“The Cleaner” Season 2: Episodes 7 & 8


An Ordinary Man

William tackles the substance abuse problems of a surgeon (Dr. Jake Slovak) with a God complex. The hospital administrator approaches William after receiving an anonymous letter accusing a doctor and some of the nurses of using drugs. When a nurse named Carey passes out during a surgery, William brings her in for treatment. It turns out, Carey is dating the surgeon with the drug problem and she is banking on him marrying her and becoming the father-figure to her young son. Melissa assists William by babysitting Carey’s son while Carey undergoes treatment and she helps William get to the bottom of Carey’s real addiction – she is addicted to being in love.

The Turtle and the Butterfly

An upscale woman named Gail seeks William’s help in retrieving her drug addicted son from jail in the Inland Empire. Swenton helps get Gail’s son, Travis, released from jail, but they soon discover Travis is a long way from being ready to change his life. While trying to bring Travis back to Los Angeles with them, they meet a 13-year old boy who is running drugs for a powerful dealer. The boy weighs on William’s conscience and William must decide if there is a way to save him, or if their trip to the Inland Empire is a total wash.


What struck me in An Ordinary Man was the moral/ethical dilemmas that arise. I didn’t feel much sympathy for the arrogant heart surgeon, but the character had me wonder how far we are willing to go to do extraordinary things (in spite of their negative effects on his body in the long-term, drugs allowed Dr. Slovak to work longer hours and treat more patients) and to put up with the downsides of that same extraordinary things (in his single day in recovery, Dr. Slovak tells William about nightmares he has about the people who had to die to allow him to transplant their heart to his patients and thus he tried to sleep as little as possible) and how much we are willing to forgive to someone who does extraordinary things like saving other people’s life. I also started wondering how a hospital came to be so dependent on a single doctor for its reputation, to be honest. On the “bright” side of things, though William and his team fail their intervention with the doctor, they manage to give nurse Carey the strength to go along with her purpose to live a normal life (which had her send an anonymous letter to report a doctor taking “speed”) and put her health and her son before her love for the man who had her hooked on drugs.

Compelling and heartbreaking, The Turtle and the Butterflyis a great episode. William is hired to help Travis, who was busted when his meth lab explodes in Inland Empire, CA, a place/people Swenton knows well. Here we meet Riley the tyrant dealer who claims ownership of Travis. Enter Miles. The kid who tells us the story of papa turtle who was carrying his tear (the only source of water) to his babies, when a butterfly takes the tear. As it turns out the story represents his life and the roles of the people in it, Travis = turtle, himself = baby, Riley and/or William = butterfly depending on your take. Travis gives himself in exchange for Miles. Honestly, I cried at the end. Those boys really played those parts. It tore me up what Travis did for Miles. And William walking away like that. The mother. The poignant though brief appearance of PK helping William overcoming his doubts. Everyone was great. It is a pity that you can’t win them all…

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