New Amsterdam returns for more heart-wrenching montage finales, and “Six or Seven Minutes” proves it hasn’t lost a step.
This recap of New Amsterdam Episode 10, “Six or Seven Minutes”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s back! And it’s just as well, really, as my Wednesday mornings just weren’t the same without all the ugly-crying into my coffee. “Six or Seven Minutes” sees New Amsterdam return after a brief hiatus, bringing it with it the usual torrent of heart-rending ethical dilemmas and flagrantly manipulative emotional trauma for your viewing pleasure.
There’s a part of me – a cynical, pragmatic, “professional” part – that knows I shouldn’t like New Amsterdam even half as much as I do, but **** all that, right? Criticism, contrary to popular belief, is about communicating what you feel; it’s a one-sided conversation about your thoughts and experiences, not some kind of objective consumer-focused yay-or-nay appraisal, and my thoughts and experiences with New Amsterdam are all teary-eyed adoration for its unashamedly uplifting message about how nice it is to just be nice.
The problem in “Six or Seven Seconds” is that the nicest bloke of all, Max (Ryan Eggold), has collapsed on an idyllic lakeside jetty and might die. His put-upon right-hand woman Dora (Zabryna Guevara) has no idea where he is, much to the consternation of literally everyone who works at New Amsterdam, who all need Max all the time for everything. And none of them know he’s dying of cancer, which Dr. Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) has unhelpfully kept from them since Max’s first day.
So after some hasty DIY surgery at the loving, trembling hands of his heavily-pregnant wife, Georgia (Lisa O’Hare), Max is airlifted into New Amsterdam, where his team all assemble to greet him – including Iggy (Tyler Labine), for some reason, even though I’m fairly sure his expertise reside elsewhere, such as in spearheading a mass walk-out to campaign for women’s reproductive rights. Needless to say that’s a major problem for the money-minded Dean Fulton (Ron Rifkin), who takes charge of the hospital in the interim, and quickly discovers that Max’s absurd made-for-TV altruism has turned the hospital’s entire staff into a team of extremely costly bleeding-heart renegades.
The difference between six or seven seconds, by the way, is essentially whether the oxygen deprivation has left Max braindead or if he’ll make a more or less full recovery. It’s the latter, of course – for now anyway. New Amsterdam doesn’t traffic in morbid loss of life, at least not of its lead, but things have to be touch-and-go for a while so that everyone can learn important lessons about themselves and what they do. Fulton, for instance, learns that a public hospital can save more lives by not being shackled to bureaucratic process and spending all its time pinching pennies. And Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) learns that she probably shouldn’t carry out complex medical procedures while hopped up on pills after a double shift. (Props to Bloom’s long-suffering acolyte Casey (Alejandro Hernandez) for covering up all her mistakes.)
Despite Max’s life hanging in the balance, everyone else is getting on with theirs. Vijay (Anupam Kher) is throwing his money around without a care in the world, Helen has a burgeoning relationship with Dr. Panthaki (Sendhil Ramamurthy), and Georgia is remembering not only why she fell in love with Max in the first place but what it is that drives him – and what might ultimately save him.
It’s work, obviously! But when Max wakes up he realises something himself – that he can’t put himself through experimental medical trials when he has a wife and looming daughter to care for. Just as those closest to him realise how much he needs his work to keep going, he also realises that he needs to keep going to be able to work. Thus, a compromise is reached. Max will go through chemotherapy, and his team will step up to ensure that he can keep running the hospital. It’s the most New Amsterdam ending to a New Amsterdam episode you can possibly imagine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.