Season 1 Episode 5

Kurt Dempsey

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Aug 19, 2003 on FX
out of 10
User Rating
211 votes

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Episode Summary

An ex-lover returns and leads Christian to a sexaholics meeting while Sean and Julia deal with an unexpected pregnancy.

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  • Lo que uno haría por amor

    Daría todo de mí en tanto y en cuanto estaría absolutamente seguro de que con esa persona pasaría el resto de mi vida, o la mayor parte de ella. Y viniendo de mí (conociéndome como me conozco) eso sería casi imposible. El sólo hecho de pensarlo real me produce náuseas. Es posible encontrar alguien con quien querer compartir el resto de tu vida? Noooooo!!!! No lo creo. No creo en el amor verdadero, se entiende, no? Pero suponiendo que lo encontrara sí, daría todo de mí y más. Ah! que romántico! Que manera de malgastar el tiempo... Y lo bueno que tenemos dentro...moreless
  • Asses to Ashes

    Another spanner is thrown into the works when it comes to Sean and Julia's relationship, as an unexpected pregnancy disrupts their lives and they both end up feeling emotions which they never expected they'd feel. In Sean's case, he's surprisingly excited about the possibility of another child, and wants to go through with it. I found it interesting that he originally wanted Julia to have an abortion when she fell pregnant with Matt, whereas now he doesn't. Maybe he's subconsciously nervous over Julia becoming a success, and hopes that a baby would make that impossible?

    It's clear that Julia never wanted the baby. She's finally in a place in her life where she can do whatever she wants, and is now independent. With a sudden pregnancy, all those plans are thrown up in the air, leaving her in the exact same situation she's been in twice before. It's no real surprise when she miscarries, since a pregnancy would just add another layer of irritation to Julia's character, and we've already gathered that she has a lot of that already!

    The patients of the week were nowhere near as amazing as the last two we had on the show, but they were still pretty great. The Ellie Collins story constantly surprised me, and the scene where her husband prepared to smash the hammer into her face was terrifying. I kinda liked the Kurt Dempsey story, but it was a little too upbeat for this show. Everything worked itself out in the end, which is something that rarely happens on Nip/Tuck!

    I really loved that Christian finally acknowledged his sex problem, and went to a sexaholics meeting. Gina (who would go onto become a huge presence on the show) was awesome straight away, with Jessalyn Gilsig giving a fearless performance. Christian was really harsh on her after they had sex, especially when comparing her to a pile of ashes. In other news, Christian slept with Grace, and it was strange to discover that she was, in part, a female version of him. Her calm exit from his apartment straight after their lovemaking was something that both the audience and Christian himself didn't expect. It also adds more layers to a character who before this episode was pretty pointless.

    Director: Elodie Keene

    Writers: Lyn Greene, Richard Levine

    Rating: A-moreless
  • This episode is really, really good!

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!200th Review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sean and Christian meet Kurt Dempsey. He wants to marry his girlfriend, who is Japanese. Her parents are xenophobic and will not approve of any boyfriend who isn’t Japanese. Kurt wants to go through plastic surgery so he can look Japanese and gain the approval of her family. Julia is in the bathroom taking a pregnancy test. She looks into the mirror and can’t believe the results.

    Christian is at a bar/club with some of his friends. He is trying to convince his engaged friend that he isn’t monogamous until after “I do”. He goes and hits on a girl at the bar.

    Julia goes to class and gets a good test grade back. Jude asks her out to lunch. She denies him. Christian and Sean are in surgery removing tattoos off a man’s back. They discuss the relationship between love and getting a tattoo. Grace Santiago interrupts because a couple is waiting for a consult. Sean and Christian argue over who has to go and Christian ends up going.

    Christian and Grace consult Ellie Collins, a woman who has broken her nose in a car accident. Afterwards, Christian yells at her about not starting the consult without him. Then he blatantly checks out a woman in front of her.

    Sean and Julia are talking in the kitchen. She gets upset about how he became successful and she never got to use her potential. He tells her that he will support her through med school. She tells him that she is pregnant.

    Preparing for surgery, Sean tells Christian that Julia is pregnant. They talk about whether Sean and Julia should have the kid. They perform the surgery on Kurt Dempsey.

    Grace walks into Christian’s office to show him some paperwork. She walks in on him having sex with a woman on his desk. Afterwards, he meets Grace in the break room. Grace recommends that Christian goes to Sex-aholics Anonymous meetings.

    Sean finds Julia in bed doing homework. He tells her that he thinks they should have the baby. Julia likes being back in school and is feeling differently than Sean. He says that he will stay home and take care of the kids, while she goes to school and becomes a doctor.

    Christian is at a bar and receives a visit from Shelly Edwards, an ex-patient. She got surgery in exchange for sex. She asks if he can “freshen her up” with the same arrangement. He denies her which prompts her to offer her daughter, 2 for 1. Christian leaves and goes to an SA meeting. He goes to leave and meets a woman named Gina. He takes her out for drinks and seduces her.

    At the office, Sean tells Christian that they are going to have the baby and he needs at least 3 months of paternity leave. They perform surgery on Ellie Collins and she has scar tissue and bleeds too much. Christian approaches Grace about malpractice. Ellie Collins was not in a car accident.

    Sean and Julia go to get a checkup on the baby. Julia will have to stay in bed for 7 months until the baby is born or they will risk a miscarriage or early birth. Matt brings Julia lunch while she’s on the couch. They talk about her having another baby “she doesn’t want”.

    Christian and Grace confront Ellie about not being in an accident. They ask her if her husband, David, did it to her. He enters the room while they are talking. He admits to breaking her nose. Ellie says she forced David to break her nose. No doctors would operate on it since she had already had too many surgeries. David couldn’t stand to see her hate herself, so he broke her nose with a hammer.

    Julia is finishing a test at school. Jude asks her if she is ok after missing class for a few days. She almost faints and then asks Jude to take her to the hospital.

    Christian finds Grace at a bar. She is waiting for her date to show up. He apologizes for blaming her for Ellie Collins. They go back to his apartment and have sex. When they finish, she immediately gets up, changes and leaves. Christian is shocked.

    Sean and Julia arrive home from the hospital. Julia miscarried. Sean is upset that he was the only one who wanted the baby. Julia says she is relieved that they aren’t having the baby. Sean gets a call from the office. It is Leigh Moriata, Kurt Dempsey’s girlfriend. She calls to tell him they are engaged. Her mother didn’t believe the surgery but was so impressed that he loved her enough to change his appearance. She invites Sean to the wedding. The episode ends with Sean looking down while Julia sits in the other room silently.

    This episode is one of the best episodes of the series!moreless
  • Shades Of Love Written by Lyn Greene And Richard Levine Directed by Elodie Keene

    Victor: “I feel sorry for you man. Obviously you’ve never been in love”

    Christian: “Sure I have. It’s that beautiful moment between meeting the woman of your dreams and seeing her stretchmarks”.

    Topic of the day – is one Christian Troy capable of love? Well, despite his faults and almost prehistoric handling with women, it’s fair to assume he is but as this episode points out, he chooses to keep his contact with women on a purely physical basis and despite his own contentment with his not so clandestine affairs, he is a bit of a sex addict. If it’s got a pulse, Christian will go for it, from a random woman at the bar, some of his patients to even the plant girl at his office, Christian’s love for the opposite sex have well and truly been documented but in spite of playing a cad, Julian McMahon has so far managed to give the character certain depth and Christian so far hasn’t trailed into pure sleaze as he wisely knocks back a former conquest who takes a despicable low by pimping her 17 year old daughter in order to bed the plastic surgeon. Talk about first class sleaze!

    What also makes this a rather Christian dominated episode is that his hostility with Grace is finally brought to the fore. In fairness, I get why Christian would turn off Grace but a part of me did slightly think she was as much attracted to him, as she was repulsed. If she wanted to take him on and win she most certainly lost by sleeping with him and giving him more leverage, proving Grace isn’t as smart as she’d like to think. I don’t think that strong women ultimately threaten Christian but I do think he has a knack for cracking some of them, especially that woman from the S.A. meeting, Gina (great casting in ex-Boston Public actress Jessalyn Gilseg). She too put up a fight and questioned quite confrontationally Christian’s sexual prowess before he obliterated her eight month celibacy period and then giving her cab-fare. Love is a funny thing and Christian refuses to be it’s bitch but even he isn’t as wily as he’d like to think.

    With love, the connotations of sacrifice and commitment are never far behind and while we were able to take a breather on Sean and Julia’s marital woes, the breathing period is over when Julia discovers she’s pregnant and Sean (not surprisingly enough) is more enthusiastic about it than she is. Although Matt rightly confronts her and she denies it, a part of Julia regretted allowing her pregnancies hindering her from pursuing her dreams but this time things were actually going to be different. Sean was serious about taking a paternity leave so she could still get her doctor’s degree and Julia, consciously or not was scared of being trapped and ignored her doctor’s advice and put herself at risk. The tag team of Lyn Greene and Robert Levine took a rather unconventional but totally natural exploration of a miscarriage. Both Sean and Julia were upset over their loss for different and common reasons and despite her steely resolve, I didn’t find Julia’s nonchalance all that callous even though when it comes to these two, I always tend to side with Sean more than Julia but that’s just me. Still though, great subtle performances from Dylan Walsh and Joely Richardson though.

    Also in “Kurt Dempsey”

    Main patient of the week: Kurt Dempsey wanted to be turned Japanese in order to please his xenophobic in-laws. The surgery went well but the mother in-law didn’t buy it, although she still accepted him.

    Was it me or did all the “Previously On” parts allude strictly to Christian? Is this first time for the show?

    Jude: “So what are you going to do with all that beauty and brains?”

    Julia: “I don’t know, pass them onto my offspring”.

    Christian (re tattoos): “Double dykes?”

    Liz: “I’m expressing my lesbian identity”.

    I really love the banter between Liz and Christian in this episode and if I’m not mistaken we had a moment when it was clearly acknowledged they respected each other’s work.

    Sean (re parenting): “I’ll do better this time. People change”

    Christian: “Faces change, Sean. And asses and thighs, but people? Do you think that guy’s gonna look any more Japanese because we make him look Asian? We are who are”.

    Other patients of the week included a man wanting a body size tattoo of his ex-lover removed and a surgery obsessed woman who forced her loving husband to break her nose, keeping to the episode “love is complex” theme.

    Gina: “So how does it go? Girl meets surgeon, surgeon bangs girl. Surgeon has a great excuse to leave before dawn? Am I close?”

    Christian: “We go to my place and I give her cab-fare”.

    Once again, there was no actual continuity or much referencing from the previous episode.

    Grace (re malpractice): “As a matter of fact, I haven’t”

    Christian: “Of course. That would be silly. That’s like suing a witchdoctor for a spell that didn’t work”.

    Standout music – “Love Fool” by the Cardigans and “Gimme, Gimme” by Tosca.

    How bloody cool was this? After four pretty satisfying episodes, “Kurt Dempsey” managed to produce something above the norm of the series so far and delivered a rather insightful hour. Love is an ever-recurring theme and this episode’s clever use of analogy and juxtapositions of plots make this into a blinding episode.

  • Suffers from trial and error elements common in early episodes. Summary in review.

    “You can be amazed what you can do if you want something enough.” These words spoken by the McNamara’s doctor during their ultrasound couldn’t better represent this episode. David smashed his wife’s nose with a hammer so she could get one more procedure. One of their patients covered his body with tattoos to show his love for his ex Latoya. Kurt underwent a procedure so his eyes would look like his Japanese fiancé's to get her xenophobic mother to approve. Julia had a miscarriage because she attended class against doctor’s orders so she could pass.

    David’s efforts to “ease [Ellie’s] pain” were the most disturbing, and I'm still not sure that their explanation was the truth. It seems too dark for love, but love does make people do crazy things for it. His affection for her during their consultation looked genuine. Grace’s is probably right that couples that are willing to share their darkest parts to each other can be capable of things most of us can’t understand.

    Julia’s pregnancy comes at another inopportune time. Her first time with Matt made her drop out of school to be a stay at home mom. Being a mom gave her an excuse to put off doing what she wanted. Then she had Annie, which renewed it. She’s in denial about it, comforted by Sean’s promise to be a more active father, but Matt makes her see that the baby is another excuse. Did she ever want it? She risks the baby so she can pass the class and ultimately miscarries. Unfortunately, she didn’t talk about this with Sean. Such passive aggressive measures are careless and selfish, especially knowing the risk involved in heavy activity that her doctor told her.

    Kurt’s procedure is worthy of debate. I have heard of procedures for Asian people to make their eyes look “European”, but I never seen it the other way. While it’ll get Kurt in, how will he explain his family? They must’ve not thought long about this. Making him appear as a minority also has ethical consequences as Liz mentioned. Although he is doing it to get her mother’s approval, not to receive any special treatment, he is still changing his face to resemble a minority.

    Most of this episode’s plot focuses on Christian’s lifestyle. Even this early in the series Christian’s womanizing was one of his dominant traits. He’s with a different woman each episode, sometimes more than one. In this episode, he has sex with three women. So Grace suggesting he go to sex therapy to handle his addiction isn’t too soon. Plus, it provides the venue to introduce Gina, who’ll be a great foil to Christian throughout the series.

    Christian is often cruel with his sex partners. One night stands are common, and he discards most of them without a second thought. The closest he gets to intimacy is getting business out of them. Gina is payback for those countless women. They encounter each other at the Sexaholics Anonymous meeting. While Gina devoutly follows the lifestyle of recovery, Christian goes more to forget about one woman who propositioned him in a bar. His experience doesn’t convince him, and he is able to persuade her to spend the night, an experience that she regrets. Humans are “a walking pile of ashes” to Christian, so he spends his life pursuing pleasure instead of seeing it as a problem. Gina resents this callous nature of the philosophy she had been living by for eight months prior. Her appearance in this episode is a prologue to the vengeance she wreaks on Christian.

    It was clear that Christian and Grace would sleep together since there was tension from when they first met. In retrospect, this was the only thing Grace’s character had to do. After their affair subsided, she was hardly seen on Nip/Tuck and not mentioned during the second season. This could be simply because of something behind the scenes or the producers felt she, like Christian’s friends in the beginning, was detracting from the major drama of the McNamaras and Christian.

    This scene with Christian and the two other middle aged men seems to be a typical experiment in trial and error of a new series. Early in many shows runs, characters, storylines and actors are switched or written out to enhance the long term show. Christian womanizing alone better represents loneliness and his quest for someone who will make him feel what he does towards Julia. This feels more like a male Sex and the City. Luckily, they scrapped this.

    Their encounter is much tenderer than the previous liaisons he’s had on the show. There isn’t loud music and the lovers take it slow instead of rapid thrusts and frantic gestures. Oddly enough, Grace gets up and leaves without looking at Christian. Juxtapose this against the earlier scene with Gina and we can see how both genders use sex to get what they want. Grace and Christian aren’t different in this regard. Both characters mentioned they were “absolutely exhaust[ed]” looking for someone, but Christian wasn’t serious. Grace wants to avoid feeling miserable about being a thirty something single woman, even for a few moments. This characterization could’ve been interesting to explore further had the season not been packed with other storylines.

    Unlike Sean and Julia, the other relationships (aside from Latoya’s ex) seem to work because of the heavy sacrifice they make for the other. While her xenophobia may still exist, Leigh’s mom accepts Kurt because of what he was willing to do. Similarly is David, who was willing to do what it took to make his wife happy, even if it meant hurting her to do it. Julia wasn’t willing to put her dreams aside, nor tell Sean her feelings about it. So the rift grows, which provides the stage for the rest of the season.

    This is another good episode, marred only by some failed experiments common in the first batch of episodes. Christian’s womanizing is given the focus. Along with Gina’s introduction, this will set the tone for his story. Grace and Christian sleeping together was predictable and the consequences were small. But things are starting to move towards what is to come.moreless
Gabrielle Carteris

Gabrielle Carteris

Ellie Collins

Guest Star

John Marshall Jones

John Marshall Jones


Guest Star

Stephanie Léon

Stephanie Léon

Heidi Hollstrasser

Guest Star

Roma Maffia

Roma Maffia

Dr. Liz Winters

Recurring Role

Jessalyn Gilsig

Jessalyn Gilsig

Gina Russo

Recurring Role

Phillip Rhys

Phillip Rhys

Jude Sawyer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Featured Music:

      "The La La Song" by Benny Cassette (Christian at bar)
      "Detail In Grun" by Turismo (Christian at bar/former patient Shelly Edwards offers herself and her daughter in exchange for more surgery)
      "Lovefool" by The Cardigans (Kurt Dempsey's surgery/Grace walks in on Christian)
      "Gimmi Gimmi" by Tosca (Christian/Grace at bar together)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Julia: For God´s sake, Sean. Do you think I took the midterm hoping I´d miscarry?
      Sean: You knew the risks.
      Julia: You´re not the only one who´s lost a baby, Sean.
      Sean: But I was the only one who wanted one.

    • Liz: Does any one here besides me think there's anything morally reprehensible about a white man trying to pass himself off as a victim of the American racial hierarchy?
      Christian: Sean, tell her to stop using all those big words around me.

    • Christian: Can I buy you another drink?
      Grace: Now that, Dr. Troy, would be pointless. Seeing as you're the reason I'm drinking.

    • Christian: Dr. Santiago, have you ever been sued for malpractice?
      Grace: As a matter of fact, I haven't.
      Christian: Of course not. That would be silly. That's like suing a witch doctor for a spell that didn't work.

    • Christian: Don't take this the wrong way but you haven't exactly been superdad.
      Sean: I'll do better this time. People change.
      Christian: Faces change, Sean. And asses and thighs, but people? Do you think that guy's gonna be any more Japanese because we make him look Asian. We are who we are.

    • Victor: I feel sorry for you, man. Obviously, you've never been in love.
      Christian: Sure I have. Its that beautiful moment between meeting the women of your dreams and seeing her stretch marks.

  • NOTES (10)