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Off the Map – Recap & Review – Smile. Don’t Kill Anyone

photo: abc
Off the Map
Smile. Don’t Kill Anyone

Original Air Date: Jan 19, 2011

Meg – Staff Writer
meg@thetwocentscorp.com

I was hoping Off the Map’s second episode would help me feel a bit more decided on the show. Instead, I’m still pretty much where I stood last week—the actors are (mostly) talented and the jungle is very pretty, but the writing is still just terrible (seriously—I’m getting cringe wrinkles).

This week, the newbies are adjusting to life at the clinic. Tommy is doing well enough, screwing lusty anonymous foreigners in the communal shower. Mina continues to care for the chicken she was gifted last episode. She’s named it Deborah. Aww. And Lily is still carrying around her cell phone. In the jungle. She claims that there’s stuff on her phone that she doesn’t want to lose. Okay, well, glad you took it to the Amazon, then, where no harm is sure to come to it… (also, p.s. it’s called a USB port. Look into it).

Worst Pickup Lines Ever
At the top of the episode we have two crimes against flirtation. First, Otis tries to cozy up to Nurse Zee, but she demurs because it wouldn’t be professional (nobody told her this was a Shonda Rhimes show). Otis actually has the audacity to say “you know you want a piece of this beautiful American ass.” Wow. Just—wow. I mean, yes, Jason George is pretty, but not even he can sell that line.

Moments later, Tommy, Mina, and Lily stumble upon a waterfall where Ryan (Rachelle LeFevre) is skinny-dipping. She introduces herself to the new doctors. Tommy grins and says “wow, your hand is so wet.” He says to the woman who just got out of the water. What is wrong with these people?!

But I digress, because our clinic newbies have cases (that again miraculously correspond with their massive personal issues).

The Big Squeeze – Lily’s Case
Ben (who seems to have remembered his accent) takes Lily to help with a snake case. They meet up Chloe, a distressed woman who leads them to her injured partner, while over-sharing about their relationship the entire way. Why does everyone do this? Is the entire jungle drinking TMI juice?

Chloe’s partner is Brian who is caught in what I can only describe as a lethal hug with an anaconda (no, not that one). Ew!

Ben asks the guy where he’s hurt. Brian is all, “uh… I don’t know maybe where the giant creature is wrapped around me, crushing me to death?” Ben realizes that Brian’s bones have been crushed and that if they remove the snake, he’ll die instantly. “Sorry mate,” he says, “the snake stays.” I imagine a future reality series pitch: “Snakebelt: The Series”

The gang tries to ford a river (it’s like Oregon Trail has an Amazonian expansion pack!). Mid-way across, Brian starts screaming (to be fair, that probably would have been my first move) and Lily gets a snake bite. Back at the clinic, Brian starts bleeding out from a wound caused by the engagement ring in his pocket. Barf. He proposes to Chloe and gives a speech that’s a little too on the nose, essentially: “Routines are lame. Cool people are spontaneous!” Lily has A Realization and shouts “this isn’t the ER—this is the jungle!”

After Lily remembers that she has a giant snake bite in her arm, Ben helps her pick the teeth out with pliers (how… romantic?). They chat about her cell phone and how she keeps it to look at a message (“Smile. Don’t Kill Anyone” – episode title shout-out!) sent by her fiancé minutes before he was hit by a car. Ben clearly misses the line where he’s supposed to say something like “oh, man, that sucks” or “gee, sorry to hear it.” He bounces for the tiki bar, which is mysteriously better-stocked than the clinic.

Now embracing jungle spontaneity, Lily throws away her cell phone and goes swimming in the waterfall. She loses her towel and ends up naked in front of Ben. Ben grabs the towel as Lily cowers behind a modesty ficus. They joke about how he just saw her naked, and I think it’s supposed to be sweet and playful, but because of the way Ben says “ooh yeah, I saw it all!” it actually comes across as kind of creepy and disturbing.

Learn Some Spanish Already – Mina’s Case
Mina and Ryan partner up on a house call. Ryan is kind enough to translate for Mina, and advises her to try speaking a bit of Spanish every day to help learn faster. She shares that she learned it because she grew up overseas with missionary parents. Ryan asks Mina where she’s from. Apparently she’s from Bitchville, because she overreacts to the nth degree and tells Ryan she prefers to work alone.

At the house, Mina diagnoses a young woman with pneumonia and crap lungs (is that a technical term?). Mina says she wishes they had a steam tent. Ryan says “ask and you shall receive” (hmmm—would that work for me if I asked for a better show?). Ryan fashions a steam tent, telling Mina she learned the technique doing aid work in Kenya. Forgetting that this is part of the lame credentials dance that expats do when they meet each other, Mina snarks “yes, you’ve done so many amazing things and you talk about them all the time.”

The woman is saved, but her brother croaks. Ryan is unable to resuscitate him by yelling in his face. Mina is a complete jerk about everything and only slightly endears herself to me later by asking to help out with a gross needle insertion, with the line “I can do it—in med school they called me The Sadist!”

Tommy’s Case – Demons in the Crapper
After last week’s debacle, Tommy tries to make nice with Otis and ends up with the assignment of building a latrine to help a community avoid contaminating their water supply.

Tommy accomplishes this task by following the paths of many industrious men before him—outsourcing and child labor! Charlie digs the latrine hole while Tommy stands around being a different kind of hole (hint: starts with “a”). Two feet away from the latrine dig site is a lagoon (which, yes, begs the question of why they’re digging two feet away from a swimming hole if they want to avoid contaminating the water). Tommy spies an attractive young girl, but before he can yell “Wanna build a bathroom?” the girl has a seizure and falls into the water. Everyone runs away, including Charlie. The girl is rewarded for her near-drowning with mouth-to-mouth from the Tomster.

Back at the clinic, we learn the girl is Sofia and that people are afraid of her because she has a scar on her chin. A scar that I’m pretty sure the makeup artist forgot to apply in her first scene, because I don’t see it (although I’m not watching in HD). Tommy explains to Sofia’s mom that her daughter has epilepsy and needs to take certain pills. The local curandero believes the seizures are demons that got inside Sofia via her scar (that explains a lot about this guy).

Tommy is rude and condescending, earning him another smackdown from Otis, who is mad that the clinic’s relationship with the local curandero is jeopardized. Otis makes nice with the curandero and persuades him to give Sofia the epilepsy pills as part of a healing ceremony (unfortunately, this conversation—which could have been interesting—happens off-screen).

Tommy ends up saving the day by using his plastic surgery experience to remove all traces of Sofia’s scar. Since Tommy is trying to “teach Charlie medicine,” he tells Charlie to cut the sutures. Sofia’s all, “yeah, could you get the 13-year old with scissors out of my face, please?”

I’ll stick around for another week or two, but I really hope to see some improvement in the writing. The series is massively violating the “show, don’t tell rule” and suffering from a case of chronic cliché syndrome. What did you think of the episode? Will you be watching next week? Leave some comments and let me know your two cents.

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