“The Forsaken” was New Amsterdam at its best, doing everything it’s good at with ceaseless energy and enthusiasm. And tears, as always.
This recap of New Amsterdam Episode 14, “The Forsaken”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Even by the usual tear-jerking, heart-straining standards of New Amsterdam, “The Forsaken” was a doozy. Balancing three major storylines and the fallout from Lauren Bloom’s (Janet Montgomery) admittance to rehab last week, it was jam-packed with the usual variety of medical drama and character beats cut to uplifting ugly-cry music. Would we have it any other way? I certainly wouldn’t.
Anyway, “The Forsaken” opens with a man intentionally face-planting off a building; his name is Mustafa, an Iraqi interpreter who served with American troops, withstood gunfire, capture and torture by Al-Qaeda, and was granted citizenship in New York as a result. But his attempted suicide isn’t a result of the trauma he experienced overseas, but the rejection he experienced when he came home; people he fought to protect see the beard and the colour of his skin, and they consider him a terrorist by default.
New Amsterdam has dealt with the mental state of veterans before, but “The Forsaken” is using it to make an adjacent point about contemporary race-relations and the immigration furore that some of a certain political persuasion will inevitably find preachy, but that nonetheless rang true, which this show’s uglier truths tend to. Apparently interpreters – even those who serve as a permanent fixture in American military units – aren’t given dog tags, so the culmination of this plot, in which Mustafa’s unit all visited him and gave him theirs, was a real gut-punch.
Speaking of gut-punches, Helen (Freema Agyeman) received perhaps the most vicious of all in “The Forsaken”. As her biological clock continues to tick and her relationship with Dr. Panthaki (Sendhil Ramamurthy) continues to develop, the last thing she needs is to be confronted by a baby who she was never going to be able to keep. But New Amsterdam delights in putting its characters through the wringer, and thus we have baby Zurah, an infant whose addict mother abandoned her in the middle of opiate withdrawal. With the kid unresponsive to treatment, the only option was for Helen to strip down for skin-to-skin bonding; not the best approach for a woman who desperately wants children of her own that she might never be able to have, but needs must.
Of course, it wasn’t to be. Zurah – a name given to her by Helen – responded well to the process, but before long her well-meaning biological father had arrived to claim her. It was a tearful moment, especially with Max (Ryan Eggold), Helen’s closest confidante, looking on. But at least Zurah’s dad wanted to keep the name – he thought it suited her, and I agree.
Not a good day for Helen, then, and made worse by the last-minute revelation that Panthaki has two children of his own – a fact he suspiciously kept to himself, despite being intimately familiar with Helen’s reproductive woes.
Elsewhere in “The Forsaken”, there’s a new doctor in charge of the ED, and her presence is clearly designed to highlight the absence of Bloom. Her style is completely different – “quiet efficiency” is her thing, and she wants patients diagnosed or discharged within ten minutes. This is bad news for Dr. Kapoor (Anupam Kher), who likes to take his time, but it made for some welcome gags, even if the whole time-limit thing feels very anti-New Amsterdam at this point.
To disguise the fact that he increasingly has very little to do, Floyd (Jocko Sims) was investigating Bloom’s absence, finally getting to the bottom of it after a chat with Casey (Alejandro Hernandez). Despite consulting with Iggy (Tyler Labine), who advised him to give her space, Floyd nonetheless decided to cancel his romantic date with Evie (Margot Bingham) to immediately visit Bloom at the rehab facility. What is he doing? “A mutual friend”, he said! This fella has no idea how relationships work, I’m telling you.
And then there’s Dean Fulton (Ron Rifkin), who, with help from Max, faked a heart attacked in an attempt to avoid being canned by the executive board. And it didn’t work. That’s a shame, obviously; Fulton was a character who only showed up now and again, but who nonetheless grew on audiences as he begrudgingly accepted Max’s socialist policies and stood by him in times of crisis. Will the new Dean do the same? Or will that be another thing for Max to worry about on top of him having to blend his meals and sup them through a straw?
All in all, “The Forsaken” was a fine episode of New Amsterdam, one which played the show’s usual notes with real finesse and continued to develop its characters in potentially traumatic ways. There are many more tears on the horizon, I’m sure. But the show wouldn’t be the same without them.