TV Review: Complications, ‘Pilot’ & ‘Infection’ (Series Premiere)

Written by Aaron Sarnecky



When Dr. John Ellison (Jason O’Mara) witnesses a drive-by shooting he takes matters into his own hands, saving the victim by killing the assailant. However, things quickly spiral out of control when the assailant’s gang shows up at the hospital. With life and death hanging in the balance, simply giving his patient medical care will not be enough.

Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/USA Network
Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/USA Network

Sometimes, you have to take a life to save a life. It’s a way of thinking that has been that prevalent in human civilization for a long time. It’s why we have armies and police officers. They are there to defend the innocent against those that would hurt them. But while this is a widely accepted idea, the prospect of civilians taking justice into their own hands is not. We don’t like vigilantes, or at least real vigilantes, that is. In fiction, vigilantism is highly romanticized, but still, often these vigilantes have superhuman or near-superhuman abilities, as well as a moral code that bars them from killing. But what if there was a vigilante character that wasn’t a superhero, but a normal person like us? What if they killed? Would we root for them?

According to USA’s Complications, the answer is yes, though the circumstances behind it are bit more complex. In this series, our protagonist Dr. Ellison thinks it’s better to save an innocent child through violence, even if it isn’t his job to, than to leave him to die. It’s the most interesting aspect of the show, and leaves you wondering what you would do in that situation.

It seems like Ellison’s decision to take a stand stems from a few things. The first and most apparent is that, as a doctor, he has become increasingly frustrated with not being able to save everyone. And this is just a guess, but perhaps he has seen a lot of victims of gang violence. However, he also appears to carry some sort of guilt over his inability to save his daughter from cancer. Therefore, Ellison cannot bear to let another child die. I’d say that’s more than enough motivation to kill a gangbanger.

Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/USA Network
Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/USA Network

Unfortunately, Ellison’s guilt actually matters very little since he quickly devolves from a character doing things out of choice to a character doing them to protect himself and his family. He’s not doing these things out of some moral conviction, but rather because he’s caught between two rival gangs. Now, you would think he could go to the police, but not in this show. Because, according to the characters, bringing in the police would put his family in more danger.

Of course, this makes no sense. Police are around to protect people and it’s absurd that they would make things more dangerous for Ellison and his family. The characters also quickly throw witness protection out the window, and while I don’t know if it would apply in this case, the police wouldn’t leave them hanging completely; at the very least, they’d protect the boy. Even Ellison realizes that by the end of Episode 2, though he stupidly keeps most of the details of his dilemma to himself.

Then again, maybe Ellison doesn’t trust the police because, in this show, they’re more incompetent than they could ever be in real life. This is perfectly illustrated when they don’t send anyone to the hospital to help them with the gang at their doorstep, because apparently they’re busy. When you stop to think about it though, the gang would never show up at the hospital just to kill a rival gang member’s son, because that would mean risking being seen by a dozen security cameras, which would lead to a large amount of jail time.

Now, taking a step back, I realize I don’t usually pick apart things in this way, but reality easily derails almost the entire premiere. Furthermore, contrary to how the show may present itself, it’s not about a fed up doctor blowing people away. It’s about a scared man who’s too worried that the cops will makes things worse. Add in some subplots that don’t really matter and you’ve got a show that starts off strong but becomes too, well, complicated.




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