Holby City review with spoilers: Jac devastated as Elliot dies after surgery?

Tonight’s Holby City ended with Elliot Hope (Paul Bradley)’s life hanging in the balance – and Jac Naylor (Rosie Marcel) in a state of complete breakdown in Fletch (Alex Walkinshaw)’s arms in the car park. It was a highly dramatic ending to what was a really gripping and, at times, difficult episode to watch.

Anyone with eyes to see could tell that Jac Naylor wasn’t well even at the beginning of the episode. As she sat in her office surrounded by masses of notes about Elliot’s operation and practising it she was so far away from her usual super-competent self. She looked tired, distracted and very vulnerable. Rosie Marcel’s performance throughout was so raw it was heartbreaking.

Having the life of ‘the closest man I ever had to a father’ in her hands was bad enough, but she was also battling with the distrust of most of her team, with the exception of Fletch, who is such a friend to her, and Nicky (Belinda Owusu) who stays mainly neutral. There was also the added pressure of trying to make a perfect mother/daughter early Christmas for Emma (Darcey Burke), who was due to visit.

Max (Jo Martin) was worried enough to order a meeting for Jac with Occupational Health, and said that Jac wouldn’t be able to operate on Elliot until she’d been cleared to do so. She never would have been cleared, but events took over as Elliot’s health deteriorated and the surgery had to be done as an emergency. With Kian (Ramin Karimloo) suspended because of his actions during Bea’s operation last week, Jac was the only one qualified.

She might have coped, but the tipping point was a call to the theatre from the irritating Jonny Mac, who wanted to know why she was late picking up Emma. She literally begged him to bring Emma to the hospital and was actually in tears, so it wasn’t a surprise when she made a mistake.

Jac in her prime would have calmly fixed the problem, but she went to pieces, slashing Nicky’s hand with a scalpel as she did so. Fletch had to physically remove her from theatre, and he was brilliant – doing what needed to be done to keep Jac safe and keep her from taking Emma away from the hospital in her disturbed state. These scenes were deeply upsetting, with Rosie Marcel tapping into such a well of despair that it all felt very real.

Back in Darwin Theatre, Chloe (Amy Lennox) and Nicky struggled to deal with Elliot as his condition worsened – and we were left wondering whether he’s going to make it at all. If he doesn’t, I have no idea how Jac will cope.

Cameron (Nic Jackman) knows something about that, as he’s still trying to come to terms with killing Evan, or at least not doing anything to keep him alive. This week he saw an opportunity to make some amends when he had a patient who was faced with two choices – surgery that would keep him alive for a while longer, or nature being allowed to take its course. The situation was complicated because the man had Alzheimer’s and wouldn’t have been able to cope well with the after-effects of the surgery.

Serena (Catherine Russell) thought not operating was the kindest way to go and the patient’s daughter agreed, but Cameron talked to her, saying ‘You’ll always be wondering – what if I’d given him a little bit longer?’ so she agreed to the procedure. The patient died during the operation and the daughter blamed herself. She said she’d put her dad through surgery just so she could feel better about herself – which is exactly what Cameron had tried to do.

In all this gloom you could usually rely on the glorious Carole Copeland (Julia Deakin) for some light relief, but she came back to Holby from a cruise only to hear for the first time about the death of Lofty (Lee Mead) and Helen’s baby.

Her attempt to console Lofty didn’t go well, but later on she gave him a gift she’d brought back from Martinique (her other gifts, of baby things, had been happily accepted by the maternity ward). The gift was two eternity rings and this gave Lofty the idea that he and Dominic (David Ames) should renew their vows, to celebrate coming through some very hard times, surviving all the bad stuff and being stronger for it – so at least someone was feeling stronger by the end of a very fraught hour.

Sue Haasler is the author of five novels and the official BBC Holby City book, which you can read about here.

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