Sometimes the people most in need of care are the ones who consistently provide it.
It’s undeniably been a rough season for the series, but New Amsterdam Season 5 Episode 4 had shades of what the series used to be and what made it so great, thus making it feel familiar.
It was inarguably one of the strongest of the season thus far.
The hour was about self-reflection, and it took the primary characters and forced them to face their fears, making them their most vulnerable, and mostly guided them through to the other side of it.
Burnout is prominent in the healthcare field, now more than ever, with it being at an all-time high because of the pandemic. It felt natural for Max to do his usual Max thing and designate a day that forced his friends and colleagues to take care of themselves for a change.
And the catalyst for that was the most disheartening aspect of the hour. As if he hadn’t dealt with enough as of late, Max found a lump in his neck that he needed to get checked out.
Max’s cancer scare could merely be a one-installment heartrending storyline and a meaningful tribute to the crew member, Schavaria Reeves, they honored in the final credit.
In that sense, it’s a beautiful tribute.
But it’s also possible that revisiting Max’s cancer can bring this series full circle for the final season. Max began this journey as a man who was battling cancer, and one can recognize the poetry in him ending the series with a similar fate or even worse.
Would the series go so far as to kill off this beloved character by the finale? New Amsterdam has become so unpredictable that you can’t rule anything out.
But Max’s cancer returning would force him to face his worst fear. He has Luna now, and he’s all she has; the mere idea that he could leave her an orphan would tear him up inside.
Ben: Thank you.
Max: For what?
Ben: For changing her mind about the procedure. Not a lot of people can do that with Elizabeth. Actually no one can, except for you.
But he also admitted that he doesn’t have it in him to do chemotherapy or anything similar again. It put his life and potential death into perspective. And the scary thing is that we still don’t have any answers.
Max’s results couldn’t determine if the lump was cancerous or not, and we never found out if he got his biopsy results. He told Wilder that he was fine, but it’s not unlike Max to downplay or omit something to protect the feelings of his close ones.
After all of this, you can see the appeal for the writers of having Max face his own mortality again at this stage of his life, and that’s where this storyline is shrouded in uncertainty and is enough to make one uneasy.
In typical fashion, Max wanted everyone else to do what they needed to take care of themselves, and they were resistant. Doctors indeed make the worst patients.
The concept was sound, though. How can they all continue to help other people if they’re not taking care of themselves? One of the doctors mentioned that before Max’s initiative, she hadn’t had a mammogram in three years because she could never find or make the time.
Self-care is healthcare.
Wilder was probably the most resistant of all the doctors. And she also had the most emotional storyline. The series effortlessly introduces and navigates inclusive storytelling, and one can genuinely love and appreciate how they delve into Wilder as a Deaf woman.
The moment she begrudgingly admitted that she needed surgery for the carpal tunnel but refused to get it, her reason was abundantly clear.
Thanks to you, I was forced to look inward, and I had a breakthrough. Now, if you excuse me, I’m off to have consensual sex with a stranger of my choosing.
She communicates with her hands. It’s how she connects to the world around her; without that, she can’t function the way she’s accustomed to — disappears.
Max didn’t even take a second to consider why she would be so resistant to a procedure that would leave her out of commission for weeks. It’s terrifying to consider that the world can carry on without you, and you’d be trapped with this inability to express yourself.
The surgery would steal Wilder’s voice, her control, and agency, and the irony is that not doing it could result in the same thing. But Wilder went through with the surgery despite her resistance because it was Max who asked her to do it.
Ben said as much, reading between the lines and implying that Wilder’s fondness for Max is unlike any other relationship. They are not the least bit subtle about this Max/Wilder pairing. It comes in like a wrecking ball with every scene they are in, relying on the same angles the series used for previous couples.
While there’s no way on earth that doctors would perform dual carpal tunnel surgery, we were supposed to suspend belief so they could build to Max’s “I’ll be your hands” moment.
And objectively, it was a quintessential Max moment and sweet. Director, Darnell Martin, has an incredible way of delivering when it comes to suggestive, emotionally evocative, romantic moments.
Things like that scene, Wilder burying herself into that embrace with Max, enjoying the intimacy of him stroking her shoulder and resting his head on hers, do a fine job at selling Max and Wilder.
And again, Sandra Mae, who was fantastic during this installment, and Ryan Eggold have great chemistry. Their scenes in this hour showcased that chemistry well.
Rylance: Your impotence wasn’t your body failing. It was your body giving you a warning. This is not what you want. Why did you end your marriage?
Iggy: Because I couldn’t be the person I want.
Rylance: Marvelous. The question is, who do you want to be?
We get where this is inevitably headed, and on paper, if Max can’t be with anyone else, Wilder is a great fit for him. It’s just so darn frustrating that we get the whiplash with the timing, character switching, and what is now essentially Helen’s erasure. Everything about Max and Wilder is otherwise enjoyable on its own!
They’ve catapulted us into this new ship before we could process the end of the previous one. It’s the hyperspeed of it that remains so jarring even if months passed for Max. And it’s also the pesky sticking point that there’s something off about Max’s inability to be alone for too long.
But this is where we are now. This particular hour was much stronger in the Wildwin/Goodwin department regarding making its case. And at this rate, something more significant will have to happen by the midseason, right?
Caring for people is Max’s love language, and he’s taken that on and poured that into Wilder. And her feelings for him are so obvious that she can’t seem to hide them anymore, and she indulges whenever she can.
The question is, what will push them past their friendship and into something more, and when will that happen? It feels like it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Lauren also had a compelling arc for the hour since the series chose to focus on her ADHD. It’s something that they don’t directly showcase as much, but it’s such an essential part of who she is that it deserves more attention.
If we’re praising this series for the representation we have with Wilder, then it’s certainly important to have the acknowledgment of Lauren as a neurodivergent woman who battles ADHD. Most of the time, her ADHD takes a backseat to her addiction.
They had fun with the arc. Her scarfing down as much as she could to gain weight had amusing moments. It also made me jealous.
But, again, with fine direction and Janet Montgomery’s incredible performance, it felt like we were in Lauren’s state along with her.
The hour did a solid job of exploring what it’s like for Lauren when she’s off her Adderall and how difficult it can be for her to navigate things in that state. Her mind and body were literally everywhere.
The E.D. was pure chaos, and Lauren was, too. It was exhausting to watch her go. But the best scene was her delivering the baby. Montgomery’s “crazed,” for lack of a better term expression, the sweatiness mirrored that of the pregnant woman, and the camera work and effects were all stellar.
And Lauren endured all that, racing around all day, only to realize that she had lost more weight than gained. Of course, she did. The woman was operating at a million miles a minute.
I run an emergency department. I can’t do that if I, myself, am in a state of emergency.
While my feelings on the idea that Lauren had to stop her Adderall cold turkey and now she feels she doesn’t need it are mixed, I can appreciate the exploration and execution of this storyline for her.
It’s nothing inherently wrong with someone with ADHD taking and needing medication. But it’s also nothing wrong with showing that a person can find a way to manage and function without it either.
If the point was to show that Lauren could overcome her fear of her ADHD, control issues about it, or lean into how she simply thinks and functions differently, then so be it.
They dropped Floyd’s father’s storyline for the time being and did what they love to do best by introducing us to his potential new love interest.
At least she’s someone who will give him a run for his money. She and the doctor didn’t hold back with calling Floyd out on his control issues and shutting down that bullcrap he had about needing to step up to be the man in his family even though his competent mother was right there.
It was surprising that Floyd learned that he had Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome and required surgery, but it was a solid story arc for him. His attempts to basically perform his own surgery suited him and provided a few laughs.
He truly was the worst patient of them all. But it was a reminder of how important it was that Max had them check themselves out, and it put some things into perspective for Floyd, leading to some interesting conclusions.
His chemistry with the new nurse was fun, and while it’s redundant to circle back around to Floyd’s love life, damn if I’m not intrigued.
Admittedly, Iggy going on a date with the hot, handsy guy who wanted to hook up right there, and then the hour briefly pivoting into his erectile dysfunction, lost me for a bit.
But much of that has to do with the Iggy-fatigue on this series. However, Rylance is who brought everything together and made this storyline work.
Iggy ended up having a therapy session with his colleague, which was effective and had results.
Rylance didn’t mince words, called Iggy out on his bullcrap, and helped him unpack some things and have revelations. Where was Rylance this whole time? He was amazing!
The conversation Iggy tried to have about sex in the queer community could have gotten explored a bit more. But Rylance was correct in getting Iggy to focus on himself and his emotional impotence.
Iggy couldn’t get it up because it was his body’s way of trying to break him out of his old habits. He was the one who broke things off with Martin and said that he wanted to be the person he couldn’t be with Martin.
But we still don’t know who that is, and it doesn’t seem like Iggy knows either. However, he did conclude that he wanted to have consensual sex with a stranger or someone new. You do you, Ignatius.
Over to you, New Amsterdam Fanatics.
Do you think Max’s cancer is back? How do you feel about Max and Wilder’s budding romance? Sound off below.
You can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.