‘Critical’ Episode 8 review

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Upping the ante this week, the Critical team’s patient is one of their own.

The patient is burned so severely as to be unrecognisable, but even before Fiona has asked “Has anybody seen Lorraine today?” the audience is ahead of her. A member of staff, rescued from the female locker rooms – who else was it going to be?

This very personal connection prompts a different angle on the story of the patient, beyond just simple survival. To date the patients have been largely anonymous as far as the viewer is concerned, and have left the Critical department in something of a mess, a compromise of full health – even in the case of Episode 3 where the patient ultimately died, even at the point of amputating both his legs in an effort to save him, there was no thought for his life beyond the immediate.


But with a colleague and a friend, it’s different. Glen endeavours to comfort Fiona that Lorraine “stands a decent chance.”

“Of what?” she asks. “A lifetime of pain and disfigurement?”

As it turns out, it’s an academic discussion and they shortly lose Lorraine. Fiona rather turned her back on her last week of course, so we can assume an element of guilt as well as fury when she launches herself at Clive, as somehow the cause of Lorraine’s death.

It’s a strong episode, tragic even, but there is one major problem. Namely the premise itself. Future episodes may address Lorraine’s mental state (“We don’t yet know the range of emotions that motivated her” says a defensive Clive), but on the strength of this episode I’m afraid I didn’t buy it for a minute.

I can go with the notion that with her career unjustly in tatters she looks to take her own life; but I can’t believe that her method of doing this is to barricade herself in the locker room and set it alight. It would not be a pleasant way to go (if there is such a thing) and besides, in a hospital full of pills she’d surely find an easier way.

Critical Lennie James as Glen Boyle

But even if I’m not convinced by the premise, I certainly am by the extraordinary prosthetics and make-up that go into this show. I’m not sure if it was actually Claire Skinner (the end credits suggest it may have been a stand-in) but whoever was under the burnt make-up, it looked absolutely real. Definitely a programme for which a strong stomach is required.

All of which drama prompts Glen to open up to Fiona about his time in Helmand, with the revelation that he abandoned his Hippocratic oath in order to end rather than save the life of a man. What with that and the death of Lorraine this is probably a ‘game-changer’ episode for the series – it’s just a shame that in doing so it stretches its credibility a shade too far.

Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 14 April 2015 on Sky1.

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