Looking for a more mature Beast than the one The CW currently has to offer? NBC’s Do No Harm offers an alternative in Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale), a renowned doctor by day who has an alternate personality who takes over every night, literally like clockwork, at 8:25 p.m. His Ian Price is the most narcissistic, primal, and aggressive version of himself, and in order to curb his activities, Jason drugs himself every night so Ian does not come out. But when we meet him in the pilot, the drugs no longer work, and Jason is sent down a rabbit hole, scrambling to find a way to cover up this other identity. Do No Harm is most interesting when looked at on the psychological level of the hows and the whys of Jason and Ian’s behavior. Essentially, they are two sides to the same man, each side repressing elements he doesn’t like about himself that then are only allowed to manifest in the other man, and to the extreme. If you consider Do No Harm a cautionary tale about self-repression, well, suddenly we’re all our own worst enemies.
The pilot episode of Do No Harm doesn’t take the time to explicitly look into such things, instead setting up a series of events that keep Pasquale too busy running around to even sit with the weight of what is happening to him. Thus far, the show is much more an American Psycho-style action drama, rather than a thinker-thriller. So we’re going to look a little deeper for you—reading into the subtext that we hope will be explore on-screen with episodes to come.
Jason set down his path to being a healer out of guilt and a desire to right a wrong he (or probably Ian) committed in the past, but it is evident almost from the start that he can’t completely turn off Ian’s influence. Even if he was still successful in keeping Ian subdued, there are parts of Jason that creep up and risk tapping into darkness anyway. As it is, Ian has spent the last five years “gone” as a result of Jason’s self-drugging, so now he is out for vengeance. If Jason had just learned to coexist with Ian, maybe Ian wouldn’t be as severe, but instead Jason has rationalized this disorder in his mind by giving it a new name, almost assigning it to another person so he can distance himself and stay superior. At the end of the day, though, they are both apart of the same man, and there can be no peace for either until they blend together as one. Maybe.
The pilot starts to explore this almost immediately through reveals that the men have some of each others’ memories, as well as the way Jason decides to use Ian to his advantage against one of his patients’ own violent man in her life. It’s an interesting take on the Jekyll & Hyde concept, and it also allows Pasquale to blur the two men in performance a bit to further drive home that they’re not as different as Jason is desperate to keep them. Jason is just as cocky as Ian, though a sense of piousness keeps him from exhibiting it too freely. For now.
The show itself focuses much more on the immediate problems in front of Jason as Ian scrambles to destroy as much of his life as possible in a mere twelve hours. While the action-packed nature of the pilot certainly shows the elevated stakes, it leaves us with the feeling that Jason will be doomed if he is constantly left chasing his tail that is Ian. The emotional weight takes a toll on him already, as he keeps his secret from almost everyone in his life-- including the colleague he has a crush on (Alana de la Garza) and his eager and helpful assistant (Samm Levine).
Do No Harm sits solely and squarely on Pasquale’s shoulders, and he is easing into leading man status nicely, though without the fleshing out the supporting characters, it will be a lonely road.
There is a lot of potential for Do No Harm as a miniseries, assuming there is a clear plan from pilot to finale that can be executed as well on paper and on-screen as exists in the writers’ minds. But Do No Harm has not been created as a miniseries, and that is a detriment to both its pacing and its clarity. What is merely set up now cannot be dragged out too long before the audience gets bored, or worse, jumps ahead of the characters. This is the kind of show that would significantly benefit from having a known (and probably not too far off) end date in order to best tell a concise story, rather than relying on "case of the week" style challenges for Jason, as he cleans up the mess Ian left behind, or revealing twist after unnecessary twist.
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