An unusually understated New Amsterdam Season 2 finale did the best it could in unusual circumstances.
This recap of New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 18, “Matter of Seconds”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As Ryan Eggold kindly explained to us at beginning of the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale, the show took a break last week because its originally scheduled episode was titled “Pandemic” and concerned a deadly flu outbreak in New York. Since virtually nobody would have seen the funny side of this timing, the decision was made to pull that episode and jump straight to “Matter of Seconds”, though not without first introducing Daniel Dae Kim as new trauma surgeon Dr. Shin. Kim, coincidentally enough, contracted Covid-19 while filming the episode, which introduced him as a smug maverick with his own very particular way of doing things. All this we saw in a collection of his scenes from the pulled episode, all strung together to give us a sense of his aloof character, his potential romance with Helen (Freema Agyeman), and his recurring role going forwards.
Thus, when Shin cropped up in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 18, we got Lauren’s (Janet Montgomery) jab at his tardiness and got to enjoy Helen’s efforts at impressing him in return by deducing that over-filled morphine syringes were responsible for almost killing half of the ED. Close to the end of “Matter of Seconds”, they were arm in arm, strolling down the street together. Daniel Dae Kim moves fast, it seems.
He wasn’t really seen much more throughout the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale, though Helen got a bit of business to attend to with cancer patient Lena (Pat Labez) and her long-suffering husband and caregiver Oliver (Jojo Gonzalez), which made for a touching subplot in a largely understated finale. With Shin’s mentality and good looks occupying a lot of Helen’s time now, one has to wonder how it’ll affect her relationship with Max, especially since he decides it’s best to call things off with Alice (Alison Luff) rather than continue to play house.
Most of Max’s time in New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 18 was occupied by young Liam and his parents. This heart-breaking subplot, which concerned Liam’s burgeoning muscular dystrophy and whether or not he could find a place on an exclusive life-extending medical trial, was classic New Amsterdam, and uncharacteristically refused to reach a saccharine conclusion. A crushing scene in which Liam was required to get himself up off the floor in under ten seconds, which he failed at twice, was the most emotionally manipulative this story got, but its resolution – Liam’s parents decided to spend time together as a family and hold out hope that a better trial would emerge – felt earned to me.
Iggy (Tyler Labine) also had a storyline that didn’t build to a simple conclusion, though it was a much clumsier wade into the bipartisan issue of gun control. Iggy was tasked with determining whether or not a legal gun owner was of sound enough mind to maintain possession of his firearm after he had pointed it at his wife. This man, Brendan, was something of a conservative cliché, and outright accused Iggy of being a “bleeding heart liberal”, which of course he is, but that kind of uncomplicated portrayal thankfully didn’t permeate the meat of the story. Brendan admitted quite proudly that gun gave him back the sense of power that his divorce had taken from him; his pointing the gun at his wife was a reminder, for him, that he could still be “a man”. This is pathetic and nuts, obviously, but it also doesn’t technically disqualify him from legally owning a firearm. Iggy, while he attempted to go into more detail, was forced to admit that Brendan wasn’t an immediate danger to himself or others. He got his gun back, and in a final kicker, his wife revealed that she had purchased one of her own to defend herself against him. The cycle continues.
All the levity in the New Amsterdam Season 2 finale came from Vijay (Anupam Kher) and the unwanted sexual attention he was getting from the wife of a patient. While he was insistent that she was coming onto him, nobody seemed to think this was likely; “Matter of Seconds” even backed out on it by eventually revealing she had a tumor pressing on the pleasure center of her brain. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Vijay since a chance encounter with Karen Brantley (Debra Monk) in the elevator led to an exchange of number and an offer of drinks. Perhaps Vijay is still sexually viable after all.
While New Amsterdam Season 2, Episode 18 might not have been the grandiose finale people were expecting, and left many on-going storylines completely unaddressed, it felt like the show making the best of impossible circumstances. With another three seasons already confirmed, there’s plenty of time to continue as we left off once all this blows over – providing it all blows over, obviously, but if there’s any show likely to make you more optimistic about medical matters, I’d say it’s this one.