It could have used a slightly tighter focus, but “The Blues” was still able to make significant progress with its characters and deliver some typically touching moments.
This recap of New Amsterdam Episode 13, “The Blues”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“The Blues” seems a fitting title for this week’s episode of New Amsterdam – everyone seems to have them. By the end of the hour we’ve had at least two major characters break down in tears, for completely different reasons, and I imagine the audience might react in much the same way. Then again, that’s what we tune in for each week, like some kind of sick, self-loathing weirdos.
A significant portion of “The Blues” was devoted to Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery), who has been pulled into the office of Iggy (Tyler Labine) after Helen (Freema Agyeman) reported that she was unfit to continue her role in the hospital. Lauren has ADHD and takes Adderall on prescription, which she sees as grimly ironic; she’s being chewed out by a psychiatrist for taking medication prescribed to her by a psychiatrist. The problem is, she’s exceeding her prescription to cope with double shifts and her innate emotional trauma, and people might die as a result.
Lauren’s pill-popping has been developing for weeks now, and if “The Blues” didn’t necessarily provide a resolution, it at least made significant progress towards doing so. Lots of emotional backstory revealed an alcoholic mother and an absentee workaholic father in Bloom’s past (you can see which one she’s trying to emulate), and it was touching to finally see her frosty exterior melt. Her admitting outright that she needs help was one of the best moments of “The Blues”, and also one of the best character moments of New Amsterdam thus far.
Side note: He doesn’t get the big showy scenes so he often flies under the radar, but Tyler Labine is near-perfect in this role and always enhances the storylines he’s involved in, whether they’re jokey comic relief or moving drama. He needs an episode like this one that really hones in on his character.
To make room for what I understand is Janet Montgomery’s maternity leave, she’s off to rehab. She’ll be missed, but Max (Ryan Eggold) assures her that her job will be waiting for her when she returns. Obviously the fact she has knowingly jeopardised the lives of patients for months will be quietly forgotten about.
Speaking of Max, in “The Blues” he’s trying (for once) to make smart financial decisions by seeking out employees of New Amsterdam whose jobs have become obsolete and finding them something useful to do. They’re already on payroll, so why not? This was a good chance for some levity and for Max to show off his trademark superpowered altruism, and frankly it was nice to see him sidelined a little, since his cancer recovery has dominated the last few episodes. I presume he’s still undergoing chemotherapy, but “The Blues” didn’t mention it. You know how Max is.
Everything else that happened this week felt a little half-hearted; shoved into the margins so that the real focus could remain on Lauren. Part of me wishes “The Blues” had just focused exclusively on her and perhaps Max’s penny-pinching scheme, which would have made for a tighter episode, but that just isn’t how the show works. So we had a stubborn old fisherwoman who didn’t take proper care of herself, and Kapoor (Anupam Kher) ruining his personal relationships by accusing his son of befriending Ella (Dierdre Friel) just to torment him; Rohan (Vandit Bhatt) and Ella both take exception to this, even though it’s almost certainly true, leading to another moving scene in which Kapoor breaks down to Iggy, basically his only remaining friend.
So, it was business as usual at New Amsterdam. “The Blues” wasn’t a great episode by the show’s usual standards, but it made some vital progress with both Lauren and Kapoor (even if the latter’s issues only felt of secondary importance) while also maintaining its usual deft balance of humour and emotion. One of the best shows on television, even when it isn’t firing on all cylinders, New Amsterdam is back, and we’re all better for it.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.