Brian Tee has officially checked back into Chicago Med, and the show is much better off.
Wednesday’s episode “Just As A Snake Sheds Its Skin” is Dr. Ethan Choi’s first full episode back on duty, after Tee’s character was reintroduced to the NBC drama last week. It was a bold move from the writing team to keep Choi off-screen for the first six Chicago Med season 7 episodes; any time a series regular is gone for more than an installment it’s always a gamble. And particularly in Tee’s case, it was noticeable.
Much like the character he plays, the actor provides a calm and stabilizing presence on Chicago Med. He’s always reliable and his even keel is a great foil for co-stars with more aggressive characters to play off of. We saw that in Choi’s romance with April Sexton (former series regular Yaya DaCosta); April was always outspoken, usually making some pretty proactive choices, and she was balanced out well by Choi’s level head and steady approach. Without Choi, Chicago Med‘s ED has been full of Type A personalities without a leader, or at least someone who can contrast them.
Steven Weber‘s Dr. Dean Archer has been a great replacement from an entertainment standpoint but no one would ever accuse Archer of being quiet. He’s as opinionated and sarcastic as just about everyone else. The return of Tee means that we’ll get back to the dynamic between Choi and Archer, which is Chicago Med‘s best dynamic at the moment. The two actors play extraordinarily well off each other and Choi is the only person who is able to see a more vulnerable side of Archer.
As a friend Dean is glad to have him back, but for right now he’s still Ethan’s boss, and that’s not going to be without its problems. We’ve already seen that in the previous episode where Dean had his concerns about Choi’s performance. Plus, when Choi heals up enough to become head of the ED again, is Archer just going to quietly give him his job back? Or could we see a little power struggle?
Which leads to the third reason Brian Tee’s return is such great news for Chicago Med. It shows that the series is committed to a long-term recovery storyline. There was a big missed opportunity when the writers had to skip over all but one scene of Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt) in recovery after his shooting; it made a big problem feel not so big at all for viewers. With Choi being shot by a former patient, too, we now have the chance to dig into what that recovery really looks like. Perhaps even moreso because Choi’s physicality is important for his job.
There have been lots of traumas over six-plus seasons of this show but many of them aren’t explored for more than an episode or two, either because of TV constraints or because the series moves on to its next big idea a little too soon. Choi’s storyline is fantastic because so far it’s not rushing him back. He’s not going to be okay in a week or two. The audience gets to see the toll his shooting has taken on him, which is much more powerful than assuming it. He’ll be back to his old self before the end of season 7 but there’s meaning in the journey, and a lot that Brian Tee and Steven Weber can accomplish along the way.
The first step was bringing Choi back onto the show and now that he’s here, we can start to get excited about the new possibilities for the character, and everything that the actor is going to do this season.
Chicago Med airs Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.