Saturday, July 17, 2021

REVIEW: 'Dr. Death' - Duntsch Declares the Incompetence of Others Even After He Is Indicted by Shughart in 'Feet of Clay'

Peacock's Dr. Death - Episode 1.07 "Feet of Clay"

Duntsch tries to mount a defense. Henderson, Kirby and Shughart seek answers to lingering questions.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Peacock's Dr. Death.

"Feet of Clay" was written by Ashley Michel Hoban & Ahmadu Garba and directed by So Yong Kim

Nothing is ever Duntsch's fault. He professes that over and over again. He was always perfect in every procedure he conducted. It was human error and incompetence elsewhere that led to tragic outcomes. He was never to blame. That has long dictated his life. It's the fantasy he has long ascribed to. He doesn't live in reality. Henderson, Kirby and Shughart are trying to hold him accountable for his actions. He should be found guilty for murder. He should spend the rest of his life in jail. That's a tall order for them to achieve though. The system is also willing to believe in Duntsch's simple explanations. It's not unreasonable for a higher percentage of these surgeries to have lethal outcomes. Neurosurgery is tricky. It requires absolute precision. It's the most difficult specialty a doctor could declare. Moreover, Duntsch isn't the only person in the operating room. A team is surrounding him to ensure each procedure goes as well as it can. If some kind of serious problem existed, then someone would have alerted the proper authorities. Amy knows there is no reason why Duntsch's patient should be dead a few hours after a routine surgery. She isn't intimidated by him either. She wants him out of Baylor. He no longer belongs in his hospital. She is only responsible for the financial interests of this business. That's all that is required of her in society. Her actions allow Duntsch to continue this reign of terror elsewhere in Texas. It's years before his medical license is suspended. Even then, he continues to seek that title in other states. He is determined to operate. That is the only thing of value in his life. He is going to change the world if only jealous people would simply get out of his way. That's what he has reduced Henderson and Kirby into being. Their are jealous of his success. They want to cut him down by creating these false allegations. The truth isn't found in any of this. And yet, the narrative details the numerous instances in which he drank or abused drugs the night before surgeries. That was a pattern in his life. It started in med school. In fact, a former colleague says that's the only way that people get through that grueling curriculum. Duntsch partied harder than anyone else. He was still at the top of his class. He would have accomplished great things if he stayed in research. He opted to move to surgery. It allowed him to achieve fame. It encouraged his medical and intellectual prowess. That was the way he was determined to succeed. He got away with so much because people saw the benefits of working alongside him. Dr. Skadden was an early investor in Duntsch's company. He had a stake in his student's success. And so, he didn't test him in the ways a fellowship is typically conducted. Duntsch had no business declaring himself as a successful student from this program. His achievements were built on that. People encouraged him to be mediocre while promoting his genius. So many hope to excuse all of his behavior away by falling back on that declaration. Jerry still sees himself as a friend. He refuses to testify against Duntsch. In the immediate aftermath of his surgery, he was upset and willing to create a lot of noise. Duntsch certainly dealt with consequences from those accusations. But again, nothing significant changed. Moreover, Jerry still buys into the fantasy. Duntsch is the best. Him having a poor outcome in this case doesn't change that core fact. The prosecution knows better though. They have an indictment. They argue to the judge that bail isn't applicable here. Duntsch has to spend months in jail awaiting his trial. He doesn't see that as fair or just. He still feels entitled to so much. He demands Wendy give him time with his son. He pressures her into doing so under the belief that if she doesn't the financial support from his family would end. She needs that to survive. Duntsch continues to manipulate. He presents himself as a victim. It takes a lot of strength to escape his twisted worldview. Kim does so. It comes at a great personal cost to her. It leaves her terrified in the profession she has always done well in. That's how transformational these relationships became after interacting with Duntsch. He makes everything even more toxic. Calling attention to that should be common practice. He can't be trusted as a doctor. It's still nearly impossible to achieve that though. The burden of proof is stacked against the team trying to convict him. They have made significant progress. The trial just needs to occur to deliver the final outcome. That's what all of this has been building towards. It needs to provide some key resolution. The story itself probably takes precedence over whatever character arcs have been crucial to the season. The acting is still the only reason why the audience should invest in how this all concludes. That's strong in many instances though. The hollowness of it all is just apparent too.