“Seed Money” is still a bit undermined by overarching plot issues, but the stuff that has always worked still continues to.
This recap of New Amsterdam season 4, episode 4, “Seed Money”, contains spoilers.
If there’s a downside to the fourth season of New Amsterdam, it’s that the big dramatic question lingering over everything is whether or not Max and Helen will leave for London – and nobody believes they will. I certainly don’t, anyway. I can envision a future for the show without Helen, even if I’d rather not, but Max? Not a chance. And certainly not if he’s leaving Veronica Fuentes to tear down all of his hard work.
New Amsterdam season 4, episode 4 recap
The question presented by the end of “Seed Money” is whether or not Max and Helen can raise enough good trouble in the five weeks they have before their departure to make both of them feel better about leaving. One gets the sense that’s an impossible task. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another, after all. And if you’re not buying into this idea, you’re probably not buying into the season.
Then again, the actual moment-to-moment, case-of-the-week stuff works pretty well, especially since the characters continue to evolve in interesting but logical directions. Take Lauren, for instance. She’s an addict, and while previous seasons have dealt with her dependency on substances, what this one is dealing with is her dependency on Leyla. She’s changing shift patterns so they get to see one another, which is abusing her position, and smothering her at home whenever they do cross paths. The reason this subplot works, though, is because Lauren, having been through the same pattern before, recognises the behaviour in herself and goes to Iggy for advice. Since Iggy has been a bit aimless thus far this season, it’s a smart use of both of them.
“Seed Money” also uses Lauren and Casey, who seems to be getting more and more screentime, to reinforce a point that Max makes about Veronica not having the same altruistic drive that the rest of New Amsterdam’s staff do. They go above and beyond for Domino (Danny Garcia) and find an outside-the-box solution to his problem that benefits not just him but his community. It’s hard to say if this is the show trying to convince us that we don’t need Max and his do-gooder influence or reminding us how much we do.
Casey speaking Spanish is nice to hear, and it’s a reminder that Floyd isn’t the only person of colour on the show, even though it can feel like that sometimes since it always seems to be him who becomes the mouthpiece for any race-related issues. His case here though is an interesting one – Kerry is a young mixed-race woman who has been adopted by white parents and, in their downplaying of race as a crucial component in their relationship whether they like it or not, internalized a lot of self-loathing that has led her to a dangerous attempt to try and lighten her skin. Her parents were kind people and cared for her deeply, but they were so ill-equipped to deal with any questions about race that they just pretended it wasn’t there – pretended not to “see colour”, as so many people do. But that left Kerry with nobody to talk to about how she was feeling. Enter Floyd.
Enter, also, Iggy, who is obviously experienced with this sort of thing, and who doesn’t have a subplot of his own this week. But this is all handled in a sensitive, naturalistic way, drawing on familiar characters’ backstories and experiences rather than feeling preachy and forced. New Amsterdam sometimes has a tendency to feel like it’s lecturing, but I didn’t get that sense here.
If only Floyd had some better advice for himself regarding Lyn. It has been obvious since the beginning of their relationship that it was going to end in tears, and now that Lyn has confessed to having fallen in love with Floyd and decided that Claude should know, it’s likely the tears are going to come sooner rather than later. But what does that mean for Floyd’s career? Claude gave him a leg up when he was floundering without a real role, and Floyd, in response, gave his wife the leg over. It’s hardly a recipe for promotion.
But anyway, Max and Helen. Thankfully, we got less of Helen suddenly deciding her life was terrible and trying to deliberately self-sabotage, which has made her annoying in recent episodes, and instead saw Helen trying to actually adopt Max’s management strategies, which basically boils down to “do whatever you want and hope you find a solution before it all goes wrong.” Of course, as Iggy reminds her, Max is better suited to this approach because he’s a handsome, charming white man, but there’s some proof in the efficacy of the technique. Thus, Helen applied it to dealing with her problem of the week, which was breasts. Or, more accurately, women with dense ones not getting mammograms.
Of course, Helen’s attempts to act like Max only reminded her how uniquely positioned he is to get away with things, and how useful his presence is, only further solidifying the idea that them leaving is a terrible idea. Karen seems more acutely aware of this than anyone, and her hiring of Veronica seems almost like a deliberate ploy to force Max to stay, knowing he can’t possibly leave the hospital in her hands. “Seed Money” helps to build her up as a calculating villain, but almost on a comic book level. She tells Max to his face that she’ll take great pleasure in tearing down everything he has built. The problem with consistently characterizing Max as an earnest do-gooder is that anyone who stands in such open opposition to him is almost evil by default. This isn’t like the veteran Republican he would often disagree with. Veronica is just straight-up uncaring, which is a weird personality trait for a doctor to have. I’m not sure I buy it. And there’s a chance that the show might become less and less convincing the longer it expects us to.