Holby City: Today we will save this man’s life

(Series 13, Ep.24) Considering that this was an episode where beloved-old-cast-member-who’s-been-in-Holby-since-forever Ric Griffin looked death square in the face, it was one of the funniest episodes of Holby I’ve ever seen. Writer Joe Ainsworth got the balance between the high drama, tension and sadness of Ric’s situation and some quite barking mad stuff going on elsewhere absolutely perfect. And he threw in a birth for good measure.

The episode started with a case conference, with Henrik Hanssen attempting to convince the surgical team about a very high risk procedure. There was one member of the team notably absent – Ric Griffin – and that’s because they were talking about him. Hanssen was convinced he could save Ric’s life with an extended right hemihepatectomy. Easy for him to say, I know, but not easy to do, given that statistics suggested a 90% chance of Ric dying on the operating table.

Elliott wasn’t happy. “This is madness,” he said. “No,” replied Hanssen, unflapped as usual. “It’s medicine.” Hanssen was convinced he could do it, but it had to be done quickly. “If we don’t operate immediately, even I will be forced to admit defeat,” he said. Then Ric arrived, not best pleased at being the owner of the tumour under discussion. Waving away Hanssen’s confidence and the “let me at that scalpel” gleam in Jac’s eyes, Ric insisted he wasn’t going to agree to the surgery and would dwindle away in his own time, ta very much.

We’ve seen before that Ric’s stubborn mind can be changed by outside forces, and in this case the outside force was his pregnant daughter Jess. Her husband has left her, so she faced bringing up baby all alone and unsupported. This was motivation enough to get Ric to sign the consent form. He knew the risks, though, and started making a video for the grandson he might never see.

So Hanssen assembled a surgical team, and he needed a CT surgeon. Elliott was having none of it. Sahira was busy doing an operation with Irish Dr Greg and decided this was a good time to assert herself with Hanssen, so she refused to down tools and join him on Keller. Jac had her hands full as well, with a post-operative patient (pericarditis following a Croatian boob job) who’d gone into arrest. So Jac wouldn’t be available, because surely she wouldn’t abandon her patient in favour of some high profile surgery where she might help to save a senior surgeon’s life and deeply impress the man who had the power to grant her a consultancy?

After barely the minimum resuscitation time, Jac decided her patient was a lost cause and left Funny Little Nurse Tait to sort the body out and break the news to the deceased’s husband, while she dashed off to get scrubbed up.

A short while later, Goth Dr Frieda and Boy Valentine were practising their surgical skills on some corpses in the morgue. Not entirely conventional behaviour, but the mortuary staff turned a blind eye, and of course Goth Dr Frieda is perfectly at home with cadavers. A new one was wheeled in, and pretty soon Frieda spotted something odd – it was moving. Apparently Jac’s pericarditis patient was not quite as dead as Jac had assumed.

Back in the operating theatre, Jess had discovered (after seeing Ric’s video for his grandson, which he’d given to Elliott for safekeeping) exactly how risky the surgery was. She begged Elliott to try and stop it, but when it became clear that it was too late, she asked Elliott to go into the theatre and take care of her dad. So Jac was bumped out of the operation in favour of a more senior pair of hands. Obviously this made her cross, and her mood was not improved when she spotted her pericarditis patient apparently alive and well(ish). “Here’s the one you killed earlier,” Frieda said. The formerly dead patient wasn’t one to hold grudges, though, and had quite enjoyed her near-death experience. She saw a bright light, she told Funny Little Nurse Tait, and heard a voice calling her. “It sounded like Barry White.”

Meanwhile Jess had gone into labour, and it was one of those very quick TV labours. “The baby’s coming now,” Chrissie pronounced confidently, though Jess was still wearing leggings at that point so I’m not sure how she could tell. Baby Jake Griffin was delivered safe and well by Jac.

While his grandson was taking his first breaths, Ric was almost taking his last, as things had inevitably gone pear-shaped in theatre. Blood everywhere and lots of the bad beeping sound. Thank goodness, then, that Elliott Hope was there, because where there’s Hope there’s life, and he sorted out the problem and Hanssen managed to remove a tumour the size of a man’s foot from Ric’s abdomen. No wonder he kept saying “Nnngh!” So Ric will be fine, and baby Jake will be fine, once he gets over the shock of the first human face he ever saw being Jac Naylor’s.

With all this going on there was still room for a bit of plot concerning Young Dr Oliver Valentine. Penny sent him a postcard telling him to “tell the truth.” So he started writing a letter of resignation to Michael Spence. But after a day of corpse surgery and reanimation in the morgue with Frieda, he did a neat bit of diagnosis on a woman who ate lightbulbs. “The proper doctor just saved your life,” Frieda told her (this woman had met Frieda before when she was a nurse, and still thought of her as one). Boy Valentine likes being a “proper doctor,” and he deleted his resignation letter. Penny’s not going to be pleased when she gets back.

The episode ended with Ric’s video for his grandson. Life was short, he told him, so you you have to grab it with both hands and hang on tight, “Because, otherwise…”

Next time: Sahira or Jac – who will get the consultancy? (If you don’t want to know, do not look at the BBC Holby website – the link is here but I said don’t! – which goes into way too much detail about next week’s episode. Grrrr).

Posted by PLA                   (more Holby posts here)


Filed under Holby City

15 responses to “Holby City: Today we will save this man’s life

  1. inkface

    Oh good grief, it’s the ‘don’t think about elephants’ thing isn’t it? Of course, I *did* look, but I have a feeling it’s one of those decisions that might get overturned by another freakish event. We shall see…

    Excellent write-up. It was an action packed episode to be sure

    • pauseliveaction

      There’s hardly been a decision made on Holby that hasn’t been overturned by a freakish event, so I dare say you’re right.

  2. Corumba Love

    Wotcher PLA

    Me and Old Girl stayed off the Vascamine last night and so stayed up for a nice cup of Holby. As soon as we saw Joe Ainsworth’s credit as writer we knew it was going to be decent (and only marginally less enjoyable than the PLA review, which I confess I look forward to as much as the programme these days).

    Hasn’t Henrik the Viking become quite the star since his introduction? The writers’ determination to keep his character consistent (!) along with Guy Henry’s cloudbusting stature & attention to detail as an actor makes him compelling viewing. My only regret is that Sarah Kennedy gave up her early morning R2 show before he joined Holby. You prob’ know that they are quite good friends and he used to record the intro’s to her “It’s Showtime” slot. Kennedy would toss us morsels of anecdote concerning up to Henry what he was (and up with which I happily put). Imagine the joy we’d have if she was doing it now.

    The detail in the washroom scene where Elliot admonished Hanssen for the risk he had taken was astonishing. His Hopey-beardy face was momentarily in danger of crumpling with suppressed pride after Henrik thanked him. Then, when Elliot had left the room, the camera held a lengthy side-profile shot of the Tall Swede looking into the mirror, which showed his face & neck betraying tiny hints of all the emotions and pressures of the day.

    Would that other TV programmes had the courage and skill to give us a character of so much depth (and height).

    And then there was the other stuff: The Lovely Bones, Jac, slinging sublime bitchery from first to last; Little Nurse T giving us fair warning that an eruption is due any episode now and we’d best make for a galaxy far, far away if we want to be safe; and that birth … cripes, if Baby Jake had shot out any faster he’d have taken someone’s head off. As it was he nearly did for Griffin Ric by sitting on the chest and tummy of a man gaping to the elements just minutes before.

    Now then PLA, I confess I did miss a moment, one which requires your expertise. I was so fascinated by Boy Val getting his groove back in the mortuary (a character arc is not enough for him, he needs a large hadron collider) that I missed the connection between narcolepsy and swallowing light bulbs. I know all about the narco and lepsy bits because, when River Phoenix was in Idaho (his Own Private One, mind) back in ’91, I studied them for for a full 104 minutes; but the light bulbs? Please explain to this poor fule.

    Otherwise: fun. Thanks.

    • pauseliveaction

      Loving your comments as always, Corumba Love. Particularly enjoyed the large hadron collider comment and the paragraph about the washroom scene. I watched that scene back as I was busy snipping photos to go on the blog post, and you’re so right about Hanssen’s face after Elliott has left the room. Everything about Guy Henry’s performance is a total delight.

      Now to the lightbulbs question, I have to confess I was as confuzzled about that as you were, but with my reputation as a graduate of the Holby School of Televisual Medicine at risk (I actually got a student discount on a coach tour of Bath the other week when I told the driver about my “qualification”), I had another look at the scene where Oliver comes up with his diagnosis, and he mutters “automatic behaviour.” A quick google reveals that automatic behaviour (such as, presumably, eating lightbulbs) is a symptom of narcolepsy. Presumably the only reason that River Phoenix didn’t eat lightbulbs was that he had Keanu Reeves to distract him. That would work for me.

      • Corumba Love

        Even as a none too anaemic male (or so Old Girl *used* to describe me) I am also taken by the chiselled & beguiling Reevesy.

        Trouble is that I keep getting him mixed up with Ed “Edward” Miliband these days (rarely the other way round, although it would be rather fun to hail the Leader of the Opposition as “Neo”.

        There’s also a current England rugby player called, believe it or not, “Shontayne Hapi” (I always think that name should be grunted in pidgin english for maximum humorous effect: try it) who has a face nicely poised between Neo (the One) and Neo (the other one). I should do one of those morphing things on them one of these days.

        So anyway, as a stupid person, I get all confused when I dream of Reevesy.

        How about that for off-topic?

      • pauseliveaction

        Milliband? Reevesy? You just couldn’t hold out with that Vascamine any longer, could you? I think Jeremy Kyle should be informed of the heinous effects of that drug. One minute we haven’t heard of it, and the next it’s giving you a very deluded view of the Leader of the Opposition.

        Similarly Shontayne, who may be a lovely man and certainly has some very nice tattoos, but visually he is no match for Our Reevesy. Do behave.

  3. Corumba Love

    Of course you know this means war.

    I’ll get that morphing thing done on them and post it somewhere or other. That’ll learn you. I did one once of Old Girl’s brother (he’s Herman Munster as idiot) melting into Gordon Brown (just idiot). I’m still not welcome round either’s house.

    Old Girl is stoic but refuses all invitations to go on Kyle with me, him, or our ex-Prime Minister. She says she’s had enough of clearing up my mess.

    Anyway, enough of this nonsense I’ve got some lolling about to do.

  4. Zoë

    I know I’ve said it before, but I have to say again how much I love your reviews. Part of the pleasure of watching the episode now is wondering what you’re going to write about it.

    This episode was fantastic. Hanssen is by far and away the best character I’ve seen on Holby, and this episode showed him at his best. That little conversation with Elliot in the washroom was superb. I hope Guy Henry stays for a long, long time.

    Still not liking Boy Valentine very much though. I wonder if he’ll have the guts to confess in the end. Somehow I doubt it.

    • pauseliveaction

      You say such nice things, Zoë! Thank you.

      I have to admit I do like Boy Valentine, though I might be a bit biased since James Anderson started following us on Twitter and said he liked the reviews too (bless him). I can imagine his (BV’s, not JA’s) parents – high-achieving sorts who pushed their children to succeed and only valued them in terms of the certificates they were bringing home and the prizes they won. You can see in BV’s huge blue eyes, he’s got a complete terror of failure.

      • Zoë

        I do feel sorry for him, but I feel even more sorry for Penny. Swapping their papers around was really unfair. It’ll be interesting to see how they resolve all that.

  5. nikki

    Well another week another SHEDLOAD of drama. Gotta love it.

    Hanssen talking about an esteemed (if ever so slightly ailing) member of the team Ric, like he wasnt really there. Mr Hope couldnt quite fathom what was going on and Jac didnt care, cos surgery is hot. And complex surgery is simply drool worthy.

    Rics all NO! at Hanssen and after some tugging at the heart strings by Jess (who seems to be in it more than the supporting cast right now) he changes his mind. I think I’d go for it. I mean, hes dying. Definitly dying, not just one of those pretend eastenders deaths. And if Hanssen has the guts to operate, I say let him. It’d be the first useful thing that man has done. (though, it makes no sense why he was so eager to shelf people these last few months, Connie, Mark etc, to be so fighting for Ric to stay so he has someone to spar with??) (and on that note how is he saving money by making cuts and redundancies – CONNIE, MARK, only to take on Desperate Dan, Malick, Sahira ….. ??) *humphs*

    Jac was even more awesome than usual this week. Wiity lines – “Storm in a D cup!” and “Lets get Mrs Leaky Knockers into theatre” ; interspersed with some actual medical stuff (at least they got the short resus scene accurate and didnt just shock her in asystole like Casualty does) and I aboslutely loved the bemused Funny Little Nurse Tait when Jac was quipping at her. Or glaring at her. Or standing inthe general vicinity. Jac just gives off this aura doesnt she … and FLNT just crumbles. AWESOME.

    And to top the day off, she brings life into the world. Through Jess’s leggings, which is pretty miraculous. It was the faces she was making though when Jess’s water broke, total and utter bewilderment, fear, panic and general oh-my-god-i-gotta-look-down-her-trousers. Chrissie appeared on hand quickly (considering theres only 3 nurses left they gotta do the rounds) and helped Jac through it. Though I didnt know why they made her semi-baby-phobic. considering the other week she was voluntarily cuddling Sahiras baby, calming him, and the shenanigans with Daniel all those months ago, I mean she coped fine then? Even back when she was hobble!jac with her walking stick, she cradled some patients baby and stopped him crying, and despite her lack of maternal instinct, did a damn good job of it. So why now is she “My sentiments exactly” when Jake starts to cry? She even offered to Joseph to bring baby round on Christmas Day ffs!

    Please tell me Im right here and not just clinging to the vain hope that one day she’ll marry me?

    Loving the reviews as always. Gets the debate going in the house thats for sure 🙂

    (PS Anyone noticed Chrissies lack of lines recently? Shes around in episodes a lot, but doesnt seem to say very much…)

    (PPS Penny needs to give Olli a whack-upside-the-head. Practising medicine without registration? Illegal. Fraudulant behaviour? Illegal. Practising post-mortem type behaviour on cadavers without consent? Illegal. Is he *trying* to get caught??)

    (PPPS That link. You put it right there for me. Now I want to look. Damn you!!)

    • pauseliveaction

      Don’t look at that link, Nikki! They give away a ridiculous amount of information about the episode, and personally I try to stay away from spoilers apart from the very vague, “teaser” sort.

      Jac is marvellous, isn’t she? I think Holby has such a strong cast at the moment, which is incredible considering the number of long-standing cast members who left recently. Re Jac’s attitude to babies, I suppose her feelings for Joseph changed the way she viewed his offspring, but it hasn’t extended to babies in general. Though with Jac I always think she’s putting on a face for the outside world. Can’t be doing with people thinking you’ve gone soft, not with a consultancy to pursue.

      • nikki

        Oh theres definitly a lot more too her than we see, or shall we say, what she lets the world see. You can tell theres a lot going on behind her eyes, you know? Shes not short with people for the sake of it, or to rile people up. Its self-protective, it keeps people at a distance, and it makes her feel safe, untouchable. You know?

        If you think about her journey over the different story arcs, the things shes suffered through and dealt with; the woman has a lot of baggage. Not the sprogs and dogs kind, but emotionally. A friend and I have been watching seasons back, like 2008 onwards-ish; and yes there are a lot of things similair on the outside, you could look at her character face value and be all “oh she hasnt changed one bit!” But if you look a little deeper, she really has.

        And thats the quality in Rosies performance, right there.

      • pauseliveaction

        Agree with every word.