Seriously. Based on this episode, it has never gone well. For its midseason finale, Forever managed to deliver its best episode to date. I'm serious, this was a tightly-plotted episode that really worked. I can't believe I'm saying it, but the mysterious Adam gave this show a welcome jolt.
This week's theme is trust. Trust and water. It turns out that Henry has a complicated relationship with both. Spoilers...
Last week ended with Henry getting kidnapped by "Adam," the fellow immortal who had been calling Henry in the early episodes of the season, before disappearing for a while. He came back full force, saying that Henry didn't believe that Adam was an immortal like him. So he proves it by shooting himself in the head, vanishing (like Henry does when he dies), and leaving Henry to drown in an out of control cab.
Henry comes to, as is his wont, naked in the East River. Which I guess is an improvement over drowning in the Hudson. But.. barely. These are not human-friendly rivers. This episode won me over immediately when two cops see Henry, and one of them says, "Is he nekkid?"
This was followed by Henry sitting in Lieutenant Reece's office, stuttering out an explanation about being a naked sleepwalker. And then he walks out into the precinct, to the applause of everyone in attendance. This one little moment did more to prove that Henry was becoming one of them than anything else in any other episode. Plus, Mike Hanson is rapidly becoming my favorite semi-humorous side character. He presents Henry with a gift of a Speedo and goggles. Which, yes. This is exactly the kind of shit-giving you do to your friends.
Meanwhile, the cab driver that Adam killed to do his little demonstration for Henry is the latest case Jo and company have caught. His death was from a sword-stabbing. They quickly establish that he's a cab driver and Henry makes a very bizarre comment that should have gotten him way more side-eye than it did: "The cab may no longer be on land." Maybe all those episodes of Henry spouting insanely specific and weird deductions have just given him a pass.
(Also, that bit where Lucas translates Henry's medical jargon to English ending with the hemorrhoids bit and Lucas saying "No translation necessary" is great. This episode is full of these nice moments showing the dynamics at play.)
Henry gets another pass when his pocket watch is found in the cab and Jo just assumes he dropped it. And when he decides to go diving for the gun Adam shot himself with — and gets arrested again — Henry gets out of that with just some mandatory counseling.
One interpretation of all these things is that the cop characters are stupid to not question these things more carefully. But they actually play really nicely into this week's overall theme: trust. Henry mostly seems to think he's just getting lucky. But really, all these people trust Henry. And they want to help him because he's their friend and colleague. Henry's clearly been lacking these things and is incapable to consider that he can tell them things. Not everything, even though Abe is pressing him to at least tell Jo.
In the flashbacks, we see why Henry is pretty much a human disaster. We're in the Charring Cross Asylum after his first death, where he's figured out that trying to tell his wife that he can't die was a mistake. He insists that he's cured and knows that he was "confused" before. The doctor in the asylum says they're going to use the very scientific new "hydrotherapy" to make sure he's cured.
Yes. It is waterboarding. How astute of you to guess.
I am not going to touch that with a ten foot pole except to say: Between this and the fact that his first death was him getting shot and then thrown into the Atlantic, Henry should have some pretty severe hydrophobia.
So Henry's reluctance to trust anyone but the person he raised makes some sense. And if we see his missing of the cues that the NYPD detectives he works with trust and like him as him distrusting his instincts after the disaster with his wife, then it all works.
Henry's mandated counseling is with a psychologist named Lewis, played by Burn Gorman as the midpoint between Owen Harper and Hermann Gottlieb. I feel bad for the show that I guessed the twist based solely on the fact that Gorman played Owen, who also had a bit of an issue with not dying. There were actual other clues, but that's the one that I instantly used.
(I could have also used the fact that the official synopsis actually listed Gorman's role as "Anonymous Caller" which ruins the twist a bit. Seriously, ABC?)
Lewis is very slick, which should have been the first cue. He's all friendly to Henry about being another British expat. He almost gets Henry to actually participate in therapy. He also questions Henry about who he talks to and if he has "anyone his own age" to talk to. Yeah, that line is clue number two.
While Henry's getting his head shrunk, Jo and Mike are finding the person the antique gun that Adam killed himself with belongs to. He is, of course, dead. And he's been autopsied while alive, using Henry's own preferred autopsy tool of a hunting knife. Of course he's being framed. Henry runs back to his desk and his knife is covered in blood.
This is pretty much how Jo finds him. The picture of innocence.
Instead of giving it to Jo with the explanation that clearly someone's trying to frame him, Henry bolts for Abe, suitcases, and some false passports. Jo gets there before they can leave, while Henry is doing everyone the favor of standing there with the bloodied murder weapon in his hand. Abe tells Henry to just tell Jo.
We don't get to see what he tells her, we do see Henry telling the Lieutenant and Mike that he has a stalker that has been calling him and that, when he saw the dead autopsy victim, he thought leaving would solve the problem. Henry's pretty resigned to being a suspect, but is surprised again when the Lieutenant just says they'll get the stalker.
At this point it becomes utterly insane that she tells him to go autopsy the already-autopsied. Even if they trust that Henry isn't a killer, which is fine and I actually like as an example of how weird-out-of-touch Henry has made friends, he absolutely shouldn't still be on this investigation. My god.
Both victims worked at a mental hospital, where Jo and Henry get Lewis to tell them about a patient who thinks he's immortal and has been found naked in rivers. That Lewis was so willing to share this information is clue number three.
The mental patient gets away from them, but shows up in Henry's office asking to be killed with a sword. Henry refuses, but ends up killing the guy anyway to protect himself and Abe. The mental patient just dies, though, and doesn't disappear like Adam did at the start of the episode.
Pictured: Not the anonymous caller.
Because Adam is Lewis, who calls Henry and says that he may have given the poor dead man the impression that being killed by an immortal could pass the condition on. He did it mostly for shits and giggles and to give Henry a new experience for the first time in centuries: killing.
The tight focus on Henry, his immortality, and his trust issues made this the best episode of the season. The fact that it very effectively showed Henry as part of this team, in a way that didn't seem forced, was great. It was unfortunately so good that I was constantly reminded that it hadn't been this effective in the ten episodes before this. We should have spent those ten episodes seeing Henry's relationships with the Lieutenant, Jo, Mike, and even Lucas grow into the place we see in this episode. But we didn't, really. I can only think of one episode that really used this theme — the one where Henry goes out for a drink with everyone at the end.
Otherwise, the whole premise is that Henry is so good at his job that they believe him. Which is fine, but not nearly as rich. Nor does it make his refusal to tell anyone his secret a real struggle, which it should be. If they trust him this much, him keeping this much of a secret should make him feel guilty. But if they're just colleagues, then it's not really a struggle.
On the other hand, Burn Gorman's appearance fills me with joy and I sincerely hope that Henry still has to go to therapy sessions with him, since he can't exactly expose him. That would be hysterical.
- The other thing that needs exploration is why Henry trusted Abe's other adopted parent so much. His first wife was the one who got him sent to the asylum, he should distrust the instinct to tell women he loves most of all. The fact that it turned out well in that instance should rehabilitate Henry's trust instincts a bit more
- Henry deduced a lot about Lewis in their therapy session. Was any of it true or did Lewis plant all of that stuff there for Henry to see as a way of keeping him from figuring out that he was Adam? I'm leaning towards the latter, since he also managed to get Henry's autopsy style exactly right.
- Take a moment to savor the idea that Adrian Pasdar's voice has somehow been coming from Burn Gorman's mouth this whole time.
- Did anyone else get a creepy serial killer vibe when Lucas described medical examiners as artists?
- On the other hand, full credit to the show for having Lucas name-check Highlander. I like to think that Lewis used that as the basis for his horrible story to the mental patient he sacrificed to Henry.