Ah, dear All Saints. Your final three seasons (10-12) were so full of sloppy, insulting writing that I could single-handedly keep Hathor afloat for a year. And yes, I watched all three of said sloppy, insulting seasons. What can I say, I’m a Wil Traval addict; I also sat through a season of Rescue Special Ops and am planning on sitting through what looks like a B-grade horror movie that takes itself too seriously. Like you never had a celebrity crush.
Anyway, a storyline spanning seasons ten and eleven was particularly galling to me. Junior Resident Bart West (Andrew Supanz) initially treats Anne-Marie ‘Annie’ Preston (Yael Stone) for a suspected case of the chicken pox, only to realise that it’s actually cancer. He hands her over to oncology, and you’d think that would be the end of it, right? Nope. Super-professional that he is, he gets romantically involved with a patient who is potential terminally ill. There’s a lot of filler, but when the chemo fails, Annie resigns herself to dying. She watched her mother die of cancer, and the radiotherapy did nothing but prolong her agony, and she prefers a swifter death to the time the treament would buy her. Except Bart is adamant that Annie try radiotherapy, a much more invasive treatment with less likelihood of recovery than chemo. (At least so AS says. No idea if that’s true or not.)
Now, you would think that if you had a terminal illness, and the first invasive, debilitating treatment had failed, yours were the wishes that counted first and foremost, right? Not according to Bart. He loves Annie so much (after three months!) that he can’t bear to let her go, and emotionally blackmails her into having the radiotherapy. The following episode, Annie is in hospital, miserable and in pain. (Later, we discover her bones are so brittle she broke a rib coughing.) Her roommate died the previous day, and she recounts to Bart how envious she was that her loved ones were around her and let her go; she wants Bart to do the same for her. She holds out her arms to him, begging him to let her go; he walks away. Then, as Annie dies a painful, drawn-out death thanks to the radiotherapy, he refuses to see her. Dude, what was the point in bullying her into the treatment if he’s not actually going to stand by her in her final days?
And hey, just so Bart could be an all-around class-act, he took out his anger over Annie dying on his patients, yelling at one for ‘wasting’ a day being indecisive about chronic pain versus a hysterectomy. ‘Cos that’s not being unprofessional, see, that’s being romantic that the love of your life (all three months!) is dying.
The thing is, there are plenty of men – and women – out there like Bart, too selfish to put their so-called loved one’s desires to be free of pain above their own wants – in this case, more time with Annie. I’m not disputing that. What I found offensive is that Bart’s refusal to let Annie – a woman he had only known a few months – die when the alternative was relentless pain being portrayed as romantic. It’s not romantic, it’s manipulative, emotional blackmail.
And what surprised me is how many people – at least on the fanboards (which in all fairness, I generally found to be highly unreflective of what people I knew thought of it) that the Bart/Annie storyline was tragically romantic. Again, people, emotional blackmail is not romantic. So these women want a man who loves them so much that he would rather they live in pain than die in peace? (I have an ex you all might be interested in, if that’s the case.) The mentality that Bart was romantic troubles me more than his manipulative, controlling behaviour in the first place; controlling, manipulative people will always exist, but there doesn’t always need to be people who pander to their beliefs that such behaviour = romantic.
Watching the show again on DVD made me think of the Twilight craze and how ‘romantic’ Edward’s controlling, stalker-ish behaviour is. (Though Annie at least tries to fight Bart, which is more than can be said for Bella.) Getting involved with a patient you diagnosed with cancer while they’re undergoing treatment is not romantic; telling someone you’ve known for a few months you love them is not romantic; emotionally blackmailing them into a treatment they don’t want is not romantic. It’s just being a selfish, controlling jerk.