New Amsterdam season 2 episode 17 review: “Liftoff”

Last week’s New Amsterdam episode, “Liftoff”, saw us saying goodbye to Dr. Reynolds in an episode that had a lot of heart despite it being filler.

Hello, Dam Fam! Last week we said goodbye to Dr. Floyd Reynolds in an episode entitled, “Liftoff,” and I’m still processing his farewell. I will miss having Reynolds on the team, but I am still holding out hope for a spin-off with him and Evie over on the West Coast. When asked by TV Insider whether this would be the last we’re seeing of Reynolds, Jocko Sims had this to say:

I don’t think so. I think there are plenty of opportunities to see Reynolds. He’ll always have a home there at New Amsterdam if he wanted to come back. There’s opportunities for him to come and participate if his skills were needed for a particular surgery. There’s possibilities for spinoffs [or] they could take some of the story to the West Coast, and he’d still be on the show.

So there are certainly different avenues they can take to keep Reynolds in the fold somehow but for now his character is moving on and so is New Amsterdam considering how Reynolds’ last storyline played out in “Liftoff.”

Reynolds vs. The Elevator Shaft

Reynolds stayed behind when Evie left for San Francisco to get his replacement settled in at New Amsterdam. Max, however, had everything taken care of which left Reynolds without a purpose until he came across Tevi, a teenage boy trapped at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the hospital’s basement.

Of course Reynolds hops into the shaft to help Tevi, and of course the door shuts, trapping the two of them in the shaft with no one the wiser to their location. While they’re stuck, Tevi reveals that he wound up at the bottom of the shaft because of a selfie challenge. He’s a teenage boy who’s required to spend a lot of his time at the hospital because of his condition, as such his friends are often doing things without him.

Tevi wanted to get a wild shot to impress people, so he pried the elevator doors opened and attempted to get a picture of himself leaning back in his wheelchair. Reynolds, having spent the day feeling like a ghost in a hospital that he’d been a major presence in, understood Tevi’s impulse to be remembered. Everyone wants to have an impact, to be remembered.

Fortunately, Reynolds and Tevi won’t be remembered for being squished by a New Amsterdam elevator despite having one land on top of them. Trapped under the elevator, Reynolds starts yelling to grab the attention of its occupants and the two are rescued from their predicament in time to save Tevi’s life, by repairing his punctured lung and stemming his internal bleeding.

It was nice to see Reynolds in scrubs one last time and for his mentee, Duke, to be there, too. To be honest, I’d forgotten about Duke. He’d had a heavy presence in the first half of the season but that waned as time went on. Now that Reynolds is leaving, I do wonder if we’ll still be seeing Duke. I hope so.

Deputy Medical Director Helen Sharpe is back

While we saw Reynolds leave in “Liftoff,” the episode also gave us the return of Helen’s titles. The ease with which Helen was reinstated as Chair of Oncology and Deputy Medical Director was a tad irksome considering this means the board really could have just given Helen a slap on the wrist and let her go on, but that’s a Helen stan digression that’s unnecessary. Just do know I expected more from the Helen vs. Valentina showdown last episode considering all Helen was put through but anyway.

Helen’s first task after being reinstated is to make sure New Amsterdam’s Fight Cancer benefit goes smashingly and in order to ensure it does, Helen has to make sure the teens in remission giving speeches are prepared to speak. Thankfully they are, but when Jessye’s cancer is revealed to be back, Helen learns about the emotionally harmful way they’ve been phrasing the cancer journey to their patients.

Jessye sees her cancer journey as being a fight with winners and losers. Her friends won their battles, but she lost hers because her cancer is back. Horrified by the implication that these teens are basing the success of their journeys and their worth on whether they can reach remission, Helen directs them to rip up or delete the speeches they had prepared. Instead, she wants them to speak from their hearts on what surviving cancer is really like and the work they put in to have every day despite the fear that their cancer may come back.

Max vs. Crowdfunding

“Liftoff” also had Max contending with some unintentional messaging. When a video crowdfunding for the heart valve surgery needed by Allie, a beautiful young girl whose parents can’t afford the deductible for her surgery, goes viral, Max finds himself fielding requests for him to make an appearance in the videos of other patients.

Karen Brantley thinks it’s a wonderful idea because crowdfunding gives people the opportunity to use their voices to take the health care system to task for the predatory nature of its pricing whilst calling on their communities to help fund necessary surgeries or medical procedures. Max, however, is extremely against New Amsterdam facilitating the kind of crowdfunding Brantley is suggesting.

Max points out the flaws in a crowdfunding system run by New Amsterdam the way its run by other sites. As he says:

You just have to flaunt your misery for money. And it gets better, the public starts voting with their wallets. It’s a tragedy Olympics where the contestants are dying and the judges vote not on medicine but on whose story is the cutest.

So he proposes that New Amsterdam provide a program called ‘We fund you’ and the recipient of the $100,000 he plans to set aside for the program will be selected by the hospital’s doctors. In true Goodwin fashion, Max had not thought his plan all the way through and he released chaos in the boardroom as doctors argued in favor of their patients for money he said he’d set aside, but he hadn’t actually found in the budget yet unbeknownst to them.

Frustrated that his plan is dead in the water and that he can’t help Jason Wong–the son of a Zhen Huan, a patient who needs the same procedure Allie did but who is unlikely to receive crowdfunding money–save his father, Max veers so far left into the field of being anti-fundraising that utilizes a patient’s story in order to raise money that he directs Helen to cancel the cancer benefit.

Max’s reaction is based on watching Jason video his father’s cardiac arrest to incur sympathy from people. It’s a desperate action that Jason feels he must do even if posting the video will destroy his relationship with his father who would rather die than suffer the indignity of begging for people’s money in this way.

Helen, however, ignores his directive and goes forward with the benefit and explains to Max that no one is forcing these teens to share their stories. They want to share them, it’s not exploitation, it’s gratitude. The teens want to be able to help kids like themselves who are sick and their speeches will help them do that because their words will encourage people to donate.

Their explanation, and Helen’s guidance, inspire Max to change his crowdfunding idea to ‘Go fund them’, a program that’s about people coming together to raise money so that more patients can join the ranks of survivors. The video for the fundraising page consists of former New Amsterdam patients, including Max, telling their stories and showing their gratitude for the people who have helped them. It’s an inspiring video and was a lovely end to the episode.

What else happened in “Liftoff”?

  • Vijay had a paralyzed patient named Mateo who he was able to help fly again through a virtual simulation that utilized his brain to pilot the plane. To be honest, Vijay doesn’t seem to have a storyline this season outside of Ella, and it’s glaringly obvious, but this was a nice plot for him.
  • Bloom and Iggy followed a patient around. For a moment we entertained the possibility of a ghost but it turns out Dr. Harold Rothman is a dementia patient. At least Iggy got a therapy session out of their adventure after Bloom’s encouragement, but it’s doubtful that Dr. Harold Rothman–even having been a licensed psychiatrist–can give Iggy the help he needs.
  • Sharpwin, of course, went nowhere near the feelings that were revealed in “Perspectives” but we did get to see Max’s reaction to Helen in her green dress and it was everything. Absolute everything. The man was stunned as he should be.
Next: New Amsterdam season 2 episode 16 review: Changing perspectives

New Amsterdam returns April 14. Stay safe, Dam Fam!