(Series 18, ep.7) Jac Naylor was back full-time at Holby from her maternity leave (hurrah!). Was this the reason that everyone was on their A game in this episode? Not just character-wise, but acting-wise and writing-wise, too. It was an absolute cracker.
The main effect of Jac’s return on Oliver Valentine was a tad odd. He started the episode feeling all confident and looking forward to getting his hands on a very unusual tumour (it was called Howard). As soon as Jac appeared, his confidence drained away. She wasn’t helpful: “Have you found a Yellow Pages to stand on in theatre, or do you still need to borrow one?”
I don’t recall Ollie as being particularly scared of Jac before. Indeed what she respected about him was his tendency to stand up to her. Maybe it’s a side effect of all the traumas he’s had in his life and his re-emergence as Valentine 2.0. At these times, what’s needed is a little brains-speak, and this was supplied by the patient with the tumour, Mr Duffy (Nick Raggett). He quite liked having his tumour because it had made him rather a star on his tumour forum and he wasn’t quite sure if he could cope with a tumourless life. Ollie told him he needed to have some confidence. “Bet on yourself, because no one else will,” he told him. “Is that what you’re doing?” Mr Duffy replied, and Ollie realised he had to man up and get into theatre, without a Yellow Pages because he’s quite tall enough on his own.
While all this was going on, Jac had returned to find that there was a nasty little bug on her ward, and one that couldn’t be sorted out with hand sanitizer and bleach. It was Selfie, who’s been given a corner of Darwin to play with. I have no idea why this has happened, given that he was recently squatting on Keller, and Patsy Brassvine has offered to fund an entire Self Centre. And why does Hanssen – normally the most sensible of men – keep giving away little portions of his innovative, award-winning CT ward? We’ll just have to file it under “plot reasons” (so Jac and Selfie are thrown into conflict) and move swiftly on.
Jac was not best pleased to see Selfie. “You have four beds. Take one step towards a fifth and I’ll gut you like a fish, and enjoy doing it,” she told him. I’m very much hoping that the barbed exchanges between Selfie and Jac aren’t pointing to a revival of their relationship, but the omens aren’t good.
As far as Oliver was concerned, it was handy that Selfie was nearby because Mr Duffy needed a neuro person to be on hand when his op got more complicated than expected. Jac seemed to be a bit childish and unprofessional in her reaction to this, but Ollie had to ignore her and do what was right for his patient. Later on Jac told him it had all been deliberately designed as a learning experience for him, just like the good old days when she made him juggle coins between his fingers.
This was all fairly light-hearted compared to what was going on in AAU. Morven also had lessons to learn, and in her case the lesson was that not everybody could be (or should be) saved. Her patient was Beth Musgrove (Jenny Lee), who turned out to have such messed-up innards that there was nothing that could be done – at least nothing that would have left her with any acceptable quality of life. Beth’s husband Hugh (Keith Barron), like Morven, wanted to do anything possible to keep Beth alive, and when Morven mentioned the possibility of a transplant, Hugh went straight to Hanssen. This was a beautifully played scene with two wonderful actors. Hanssen agreed with Digby that a transplant wasn’t a viable idea, and Beth asked Morven to help Hugh come to terms with the idea that she would die. The scenes between Morven and Beth and Hugh were beautifully written (by Katie Douglas) and played, and so sad.
Back up to Keller for some light relief, though I worry that it’s only temporary. Dominic is in love with hunky plumber Lee (Jamie Nichols). And who wouldn’t love a man with big brown eyes who surprises you with a picnic on the roof and a white vest as a gift, despite having a nasty infected wound? Thoughtful and brave. What I love about this story is that usually Dominic is all perky and cheeky, but when he has real feelings about something or someone he goes rather quiet, and almost shy. It’s like his own feelings take him by surprise. At the end Lee got the good news that his cancer hasn’t spread, and he and Dominic hugged. So it’s happy ever after – for now.
Next time: More about Lee and Dominic; more about Mr Musgrove and Morven; and Jac’s not happy having Zosia on her ward.