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For me, Scrubs is like one of those friends I knew growing up that I slowly lost touch with over time, but when we get back together it is like nothing has changed. We instantly break into the same conversational rhythm, bust out the same old jokes, share some good laughs, wonder why we haven’t gotten together in so long and promise to do it again soon. I went through a phase where I watched Scrubs daily in syndication and then would not watch it again for a year, but I never felt like I missed a beat.
I was always impressed with the way Scrubs captured the utter hilarious and inane sense of silliness each of us has inside and offset it against a hospital-drama atmosphere. Scrubs writers rarely cut corners in the medical department and definitely did not feel pressured to always save the day, fix everyone that came through the door or shy away from the heartbreak that exists in the world of medicine. That is no easy feat for a half hour comedy.
At the center was JD (Zach Braff) and his self-reflective/ utopian view of himself and his surroundings. The way JD “imagined” his world as compared to the place he actually lived is the coping mechanism we all possess played out on screen in ridiculous fashion. Was it over the top at times? Sure. Was it different than anything else we were watching? Without a doubt.
Tonight’s hour long (probably final) episode walked us through JD’s last hours at Sacred Heart Hospital. He imagines his final day to be full of melodramatic and gushing sadness from his colleagues. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned. Turk thinks he said his goodbye too early, the Janitor is still trying to get him to admit “the penny in the door” incident from the series premiere and Dr. Cox refuses to admit any sentiment at all. JD struggles with all of this as he comes to grips with the effect (or his perceived lack-thereof) he’s had on the hospital, its patients and the staff. They even poke fun of the Cheers finale where JD emulates Sam turning off the bar lights and leaving. JD imagines doing the same except in his version he kills the power and half the hospital hooked up to respirators, heart monitors and the like.
When it seems his day will be all things from his nightmares rather than his wildest sentimental dreams, things begin to turn around. He and Carla share a moment of mutual thanks for what meant to the other. She was the motherly guide through his time in the hospital and he represented the “Bambi” she desperately needed to nurture. He is then able to trick Dr. Cox into unwittingly complimenting JD’s medical intuition, love of medicine and qualities as a friend. After years of torture and masochism we finally understand what JD represented to Dr. Cox: a kinder, more emotional version of himself.
And then it came time to leave. JD’s final walk out of the hospital didn’t include any big parties or celebrations in his honor. Instead, he walked alone with his thoughts. These same thoughts and imagination were the key to Scrubs and they accompanied him on his slow exit. He walks the hallway “saying goodbye” to the people from his life. He thinks about ex-girlfriends, talks to old patients, and reminisces with staff from the past. These people, literally lining the walls of his memories, were those who shaped his growth as a doctor and as a person.
When he finally walks through the doors (the same doors from “the penny incident”) he stares and imagines his life and what it holds. In JD’s mind he grows old with Elliot, Turk and Dr. Cox and their respective families. He imagines all the cheesy times they will share: the holidays, the children growing, the hugs, the teary moments and the love. Of course Scrubs would end with JDs imagination, but this time his dreams aren’t ridiculous or over the top. They are real, they mean a lot and they involve the people he loves the most. And when he leaves his dream and reenters the real world he does so knowing the future is bright, people love him and he made a difference.