New Amsterdam gave us its new best episode of the season with “Anthropocene” (stealing the crown from last week’s “Cavitation”), and it’s a testament to how this isn’t just a medical drama, but a story with emotional depth and intricate characters that have won us over in a matter of just six episodes. As each episode passes us by, the series manages to get better and better – a feat that is so difficult to accomplish in a time where the best of the best shows are front and center.
Watching New Amsterdam unfold on a weekly basis captures you in the most beautiful of ways, and grounded within it is a story about humanity, caring for others, and doing what’s right – no matter the cost. One of the best parts about this week’s episode was that it put together characters that we don’t often see or haven’t at all since the series premiered.
Case in point, Helen and Kapoor. Faced with a difficult case this week filled with all the feels, the pairing of the two works marvelously together. A father and son come in with what they originally determine is mercury poisoning, and goes on to touch base on social topics such as climate change. Another important aspect of this particular part of the episode is the focus on a healthy father/son relationship and placing Dr. Kapoor in charge of their health. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, Dr. Kapoor has a very strained and difficult relationship with his own son, and this episode brings that sadness and frustration back up again when he has to treat these men.
New Amsterdam has a way with keeping things subtle and not in your face, but still intelligently getting the point across. The Kapoor aspect of “Anthropocene” is a way of showing the character that relationships can work out if you work on them, and given that the father/son patients stick together after losing their wife and mother, it’s a wake-up call to Dr. Kapoor in more ways than one.
Another part of “Anthropocene” that stands out, and a plot point that is commendable, is Dr. Sharpe’s struggles with IVF and coming to terms with it. It’s a taboo topic that many women have a hard time talking about or even thinking about because it means you have to think of the dreaded “A” word – age. It’s also a tough reality that women have to face, and seeing a character that’s a successful woman struggle through a very real issue is something to be admired about New Amsterdam. It’s not about the on-call room hookups, or the crazy, insane cases, but it’s about people and their real-life problems. And it’s beautifully and tragically illustrated through Dr. Helen Sharpe’s story.
An interesting angle of New Amsterdam is that it’s the hospital for New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail, and as a result there’s a section devoted to the inmates. This week touches on the unjust treatment of prisoners, and how that can get complicated when someone other than doctors get involved. When a prison guard starts injecting inmates with ketamine, things get a bit questionable. She feels that because of her job and because the cons are, well, cons, she has a right do what she wants.
However, she is not legally authorized to tamper with the medicine aspect of the inmates, and Dr. Floyd tries very hard to make it clear that she is crossing the line. He manages to stay relatively calm through it all, despite the fact that she is doing a very immoral thing. It’s intriguing to see New Amsterdam tap into the debate of right vs. wrong, and how easily it can be to cross the line into dangerous territory.
Iggy’s story is very heartbreaking in “Anthropocene”, who is the father to four adopted children with his husband. His adopted daughter Sameera wants to meet her grandparents, but because they are racist, and she is Muslim, they want nothing to do with her. It’s very respectful how New Amsterdam chooses to broach the topic of racism, because it can be a tricky one. It’s tough to see the effect it has on Iggy, who’s in disbelief over his parents’ inability to accept him as a gay man, and the children he has adopted. Iggy is such a wonderful presence in the show, and it is monumental and inspiring that the series chose to include this storyline within the series, because the sentiment of “Anthropocene” resonates with many, and it’s unfortunately a reality we are all too accustomed to.
We can’t talk about New Amsterdam and not talk about the amazing Dr. Max, who is the reason behind all the great and wonderful things happening at the hospital. Of course, even he has to participate in the hospital’s fundraising event and charm it’s donors to make sure the hospital is running and funded. Because he is such a righteous, moral character, it’s almost strange to have to see him schmooze wealthy men and women, especially because all he really wants to do is help the patients. It is why the show is as great as it is, it’s just about the patients, and everything else (affairs, hookups, drama) take a backseat. It’s his wife Georgia who steps it up in this episode in an effort to help Max, and it’s due time, because her character is amazing!
It’s also another reason why New Amsterdam stands out because we understand their marriage is complicated, and they’re trying to figure it out, but it’s also not the epicenter of the series – there is so much more to look to.
By the end of “Anthropocene”, New Amsterdam gave us a sucker punch square in the gut when Max finally told Georgia about his cancer. It came right at the moment that she decided that he should move back in permanently, and it’s such a devastating scene to watch. There is so much to process as Max leans in and tells her what’s going on, and you can see the heartbreak and pain in her eyes almost immediately. While there are uplifting, inspiring moments embedded within every episode, there is also the harsh reality that is life, and in the final moments of the episode New Amsterdam reminded us that life is always in flux, and we have to just ride the waves right through it.
Cultured Vultures is a site by writers, for writers. We like words.