Outside the walls of Sacred Heart Bob Kelso and Perry Cox secretly share a beer while the old Chief of Medicine gives friendly advice to the new one. Inside the hospital, Dr. Cox learns what it means to be the new boss and burns a few bridges in the process.
If You Can Believe It…
Dr. Cox shows up at Kelso’s with a six pack and some light-hearted ball-busting ensues. Kelso gives Cox advice on how to handle the his new position as Chief of Medicine. Cox is adamant that he won’t end up being like Kelso: bound to his office all day. He also makes it clear that he wants no one to know that they have become friends. The next day, Cox admires his new office, and Ted can’t believe that he is actually allowed to sit on the couch. "Kelso always made me stand," Ted complains. When Carla asks if she’s allowed to enter, Cox assures her she is on the ‘Always Allowed To Enter’ list. This leads to a posting of who is allowed to enter and who is not on Cox’s door. As Carla turns to leave, Cox jumps up to go with her, but Ted enters with stacks of paper and the desk phone begins to ring. Cox is forced to stay and deal with the paperwork.
Battle Not With Monsters…
J.D. is treating a Mr. Vaughn for pneumonia. Vaughn is getting better, but J.D. wants to keep him around just in case his pneumonia relapses. Katie tells J.D. that Vaughn is getting the boot, and after erasing his name from the ‘Never, Never, Ever Allowed To Enter’ list, J.D. confronts Cox in his office about the decision. Cox won’t commit to letting Vaughn stay. Carla approaches Cox to talk about the nursing schedule because the other nurses are complaining to her about all the overtime they’ve been working. They hope to use her good relationship with Cox to get some new nurses hired. Ted reminds Cox of the board’s decision to tighten things up, so Cox refuses Carla’s request. Just as he hopes to escape his office, the phone begins to ring again. "This is Chief of Medicine," Cox coldly states when he answers the phone. Events are fast forwarded: people come through his office and go, while Cox sits there, in his office, with a hopelessly detached look on his face.
Lest You Become One
Later, Kelso shows up at Cox’s office wearing a white coat and takes a seat at his desk. Ted walks in, shrieks, and collapses to the floor. Kelso laughs and begins to give Cox some more advice. Kelso then approaches J.D. who is confused as to where he stands with Cox. Kelso tells J.D. that Cox has, in a way, become the person Kelso once was: "Cox has a voice that always says ‘no’." Kelso implies that J.D. must now take on the former role of Dr. Cox, and be the voice that always opposes the negative. J.D. asks Kelso if Cox will ever be grateful for it to which Kelso replies: "No, he’ll always hate you for it."
Tables Have Turned
J.D. lays into Cox about keeping Vaughn, and when Cox tells him to get out, J.D. refuses. Cox tells J.D. to stay if he wants, but that he is going out on the floor to see some of his patients. Cox is surprised when J.D. informs him that the time is 7 P.M., and his workday is over. Later, as Cox is driving away, J.D. approaches him and thanks him for letting Vaughn stay. "Yeah… go to hell," Cox replies.
This episode highlights the changes Dr. Cox goes through in adjusting to his new role. His attention is required on so many different fronts that he is unable to ever leave his office, even though the episode begins with him promising Kelso that he would get out on the floor and take care of his patients. As a result of his physical seclusion, Cox literally becomes detached from everything going on outside his door, despite his promises. Hell, he doesn’t even answer the phone by offering his name; his new method of answering with: "Chief of Medicine" implies that maybe his name doesn’t matter anymore. With detachment comes indifference, and even his former buddies are unable to use their friendships as leverage to get the things they want from Dr. Cox. J.D.’s request is clearly to benefit a patient, while Carla’s request is made to benefit their staff. Cox can only say ‘no’ to each of them for various reasons. The implication is that he is saying ‘no’ to anything which may benefit the hospital. Kelso hinted that this very thing would happen in last week’s episode. He warned Cox that this job makes a man lose his friends.
Kelso’s words to J.D.: "He’ll always hate you for it," are sad to hear because it has been J.D.’s goal throughout the series to earn the affection of Dr. Cox. In the last season this goal was finally attained: Cox saw J.D. more or less as an equal. With Cox’s promotion, Kelso predicts that J.D. and Cox will have a relationship much like the one Kelso and Cox shared when Kelso ran the ship at Sacred Heart. Fans of the series know only too well that Cox and Kelso held one another in deep, seething contempt up until the very end of last week’s episode. This suggests that the relationship between J.D. and Cox is in for a major setback, because it used to be that Cox hated J.D. for being the newbie. Perhaps there is the hope that, years from now, when Cox retires from Chief of Medicine and J.D. gets promoted into this position, their relationship will get a promotion as well and they can once again share a friendship, much like the one Cox and Kelso now have.
Recap by Jonathan Friedler