Things are getting worse for both Younger and Older Doctor in episode 3 of A Young Doctor’s Notebook, as Older Doctor comes under increasing scrutiny for his alleged crimes (thanks in no small part to a morphine addiction), and Younger Doctor is going stir crazy trapped inside the snowed in hospital, and in pain because of an ulcer.
Younger Doctor wants to go to the shop for a newspaper and cigarettes, but there are a couple of minor problems with that idea. Number one is that it’s half a day there and half a day back, and number two is that it isn’t open….and that it will be August before it does open again. So he’s stuck in the hospital, and isn’t getting any peace either as patients continue to turn up with various ailments.
For all the comedy in this series, it doesn’t shy away from the horror that comes with being a doctor, particularly in a remote location at the start of the twentieth century. In this episode, the biggest case the Young Doctor has to face concerns a young girl who is barely alive after somehow surviving for several days with a blocked windpipe. He has to perform a tracheotomy on her, but initially doesn’t use a big enough knife, slicing her throat and unleashing a torrent of blood. When he can’t find her windpipe he has to use a bigger knife before he is able to rescue her and get her breathing again. The operation is further complicated by a relative of the girl who is adamant that she hasn’t given her consent for the procedure, and needs an elephant-sized dose of chloroform to properly knock her out.
Young Doctor is starting to convince himself that it was a mistake to become a doctor, and he starts to wonder if killing patients would be a way to lose his license and be able to return to the bright lights of Moscow. As the pain of ulcer increases, he takes his first dose of morphine (despite Older Doctor warning him not to) and fantasies about having his license revoked for killing too many patients, something he’s thankful for when he realises that he hasn’t been charged with murder.
Throughout the episode, Older Doctor is suffering from symptoms of morphine-withdrawal, and he looks increasingly ill throughout, and keeps making a mess of himself in various ways. It’s clear that Younger Doctor is taking his first steps towards morphine addiction, and he makes other mistakes (or at least, questionable decisions), as he has sex with the ‘distracting’ Pelageya.
When he does finally get to go outside, it’s for another distressing case, as a woman has gone into labour before reaching the hospital. It’s another difficult birth for Younger Doctor to experience, and he is unable to save the baby, which was dead before he could bring it into the world, although he did break its arm too.
A Young Doctor’s Notebook continues to be a very strong combination of comedy and drama, and I’m looking forward to the final episode. The performances of Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm have been excellent so far, and it’s a series I could watch a lot more of.