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New Amsterdam - Essential Workers - Review

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After last week's season premiere, it's back to business (mostly) as usual for New Amsterdam. While I was quite fond of the premiere and the way they handled the pandemic, this follow up fell a little flat for me. Now, I'm not sure what the episode order is for this season, but I feel like you're not supposed to integrate a filler episode quite this early on, or at all, ideally. When I said I didn't want to be thrown into the pandemic situation, I didn't mean that I wanted almost no stakes at all either. But anyway, maybe I'm being too harsh, overall this episode was... fine. Let's dig in!

Dr Reynolds is back, for real and not just on the phone! At least for now, and even though he isn't made to feel quite as home as he used to be. It's only been a few months (I'd like to thank the realization that Ella hadn't given birth yet for setting the timeline, even though it feels like she's been pregnant for at least two years now. Pregnancies and unfortunate bangs are always sooo handy to know how much time has passed!) and yet he's barely a guest in what used to be his training ground, which is a little sad since he used to rule the cardio wing. You'd think the hospital would welcome him back with more grandeur, but the hospital has also suffered many devastating losses since Floyd left, and soothing one's ego is no longer anyone's priority. Unlike Dr Reynold's new hospital in San Diego, which only had three losses to New Amsterdam's entire memorial wall, including Dr Reynold's favorite nurse.

Speaking of, at the risk of repeating myself: the way New Amsterdam is handling the pandemic is genuine, tactful, and in just the right doses, which I really appreciate. The heavy consequences are still there, they're not putting them under a rug, but it isn't the sole focus either. Part of those consequences are just how sick Dr Kapoor got, and while Dr Reynolds' initial plan to operate on Vijay apparently wouldn't work out, he has a solution, and all is well that ends well since VJ makes it out alive and conscious. I'll admit when Ella went into labor exactly at the same time Vijay seemed to be taking a turn for the worse, I got really worried that we were going to be subject to the infamous "a life for a life" bit that medical shows are so fond of, but that has been done hundreds of time. Thankfully, they didn't go there, and both VJ, Ella, and the bébé (yes, I am pronouncing it in Moira from Schitt's Creek's accent, which is incidentally the French way of saying it, so there) end up doing well.
"Why was he even here, you know? I mean, his age, knowing the risk, why even come in?"
"How could he not? We all felt a sense of duty, of pride even."
Ella's OCD was through the roof though, and of course her usual team wasn't there to help her get through the end of her pregnancy and the birth despite it, so Helen does her best to comfort her. Just like Casey last week, Ella is a beloved character I'd like to see more of, and I hope the show doesn't ship her and Vijay off to recover together offscreen (even though story-wise, they both deserve some peace and quiet far from the hospital). Ella recognizing and remembering Helen's coffee order was also a nice touch, and now I'm kind of curious what the other regulars usually get. Seems like it says a lot about a person (I usually have chai tea lattes so I will be excluding myself from this narrative since I don't drink coffee, but more power to them and all that).

Aside from saving distressed moms, babies, and friends of friends, Helen is also trying to recover a semblance of a love life, which involves Dr Shin. Somehow, even though he's said multiple times he's fine with letting it go since she doesn't seem interested or ready, she perseveres and negotiates herself a date. Which, good for her! But as a Helen/Max fan (I'm sure there's a portemanteau name for them somewhere, but I'm not going to look. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments, I would quite like to know whether it's some kind of Sharpwin or Helax kind of nightmare, and prepare accordingly, thank you! Yes, I do realize in the time I wrote this I could've looked it up and it would've been faster, but where would be the fun in that, right?) I can't say I'm too enthused by the string of other love interests for either of them, especially since in this case, there was no build up thanks to season 2 's shortened stint (which is no one's fault, it's completely understandable and fine, but I don't like having this thrust upon me when I haven't seen any genuine friendship, let alone chemistry, rise from their interactions so far).
On Max's Things that Backfired and Went Wrong segment of the episode, drugs are being stolen because of... the lauded war on drugs that Max launched to reduce overdose occurrences. As it turns out, after that mandate he sent to all the doctors, they started to prescribe them less, even for patients with, let's say, osteosarcoma. I was kind of hoping the Zoom call would be an opportunity to see a cat crossing someone's screen, of for the neverending "you're on mute!" bit to happen here, but alas, all we got was an angry comment section that Youtube would've been proud of. Less so, the "More like Doctor BADwin!" extract that was supposed to be a sick burn, apparently. On that note, I actually spared you all a two-part review with "good" and "not so good(win)" subtitles for this episode, so you see, I do have a heart! I will say though, even if this subplot felt a bit half-baked, the continuity was nice and it's always a treat to see an increasingly exasperated Karen Brantley (Debra Monk) run around after Max and his not-so-well-thought-out ideas.

Another half-baked subplot was the depiction of Iggy's struggles with an eating disorder he's had since childhood. While I applaud the attempt to address this on the show, I'm not a big fan of the way it' being handled in this episode. There didn't need to have an exhaustingly heartbreaking childhood history of verbal abuse to explain away Iggy's relationship with food. It's not always that "simple" and I didn't think it brought anything more to this story, which would already be quite devastating on its own. Lauren was great though, and her's and Iggy's friendship is always lovely to witness. I just wish the storyline had felt more genuine, there was no need to pile it on so much at this point.

One last element that shone more brightly at the end of the episode, was Reynolds and Bloom finally seeing each other again. I, for one, would like to know if: Reynolds is back for good, Evie is gone for good, and if there's hope for him and Bloom. I know, I know, I'm sure he and Evie actually got married and she'll move back or they'll do long distance if he stays or whatever, but a girl can dream, okay?
"I should've been here."
"Well, you're here now."
That's it for this week! How did you guys enjoy this episode? Did it deliver, after the premiere, or are you hoping for a little more as the season unfurls? In any case, I'm glad Vijay seems to be okay and that Reynolds is back. As usual, sound off in the comments!

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