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New Amsterdam - Hook, Line and Sinker - Review

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If I could ignore all of the terrible decisions made by the show runners, I could admit that this was actually a good episode. Aside from Floyd’s storyline, it centred around patients at the hospital and what New Amsterdam is known for, doing whatever it takes to help patients in need. If I could forget the fact that with the exception of Floyd, all characters of colour were written off and/or vilified by the writers, if I could move past the fact that they knew Freema Agyeman was leaving before season 4 and willingly CHOSE to write her out in such a horrendous way, if…if…if. The problem is that the wrongs committed by the decision makers on this show are just too huge, too negatively impactful to move past and it is impossible to get the magic of season 1 back after all of that, especially without Freema. Helen Sharpe was the magic of New Amsterdam and I have to wonder, where was this calibre of writing last season? Maybe then Freema wouldn’t have left. Maybe then NBC wouldn’t have cancelled the show, and most importantly, maybe then the majority of the show’s fanbase wouldn’t have felt betrayed by a show that was once a source of joy, comfort and escape from the harsh world we live in. 

This episode had Max back in his element, doing whatever it takes for the patients at the hospital by implementing a new cost-savings plan that was controversial, but served well to highlight the problems with Medicare in the US, namely the cost of prescriptions and how keeping yourself healthy is a luxury that so many cannot afford. While it was reminiscent of season 1 Max, it showcased the fact that all of his character growth from the last few seasons was completely erased with Freema’s exit. Max had finally chosen to put himself and his happiness first before the hospital. He finally came to the realization that he can’t fix everything and everyone (which, by the way, literally occurred in the last episode). TV shows with strong writing will have the characters go through challenges to further their character development, not take them back to where they started. Should I be shocked at the poor writing decisions on this show? Probably not. But it is hard to believe that the show I fell in love with in 2018 has been reduced to this. 

In what appears to be the theme of the season, Iggy had the majority of screen time this episode. Can someone point me to the massive fanbase of Iggy fans? Because clearly I am missing something. I do not understand why the writers decided that this was the character that should dominate screen time this season. If that wasn’t bad enough, viewers were forced to suffer through watching Iggy make an online dating video which could only be described as narcissistic and just plain painful (though at least that is consistent to how his character has been written the last two seasons). It was also made clear that Iggy’s main role this season will be offering unsolicited advice to his co-workers. Not only is it unsolicited, it is terrible advice. Telling a coworker to leave work mid-shift to go fishing when they are scheduled to supervise a surgery? Diagnosing a man that he had one brief exchange with? Psychiatrists that still tune in to this awful representation of their profession must be pulling their hair out. Unfortunately in this episode, Floyd is the person at the receiving end of Iggy’s bad advice. Floyd is shocked when his father shows up at the hospital in full fishing gear, and tries to talk him into leaving work to go fishing with him. At first, Floyd stands his ground but Iggy guilts him into ditching work and going with his father who takes him fishing in a restricted area that is clearly marked “no trespassing.” Everything appears to be going well and the two men are bonding until Homeland Security shows up. Floyd immediately panics and wants to leave and tells his father he could lose his medical licence if he is caught, but his father does not care and continues to fish. Floyd returns to the hospital and runs into…you guessed it! None other than Iggy who after hearing about Floyd’s adventure with his father, states that he is a classic example of Bi-polar disorder which left Floyd with a look on his face like he had just had an epiphany. I hoped that the writers would try and give the last remaining person of colour on the show a decent storyline to finish off the series, but clearly that was giving them WAY too much credit. 

If David Schulner, co-creator, hadn’t confirmed it himself in a recent TVLine article, it was made clear this episode that Leyren is done and fans will get zero closure for Leyla’s character. We find out from Lauren that Leyla’s visa has been approved and that she will be moving out of Lauren’s apartment. It is truly baffling that this show made the choice to destroy a gay, bi-racial couple that so many fans identified with, rooted for and loved. It is one thing to decide to end the relationship, but to paint Leyla as the villain and then completely erase her from the show without any semblance of a proper ending for her character is absolutely egregious. The lazy and disjointed writing exemplified here is ridiculous. Leyla came from Pakistan, was living in her car, was uncomfortable with taking handouts but fans are expected to believe that she would take over Lauren’s apartment AND move a new woman into it? The amount of character assassinations that can be attributed to the writers of this show is mind blowing. I will miss the brilliant Shiva Kalaiselvan. Yet another person of colour vilified and destroyed on this show that was once touted as groundbreaking and diverse. 

Finally, we have Sandra Mae Frank who was cast on this show at arguably the worst time. When a Brooklyn Cyclones player comes in severely injured, he is told by Dr. Wilder that they need to amputate his right arm or he will die. He declines the life saving surgery, stating that he would rather be dead than lose his arm. At this point, Wilder has no idea who he is and is flabbergasted that he would decline the only chance to save his life. She asks Iggy to evaluate him and declare him incompetent so that she can perform the surgery and save his life. Iggy recognizes him right away and after speaking with him and listening to his compelling story of why he does not want to be alive without his arm, tells Wilder he will
not sign off on the surgery. She tells Iggy that their job is to save patients and she decides to go ahead and perform the surgery anyway until the patient begs her to stop. She clears the OR and he tells her what losing his arm will mean for his life, for his future. Wilder explains what life could be like and why he should live and he agrees to the surgery. While this was a great storyline, it should have been a storyline written for Helen Sharpe last season! I believe we saw Helen help a total of two patients last season, TWO! Fans begged the show runners to see Dr. Sharpe in action but they decided that having her in London, isolated from the other characters, spending all of her scenes on the telephone with Max, was the right way to go instead. What is more maddening, is the final scene between Max and Wilder. Sandra Mae Frank has enormous potential and is brilliant as Dr. Wilder. Why are the show runners not focusing on defining her character and solidifying her role at the hospital? Instead, they have chosen to use the remaining episodes to essentially make her a replacement for Helen in every way. Not only is Wilder the new chief of Oncology, but they have decided to rush her into a relationship with Max. After the slow burn between Max and Helen in seasons 1-3, and the intense chemistry and love between them that was such a tremendous gift last season, it is preposterous to think that Max would just move on and jump into another relationship with 11 episodes left in the series. This is also another example of how the growth of Max’s character in seasons 3 and 4 has been tossed to the wayside. The writers decided the best exit for Helen was to vilify her and have her break Max’s heart and abandon Luna. Now they decide to replace her with a white woman? The optics of this is terrible and an already hurt and alienated fanbase is sure to feel even more betrayed and angry by this choice made by the powers that be. Adding insult to injury was Aaron Ginsburg, writer of this episode, having Max sign “I am glad that we are friends” to Wilder. This was like sticking a dagger through the hearts of Sharpwin fans who know this to be an iconic line that Helen said to Max in season 3. The hurt that the writers continue to inflict on fans is unlike anything I have ever seen before. The show runners are also willingly placing Sandra in a terrible position, as she will surely face disdain online from fans due to choices made for her character that are beyond her control. What a tragic waste. Sandra deserves better. Freema DESERVED better. Fans deserve better. 

Just when you think things on this show can’t get any worse, they do. At this point it is clear that the show runners are intent on burning the show to the ground. If they really wanted to make things right and end on a high note, they would read the reviews and negative comments from fans, take them to heart and go in a different direction. One producer on the show chose today to ignore the hundreds of comments from hurt fans and instead, highlight the one positive comment that was made. That speaks volumes about what their intentions are. They could care less what fans have to think and that is truly appalling. The fall of New Amsterdam the TV show should be studied and written about, so that no show makes the same mistakes again. This may be one of the biggest TV tragedies of all time, if not the biggest. 

What did you think of this episode? Do you agree with the direction the show is taking? What do you hope happens in the remaining episodes? Comment below and interact with me on Twitter @ms_c_almeida.

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