I knew nothing – absolutely nothing about Transplant before I saw the screener and turned it on. I’d never seen an ad, a video, an Instagram post… NOTHING. But when you are laying in bed late at night and you are looking through screeners, you find something that you were just meant to watch.
Here’s the premise of the show –
When Dr. Bashir Hamed, a charismatic Syrian doctor with battle-tested skills in emergency medicine, flees his war-torn homeland, he and his younger sister become refugees, struggling to forge a new life in Canada. If Bash ever wants to be a doctor again, he must redo his medical training from the ground up. He scores a residency in the biggest Emergency Department of the best hospital in Toronto, but it’s a tough road. Bash’s training is different, his life experience is different and he’s not an exact match for his new colleagues. But his journey is universal, and his passion and hopefulness become contagious.
The thing that you need to understand about Transplant is that it isn’t afraid to challenge everything you think and make you confront your inherent thoughts, racism, and stereotypes. This show isn’t afraid to come for people and put its beliefs out there.
And challenge yours.
We start with it setting up the scene. A middle eastern man working at a restaurant. Everything that he does is suspect – he’s on edge, looking around at everything. And then a truck comes through the front of the restaurant. The place is in flames. People are hurt.
The other middle eastern man is hurt but telling him that they must go, that they have to leave.
And you wonder what is happening, what is going on. The movies and television have consistently set this situation up so that you think that he has to be a terrorist. But only seconds later he is helping everyone. He’s cutting someones eye open to relieve bleeding. He’s drilling into someone’s head and practically beating a woman’s chest to get her heart pumping.
You just know that he’s in a restaurant and he says he’s not a doctor in this country. So quickly that mystery is solved. But one can’t help but to start to ask a lot of questions.
Why isn’t he? What happened? Why is he in the restaurant? Why did the truck come through after he approached the man in the suit?
And suddenly when he approaches his friend, the world goes black. So who is he? Who is Bashir?
I don’t know about you but if I wake up in the back of an ambulance, I. am not going to be worried about others. I am gonna be like give me the drugs because my shit is all fucked up. But Bashir awakens in the back of an ambulance and he wants to know how everyone is. He’s concerned about everyone but himself.
What I instantly loved about Transplant is that it puts a person of color front and center. Bashir is – we will soon find out – a Syrian refugee who was a doctor in his home country and needs to redo his residency. You are going to meet other doctors, but Bashir always remains front and center.
What I didn’t like was that it made you confront everything that you ever thought about judging people. Because Transplant doesn’t play it safe. When you get to the hospital and there is so much going on, everyone is overlooking Bashir.
They are worried about all of the other people, but they effectively keep losing him. They don’t seem to notice that he is on the move, that he needs help. You see him looking everywhere to get out, but they keep dropping him for other people.
There was a woman in the restaurant, the one that he gave CPR too, and he’s watching all of the doctors try to save her. They dismiss him as he tries to tell them that her heart had stopped.
The man in the suit from the restaurant, well he is the Chief at the hospital. And everyone is trying to save him. But again, they overlook Bashir. Everyone is trying to fix everything around them, but Bashir is invisbile to them, and it’s quite sad. But with his jumpiness, everyone seems to think he is guilty of something.
Because he wants to leave. He needs to leave. He’s scared, but you don’t know why. He’s been told the police want to talk to him and so I can see why he doesn’t want to be there.
He, however, notices a little boy choking and goes to help him. The boy’s father freaks out. As you know, expected, cause some stranger is touching his kid. But he helps the kid and saves his life.
And he again, is treated like nothing. He’s told to wait and the policeman who is there is treating him like a terrorist. He is acting like Bashir planned 9/11. It’s gross to watch. It’s scary to watch. And quite frankly, it makes you stop to think about all of the things you have been thinking about since the show started.
When the doctor comes in to help Bashir and sends the policeman out – you feel a sense of relief for him. Because he’s obviously scared. But quickly there is a code blue and the doctor leaves him again and Bashir sees this as a chance to run.
And he does.
For Bashir, finding a way out of the hospital is important. I mean he is running on adrenaline. He has to leave. He takes off out a door and down the street.
He is driven by something and we don’t know what it is. We don’t understand where he is coming from. But we learn quickly that he’s searching for someone.
He runs to a building and is looking for someone in an ESL class. He runs to try and catch a bus and it takes off without him. He runs home. And all I am sitting here thinking is what is going to happen? How can he run that fast loosing that much blood and his stomach literally shredded.
It turns out he’s looking for Amira. Is she his daughter? Sister? Wife? Mom? We don’t know, but you can’t even begin to guess. Until he finds out that she went to find him as she saw the news and is afraid he’s dead.
Amira. She may be the sweetest thing you have ever come across. She’s a kid in a new place and she’s terrified that she’s suddenly alone. No one has answers for herr either.
But you can quickly tell she’s a kid with resilience. She finds her way into the emergency room and is looking for Bashir. She doesn’t see him, but isn’t leaving. She sees a bunch of shit a kid should never see.
Bashir is finding his way into the hospital and is caught by the doctor that neglected him. She realizes that Bashir has had medical training. she realizes he is a doctor and wants to hear what he knows.
The whole entire time, everyone in the hospital has thought that the doctor whose head was drilled into was the one who saved everyone. She realizes that Bashir has been that person. She needs his help with a patient from the accident.
Bashir give her all the information he has and goes to look for Amira. We find out quickly that Amira is his sister. She was terrified that he was dead. It was hard for her because she thought she had lost everything. And I can’t help but feel for her, because she’s been through hell and thought that hell was following her.
In one of the most touching scenes in the show Bashir and Amira reunite and I feel like you just want to just protect both of them at all costs. They have been through everything. And knowing that he just wants to be there for his sister and make sure she is safe, is what makes this scene so beautiful.
Transplant is one of the most absolutely beautiful shows because it doesn’t shy away from the issues. It makes your heart examine what we’ve been taught, how we see the bias the television leaves us with. and we need more of that on television.
We need to reassess the way we portray people, but all of the ways that we don’t humanize people. Bashir is a refugee. He is looked at badly because of that. But what is it about being a refugee that makes it bad? He’s stronger than any of us are. He’s more courageous. He works harder.
Where we fail in humanity is giving people the benefit of the doubt. We classify people by their religion, race, sexual preferences, and we don’t always realize that is what is being done.
Bashir is facing this at every turn. He’s a man that left a country for a better life. He’s stereotyped and yet he still has all the love to give. He wants to be everything that he is meant to be and hasn’t lost that focus. He wants to give his sister a better life.
Bashir is someone that we all should aim to be. A hardworking, honest, strong person.
He is demeaned and handcuffed to the bed. The policeman is treating him like a criminal, but all that Bashir is doing is maintaining the focus on his sister.
He isn’t given an apology from the police officer for being treated so poorly and basically accused of terrorism. He wasn’t treated with dignity. And it’s infuriating.
But what he did get is an interview for his dream – to restart his residency and be a doctor.
- I know that we need to get to know all of the other doctors, but I am so pleased that the main doctor in the pilot was Bashir. You are so invested in him and his life that you are drawn in.
- Protect Bashir at all costs.
- I have yet to be invested in anyone else.
- I think that the other doctors will be something that we feel for over time. But right now don’t care.
- I feel bad that I wasn’t invested in the other patients.
- What happened to the man whose eyeball was cut open?
Transplant is must see television. Not only because it’s great, but because it makes you think and it doesn’t shy away from the issues.
Transplant airs Tuesdays on NBC.