NBC acquired the medical drama Transplant from CTV in May to help fill holes in its fall 2020 primetime lineup caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Transplant was a huge ratings success in Canada, topping the list of most-watched original series during its first season.
The drama created by Joseph Kay made its debut on NBC on September 1, 2020 and will air in the Tuesdays at 10pm timeslot. The 13-episode first season introduces us to Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Hamza Haq), a passionate, talented doctor forced to flee Syria. Once in Canada, Bash attempts to reestablish his medical career in a competitive environment.
Episode one begins with Bash working as a cook in a restaurant. He reminds his boss he needs to leave at 9pm and then, for some unknown reason, he seems overly interested in one particular customer who just entered the establishment.
Back in the kitchen, a friend passes him a wrapped item and he glances at his watch after pocketing it.
As Bash approaches the customer he’d keyed in on, a truck comes crashing through the front of the restaurant. Glass and metal fly everywhere as the truck catches on fire and comes to rest amid the destruction.
Bash and the customers all suffer various degrees of injuries in the crash. Bash removes large shards of glass from his stomach as he attempts to sit up. He glances at the truck’s license plate as he calls out to his co-worker and friend, Khaled (Fayçal Azzouz). Khaled responds that he can’t move his arm.
Bash makes his way through the debris to help the injured. He quickly springs into action and performs emergency surgery with any available tools. He saves his boss’ eyesight before moving on to a female customer who’s unresponsive. He pounds her chest and forces her to breathe. She comes to and as fires rage, he assists the customer who earlier held his attention. The man is conscious but gravely injured, and Bash explains he has a skull fracture on the same side as a blown pupil.
Although Khaled calls out that they need to leave, Bash continues helping the male customer who he’s diagnosed with an epidural hematoma. The man agrees Bash can do what he believes he needs to do, and Bash immediately uses a regular drill to open a hole in the side of the man’s skull.
As he’s finishing, sirens draw closer. Bash is overcome by the smoke and falls unconscious. He wakes in the ambulance and his first thought is to ask how everyone else is doing.
Bash arrives in the hospital where Dr. Magalie Leblanc (Laurence Leboeuf) introduces herself and assures him she’ll take care of him. Bash repeatedly attempts to remove his oxygen mask but Magalie puts it back on. He glances at the other gurneys as he’s rolled through the hospital’s hallways. (There were a total of seven victims rushed to the hospital.)
Police don’t know which victim was the driver and no one can be discharged until they figure it out.
EMTs rush in with a member of the staff. Check that…not just a member of the staff, the Chief of Staff, Dr. Jed Bishop (John Hannah). The staff’s shocked to learn he was among those injured in the restaurant and Dr. June Curtis (Ayisha Issa), a trauma surgeon resident, immediately grabs him to take him to neurosurgery.
Bash struggles to his feet and Dr. Leblanc forces him back on the gurney. However, as soon as she leaves his side, Bash sits up. He looks around and spots cops interviewing victims. Bash attempts to use his phone and then clutches the wrapped item Khaled handed him before the devastating crash.
Bash limps down the hall as doctors, nurses, and EMTs hustle to treat victims. He spots the lady he resuscitated and tries to tell Dr. Leblanc he started her heart before the paramedics arrived. She sends him away without listening and a nurse walks him back to a gurney, asking him to stay put.
Bash overhears a doctor and June discussing Dr. Bishop’s condition. He was right; Bishop has an epidural hematoma.
Bash’s boss calls out to him and asks what he did to his eye. Bash explains he had to relieve the pressure behind it, but his vision will return. The boss says Bash saved everyone. As his boss is being wheeled away, he tells Bash everyone should think of him as a hero. Bash reminds him he’s not a doctor in this country…yet.
Officer Reid (Matthew MacFadzean) questions a nurse about Bash’s whereabouts, hinting that he might not want to be signed in because he’s Middle Eastern. Reid spots Bash and finally gets him to submit to questioning. Bash isn’t forthcoming and only reluctantly turns over his ID.
The injured woman from the crash’s daughter arrives carrying a baby, and Dr. Leblanc explains her mom’s heart is experiencing an electrical disturbance. The daughter’s frazzled and can’t understand why her mom’s condition is deteriorating.
As the doctors prepare for surgery, they debate what happened inside the restaurant. Some seem to believe Dr. Bishop treated the injured and then drilled into his own skull. He needs a craniotomy and Dr. Curtis asks to scrub in. They turn down her offer, suggesting she head back to ER to help her fellow residents.
Dr. Theo Hunter (Jim Watson) and Dr. Curtis ride the elevator down together and discuss the possibility Dr. Bishop performed improv surgeries on everyone in the accident. They also reveal he only has a 50/50 chance of surviving brain surgery. June doesn’t reply when Theo asks if she thinks Dr. Bishop’s going to make it.
Bash observes his fellow patients and notices a young boy’s in distress. When he helps him breathe, the boy’s father shoves him to the floor. Officer Reid watches the altercation and then asks Bash more questions, wondering why he came to Canada from Syria. Bash explains he’s working hard to build a life and the cop doesn’t seem to believe anything Bash is saying. He thinks Bash was either driving the truck or knows who was. Dr. Leblanc puts an end to the questioning by insisting Bash needs medical attention.
Dr. Leblanc sends the cop away and asks how the woman’s heart started beating in the restaurant. Bash doesn’t say he’s the one responsible but does confirm it was via a precordial thump. The woman’s in critical condition but can survive. Bash asks Dr. Leblanc allow him to escape. The announcement of a code blue cuts off their conversation.
Dr. Leblanc’s female patient went into cardiac arrest and they administer CPR. Dr. Leblanc, who we learn goes by “Mags,” is unable to get a view of her heart using the ultrasound.
Bash uses this interruption to try to escape.
Mags is finally able to determine her patient has a large paracardial infusion and needs fluid removed immediately. Mags admits she’s never done it before, and June steps in to take over. June is able to remove the fluid, but the patient has an underlying heart problem that could kill her.
Bash runs all the way home, wearing a shirt covered in blood and holding his side. He stops by an English language class and looks at the students. Not spotting who he’s searching for, he takes off running again. He barely misses a bus.
Mags and June argue over the treatment plan for Alice De Marco, the patient whose heart stopped. June thinks she needs a new heart, but Mags supports waiting for more testing. Alice’s confused daughter has no idea what to do. She reveals her dad died from cancer and she’s not sure how to handle her mom’s medical decisions.
Bash finally makes it back home and yells out for Amira. Khaled arrives at his door and confesses he ran from the firefighters. He’s sure his arm’s broken but he can’t be questioned because he doesn’t have papers.
Bash determines Khaled has a dislocated shoulder and fixes it. Khaled volunteers to help look for Amira who had a night class but wasn’t at school when Bash arrived late to pick her up.
Mags goes over the results of Alice’s test with Theo and it appears June was right. Alice needs a new heart. But Mags is sure she’s missing something. The tests aren’t adding up.
Officer Reid asks if Mags discharged Bash and she’s surprised he’s gone. When Reid says Bash attacked a kid, Theo is quick to defend him. Theo explains the child was aspirating vomit and Bash saved his life. Mags wonders if Bash has medical training. She suspects he does.
Bash visits his landlord and discovers Amira stopped there to use his telephone. She saw the news about the crash and injuries at the restaurant and called the hospital. They didn’t recognize his name and Amira initially thought he was dead. The landlord told her to wait upstairs.
Instead, Amira (Sirena Gulamgaus) made her way to the hospital by herself. She’s just a child and looks completely lost. She asks at the desk for her brother, but the clerk doesn’t understand her. Amira rights down his name and becomes emotional when she says the news isn’t revealing who lived or died. The clerk doesn’t have any info but promises to find out what she can.
Amira takes a seat in the waiting room, looking small, lost, and alone. Anxious, she gets up and wanders the hallways looking for Bash. He’s nowhere to be seen.
Bash makes his way back to the hospital and runs into Mags. She grabs him and asks if he drilled into Dr. Bishop’s skull. He doesn’t admit he did but it’s clear the answer is yes. Mags admits he must be an incredibly talented doctor and asks how he knew where to drill without imaging. He explains why he decided to drill and that it would have been worse if he didn’t. She nearly begs to know what he observed about Alice. They need info now to save her life. He describes what he saw, including that she was tired, wanted time to herself, and she’s losing her hair.
Mags finally realizes the baby isn’t Alice’s daughter – it’s Alice’s. She’s suffering a rare heart condition brought on by giving birth.
Bash continues to try and walk through the hospital unnoticed. He makes it to the emergency waiting room and scans the crowd. Finally, he spots Amira and she runs to him, relieved. They hug and he promises he’ll never leave her. He’s impressed she took the bus by herself.
Bash pulls out the wrapped item Khaled picked up for him and it’s a phone. Today’s Amira’s 12th birthday and it’s her present. She’s surprised and Bash makes her promises she will always answer when he calls.
Their reunion is interrupted by Officer Reid.
Dr. Bishop finally wakes up and asks how the staff did during the emergency. Head nurse Claire Malone (Torri Higginson) tells him he’s lucky to be alive and should think about how he’ll use this second chance.
June and Mags provide the details of Alice’s condition, both taking the blame for not diagnosing her condition sooner.
Bash has been handcuffed to a bed and Officer Reid returns to uncuff him. The officer reveals the truck driver was identified and died after his truck’s brakes failed. Bash is free to go. However, before he can leave Claire informs him Dr. Bishop wants to see him.
Dr. Bishop recalls Bash interviewed for a job, but he didn’t hire him. He gives Bash a second interview. (He should just immediately hire him, but it’s a good first step.)
Transplant Season 1 Review:
NBC made a smart decision when they picked up Transplant. It fits snuggly in the network’s lineup in the absence of New Amsterdam and should capture the attention of that medical drama’s fans.
Relationships are allowed to develop at a realistic, natural pace. Bash’s backstory gradually becomes clearer as the season goes on and while he’s the heart of the series, members of the hospital staff are also fleshed out and not merely window-dressing or sounding boards. The series explores the realities of a refugee attempting to find his way in a foreign environment, struggling with acceptance, and dealing with cultural/societal biases. However, it’s not taking the hammer to a nail approach and instead works that aspect of the drama seamlessly into the storylines.
Compelling, character-driven, and featuring a terrific cast led by Hamza Haq, Transplant‘s first five episodes (made available for review) indicate this series is worthy of being added to your DVR schedule.