In ‘Complications’, an Impulsive Action Puts a Doctor in a Gang War (Summer Preview)

Daniel McFadden/USA Network

Ten years ago, executive producer Matt Nix caught a gang member breaking into his California home. When the man fled, Nix followed. “Afterward, I kept wondering why I did something so dangerous so impulsively,” Nix says. “It’s not like me.”

That wasn’t the only experience that stuck with him: While volunteering in an ER, Nix noted most patients’ injuries came from gang violence or an abusive relationship—”things that can’t be fixed in an emergency room,” he says. “I thought, ‘What would happen if you decided to really solve the root of the problem?'”

Eventually, he turned both experiences into Complications, a series about a man who impulsively becomes involved in a patient’s life. Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova) stars as John Ellison, an Atlanta emergency room doctor still mourning his young daughter’s death from leukemia. In the pilot, John rushes to help an injured boy after a drive-by shooting. When the assailants return to finish the job, John instinctively grabs a gun and kills one of them—becoming the kid’s de facto protector amid a gang war.

“There’s definitely a transference of grief,” O’Mara says. “The sorrow he feels over the loss of his daughter is somewhat lessened by the fact that he is able to keep this boy alive.”

John’s only ally is a rebellious hospital nurse, Gretchen (Jessica Szohr), whom he helps in a bid to rescue another patient from an abusive boyfriend. Their good deeds do not go unpunished. “They care, which gets them into trouble,” Szohr says. “Every time they go to help someone out, they make the wrong decision trying to do the right thing.”

When he’s not reining in Gretchen or hiding from gang members, John is at home trying to help his wife (Beth Riesgraf) get over their own tragedy. Oddly, all this craziness is helping him heal. “It’s the opposite of what you might find in a self-help book, where they say the more you let go of things, the freer you become,” O’Mara says. “He feels freer because he’s able to intercede and change the outcome of a situation. That’s both what is wrong with John and what ultimately makes him a hero.”

Complications, Premieres Thursday, June 18, 9/8c, USA