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TV Review: Hawthorne – “For Better or Worse”

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TNT’s Hawthorne begins season three tonight with “For Better or Worse.” Christina (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Tom (Michael Vartan) barely get through their “I do’s” before having to rush off to work because of a neighbor’s car wreck. At the end of the day, Christina is beat up badly in the parking lot. Tom convinces Brenda (Anne Ramsay) to do multiple risky procedures to try to save their baby, though Cat (Lauren Velez, Dexter) refuses. The baby dies anyway, and Christina insists on pushing it out, rather than having it removed. Nick (Marc Anthony, now a series regular) hunts, and eventually finds, her attacker. With Christina down, Morrissey (James Morrison) immediately and permanently replaces her as CNO with Bobbie (Suleka Mathew). After learning Bobbie has accepted the position, Steve (Adam Rayner) decides not to propose to her, as he has planned on doing. Candy (Christina Moore) returns to the hospital and delivers her own baby.

Given that Hawthorne begins as a standard procedural, there is no reason to watch the beginning of the series. This episode, however, is excellent, and if it representative of what the show has become, then Hawthorne deserves another chance. The story may be somewhat self contained, but also plays on larger arcs about relationships and pregnancies. There is a real focus on the characters and their various bonds rather than on a case of the week. With the slew of medical series currently on the air, this is the way to distinguish a show from its peers.

While Smith is perhaps not the best actress around, especially in the scene where she silently pushes out her dead baby, she is surrounded by a number of wonderful actors who will make viewers mostly forget her shortcomings, at least for this episode. Keeping her confined to a hospital bed likely helps. It remains to be seen whether being at the center of such a huge loss, speaking of the baby, will find Smith up to the task or not. Vartan, too, shows the limited range he demonstrates on Alias, but to his credit, it seems more a part of his character, rather than bad acting.

The contrast between Christina and Candy is nicely played, milking emotional impact out of both births, which happen very differently, but at the same time. Candy choosing to name her baby after Christina also slightly dampens the pure grief that comes with losing a child so early. While much of this episode focuses on death, the new life helps brighten the mood, though not in a stereotypical, cheesy way.

As for Steve and Bobbie, it’s hard not to dwell on whether or not their relationship can weather such a disloyal move by Bobby. Morrissey’s decision to choose a new CNO is understandable from a business perspective, though making it a permanent decision seems unduly harsh. Bobbie only accepts to keep the job from someone else. Perhaps she thinks she can give it back to Christina when the time is right, though others would not. Yet, it’s easy to see why Steve interprets Bobbie’s actions as blatant betrayal against a close friend. Will Steve come around to her way of thinking, or will they be soon splitting up?

Hawthorne airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • Rosa

    I enjoyed the episode. Effective in that it makes you want to see what will happen next. Jad Pinkett’s superwoman character can be too much but generably the characters are likable and interesting.

  • priscilla

    that was the worst show .. I can’t believe it has been on tnis long, JAD IS SUPPOSE TO BE A NURSE!!! I can’t believe she can’t get a clean bandage… she was visiting a new baby with blood all over her. sad example for nueses everwhere.

  • starry118

    That was THE BEST episode I’ve seen of any show in a long while- if it is any indication, Hawthorne may finally be getting it’s rhythm. Bringing Marc Anthony on as a regular was a great decision, as his character gives the show a different edge- his scene at the end clinched the episode. The addition of guest stars Derek Luke and Gina Torres confirms this season of Hawthorne is definitely “must-watch” TV.

  • Guesswho23

    This show was HOT. Besides JADA is the best @ it. She clearly shows her acting skills over and over again. ***check her resume*** This show is positive and meaningful. Its not bringing down no race or gender. It show young people that you can make money with out always showing off your body and no matter where you work hospital, fast food WHERE EVER you can still help touch others lives. I hope they be bless with many many more seasons :)

  • starry118

    I also wanted to comment on Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michael Vartan, and the rest of the cast: they have made these characters interesting and engaging, and have had me coming back for more since the show started. I look forward to the great performances they’ll return this season, and in those following. (PS. I hope they bring Ray back.)

  • KDavis

    I’m pretty sure if you knew a bit more about the craft of television writing, you’d understand that Jada Pinkett Smith’s “silent” acting while pushing out her dead baby was to provide contrast to Candy’s birth. It was pitch perfect.

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    KDavis – I understand what they were going for with the silent birth. I just didn’t believe it at all, which took me out of the moment.

    I maintain this is an excellent episode that made me want to start watching again a show I had given up on. But Smith is the weak link.

  • sam

    was marc anthony the one who beat her. why did he give her the ring at the end

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    He’s a cop. I believe he gave her the ring because they caught the guy that did it. That’s why he told her a name.

  • Kathyjean

    I usually enjoy HawthoRNe but I can’t believe they crammed that much into 1 eposide. The wedding wasn’t shown in its entirety. Then the writers used the tree trimmers dropping a huge tree branch on a family in their minivan to create a reason for Jada to go back to the hospital. At the accident scene one second – next at the hospital. Skipping details – felt as though they were rushing to cram 2 hours into 1. Next she’s attacked in the parking garage. Did we really need the screaming woman giving birth? Was that to show a dramatic contrast to Jada quietly pushing her dead baby from her body. And why were her hands so bandaged up yet no one removed her wedding ring – they wrapped her hands up but avoided covering her ring – was that so Marc Anthony would see it? Also, what’s with Anthony giving her the ring the perpetrator wore? He could have just told her they caught the guy without giving away his ring to the victim. And why would she want something that belonged to the person who attacked her. This episode had me shaking my head in disbelief.

  • http://lycos.com Bea K.

    It really doesn’t surprise me that Jada and Vartan get such negative stereotypical comments thrown at them, but I deeply applaud them for the work that they do, and for ignoring those comments by doing what they’ve wanted to do in their careers and plowing on just the same.
    I’ve watched this show since it first began, and I don’t intend to stop now, despite what anyone has to say. The scenes were dead on, even the heart wrenching one with her having to deliver her dead baby (check the boards of moms who had to do this, then come back to me about the way Jada chose to implement the scene?). I also understood the segment about the ‘ring’ and why it was done that way too.
    Keep doing what you’re doing Jada, Michael and crew. We’re with you ALL the way.

  • starry118

    I agree, the silent birth scene was realistic…Jada’s face showed the physical and emotional pain she was in as well as the resolve to birth their baby. It was heart wrenching…and the scene where she was paralyzed, while her baby died, had me in tears.

    In the “ring scene,” Marc Anthony’s character places the ring on a napkin in front of her. This was symbolic of him laying the criminal’s head on a platter. In terms of the writing, it was done for dramatic effect, which is fitting, since this is a drama. The character did this to put Christina’s mind at ease (inasmuch was possible in this situation) letting her know that this person would not be bothering her anymore (I actually wonder what he did to him…did he arrest him or take him out?). His following with “Sleep well” also indicated his intention (and gave me the chills). A perfect ending to a fantastic episode. Another thought: Nick’s success in avenging Christina by catching her attacker, and Tom’s failure in saving the baby, while also risking her life, is setting up the battle for Christina’s heart. Tom & Christina may be married now, but there’s definitely going to be a triangle going on this season- at least emotionally. Christina is already pulling away from Tom- compare the first scene of the episode and the last. She had a look of love and adoration for him in the beginning, but in that last scene, I saw resentment. We’re in for a ride this season, and I can’t wait!

  • Qweenjay96

    well i personaly think the show was very exciting. I just wished they would have shown us the attacker. My question is will Christina ever get over the trama and losing her baby at the same time?

  • sam

    I bet you Marc Anthony is the person who attacked her!!!!!!!!

  • sam

    and im already sick of franklin n B!t$h

  • starry118

    Correction to earlier post: Lauren Velez’ guest-starred, not Gina Torres.

  • Da Man

    I don’t think this new roll of Jada is playing is as positive as the first season. I like her as an actor, but I don’t like this new roll.She is promiscuous and unsure of what she wants

  • sage

    This last episode did it for me watching Christina is a whore and neglecting her daughter. No one in their right mine just married and lost a baby takes up with a strange family as she has. She don’t deserve her husband. She is not in love with Nick that is lust.

  • lynnmal

    I’m with sage…why does she have to play the slut puppy?

  • lynnmal

    Okay…let’s try it again. Bad decision producers and directors. I WAS in a “can’t wait to see what happens next” mode….but I like for my main characters to have some redeaming qualities…and cheating on your husband isn’t one of them. She didn’t HAVE to marry him if she wanted to be a whore! And WHY does the SISTER have to play that role!!!!?

  • bltigger2644

    I liked this serous in the past because it was light hearted for your usual drama. This season has really been very dark, and this last episode has really made me hate what they have done. It is just too much so soon, very dark feeling and with the whole making out with Detective Renata (Mark Anthony) and showing they end up sleeping together, or at least implied, just sick and I am really questioning any further watching. I am not enjoying watching this season.

  • SYLVIA BURRES

    I would love for the networks to do whats best for the fans. I would love to see Dr. Burke transfer from Greys to Hawthorne as Christina’s Ex! Greys hasn’t been the same without him. He is an incredibly yummy actor!! He dominates the screen.Hawthorne is getting better and better. The real movie actors makes it hard not to watch. Tom has to kiss, hugs, flirt with christina all the time for it to be believeable. They have to have at least two bedroom scenes a show in the nude. Their love has to be the center of the show. Thats why Marc anthony stole her. Tom and Christina have to have a on fire, passionate all the time love in front of the camera for us to be fo fight for their relationship. I. Washington our fallen heartthrob you are irreplaceable. I am a nurse. There are 2,909,357 licensed registered nurses in the United States WE LOVE THIS SHOW!!

  • karen wegner

    Last nights show was so BAD! I can’t watch anymore. This is like a bad soap opera.

  • Neasey

    Please wake up next season and say it was all a bad dream-PLEASE

  • Luvbabe2112

    I loved the first season and the second season of Hawthorne, but I do not know what happen in the last season, Jada Pinkett-Smith is a much better actor then that. Why would they let her get married cheat on her husband and then mess around with a police that didn’t respect her relationship of being married. The actor stop caring about her daughter, when her daughter was slap by that women because of her kid, Hawthorne would have been all over that women. They made Hawthorne a weak sleazy slut in the last part. And I know Jade Pinkett could have done better. I am very disappoint in the last season. This is why we cannot find a good man because the TV portrays us as sluts and we are not happy with a nice man that love us and treat us well. We want a tough guy that gives us a passionate moment for just 1 hour. Because I love Jada, if this every come back on. I request that you take this show back over and rebuild your reputation back and show them you can fall in love take care of your child, and run the heck out of the hospital