Episode 4

Episode Summary

A five year old boy is rushed into A&E, having been found lying prone in a foot of freezing water in an ornamental pond. Mike asks Chris if he may handle the case - after a moment's hesitation (Mike has never dealt with a drowning before) she agrees.
       Stella - Mike's ex and the mother of his two sons - turns up unexpectedly, wanting to see the boys...
       Rob is suffering, caught somewhere between grief and disbelief, disorientated and almost bewildered... Donald Tilson, the pathologist dealing with Issy's 'case', has discovered that she had developed a brain tumour and the accident was probably caused by her suffering a seizure.
       David has a new toy - tele-medicine: a videolink between St Vics and the GP unit in Jasper Lane. A wonderful idea - if only he could get it to work properly...
       Jasmine - well-known to Lou as a frequent 'domestic abuse' victim - is brought in yet again suffering the effect of being beaten by her partner. This time, however, she's accompanied by a part of him - his right index finger, severed by a kitchen knife in the struggle.
       Rather more serious is the case of Gary the firefighter, brought in for a nasty eye irritation (caused by a splinter received in the course of his duties). As she examines him more thoroughly, Chris discovers he's suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that affects night- and peripheral vision - and which will result in a greater or lesser degree of blindness... Gary seems to take this all in his stride (I'm not too sure about the quotes from 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire', though!)

I loved this episode. On the surface it seems very calm, controlled, well-balanced and almost... whisper it... boring. Hmmm... OK - this series could never be boring. Although the episode is perhaps a little pedestrian after the tragedy and angst of the last couple of weeks. Yet it's full of tiny but enormously significant events.
       Mike and Cathy in the cubicle... I like this rather naughty, sexy side to Cathy. And I like Mike's 'slightly bewildered but still willing to go along with it' attitude! And I really liked the boys' inviting Cathy to go bowling with them. Settling into a comfortable and homely scenario, there.
       So I'd automatically assume that Stella is going to cause real problems...

I'm a tiny bit concerned about that small scene between Paul and Mike. Would Mike really forget to give Paul the cash he needed for his school trip? And if he didn't - what did Paulie do with the money..?

In seven years, would Paul really have forgotten what his mother looks like? If so, it's a terribly sad indictment of how bad the situation must have been...

We only saw Alan and Freddie (the security men) very briefly in this episode, which is a pity. I like their dry observations on life in the hospital!

There's a very nice contrast between David's attitude and Mike's in this episode. Mike continues to try to revive Jake, even after finding out he'd been under water for more like forty minutes rather than the five to which his father first admitted. David asks to sit in on the treatment - because it's interesting. Mike's "wrong answer" is perfectly understandable - after all, he has children of his own - but seems a little harsh to me. Any learning experience is good.
       On the subject of David, he seemed rather under-utilised this week. Or was it just a particularly quiet time in A&E? To have the leisure to play with the video link, and chat up the nurse on the other end, seems to be a rare event. (Will he ever live down that cybersex crack?)

his is the second time we've seen Lou (Dr Louise Macken - Esther Hall) react strongly to violence (the first time was in Episode 1 after Laura's father had hit Stuart) - on both occasions she's wanted to get the police involved. Is there something in Lou's past that prompts this reaction?

Having Issy's accident caused by a brain tumour seemed a little over the top to me. The event was quite tragic enough without piling on the agony: I feel it detracts from the realism of the whole situation. It takes the responsibility for the accident away from Issy and places it firmly on a quirk of destiny - a kind of deus ex machina - making her somehow less human, fallible and loveable. It's just a little too convenient. But that's purely my own opinion, and of course, given the plot arcs in the series, it may yet have unknown repercussions...
       However, it acts as a good introduction to the whole subject of Rob's state of mind and reactions to the tragedy. He seems to moving on auto-pilot, unwilling to grieve, almost denying the tragedy, trying to behave as though nothing has happened. His conversation is full of references to Issy - what she says and does, not what she said and did... It takes Chris, herself still suffering from her husband's betrayal, to break through to him.

              [Chris] "She's not coming back, Robert. She won't be here later to tell you how well you've done. And she won't be here to decorate Harry's room. It's you and Harry. He should be here with you."
              [Rob] "Yeah, I know he needs me."
              [Chris] "I think you need him."

There's something both very moving and almost frightening about seeing a strong man cry: it's unexpected - even in these supposedly more enlightened times - and reveals a touching vulnerability. But weeping is the start of the healing process, and something Rob badly needs.

The last little scenes, with Rob and Harry, are a delight - and come as something of a surprise. It's unusual to see a middle aged man so close, capable and tender with a baby. We'd maybe expect it of a younger man, but not someone in their fifties: the culture in which he grew up was against it. (Then again, I'm assuming he spent his youth in the UK - but we don't actually know where Rob grew up...) It's another facet of the appeal of the programme - the overturning of accepted stereotypes.

The relationship between Chris and Rob is a delicately balanced one. She has said, to Issy's mother Joan, that she can't get involved in Rob's home life, especially where Harry is concerned, yet she knows him probably better than anyone else on the staff - and he respects and trusts her enough to do as she says (episode 3), and cry on her shoulder. I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops.
       But then what about Andrew?

© 2000 Joules Taylor


There seems to be a continuing carelessness with the defibrillator paddles, first by Rob (episode 3) and now by Mike. I'm told that it really isn't a good idea to wave them around - an accidental discharge can be dangerous. And apparently the patient should be checked for output before CPR is restarted after using the defibrillator. It would, also, have been more sensible to have started lavage much earlier, while waiting for the bypass machine to become available, although under the circumstances (it was Mike's first drowning case, and the child's survival was very much in doubt - and the staff are only human... And, of course, it added to the drama!) we can probably forgive that one!

I'm assured that Mike's comment - that patients "aren't dead until they're warm and dead" - is both true and a lovely example of A&E 'corpse humour'! Back

The choice of Rolling Stones tracks as a background to Rob's trying to organise the house is interesting. Without knowing exactly what the music means to the character, I'd hazard a guess that it's partly a pun (as in a rolling stone gathering no moss - his dream of settling down into a stable family life has died before it was even properly born. But then, was it really what he wanted in the first place? Issy chose everything for their house, even the mugs. Surely Rob wasn't so busy he couldn't have had some say in the décor?), partly something old and familiar (nostalgia can be comforting when you're faced with tragedy), and partly because loud, pounding music is one way of numbing the mind... Back

My thanks to Dr Kate Irvine for detailed information on medical procedures and protocol!

Episode 5