I know, you guys, I know. Last night the American Music Awards aired. I get it. And it was pretty… interesting, to say the least (I see you Iggy—rock that broken mic).
However, last night also bore witness to another epic television event: the third episode of Getting On!
“Turnips… North Day… Yes, yes” begins with what I’m sure must be a fairly common occurrence in geriatric wards: a nurse brings a cello to work. In this case, the nurse is Dawn and the cello? The cello is for the baby, I guess. “I shouldn’t be lifting heavy things,” she says to DiDi as she drags the instrument into the nursing station, simultaneously displacing all of DiDi’s stuff. “I want to play it for my baby. In the womb,” Dawn says.
Though episode three is technically titled “Turnips… North Day.. Yes, yes,” it should actually be called “The day ish went cray” because from the very start, everything seems to go to hell. It begins when Dr. James tries to examine a patient with her residents. James is unable to pull up any of the patient’s information on the computer. Though James initially blames Dawn, it turns out that the hospital’s IT system has gone down. What happens when the computer systems for an entire hospital go down? If one were to believe Getting On, all hell breaks loose.
The first example of said hell breaking comes about with Arlene Willy-Weller. If you recall, Arlene’s mother in law Mrs. Weller is suffering from both dementia and an aggressive lung tumor.
Though Mrs. Weller has been scheduled for surgery to remove the tumors, she tells Didi that she doesn’t want the surgery. Though Mrs. Weller is demented, DiDi tells her that she won’t be forced to undergo an operation she doesn’t want.
Since the system is down, DiDi has no way to tell Dr. Stickley (Mark Harelik) that the surgery’s been called off. She writes him a note, and when he confronts her, she stands up for herself. Arlene gets confused about whether or not the surgery will take place, and the whole conversation devolves into a frantic argument between James, Stickley, DiDi and Arlene.
In typical fashion, James is more interested in her research than the hospital’s failing computer systems. She and Stickley attend a department meeting in which she asks for a percentage of the hospice money. Though her colleagues say they’ll take the request into consideration, we know that things are rarely that simple in Getting On. It’s unlikely that James will get any of the hospice money, despite the fact that she’s essentially pimped out her ward to get it.
When things seem like they can’t get any worse, the air conditioning goes out. With no cool air and no computers, it doesn’t take long for tempers to get short.
In the first season, it seemed (to me, at least) that Dawn and DiDi were friends. However, Season Two shows a rift in their relationship. Since DiDi first took over as Hospice Liaison, their friendship has suffered from Dawn’s jealousy and increasingly erratic behavior.
Part of Dawn’s unpredictable mood swings stem, she says, from her pregnancy. The upside of these almost manic depressive incidents is that she’s begun to stand up for herself in a way that’s fun to watch.
For example, when Dr. Andrew Cesario tries to prescribe penicillin to a patient, Dawn brings to his attention the fact that, since the systems are down, it’s impossible to tell if there might be an allergy. He insists, and when she gets forceful, he runs off to tell Dr. James. When James confronts Dawn, she brings the matter of possible allergies up again, and when James presses her about her tone, she refuses to back down. This doesn’t result in a tongue lashing from James, but, instead, appears to be the beginning of what could become… respect. Instead of criticizing Dawn, Dr. James turns her fury on Dr. Andrew Cesario.
This also earns her character our respect; I think the audience ends up liking Dawn more in this episode than in any of the others, which is ironic (and probably planned) because shortly after standing up for herself, Dawn discovers that her pregnancy is actually more like a phantom pregnancy. “The house is fully furnished,” the doctor says when taking an ultrasound. “There’s just no life there.”
This heartbreaking news is even sadder, since we’ve just started rooting for Dawn. The episode ends in a kind of beautiful moment where Dawn plays the cello for the rest of the ward.
What I thought was particularly nice about this week’s episode was that we really started to see changes in everyone’s character. I mentioned in my first review that I hoped the show would have the resources to expand the world and move forward. Season One was so short, we really only got a taste of everything before the season ended.
We’re starting to see things get all shook up—both with Dawn’s on again, off again pregnancy, and also with James’ plans to whore out her ward (and the hospital, if necessary) to hospice care for a quick buck.
Leland Montgomery is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and contributor to Paste.