The premise of the new set-in-Toronto medical drama isn’t complicated but it's definitely not simple and offers something we've rarely seen: a multi-ethnic cast, women in charge (and lifting each other up rather than competing with one another), and a very critical look at the powers that be whilst offering loads of compassion. Hamza Haq (The Indian Detective
) plays Bashir “Bash” Hamed, a Syrian doctor who fled the civil war and came to the 6ix as a refugee with his little sister, Amira. He quite literally is the transplant referenced in the title. The only work this medical professional can get in his new country is as a line cook at a Middle Eastern restaurant where his uncle is manager, but he’s consumed by a drive to return to his passion: saving lives. Consider us hooked.
The (incredibly graphic) set-up
From the opening sequence, audiences are invited to dive right in, thanks to provocative images like Bash surrounded by hot elements in the restaurant, wiping his brow and wielding intimidating knives and chopping with vigour to some pretty trippy music. What are clearly battle-tested abilities are very quickly put to test when a van, without warning, crashes through the front window of the restaurant, and takes out everyone in its path.[video_embed id='1907613']RELATED: The cast of 'Transplant' tell us why audiences will relate to this highly-anticipated new series[/video_embed]Bashir jumps into action, even though he is seriously wounded—he uses a knife to relieve pressure in his boss's eye (yikes!) and finds that the head of emergency at Toronto’s York Memorial hospital, Dr. Jed Bishop (played by John Hannah of Sliding Doors
fame) requires some pretty tricky on-site surgery, too.Bishop was suspiciously cavalier with Bash before the attack, but our hero wastes no time in—we warned you—boring a hole in Bishop’s head with a power drill in order to relieve the pressure from a subdural hematoma. And when we tell you the camera does not deviate from this brutal procedure, we mean it. Who else almost cried out watching this bit and scared the dog?
Hey, the ladies are real AF
At York Memorial, we’re introduced to Doctors Leblanc (Laurence Lebeouf) and Curtis (Ayisha Issa), two women with very different medical styles who rush to treat the victims with speed and care. This is where we note that, hey, we have two female doctors who are different and may disagree on treatment but are never competing with one another. HOW NOVEL. These two women have wildly different temperaments but are portrayed as competent, compassionate, and very much willing to lift each other up and give credit where credit is due. This feels like progress and can’t wait to see how their working relationship evolves over the course of the show.
Hello, tough real-world themes
The docs and nurses very quickly realize that all the victims have received some pretty tricky treatment but it’s unlikely the doctor among them, Dr. Jed Bishop, gave himself a power drill to the head in the exact spot he needed it. What’s less obvious is that there’s another doctor hanging out in the ER.You see, Bashir, who is harshly questioned by the investigating Officer Reid (played brilliantly by Matthew MacFadzean), doesn’t do himself any favours by continually jumping off his gurney and trying to escape from the hospital. The reason for his jumpiness gets to the root of some pretty serious stuff.
Officer Reid immediately suspects he’s the driver of the van and tries to cuff him down and detain him. It’s a hard scene to watch, but we have to give kudos to the team behind the show for not shying away from issues of police aggression towards people of different ethnic backgrounds. Double kudos for exploring the very real fears that refugees feel in a new country. Will seeking treatment mean deportation? Bash isn’t a licenced medical practitioner in Canada—will what he did to help end up costing him his refugee status?Those fears don’t stop him from continuing to treat people in the hospital, something Dr. Leblanc notices. She then works hard to protect him from the suspicious eye of Officer Reid until it becomes obvious he wasn’t the driver and Dr. Bishop wakes up to admit he very wrongly refused to employ Bash at the hospital when he first arrived in Canada. We get a happy ending to the first episode when Bishop tells the battered, bruised, and bloody Bashir he’s rethought that decision would like to offer him a go as a trauma doctor in the ER.This high-stakes, gritty show is gripping from the get-go and deftly touches on some very important issues facing Canadians, and indeed the world at large, and we cannot wait to see where it takes Bash as the season progresses.Watch Transplant
on CTV Wednesdays at 9/10MT.[video_embed id='1904068']RELATED: Jim Watson and Ayisha Issa talk about their huge fear of hospitals despite playing doctors on TV[/video_embed]