(Or at least what they should have done before she got killed off)
It’s been four years since Charlotte Salt had her first run on BBC One’s Casualty as registrar Sam Nicholls and was brought back to the show back in September as a paramedic. Sam has a lot of connections and history with Holby, including being Dylan’s ex-wife, and having an affair with Iain whilst still married. We’ve also seen, in recent months, a romantic relationship being developed with nurse, Jacob. However, in a shock first episode of the new series, Sam gets mortally wounded by shrapnel penetrating her abdomen following the epic motorway explosion. Although we last see Sam desperately trying to be resuscitated, it’s been confirmed by the BBC that Sam will not been revived and therefore has officially been killed off.
I have never really been a massive Sam enthusiast however the character has received huge amounts of admiration online from fans since her return, but does it feel like her second sprint on the show has been weighted with wasted potential?
Charlotte Salt, the actress who plays Sam, has revealed in interviews (specifically Digital Spy) that she found the producers decision to kill off her character a bit shocking, however she did not want to return to Casualty long-term. It’s also been said in this interview that she believed Sam’s back story would be explained a bit more, but new ideas were prioritised instead, like her romance with Jacob, in order to accommodate new viewers who may not know Sam’s history.
With that being said, here are my 10 reasons why I think Sam Nicholls storyline this year has been pretty poor:
Not exploring her marriage with Dylan
This is by far the most talked about topic amongst Casualty viewers as Dylan is another fan-favourite character. The fleeting mentions of their marriage are normally along the lines of “it was short-lived”, so we know it may have been a marriage they both rushed into and separated quickly after. We know Dylan was hiding his alcohol addiction and Sam had an affair with Iain whilst working as an army medic in Afghanistan, so it definitely wasn’t the smoothest of relationships, but most fans wanted more details and more stories of the past. Were there any good times to the marriage and specifically why did they break up, other than the relationship potentially being too rushed? Even small things would have created such a better image of their past connection, like how they met and ended up together and are yet such opposites now? It feels the two characters have been pulled apart so much (especially since Sam’s return as a paramedic) that it seems impossible to imagine they even had an association.
Not exploring her marriage with Tom
It sounds strange (because it is) but after Sam filed for her divorce with Dylan, she became close with fellow doctor Tom and they actually ended up eloping together in Sam’s last episode during her original stint on the show. The real actors, Charlotte and Oliver Coleman, actually got married in real life and now have a baby together which is so sweet. On the show, however, things didn’t quite turn out like this and Sam returned last year bluntly stating that her second marriage also ended in divorce. Sam and Tom’s engagement back in 2014 definitely seemed hurried– maybe Sam’s got a knack for getting married too quickly– but no further explanation for why and how their marriage broke down has been given on the show, which is very similar to the details we have on her relationship with Dylan. Will the show explore the details for both marriages now that Sam has been killed off? Maybe Tom will turn up for the funeral and will reveal all! (Not likely.)
Making her a paramedic and not explaining why
OK, so technically they did explain why. Upon her return Sam makes a fleeting comment about how she whistle-blew at her last hospital and now feels no one will hire her as a doctor again, which is why she’s a paramedic. (We all know the real reason is because the writers wanted her close to Iain.) What Sam whistle-blew about is still unknown. There have been a fair few storylines on Casualty about exposing hospitals and the NHS for their lack of employee care and bad management, notably Alicia’s recent storyline where she blogged about the conditions in Holby which almost got her fired. Did Sam do something like this, and what could be that bad that she can’t find a job because of it? Also, what allows her the opportunity to work in the paramedic’s team but not in the hospital? Plus, wouldn’t Holby give her the benefit of the doubt considering she worked there before and still has friendships there?
Making her relationship with Iain kind of weird and all over the place
When Sam returned last year, Iain seemingly despised her considering she slept with him whilst she was married, but that hatred quickly disappeared within the space of a couple of episodes and their friendship suddenly became banter-centric, rather than romantic like it had been previously. It’s strange how the two of them would have such a strong friendship considering the history between them and it has been hard to identify their motives for each other when they are so close and have that background, and yet are so eager to push each other away and into other people’s arms (mainly Iain into Lily’s).
Not explaining why she came back to Holby in the first place
So if we accept that Sam couldn’t find a registrar role because all the hospitals had blacklisted her as a whistle blower, was there no other team in the UK who would hire her as a paramedic? In her first episode back, she makes it clear she originally wants to transfer to another location after realising she has history with Holby and her colleague Iain, but she seems eager to stay after this so maybe they could have explored what made her stay and what her goals were.
Having a random romance with Jacob (and Jacob’s teenage son)
This romance only got a few episodes before Sam was killed off on Saturday and it got very weird very fast. I can see why Sam and Jacob grew close as they both have similar interests in fitness and boxing and they are both quite confident with themselves, but, having Jacob’s teenage son, Blake, fall in love with Sam as well, was just a step too far in my opinion. We barely saw enough chemistry between Jacob and Sam before Blake threw a spanner in the works and, as Sam and Jacob’s relationship was kept very secretive, Jacob still hasn’t told his son that he was dating Sam. The relationship did feel somewhat passionate but also quite fleeting and more like a fling than a deep, meaningful connection. Will Jacob be affected by Sam’s death? As it doesn’t feel like the two of them had that strong connection, I really can’t see Jacob getting too involved, especially since Iain and Dylan will be doing most of the brooding following the funeral as they were clearly closer to her and had history. The pair didn’t even get a chance to go public to the rest of the E.D. so why Jacob needs to take any further action is beyond me. I didn’t feel any substance to Sam and Jacob’s romance, and felt bringing Blake into the picture just made things more complicated and less genuine. Moreover, I still can’t see the point in the show exploring Sam’s love life only to kill off the character before the relationship gets anywhere.
Lack of screen time
This was something a lot of people criticised the show for, especially when Sam first returned as she would sometimes be missing from whole episodes, or be in short scenes where she didn’t really interact with any other characters. The reason for this is because Charlotte Salt had just given birth to her first baby and therefore didn’t have the availability to shoot long scenes, or shoot every week. This is completely understandable however I feel it could have been planned a little better. It was hard sometimes watching the show with only Iain on screen, or having the writers bring in new paramedics to fill Sam’s place like Jan and Ruby, especially when we desperately wanted to found out more about Sam.
Killing her off too soon
This is an obvious one. We all appreciate that Charlotte Salt only wanted to come back to Casualty for a year, but she was clearly shocked to hear that her character would be killed off and, this did feel unnecessary and rushed. Just like many fans have been screaming; What was the point in bringing her back, not exploring her past with Dylan, Iain or Tom, and then killing her off within a year? The only way the show can save this one would be if more details of her past and her connections with these characters were revealed because of her death, but how well can that be done without the said character alive and interacting?
How Sam didn’t call for help after realising she was bleeding out
I just want to quickly say that Sam is such a strong, courageous character who we don’t see gives up easily. Why then, after discovering she was badly wounded, she went to the back of an ambulance and just sat there, I have no idea. It was emotional when Sam spoke her final words to Iain about being scared, and this may have something to do with why she found she couldn’t try and get help as she was just overwhelmed and frozen. However, I don’t see Sam as being the kind of character to resign to death, especially given her circumstances of being in a new relationship with Jacob, having a friendship with Ruby to develop, and not having a chance to potentially build up her registrar credibility again. She has also had experience in the army so must be used to being put under pressure and being faced with a life or death situation. I also can’t grasp the notion that Sam’s story is over.
Some people have been criticising how Sam deteriorated so quickly after being wounded hours before and hadn’t noticed, and I actually don’t have a problem with this because I feel like it is believable, when you take adrenaline and the stress of the explosion into consideration which would have masked the pain. Paramedics also have to wear those big, chunky uniforms which would have trapped a lot of the blood, and maybe even relieved some of the discomfort. Sam only really started getting worse after she took off her jacket and unveiled the wound which may have something to do with her quick deterioration. Other people have taken this scene as evidence for how bad ass Sam is, because she didn’t even notice she had shrapnel penetrating her liver until she was basically dying.
Ultimately not caring about the character’s death due to the above 9 reasons
The last scene of last week’s Casualty was devastating to say the least; however I know I would have been a whole lot more invested, and probably would have cried my eyes out, if the above 9 things didn’t happen. Had we actually been given a highly-developed character that didn’t just come back to the show to die and cause heart-ache and springboard storylines for other characters, Sam’s death would have made a bigger impact and may have actually felt meaningful. I don’t have a problem with killing off the character, I just have a problem with her story leading to her death.