Will’s resignation left Gaffney with some big shoes to fill.

We got two doctors for the price of one on Chicago Med Season 9: an impulsive resident who thinks she knows more than she does and a new ED doc with a traumatic past.

I wasn’t sure about these doctors, especially Dr. Ripley, but I must grudgingly admit they both add something to Chicago Med.

I was less than impressed when Ripley first jumped into action on Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 1. Ripley came off as yet another arrogant doctor who had no use for others, especially Dr. Charles.

I figured we’d already done this with Archer, who was originally an asshole who didn’t follow the rules, ever, and thought that psychiatry was quack medicine.

I didn’t like it when Archer was like that and kept counting down the days til he was gone (which never happened). Then they softened him and brought in this guy who felt like Dean Archer 2.0.

No, thank you. He got on my last nerve with his attitude, and I didn’t want him anywhere near Hannah! I only gave him a chance because the actor had done a guest stint on Australia’s Neighbours before donning an American accent and coming to the States.

But Ripley turned out to have more layers than it seemed at first.

When he helped the choking victim at the bar/restaurant where Hannah was meeting her date, was that an attempt to show him in a more sympathetic light? Probably, but if so, it worked.

And his determination to help the man who had had a lobotomy and only wanted his sister sealed the deal.

That storyline was heartbreaking, and Ripley seemed to care more about the patient than he ever had in the past, even if it was yet another stark reminder of his own traumatic experiences with psychiatry.

His hesitance to trust Dr. Charles is the best part of his character. It gives Ripley a real reason to be resistant to psychiatry rather than one based on misinformation or general disparagement of mental health issues.

Ripley can serve as a counterpoint to Charles, reminding viewers that psychiatry has a dark history and that it has not always been as much about helping people as it ought to be.

That story needs to be told. As a mental health advocate, I want all people to get good mental health treatment — and what Ripley and some other patients in the past got was more harmful than helpful.

The lobotomy story was unfortunate because the doctors of Jimmy’s childhood caused him to become disabled, and there was no telling what he might have been like had he not undergone surgery.

Ripley handled the situation well, allowing his pain to drive his determination to help Jimmy now without letting it overshadow everything. That made him a far more compelling character than when he was purely angry all the time!

His insistence on helping his friend who didn’t want to be helped on Chicago Med Season 9 Episode 6 wasn’t great, but his behavior was understandable.

The One Chicago franchise loves the tired TV trope of the guy from the streets who makes something of himself but no longer fits in with the world he grew up in.

It’s happened more than once on PD, and Med tried it with Guy Lockhart’s character, who unfortunately got written out as quickly as he came.

It fits Ripley, but I didn’t like it and thought there should be consequences for getting into a fistfight with a patient, even if that were the language the guy understood best.

Still, that’s a minor complaint (as is the fact that the new guy on Law & Order’s name is so similar I keep getting them mixed up!).

Ripley’s finally become a well-rounded character with a negative past and a bright future and I’m looking forward to more stories about him navigating his trauma.

On the other hand, Zola Ahmad is a firecracker that I liked right away, for the most part.

Med was a bit heavy-handed about telling us she’s supposed to be the replacement renegade doctor. Marcel spelled it out in a conversation with Sharon in case anyone missed it.

Marcel: You know, she reminds me of someone else. You know who I’m talkin’ about? I’ll give you a hint. He had red hair.
Sharon: Going above and beyond.
Marcel:You had to suspend him on more than one occasion. You sure you’re ready for the sequel?

But I’m a sucker for rebellious characters whose hearts are in the right place despite the chaos they cause.

Ahmad’s decision to quote Marcel to the press without permission irked me — I learned the hard way in high school not to do that, so she should have known better. But like Ripley, she’s an important character whose world view can shed light on an important issue.

I don’t mean that she’s an agenda-based character. That would be terrible.

But Ahmad is young, passionate, and idealistic, and the medical field needs people like her. Sometimes, I think she would fit in at New Amsterdam because of her devotion to patient care despite bureaucratic obstacles.

That was one of the things I loved about that show, and I love Ahmad’s zeal for the same reason.

Last year’s focus on AI has been replaced by the issues surrounding health insurance, and it’s about time.

Too many uninsured and underinsured people are getting sub-standard health care; Med needs to address that, and Ahmad is the perfect person to make that point.

Her impulsivity makes me wonder if she is neurodivergent. She claims not to be able to help herself once an idea becomes an obsession, and she has the strong sense of justice and lack of interest in politics that many autistic/ADHD people have.

If so, she’s a better representative than any we’ve had so far because she’s an ordinary person who is a little extra in some ways instead of a savant who is clueless in other areas of her life. (I’m looking at you, The Good Doctor, especially lately.)

My biggest concern with this character is that if she is neurodivergent, that should be made explicit instead of leaving viewers to guess.

It would add to the already-robust diversity on Med if they did and would show the world a different type of neurodivergent character than we’ve experienced before.

She’s already made an enemy out of Archer and is on thin ice with the hospital, but I hope she sticks around.

Marcel’s trying to teach her how to succeed as a doctor, not that she cares about his social rules, and I’d love for her to finally see a residency to its end.

Plus, I enjoy her and want her around for more than one season!

Besides, Archer is being a massive hypocrite by complaining about her ethical lapses, considering the number of times he acted dubiously to impose his will on uncooperative patients.

I also adore it when she, Maggie, and Hannah hang out and gossip about their personal lives. There aren’t enough female friendships on prime-time TV, and these three are perfect together.

Your turn, Chicago Med fanatics. What do you think of these new characters?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!

Chicago Med airs on NBC on Wednesdays at 8/7c and drops on Peacock on Thursday mornings. The next new episode airs on NBC on March 20, 2024.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.


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