Omar Gooding, Miami Medical
Warning: The following story contains important details from Friday's episode of Miami Medical. If you haven't seen the episode, read at your own risk.
For a freshman drama like Miami Medical, putting a main cast member in mortal danger so early in the series' run is a risky move. But show creator Jeffrey Lieber tells TVGuide.com it was a necessary one.
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"One of the things we found out from doing research is that one of the particularities of trauma is that because there's so much violence involved, the rate of doctors and nurses who are harmed is much higher than in the ER and the regular medical profession," Lieber says. Because of that — and some contractual issues that required Omar Gooding to miss a few episodes — Lieber & Co. decided Nurse Tuck should fall victim to a stabbing in the hospital.
In Friday's episode, Dr. Deleo (Mike Vogel) brings in a patient named Todd (Chad Faust), who claimed to have been stabbed during a mugging. While Todd flirts with Dr. Warren (Elisabeth Harnois), Tuck realizes that his stab wounds are similar to those of another patient in the trauma unit. By the time Dr. Warren realizes that Todd is actually the attacker and not a separate victim, Todd stabs Tuck with a pair of scissors and flees the hospital.
"What we had learned with the previous episodes was Tuck was becoming the heart of the show," Lieber says. "He seemed like the obvious choice because it's always the guy who gets the closest to both to the patients and the patients' families who ends up in harm's way."
Although Gooding was shocked by the news, when he learned it would not be the end of his character, he was on board. "It was exciting," Gooding says. "I told them as long as he doesn't die, I was all for it. It was fun. I got fitted for the body cast, and we went right in there. They gut me open and stuck their hands in my chest and all that. All I had to do was lay there, so it was good times."
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Gooding's character will return, but since CBS has capped Season 1 at just eight episodes, viewers won't see much more of him for the next two episodes. "Tuck goes away for a bit," Lieber says. "He's referred to in subsequent episodes in terms of his recovery, but when we come back with him, it will very much be about how having this experience of being a patient changes his point of view on the people he deals with and what the struggles are.
"One of the things we want to get into in terms of the longer arc of the show is that recoveries are long and complicated," Lieber says. "Hopefully we will be able to do some of that work with Omar's character in Season 2." (CBS has yet to renew Miami Medical for a second season, though the show has filmed an additional five episodes.)
In the meantime, Lieber says the action will shift to the other doctors, particularly Dr. Warren, who feels incredibly guilty for not realizing Todd was the stabber in time to save Tuck. "One of the major themes of [the next] episode is about whether people in this profession are doing more bad than good," Lieber says. "In Dr. Warren's case, she saved someone who turned around and stabbed someone she loved very much. The question is: How do you keep track of that ledger? Since a lot of people who come into trauma have dubious backgrounds — they are people who are shot and stabbed and people who shoot and stab — is saving these lives worth it?"
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Lieber says Tuck's stabbing kicks off a more serialized portion of the season. Next week's episode features guest star Kari Matchett as Tuck's heart surgeon, who will return in the May 21 season finale. But Lieber says Tuck's misfortune is not an end-of-season ratings ploy.
"The Tuck situation is put in a stable place by the end of the season," Lieber says. "He was never intended to be bait for the second season. It was more interesting to us to play it out in a way that allowed us to have emotional ups and downs and resolutions for our characters."
That said, Tuck's attacker is still on the loose — a plot thread Lieber hopes to explore again if the show is renewed.
"We'll find him," Gooding jokes. "I've got some posses looking for him on the street."
Did Tuck's stabbing shock you?