Warning: spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of New Amsterdam Season 3, called "Safe Enough."
New Amsterdam may have moved the pandemic story past the point of characters needing to wear masks in every single scene and never having skin-to-skin contact, but "Safe Enough" served as a reminder that this show has not followed in the footsteps of The Good Doctor and The Resident in more or less moving past COVID. The hospital itself still isn't altogether safe due to the pandemic, and "Safe Enough" was proof that staying altogether away isn't safe for some people either. The result was a Helen Sharpe meltdown, and it was exactly what New Amsterdam needed to move forward in Season 3.
Helen's meltdown came about when she agreed to film a PSA to encourage patients to return to New Amsterdam for the sake of revenue, after Max refused due to the fact that the hospital isn't actually safe just yet, and he wouldn't even bring Luna home because of it. Helen lost a patient because that patient hadn't felt safe coming to the hospital for treatment, however, and that was enough for Helen to agree. What she couldn't agree to was spreading a message that New Amsterdam doctors are confident that the hospital is safe, because everybody is still scared and right to be scared.
The speech was not only caught on camera, but leaked to the press. Although Helen didn't appreciate her words being dubbed a "meltdown" in the news, she did receive a round of applause from her fellow doctors, and the video went viral among millions of people, resulting in many more people making appointments at New Amsterdam. Helen stuck to her guns and the hospital has a shot at increased revenue, and Max ended the episode encouraged enough to want to bring his daughter home after missing her first birthday and her first steps.
But Helen's meltdown didn't just help the characters or the hospital. From a broader perspective, New Amsterdam giving Helen the big speech about feeling scared but needing to take care of health anyway nips a lot of potential story problems in the bud. Thanks to this plot, fans have no need to be distracted wondering why there are so many patients and why the doctors are back to treating more "normal" cases when the hospital clearly isn't all the way recovered from the pandemic. The show can more or less get back to business as usual and let the characters shine.
And based on where the episode ended for those characters, Season 3 has certainly set up some arcs to let them shine brightly! The end of Reynolds' engagement to Evie was a sad twist for their relationship, but pretty great for fans (including Ryan Eggold) who don't want to lose Jocko Sims now that he has returned.
Bloom made a connection with a woman who had been a doctor in Pakistan but is living out of her car in New York, Iggy is working on his eating disorder, Helen has professional challenges with her patients on top of her relationship with Cassian and possible developments with Max, and Max is bringing Luna home. Plus, a lot more scenes between Reynolds and Bloom are on the way!