Peacock’s second season of Dr. Death features the medical misdeeds of the Swiss-Italian doctor Paolo Macchiarini (Edgar Ramirez). Macchiarini, an internationally famous surgeon at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, has created a miracle: a stem-cell-soaked, 3D-printed trachea that can be implanted and magically become one with the patient. Benita Alexander (Mandy Moore), a journalist at NBC, comes across Macchiarini when seeking regenerative medicine stories. While filming a documentary with Macchiarini, Benita breaks the number one rule of journalism: not getting personally involved with a source. While he seems like the perfect man, delivering miracles to patients with no other options.
At Karolinska, Dr Ana Lasbrey (Ashley Madekwe) joins Macchiarini in surgeries but senses something is slightly off. A research physician, Dr. Anders Svensson (Gustaf Hammarsten), ran a test study with artificial trachea implants in rats, and the outcomes contradicted the previous study by Macchiarini. Another surgeon at Karolinska, Dr Nathan Gamelli (Luke Kirby), knows something is wrong from the jump when Macchiarini can’t explain how the implants work and seeks to disprove him. All of Macchiarini’s patients die, and the deaths are blamed on underlying conditions. The truth is that Macchiarini is a fraud in every aspect of his life and is essentially experimenting on people under the guise of compassionate treatment. In his personal life, he proposes to Benita and requests that he make all the arrangements for a grand wedding in Italy, including the pope as the officiant. When Benita discovers the truth, she tells her story to a magazine. At the Karolinska, Lasbrey, Svensson, and Gamelli compile a report detailing Macchiarini’s lies, but the institute tries to shut it down, clearing Macchiarini of wrongdoing. When Benita’s story is released, the report gains traction, finally leading to the beginning of Macchiarini’s downfall.
The Macchiarini case was a good choice for the second season of Dr. Death. Much like Dr. Duntsch in the first season, Macchiarini gets away with his medical misdeeds with a mixture of charisma and the help of institutions that don’t want to admit fault. What Macchiarini did to his patients was horrifying in the name of science. It was highly watchable, for the most part.
I wasn’t stoked about the casting initially, but Edgar Ramirez did well as the magnetic and charismatic conman Paolo. It was a little eerie, it was so good. Madekwe, Hammarsten, and Kirby had great chemistry, and honestly, they were the best part of the whole series. Kirby was the standout in the series, and episode five, which mainly featured him, was the best.
Now, Mandy Moore, I feel like she was miscast. I’ve watched Benita Alexander in a few documentaries, and Moore did not measure up at all to the real-life Benita. I don’t know if it was the script, and NBC was just being salty that Benita, an employee of NBC, had an affair with Macchiarini under their nose and decided to make her vanilla boring. It was weird that some of the real-life events were changed as well. I’d have preferred a hilarious reenactment of Benita having a four-alarm freakout in Barcelona in her terrible disguise when she finds out about Paolo’s other family. It would have been far more entertaining than Benita sneaking around the house like a cat burglar.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the second season of Dr. Death. The Benita-Paolo romance was boring and made the series drag at moments. But the horrific story and strong supporting actors made this well worth watching.
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.