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New Amsterdam - Why Not Yesterday - Review

When a New Amsterdam episode immediately starts with a new Max vendetta against whichever issue is the flavor of the week for him, it's kind of hard to take him, or the show, seriously. At least offer us a cold open about something intriguing, please. And it's not that the war against systemic racism shouldn't be brought to light, and shown on TV, because it should. But does this, and every other cause Max takes on, need to be displayed as a one and done PSA every week to self-service the show's wokeness...? Not so much. Still, as much as I feared this episode would be used more as as a good points tool, than well written fiction, it ended up being more entertaining than most of the other episodes that preceded it during this current season. Thanks to deeper dives into (some) characters' lives, and follow ups with known patients, it felt more like the New Amsterdam I'd grown to love during its first two seasons than the pale copy we've been seeing so far in 2021.

Karen running away from Max was what I wished I could be doing, but alas, to her (and my) despair, he caught up with her and exposed his brilliant new plan. Sometimes it really does seem like Max only skims the surface of this hospital he's supposed to be the medical director of, since he had no idea a Chief Equity Officer already existed when he launched on one of his many tirades. I, for one, would like to know if this fancy title (which, thankfully, doesn't sound as made up as the infamous "Chief Happiness Officer") can be shortened to "CEO" and if so, how do you distinguish it from the real CEOs. Anywho, this Chief Equity Officer had the job for three whole years before Max even realized she existed, and has apparently never in his life replied to any of her requests to meet up and discuss what could be done in the hospital to offer fairer conditions to those involved. How does this happen? As Helen astutely puts it to Max when he tries one of his fast walks, quick fixes shticks, there is no quick fix with systemic racism, he has to listen to the people first, instead of running around and trying to dump this on Helen with no regards to the fact that she's actually living it in front of his very own eyes. Sigh. I was just thinking that what this show needed was more continuity between episodes (and seasons, in fact) when Helen dumped the "I would like to announce I am stepping down from my deputy medical director functions" and I realized I had no idea she was still holding them, nor how long this was supposed to be going on. It's great to link back to the past but I'm assuming I'm not the only one who'd completely forgotten she was supposed to be deputy, since it hasn't been mentioned in forever and I have no idea what she was doing in that regard. Still, points for effort, I guess, but I'm not sure this is going to change anything for the hospital. It will change things for Max because as luck would have it, right before she dropped that little bombshell, he'd been waxing poetic about how big of a help it had been to have Helen supporting him, making things easier. Again, how? How did she do this, what was she doing to help, what missions were they sharing when they've barely been talking this whole season? I NEED TO KNOW, New Amsterdam, if you want me to care!
Omitting the fact that there was virtually nothing of note to step down from, Helen is leaving her deputy role because she's focusing on other things, and namely family (which she doesn't feel the need to share with Max, because apparently they're far from as good friends as we'd been led to believe. Methinks, that sudden coldness that settled when she started dating Dr Shin is part of the reason, but still). Following her brother's death, her niece Mina is alone with no caregiver, and Helen's initial plan to have her stay in Dubai in her aunt's actual palace is not to Mina's taste. She'd be ripped away from her whole life! Well, from her boyfriend Ali anyway, and at 16 that's a big deal. Such a big deal, that Mina (whom we'd never met so far, or even heard of, and yet are supposed to care about) would marry her boyfriend and move in with him if it meant not going to Dubai. I mean, losing her father would be traumatic enough and I understand wanting to stay in her comfort bubble of friends and boyfriend. But. Mina has no problem imagining a new life in NYC with her new oncologist aunt, who doesn't own a palace, or indeed have time for her, or a babyproofed appartment (seriously, what does Helen think Mina is going to get up to, overdose on condiments?). So this storyline doesn't make much sense, especially when I can distinctly remember Helen quite recently wanting to have a baby, so much so that she was willing to to this on her own, via donor. So what, suddenly she has no time or space for a teenager, but she was ready for a baby?! Where did that desire go? Still, she relents (I mean, she offered it to Mina so it would've been kind of horrific to take the offer back), and thus, in the name of family, not only does she step down from a non existant position, but she also breaks up with Dr Shin. Dr Shin, by the way, was looking pretty smug as Helen told him she'd finally warned Max about leaving her functions, but he looked decidedly less so when he finally realized she was also stepping down from being his girlfriend, because Mina needed her, and "all" of her. Again, this feels like a strange justification since this girl is 16, not 6 months old, and even so, why would it prevent Helen from dating? It's not like she's getting a new boyfriend every month and would introduce him as Mina's new daddy, so while this is supposed to be admirable, it felt more like a constraint to break her and Cassian up.
Speaking of half-assed plans, Max's proposition to cut 10% from all the highest earning doctors' pay did not go over well, especially when Lauren brought up the pay inequality for women. And Lauren truly had other fish to fry, when Superman turned up in her ED after being hit by a bus and yet still flying running around trying to help the other patients who had been brought in following the accident. As it often turns out, all was not as it seemed, and the wannabe Superman actually had a brain bleed, which turned into being brain dead because the damage was already too extensive even after the surgery went "well". This was actually quite a sweet storyline, because this impersonator had always been shot down because of his size. Lauren (who can't stand anyone (her own words), so we know this was genuine) kindly reminded him that being a superhero was never about how tall you were, and she was right. Murphy turned out to be an organ donor, and he was a true hero to many patients who benefitted from his donation. Including a young teen who needed a heart transplant, which Reynolds wasn't sure he'd get.
Speaking of continuity or its lack, thereof, I was also thinking it would be nice to follow patient storylines from one episode to the other, which seems to be a little lacking on this show. It's usually more of a case(s) of the week basis, but we never have the opportunity to delve deeper into them, except, to be fair, with Iggy's cases which are usually more developped. And this week, we were treated to the return of the psychopatic little Juliet who is, quite frankly, a bit terrifying. Now, I've done my research and it seems Juliet's case was first brought up at the beginning of season 2, which aired almost 18 months ago. So while I'm glad the show is bringing back patients and updating us on their ongoing treatment, it would have been nice if there'd been more of it during the entire season that happened between both instances. I wish I had a perfect memory and could remember Juliet and her issues instantly (as well as Helen's deputy role), but alas, I do not and did not. It finally started ringing a bell when Iggy mentioned the game and was worried Juliet was hurting other kids again, but it took me a minute, which is a shame, because psychopathy in children is a really interesting (if unnerving) case. Anyway, it turns out Juliet wasn't directly hurting the other kids, but she was willing to help little Louisa hurt the hand-holding Olly. So... psychopathy by proxy, in this case.

All in all, a pretty good episode (I nitpick but overall it was still quite enjoyable even if some of the character development wasn't always very sensical), but I do hope we get more character moments in the upcoming weeks. Max and Helen's friendship/relationship feels like 2 steps forward 10 steps back at times, and it's still virtually the only meaningful one we're seeing between any of the characters, which is a shame. Where is Lauren's mom? How is Floyd dealing with his failed engagement? WHERE IS VIJAY? Anyway. On a purely superficial note, Lauren's hairstyle was fantastic during this episode and I will be stealing that little sidebraid as soon as I can try it out (that said, should her hair really be down when she's in the ED...?). Check back in next week!