How do we deal with fear? Do we surrender, try to live lives with little risk and sacrifice? Do we go out of our way in the quest of adventure? Our time here is limited, and fear plays a big part in it. If we allow fear to control our lives, our lives become depressing and unfulfilling. If we try to overcome fear entirely, we end up placing ourselves in unnecessary danger. This Nip/Tuck seeks to explore fear in its many facets.
On a normal day, Sean calls Julia to ask what she wants for dinner. At home, she's studying the adrenal gland. Thankfully, they decided not to forget completely that Julia was going back to school in the first season. Before they can choose what to pick up, another driver strikes Sean head on. The staging of this crash is refreshing given the predisposition some filmmakers have to recreate The Matrix for shots like these. We see his crash in fast motion with breaks in slow motion, which really help show what it must feel like to be in an accident like this one.
Sean's taken to a hospital, where Christian takes care of him. Like last week, they still don't care for younger doctors, dismissing the younger hospital doctor. A cop comes into the recovery room to tell Sean that he'll need to fill out some forms regarding the accident. He also informs Sean that despite appearing fine after the crash, the other driver died in surgery. Sean denies being in shock, but since he isn't aware that he's missing a shoe, he is.
In true character, Gina storms into Christian's apartment demanding to know where Wilbur is. Christian informs her that James, Wilbur's real father, has taken him. Ironically, her plan to keep Wilbur away from him is going to keep Wilbur away from her as well. Although he loves Wilbur, he tries to forget it by getting rid of his toys and not fighting James' claim. Gina yells at him for not having the courage to fight for his son.
Then we cut to Matt (hint, hint). In a moment that screams "inappropriate", he plays a car racing game while Sean sits next to him. Sean shuts off the TV, but doesn't call him out. He's looking through a magazine to find a new car. Sean's search is facilitated when the car manufacturer responds to his grateful e-mail, where he praised them for their safety features. Since he is a doctor, they want him to conduct analysis on the damage crash test subjects receive. These subjects are donated corpses, since they're more accurate than dummies. Sean goes along, but panics when one of the test cars crashes.
Christian stops over to take Sean home. Sean sees that Christian has Wilbur's toys in the backseat. Christian explains that he's getting rid of them and that trying to be a father to Wilbur was the biggest mistake of his life. We know Christian's lying to protect himself from the pain. If he was so determined to get Wilbur out of his life, the toys wouldn't have been sitting in the backseat when he picked up Sean.
Their patient this week knows a lot about fear. He wanted his kids to remember him as someone who sought adventure out of life. So, he took up mountain climbing. On an expedition up Mt. Everest, he suffered frostbite, which took some of his fingers and a part of his face. Despite all the pain this has caused him, he's still determined to go back and take the summit. He'd rather have "a numb nose over a numb soul". His refusal to "surrender to fear" inspires Sean and Christian to take risks. Sean calls about the car company's offer and Christian gets Gina to prepare for the custody hearing.
The subject of the latest crash was a friend of one of the people working there. Like Sean, the body never took many risks in his life. His friend Brody tells Sean that he too has decided to try something that would scare him because of this. Brody's been swimming with sharks. After the car has been crashed, Sean looks over the body's injuries and he's taken aback by the fact that the body shares similar injuries to him.
Gina, Christian, James and his wife meet with a judge regarding Wilbur. They've decided to do arbitrarily, which is cheaper, both for them and for the budget of the episode. The judge has a difficult choice. Wilbur's biological parents both have significant flaws. James' wife clearly resents him for cheating on her and this resentment would likely be passed on to Wilbur. Also, they are much older. They have children in their thirties. On the other hand, Gina and Christian have problems with sex.
One thing that didn't seem right was why Christian didn't say that Gina told him initially that he was Wilbur's father. It would help make sense of the incident and why he's there, although the heartfelt speech accomplished that. You'd have to be a fool not to tell that this kid means more to Christian than anything in his life.
The McNamaras have chicken delivered. Sean doesn't want any, but Julia mentions that Sean is very picky with his food. Going with his new philosophy, he takes his family to a Japanese restaurant. Julia can't order safe bets. Sean decides to get fugu, a dish made from a poisonous fish. If prepared properly, it's tasty since there is a part of the fish that isn't poisonous. Julia can't stand it, especially when he offered Matt some. This was too far. They leave and Sean's faced with the fugu. He stares at it, then eats it with relish.
The next day they operate on Joel's face, slashing the dead tissue off his face and replacing it with skin they grafted. Sean tells Christian about his plans to swim with the sharks. Christian doesn't like it, and offers an interesting perspective on fear. Christian may not be fearful, but he has respect for fear. In addition to adding a great Christianism "slipindicktomy", he tells Sean that fear can help you avoid making a bad decision.
It came down to Gina. Despite their other flaws, it was Gina's self destructive addiction that made the judge decide that Wilbur would be best with James and his wife. Even worse, since they live in Arizona, they receive full custody of Wilbur. Christian and Gina won't be able to see Wilbur until he turns eighteen. This fact twists the knife in Christian's heart further.
As Christian loses his son, Annie loses her pet. Frisky (really a replacement of the original Frisky) has cancer, but Sean tells her that the gerbil is pregnant. It doesn't seem fair to him to have Annie face death so young. However, Frisky dies shortly afterward. At Frisky's funeral, Julia eulogizes that we lose things so we can appreciate what we have. It is true, as much as it hurts to say goodbye.
Christian thought he could cut himself off from Wilbur to avoid the pain their separation would cause, but he can't. The McNamaras find him crying in their living room. He tells them about the court's decision. Sean tries to consult him, but Christian can't suppress his sadness. Though Sean reminds him that he lost a child when Julia miscarried and his father when he was young, Christian tells him that it hasn't affect him as much considering what he is planning to do. He alerts Julia to his plans to go shark diving, which only makes her even madder.
Despite her problems, he sneaks out with Matt to go diving. Things are fine until Matt stands about to jump into the water. Sean sees his son as a six-year-old. This epiphany convinces him not to dive. There is a difference between spicing up his life and doing something that could get him killed. Matt gets mad at his dad and calls him a word similar to a coward. Just then, Sean's friend from the crash site has an embolism. He convulses furiously, but Sean takes control of the situation, saving his life.
With little time left, Christian offers Wilbur some advice, starting lighthearted but quickly becoming somber as he encourages his son to be strong. James arrives to pick up his son. He gave him an extra hour to be with him before they left. James credits Christian for saving his life. However, he still plans to uphold the no contact section of the ruling. It does feel unfair for Christian not to be able to have contact either, but that's what makes James' choice even more sad.
Sean realizes that smaller steps are much better and safer. He writes his own obituary to motivate the changes he wants in his life. Matt tells him that he doesn't think of his dad the way he did earlier that day. The way he saved the man on the boat impressed him to the point where Matt doesn't need his father to prove himself. Of course, this nice place in their relationship is doomed because it is too agreeable.
Julia stays at Christian's house to comfort him about losing Wilbur, but Christian is still beyond consoling. She then tells him that he is Matt's father. Since getting the paternity results back, she has been reluctant to find out, then reluctant to reveal to anyone else. In this moment of weakness, she tells because she thinks it will help her friend. Of course, this opens many doors for the problems that will make up the rest of the season.
This is a good episode, even if some people thought scenes like Sean scarfing down the fugu cheesy. It finally resolved the question of who Matt's true father was, but it clearly is only the beginning. Fear works well with the recurring themes of aging, life and the mid-life crises the two doctors find themselves in. The season is starting to move in this episode, and it'll be a great ride.