(Series 17, ep.50) I’m not sure I can even start to do justice to last night’s episode. The only word for it is “special.” For a start, the format was special – rather than three stories set on the three different wards, there were only two stories. One was based in the hospital, as Elliot contemplated taking up his post as Director of Research and ended up taking a completely different path, and the other largely took place at the seaside as Dominic tried to help Digby with his demons and in the process confronted some of his own. Goth Dr Frieda made an unexpected but entirely welcome reappearance, as did Jac Naylor (how can that woman even look beautiful in yellow scrubs?), and Digby kissed Dominic on the lips. It was brilliant.
There have been numerous attempts over the years to put Prof Elliot Hope out to pasture (at one point he was even teetering on the brink of being shunted to The Mythical St James’s) but all have failed, because Darwin was just about unthinkable without that lovely teddy bear, carb-craving genius of a man. Sadly we now have to contemplate a future where the Darwin consultants’ office isn’t full of doughnut crumbs and dog hairs, because he’s gone.
His old friend Brigitte returned again, and this time she had an even more serious patient with her – who happened to be Goth Dr Frieda, who’d acquired TB while working on a TB programme in Pakistan. She was doing it to get money for her family and to assuage her guilt after a friend died in an explosion. Despite being make-up free, weak as a kitten and coughing blood, Frieda was still recognisably her old snippy, sarcastic, wise and practical self. Spotting immediately that there was chemistry between Oliver and Zosia, she advised him to go for it: “With luck she won’t die on you.”
We also discovered that Elliot and Brigitte were once nearly married, but then he discovered that she’d had a termination without telling him. Soon after that he married Gina. Jac Naylor – handily arriving just in time to do some of her ninja-level surgery and save Frieda’s life – saw how much Elliot still cared for Brigitte. “She’s better than that redhead Yank who ran over your dog,” she said, because she’s not a million miles away from Goth Dr Frieda, personality-wise. Jac does let her hard-as-nails guard down with certain people, though, and Elliot is one of them. A bit later on there was a scene between them that was as lovely as the one just before she gave birth to Emma. Jac said that Elliot’s face lit up when he talked about Brigitte, and she understood because it’s how she felt about Joseph (squeee!). She said that when Joseph asked her to leave with him, she refused because she thought he would always put his child before her. Now she has Emma, she realises that Joseph had no choice but to put Harry first, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t have had enough love for her. Basically she was saying that with hindsight she’d have made a different choice and followed her heart, and Elliot should do the same. And she told him she and Jonny didn’t work out (I am desperately hoping this means that Joseph is on his way back. That would make me very happy indeed).
So Elliot decided to leave to work in Pakistan with Brigitte – and Frieda, when she’s better (though I was also hoping Frieda would decide to stay at Holby). There was a tearful farewell with Jac, and then Elliot left the building, to be greeted by a line-up of his colleagues forming an arch with doughnut-decorated crutches, and Brigitte waiting in a taxi. It was a funny, touching, lovely send-off for a character who’s been a stalwart of the show for many years, and an actor who is clearly going to be missed by his Holby family.
To the seaside now. To save Digby from turning into a total hermit because of his anxiety, Dominic took him to his parents caravan at the seaside. They were supposed to be away on holiday. The caravan was how you’d imagine having met Carol – kitsch and tasteless and full of bottles of gaudy-coloured liqueur and cuddly toys (“They’re all staring at me,” said Digby). Amusement arcade visits and a spot of paddling would have been amusing enough, but things took a deeper turn when Dominic’s parents arrived home early and we met his father, Barry. Barry was a bully who dominated his wife and felt nothing but contempt for his son, who was just a disappointment to him. “He doesn’t like bloke things,” Barry told Digby while they were fishing, “He likes blokes” (Digby is hardly Bear Grylls himself, but they bonded over a shared interest in military history). It was clear that Dominic suffered badly from Barry’s lack of affection and approval, and poor Carol was stuck in the middle trying to smooth things over and compensate for her husband’s coldness by being too bright and cheerful.
Things came to a head at a karaoke bar. Digby and Carol both stuck up for Dominic in a stand-up argument with Barry, and Dominic said he wasn’t scared of him any more. Then Digby and Dominic, hand in hand got up on the stage and sang ‘I Will Survive,’ during which Digby gave Dominic a big kiss on the lips. It was like an outtake from Pride – which I mean as a huge compliment. Barry choked on a peanut, and Digby finally got his medical mojo back and calmly took charge.
So Digby is on the road to recovery; Dominic is finally free of the need to please his father and – by extension – “The Scandi Man;” and Jac has inherited Darwin and Elliot’s dog Gary. It’s a new dawn.