New Amsterdam returned with a strong season premiere in New Amsterdam Season 3 Episode 1.
While COVID threw the entire world a curveball, it has possibly set New Amsterdam up with one of its rawest, stunningly resonant seasons yet.
On a series that knows how to tap right into the human experience at its most complex, vulnerable, and honest with sharp precision, it's not surprising that the series successfully pulled off broadcasting the myriad of feelings that plague all of us.
The premiere succeeded in picking up and addressing what it feels like for our favorite characters and viewers a full year into a global pandemic that has disrupted our lives and everything we've known and left us forever changed.
TV Fanatic had the distinct pleasure of speaking to executive producers Peter Horton and David Schulner about the challenges of addressing what the world and we as a people faced throughout the year and putting pen to paper to reflect that onscreen.
Horton and Schulner's passion discussing the series and season three was as uncontainable as it was infectious.
It previews what is sure to be the series' most honest, visceral, and unapologetic season yet, going full-steam ahead in slicing through and exposing the systemic failures that have created an unhealthy nation in crisis.
If you missed the first part of the interview, I implore you to check it out.
Horton and Schulner to their job of honoring real-life first-responders seriously, and they wanted to give a worthy tribute to them.
New Amsterdam is a series that's filmed and based in NYC. The series' consultants and friends are the same people on the front lines while COVID ravaged New York City.
The hour started with a chilling montage that showed the 'Dam fam tirelessly saving and losing people during the pandemic's height.
We felt the toll it took on each of them, as bodies filled up in refrigerated trucks, fathers like Max and Iggy struggled with staying away from their kids and families, and COVID struck down one of New Amsterdam's most beloved doctors.
One striking image was a worn-down Lauren and Casey, their faces marked and red from hours and days of wearing PPE, taking a moment. Lauren reapplies a teary-eyed Casey's mask as they gear up for another seemingly neverending fight.
Lauren's someone who lived for operating within the eye of the storm, and she hasn't adapted to the calmer aftermath of that harrowing first COVID wave.
It led to a stand-out scene between Lauren and war veteran Casey, where he put what Lauren was feeling into words and empathized. Everyone else wants to move on, but she's still stuck in that Fight-Mode, and it's one of many examples of how the characters are dealing with their collective grief and pandemic trauma.
Schulner states, "What Peter always talks about is as brutal as this has all been, this season is about healing, and that the worst, God willing is behind us, and how do we put our lives back together, how do we become human again."
Lauren's case, in particular, was a unique take, and that scene prompted us to inquire what made them decide on drawing the war parallel. "The answer to your question for that specific scene is full-bodied characters," Horton shares.
"Casey is a vet. He went to war, and it's a natural association for him to make. In a way, it's a revelatory analogy because of who these people are and who she is in particular."
It suits Lauren's character, so the fact that she is the one feeling as if the pandemic's height was the moment she prepared her life for, well, it isn't surprising. Nor is it a shock that transitioning back to "normal" or rather, "the new normal" is difficult for her.
And what is the "new normal?" It's what the series is trying to figure out, especially when this event has exposed all the cracks that Max knew existed.
We can expect Max to tackle things in the way he often does. It includes innovative ideas like formulating a sort of medicine domino tree among New Amsterdam and other hospitals.
Bartering was on the rise as shortages of all things from tissue paper to hand sanitizer plagued the country. It was no different for hospitals with medical supplies that even prompted series like New Amsterdam to donate theirs to real-life first responders on the frontlines.
We were curious if hospitals have formed trees where they barter and exchange supplies to help sustain each other in real life and if something, in reality, inspired them to write that scene.
"I don't even remember, " Schulner laughs. "It feels like a thousand years ago. I hope it's true, I really do. Wouldn't it be great?"
Hopefully, folks are paying attention.
The hour also showed us that one of the most beloved doctors on the series, Kapoor, is fighting for his life with heart complications that resulted from COVID.
Discouraging news prompted Max to call the best cardio doc he knows, Floyd, and we can assume that means Floyd is on the first plane back to NYC to help his friend.
After all, he did utter Max's signature catchphrase of, "how can I help?" However, Schulner and Horton were mum on Kapoor's fate and what comes next.
Although, they did take some pleasure in giving us all those feels with the emotional rollercoaster, "Aww, well, good," Schulner chuckles.
As for some Sharpwin teases, well, as we saw, those rooftop scenes between the two didn't go anywhere, and it certainly served as one of the highlights of a stellar hour.
Horton and Schulner's teases mirrored each other, and they even shared a phrasing of "for better or worse," which suggests we're probably in for an emotional ride of ups and downs with Helen and Max this season.
Buckle your seatbelts, folks.
"Their relationship will continue to grow, and shift, and get more and more complicated. And they'll continue to rely on each other in different ways for better and for worse," Schulner teases.
Horton adds, "I think fans of that relationship will not be disappointed this season. I think they'll enjoy the journey that those two go on, for better or for worse."
Yes, they are perfectly aware of how vague that sounds and chuckled in amusement when we pointed out their ambiguous answers.
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.