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New Amsterdam - Heal Thyself - Review

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New Amsterdam continued its downfall this week, proving to whatever viewers are left that they are no longer capable of telling compelling stories. At this point, I cannot tell if the writers have given up, or if they are truly disillusioned and think that they are actually writing challenging TV. This week's episode was just another mess of bland, recycled storylines and questionable ethics that left me wondering why NBC doesn’t just pull the plug now before it gets even worse (can it get any worse)?  

The title of the episode is “Heal Thyself,” playing off the famous proverb, “physician, heal thyself.” Fans will remember that this line was also used before in the show by the ever so missed Helen Sharpe in season 1, episode 3 when Max was Helen’s patient. In this episode, Max calls the doctors together for an urgent meeting where he announces that he is granting them all the day off to take care of themselves, because physician burnout is at an all-time high. One can’t help but wonder, what about the rest of the hospital staff? Are they not just as burned out, perhaps even moreso? This whole story was completely out of touch with today's reality of an overworked health care system. It showcased the privilege of doctors in the medical field, especially since the majority of them scoffed at the idea or outright refused to take a personal day- not out of the goodness of their hearts- but instead for selfish reasons. Lauren would prefer to be at work rather than at her sister's drug den, because even though she has a lot of money (as was the entire premise of her storyline in season 3), she can’t afford her own place. Floyd is trying to avoid his father and Elizabeth is wanting to immerse herself in her work so she can put off surgery. I’m sure any other hospital employee would be jumping at the chance to have a day off to take care of themselves, but apparently that privilege is only reserved for doctors. Well, only certain doctors because as you’ll see, several were still working, treating the doctors who were lucky enough to have the day off. 

Lauren uses her time to have a routine physical so that she can have her ADHD medication refilled. She is panicked when the doctor tells her she has lost 4 pounds and hospital protocol dictates that she must go off her Adderall medication until she can bring her weight up. Lauren immediately springs into an anxious panic as only she can, and attempts to take control of the situation by gorging on as many fattening foods as she can handle. She also decides to ignore Max’s orders and resumes working in the ER where she confides in Walsh about her medication dilemma. A pregnant patient comes into the ER and goes into labour and Lauren must pull herself together to deliver the baby. The situation turns even more tense when Lauren determines that the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. Lauren breathes through her obvious panic and manages to deliver the baby safely. When she visits her doctor 12 hours later, she is hoping that her binge fest helped add a few pounds but instead, she lost another pound. However, it no longer matters because Lauren has come to the realization that she no longer needs her medication. She has developed strategies to help her overcome her panic on her own. Considering she is living with her sister who is in active addiction, I can’t help but wonder if it’s only a matter of time before she ends up substituting Adderall for narcotics. Although people with ADHD can employ lifestyle changes to improve symptoms, only medication can help the underlying brain dysregulation. Whether or not Lauren is strong enough to manage this, will be interesting to see. 

Floyd used his day off to have an EKG where he was discovered to have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is a fairly rare but treatable condition. He reluctantly goes through with the corrective procedure, and was a difficult patient to say the least. A new nurse with a strong presence was able to stand up to him and point out his unconscious arrogance, which actually seemed to peak his interest. Could this be a potential new love interest for Floyd? I’m not sure how the writers think they can manage the storyline with his father and a love interest with so few episodes remaining, but they’re known for doing a million things half way, rather than seeing one really good thing through so I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Iggy had the most amusing storyline this episode, simply because his portrayer, Tyler Labine, has constantly put down his colleague’s storylines in hopes for more attention for his character. Well, he got our attention tonight alright! Iggy uses his day off to finally go on a first date with a man he met on the internet. The man comes on very strong, but Iggy still chooses to go home with him. However, there’s a problem- Iggy couldn’t perform. Iggy decides to talk to a fellow psychiatrist at New Amsterdam about what occurred, to determine if it is erectile dysfunction, or if he was simply put off and not over Martin. The best part about this storyline was the psychiatrist calling Iggy out for blaming his potential ED on others and not taking accountability for his actions. It’s about time someone told him what so many viewers have been wanting him to be told for a long time. He is a narcissist and a completely unethical psychiatrist. The fact that he gets so much air time still completely baffles me. It was nice to see him face some painful truths for once! 

Finally, we have the love story that the writers are trying really hard to sell- Max and Elizabeth. When Max asks Elizabeth why she isn’t taking her personal day, Ben encourages her to open up to Max about the fact that she needs Carpal Tunnel surgery and she wants to work to get her mind off it. Elizabeth does not want to have the surgery, as it will mean she will lose her means of communicating. Max immediately goes into fix-it mode and tries to talk her into having the surgery. He even has a surgeon that specializes in Carpal Tunnel surgery come in and meet with Elizabeth, much to her chagrin. There are glaring problems with this storyline. First, The irony is not lost on me that two episodes ago, Elizabeth attempted to force her patient into having surgery that he did not want to have and now, someone is doing the same thing to her and she’s offended. Also, having Max talk a woman into doing something to her body that she does not want to do is absolutely inappropriate. Viewers will recall that Max also tried to talk Helen into having a hysterectomy to fix blood clots that were lodged all over her body in season 4, even though she wanted to try a different method first. What gives Max the right to tell people, especially women, what they should do with their health? The fact that Elizabeth went through with the surgery was a shock to her interpreter, Ben, who praised Max because no one can typically get through to Elizabeth, but he did. Max felt a sense of pride and honour that he held that position with her. It made me feel unsettled that Max is being glorified as a saviour because he forced a woman to have a surgery that she didn’t want to have. This show has crossed so many lines with ethics in the last three episodes, it’s so hard to believe that this was once a show that brought social justice issues to the forefront to tell compelling stories. Not only are the stories this season crossing inappropriate boundaries, they are insensitively portraying issues involving women in a time where women need to be empowered, not steamrolled. The final scene has Max helping Wilder by offering to be her voice for her. As he’s helping her sip water, the two embrace and she leans into him. The look on both their faces are of realization that this is more than just friendship. The problem with this is there is still zero chemistry between them. It feels forced and quite frankly, wrong. Max spent the entire series being in love with Helen, he crossed an ocean to be with her and we are expected to believe he wouldn’t cross that same ocean to try and make things work with her? Instead, the woman that he loved for years is essentially erased after a few months and now he has feelings for someone else? It’s complete nonsense. What’s worse is that he has completely reverted back to season 1 Max. The one that wanted to fix everything and everyone. His character growth over the past few seasons has been completely wiped out, gone like it didn’t even happen. Max has turned into a shell of the man that long time fans watched overcome so many hurdles and grow from. Season 5 Max is not the same one that fans have come to love. I don’t know this Max and I don’t want to get to know him. 

The most out of place storyline was Max having to face his mortality once again by thinking his Cancer had come back via a mass in his throat. He used his mass and the fact that if he died, no one would be there for Luna as a way to convince Elizabeth to have her surgery. I’m not quite sure what one had to do with the other as her ailment was not life threatening, but again, nothing that this show does anymore seems to make sense. To me, this was a gross misuse of Max’s previous scare with Cancer to try and force a connection between him and Wilde. And no big shocker, at the end of the episode, he finds out the mass is benign. There are 9 episodes remaining and the end can’t come soon enough. 

What did you think of the episode? Are you enjoying this season? If not, do you think the show can redeem itself in the episodes remaining? Share your thoughts below or engage with me on Twitter @ms_c_almeida.

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