The "my whole world is a dream" theme is a staple of the science fiction genre, though given the way "Being Erica" straddles the line between sci-fi and soap opera, I wasn't sure if we'd ever get such an episode from the show. But Wednesday's episode "Erica, Interrupted" -- which was the true Season 3 finale, despite the presence of another new episode next week -- was right in step with the things we've from "Star Trek", "Terminator" and even "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer".
The episode starts off resolving all the season-long stories in a perfect manner: Erica and Adam are together as a couple, as are Sam and Lenin (who's asked Sam to move in with him). Ivan and Dave are ready to celebrate their engagement, Barb is celebrating being cancer free, and Brent is even attempting to make amends with Julianne. Erica's perfect day ends with a perfect love-making session with Adam. It's all perfect. A little too perfect.
At this point in the episode, I was legitimately ready to turn it off, out of fear of slipping into a diabetic coma from all the sweetness. Then the show got scary and scary good. Erica was transported back to the hospital from the series premiere (and up until that point, I'd been confused as to why the "previously on" contained clips from that episode), and Dr. Tom was there, only he was going by Dr. Wexler and rather than being a therapist, he was a neurosurgeon, informing Erica she'd been in a coma for two weeks.
The next few scenes played out as expected, with Erica incredibly confused and frightened by what was going on, and everyone around her trying to convince her that what she was experiencing was real. Eventually Erica went to a bridge, and I thought she was going to jump, but instead she was met by a vision of Leo (her dead brother), and she remained resolute in her belief that all the things she'd experienced with Dr. Tom were real.
And, of course, they were. The whole episode was a test - the final test in Phase 2, before moving into Phase 3, Doctor Training. Before I get to complaining about that, I want to compliment the acting of Erin Karpluk, who did an excellent job with the test scenes, handling them with the right amount of balance. She made it feel like we were riding the emotional roller coaster with her, which isn't easy to do.
Now, as for the whole thing being a test, I fully expected that, but I was still disappointed that they made it feel so cut-and-dry. Even "Buffy" left that sliver of doubt at the end of "Normal Again", making you question the entire show's existence. I would have liked some kind of hint of something like that in this episode. Also, it feels like they moved Erica way too quickly through Phase 2, which itself may be an acknowledgement from the show's creators that the "group therapy" experiment was a mistake.
Now Erica's got a patient of her own, only all we've seen of the person is a gloved hand. That mystery won't be resolved in next week's episode (which is being promoted as a one-off holiday episode), and may not be resolved at all if the show doesn't get picked up for a fourth season. But that won't stop me from speculating on the patient's identity. Check back tomorrow, when I'll weigh the odds of who it might be.
Episode Grade: B
Season Grade: C+
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.