Last week, Dr. Lola Spratt returned to Childrens Hospital after a lengthy absence, only highlighting the obvious fact that the show is sometimes forced to make decisions based on who is available. “We Are Not Our DNA” really focuses on that fact, even ending the episode with a list of characters we haven’t seen in quite some time, yet it’s also a great opportunity to let some of the “lower tier” characters get a chance to shine.
This week, Dr. Gene, a geneticist who has heard all the jokes about his name, and is played by Josh Malina, gives the crew a test to see if they are genetically predisposed to malpractice—a premise I’ll go with. The results naturally shake up the entire hospital, or at least the cast members who are here this week. Blake and Valerie discover that they are actually siblings, which makes them even more attracted to each other. Lola finds out she has liver failure and Nurse Dori discovers she has a liver surplus, but also a deficiency in generosity. Sy is told that he’s actually Neil Armstrong, which makes sense since he has so many memories of the moon, and janitor Chet is told he’s going to die in just a few days, which really messes up his calendar.
While “We Are Not Our DNA” does have a large portion of the cast missing, it does give us an opportunity to get more of Nurse Dori and Chet—two characters that are usually relegated to the background. Lola’s attempt to trick Dori into surgery shows a great dynamic between those two, but Chet is sort of left out with not much to do, other than make some calls and reconfigure his calendar around his death. I think this season already has found some fun uses for Zandy Hartig as Dori, but I’d love to see more chances for Brian Huskey’s Chet to be the star.
Blake and Valerie always have a great dynamic. Watching them run around as siblings who can’t keep their hands off each other is strange, but works really well with Malin Akerman and Rob Corddry. Even though he also doesn’t have much to do other than run around and spout facts about the moon, it is fantastic to see Henry Winkler’s dedication to thinking that he’s Armstrong and that he’ll never go again.
Of course by the end, none of it really matters. Dr. Gene got the Childrens Hospital results mixed up with another group of doctors…and Neil Armstrong. They also find this out only moments after Dori finally allows Lola to have her liver so…whoops. Turns out Gene’s results also say he has a 100% genetically explainable proclivity to stupidity and that everyone’s real results show they are genetically 100% selfish.
As Blake lists all the people who weren’t in the episode that didn’t learn this week’s lesson, it’s easy to miss the great cast that we’re not getting to see as often as we used to. Yet I can’t imagine “We Are Not Our DNA” benefitting from having even more plot crammed into the tiny episode. This week’s episode is fun, but not overstuffed, and at least we do get to see more of the characters that are usually relegated to the background for once.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.