It was a heavy hour that weighed on viewers nearly as much as it did on the doctors and families of New Amsterdam.
The death of a child is tragic enough, but an innocent teenager dying due to senseless violence and other factors that plague the country is unbearable.
The show has developed a pattern of touching on social issues or health care issues, but New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 5 was the first time it felt preachy.
The seriousness was there, and Jalen and Malik's cases were devastating, but it would have helped if the series was blunter about the topic they were trying to address. What was the main issue beyond broad commentary on the plight of being brown in America?
It was like the series, much like Max, was trying to play it safe by riding in the middle without picking a side, but in doing so, the hour was lacking. What was the nature of the case? Did we ever find out?
There was limited background information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting. New Amsterdam is not a police procedural, so they didn't need to provide a lot of information but still. The lack of a backstory that one could hold onto made an hour that should have been powerful less engaging.
Max: Yesterday morning at 7:30 A.M, a bullet ripped through New Amsterdam. The bullet tore doctors apart. The bullet tore families apart. It tore communities apart. It tore Jalen Pagan's body apart, and although the hardworking doctors of New Amsterdam couldn't save Jalen's life, they all did their job. But the bullet did its job better.
Somehow and for some undetermined reason, under some unknown circumstances, Malik was shot by a police officer on his way to school. Jalen caught a bullet too, and the world outside of New Amsterdam must have been in a frenzy over two unarmed brown kids getting shot by cops.
That frenzy didn't touch New Amsterdam outside of the ripple effects of losing two young boys, the anguish of their family members, and doctors lamenting the world that we live in or their personal experiences as brown people. It's hard to shove in commentary effectively if the situation leading up to the commentary is vague.
Iggy had to rescue Rhonda from being interrogated by a cop about the shooting of her nephew while she was still standing there shell-shocked with his blood all over her. The police commissioner and the mayor were trying to hunt Max down, but all of that was on the peripheral.
While it's understandable why they wanted the focus to be on the boys and how hospitals should avoid the politics and focus on the healing, it didn't hit the mark as hoped. It was frustrating because instead, we had characters trying to talk around an issue without addressing it head on.
That's not to say there weren't poignant moments throughout the hour. Once again, Iggy provided a great deal of them with the way he gravitated towards Rhonda and wanted to help her cope while also hearing her out.
You could feel Rhonda's righteous anger as a parent to a young black boy in America during a time when things seem like they'll never get better. The situation, whatever the details were, struck a nerve because of how it (presumably) mirrors what is happening to a population of individuals at an alarming rate.
Iggy: I'm genuinely just trying to help.
Rhonda: You really want to help? Then stop the police from shooting black boys trying to get to school on time. And get every bullet out of this city so my nephew can have a chance to see his 21st birthday. Can you do that Mr. Trauma Support Man?
She worked so hard to keep her nephew from becoming a hashtag trending on Twitter, but it's like trying to hold water without a cup. It's not in anyone's control no matter how hard they fight.
The series leaned heavily into the usual story about she and Malik lived in a rough neighborhood.
While the quote about her not ever experiencing a good night's sleep a day in her life and assuming that was a normal part of life was striking and one that would leave you breathless as you turned it around in your head, there was a condescending, grating vibe to it too.
Iggy: When is the last time you had a good night's sleep?
Rhonda: Never. I just thought that was life.
Iggy: It doesn't have to be. I can help you. And then you can help Malik.
Iggy's time with Rhonda had him feeling hopeless as he thought about life and all that ails society. He also found ways to connect by using his own family. It's lovely how the show casually slips in bits and pieces about each of the characters in such an organic way.
It turns out Iggy has a husband, and they adopted three children from Bangladesh. Iggy was forthcoming with Rhonda about the struggles his children faced suffering from PTSD, and he used his experiences to help her deal with her own.
In the meantime, both cases had some impact on Kapoor. Perhaps Jalen's tragic death made him reconsider how he would approach his son again. The issues between the father and son were hard to pin down, which was frustrating, but it sounds like he's a recovering addict.
Their conversation was destined to go downhill the second Kapoor started it off by saying he forgave his son. This storyline should be interesting down the road, and I look forward to it.
Iggy's best moments were with Malik's aunt, but Max connected with the case via the bond he formed with Javier. Midway through the installment, Max needed to have that connection because his "middle of the road," play it safe, keep your head in the sand approach to this case of police brutality (?), racial bias (?), or abuse of power (?) sucked.
Hey, you think I'm scared? Huh? You gonna shoot me too? You gonna shoot me too?Javier
It seemed uncharacteristic for Max to come across like he didn't have any opinion or was unaffected. The moment when he advised Iggy to focus on his other patients almost as if Iggy shouldn't have taken so much time being affected by Malik's near-death was strange.
Javier changed things for Max because the teenager was passionate and determined to get to his brother at whatever cost. It was like Javier quite literally knocked some sense back into Max.
Max could empathize with Javier because of what happened to Luna, and it was that unique bond that provided one of the most gut-wrenching scenes of the hour. Max sitting on the floor across from Jalen's body consoling a sobbing Javier was beyond emotional.
It's a relief that there is nothing else going on with Max's throat cancer. He was walking around hoarse for the entire installment, and that was disconcerting. Everything checked out for him though.
Once again, he and Helen had some of the best scenes of the hour. Their last scene together was the greatest of them all. Helen is more open to confiding in Max too, so their friendship is more balanced than ever.
Will there ever be an episode of New Amsterdam where they don't make Helen cry? She cries so beautifully, but it hurts my heart to see her upset.
Helen's fertility issues came as a surprise, but I'm beyond grateful that we're learning more about her. She's one of the best characters on the series.
Helen: The Nutella didn't spread.
Max: I should stop calling it Nutella. It's not Nutella, it's cancer. I should start being honest at least with myself.
Helen: I want to have a baby.
Helen: But I'm single and on the wrong side of 35. I have to do injections and deal with epic mood swings if I even want to give myself a chance. I don't know why I would want to bring a child-- a brown child, into this world. There are a thousand reasons not to, but the only way to beat death is life.
Max: There's a word for it.
Max is the right person to be in her corner and add support to her while she's dealing with her fertility issues. Their hug was the sweetest, and their chemistry is undeniable at this point. I love the bond that they have formed, and it's one of if not the best of the series so far.
As for the Bloome and Reynolds report, after Bloom almost killed someone by performing a procedure she shouldn't have, and she and Reynolds exchanged words about it, they resolved the tension between them, and their sexual tension is still going strong.
There is nothing much to report there.
Over to you 'Dam Fanatics, what did you think about the two cases? What do you make of Kapoor and his son's feud? How upsetting is it that Helen is struggling to have kids? Did Max seem out of character during this installment?
Hit the comments below with all of your thoughts and feelings. Don't be shy!
If you need to catch up, you can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.