As we head into the second episode of New Amsterdam’s second season, ‘The Big Picture’, there are quite a few things at play. After the big character death reveal, the story is trying to push its characters forward as they work through their emotional trauma. Amongst all of them, Max is the one that has a lot to process. His wife died and he’s now raising their baby on his own, but the question here is–has he actually dealt with his grief? Logic would dictate that he probably hasn’t but as this episode goes to show, he’s trying to figure it out on his own.
This aspect of the episode/story arc isn’t necessarily one that has a ton of potential, especially if they focus too much on him ignoring his feelings. Stories can get real old, real fast if they spend too much time on a dramatic plot point. When it comes to the character of Max, there are a lot of layers to peel back here and if it’s not done correctly, it can get fairly boring.
As we seen in ‘The Big Picture’, Vijay is the one to trust that Max is dealing with his wife’s death in his own way. Everyone else is concerned that Max is pushing all the negative thoughts and emotions deep down, where he doesn’t have to think about them. Given Max’s history, it’s a possibility that he will implode later as he has done in the past. Having said all that, Max’s story has always been the show’s strongest, and hopefully this remains the case as the season progresses, especially when it comes to his journey of dealing with grief.
A big plot point of this episode involves Max trying to find a way to make things more efficient at New Amsterdam. This means trying to find how the employees can save time so they can have a better work/life balance. Of course, this is a problem that very much exists in the daily lives of people all around the world. It’s not exactly something that can be solved overnight, but it’s nice to see New Amsterdam try to give it a go anyway. Max’s efforts seem underwhelming, whereas normally he carries a certain pizzazz about him. This is further proof that he needs help processing whatever has just happened, even though his ideas are still ambitious. He’s simply taking on too much, too fast, and New Amsterdam needs to find a clever way to manage Max’s story.
Similar situations have come up in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, in which a character has to deal with a major character death. Case in point, Derek dying and Meredith dealing with it. In terms of how Meredith deals with it after the fact is probably something the show did better than it would have in the past. If New Amsterdam can follow a similar path, it may be able to keep us engaged in where Max ends up – we will have to wait and see.
Dr. Floyd has an interesting encounter with one of the interns in ‘The Big Picture’, which sheds light on a topic medical dramas don’t always touch on. What happens when an intern makes a grave mistake that almost takes a patient’s life? Well, this is a common scenario seen across many medical dramas including Grey’s Anatomy and The Resident. But the manner in which New Amsterdam tackles it is commendable. Instead of repercussions or consequences, this is used as a moment to teach and reflect. This is precisely what the job entails and New Amsterdam takes a beat to explain what should happen here.
This isn’t a moment to hand out punishments, but rather learn from your mistakes – even when you lie. Instead of kicking the intern out of the program for lying and almost killing a patient, Floyd decides he’ll use this as a teaching opportunity. We’ve seen instances of this with Dr. Conrad in The Resident, he’s very much about pushing the interns to figure out how to become their best. Not only does this make for great television, but it’s all too applicable in the real world.
Lauren has officially come back to work and the recovery has been anything but easy. Considering she’s an addict, the series has chosen to have her fight through the pain instead of taking meds. The extent of her injuries were ridiculous and even though this is just television, not many can truly imagine what a medicated-free recovery looks like. Lauren’s character is off to a good start for the second season, and it’s shedding light on mental health and addiction issues. She’s a recovering addict, but she’s also had a rough go at life and there are a lot of layers to this complicated character. It’s not very often a show takes the time to build and embed these layers into characters, so it’s very much appreciated here.
In ‘The Big Picture’, Iggy spends a lot of time with inmates and trying to reel them into the world of school and education. For reasons beyond our understanding, New Amsterdam is not just a hospital, but has a prison ward and classrooms, and basically everything in between. It’s quite the functional establishment which is why Iggy has the opportunity to work with inmates in this capacity. This is a very riveting aspect of the episode because New Amsterdam is trying to see past the crimes of these inmates. There is an effort to find a way to rehabilitate them in a way that they can move on and be better people.
Netflix’s Orange is the New Black had a lot of this kind of closure in their final season, and it’s nice to see it happen in a different environment in ‘The Big Picture’. Dr. Iggy is one of the strongest and most inspirational characters in New Amsterdam, and that is proven here once again. He sees the best in people, even if they’re convicted criminals. He gives them hope and courage to be better people, and this is exactly the type of character we want to see on television.