Previously on A Young Doctor’s Notebook: Jon was released from the asylum/prison and tried to sell Dan on the idea of drug-free living, and Dan used up all the hospital’s morphine.
Jon’s new friend the bum in the boxcar, wakes him by throwing his notebook at his head and asking about the morphine addict. Jon starts to explain that said addict isn’t just a friend of his, and then he notices that BumBuddy is pantsless and there are now several pages missing from the notebook. Apparently BumBuddy ate some bad borscht. Lovely.
Back in 1918, Dan’s raving in his bedroom, clearly going through some sort of withdrawal, going on and on about cocaine. Pel comes in and he snaps out of it, surprised to find she wasn’t there the whole time. He starts hyperactively telling her about the rearranging he’s done and asks, clearly not for the first time, if she’s sure there’s no more morphine. He suddenly starts wondering if Anna might have some and begs Pel to go search Anna’s room, but Pel puts her foot down. He decides to go himself, and they start tussling over his trousers, and Pel predictably ends up falling and hurting her shoulder and leaving.
Jon appears and says it’s probably for the best, and probably best that Dan stay put in his room until his giant cocaine erection goes away. Dan asks Jon if he has morphine and Jon offers a hug instead. Dan doesn’t want Jon’s hugs, so they start running in circles around the room, until Jon tackles him down on the bed with a big bear hug. And if someone had said a couple of years ago that soon there would be a show in which Harry Potter and Don Draper took a bath and bear hugged on a bed together, I’ll bet we wouldn’t have believed them, but here we are.
The next day, Dan comes downstairs and complains to Pel that he feels awful and didn’t sleep at all the night before. She thinks it’s because he hurt her, but it’s clearly not, because Dan’s too wrapped up in his own needs just now to care about anyone else’s. Feldcher comes in and reports that more soldiers are on their way, so Dan drags off to get the communist flag to display. Anna comes in and complains about these soldiers just showing up and expecting treatment and showing no respect for other people’s property. Dan brings in the flag and Feldcher tells him it’s brave to show that with the White Guard just outside the door. Dan hurries to hide it and returns just as the doorbell rings. Anna opens the door and a clearly upper class man comes in politely asking where the hospital is. Dan says he’s found it. ‘Gosh,’ the man says, obviously not overwhelmed. Dan quickly tells him they’re out of morphine, unless he’s brought his own. He hasn’t.
Their injured man is brought in and Dan treats him. A lovely young lady hovers nearby, her arm in a makeshift sling. After the (not too badly) injured man is dispatched Anna sharply asks the woman who she is. The woman pleasantly tells Anna she can call her Natasha. Dan offers to take a look at the shoulder and chattily tells Natasha he once cut the leg off a girl named Natasha. Pel adds that he’s cut off three more legs since. ‘How many legs did this girl have?’ Natasha asks wryly. Out in the hall, Anna stops the man in charge from bringing in a record player, telling him this is a hospital, not a summer retreat. Natasha turns back to Dan and Pel and thanks them for taking them in, throwing in a dinner invitation. Dan thinks she should reserve what he assumes are meagre rations of food, but Natasha says she was able to pack a hamper before she left her home.
Later, Dan lies on his bed, whining about how much he doesn’t want to go to dinner, he just wants a hit. Jon stands him up and straightens his tie while Dan whines some more about having nothing to talk about but syphilis. Dan bats him away but Jon takes him in hand and tells him to get a grip and realize there’s more to him than just morphine. He’s a doctor who loves to write! He loves the theatre and once wrote a satirical review!
Smash cut to him performing in said review, which is terribly, terribly awful and mostly boils down to him calling himself Dr Bonkers.
Back to 1918, Jon presses Dan to go to the dinner, if for no other reason than not to let Pel down, because she’s dressing up in an outfit she made herself.
And we cut right to Pel, wearing the outfit, which is a very traditional Russian peasant’s dress-up ensemble, which doesn’t do much for her at all. She takes in the lavish spread their guests have provided and looks a little sad about her horse stew. Feldcher, wearing the horse wig he made, which makes him look like a cracked-out Amadeus, is telling the guy in charge—a General or something—the trouser story, which he declares most amusing. General’s also amused by the ending, which reveals that the lady in the story cracked her skull open and died of a brain contusion. And a mercy morphine overdose that I’m sure Dan is now regretting, but Feldcher wouldn’t know that. Anna sniffs that this must have been a very small hamper. Natasha sweeps in, dressed in a fashionable evening gown, and rather merrily thanks everyone for coming, adding that she hasn’t known such kindness since the Bolsheviks burned down her childhood home. They all laugh politely. Natasha invites them to get started.
Later in the meal, Pel’s eating like she’s never seen food like this before, which she probably hasn’t, while Anna looks at a boiled chicken like she believes it’s going to come back to life and hack her into little pieces. Natasha compliments the horse wig and then invites Anna to serve herself, as this is buffet style. Anna says she knows what a buffet is, as she would often put on magnificent spreads for Leopoooold Leopoldivich. They all turn to look at his portrait. Natasha notices Dan going through a box of books. He finds one by Aleksandr Blok and Natasha wanders over to tell him she’s met Block at parties. And Bock apparently signed her book for her. Dan’s a fan, which makes sense, considering Blok’s later work veered considerably between hope and despair, just like Dan is. Jon wanders by and tells Dan this is just what he needs: good company and a glass of wine. He hands him the wine and moves along.
The dinner continues, and soon there’s music on the gramophone. Natasha’s staring at Dan’s portrait and he goes over and tells her it’s actually a self-portrait. She marvels that it’s almost beyond fauvism and is deceptively childlike. He thanks her, uncertainly. Jon hands him an entire bottle of wine. Because what he really needs is to replace drugs with alcohol.
Pel’s still shovelling food into her mouth, and barely pauses when Dan puts down his empty wine bottle and grabs another one. Feldcher and General talk about atlases and how troublesome this war is for cartophiles. General agrees. Anna asks them when they plan to get back on the road and General says the sooner they can get out of this hellhole the better. Anna takes offense at that and Natasha hurriedly explains that he means Russia, not the hospital. They’re on their way to Paris. ‘Ah, Paris!’ Dan says, drunkenly. In French, Natasha excitedly asks if he’s already visited France. He has no idea what she just said, and looks desperately at Jon, who looks helpless. He mentions the 15 fives he got on his medical exams and Natasha looks confused, so he goes back to drinking.
Later, he starts going on to poor Natasha about syphilis, just like he was afraid he would. She looks totally uncomfortable, so Dan gets ready to perform his crappy satire. Pel, who’s obviously already seen it, tells him no.
The party starts dancing while Jon strums some sort of guitar-like instrument. Dan, now completely wasted, grabs himself a rifle and tells Jon he’s going to join the White Guard and fight this Bolshevik curse. ‘This is for Natasha!’ he yells, wielding the gun. Everyone ducks, the gun goes off, and Anna clutches her chest…because the bullet just went right through the forehead of Leopoooold Leopoldivich’s portrait. Heh. Jon tries to wrestle the gun away from Dan, who winds up shooting himself in the foot. He’s helped onto the table and sends Feldcher off to fetch a saw. Pel, who had gone to bed, appears and asks what happened. Dan whines that he’s going to have to cut off his own leg. She takes his shoe off and says the wound’s not a big deal at all, practically a scratch, and he’ll only need a couple of stitches. Feldcher appears with the saw and Dan passes out.
He comes to the next day, with Natasha sitting beside him, reading Blok’s poetry. He thinks he’s in heaven and asks her if she’s been there all night. Of course she hasn’t, she just came by to see if he’s ok, and apologises for having apparently suggested he join the White Guard. He whimpers that he just wanted to help her cause. ‘Then perhaps you should join the Bolsheviks,’ she suggests. Hee! She tucks him in and gets ready to read another poem.
Dan wakes again later to find Natasha replaced by Jon, who’s plucking at that guitar again. Jon apologises for the whole gun incident but says the night was great, wasn’t it? Dan admits it wasn’t all bad and finally gives Jon the hug he wanted. In comes Pel to throw his Blok book aside and redress his bandage. She chatters that he had a terrible fever the night before. Dan tells her that it’s not appropriate for her to call him by his first name in front of the others, as she did the night before. Or to call him by his first name ever. She playfully refers to him as Dr Bonkers and he pulls rank on her, reminding her a little meanly that he’s the doctor and she’s just a junior midwife. Even Jon looks a little taken aback by his attitude. Dan dumps her. Hurt, she reminds him that he said he loved her. ‘Be nice,’ Jon warns him. ‘I never loved you,’ Dan coldly tells her. ‘Nicer,’ Jon growls. Dan goes on to say that he only said that because he was high, and he was only high because she kept drugging him up so she could hang on to him. Wow, harsh. She roughly shoves his foot to the floor and leaves, taking the chamber pot with her. Before she goes, as a sort of final insult, Dan tells her to take the sheath as well. She pulls back the coverlet, removes what appears to be an early condom, and contemptuously drops it in the chamber pot. Once she’s gone, Jon tells him he really should say sorry.
Now up and about, Dan comes inside with a bouquet of some really sorry looking weeds. He passes Feldcher in the hallway and sees that he’s hiding a much nicer bouquet behind his back. Nonetheless, he perseveres, going to Natasha’s room with his paltry offering. She accepts it gracefully and he kisses her on the cheek. She plays it off as a very Parisian greeting and says that she and Gregory (the general, I’m guessing?) will have to get used to these customs. She explains that Gregory is her fiancé. Gosh. Dan’s heart breaks right in half. Serves you right for being such a little shit to Pel, Dan.
In 1935, Jon’s rather loudly humming a tune, until his buddy tosses a bottle at him and tells him to shut up already. Jon tells him he’s composing an opera. Yes, I’ve often found opera to be a natural outgrowth of journaling. ‘An opera?’ the bum sneers. ‘No wonder you hate yourself.’