Episode 2.

Episode Summary:-

15 year old Denise Murphy is rushed to A&E by Frankie (her boyfriend of 6 weeks duration) suffering from severe abdominal pains. Cathy (Sister Cathy Jordan - Jane Slavin) is the first to suspect pregnancy (Frankie's pointing out that Denise had 'wet herself' in the car - and Denise's vehemently denying it - was, I suspect, a telling point in the diagnosis!), and minutes later her baby girl is born.
       A 'self-harmer' - Avril Connor - arrives at A&E, but doesn't check in, sitting bleeding quietly to death, from a severed artery in her wrist, in reception. Martin (the resident drunk) is the first to raise the alarm, and Avril is hastened into the resuscitation unit in time to have her life saved - only to have it then placed in jeopardy by the arrival of...
       ...Frank Harris, worker at a distribution warehouse, who has dropped a box of some unknown powder over himself, and is experiencing severe breathing difficulties. Despite being told to wait outside, his workmate and the taxi driver bring Frank into resus., thereby leading to the whole unit having to be closed (with Robert, Stuart, Terry (Connor McIntyre) and Judy (Katie McEwen) inside) pending the identification of the powder and appropriate decontamination measures...
       ... and the closure of the unit forces St Vic's to divert emergencies to City General. One of these is a road traffic accident victim suffering from serious chest trauma. Although they don't find out until their own crisis is in full swing, it's Issy...

       Before going on to the main part of the review of this second episode, I will just mention a couple of things that didn't quite ring true (though I freely admit I'm not familiar with hospital protocol, so I may be wrong, here...)
       Why didn't Chris ring to ask for news of Harry? Surely if Marcia was prepared to tell her about Issy, she would have been happy to let Chris know that the baby was fine?
       I'm also reliably
informed that chest problems of the type Frank Harris was suffering would have been treated with him sitting much more upright, at least to start with.
       And just how many doctors does it take to deliver one baby, anyway?!

But enough of minor niggles! There are some wonderful moments in this episode. Lou and Stuart's gently joking relationship for one (it'll be interesting to see if those two do get together!) I like their easy banter. On finding Mike and Cathy in very close conversation in reception, Lou tells them: -
              "Behave yourselves. We don't want any more babies in the department."
              Stuart overhears and responds, "Or
kidney stones."
              [Lou, to Stuart] "I seem to remember you thought it was a bowel obstruction!"
              [Stuart] "I was closest!"
       (Personal aside; I really like Stuart. He's sweet and kind and very competent, and seems to be the butt - pun intended after that decontamination shower scene! - of a lot of jokes...)

Then there was Chris's telling Avril's mother what she thought of her - and Mrs Connor being there to see her daughter after she had been through decontamination (not that that was that much consolation to Chris, given the magnitude of the news she had to give to Robert.)

I liked seeing David (Dr David Scobie - David Partridge), enveloped from head to foot in a decontamination suit, giving Stuart the Vulcan salute ("We come in peace - take me to your leader."? Ouch....!)

Chris Fletcher truly shines in this episode, both as a caring woman and as the sort of doctor you'd happily trust with your life. The terrible weight of responsibility - and grief - in Chris's decision to wait until decontamination is complete before telling Robert about Issy's accident shows clearly on her face. It was a dreadful decision to have to make - but it also allowed the viewer a different perspective into Robert's nature: Chris knew the first thing he would do would be to force his way out and rush to City General, thereby endangering another A&E unit. So Robert, always so cool and deliberate when his emotions aren't actively engaged, has a passionate side... He's literally worried sick on his desperate race to the other hospital. And there's something terribly, terribly sad about Issy and Robert's last conversation, on the phone, that morning, as Robert suggests they meet for lunch: -
              [Issy] "Do I get pudding?"
              [Robert] "Yeah, pudding, coffee, the works."
              [Issy] "And you'll definitely be there?"
              [Robert] "Definitely."
       He wasn't, of course. And she died without regaining consciousness. And although it was by no means a foregone conclusion, there will always be that doubt that if St Vic's A&E hadn't been closed, and Issy had been brought there, she might have survived...
       There are few actors capable of portraying grief as powerfully and realistically as Martin Shaw. Restrained, controlled, but with anguish and desolation clear on that wonderfully expressive face, and particularly in those extraordinary eyes, the sight of Robert holding baby Harry so gently and lovingly after suffering such a tragedy almost physically hurts.

Rest in peace, Issy. We'll miss you.


My thanks to Dr Kate Irvine for this and other assorted medical information - and for jogging my memory with the "light bulb" joke! Back

And that line from Robert - "Stay right where you are, sunshine." Back

When getting Denise out of the car and onto a trolley, Lou had suggested she might be suffering from kidney stones, while Stuart had thought bowel obstruction...Back

Episode 3

© 2000 Joules Taylor