SKYMED – created by Julie Puckrin – (minor spoilers)
Set just below the 56th parallel in the town of Thompson, Manitoba (population 14,000), SKYMED is as soapy as any big-city medical drama and every bit as addicting. Halfway into the fourth episode, Emma Lin (Rebecca Kwan) asks Isabelle (Michaela Washburn) for advice on which of her lovers is “the one”. While searching for her dog (which she refuses to leave behind as a wildfire approaches), Isabelle tells her: “Love isn’t like that. There isn’t a ‘one’. You choose someone to be with, and then you’re together as long as it works, until you’re not.” When Emma asks how to know if it works, Isabelle continues: “My kookum always told me, ‘Don’t listen to your heart. Your heart can be confused. And don’t listen to your head; your head can be fooled. Listen to your spirit. Spirit always knows.'”
Emma’s dilemma involves choosing between her fiancé Devon (Gino Anania) a Winnipeg med student she has known since high school, and Jay Chopper (Praneet Akilla), a charming, socially awkward SkyMed pilot she recently met via CB radio (her handle is Bride007). Chopper (Orion24), now divorced, got married at 21 to please his parents. He has sisters (we aren’t told how many), wants to be an astronaut, and has applied to the Canadian Space Agency‘s training program. Chopper offers Emma a different bit of philosophy, advising her to look up at the night sky, specifically at the Pleiades. “When I look up at them,” he explains, “I feel like there are no mistakes. So no matter what you do, Bride007, you’ll be exactly where you’re supposed to be.”
Others are also searching for their one true love, and this makes for more three sided romances. One of them involves Austen Bodie (Aason Nadjiwan), a pilot from Toronto who came North looking for his Indigenous birth mother. Bodie has been dating Madison Van Camp (Emilia McCarthy) for almost a year, but is also involved in a less-than-platonic flirtation with Hayley Roberts (Natasha Calis), the new girl in town. Hayley traveled north to avoid dealing with a medical problem she inherited from her mother.
Another triangle has nurse Crystal Highway (Morgan Holmstrom) platonically involved with Jeremy Wood (Braeden Clarke), a well-meaning former lover with sometimes questionable judgement, while at the same time dating Dr. Trevor Sung (Patrick Kwok-Choon).
What seems to be SkyMed’s most stable relationship develops between Tristan Green (Kheon Clarke), whose inability to save his brother Darius ten years earlier might be the reason he became a nurse, and pilot Milosz Nowak (Thomas Elms), whose parents are not supportive of his career choice (and pointedly let him know that his brother Lucasz has offers from two competing universities). No one but his mother calls Nowak by his first name.
Along with providing medical services, SkyMed delivers supplies to Northern communities, and its lead cargo pilot is William Heaseman (Aaron Ashmore). Affectionately nicknamed Wheezer, Heaseman is married to someone named Lynn whom we never see, and has at least two kids. He’s in charge of survival training as well. (According to Wheezer, the chances of surviving the crash of a small plane in the North are 95.7%, but the chance of surviving in the wilderness afterward is less than 25%.)
Illicit trafficking of drugs, alcohol, and anything else difficult to obtain is an ongoing problem. In the first episode, Lexi Martine (Mercedes Morris) is told by her immediate supervisor Brad (Matthew Kevin Anderson) to overload a plane with things not on the manifest. When she realizes that so much cargo could not be properly strapped down, she refuses. Brad loads the extras onto the plane himself causing a crash and prompting an investigation. Lexi is afraid for her job, and initially keeps quiet but eventually comes clean to Chief Pilot Seamus Pierce (Jeff Teravainen) who surprisingly takes no disciplinary action against her, but instead hands her a promotion and lets Brad off with a slap on the wrist. Pierce doesn’t get much screen time in the first season, but one suspects that, though he appears mellow and fatherly, there is a great deal about him we have yet to discover.
In an interview with Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies, Showrunner Julie Puckrin said that the show’s primary theme is the notion that the North makes people grow up. “These were all characters that needed to grow up in some way,” she explained. “For some characters that may be understanding more about their identity and where they came from; for others, it may be facing a secret or truth that they aren’t ready to deal with; and for some, it might be learning to be the captain of your own ship…The show really became about found family by the end of the season and I think that’s a lovely thing.”