Royal Pains [USA, Thursdays, 9/8C] returns with an episode called Mulligan. No doubt you’ll be surprised when I tell you there’s a plot arc that involves golf.
Considering where Royal Pains left off – in its mid-season cliffhanger – its return somehow manages to deal with the cliffhanger centered on Eddie R. Lawson [Henry Winkler] in a smooth, intelligent manner. Hank [Mark Feuerstein] and Evan [Paolo Costanzo] seem poles apart – Evan believes in Eddie and Hank does not. Though events in this ep affect the relationships between the brothers and their father [in all their permutations], there’s an outside circumstance to consider – how Eddie’s duplicity will affect Boris’ [Campbell Scott] relationship with Hank and Evan. And, of course, there’s the whole heart attack thing.
Where does the golf come in? Jill [Jill Flint] is paired up with a low-ranking pro [Tom Cavanagh] for a charity golf tournament – where an unexpected spill causes her to become one of Hank’s patients [HankMed has volunteered to provide the tourney’s onsite medical care]. The pro, Jack O’Malley, turns out to have a medical condition that makes bending his fingers difficult, which piques Hank’s interest. HankMed’s physician assistant, Divya [Reshma Shetty] also has an intriguing experience at the tourney – Adam reappears and attempts to reconnect with her.
Between Eddie’s health and legal problems, Hank and Evan both discover their relative positions, vis-à-vis their father, shifting a bit. And while Jill is flirting with Jack, the chemistry between her and Hank is still very noticeable.
Mulligan was written by Michael Rauch and Jon Sherman, and directed by Rauch. It combines the mix of medical and character beats that make it one of USA’s successful series: Jack’s unique ailment allows Cavanagh to show more than his usual casual charm; Shetty gets to display Divya’s conflicting emotions and frustration and Feuerstein and Costanzo both get to deepen their characters in unexpected ways. Winkler continues make the morally ambiguous Eddie likable and unpredictable, which doesn’t hurt one bit. The best moments of the ep, though, are a loopy Jill [HankMed has really great meds] and Jack’s early self-deprecation and later joy.
Overall, Mulligan is a solid ep – charming and witty; intelligent and with a bit more depth than you might expect.
Final Grade: B