(Series 15, ep.21) Oh, but this was a good one. Excellently written (by Nick Fisher), full of emotion, drama and quotable lines, and featuring three compelling storylines.
Malick started the episode in a good mood, looking forward to sampling Nathan’s fried squid rings stuffed with pine nuts. Rather him than me, but still… He was also in the mood for some quality mentoring. “Act as if,” he instructed Digby (who is really growing on me – he’s very loveable and funny). “As if what?” said Digby. “As if you’re me.” Obviously.
When a patient was brought in with severe abdominal pains she’d been ignoring for a year, Malick didn’t recognise her at first until he saw her little devil tattoo. “Is it some religious thing?” Digby asked Chantelle, as the very sight of it had provoked an extreme reaction in Malick and made him tell Digby to get lost. The tattoo was actually a reminder of Malick’s younger, more carefree but less gay days, when between him and Anna they’d managed to produce Jake. You can see why Malick wouldn’t want Digby knowing about that, but mentoring is mentoring and Digby had procedures to learn, which led to the poor lad having to do an ultrasound on Anna while trying to ignore the fact that his mentor and his patient were having a blazing argument about their mutual son at the same time.
Anna was a wonderful character. Played by Charlotte Randle, she teetered on the border between being incredibly irritating and being really sweet. When Malick discovered she had cancer and Nathan confirmed it was untreatable and she only had weeks to live, her main concern was for Malick to establish a relationship with his son. As we know, he was instrumental in getting Jake sacked a while back, so it’s not going to be easy, particularly for the man who’s previously been the biggest ego in the NHS. He’s having to look at himself in a different way and it doesn’t come naturally to him. As Malick told Anna, “I became a doctor – but I’m not sure what sort of man I became.” Having both Nathan and Jake in his life is going to push Malick’s character into different places and it’ll be really interesting to see how he evolves.
Speaking of tough, driven, egotistical people who are reluctant to let their guard down and be emotional brings us neatly to the wonderful Jac Naylor, who was back from Japan. Hanssen said he was looking forward to her showing us what she’d learned in Japan, and I was getting very excited at the idea that she might start speaking Japanese in theatre. While that would have been spectacular, it probably wouldn’t have been all that useful in Holby. What was far more useful was her new skill of being able to make an oesophagus out of a stomach lining via five tiny little incisions. Sort of like the way people put a ship in a bottle, only squidgier.
Her patient was a Young Farmer who’d ruined his own oesophagus drinking paint stripper, and this ground-breaking procedure was going to need the best CT team Holby could muster. Which meant Jonny Mac. He’d previously been in a bit of a flap at the sight of Jac, who’d arrived back at work a day early before he could perfect his poker face. “I need Jonny to be on his A-game,” Jac told Mo. “When is he ever not?” Mo said sweetly. “He was hand-reared by me, remember?”
Things didn’t go to plan, as the silly Young Farmer had caused further damage by eating curry, so Jac had to make do with a boring old standard thoracotomy. But never mind all that. When she slipped on some orange juice and cut her head, Jonny Mac was on hand with the stitches. And it was the loveliest scene ever, as Jac admitted she’d spent every night in her tiny Japanese bed thinking about what a cow she’d been to him. He was the most irritating man she’d ever met, she told him, and that’s why she loved him. Well, cue a massed chorus of “Squeeeee!!!!” throughout the Holby-viewing land.
The third storyline was the aftermath of Serena’s mother’s stroke. Ric called Serena while she was in theatre with some bad news. “Can you speak?” he asked. “I’m holding a boy’s ruptured spleen in my hands, but otherwise I’m all ears.” The news was that her mother had been bumped down the waiting list for the stroke ward. This was the last straw for Serena, who has now had enough of Hanssen’s advice that going private is not a great move publicity-wise. She wants the best for her mother and she wants answers about what happened.
Next time: Jac’s in hideous pain; Malick has to step up to fatherhood; and Gemma takes her son to work.
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