The future of CBS' A Gifted Man may still be up in the air, but executive producer Neal Baer hopes the show has packed its remaining episodes with enough punch to earn a second season.
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For starters, Friday's episode (8/7c, CBS) finds Dr. Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson) in the center of a hostage situation after he testifies that a young man charged with manslaughter and arson only committed the crimes because he was suffering from a brain tumor. In her grief, the distraught mother (Robin Weigert) who lost a child in the fire breaks into Clinica Sanando after hours and holds Michael, Kate (Rachelle Lefevre), Zeke (Rhys Coiro) and Anton (Pablo Schreiber) at gunpoint.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the drama, some new feelings will begin to emerge between Michael and Kate after the two shared a meaningful hug in the previous episode.
"That hug has some resonance for Michael," Baer says. "So certainly we have the element of that love triangle [between Michael] and Kate's husband played. It really heats up."
That triangle could grow even larger on the Feb. 24 episode when Sons of Anarchy's Maggie Siff guest-stars as Michel's high school sweetheart, who is suffering from a seemingly irreversible condition. "It puts him into the most difficult medical position of his life," Baer says.
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Because Siff's character is a pianist, the episode also gets to highlight Wilson's musical skills. (The Tony-nominated actor has performed in numerous Broadway shows, including The Full Monty and Oklahoma!). "We finally get to see Patrick as the talent he is," Baer says. "He actually sings and plays drums. He's able to show his great musical chops."
However, the season's penultimate episode may deliver the series' biggest moment yet. Eriq La Salle returns as Dr. E "E-Mo" Morris, and he will be the first to really witness Michael's continued connection with his dead ex-wife Anna (Jennifer Ehle).
"No one's really seen Michael arguing or talking to Anna," Baer teases. "Maybe a few words here and there, but what if Michael were in a full-blown, outright argument with Anna and somebody walked in on that? How do you explain that? E-Mo walks into a major blowout between Michael and Anna, and Michael has a lot of explaining to do. "
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Baer says the questions raised by that experience will definitely be addressed by the season's end. Plus, he teases that, in the season finale, Tammy Blanchard (SVU, The Good Wife) will portray a woman in need a heart transplant who plays "a critical role that literally breaks everyone's heart."
However, Baer plans to leave some story lines dangling in hopes of returning next season. "There's plenty to hope for and wonder about, absolutely," Baer says. "There are definitely questions about what will happen in relationships in the future."
And how bright does the future seem for the show? Baer is cautiously optimistic. "[CBS] really likes the show, and we haven't talked about the future at all except trying to just do great episodes," he says. "They're very supportive of the show and I know they really like it, so we're very hopeful about coming back in the fall."
A Gifted Man airs Friday at 8/7c. The final three episodes will air at 9/8c beginning Feb. 17.