“Double Blind” gives Max the minor task of ending the opioid epidemic, as Helen investigates Castro’s trial.
This recap of New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15, “Double Blind”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There is no target too big for New Amsterdam and Max Goodwin’s (Ryan Eggold) weaponized do-gooder spirit, so on the docket in “Double Blind” is no less than the opioid epidemic – and an incestuous relationship for good measure. Look, nobody cared when Game of Thrones did it.
As though Max doesn’t have enough to worry about. He’s still dating-but-not-really with his pretty new partner-in-parenthood Alice (Alison Luff), even though neither of them wants to commit to the other in fear of upsetting their dearly departed spouses, and his friend and colleague Floyd (Jocko Sims) has one foot out of the door pointed firmly in the direction of San Francisco, where he’s going to live and work with his Evie (Margot Bingham) and leave New Amsterdam without a cardiothoracic chair. After all the fuss recent episodes have made about Floyd’s difficulty in telling Max the truth, he’s pretty blasé about it in this one, which makes it all the weirder when Max casually brushes him off and tells him not to worry about filling the soon-to-be-empty position.
It’s made clear early on in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15 that opioids are going to be the focus since Lauren (Janet Montgomery) can’t seem to spend five minutes in the ED without a familiar patient begging for them. Lauren, too, has her fair share of problems, including a pending dinner date with her estranged alcoholic mother and her own recovery from addiction – has anyone in this show ever had a good day?
Not Helen (Freema Agyeman), anyway, and less so now that Valentina Castro (Ana Villafane) is running the oncology department with all the strutting unsubtle malevolence of a cartoon supervillain. Her experimental trial is a major B-plot of “Double Blind” since Helen recognizes that one of her former patients, Fatima Abassi (Phae Amara), was responding much better to traditional chemo than the experimental new-wave medication that Castro is peddling. More on this a bit later since, in typical New Amsterdam fashion, it takes something of a turn.
Vijay’s (Anupam Kher) case in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15 is pretty low-key, and unfortunately doesn’t involve him grappling with new-fangled technology (what happened to D.A.W.N. anyway?). His patient is something of a mystery, and his doting wife, who knows him best, keeps ruining Vijay’s theories. This having been said Vijay is still doing better than virtually anyone else in the hospital, at least on a personal level.
Case in point: Iggy (Tyler Labine) is still dealing with a sugar craving – can we say addiction? Might as well given the rest of the episode – and his latest case is a doozy; it’s a couple’s counselling gig with Chris (Joe Carroll) and Jenny (Kate Cobb), together for nine years, and unknowingly siblings for their entire lives. Yikes. Chris hilariously opens the session with mundane complaints about their sex life, leaving it up to Jenny to reveal that a DNA kit — an uncle’s early wedding gift, for some reason — proved that they were brother and sister.
The A-plot of “Double Blind” is set in motion by Karen Brantley (Debra Monk), as these things tend to be, but what’s unusual about this one is that she actually wants Max’s ludicrous impulsive ideas to cause as much chaos as possible until the opioid epidemic is a thing of the past – an obvious personal connection that won’t be addressed until much later has something to do with this, but for now, Max can’t believe his luck. He immediately schedules a meeting with all the heads of the departments, lectures them about the over-prescription of opioids, and tells them that they should all be arrested and will indeed be fired if they don’t sort it out. Karen is predictably unimpressed since she could have done that herself. A more outside-the-box solution will be required.
As Vijay’s patient Joe has a heart attack and Floyd is roped into keeping him alive, we learn more about half-siblings Chris and Jenny, who met at University and immediately fell deeply in love. Both their mothers used anonymous sperm donors, though, and since both of them clearly inherited their mysterious father’s eagerness, they didn’t get too suspicious when they realized they were both from the same tight-knit community. Chris seems significantly less put-off by the whole sibling thing that the horrified Jenny, presumably still worried about not getting any sex. I’m not sure he’s entirely thinking this through.
Max ups the ante in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15 by instructing Lauren to shut down the ED so that she can take her entire staff on an all-day course to become licensed in prescribing alternative medications, which I’m fairly sure isn’t how workplace courses function, but no matter. Karen isn’t impressed with this move either and screams at him to do better. Helen, too, complicates her personal plot by meeting with a contact who tells her the next step is to determine whether Fatima is receiving the actual experimental medication or the placebo. She could always ask Castro directly in her secret underwater nuclear base, but the chances that she’d be forthcoming aren’t particularly high.
While Lauren catches flack for redirecting patients elsewhere and Vijay suspects Joe has decompression sickness despite his wife’s insistence that he has never been scuba diving and is by no means a “water guy”, Iggy smartly warns Chris and Jenny about The Hills Have Eyes and the dangers of biological children in incestuous relationships, though that’s the least of their worries. The crux of the argument is can they still love each other? Can they still be together? Can they change how they see one another now that they know the truth? Chris can, for sure, but it’s going to be a tougher sell for Jenny.
Helen turns amateur sleuth in the hopes of exposing Castro’s evildoing, but gets egg on her face when she’s caught snooping. Castro, rather conveniently, has a diagnosis for Fatima’s delirium which is nothing to do with her medication, but then again she would say that, wouldn’t she? Helen worries that her personal crusade is clouding her judgement at around the same time that Max gets a call from Alice asking him to babysit her kid on short notice – he agrees since Luna would be all for it, but also, one suspects because Alice is a hottie and we have a romantic subplot to develop.
Speaking of Max, the next stage of his master plan in “Double Blind” is to assemble all the city’s medical directors to give them a lecture on lining the pockets of opioid company Nyler, which seemingly has a swanky wing in all of their hospitals funded by the blood money they pay for highly addictive and dangerous medications. Max makes a big show of ripping up New Amsterdam’s contract with Nyler, which comes back to bite him immediately when a) all the medical directors roll their eyes at his performance and leave, and b) Nyler, who apparently make far more than just opioids, start suspending orders of mundane items like acne cream, throwing the hospital – which, you’ll recall, is currently without an ED – into even further chaos.
Iggy throws Chris and Jenny a curveball by presenting them with their DNA results, which are 98.5% identical, and then his own DNA results, which are also 98.5% identical. See? We’re all basically the same. Petty matters like being biological siblings and giving birth to children with seven heads shouldn’t get in the way of a loving marriage, which he reinforces by having Jenny, still a bit sceptical, read out her planned wedding vows, at which point she is reminded of her love for Chris and bursts into tears. The next time she’s worried about being married to her brother or having a kid with gills or whatever, all she has to do is re-read the vows and be reminded of their true, pure, 98.5% genetically-identical love.
Max, having thoroughly embarrassed himself and landed the hospital in disrepute, has to stand outside the Nyler Auditorium and sign a new contract, retrieved by Adele, whom he has presumably kept on as his executive assistant despite the position being, at least to my knowledge, fake in the first place? But no matter, since Adele shows him a photograph of her sister, who got hooked on OxyContin and died two years prior – Max, as a symbolic gesture, takes the photo and wedges it under the letters of the Nyler sign. Yes, you can absolutely see where this is going, and yes, you will still cry when we get there.
New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15 begins to bring matters to a close. Lauren stops some EMTs rolling a dead body through the closed ED, and pulls back the sheet to see it’s her patient from that morning who returned looking for more opiates. Not a subtle message, but an effective one nonetheless. Joe also wakes up, having been correctly diagnosed by Vijay as having decompression sickness – he wanted to surprise his wife on their anniversary by taking scuba diving lessons. The message here, I suspect, is not to bother trying to surprise your wife when you’ve been together for ages, since the lengths you’ll have to go to might actually kill you. Then again if you don’t go to extreme lengths for an anniversary, so might she.
Having presumably lined up plenty of anniversaries for Chris and Jenny, Iggy decides to clear out his secret drawer of sugary treats, stopping to take a bite from a cookie, chew it a bit and then spit it out, this presumably allowing him to take some degree of ownership over his addiction. This is a positively upbeat ending when compared to Lauren’s dinner date with her mother, whom she tearfully berates about being an abusive alcoholic, revealing that she first got wasted at seven years old to try and prevent her mother from being able to drink anymore. When she spewed on the rug, her mother shouted at her. None of this she deserved, and all of it she has paid for in full; she no longer feels anything towards her mother, and would just like to hear her apologize, but she’s unable to – according to her, she can’t even remember any of this.
More endings in “Double Blind” come as Floyd tries to talk with Max about him quitting, but Max simply says he can’t lose anyone else. As he’s leaving, he spots that the Nyler Wing sign is now festooned with photos of and letters to loved ones who have been lost in the opioid crisis. Max shutting out Nyler, and Nyler shaking down New Amsterdam, is the talk of the town. If that kind of shakedown happened here, it can happen anywhere, and unity is the only way to fight a company like that. Before long, another torn-up hospital contract joins the letters and photographs surrounding the sign. Karen tearfully adds one of her own.
New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 15 includes a couple of last-minute stingers. While singing Castro’s praises to Fatima, Helen notices something on the computer and calls Lauren to let her know – she might have been wrong about the side effects of the drug, but Castro has been doctoring her patients’ numbers so that their tumours looked worse and her trial would seem more effective. Absolutely nobody is surprised by this development; I don’t think I’d have been surprised if it turned out Castro was planning to sacrifice Fatima to Cthulhu.
In a positive development, though, Alice arrives to pick up her kid, whose name I honestly can’t remember, and to Max’s delight she turns up looking stunning. Both the babies are asleep, and despite his face being covered in yam, she simply cannot resist his dopey 24-hour-shift eyes. They kiss! After a day spent ending the opioid epidemic, it’s probably exactly what he needs.
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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.