Welcome to the obligatory dominatrix episode! Do you think she'll have chemistry with Henry and have titillating scenes involving whips and chains? OF COURSE SHE WILL. Forever's not the kind of show to mess with that formula.
I kid, but I actually kind of wanted the dominatrix to stick around and be Henry's sweetly besotted girlfriend at the end of the episode. She had more chemistry with Ioan Gruffudd than anyone on this show has ever had. Except maybe Lucas, who got to hug Henry this week.
The case was the murder of masochist, right after his session with Mistress Iona Payne (not her real name). For the first time in a while, Forever went full on stereotypical procedural this week. We've got the dominatrix, the dead client, the attraction between the dominatrix and the male partner, and the disapproval of the female partner. It's always the male partner who is full of intellectualizing and philosophizing about the BDSM in these shows and always the female partner who denigrates it and conflates it with sex work. ALWAYS.
So Jo and Henry go to see Mistress Payne, with a lingering shot of Jo noticing a man with a tattoo leaving. It's such an obvious set-up, I assumed it was a red herring. It was not. Jo makes the usual noises about it being a front for prostitution, while Henry is all over the philosophy books on display.
This week, Henry was wrong! It was as much of a shock to him as it was to us, since he's spent every other episode determining causes of death that no one else saw. (Jo even says that he doesn't get "out-Sherlocked" on a cause of death. Well, if you're just going to flat-out acknowledge who you're imitating, show, I guess that makes it okay!)
The dead guy, Mistress Payne explains, wasn't asphyxiated by strangling. He was electrocuted so he lost control of his breathing. She can give as many "I know more about strangling" speeches as she wants, this doesn't make her sound less guilty. Henry confirms it, and considers himself and idiot for not seeing it earlier.
You have to laugh at Henry's never-ending directness. He goes back to see Mistress Payne and says that he would like to talk to her about "erotic electrocution." She tells him only that uses it sparingly. Before stringing him up and asking to help him "unlock his pain." There is a staggering lack of consent in this scene, as Henry is clearly uncomfortable and hasn't agreed to anything when she handcuffs him.
Just as she says "First, you will beg me to stop," there's a knock at the door. Mistress Payne walks away to answer it — leaving Henry to yell, "Maybe this would be a good time to release me! This has been most informative, thank you!" Oh, Henry.
Meanwhile, Jo and that other detective whose name I haven't bothered to learn, find a cattle prod with Mistress Payne's fingerprints on it. So the knock at the door is her showing up to arrest Mistress Payne on murder charges. Also her name is actually Molly, and she was a therapist until she lost her license for having an affair with a patient.
Plus, Jo finds Henry hanging by his wrists. Ioan Gruffudd's embarrassed resignation at being found is pretty spectacular. As is his, "Might I trouble you for a handcuff key?" and "I can explain!" Jo says he doesn't need to, with the expression of someone who never wants to know what they were getting up to. EVER. Under no circumstances is Henry to give her any details, lest she gouge out her eyes and rip off her ears and run screaming into the streets.
It's that kind of thing which makes it hard to believe there will ever be a believable romance between these two characters. Thank god. I'd like to not worry about shipping two main characters for once.
Searching Mistress Payne's office reveals an appointment book, in code, that does at least back up her story that she had another session when the man was murdered. They also find a bug that is, coincidentally, one belonging to the NYPD. It was checked out by an officer who took it with him when he retired. He was hired as a PI by the dead guy's wife and also confirms that no sex actually occurred between Mistress Payne and her patients.
He's also a dick about Mistress Payne, so Henry punches him in the face. In case there was any question if their attraction was reciprocal, he dispels it with a right hook. It also leads to an excellent scene where Abe ices Henry's hand, while Henry complains that the PI "had a very hard face."
Mistress Payne's client was actually the dead guy's wife, which discounts both of them as suspects. So it's the man with the tattoo from earlier after all! He was obsessed with Mistress Payne, so she ended their sessions. And when he sees her kiss Henry (ON THE CHEEK, BY THE WAY), Henry becomes his next victim.
Henry's method for getting free is exactly what he should do, considering his special ability: He tries to convince the tattoo man to kill him as quickly as possible. It's an easy out, but I'd love to see the outcome. Once the tattoo guy was arrested and is all "I KILLED you!" Maybe Henry'd just leave and start over somewhere else. None of that happens, since the tattoo guy says he wants to enjoy killing Henry.
Jo shows up to rescue Henry and the case is closed.
In the B-Plot, Abe's ex-wife-twice-over comes to town. It doesn't matter what her character name is, because she's Jane Seymour. And Jane Seymour is always Jane Seymour. And she is always awesome.
In this case, she's bad for Abe's productivity but great for his sex life. She also says that he should stop working at his age, anyway, and go traveling with her. Abe's seriously considering it, but wants her to meet Henry.
In a nice moment, Henry tells Abe that he thought he wasn't supposed to meet the people in Henry's life, less they realize he's not aging. Abe points out that, even though Henry likes to avoid talking about it, it's not likely that Abe has enough years left for that to happen. So he'd like his father/best friend to meet the woman who's so important in his life.
Henry misses dinner with Jane Seymour and Abe due to being kidnapped. She tells Abe that she's figured out that Henry is Abe's son. Obvious joke, but obvious for a reason. Of course that's why the two are so important to each other, at least from the outside.
Abe obviously chooses to stay in NYC with Henry, choosing the life he has over trying for a third time with Jane. Which is a mistake, because a life of travel and Seymour sex sounds awesome.
Finally, this week's flashback goes all the way back to Henry's first death — the time the slavers shot him for trying to treat the slaves. Henry had a wife who buried him, but Henry comes back and says that he never meant to worry her. And since this is his first death, he decides to come clean with his wife. Who doesn't believe him, for obvious reasons.
So Henry pulls out a knife to prove it to her. That makes her say she believes him, a stalling tactic until the men in white coats can come and take Henry away in a straight jacket. That is a literal thing that literally happens.
A doctor says they'll keep him as long as it takes to "purge him of his madness." The betrayal clearly had its affect on Henry — although he got over it at least once, marrying the World War II nurse and telling her his secret — and I'll bet we see flashbacks to Henry's "treatment."
Despite being the most paint-by-numbers plot yet, it was actually enjoyable. Mostly because Hilarie Burton, who played Mistress Payne and who you might remember as Sara on White Collar, has chemistry with everyone you put her next to. She and Ioan Gruffudd were actually at their best in the less overtly sexual flirting scenes they had. Their best moment was when she asks him for her "cell number, twitter account, e-mail, Instagram account" so she can get in touch. He, of course, doesn't have one. But he's open to change. It was cute and far less stilted than their whole "show me your pain" stuff.
I did have a few assorted other thoughts:
- The whole thing driving the plot was that Mistress Payne refused to divulge her client info, which would have alibied her. Of course, she had no problem disclosing everything about the tattoo guy once he kidnapped Henry. I get that it was to save a life, but saying "After what his stepfather did to him, I think he's capable of anything" seemed pretty invasive for a person who hid everything else about her clients.
- Lucas spent this episode being a repository of immortality jokes. Like him saying "You're only mortal" to Henry when he makes his mistake. And being told "If you live long enough, you'll see anything" by Henry. There was too little Lucas this episode, but he did get to hug Henry.
- Henry finally went out with Lucas, Jo, and her partner whose name I have to learn! And he ordered a cognac. Because of course he did.
- The episode started with a bored Henry putting test tubes on his fingers, while Abe went out drinking. I'm glad he's finally started getting out more.
- Henry eschews all forms of technology, which is kind of ridiculous. It takes on a whole new level when Mistress Payne finds out he doesn't have e-mail. I literally cannot believe that the ME's office doesn't require its employees to have and USE a work e-mail address.
- Hey, remember Adam? What's he up to these days?