Episode 3

Episode Summary:-

With the unit still in shock after Issy's death, Chris has taken over the running of A&E (on instructions from 'upstairs'.) She has everything organised and under control - when Robert turns up...
       The first case of the episode is a nasty road traffic accident: a bus hits a pedestrian, seriously injuring both her and - to greater or lesser degrees - the bus driver and his passengers (one of whom is the hospital's own security man, Alan.)
       A young chef (Mark) is brought in, suffering from a stab wound: the master chef, in a fit of pique (or the culinary equivalent) stuck a knife in his apprentice's arm... The apprentice decides not to sue. Instead, he aims to learn everything the master chef can teach him - easier now, given the chef's assumed guilt over the attack - set himself up in his own business, and "bankrupt the bastard"! A nice case of 'hoist by one's own petard', perhaps? Of course, things will be a lot easier if he doesn't actually have to have the arm amputated...
       A girl child is brought in with bruised and swollen fingers. The mother had delayed ("I didn't think it was anything to worry about.") for a few hours before bringing the child to A&E... Seeing what looks like bruises (from a belt) across the girl's calves, Mike suspects abuse.
       Another RTA - hit and run this time - finds Stuart forced to perform an unfamiliar procedure in an ambulance struggling through traffic to reach the hospital, acting purely on Chris Fletcher's instructions over the phone...

So much more happens in this episode, small things, seemingly unimportant and yet so telling...
       Mike, called in on his day off to help out now that they're a doctor short, hugging Chris as she leans - for just a moment - against his strength. His agreeing to work late - and then, hours later, finding Cathy overwrought and suffering from lack of sleep and a deep, deep empathy with Robert's personal tragedy (is there some more profound reason for this, or is she simply a deeply caring woman?) strung out and weeping, offering to take her home. To his place, effectively to meet his boys, who will be making supper... It's debatable as to whether the invitation was genuine or extended out of pity. But I like Mike a lot. I'll assume it was genuine, until it's proven otherwise.
incident with Lillian, her mother, and the staff is interesting. We're all very ready to believe that Mrs Grace has been abusing the child - until Chris swabs at the 'bruises' and finds that they wipe off. At which point our sympathies switch to the mother, falsely under suspicion for something that the majority of parents would find horrifying! Illustrating the dangers of jumping to conclusions, perhaps? Yet, as Chris points out when apologising to Mrs Grace, "We got it wrong - but for the right reasons." The results could have been tragic had there been real cause for concern. (I liked the way Andrew (Doctor Andrew Argyle - Dominic Mafham) dealt with the situation, too.)
       The case of Lisa Colson is very sad - but I found her sister's reaction a little puzzling. If, as Jenny says, the family never deserted her - "We were always there - even when we weren't..." - why, after last year's suicide attempt, did she just 'leave her [Lisa] to it'? She also didn't seem particularly distressed or upset by her sister's death, although I suppose that could be the way shock affects her. Or maybe it was simply expected... Whatever the reason, Chris's suggestion -
              [Chris] "Would you like to see her body?"
             [Jenny] "Why would I want to do that?"
              [Chris] "Because she's at peace now..."

       - is, perhaps, a way for Jenny to finally say goodbye.
       It doesn't make it any easier for Dean - the bus driver - to deal with what has happened, however. (His reaction to the situation was a wonderfully understated and believable piece of acting.)

The intubation scene with Stuart and the second RTA in the ambulance felt a little odd. I'm assured that the procedure, and the fact that Stuart has never had to perform such a thing before, is perfectly realistic and well-portrayed - but I can't quite imagine staunch, unflappable Stuart reacting in that way. However, the scenario also acted to portray the overall ethos of an A&E department - to save lives in any way possible...

Chris shines again in this episode, calm, collected, knowledgeable and able to cope with everything that's thrown at her. The contrast between her and Robert forms the main impetus of the episode.
       It hurts to see a strong, competent, capable man struggling so desperately to cope in the face of overwhelming tragedy. He's "devastated". Cathy is right - he should be at home. He certainly shouldn't be in A&E, but we can understand why he doesn't want to be anywhere else:

"Chris - I'm here because it's easier..."

Trying to distract himself, and only partially succeeding. And not doing the department any favours in the process (I can't help but wonder if there's to be any comeback from the migraine patient...)

I have to confess I loved the fish finger sandwich. (I remember them well - crispy white fish bits on a bed of tomato ketchup (Whole Earth, though, not Heinz) - we weren't sufficiently sophisticated to add salad. But they tasted good anyway...) David's expression when Yvonne casually announced Mark (the chef) had asked her out was something of a classic! Nice, light, teasing tension between those two...

And that lovely little scene between Stuart and WPC Mandie, his new admirer! Poor Stuart. Another thing for him to be teased about...

Thinking Out Loud

It often happens that, thinking back over an episode - of any series, not just this one - certain elements come to mind, not important to the action, particularly, but interesting in themselves. I'm intrigued by Robert's tiny, almost throwaway comment in the last series - the one about how many babies he'd delivered. "46 in Africa." Africa? What was he doing in Africa? It raises all sorts of questions about his past. (I don't know any of the backstory to the series - can anyone help me out here?)

Tricky one, that. I vividly remember, at the age of eight, trying to teach myself to roller skate, and doing quite well until a younger child ran in front of me... I tried to swerve to avoid her, my skate caught on a stone and I fell hard, my whole weight landing on my right wrist.
Well, I somehow undid the straps of the skates (lefthanded) and got myself home, in tears - where my mother told me brusquely not to make so much fuss. It wasn't until several hours later, when my arm had swollen substantially and I couldn't move my fingers, that I was finally taken down to the local hospital, X-rayed, and my fractured wrist encased in plaster...

Lillian's mother had written her name in ink in the tops of her boots, so that she wouldn't lose them, and the ink had rubbed off onto her skin. Back

Dr Irvine: "There was something that didn't quite ring true about that scene, but I think it was the "panic". (If he was going to panic Stuart could have done it better!) It was somewhat half-hearted. But actually I think the whole scenario was designed to highlight Christine's knowledge, calm etc. when Robert's world was falling apart." And I'd agree.... Back

My thanks, as ever, to Dr Kate Irvine, whose advice (and patience!) is absolutely invaluable.

© 2000 Joules Taylor

Episode 4