(Series 19, ep. 61 ‘Group Animal, Part One’ by Andy Bayliss 5.12.17) Jac has been suffering for months now – ever since Jasmine died back in June. We saw her pain in the weeks just after that – remember when she looked so tightly held together it seemed like she might explode at any minute? Since then she’s been her snarky, sarcastic, business-as-usual self, until recently – when it became clear that she hasn’t dealt with losing her sister at all, and she isn’t coping.
And then this episode started with Jac, looking more relaxed than she has for weeks, telling Raf that she was leaving Holby. She was going to take her daughter a long way away, and concentrate on being a mother and being happy.
Thousands of Jac Naylor fans blinked back tears of disbelief. Holby without Jac? Surely not? But worse was to come.
A flash-back to 10 hours earlier, and we weren’t even in Holby any more. We were in Lisbon, and watching the fabulously brilliant Professor John Gaskell (played by the fabulously brilliant Paul McGann), who had managed to reverse motor neurone disease using stem cell therapy. A man who couldn’t walk before now can.
Back at Holby, almost the entire cast were assembled to watch this miracle via video link, and it’s fair to say that the whole hospital was somewhat star-struck that this hero of modern medicine was coming to ply his trade at Holby. All apart from Jac, who was too busy being snappy and stressy and taking it out on Ollie.
When Prof Gaskell arrived at Holby he evaded the reception committee (Donna, Essie and a few others) waiting by the door and materialised in the basement, where Jac was practising her surgical technique on a disembodied heart. You know Jac’s in trouble when she feels the need to practise. And straight away I thought – Jac can’t leave. She just can’t. I want to see Rosie Marcel and Paul McGann in lots more scenes like this.
It turns out that John Gaskell is an old college chum of Hanssen’s (I never thought I’d use the words “Hanssen” and “chum” in the same sentence), and like Hanssen he likes to do his homework about future colleagues, so he knew all about Jac – both her reputation as a surgeon and all about Jasmine and Fran and Guy Self and Zosia. All the pressures that have been piling up on her. What he doesn’t know is you can’t just have a friendly word with her and give her a hug and make her feel better – not unless you know her really, really well. Not unless you’re Sacha, in fact, or Fletch, both of whom knew something was wrong and were there to catch her if she should fall. She almost crumbled during ninja-level surgery with Prof Gaskell, and had to repeat Sacha’s mantra of “All bleeding comes from cut vessels, all bleeding eventually stops” to get her through. Even then, it took a pep talk from Prof Gaskell to keep her on track.
As I said, all very un-Jac-like, but she got through it and then just went to pieces in Fletch’s arms, letting all the suppressed grief and emotion out. It was amazing work from Rosie Marcel.
After that she decided she didn’t need all this stress, and we were back to where we were at the beginning. Jac actually apologised to Ollie for being horrible to him. “It’s your duty to stay and become the consultant you should be,” she told him. Morven wondered what all that was about. “She’s leaving,” said Ollie, rather sadly.
And she was. She asked Raf to give her resignation letter to Hanssen, and breezed off down the stairs to a new and happy life with her daughter.
If only she’d gone out via Pulses instead of choosing some weird basement route. Maybe she chose that basement route to have one last little connection with Jasmine, who died there? But then she bumped into someone who shouldn’t have been there. Someone with a gun and a grudge. And the last we saw of Jac, she was bleeding and doubled up in pain, and doubtless that mantra about bleeding was echoing around her brain. And I’m ever so worried about her one kidney.
Essie, who heard the gunshot, had had a bad feeling all day long. She’d lost her wedding ring (it’s probably gone to the same place as Ollie’s. I blame magpies), and when Raf was faced with having to deliver triplet babies while saving their desperately ill mother, Essie was feeling like things would turn out badly. But mother and babies were fine, and Raf was rightly pleased with his day’s work.
But will his skills and his ECMO, and Ollie’s skills, and Sacha’s and Prof Gaskell’s, be enough to save Jac? And is the person with the gun still in the hospital? Who is it, anyway? Thank goodness we only have to wait until Thursday!
HOLBY CITY: BEHIND THE SCREEN, the official Holby book and your essential companion to the show. The paperback is now sold out but you can get an ebook version here