Previously on A Young Doctor’s Notebook: Dan, the Young Doctor, arrived in Muryevo, a desolate outpost sandwiched somewhere between Hopeless and Misery. It didn’t take long for him to start sleeping with the only available woman and shooting up morphine, while chattering with Jon, his older self. In the 1930s, Jon nearly ODs and is committed.
I have to be honest, I’m surprised this show turned into a series. I honestly thought those four episodes that went up last year were one-offs. I mean, it’s not like both Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm don’t have incredibly busy schedules. It’s nice they were able to make the time for another season of this, because I really loved the show, as gross as it could be at times. Guess they really loved it too.
1935: Jon is released from prison or the hospital or whatever, now sporting less weight and an impressive Grizzly Adams beard. He asks the guard at checkout if there’s a rope or belt he can borrow to hold is trousers up, but there’s nothing, because of the risk of suicide and all. Jon reassures the man that he’s healed, then puts on his jacket, which still has vomit stains on it. ‘If not for this vomit, I would have choked to death,’ he says, almost lovingly. It shouldn’t be funny, but it is. In the box with his things he finds his notebook and notes that he’ll have so much more time to write now.
Back in 1918, Leopooooold Leopoldivich’s fierce portrait has been joined by a painting of Dan, which looks like something that might have been produced by a toddler who’d just been taken to see a Picasso exhibition. Feldcher’s in tears because they’ve just lost their latest patient, who was only 11, but Dan smokes and shrugs and seems utterly unconcerned, though he does try to help Feldcher buck up. And we find out that the late patient was actually a horse, so it’s not like Dan’s a complete monster these days. Anna comments that they all have their off days. ‘You’re too hard on yourself, Anna, there’s nothing else you could have done,’ Dan replies briskly, completely missing what she was saying. Heh. Dan brightsides that the soup will be thicker for weeks to come now. Ha! Though also, ewww. Pel bundles him off to clean up.
Looks like Dan and Pel are pretty much shacked up. She tries to go sexy by spraying perfume, which apparently stinks. They move past that and she goes to empty the chamber pot out the window. He comments that she’s been spending a lot of time in his room lately, so maybe they should put in a commode. She beams at his thoughtfulness and kisses his cheek before settling into bed and talking about Anna’s comment about him having an off day. She gently points out that he promised not to shoot up before an operation and he defends himself by saying it was only a 1% solution, and it was freezing outside. Not sure how being drugged up on morphine would help that, but ok, he’s probably reaching. They snuggle up together and she joins him in brightsiding that they’ll have more hay for the mattress now. They joke a little at Anna’s expense (‘Leopold Leopoldivich never lost a horse!), and then Dan notices the syringe she’s prepared on the bedside. Because she’s the ultimate enabler by this point, Pel even does the shooting up for him. Dan settles down to disappear into oblivion.
Later, while she snores, he talks in his sleep, saying he never thought he’d be happy here, but he is now, and it’s because of ‘you.’ Jon, now sitting beside the bed, thanks him, and Dan wakes and greets him cheerfully before offering him a bit of morphine. Jon turns him down but asks for tea. Unfortunately the samovar’s been sold. The books too, though he kept the Turkish erotica. Jon’s quite chipper, and Dan asks if he’s ok. Jon says he’s just dandy, because now he’s high on air, which is free and never runs out! He sits on the bed and opens the journal and starts reading aloud Dan’s detailed record of his own drug use, along with the report that, after H’s operation, H died. Dan reminds him that H was a horse. Jon tells him it was still a life, the first they lost to morphine. He leans forward and kisses Dan on the forehead and Dan groans that he’s not going to go forgiving him now, is he? Jon is, and further informs him that he’s found peace. Dan says he has too, and turns over to go back to sleep.
He comes down late the following morning, but fortunately Pel covered for him with Anna by saying he wasn’t feeling well. He also learns that there’s an inspector arriving any day now, as an urgent dispatch was sent five weeks ago. Dan starts to panic a bit and Anna brightly tells him they’ll be checked for patient records, cleanliness, and how their stock’s holding up. Uh oh. Feldcher comes in after shaving the horse and Anna sends him to pick the speculums clean.
In the stockroom, Dan babbles to Pel that this is just a routine inspection. She tells him there’s a problem, because they’re a full quart low on morphine. Jesus! How is he still alive? Dan can’t believe he’s taken that much, but Jon opens the notebook and shows him all the notes from the days he got high. Most of those days are just told in crazy illustrations. Dan tries to say that a quart’s not that much. Pel, incredulous, ‘it’s basically a pond!’ He suggests doctoring the patient records, but they can’t doctor them that much. He considers going to their supplier and getting more, but Pel reminds him of what happened the last time he did that.
Flash back to his last trip to the supplier, when, amongst other things, he ordered 120 grams of morphine, which the guy notes is quite a lot. Dan lies that there’s been a lot of fighting in their area and offers up the samovar as payment. The supplier asks for ID and Dan hands some over, but the guy realizes he’s not Leopold Leopoldivich and Dan flees, stupidly leaving the samovar.
Back in the 1918 present, Dan realizes the guy must have reported him, and that’s why they’re being inspected. He grabs some of the empty morphine bottles and heads for the door, but Jon blocks his way and asks quietly if he’s thought this through. Dan insists he has, ducks into the operating room, and starts filling the empty bottles with water, telling an appalled Pel that they’ll just put these bottles in the back and the real morphine in the front. She seems disturbed, but goes to collect the rest of the bottles from under his bed. Dan finishes filling them and arranges them in the store cupboard. Jon joins him and says he forgives him. Dan sighs and grabs one of the actual morphine bottles.
That night, Dan and Pel look at a newspaper or magazine and Dan sighs over how much he misses the Bolshoi. Pel sighs that she’d love to go to Moscow, or anywhere, really, and he tells her they don’t need to travel, they can have the Bolshoi right there! He gets up and starts twirling and leaping around like a dancer and she laughs. It’s actually kind of a cute scene between the two. The camera pans down to the bottle of morphine beside her, and then we fade to Dan waking very early in the morning to a ruckus outside. He goes to check it out and sees soldiers coming their way.
They’ve brought their very badly wounded. Dan heads downstairs, trailed by Pel, and asks what’s up. Feldcher starts going into a full history lesson, but Dan cuts him off, because he’s aware of ‘this stupid revolution.’ A nearby soldier pointedly calls Dan ‘comerade’ and Dan immediately twigs to the fact that they’ve got Bolsheviks in their hospital, so he quickly covers by saying it was stupid that it took so long to plunge the country into chaos and slaughter a defeated man and his family.
It’s chaos as Dan operates on the badly wounded and orders up morphine for them. Jon happily remembers what a great doctor he used to be, but unfortunately even a great doctor can only do so much in the face of battlefield wounded. The shoes of the dead start piling up by the door. Feldcher tries distracting one man by telling him the trouser story, and the man begs Dan to free him from this torture. Dan offers him morphine, of course, before moving on to another guy, who’s been shot in the stomach. He quickly realizes the bullet’s still in there, and then Pel notices this man’s the inspector. Dan leaves him to go see to another patient. The pile of shoes gets bigger, and Jon urges him not to dwell on it. Dan pointedly ignores the dying inspector to attend to more minor injuries (though, to be fair, it looks like one guy’s had at least one of his balls shot off, so that’s somewhat serious). Jon urges him to see to the inspector currently bleeding out in the hallway, but Dan ignores him. He’s starting to look pretty stressed, and the hard look Pel’s giving him isn’t helping.
Jon goes to fetch the inspector, so Dan finally steps up and goes to get the man. He can’t handle the man’s bulk and yells for Pel to come help. They get him on the operating table and Anna recognizes him and starts making small talk with the guy, who can only scream in agony. Jon, astonished, asks Dan if he deliberately left this guy to hopefully die so he couldn’t complete his inspection. Dan removes two bullets and calls for some morphine, but it has no effect. Because at this point, they’re unwittingly shooting up patients with tap water. Pel goes to the storecupboard for a stronger solution and realizes what’s happening. Jon looks on in horror, and as if he can feel his eyes boring into the back of his head, Dan tries to defend himself by saying he didn’t start this war, he’s just doing what he can to survive, and he’s just a doctor, not a miracle worker. Pel returns and gives Dan a small shake of the head. Feldcher administers the second shot, but of course there’s no effect.
‘I forgive you,’ Jon whispers to Dan. The inspector continues to bellow in pain. Eventually, Jon adds another pair of shoes to the pile.
1935. Jon tries to jump onto a boxcar, and is successful on his second try. It’s already occupied by a man who couldn’t care less about him and just tells him to shut the door. Jon does and settles back with his notebook.