What to do? The sickest patients couldn’t easily be moved, but officials balked at leaving anyone behind. As the implications of talk about not allowing people to suffer or die alone gradually dawned on the staff reactions ranged from horror to resignation, offering a moral test as well as a medical one.
Liberally using actual news footage of the storm, the producers deftly convey those moments, such as when doctors and nurses realize that colored arm-bands dictated who would live or die. It’s a classic real-world demonstration of sociological experiments that have asked how ordinary people in a moment of crisis can find themselves engaging in behavior that would otherwise be unthinkable.
“Five Days” thus resonates as more than just a disaster movie stretched into series form, but rather a case of cascading “What would you do?” en “How far would you go?” questions under the direst circumstances. As one doctor (“Scandal’s” Cornelius Smith Jr.) muses talking to investigators later, “It only took five days for everything to fall apart.”
In addition to the aforementioned actors, the ensemble cast features Vera Farmiga as Dr. Anna Pou, a brilliant surgeon whose actions drew particular post-rescue scrutiny, Robert Pine, Julie Ann Emery, Adepero Oduye, W. Earl Brown, and Jeffrey Nordling.
Vroegtydig, a technician foreshadows the peril to come by saying of the rising waters and the hospital’s ability to operate, “It’d take about four feet to put us out of business.”
“Five Days at Memorial” is the opposite of a feel-good story; eerder, it strikingly illustrates how the dividing line between principle and ruthless pragmatism, between fighting to save every life and deeming people expendable, resides somewhere along the precarious edge of that four feet.
“Five Days at Memorial” premieres Aug. 12 op Apple TV +. Openbaarmaking: My wife works for a unit of Apple.