Season three of Royal Pains [USA, Wednesdays, 9/8C] returns, this week, with an episode called Traffic – appropriate not just for a traffic accident and a diagnosis that involves a woman who was stuck in traffic for five hours, but also for the ongoing events in the lives of the show’s main characters.
After a rather witty recap of the series so far, related by Dr. Hank Lawson, we see Hank [Mark Feuerstein], Evan [Paulo Costanzo] and Divya [Reshma Shetty] coming together at the beginning of a new summer in the Hamptons – just in time to deal with a traffic accident involving a tour bus and two expensive cars.
After dealing with the driver and passengers of the bus, as well as the drivers of the cars, Hank and Evan return to their temporary home at Mrs. Newberg’s [Christine Ebersole] mansion, where Evan has a surprise party waiting to happen to welcome his girlfriend Paige [Brooke D’Orsay] home – but she postpones her return, causing some slight insecurity in Evan.
Meanwhile, Boris [Campbell Scott] has gotten together with Marissa [Paola Turbay] to discuss their child’s future; Divya is a bit nervous about her reunion with her parents following her decision to break off the engagement to Raj, and Jill [Jill Flint] returns to the Hamptons with ‘big news.’
Written by series creator Andrew Lenchewski and directed by Constantine Makris, Traffic is probably the purest example of the USA Network’s ‘blue sky filter.’ It’s smart, frequently witty and just dramatic enough to make the stakes seem real for the characters.
It doesn’t hurt that the rich patient of the week is played by Justified’s Natalie Zea. She really brings depth to Judy, her allergy plagued, recently divorced character.
Traffic does a number of things well: it builds off all the plot threads left hanging last season, and brings new nuances to its core characters – or at least recognizably new variations [as with Evan’s insecurity of Paige’s postponement of her return, for example]. It’s interesting – and entertaining – to see each character’s passion [for a relationship, the job, or whatever] bring vitality to the episode.
The only core character we don’t see, or hear from, is Eddie [Henry Winkler], but now that we know where the four regular characters are in their lives, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him in the near future. If his return is handled as smartly as everyone else’s it should a lot of fun.
Final Grade: B+
Photo by Barbara Nitke/courtesy of USA Network