Watching Matt Nix's new USA series, Complications, is like taking an advanced seminar in unintended consequences. A fun, thrilling, twisty, and at times mind-blowing seminar.
Boasting terrific writing, a tight structure, and a great cast, the drama premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Irish-born Jason O'Mara (Vegas, Terra Nova) stars as John Ellis, an always well-meaning Atlanta emergency room doctor who commits an act of selfless bravery that lands him in a world of hurt.
A complicated, emotionally scarred man, John is still trying to come to terms with the death of his daughter from pediatric leukemia when he happens upon a drive-by shooting at a playground.
He rushes over to help the victim, an 11-year-old boy named Antoine (Jaiden Byrd), when he realizes the shooters are driving back for a second go.
In a split second decision he'll probably come to regret, John picks up a discarded gun and shoots the driver dead.
What the good doctor doesn't realize until it's too late is that he has inserted himself in the middle of a bloody war between the Vine City Crew, an African American gang led by Antoine's imprisoned father, Ezra "EZ" Tyler (Anthony K. Hyatt), and the Latino Nortenos Locos. The latter do not take kindly to John's saving their target and killing one of their own.
Next thing he knows, John is fighting off a Locos assassin sent to the hospital to finish off Antoine. The very same night, members of the Vine City Crew break into his house to tell him he must keep Antoine safe - or else.
And all this because John was stupid enough to be driving by the playground on his way to take an injured squirrel to the animal hospital.
Why was he doing that?
Because John is kindhearted (or stupid) enough to think he could shield his grief-stricken son, Oliver (Albert C. Bates), who watched helplessly as his sister wasted away a year earlier, from experiencing the death of yet another being.
Nix, who scored a triumph with his wry spy series Burn Notice, injects Complications with an unrelenting inner logic. The drama is veritably hurled forward by a dazzling web of interconnected cause-and-effect scenarios. Each leads to yet more unwanted consequences. And like waves, they begin swallowing up other characters around John, including his wife, Sam (Leverage's Beth Riesgraf), and his E.R. nurse, Gretchen (Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr).
It makes for thrilling viewing.
Premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on USA.