(Series 20, ep. 4 ‘Hanssen Is as Hanssen Does’ by Joe Ainsworth 23.1.18) I’m actually quite annoyed that writer Joe Ainsworth used the title ‘Hanssen Is As Hanssen Does’ before I’d thought of it. It’s brilliant.
And it gave us a clue straight away that it was going to be quite a Hanssen-focused episode. The poor man was struggling with the psychological after-effects of his son going on a shooting rampage around the hospital, and we saw various flashbacks of Fredrik in his rather dashing ‘We need to talk about Fredrik’ gunman outfit. Not that Hanssen was pondering how Fredrik really rocked the hoodie-and-boots look. He was too busy thinking about the lives lost or altered forever, and that sort of serious and sad thing. His veneer of calm was still there, but it was paper-thin and you could see it was a struggle for him just to keep functioning.
These struggles were going on all over the hospital, with Jac admitting to Prof Gaskell and to Sacha that since she was shot she still has pain “lingering like a tramp at a food bank,” and her leg collapsing from under her while she was in the middle of operating. Ollie Valentine is still trying to remember who’s who, what’s what, and why Roxanna apparently has nothing else to do with her time that hover at his bedside frowning. And it was the day of the memorial service for Raf, so practically everyone was having a hard day in one way or another.
Essie had invited Fredrik’s wife Sara to the memorial (while actually hoping she wouldn’t turn up), and Sara’s presence completely unnerved Hanssen, like she was his conscience in human form. Hanssen’s chief coping strategy since the shooting has been avoidance, but he couldn’t avoid thinking about Fredrik’s actions with reminders all around him.
He took a little time out to visit Ric Griffin, and it made me wish for more Hugh Quarshie/Guy Henry scenes. They talked about the politics of Holby in the wake of what had happened, and Ric advised that it wouldn’t be a good idea for Hanssen to stick his neck out for him, what with everything else going on.
It looks like we’re going to need Ric back at Holby urgently, so I hope his hot-shot lawyer is as hot-shot as his fee would suggest. Because at the end of the episode, after getting lost for words at the memorial and then being told by Sara that she doesn’t want him seeing his grandson any more, we saw Hanssen pack up his office, get in his car, then get out of his car and literally run away from the hospital. Well, I say run but it was more of a graceful jog. He left the car door open, too, and the engine running.
I’m hanging on to executive producer Simon Harper’s words in a tweet a couple of years ago: “Hanssen is Aslan to Holby’s Narnia, he comes and goes and sometimes has other lands to attend to,” and hoping it’s not too long before he runs back towards Holby (don’t expect the car to still be there though), but in the meantime there’s going to be a power vacuum which can only properly be filled by either Ric Griffin or the wonderful Serena Campbell. Or, preferably, both.
I’m very much enjoying having Goth Dr Frieda back at Holby, and she’s a wonderful match for Jac. When patient o’ the week James (John Lightbody, who managed to be serene, sinister and funny all at the same time) tried to offer Jac the use of his walking stick and said he’d give it to Frieda to pass on to her, Jac told Frieda, “You touch that stick and you’ll find it inserted somewhere very dark and lonely.” Frieda’s reply? “Dreamy.”
On AAU we met Lofty’s gran Sheilagh, who was played by the wonderful Wanda Ventham. She’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s mum, you know. Sheilagh calls Lofty “Piglet” and has spotted that there’s an attraction between him and Dominic. “It’s okay if you want to be AC for a while rather than DC,” she told him, rather quaintly. She was in hospital following a stroke and falling on a pair of garden shears, and there were plans to move her to a ward we’ve never heard of before. It’s called HCOP (Health Care for Older People) and Sheilagh didn’t fancy it, but luckily there were no beds anyway so she had to stay put on AAU with Piglet and Dazzle.
Talking of dazzling, new girl Meena managed to impress Prof Gaskell when he witnessed her shouting at a pharmacist. Later on she told him that neuro was where it’s at in terms of medical excitement, so he’s offered her a place on his neuro trials team.
You’d think he’d have checked this with Essie first, given that she’s holding the Di Lucca purse strings, but she was a little preoccupied with the memorial. I have to say there was a rather poor turnout for this memorial, but I suppose nobody wants to sit for very long on a folding chair in the Linden Cullen Memorial Shrubbery in January. When Hanssen became too emotional to give the speech that he’d sort of prepared, Prof Gaskell stepped in and did a very good job of it, considering he never actually met Raf that I can recall. And he unveiled a permanent memorial to the Holby doctor who pioneered the ECMO and won Strictly Come Dancing. It’s a sort of abstract granite thing, but at least it’s one step up from the wonky plaque they managed for Arthur Digby.
Sue Haasler’s new novel Half a World Away available to pre-order