“Blood, Sweat & Tears” returns to the usual formula, but it still manages to effectively build on a new status quo in light of the pandemic.
This recap of New Amsterdam season 3, episode 5, “Blood, Sweat & Tears”, contains spoilers.
“Blood, Sweat & Tears” are all on the agenda in this week’s episode of New Amsterdam, but it’s the blood that’s really causing a problem. For pandemic-related reasons, the hospital’s supply is almost out, they have no readily accessible way of replenishing it, and they’re one accident away from a complete catastrophe. Max to the rescue!
Max trying to organize a blood drive through various unconventional incentives is Classic Max™ to the extent that it’s almost a relief when it keeps going wrong. Max has consistently been rewarded for his hare-brained schemes and this season hasn’t been shy about checking him on them. Now, since he hires a laid-off Sandra as his new PA, there’s a constant cautionary mouthpiece in his ear, letting him know that his ideas are ridiculous and that they aren’t working.
This, I think, is a good idea. Max’s rewards scheme for the blood drive includes puppy daycare, a free meal from a Michelin star chef, and a Broadway performance, but he’s perplexed when nobody seems interested. Sandra remains thoroughly unmoved all the while, consistently bringing him back down to reality with her lack of faith in his ideas. But a random member of the public gives him the real dressing-down he needs when she angrily explains that people have given everything during this pandemic, and their blood is one of the few things they have remaining that’s really theirs. I’m not sure how much water that holds, especially considering how blood donation works, but the fact that it doesn’t exactly speak highly of New Yorkers doesn’t have time to become an issue since New Amsterdam season 3, episode 5 bails Max out anyway by having all the cooks and singers he brought in donate their blood instead.
What Max is really dealing with is the shock of catching Helen and Cassian smooching in her office, which throws him for a bit of a loop given their longstanding flirtatious relationship. At the end of “Blood, Sweat & Tears” they chat about this a bit, and Max is somewhat offended that she didn’t tell him, but as she explains, she has no obligation to tell him anything, and last year he was seeing someone and told absolutely nobody. It can’t be one rule for one of them and another for the other, can it? What Max’s reaction says about his feelings for Helen, though, well – that’s narrative territory that I’m sure we’ll be venturing into.
Anyway, Iggy. He actually opens this week’s episode by stripping off and being examined by a doctor, who explains how his unhealthy relationship with food is going to be a lifelong battle. He’s predictably resistant to taking the next step he needs, which involves really admitting his problems, but his case of the week helps him with that. This involves Chance, a deeply troubled man who he has finally convinced to attend a group therapy session for veterans so he can recount his story of his convoy being attacked by an “AQ element” and his brothers and sisters burning alive inside an armored vehicle. The problem, though, is that another member of the group, Rhonda, detects some inconsistencies in his story and socks him in the mouth. There’s a zero-tolerance policy among veterans for what’s known as “Stolen Valour”, and Chance is a prime example of it. Iggy’s job then becomes finding out why.
As it turns out, Chance does know the smell of burning flesh as he claims to, but not thanks to military service. He got drunk on his family’s farm and his cigarette burned the place down, killing his entire family. This he explains to Iggy after dousing himself in petrol and threatening to set himself alight. Seeing this, and helping Chance through it, is what inspires Iggy to take the next step on his own path of recovery.
Speaking of people on a new path, there’s Floyd, who is the new Associate Trauma Surgeon in the ED working under Cassian and primarily with Lauren, which is interesting given their history. It’s also interesting given their personalities since Floyd isn’t used to the hustle and bustle of the ED and would rather do things at his own pace. Lauren advises he goes with the flow and improvises a little, like jazz, which he eventually embraces when he later has to fashion a replacement aorta out of suction tubing. Lauren is suitably impressed, and I wondered if, with Evie now out of the way, we might see another attempt at a relationship between these two. Time will tell. There’s also the still-developing between Lauren and Leyla, which progresses a little in “Blood, Sweat & Tears” after a close shave with the backpack that Leyla leaves in the storage closet. Lauren can thank Casey for getting her out of that.
Vijay remains absent in New Amsterdam season 3, episode 5, so Agnes is still the interim interim chair of neurology, a position she still feels like she doesn’t deserve. But in the meantime, as if to prove her worth, she tackles the case of sudden blindness in a Filipina woman who later reveals she was the victim of a racist attack that damaged her liver. By watching and listening, as per Vijay’s advice, Agnes is able to figure out a diagnosis and treatment that virtually nobody else in the hospital would have spared the time for, and Max is impressed enough that he makes her the interim chair, with no qualifying repetition, until Vijay returns. And he isn’t taking no for an answer.
That just leaves Helen’s case, and “Blood, Sweat & Tears” comes up with a doozy for that too. Her patient is providing blood for her daughter, Alissa, who is in surgery, but the results reveal that she’s biologically unrelated to her, which is a bit of a pickle since she can distinctly remember spending 31 hours in labour with Alissa and raising her thereafter. The matter is only made more complicated when Helen raises the idea of a DNA test and Alissa, who is awake and has spent her entire life feeling like an outsider thanks to being darker skinned than the rest of her family, is firmly in favour.
Luckily, a biopsy will do, since Helen thinks they might both be right. And as it turns out, they are. Alissa’s mother is what’s known as a chimera, someone with two sets of DNA after she absorbed a twin in-utero. Alissa was born of her aunt’s egg and her mother’s womb, which means, ironically, that biologically-speaking she’s even closer to her family than is usual. Fancy that.