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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Royal Pains — “After The Fireworks”

Illustration for article titled Royal Pains — “After The Fireworks”

When we left the Hamptons in February, Divya had sold her share of the HankMed business to Evan, Evan had used his controlling share to dictate to Hank, and Hank had quit the business. With no HankMed, is there a show? Well, of course there’s still a HankMed—at least through the weekend, while HarborFest is on and HankMed is needed to supervise a lobster-roll-eating contest. After that, Evan is totally hiring other doctors not named Hank to take over the medical part of the business while he concentrates on his core competencies of handing out promotional hand sanitizer. Hank is totally going independent. And Jill is off to Uruguay as soon as she packs up her office at Hamptons Heritage.


Or at least that’s the plan! And we all know that plans on soapy USA Network dramas never go astray. I confess that I thought Hank and Evan would patch up their differences by the end of tonight’s season-four première, allowing us to get back to concierge medicine and the convertible lifestyle we’ve come to know and love. But the serialized elements of this season are apparently going to dominate, at least early on. Divya learns that her shares of the business were a precipitating factor in the brothers’ falling out and takes out a loan to buy them back before hosting a dinner to shame the bickering Lawsons out of their quarrel. Alas, Hank still believes Evan puts profit over patients, Evan still resents that Hank doesn’t appreciate his CFO innovations, and the rift deepens when Evan calls Hank a quitter like their dad.

So the early drama this season is going to be Hank and Evan, business competitors. While laying the groundwork for that storyline—Evan interviews potential doctors, Hank is working with Jill to set up his own practice—the case(s) of the week involve the trendy world of competitive eating. Rosie, a professional eater, gets treated by Divya for gastrointestinal symptoms while training, and Ernie (Jill’s brother, as played by Donal Logue!), plans to enter the lobster-roll-eating contest in order to uphold the honor of the local establishments against the insidious encroachment of outsiders, chains, and professionals like Rosie. For every eye-rolling instance of naïveté on the part of the patients (when Divya tells Rosie that professional eaters can suffer from problems with their blood glucose levels, she acts as if she’s never heard the term “blood glucose” before, making her the most irresponsible professional competitive eater ever), there’s a scene with Logue, which prompts pleasant memories of Terriers.

Hank treats Ernie for headaches and forgetfulness, determining that it’s due to the excessive water he’s drinking to stretch his stomach in preparation for the contest. Surprisingly, this diagnosis isn’t later supplemented by some other rare underlying problem that can be solved by Hank with a syringe improvised out of a ballpoint pen. But don’t despair: Word is that Logue will be back, so maybe he’s still sick somewhere under that beard and scraggly hair. Rosie gets the sexy diagnostic switcheroo when Divya has an epiphany thanks to Evan’s emcee spiel at the eating contest; for a girl from Grand Rapids, Rosie sure has a pronounced Eastern European accent. It's foreign-accent syndrome arising from some dealiebob in the carotid artery! She has to drop out of the contest, making Ernie the champion, but Hamptons Heritage will put her right.

There’s a cliffhanger when the HarborFest closing fireworks explode on the ground near where Evan is packing up his interviewing gear (having hired Dr. Paul Van Dyke from last season as well as the apparently autistic Dr. Jeremiah Sacani—the latter of whom is played by Ben Shenkman, providing comically detailed factual non sequiturs). Will a critical injury to Evan be enough to bring the brothers back together? Don’t count on it; remember that he just hired Ben Shenkman. This breakup is going to last a while.

But the biggest question this première leaves hanging is: Where is Campbell Scott? Wikipedia says that he’s “joined the main cast” this season, which should mean he will appear in more episodes. “After The Fireworks” teases us with Rosie’s neurologically induced accent, and we don’t get Scott’s Teutonic tones and regally furrowed brow? Whenever Campbell Scott isn’t in Royal Pains, all the other characters should be saying, “Where’s Campbell Scott?”

Add in the expectation that Donal Logue will be back for at least one additional episode, and we’ve got ourselves the slim possibility that Logue and Scott will share an epic squint-off. If that’s not enough to get you to watch Royal Pains, there’s no hope for you.

Stray observations:

  • We’re also going to see more of Ernie’s son (and Jill’s nephew) Luke, the nerdy and enthusiastic youngster played by Timothée Chalamet, who appeared in the last two episodes of season three.
  • Corporate synergy alert! Bravo’s Top Chef serendipitously buys a booth at Harbor Fest so that season-nine winner Paul Qui can wow the Hamptons with his Asian-inspired Texas cuisine. (USA and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family of networks.)
  • Another eye-rolling moment of naïveté: It comes as quite a surprise to Evan that patients don’t just want HankMed treating them, but Hank himself.
  • Divya basically tells Rosie that she is a champion competitive eater because she is a genetic freak, with minimal collagen in her skin making her stomach unusually expandable. Am I wrong, or would a professional athlete not be thrilled to hear that their success is due less to skill or training than to dumb luck?
  • Raj’s new blonde wife is pregnant. Start the countdown clock for when Divya will be called upon to treat some rare pregnancy complication!
  • Evan has HankMed-branded, flavored antacids to distribute: “Grape and cherry—taste like childhood, really!”
  • Add to the list of immortal lines spoken by Donal Logue: “HarborFest isn’t going to wait for intercranial pressure.”