New Amsterdam season 3, episode 7 recap – “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer” nothing ever changes

April 14, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 3
Weekly TV
4

Summary

“The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer” draws parallels between the current pandemic and another, as Max tackles yet another longstanding, bigoted injustice in the hospital.

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4

Summary

“The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer” draws parallels between the current pandemic and another, as Max tackles yet another longstanding, bigoted injustice in the hospital.

This recap of New Amsterdam season 3, episode 7, “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer”, contains spoilers.


As ever, Max has a problem in “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer”, and true to third-season form, it isn’t one he can solve by being his usual charming self. It stretches all the way back to the AIDS epidemic in the ‘80s and the bigoted medical regulations that ravaged both the gay community and New Amsterdam itself. But rather than just being an issue of the week, the subject is cleverly tied into ongoing character arcs and presented as a parallel to the current pandemic. It’s impressive how well it all comes together, and how much emotional power it’s able to summon in a way that, for once, doesn’t feel all that flagrantly manipulative.

It begins on National HIV Testing Day, a celebratory occasion that mostly pays tribute to George Helms (Larry Bryggman), who was the hospital’s Medical Director at the time and is Max’s self-confessed idol. That is, at least, until he follows the trail from a defaced photograph and learns how Helms handled a critical blood shortage during the epidemic – which is to say he didn’t handle it at all.

During that shortage, gay men, even those who had tested negative for HIV, weren’t allowed to donate blood. To get around this issue, Dale Rustin (André De Shields), who ran the blood bank at the time, had gay men he knew weren’t HIV+ come in and donate blood under the name of another man – the titular Howie Cournemeyer (Stephen Spinella). When Helms found out he threw out the blood, despite knowing it was healthy and could save lives, just to protect the hospital from potential liability. These days, things aren’t much different. Sexually active gay men still can’t donate blood plasma to help combat Coronavirus. Even during a public health crisis, outdated bigotry still reigns supreme.

Well, Max isn’t having that, and he decides to circumvent the regulations so that any healthy individual can give blood, regardless of who they love. Howie is the first donor.

This isn’t Max’s only problem in New Amsterdam season 3, episode 7. Luna is also raising hell around the hospital, and when he catches her staring at a picture of Georgia’s mother, he knows that he has to admit he can’t do this on his own. Luna needs someone who can be there for her more than Max can since he’s always busy solving deep-rooted systemic issues. Luckily, parents aren’t supposed to raise children on their own. It takes a village and all that. Grandma to the rescue.

Bringing things back to the issue of HIV and homophobia, Lauren and Floyd clashed in “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer” over Kwame (Joshua Gitta), a Mormon missionary who had contracted HIV by sleeping with a man against the rules of his religion. His Elder – how ridiculous giving someone that title in 2021 – considered his sins worthy of dismissal. If he couldn’t marry a woman and have children, he’d be removed from the mission and sent back to his own country. But Kwame’s faith was unwavering.

This caused the problem between Lauren and Floyd since the latter believed that Kwame’s devotion to his religion superseded his desire to live as his authentic self, so he proposed a solution that would find him back in the church but also back in the closet. Lauren was appalled by this, and the show’s reliable no-nonsense no-f*cks-given figurehead continues to be one of the most right-minded people in the entire hospital, especially after what she did for Leyla (although, on that subject, where has Leyla gone?).

New Amsterdam season 3, episode 7 was bookended by love scenes between Iggy and Martin: In the first, Iggy’s body dysmorphia got the better of him, awkwardly insisting that the lights be turned off before he can intimate with his husband; in the second, Iggy keeps the lights on, having not necessarily come to terms with how he looks but at least accepted that he cannot continue to let his own perceptions dominate his life in the way they have. It’s a powerful moment, but it requires some stress for Iggy to get there.

Most of this is rooted in Dr. Kapoor, who sadly resigns in “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer”. This is a serious shock to Iggy, who had arranged a party for his return. He takes the fact that Kapoor didn’t let him know about this very personally and leaves him several voicemails, some of them frantic and hurtful. It isn’t until Ella calls back and explains what’s really going on that Iggy understands. While Kapoor survived COVID, the long-term have effects have rendered him unable to work ever again. He tried to return but physically couldn’t make it, and the pain of that realization has caused him to close off from his colleagues. That’s why he didn’t tell Iggy or anyone else for that matter. He’ll definitely be missed.

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3 thoughts on “New Amsterdam season 3, episode 7 recap – “The Legend of Howie Cournemeyer”

  • April 15, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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    The portrayal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or “mormons”, their members, their missions, their garments, their elders, and their relationship with the LGBTQ+ community was disturbing, disrespectful, and above all – inaccurate. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am an avid ally to all members of the LGBTQ+ community. We march with our friends, we stand up for injustice, my family has opened our home to anyone and everyone that needs it – members of any and every community. We have helped our gay friends on their path to adoption, never encouraging them to “go back into the closet” to marry a woman or telling them that something is wrong with them. I have never turned away or disowned someone based on their sexuality and certainly not whether of not they are HIV positive. I do not know any member of the church that has, and if they do they are not living in harmony with the teachings. Why is it appropriate to show the church is such a disgusting and skewed way when your show is all about tolerance and acceptance? This depiction of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is perpetuating a stereotype and stigma similar to that if you would’ve shown a member of the Islam faith as a terrorist or extremist in another way. Are we not as deserving to be given a true shot as other minorities or other religions? Media needs to stop perpetuating negative ideas about a community that actually does care if you give them the chance.

  • August 11, 2021 at 5:45 am
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    I have been a long time fan of New Amsterdam, until today. I am a little late in watching this season. The writers in this episode did not do any research, and have offended me as a member of this church. If the writers are going to write about a real subject, they should really get their facts straight. SOOOOOOO many things portrayed in the this episode referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its prejudices, beliefs, thoughts and feelings as members are wrong. Kind of ironic to talk about a church and it’s supposed beliefs, and it is false information, and may cause people to now have these feelings about this church. HORRIBLE!!!! It would have been a really EASY research to find out a few things about the religion, which showed me right off the bat that the writers did NO research. Two very tiny bits of surface information is members of our church don’t wear crosses and our leaders aren’t called Elders. That is just scratching the surface. Maybe if you are going to write about real life current events, a little research should be done before you cause people to think negative thoughts about a group of people.

  • September 22, 2021 at 11:05 pm
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    Hi. I am not an American and I don’t really understand the complexities of American culture, but surely this episode is dangerously beyond silly. The clear message is: Everything gay is perfect and holy – it is not. Everything non-white is perfect and holy – it is not. Everything non-male is perfect and holy – it is not. It is also very consistent throughout each series that the writers/producers/actors believe that anything/anyone remotely professing to be Christian is despicable. Any portrayal I have seen of Christians in New Amsterdam only ever shows the worst characterization of Christians as the most selfish, unkind, greedy people you would ever hope not to meet. Of course these types of people are among the millions of Christians throughout the world. But there are also kind, generous, self-giving Christians who make massive sacrifices to serve their neighbours. But the writers fail to note that we all humanity are weak, all given to do both good and evil, whether we are Christian, pagan, republican, democrat, black, white, Asian, gay, straight, other, binary, American, Mexican, European, African, etc., etc.

    This episode goes to prove that we are all biased, prejudiced and each has his/her own pains and struggles. One day someone will have the answers.

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