Currently streaming on AppleTV+ from director John Ridley and based on true events is the heartbreaking events of Hurricane Katrina with FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL.
Memorial Hospital and Life Care are attached hospitals in New Orleans. On August 29th, Hurricane Katrina was making its way on to land. Dr. Horace Baltz (Robert Pine) is making his way through the hospital to keep things calm. Dr. Anna Pou (Vera Farmiga) begins to make her rounds but notices the other staff not taking the storm too seriously.
Susan Mulderick (Cherry Jones) is the Incident Commander reminds the staff that it is a functioning hospital and that they all have a job to do. Connected to Memorial Hospital is Life Care and they are dealing with their own issues. Diane Robichaux (Julie Ann Emergy) is checking in on their patients.
As the storm progresses, evacuation orders are given for New Orleans and people are now wondering what they are to do. At Memorial, the windows are shattering, gangways are swaying and the waters are coming in with no way to stop them. In the emergency room, Dr. Baltz and Dr. Bryant King (Cornelius Smith Jr.) are moving everyone up another floor. Finally, the power goes out.
Day two comes and the hospital is attempting to clean up and find a bit of normal patient care. Outside of the hospital, the looting has begun and people do not want to leave the hospital. The staff is seeing and experiencing the trauma each person experienced trying to keep everyone calm yet, they are only human with emotions of their own.
Then, the levees broke and what came after became even more cataclysmic than Hurricane Katrina. Both hospitals now know the water is coming and with no flood plan, they are reaching out to who ever can hear them for help! Communications are crossed and no one seems to be in charge but there are those that are trying their best.
As the patients begin to be evacuated, the water inside the hospital is rising and patients are on the roof waiting. Now comes the even harder choices and those who make them are being questioned in the aftermath. People begin helping people without being told because it is not only what is right, it is what is necessary.
After, as investigators Arthur Schafer (Michael Gaston) and Virginia Rider (Molly Hager) take on the work of discovering what happened at Memorial, everyone becomes tightlipped. The two decide to head over to Memorial and try to find out what it is the people are not talking about.
Now comes the question of what happened to the forty-five patients found later?
Farmiga as Dr. Pou refuses to leave the hospital and the patients that need her. Doing her best to save who she can, there are choices that are could be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. Farmiga always gives such strong performances and this is one where I am riveted by what this actress achieves and it is met with anxiety on my part. This is a stellar role and she gives an equally stellar performance.
Jones as Mulderick is so amazing I can not even begin to describe her performance. Her character is called upon to do a job that is not even in the emergency manual. Given information, then having it revoked, then told something else and trying to keep everyone calm is a role that Jones gives strength, courage and character mixed with fear. I would expect nothing less from Jones.
Pine as Dr. Baltz is a steady doctor at Memorial but as chaos begins to ensue, he can only offer solace to those who need it the most. Pine gives the performance of a compassionate that I would hope I’d see at any hospital. Smith Jr. as Dr. King watches what is happening and makes judgements on the situation and those around him. Trying to keep the staff helping the patients is his main goal.
Emergy as Robichaux is compassionate and wants the best for her patience. Pregnant, a hurricane and the aftermath of her concern for everyone around her, especially of Mr. Everett, has her emotions collapsing. What a performance.
Cast includes Adepero Oduye as Karen Wynn, Stephen Bogaert as Rene Goux, Sharron Matthews as Cheri Landry, Damon Standifer as Emmett Everett, Sarah Allen as Lori Budo, W. Earl Brown as Ewing Cook, Jeremiah Oh as Ken Nakamaru, Tammy Isbell as Gina, Katie Boland as Krsity Johnson, Darrin Baker as Dr Martin Bisley and Diane Johnstone as Wilda McManus.
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FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL is one of the most intense series I think I have ever watched. It is shocking, disturbing, full of desperation, fear, anguish and the worst and best of humanity all in seven episodes.
Every cast memory should be extremely proud of their performance given the emotional material they were working with. There is not ONE character or performance that is not believable and filled with compassion, empathy and, well, frakken guts!
As the story unfolds, it does not stop at the storm or the aftermath, but delves deeper into what really happened at Memorial/Life Care and who is responsible. That being said, I think the last two episodes although still shocking, leave the door open for speculation. Focusing on one person when the potential for others being responsible should have been an issue as well.
Be prepared to be shocked and dismayed as each episode will test every human emotion imaginable, and all at once.
In the end – there are decisions that would haunt them all!