“Disconnected” gives Max another crisis to solve while some inconsistent writing makes for a mixed bag of storylines.
This recap of New Amsterdam season 3, episode 9, “Disconnected”, contains spoilers.
Max Goodwin devotes every episode of New Amsterdam to solving American’s great systemic crises, so when he puts a suit on you know he’s serious. It’s so unusual to see him out of his scrubs that virtually everyone he encounters makes a comment about it – Iggy: “Why are you dressed like James Bond?” – but what else does one wear to ensure that an entire NYC housing project has access to free broadband?
The internet is an intriguing topic since so many of us consider it as essential as food and running water; the idea that someone could do without it, and in the greatest city in the world no less, seems absurd. How else do you find out the answers to obscure questions? Well, as it turns out, you don’t, so when some weird dude posing as a doctor comes around with what he claims to be a vaccine for Covid-19, you take it, no questions asked. It’s only then that you discover it’s poison. And you can’t even Google the symptoms!
The problem with these schemes for Max, at least in “Disconnected”, is that they tend to follow the same arc. He resolves to do something, starts at the most outlandish possible solution – free broadband for all! – and then has to work his way down a list of people who don’t want to speak to him in order to finally find a reasonable, last-minute solution. In this case, it’s a free portal where the hospital’s knowledge and resources can be accessed by anyone, at any time, with equipment that he’s able to finesse by pretending that the hospital’s computers are woefully out of date. It’s funny, but it’s the same arc and outcome as always.
Max’s personal life is much more interesting at the moment, but New Amsterdam season 3, episode 9 devotes little time to it. Max, lest we forget, is a widower and a single, working father, and it was a huge deal for him to turn to Georgia’s mother, Gwen, for help raising Luna. But this week Gwen is super unreasonable about Max’s timeliness, insisting that he makes it home for 7 pm so that he can read to Luna before bed – kids need routine! – and then doesn’t even bother to keep her up until 7 pm anyway. Max gets home early, for once, and is disappointed to find Luna asleep, so Gwen guilt trips him about how selfish it is to expect a tired child to be kept awake just for his benefit. What? I know Max works too much, but his job is kind of important!
Family-wise, things aren’t great for Helen either, since Mina is being extremely difficult. Now, on the one hand, I suppose it’s reasonable to hold a bit of a grudge against Helen for picking career over family for so long, but to sit around in her apartment like it’s a hotel and consistently treat her like garbage despite her best efforts just makes Mina entirely unsympathetic. There’s no real depth to her character, here – she’s just petulant for no good reason, and one gets the sense that the show doesn’t know what to do with her. It’s clearly a storyline we’re focusing on long-term, but it’s pulling Helen away from more interesting subplots in the hospital. Where has Shin gone, for a start? Their relationship didn’t work out so he just stopped going to work?
The subplot I expected “Disconnected” to really focus on, and which I’m glad in a way that it didn’t, was the case of Alison, a young girl who was brought into the hospital after being caught in a drive-by. This, though, turned out to be a cover-up concocted by her negligent parents, who had been irresponsible with their gun. Naturally, to sell the story, they described the suspect as a Black person, without any consideration for the amount of unnecessary profiling and potential harassment or even violence that might stem from it. Floyd was the one who was tasked with saving Alison’s life, and he did, but not without an angry rant in the direction of the “We’re not racist!” parents. As it turns out, falsely reporting a crime is a felony.
New Amsterdam season 3, episode 9 makes a bit of a mistake here. I don’t mind this storyline on its face, but was there really any need to have the parents continuously make references to All Lives Matter and protestors and other angry white conservative buzz terms? It just made them feel cartoonishly stereotypical; it would have worked better if they were a surprisingly reasonable couple who had done a terrible thing to protect themselves. Making them insufferable, obviously racist idiots just makes it easier to dismiss their actions as the behaviors of bigots. “This is what happens when you defund the police!” Christ, spare me.
As much as I love New Amsterdam, sometimes it really does seem like a child wrote it, or at least a teenager. Arguably more ridiculous was the new chair of neurology, who began her first day in Dr. Kapoor’s role by happily slagging off everything Vijay ever did to his entire staff. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why didn’t anyone say anything? This is the absolute laziest possible way of setting up this woman as an antagonist. And it makes the entire department seem like cowards.
“Disconnected” at least went out of its way to ensure not every story got a completely happy ending or a bizarrely contrived one, and it was Iggy who had to suffer for it (he seems to be doing that a lot this season.) He got much too close to a patient, Chance, and eventually realized that the young man had become too dependent on him in a way that far exceeded the boundaries of a patient-therapist relationship. It’s understandable on both sides, and I thought that the show would come up with some way to finagle a nice outcome, but not quite. When Iggy tried to set some boundaries, Chance drank cleaning solution, and Iggy had no choice but to get him transferred to another therapist at another hospital. Him tearfully walking away from Chance was one of the more powerful scenes of the episode. More like that, and less like Alison’s godawful parents, and we’ll be much better off.