Every week on Royal Pains, Mark Feuerstein has to perform elaborate, death-defying — literally — operations on his patients. But for his third time in the director's chair for the USA show, he had to perform one of his toughest operations yet: The Heimlich Candy Dance.
"When we did the scene where Divya is giving Greer the Heimlich, there were rehearsals for days before with fake pots and pans and a fake kitchen that we built just to simulate the kitchen we'd be in," Feuerstein tells TVGuide.com. "We would rehearse it and rehearse it as if it were a dance. I actually called it the Heimlich Candy Dance because it has to be choreographed as if it were a dance."
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In the scene from Wednesday's episode (9/8c, USA), Divya (Reshma Shetty) must perform the Heimlich on her patient, a popular candy maker named Greer (Collette Wolfe). The only problem with Divya's life-saving action? It happens in the middle of Jeremiah's pristine kitchen while Greer is in the middle of crafting another batch of treats — which leads to flying chocolate, caramel and sprinkles. "The challenge is you can't reset chocolate that spills all over a fake countertop," Feuerstein says. "There was a huge round of applause when that take was done."
Although the episode presented its fair share of challenges, it also held a special meaning for Feuerstein. The other HankMed patient of the week, a Wall Street man-turned-spinning instructor named Ben (Josh Cooke), is based on a friend that Feuerstein and executive producer Michael Rauch knew from high school who left trading to become a spinning instructor at FlyWheel. "It is so relatable to many people in New York who, whether their jobs have been taken away from them by the economy or they've lost heart with those financial jobs or unromantic jobs, have tried to follow their bliss," Feuerstein says. "It's such a great character."
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In the episode, Hank meets Ben through recurring character Killer Keller (Michael B. Silver), who returns to help negotiate Symphony's acquisition of HankMed in the wake of Hank and Shelby's (Laura Benanti) agreement last week. "The fact that HankMed has accepted an umbrella parent company is a big deal. It means that the lone wolf of Hank Lawson and HankMed as a whole is now required to answer to a corporation," Feuerstein says. "While Hank has never had to answer to anyone before, he will in a few episodes and that's when things won't be working in symphony, harmony or in concert with Hank and Symphony."
Hank's new business agreement with Symphony doesn't exactly come at an opportune time, since Hank has had his hands full putting together a fake medical trial and a fake auction to help Boris (Campbell Scott) get back at his murderous cousin Milos (Callum Blue). "You could make the argument that real estate is very valuable in the Hamptons and Hank knows what he has," Feuerstein says with a laugh, "but Hank cares deeply for Boris. Boris has been incredibly good to him as a friend, as a protector.
"That took a lot of Hank swallowing his pride and his anger when it was revealed that Boris lied to him," he adds. "He continues to take the higher path and protect his friend. Yes, at great costs but what is more important than family and friends?"
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However, those costs will only continue to add up as the season progresses. After Hank was injured in the explosion that fake-killed Boris and subsequently forced to undergo brain surgery, he has become increasingly reliant on prescription painkillers this season. "It's going to get worse," Feuerstein says. "This one is real for Hank, as it is for so many people who get on pain medication and can't get off of it. It's going somewhere dark, but only maybe as dark as Royal Pains and the USA network will allow us to get. But it goes there. And that's why I'm so proud of our show.
"Though we're on a blue skies network, our writers are not afraid to tell the truth and go to a dark place."
So who will be able to save our — as Feuerstein calls him — "clean-cut hero" fight his dependency? The star says it will be a team effort. "It will be everyone who cares about Hank's well-being," he says. "Everyone tries to save him from his demons."
Royal Pains airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on USA.