Max’s spending habits come back to bite him in “Sabbath”, and Todd returns to balance the books.
This recap of New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 14, “Sabbath”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Directed by series’ star Ryan Eggold, “Sabbath” sees a return of New Amsterdam’s refreshing humor after a series of rather morose outings, and also the exceptionally dry veteran-turned-hospital-board-member Sgt. Todd Benson (Darren Pettie), who’s always a great foil for Max (Eggold) and a lovable critic of the hospital’s –and the show’s – overwhelmingly liberal politics. Opening with Max and his new potential romance Alice (Alison Luff) strolling the park and awkwardly arranging a date that neither of them seems all that committed to, we swiftly move to the confines of the hospital and a strained budget which requires cuts to the tune of $2 million.
Of course, the board sent Todd to handle this because they’re cowards. But if the cuts aren’t made, none of the hospital staff will get paid, so for once, Max can’t just brush the issue off. It’s nice to see some consequences of his ludicrous spending habits beyond cheeky in-jokes and Karen Brantley (Debra Monk) getting increasingly frantic, even if the eventual conclusion of this arc is a bit of a cop-out.
Anyway, Lauren (Janet Montgomery) is, for once, pretty chirpy, since she’s no longer walking with a cane or any other assistance – even if Casey (Alejandro Hernandez) doesn’t notice and is more concerned that nobody seems to say good morning to him. But a woman in the hallway immediately sours Lauren’s mood by… just sitting there. It was pretty obvious to me that this was Lauren’s mother, even though New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 14 treats it as something of a last-minute reveal.
First up in the ED is Steph Goldman (Nadia Dajani), a woman who has bumped her head and needs stitches but, since it’s the Sabbath, is going to be bending some religious rules by having a CT scan. Her relationship with her cute daughter is a bit of a cruel reminder for Lauren of her own strained relationship with her mother, though thankfully that one doesn’t seem to be complicated by adherence to strict religious doctrine. Which is probably just as well.
Vijay (Anupam Kher) has a new mentee in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 14: Dawn, or D.A.W.N., the diagnostic assessment wellness network. It’s a new-fangled speaking tablet that automates all a doctor’s work and trawls through untold amounts of information far faster than a human being could, and it’s going to be joining Vijay on all his rounds.
Meanwhile, Max’s money-saving master plan is to make small cuts to each department rather than nix one entirely, as Todd recommends, so his first bright idea is sending Floyd (Jocko Sims) to perform surgeries in Mexico rather than ordering pacemakers from there. Staunchly conservative Todd is predictably thrilled about outsourcing American jobs in such a way, but you know what Max is like.
You also know what Helen (Freema Agyeman) is like, so naturally, her patient Cephas Fernandez (Gregory Diaz IV) being a 13-year-old with a benign tumor in his stomach is course for concern – concern that Iggy (Tyler Labine) can get to the bottom of with a psychological assessment that quickly turns up a common culprit: Racism. The problem is that, as explained by Sandra Fall (Anna Suzuki), there is no code for racism to put into the system so they can bill the insurance company. Iggy has to change his diagnosis or somehow prove that racism is the root cause of Cephas’s tumors, which it turns out now number four and will keep recurring.
In Mexico, at the Clinica Del Corazon de San Juan, Floyd is so impressed by the efficiency of the specialist clinic that he gets all excited and reveals that he’s leaving New Amsterdam. He loves working there but he loves his fiancée more. Of course, he hasn’t yet told Max that he’s going, despite trying to multiple times, and you can bet your bottom dollar this admission is going to spite him by episode’s end.
Speaking of spite, Vijay is not getting on with DAWN, but since the company behind it are paying the hospital $160,000 to develop its algorithm he has no choice but to put up with it. The thing’s useful, though. It can diagnose Lyme disease, translate foreign languages, and retrieve CT scan results at a moment’s notice, but Vijay’s intelligence is threatened by its artificial variety, which compels him to just leave the tablet with a patient who likes it much more than he does.
Even DAWN, though, can’t help diagnose Steph, whose condition is rapidly worsening with seemingly no explanation and an induced coma in her near-future unless someone comes up with something. As this crisis develops so too does Max’s. He takes Todd on a tour of the apparently expendable daycare facilities and realizes that he isn’t going to be able to subject the hospital and its staff to this death-by-a-thousand-cuts method of money-saving. Todd reminds him again that he can simply lose one big-ticket item, in this case a revolutionary post-natal wing for undocumented mothers, and still make payroll. He begrudgingly signs off on it.
Naturally, that won’t be the last of the matter. New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 14 begins to bring the week’s subplots to a close. Kapoor figures out what’s up with Steph – her daughter broke the Sabbath rules by eating a non-kosher hotdog from a street vendor and inadvertently gave her mother a tapeworm. Iggy realizes he can’t change the world but he can change it for the better in the eyes of his patient, which will have to do for now. Lauren finally agrees to go for dinner with her mother. And Floyd finally plucks up the courage to tell Max that he’s leaving for San Francisco, but his experiences in Mexico give Max an idea which prompts him to hang up the phone before Floyd can actually let his boss know that he’s quitting.
Max’s idea is to implement a new program rather than cut one – he plans to outsource New Amsterdam’s doctors to local hospitals that can’t meet the specific needs of their patients. He can plug gaps in America’s healthcare and be fairly compensated for doing so, and thus the budget will be balanced. But has he stopped Todd in time, before he filed the budget? Todd explains that he threw the budget away, confident that Max would come up with something. Turns out he’s a big softie after all.
New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 14 ends with Max and Alice’s date at the theatre, which gets as far as the line outside before they both decide that they aren’t ready to go through with it quite yet. Instead they go out for pizza in a more relaxed environment and get on really well, which… doesn’t seem much different to me, but not to worry. There’s no time to ponder as Max receives a call from the doctor in Mexico who Floyd blabbed to about quitting – she’s applying for his job!
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.