ABC's Private Practice has had its good runs, and its bad. Sometimes the show has been downright hard to watch, while at others it has shined like the intensely engaging drama that it can be. Last night, an episode aired that was one of the best they've ever done. It was called "Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?" It was disturbing, intense, tragic, and moving, all rolled into one.
The episode centered around the immediate aftermath of the attack on Charlotte (KaDee Strickland), seen briefly in flashes at the end of last week. Peter (Tim Daly) sees Charlotte stumble down a hall, badly beaten up and covered in blood. Charlotte tells him that she was robbed, and manages to keep most of the hospital staff away, secluding herself in a room with Pete and one trusted nurse. As soon as Peter steps out to notify all of their fellow doctors at Oceanside Wellness, Charlotte calls Addison (Kate Walsh). Addison is the only one that actually finds out that Charlotte was raped, as Charlotte refuses a rape kit, won't tell the police, and swears Addison to secrecy, against Addison's protests. In Charlotte's vulnerable state, the other doctor cannot bring herself to deny the demand.
It's incredibly frustrating, because the rapist, Lee (Nicholas Brendon), is sitting down at police headquarters, but can't be held because no one has brought charges against him. If only Charlotte would agree to the rape kit, the evidence to get Lee off the streets would be there, and justice might be served. Clearly, this story is far from over. Next week's preview showed Addison trying very hard to keep the dark secret, and Charlotte still suffering.
The hour had plenty of gut-wrenching moments. From Charlotte receiving stitches with no pain killer (she is in Narcotics Anonymous and allergic to the local anesthetics), to her fiance, Cooper's (Paul Adelstein) first glimpse of her. He sits by her side, trying (and failing) to be brave, not even realizing just how deep Charlotte's trauma goes. Addison's reactions to her fellow doctors are telling, as clearly she is beyond frustrated with the situation, and just wants to help. Yet, she can't.
The rape itself was handled delicately. Viewers got a bit more than the flashes they saw last week, but it was still just quick glimpses. What we did see was disturbing, violent, and scary. I'm not saying rape ever gets glamorized, but it was surprising to me just how brutal the attack was. What was shown was more than enough to convey what happened, so it's good it was left at that. Congratulations to the cast and crew who pulled off such a horrible event in a way that focused on the emotion, and did not show unnecessary brutality. It still conveyed the point, but it was done in such a way that was as classy as possible in the situation. Basically, no violence for violence's sake. Only what was needed for the medium to continue an incredibly moving, dare I say important, story.