Although we all knew where this show was heading, it did not mean that the journey there was any less hard to watch. This past weekend I took a trip to New Orleans and enjoyed myself greatly. There is so much excitement and culture in the town, but when I spent time in the city, I couldn’t help to remember all the real footage from the first three episodes that affected me so deeply. It was unimaginable that so much destruction had occurred in such a vibrant area. One of the most affecting things about Five Days at Memorial is how much it stays with you after you watch it.
Episode 4: Rioting and looting has started throughout New Orleans. Babies have no formula or diapers. Cops are becoming trigger-happy. The water is toxic and can’t be swam in. The hospital has lost all power, all equipment, and water has reached the emergency area. There had been a full day after the levees broke before any official told them they were in an emergency. The chain of command between local, state, and national governments completely failed them, so they did not know to jump to action. Eventually it is time to figure out how to evacuate these patients, so now they must decide who to prioritize: highest chance of survival or the sickest? Seeing the people we’ve been following be dehumanized by their categories is heartbreaking. You want to jump through the screen and fight for them.
Episode 5: This is the episode I found the most difficult to watch. The situation is at its most dire, and the doctors and nurses are completely emotionally and physically exhausted. Finally, the company who owns Memorial sends helicopters to their rescue and boat evacuations are starting to ramp up. One of the worst parts of the episodes is when they decide what to do with all the animals they have sheltered with them. Eventually, Susan tells Dr. Cook to put them down, as she thinks it is the most humane thing to do, which is a signal for what’s to come. While it was hard enough to hear them speak about it, it was nearly unbearable to watch him in a room full dead animals. I think the show goes too far in showing that onscreen. This episode is certainly the dramatic pinnacle of the series.
One thing Five Days at Memorial does well is show the parallel between Rodney and Emmett. Both are overweight men that the doctors know are going to have an extremely difficult time evacuating. Both seem like they are lost causes until one determined nurse decides that she will not take no for an answer and saves Rodney’s life. Emmett was a LifeCare patient and was aware of his fate, which made his outcome all the worse. Size should not determine whether someone is worthy of living or dying. This shows the power and importance of having someone to be your advocate and representative.
Episode 6: We have made it to the actual investigation part of the story. They shed some light on who the investigators are and why this might be personal to them. Susan must start calling family members of the patients who did not survive the hurricane and the aftermath. Dr. Pou gets a job at LSU, but when she learns the state is investigating Memorial, she calls Tenet (the company who owns them). When she realizes that they are not going to protect her from what she’s done, she gets a lawyer for herself. It is so interesting to see that she fully believes that she did nothing wrong. Her lack of remorse makes it hard for the viewer to remember the desperation of the situation. While she was originally set-up as a hardworking woman who is laughed at by her coworkers, she has become very difficult to sympathize with. It will be interesting to see how the writers want us to view Dr. Pou by the end of the series.
What is the purpose of being a doctor? Is it prolonging life for as long as possible or for putting an end to suffering? It seems that these next two episodes will tackle these philosophical issues as the investigation continues. It should be interesting to see if Five Days at Memorial can wrap up in a satisfying way. Episode 7 is out now and the finale premiers next Friday September 16th.
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