(Series 19, ep. 62 ‘Group Animal, Part Two’ by Andy Bayliss 7.12.17) I don’t know how I can do this brilliant, tense, suspenseful episode any justice other than to give you a blow-by-blow account of what happened. There was so much detail in it, and not a single scene was wasted or slack. Brilliant work from writer Andy Bayliss. Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the episode!
Here goes then… All the electricity had gone off in AAU and Pulses. Fletch was confident that the back-up generator would kick in at any moment, so the greatest concern was whether anyone would have to wait longer than usual for their morning latte. But the presence of Iain from Casualty should perhaps have been a hint that everything was going to get dramatic very quickly. These paramedics don’t make the long journey from Cardiff without a good cause.
Sacha, Essie and Hanssen were in a wet lab with Prof John Gaskell. They heard a sound that seemed awfully like a gunshot. But when they heard about the power outage in AAU, they figured it must have been a fuse blowing. Phew.
But then we saw Jac where we left her on Tuesday, bleeding in the basement.
In a dark and frankly spooky AAU, Donna was on the phone warning Ric that she’d had threatening texts from Jeremy Warren. Then there was that sound again, the one that sounded awfully like a gunshot. Everyone hid.
In the wet lab, Essie took a call and informed the others that “someone’s got a gun on AAU.” Hanssen immediately ordered the hospital to be put on lockdown. They realised that the bang they heard hadn’t been a fuse, and rushed into the corridor to discover Jac in a pool of blood. With the lifts out of action, they had no option but to give her first aid in the wet lab. Sacha was desperate for Hanssen to order the lifts to be turned by on so they could get her to a proper theatre, but Hanssen couldn’t do it, not with a gunman roaming the hospital. So with Jac bleeding from her aorta, they had to use what was to hand – chloroform as an anaesthetic, and tampons from Jac’s bag to stem the blood flow. Prof Gaskell had an idea to use his 3D printer to make a patch. It had never been tried on humans, but they had no choice.
Meanwhile, Fletch was being marvellous and evacuating people from AAU. The news hadn’t yet reached Keller, where Dominic was being a bit tetchy with Lofty, and Darwin where Ollie, Roxanna and Morven were operating on Roxanna’s husband David. Then beepers started going off, and everyone got the news.
On AAU, Donna was hiding with the young son of Raf’s patient from Tuesday, the one who’d given birth to triplets. The mother was outside in an ambulance with Iain. Donna heard glass smashing, and there was a horrifically tense scene as we saw the shadow of the gunman approach. We saw his gun, we saw his boots. We didn’t see his face, and luckily he didn’t see Donna.
The cavalry arrived, in the form of Ric Griffin, who’d come to help Donna who was worried that her patient was haemmorhaging. But he couldn’t get in, because the doors were locked.
Armed police were arriving outside the hospital, but in Darwin theatre Ollie was the very essence of calm professionalism, as he and Roxanna tried to reassure Morven and carry on with their delicate surgical procedure.
Dom was doing his best to exude calm professionalism on Keller, as he found himself in charge as the senior staff member present, but you could see the sheer terror just under the surface.
Ric had managed to get into the hospital and was collecting some bags of saline for Donna’s patient when he was stopped by armed police, who thought he was the gunman. Ric told them the person they were looking for was called Jeremy Warren, and Donna told the police Ric was a member of staff and they let him go.
In the wet lab, Sacha was panicking at the danger Jac was in. Hanssen tried to persuade the police to let them get some essential kit to help her.
Someone had posted a photo of the gunman to social media and Lofty showed it to Dominic. Outside, a police officer showed the same picture to Fletch. “Is there anyone you can think of who might be a specific target?”
The next person we saw was Henrik Hanssen, climbing the stairs to Darwin to get supplies for Jac. Inside Darwin theatre, Ollie was still being magnificently calm (it’s times like this when having a traditional British stiff upper lip really helps). Then they heard a bang very close by.
Outside, Fletch was telling Iain that he knew who the shooter was: “And he’s targeting staff.” In the wet lab, Essie also knew who the shooter was, and couldn’t understand why he’d shot Jac. “If Jac’s a target, then anybody can be a target.” The 3D printed patch was ready, so they focused their attention on Jac.
Dominic was panicking on Keller and resisting Lofty’s attempts to calm him down. “You’re not the one he had a problem with,” Dominic told him. But Dominic never met Jeremy Warren… so who could it be?
If Ollie was being calm, Ric Griffin was like a Zen master on AAU, where he was helping Donna with her patient. Donna called her daughter Mia to let her know she was okay, and Fletch had a call from his son Mikey, which I thought was a lovely realistic touch.
Then back to Darwin theatre, where suddenly the gunman was outside the door. Morven was terrified – he knew the code to open the door! We saw Hanssen hurrying up the stairs, and heard a bang and a scream. Hanssen ran towards the theatre, to find Oliver Valentine unconscious on the floor, with a gunshot wound to his head. Morven was kneeling beside him, desperately trying to help, and Roxanna told Hanssen to stop the gunman before he shot anyone else. There followed some frantic medical action as Roxanna tried to carry on the surgery on her husband while Morven looked after Ollie. When Ollie started having a seizure, and David’s pupils were fixed and dilated, Morven told Roxanna that David was beyond her help, but Ollie desperately needed her neurosurgery skills.
Ninja level medicine back in the wet lab too, as Prof Gaskell prepared to try his patch on Jac. Sacha thought it was “a risk too far” but Prof Gaskell said that Hanssen wouldn’t be coming back with supplies any time soon, and they had no choice. Sacha was convinced his dear friend was about to die, but the patch held, and Jac’s pulse got stronger. Then the phone rang. Fletch had news.
Another bang was heard outside Keller, and everyone tried to hide. And finally we got a proper look at the gunman. Wearing a hood, with a very big gun.
“Fredrik!” shouted Hanssen – probably saving Dominic’s life as he did so. So it wasn’t Jeremy Warren at all, but Hanssen’s son. He walked along the corridor towards Hanssen, looking just a little bit fabulous, I thought, though there wasn’t much time to appreciate his sneering swagger because I was too worried about Hanssen. “This has to stop now,” he said to his son. It was a total face-off – father versus son, the head of the hospital, its moral centre, versus the agent of chaos and destruction. Hanssen attempted to reason with his son, and when reason didn’t work he employed his shouty dad voice to get Fredrik to at least lower the gun, if not put it down. But that wasn’t going to work, either. “I decide how this ends,” Fredrik said, totally beyond reasoning now. “ME!”
A news report from outside the hospital was playing on a television within earshot of Fredrik, and when he heard himself described as a surgeon, he said it was the first time he’d ever been described as that. The validation he sought came too late and from the wrong place. “Put the gun down. This has to end now, my boy,” Hanssen told him. Then Dom burst through a door behind Fredrik. Hanssen told him to go, and he did, but it was still a reminder of the rejection Fredrik felt. “This ‘family’ of yours – I’m not part of it,” he said to his father. “But you aren’t either.” They stepped towards each other, there was a bang, and Fredrik was shot in the chest by the police.
In the wet lab, Essie realised she hadn’t heard from Raf. Prof Gaskell persuaded the police to let Essie go and get some kit for Jac – but it was really so she could try to find Raf, who hadn’t been seen since before everything went pear-shaped.
On Darwin, meanwhile, poor Roxanna had to pronounce her husband’s time of death.
Hanssen wanted to operate on Fredrik, but he was clearly already dead. Hanssen was devastated.
With the danger over and the lifts back on, Prof Gaskell and Sacha could take Jac to ITU, where she was soon joined by Ollie, both of them still unconscious.
And Essie found a voicemail message on her phone. It was Raf. “I’m not going to get out of here. I was hit in the jugular…” We heard the message continue as we saw the aftermath of the day’s events. Fletch banging on a lift door, and the door opening to reveal Raf, already dead. “I know I’m not alone right now, because all I can see is your face, your beautiful face, that smile that tells me I’m wrong again. Those eyes…” There’s a bit of a choir soundtrack going on, and Essie completely breaks down. We see her sobbing uncontrollably on Sacha, and we see Hanssen elsewhere, looking broken. “Make sure you react not with anger, but with love,” Raf’s voice is saying. “Love always wins.”
Just… wow. That was such an intense hour of television. Writer Andy Bayliss and director Paulette Randall kept the tension high throughout. Even details like the constant sound of a police helicopter buzzing around added to the feeling of apprehension. The acting was brilliant all round and I couldn’t fairly single anyone out – it was perfect ensemble playing from everyone. I have, of course, got to mention Joe McFadden, who got to bow out of Holby in this most spectacular episode. His voice-over at the end was tender and touching and very appropriate for a character who brought real heart and warmth to his relationships with Fletch and Serena and Essie.
So what will next week bring? Will Jac and Ollie pull through? How will Essie, Fletch and Hanssen cope with their losses? And have they got the power back on in Pulses yet? I think we all need the sugar hit that only a Pulses muffin can deliver.