“Perspectives” offers too many viewpoints at once to really engage in an overstuffed episode full of fine moments but little actual cohesion.
This recap of New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 16, “Perspectives”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I’ve always loved New Amsterdam; I think it’s a near-perfect version of exactly what it’s trying to be. But its most persistent problem is that what it’s trying to be is often too many things at once. Few episodes better exemplify that than “Perspectives”, which is framed around a potentially ruinous lawsuit brought against the hospital and several main characters over the possibly negligent death of a racist patient, but also includes a simulated school shooting which leaves most of the students traumatized, the climax of Helen’s (Freema Agyeman) on-going battle with Castro (Ana Villafañe) over that unethical drug trial, Vijay (Anupam Kher) and Ella (Dierdre Friel) arguing over a cat, and Lauren (Janet Montgomery) getting to know her mother better.
Each of these competing storylines yields at least one decent moment; each one could have also made for a decent episode on its own. Having them all share space like this only weakens each strand, and by the end of New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 16, it’s hard to know where your emotional investment was supposed to be concentrated. The whodunit wrongful-death suit was a strong foundation, not just incorporating Max (Ryan Eggold), Lauren and Floyd (Jocko Sims), but also Evie (Margot Bingham), and pushing those characters to confront their personal biases and weaknesses, such as Max’s position, Lauren’s addiction, and Floyd’s race.
The school shooting stuff was certainly topical, though I’m not sure how accurate it was that the kids themselves both didn’t know it was coming and also actively participated in the illusion, some playing slain victims without their classmates’ knowledge. Iggy’s (Tyler Labine) impromptu therapy session with the entire school was very Iggy, but the situation around it felt engineered in large part to allow for that Iggy moment.
And then there’s Helen and Castro. Anyone who follows these recaps will know I’ve never been a fan of Castro and her obvious supervillain shtick, so I wasn’t entirely sold on the direction this subplot took in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 16, either. Despite it being deeply unethical to falsify data, Helen realized that Castro was only doing it because of how vital this kind of therapy is in combatting aggressive forms of cancer. And of course what made her realize that was remembering it saved Max’s life – and how could anyone get by without Max?
This irritates me because despite Max obviously being the show’s main character, his catchphrase is “How can I help?” He’s entirely about teamwork, selflessness, and not being the sole reason why everything happens; he and Helen have even had arguments about this very thing every time he tries to solve the world’s problems alone. It just feels like a slightly disingenuous conclusion to a long-running arc that is, quite nakedly, being used to set up the pat love triangle between Helen, Max, and Alice (Alison Luff) that I’m not entirely sure the show will benefit from.
Still, despite all the complaining, let’s be frank – a lackluster episode of New Amsterdam is still a better episode than most other network shows, and the show’s highlights continue to be very high indeed. Let’s just hope that subsequent episodes are less prone to plate-spinning so the cast isn’t forced to tend to any injuries that result from all the broken crockery.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.