Season 8, Episode 155: MY ABCs
J.D., Turk, Elliot, and Dr. Cox struggle with their new interns who are taking their first baby steps as doctors. J.D. fantasizes that the halls of Sacred Heart are overrun with Sesame Street characters, who help him to teach his new interns the basics.
Dr. Cox is doing rounds with the interns and is unsurprisingly annoyed by them. As he grills Katie for giving a wrong answer, Ed–a relaxed, brainy intern–steps in and shows Dr. Cox what he’s got. As it turns out, Ed knows everything and Cox can’t stump him. Ed coins the term "Zwah!", which is what you say when you show someone up. Cox begins to wonder what it is he hates about Ed and calls upon the Janitor for insight, arguing that the Janitor and he are kindred spirits in the sense that they generally hate people. Kelso proposes that perhaps Cox hates Ed because he really hates himself.
Elsewhere, J.D., Turk, and Elliot begin to wonder which intern they’ll be taking under their wing. Elliot chooses Katie, a reformed egoist who has learned to swallow her pride and do her work humbly. Elliot sees ambition and kindness in Katie, not to mention similar hair. Katie confesses to Elliot that she wants Dr. Turk to select her as the intern to assist him in publishing a paper. When Turk chooses Ed over Katie, Elliot pulls a few strings to get him to change his mind. J.D. settles o the hard-ass hottie Denise, who seems unable to empathize with her patients. Before J.D. gets to know Denise he tells her to be herself. The words are barely out of his mouth when he is made to regret them. He also begins to visualize Sesame Street characters dressed as both doctors and patients, and tries to take a lesson from them.
Turk enjoys an episode of Sesame Street with his daughter, Izzy, who has recentl taken her first poop in a toilet. He braggingly shows J.D. a picture of it on his cell phone, which is then accidentally forwarded to everybody at Sacred Heart. J.D. explains to Denise that their patient, Jack Freemont, is going to die from lung cancer. "He won’t last long," J.D. admits. Denise coldly responds: "Sucks to be him…"
Facts of Life
J.D. has decided to call Denise "Joe" because she reminds him of the sidekick from Facts of Life. He tries to get her feet wet by making her responsible for delivering the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order to Freemont’s hopeful wife. J.D. is confident that delivering such harsh news would be a good challenge for anyone, but is surprised to find that Joe is quite fit for this task. Joe tells Mrs. Freemont that it would be pointless to put Jack on life-support because it would simply drag out a long, painful process with only one inevitable ending. Mrs. Freemont asks J.D. what she should do, and he replies that the best thing would be to get her son and bring him over to say goodbye to his dad.
Turk gives Katie the opportunity to help him write his paper, but lets Elliot know that he thinks Katie exploited Elliot’s friendship with Turk to get this opportunity. Elliot denies this, certain that Katie and her are friends. Cox realizes that he hates Ed because although the kid is brilliant, he doesn’t have to earn his knowledge and will only do what is required of him to keep himself just a little bit better than everyone else, when he can be SO much better. Cox tells Ed that he does not like him because he is lazy, and assures Ed that he will be there to let him know when everyone else is better than him.
So much to learn
The episode ends on a downer with all three interns dissapointing their mentors. Ed is skipping out on an important seminar to grab some Pizz-izza! Katie is confessing to another intern that she has "Dr. Elliot wrapped around [her] finger", and when Denise finds J.D. crying at Freemont’s empty bed, all she can say is, "Yeah, you were right: he didn’t last long at all."
This episode introduces some new characters to the series even though most everything else at Sacred Heart has remained the same. Dr. Cox is still annoyed by the newbies, Kelso is still a prick, the Janitor still has it in for J.D., and patients are still either sick and getting better or sick and dying. And no mattter how old you are, you can always take a lesson from Sesame Street.
What I enjoyed most about this episode were the (not so subtle) metaphors. To begin with, the title: My ABCs is a reference to the very first thing we learn when we begin our education: the ABCs. They are the basic tools we need in order to do anything in life. In much the same way the interns are learning the basics about being doctors. J.D.’s intern is learning (very slowly) what it means to be empathetic with her patient’s, while Turk’s intern, Ed, is given a lesson on humility by Dr. Cox.
Ironically, J.D. and Elliot come to realize that perhaps they too have much to learn. J.D.’s intern teaches him that perhaps indifference is a coping method, and Elliot learns that her blind trust in others may be a way by which she gets taken advantage of. Either way, J.D. and Elliot are certainly getting a lesson in what it means to be teachers, and perhaps they can finally understand why Dr. Cox has always been so hard on them. I think it’s interesting that the doctors pick interns which represent their opposites. J.D. is passive and sensitive, but Denise is aggressive and indifferent. He even picks her a nickname from a show called Facts of Life, because it seems that is all she is able to deliver: facts. While Elliot is trusting and open, her intern is deceitful and manipulative. And when Cox is finally given an intern who has all the right answers, he hates the kid because for Cox it’s not about the right answers, it’s about how hard you’ll work to get them. As a matter of fact, Cox spends this entire episode searching for an answer to why he hates Ed, which shows how his character differs from Ed’s. Ed would have either known the answer immediately, or not cared if he didn’t.
The episode ends by showing that despite their best efforts to educate their interns, Elliot, J.D., and Dr. Cox have failed to change the things which will bring about their ruin.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler