Last time on Holby City: Serena announced that her daughter, Ellie, will be visiting Holby City to film a documentary for her journalism course. Jasmine finds out that Ellie has been taking drugs.
This week began with the typical post-Christmas hospitalizations; one man is admitted after falling from his roof trying to remove a light-up Santa, while another man bought a power tool in the January sales and promptly powered right through his hand.
‘Tis the season.
Unfortunately, this is the lightest that the drama at Holby gets for this week; drugs, a car accident, and major surgery; at least for Berena fans. If you ship Mr. T and Mo, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, but for fans of our resident lady loves, grab some tissues- you’ll need them.
Shortly after the seasonal accidents are shown, Ellie (Amy McCallum) arrives high on ‘coffee’ and a lack of sleep. She’s been up all night, gathering content for her documentary and writing a feature for the weekend papers about Holby. Bernie (Jemma Redgrave) offers her a cheery hello and gets basically a grunt in response, while Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw) who hadn’t even looked up from his papers received a -practically pointedly- chipper greeting from Ellie.
Ellie asks her mom to read the article through, but Bernie needs a second opinion on a patient, so Serena (Catherine Russell) asks her to wait in the staff room. This clearly riles Ellie up, even after Jasmine (Lucinda Dryzek) tells her how hectic the hospital is at the moment.
A little later, when Bernie enters the staff room, she greets Ellie apologetically and tells her that Serena will be ready for her soon, but again, Ellie acts like she doesn’t even notice. It says a lot that Bernie is so worried about the strain that her relationship with Serena is putting on Ellie’s relationship with her mom; that she’s willing to put up with Ellie’s attitude.
She picks up Ellie’s article from the table and compliments her on her writing, but Jason (Serena’s nephew and Ellie’s cousin) (Jules Robertson) lets slip about Serena’s change of job.
Ellie leaps off the couch just as Serena comes through the door and begins shouting at her mom for failing to mention the job change, emphasizing this could ruin her journalism career as she’s already sent the article out listing her mom as Deputy CEO at Holby.
Serena attempts to explain that it was just a slight change in duties, but Ellie isn’t willing to listen. Convinced that her mom is intentionally keeping stuff from her (like the relationship with Bernie and Jason moving into Serena’s house), Ellie storms away, intending to drive off.
Ellie: “I was the last to hear about your bizarre Sapphic mid-life crisis”
Serena, in typical mom fashion, puts her daughter’s safety before her own and attempts to stand in front of the car, believing that there’s no way her own daughter would continue driving whilst her mom stood in front of her.
Unfortunately, Ellie, who is already suffering from lack of sleep and a probable drug comedown, is too distracted by her seatbelt and goes hurtling towards Serena. Luckily for Berena fans, Jason pushes his aunt out of harm’s way, but is severely injured when the car hits him instead.
Jason: “Aunty Serena!”
Bernie rushes him into the operating theater and pulls off the (almost) impossible in order to save Jason and sutures his ruptured liver.
Morven: “That’s almost impossible.”
Bernie: “The key word there, Dr. Digby, is almost.”
Meanwhile, Serena has taken Ellie to the office to wait for news of Jason. Throughout their entire interaction, Ellie never actually apologizes for nearly running over her mom or for actually driving into her cousin.
While Serena rushes to help with another emergency, Jasmine gives Ellie a medical check over before the police arrive. However, Ellie snaps when Jasmine asks about drug usage and point blank refuses to continue the exam.
Ellie attempts to call her dad, but he’s away on business so her stepmother Liberty arrives instead. Ellie tells the police that it was all an accident as if Jason had just jumped out in front of her car on a whim rather than to save Serena’s life.
Thankfully, Jason pulls through and Dr. Digby graciously offers to finish his surgery to allow Bernie to comfort Serena. After that, Bernie takes over Serena’s patients so that Serena can spend time with Jason and Ellie.
Liberty attempts to give Serena a parenting lesson; the key, apparently, is communication… Unsurprisingly Serena doesn’t take well to being criticized by her ex-husband’s new wife.
Liberty: “Coming out at your age, can’t be easy.”
Serena: “At my age?”
Fortunately, Ellie and Serena have a heart to heart in the cloakroom. Both of them want to have a closer mother-daughter relationship, but they’re not sure how to go about it. Serena admits that she hadn’t told Ellie about her relationship with Bernie because she was worried about her reaction.
Just moments after, Jasmine comes in to announce that Jason is now awake so Serena rushes off. She thanks Jason for saving her but admits that she is worried about Ellie and wants to invite Ellie to move back in.
Jason: “I like Ellie, even though she did run me over.”
Things are looking up for Serena- for a few minutes at least.
Ellie, meanwhile, takes a turn for the worse. She excuses herself to the bathroom where she collapses; Jasmine and Bernie find her shortly after.
Bernie has to break the news and take Serena down to surgery, but the prognosis is not good and Ellie is essentially being kept alive by machines.
There are no words.
Bernie breaks the news to the staff and encourages them to go back to work, no doubt insisting on taking Serena’s patients again. Dr. Morven Digby (Eleanor Fanyinka) stops Bernie to ask if she is getting the support she needs because self-care often falls by the wayside when you need to be strong for the people you love.
Bernie returns to Ellie’s beside and places her hand on Serena’s shoulder, gently squeezing. This prompts Serena to describe Ellie’s condition in clinical terms- a sort of coping mechanism- and it’s clear that Ellie won’t last too long.
None at all.
Throughout the episode, Bernie has swallowed her own feelings in order to protect Serena; from not calling Ellie out on her cattiness to fighting to save Jason’s life even though it must have crushed her to be the one operating to offering Serena a shoulder to cry on.
Bernie doesn’t do well with sentimentality but in this episode, she was able to be the calm, rational person to think straight when Serena couldn’t. When Bernie’s hand clutches Serena’s shoulder, that tender touch reveals nearly everything that you need to know about the relationship. The simple squeeze tells Serena “I’m here for you. I’ll support you. I love you.”
These women are able to say more with one look or one touch than with an entire script; a truly magical achievement by the writers and the actresses. They don’t need long speeches, they don’t need dramatic music, they just need each other.
Hopefully, this has been enough heartache for Berena and they can be allowed to heal each other in the weeks to come.