New Amsterdam shows how you can do a hospital villain without dragging things along

NEW AMSTERDAM -- "Perspectives" Episode 216 -- Pictured: (l-r) Freema Agyeman as Dr. Helen Sharpe, Ana Villafañe as Dr. Valentina Castro -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
NEW AMSTERDAM -- "Perspectives" Episode 216 -- Pictured: (l-r) Freema Agyeman as Dr. Helen Sharpe, Ana Villafañe as Dr. Valentina Castro -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC) /

Every good show needs a villain of some sort. Some shows drag out the storylines. New Amsterdam shows exactly how to do a villain storyline well.

Turn on any TV show, and you will see that there’s some sort of villain storyline. Every story needs an antagonist of some type. New Amsterdam had that with Dr. Castro, but it didn’t opt for the standard process of dragging a story out.

Caution: There are spoilers for New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 16 in this post.

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Most TV shows will drag out a villain plot. Just look at The Resident with the Red Rock storyline. It’s got to the point where viewers want the plot wrapped up already. It’s serving nothing except irritating fans of the series, leading to them choosing to skip over episodes or watch through delayed viewing instead of live.

Other shows have been guilty of dragging out plots. It happens a lot with the 22-episode shows. You need to fill the time and make sure one big plot isn’t over too long, so it means going back and forth, adding red herrings or dramatic twists for the sake of dragging out a story. Do I need to mention all those red herrings in Pretty Little Liars?

But is Castro really the bad guy?

New Amsterdam hasn’t done that. I’ll admit that Dr. Castro isn’t your standard villain. In her eyes, she’s not a bad person. She’s the hero in her own story, sure that her cancer treatment will work but needing to get to a certain point to prove that. Helen Sharpe knows that the cancer treatment works, but she can’t have things compromised by Castro falsifying data.

At the same time, Sharpe wants her position as head of oncology back. She also wants to protect the hospital. Not only would Castro’s trial be shut down if anyone else found out about the falsifying of data, but the entire hospital would end up under extra scrutiny. So, in Sharpe’s eyes and in a show sense, Castro is the villain.

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Slowly building the story

Instead of making the season all about what Castro has been up to, her storyline has built up slowly over time. New Amsterdam has introduced the odd clue or made us suspect that Castro has been up to something. We’ve seen the rivalry between Castro and Sharpe, but it’s not played out too much.

The plot was one in the background, with the focus remaining on the patients the hospital wants to help. We’ve kept the focus on Max’s grief and raising Luna, there’s been the focus on Sharpe as she adapts to her new position, we’ve seen Bloom’s recovery, and then there’s the focus on Kapoor and Ella.

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Something is constantly happening in the hospital. Castro has been able to work in the background. And, in a way, it’s given us a sense of how the characters would feel. We had no idea what she was really up to, only learning the full truth when Sharpe did.

There was no need to roll our eyes at yet another red herring or situation. Instead, we were kept wondering with a quick reveal and handle.

More shows need to look at how New Amsterdam handled this plot. And the New Amsterdam writers should consider continuing this sort of path. Sure, it will mean more villainous plots are needed, but they’re worth it to prevent storylines dragging.

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What did you think of the way Castro was handled? Share your thoughts in the comments.

New Amsterdam Season 2 airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.