In my review of the pilot, I stated that the premise of the show felt cliche and the pilot was flat overall. This episode completely took care of those problems.
The episode got off to an unconventional but humorous start with Hugh consulting with one of his city friends about a heart surgery over a video call and subsequently giving “11 second consults” and tripping over children. Those moments again show the realities of rural medicine and the transition that Hugh is going through from city high-flyer to rural doctor.
The best scenes in this episode by far were the scenes involving James Tanner. The scenes were heartbreaking, riveting and kept me on the edge of my seat. The scenes were realistic but not overly graphic, it showed what Hugh and Aiofe are really capable of and work well as part of a team, and it also showed that (obviously) not everything works out. Throughout the episode the impacts of James’ death were shown, not only on Hugh and Aiofe, but on the hospital staff and Hugh’s family. It was an interesting choice for character development to be displayed in this way, specifically with Hugh revealing he hates failure, Aiofe’s uncertainty of whether attending the funeral was appropriate and Penny’s ability to comfort Aiofe.
As well as the character development with Hugh and Aiofe, we also see character development within Hugh’s family as the love triangle and history between him, Matt and Charlie was explored. The tension between the three of them due to the obvious sexual tension between Hugh and Charlie and the insecurities that Matt feels, is clearly there to set up future plots, which hopefully won’t be as cliche as the love triangle itself.
I liked the Hugh and Joey subplot. This shows a redeeming side to Hugh as he is trying to help out a friend and it ultimately feeds into the MRI fundraising subplot. I especially loved them together on the mountain top which possibly hints at Hugh warming up to the idea of Whyhope, as well as his and Matt’s methods of eventually getting Joey on the plan to Sydney.
I also enjoyed the end of the episode as a wall breaks down between Hugh and Penny. When Hugh is told Penny’s husband died, he immediately tries to apologise despite his hatred for her, however the wall really breaks down when Hugh has to chase down an addict and makes his impassioned speech about how he really feels about his circumstances. Hugh is completely honest for the first time and Penny returns the favour by admitting that she wants and needs him there, and that he could be a good doctor in Whyhope. The wall is well and truly crumbled when Hugh says he hates her, Penny admits she knows this, yet they seem to reach an understanding, which could possibly (and I hope) lead to a great friendship eventually.
Overall, this episode was a huge improvement on the pilot and I hope these improvements keep coming.