I was a bit lukewarm about last week’s episode. This one, though, is a cracker. Lea is staying at Shaun’s apartment and, not coincidentally, Shaun is spending as much time as he can at the hospital. He has some difficulty in articulating why he’s not happy to see Lea, but it isn’t much of a mystery: she hurt him when she left and he doesn’t want to get hurt again. He’s also been practising lying, which comes in handy when he thinks that Paul, a hospital employee, might have cancer. He’s warned not to worry Paul unnecessarily and, much to Claire’s surprise, he manages to sell Paul on a battery of tests without giving the game away. But he can’t keep it up: “You might have pancreatic cancer!” he blurts. He’s right, and Paul has to decide whether to opt for palliative care or high-risk surgery.
But it’s Dr Lim who gets the Patient of the Week: Mara, a teenage girl who presents at the hospital and requests labiaplasty. Lim examines the girl and, on discovering that she has scarring from FGM performed when she was much younger, decides to go ahead with an operation to repair the damage more or less immediately, overlooking the fact that the girl has a fake ID so that her parents’ consent won’t be required. This is potentially a tricky storyline dramatically, because there really isn’t any balance to be struck on this issue. But when the surgery becomes complicated, Mara’s parents need to be brought in – “It’s not that big a deal”, Mara’s cretinous father asserts of his daughter’s mutilation, which, y’know – and a genuine medical and ethical dilemma presents itself.
This storyline resolves quite brilliantly, with a wordless payoff between Mara and Lim which is both moving and triumphant. Lim’s contempt for, and fury towards, Mara’s parents is, incidentally, quite magnificent throughout. Apparently she and Melendez are rivals to be head of surgery. Vote early, vote often, vote Lim.