New Amsterdam delivers as ever with “Cavitation”, an episode that raised important social concerns and put the characters through the wringer.
This recap of New Amsterdam Episode 5, “Cavitation”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
You know you’re off to a racing start when the eternally upbeat cast of New Amsterdam begin an episode, as they do in “Cavitation”, sat morosely together, each taking it in turn to utter self-loathing comments about the depths of their failure. And when Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) walks in with a black eye and a newspaper, and the newspaper details a senseless death that has occurred at the hospital, and the opening line mentions a bullet, well… let’s just say things aren’t looking too good this week.
Even twenty-four hours prior, things aren’t looking good. There’s just something in the air. Max, who has lost his voice, is being shadowed by a journalist. Dr. Vijay Kapoor’s (Anupam Kher) son has arrived out of the blue, and Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) has “diminished ovarian reserves”. (That’s technical jargon for, basically, “have a baby right now or not at all.”) And then the kids with gunshot wounds start coming in.
To save one of those kids, Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) breaks protocol, which leads to a bollocking from Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) and puts Max in an awkward position with the journo, who records their testy exchange. Max, to his credit, is more concerned with making sure that the reporting concerns the hospital and not any of the peripheral issues, such as whether or not the two gunshot victims were shot by the police unlawfully.
Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine), meanwhile, is cosying up to the aunt of one of the victims and trying to get in front of any psychiatric issues the boy might experience as a result of his trauma. (A lot of this is a good excuse for on-the-nose commentary about police prejudice.) He’s also fretting about an upcoming dinner with his husband; Kapoor, too, is letting his personal issues with his estranged junkie son effect his typically cool demeanour. You can’t just leave these things at the door.
The push and pull of “Cavitation” is about choosing sides. Whereas Max lays out pretty clearly why he can’t publicly support the mayor or the police in the on-going debate around whether the cops should be allowed to use devastating hollow-point ammunition, each of the other characters are forced to make serious last-minute decisions where sitting on the fence gets people killed. Sometimes those decisions don’t pay off, sometimes they do; the point is that having the courage to make them for the right reasons is what counts. Now there’s a story.
The opening might have sapped some of the surprise from the inevitable last-minute tragedy, but none of the power, thanks mostly to fine performances and that dreaded closing montage (seriously, I think that has got me in every single episode thus far.) But what lingers on from “Cavitation” is its truth, however manipulative and heavy-handed its delivery; the truth of tragedy, of life and death, and of hope. However bad a day might be, if you’re lucky, there’ll be another one right after it.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.