(Series 20, ep. 16 ‘New Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be’ by Nick Fisher 17.4.18) At the beginning and end of this episode we saw F1 Nicky McKendrick as a child (played by Chanel Zinyemba). Even as a nipper she was practising her surgery skills on assorted toys. This is because she’s Super Keen (and possibly somewhat spooky).
It was her first day on Darwin, and she was Super Keen to make a good impression on Jac. So was Fletch, who’d got Jac a welcome back card and a cactus – “small, redhead, very prickly” as he confirmed with Sacha later, before they decided they’d take turns looking after it, both as a literal cactus and a metaphorical Jac. They won’t be able to look after Jac in person, because she’s looking after herself by taking more time off to get better from her gunshot injury.
Nicky, therefore, found herself being mentored by Frieda, who gives brilliant advice: “In your locker always keep tampons, granola bars and thrush cream. Don’t keep saying everything’s amazing. It isn’t. Never date anybody from radiology. Pick your fights carefully and pick your friends even more carefully.” As Frieda, Nicky and Meena are also sharing a flat, Frieda is also making sure that Nicky is eating properly. This is ninja-level mentoring. I also love the way Frieda is Full Goth even when she’s at home – there’s no tracksuit bottoms, T shirts and nothing-but-tinted-moisturiser about her off-duty look.
The line about picking your friends carefully came after a shift in which everyone wanted to do the glamour stuff (heart surgery, anything to do with Professor Gaskell) and nobody wanted the rubbish jobs (anything to do with abscesses or Sacha – though to be clear, Sacha is not rubbish. It’s just that he tends to prioritise the boring stuff like making patients feel better). Nicky had an invitation to assist the Prof with a tricky procedure, and she had to decide whether to do it or whether to stick with her Darwin placement. She sensibly chose Darwin, and asked Meena to send her apologies to the Prof. Meena didn’t, and grabbed the surgery experience for herself. Now the Prof thinks that Nicky is as much of an airhead as Meena is, although we the viewers at home know she isn’t, and in fact Meena isn’t either – at least some of the time.
Elsewhere, Serena had had just about enough of Xavier and his oily, ingratiating ways. “Do I look like someone who needs to bask in your glow?” she told him rather splendidly, and assigned him to look after the radiant Sheilagh Chiltern for the day, because there’s nobody better for pricking an ego bubble. “You’re very handsome,” Sheilagh greeted him. “He’s very handsome, isn’t he Ben?” Ben (Lofty) was less impressed, particularly when Zav referred to him as “you people.” Homophobic, in the closet, or just a twonk? Or a combination? Anyway, Zav and Sheilagh ended up getting on quite well, even though she was sure she’d seen him before somewhere. Had he been in a medical show on TV, she wondered (going all meta there). It turned out that he was the child star of some food product advertising (“Lunch it, munch it, brunch it”), but he’s quite embarrassed about it now and doesn’t want us to mention it ever again. Don’t bet on Dominic never mentioning it again, though, once he hears about it. Though he may be about to have other things on his mind next week…
Two of the patients o’ the week were deep sea divers, because writer Nick Fisher does love a nautical theme. In fact the third patient o’ the week also had a nautical theme, if you can call running a fish and chip van “nautical.” It involves fish, so I think we can. Meena smelled this patient before she saw him (“Can you smell chips? I can smell chips”).