong (If you followed my “Saving Hope” recaps, you know medical stuff is not my thing so if you’re looking for detailed surgical terms, this is not where you will find them). There’s a lot of blood, Emily helps Dr. Bandari and Julia is going to be fine. That’s all that really matters, right? The surgery was a success. Unfortunately for Emily, Tyra tells her that all the nurses think she’s a weird, predatory lesbian because of what happened with Nurse Jessica. Emily is getting ready to leave and she goes into the stairwell and sees the chief kissing Jessica. She quickly backs away, but they totally made eye contact.

One of the patients Micah had mentioned earlier when he was pointing out who was having a worse day than Emily was a woman whose son had to tell her that she had pancreatic cancer and it turned out that Micah was the son. His mother wanted the news and he told her that there were clinical trials they could try, but it clearly wasn’t good (Rady nailed this scene).

As Emily leaves the hospital, she runs into that high school kid again, who seems impressed that Emily is a doctor. Her voiceover goes into the fact that no one ever tells you that you never really feel like an adult because your insecurities and anxieties never really go away and once you’re an adult, you just feel stupid for having them because you’re supposed to be over it by then and have the answers (so true). Emily is feeling better until she sees Will and Cassandra walking out together and then she just rolls her eyes and thinks that it’s got to get better than this, right?

So there you have it. Yes, the show has its cutesy moments and if you’re not a fan of voiceovers, it’s probably not the show for you. But Emily is not a caricature like certain other people who shall not be named. She feels like a real person and she’s easy to relate to. All of the characters feel very real and well developed. This isn’t “Grey’s Anatomy” and it’s not “Scrubs” either. It’s a really well-written and well-acted show about people who are just trying to figure out life while they do their jobs.

If you enjoyed the pilot, I can tell you that next week’s episode is even better and remember what I said about being Team Micah? I’m already back on Team Will after watching the second episode. Hit the comments and let us know what you think and I’ll see you next week.

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.