“Anthropocene” was New Amsterdam as its best: Touching, funny, surprising, and occupying its own uplifting, important space.
This recap of New Amsterdam Episode 6, “Anthropocene”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Each week, New Amsterdam contrives a new overarching plot and a couple of intriguing medical emergencies, and by episode’s end, these things are typically resolved. But the one constant is the characters. They’re all likable, have fine chemistry, and continue to develop as flawed, three-dimensional human beings – especially in an episode like “Anthropocene”, which matches the cast up and challenges them in intriguing and entertaining ways.
So, while Max (Ryan Eggold) is forced to attend an annual fundraiser to schmooze billionaires, Helen (Freema Agyeman) and Dr Kapoor (Anupam Kher) are busy dealing with a father and son who have been admitted with identical symptoms. There was a lot going on here: some brief commentary on climate change, the fallibility of technology, and the relationship between a parent and their child. That last one in particular is what made Helen and Dr Kapoor so well-suited to dealing with the problem; Helen is still reeling from having been told that if she doesn’t have kids now she’ll never be able to, and Kapoor’s rocky relationship with his estranged son continues to plague him.
It’s classic New Amsterdam that saving these two required an experimental treatment to be performed on the son while his father watched helplessly on, but you know how things work at this point. Besides, the show at least puts these contrived moments of manipulative drama to good use; the most emotional thing that happened here wasn’t anything to do with the treatment, but the tear running down Kapoor’s face as the father explained what his son meant to him.
Kapoor is usually paired off with Iggy (Tyler Labine) in a bromantic double-act, but the latter was occupied this week with a deeply personal subplot concerning his husband and their adopted children. The spectacularly adorable eldest can remember Iggy’s parents, and is eager to see them again, but they’re so bigoted that they refuse to see their gay son and his Muslim children. All this was heart-breaking, but powerful and endearing and open-minded, as New Amsterdam tends to be. It was certainly much better than what Floyd (Jocko Sims) and Lauren (Janet Montgomery) were up to in “Anthropocene”; Floyd’s subplot was a reiteration of prisoner treatment conditions on the Rikers Wing containing a cartoon villain, and their relationship took an odd turn when Lauren inexplicably set Floyd up with a friend of hers.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom on the relationship front. While Max was dashing around the hospital in his tuxedo rather than buttering up investors, Georgia (Lisa O’Hare) was left to sweet-talk the money men in his absence. And this was a really smart decision, as Max and Georgia’s marriage has felt a little underserved by New Amsterdam, so realising that Georgia convincing others of Max’s virtues was really her reminding herself what she loves about him worked a treat. Her asking him to move back in full-time felt totally earned. And, of course, it meant that him telling her about his cancer was all the more crushing. “Anthropocene” might have occasionally slipped into heavy-handed emotional territory, as New Amsterdam always does, but that scene, in which Max told her to hold him tighter as he whispered his diagnosis in her ear, was incredibly well-executed. The problem is, the more you fall in love with these people, the surer you can be that they’re all going to break your heart.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.