New Amsterdam Season 5 Episode 11 Review: Falling

Television

Why are they wasting our time?

The hour tried to build up this momentum and conflict by teasing the return of Helen during New Amsterdam Season 5 Episode 11. Frankly, it was not only insulting and a poor attempt at drumming up drama and interest, but it was just pointless.

But then, so much of the arc that revolved around the character’s assassination closure has felt frustrating and pointless. In the end, it was so predictable that the hour could’ve excluded it altogether and ended with the expected Max and Wilder kiss.

The hour had its amusing moments. Ben remains one of the best scene-stealers, and it’s hard not to smile whenever Ben tries to navigate Max and Wilder’s awkwardness.

Floyd and Max’s friendship is always endearing, and Eggold and Sim’s natural chemistry as friends offscreen always shines through during their scenes together.

The series’ music is always on point and elicits feelings even when the stories don’t do that anymore.

But overall, the hour was predictable and flat. It also dragged too long in parts, was uncharacteristically grim in others, and made some lludicrous choices, particularly Max and the majority of the primary cast abruptly leaving work at their busy hospital in the middle of the day to go on a “corporate retreat.”

And that concept alone was so hard to grasp that the sheer ridiculousness of that plot choice overshadowed even the more interesting moments that derived from it.

It felt like they were trying to use the forest location and setting that they had previously used for Iggy’s day trip with the kids and maybe even that time he hid with his family.

For someone who isn’t wilderness-inclined, he spends a lot of time outdoors.

Instead of throwing himself into work or finding some meaning with a patient who leads him to an epiphany as the standard formula for a medical drama, Max leaned into his chaotic self. He opted to pull an oncologist, an E.R. doctor, and a shrink away from their patients to rappel off a 300ft cliff.

What was the point of setting up Iggy’s new open-door system for seeing patients in dire need if he’s never actually in the office when they come?

The poor souls had to reschedule their appointments with Wilder because she abruptly left the office for the day. And thank goodness the E.R. wasn’t swamped.

It felt like such an irresponsible choice. Spontaneity is fine and good, but there’s a reason why it has its place. And if Max was out in the wilderness, who exactly had to deal with the overly aggressive radioactive squad?

Off-hours with the doctors can be great, and it often gives us some insight into them. Group activities are always fun when they can explore some of the dynamics.

Max: What if I don’t know what I want?
Tennessee: Step back and find out.

The concept of this was okay, but the execution of it could have been better, and it consumed too much of the installment, making it generally underwhelming, even excluding the more agitating developments.

Tennessee is probably lucky that she ended up with a bunch of doctors over accountants. Although, if those accountants were better survivalists than Dave, the one in the E.R., things would’ve gotten wrapped up sooner.

Credit where it’s due, some of the scenes were gnarly and intense. Arguably it was too gruesome for this series and definitely an attempt at shock value. But it was puzzling that it took a bunch of doctors so long to admit that their best solution was to amputate Tennessee’s foot.

She got caught at the bottom of a cliff. She sustained an injury because of an unstable rock, so rockslides were inevitable, and even if it didn’t take emergency help forever to get there, her leg was a goner.

And the only thing more puzzling than them dragging out the amputation conclusion was not immediately following that up with cauterizing the wound. It seemed like common sense, but what do I know?

Tending to Tennessee was easily the most excitement the hour brought.

For Floyd’s part, it could’ve been more edge of your seat — if not for the obnoxiousness of the radioactivity team leader. He was overly amped up and aggressive the entire time. His constant shouting and badgering took away from this storyline’s emotional factor for Floyd.

He was more of a distraction than a compelling conflict Floyd had to overcome.

In the end, Manny’s son was okay, which was great, but there was no real attachment to him or Manny because we didn’t spend much time with them.

But then again, that’s one of the more consistent issues with the series that has truly come to light in this final season when you’re left wondering why so much of the characters’ lives weren’t properly explored.

In the end, we were expected to have some investment in Floyd and this friend from medical school (whose car he totaled, apparently?) when there was very little to build on with them and practically no scenes.

We’re expected to care about Floyd and this last-minute relationship with the traveling nurse he was on the brink of boning in his office like the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy. It felt cheap and didn’t align with this specific medical drama.

Floyd: Did you think we’d still be boyfriends at this age?
Max: No, I did not.

But after all the time we spent with Floyd’s previous relationships and how messy they all were, it’s a shame that what will likely be his endgame relationship is one where we spent such little time with and mainly developed offscreen.

I still have to look up the character’s name every time I talk about her because she isn’t prominent enough for me not to forget it. Gabrielle, dammit. Her name is Gabrielle.

Iggy has all of this emotional baggage from his childhood, and it has disrupted every facet of his life and current family and shaped who he is and what we know of him now.

In any other series, by this final season, we would’ve gotten to know or would have seen some interaction with those family members in some capacity. It would’ve been a genuinely good storyline for him as a gay man with body dysmorphia who grew up in a family that wasn’t designed to accept him.

And we have yet to delve into any of that with someone who could represent that role. It could’ve had so much potential as a story.

Lauren’s storyline being so fixated on her Adderall addiction and not much else feels stale. Although, at least her potentially becoming a sponsor feels like a decent step for her.

And Max is especially a character who could’ve used this. It’s unfathomable that they squandered a chance to introduce us to his parents and properly explore how the loss of his sister, Luna, has driven him to become the man he is today, good, bad, and ugly.

After losing Georgia and the abominable handling of Helen’s departure, there wasn’t a better time to properly explore this and have Max reflect inwardly than now. It would’ve been far more compelling than dipping into the same well of setting him up with someone romantically sooner than necessary.

Max: You know for months after she left, for months, I wouid’ve done anything to see her again, anything. Just to ask her why. I used to dream of this moment.
Lauren: you’re doing the right thing, Max. You going to see Helen would be like me going to see a 100mg of Adderall. Whatever she has to say, it’s not going to help. Just keep looking forward, not behind.

But more on that in a bit.

Iggy missed out on most of the festivities at the cliff, but he was key to getting help for them as he wandered into the woods with a head injury, haunted and roasted by the younger rendition of himself, and passed out calling 911.

Younger Iggy was adorable, and one could appreciate the verbal lashing he was giving Iggy, even if the entirety of this storyline felt stupid and unwarranted.

It’s one of a dozen similar instances, leading him to what amounts to the same type of epiphanies. It’s a redundant thing for Iggy, so by now, there was zero interest in watching him talk to his younger self to recognize that he has to let things go to move forward.

It felt like a contrived bit to give him some semblance of a storyline with the “theme” of the hour.

He reached the point where he was willing to sign the divorce papers and accept that his marriage was over, even though, you know, he was the one that both cheated on Martin and also ended it?

But then he asked to date Martin. I’m begging the writers to explain to me, like a Kindergartener, the actual point of any of this if they’re back together.

Is it some weird purging thing? Are we supposed to conclude that because Iggy and Martin are different people now (the questionable way Iggy supposedly healed himself notwithstanding) that they needed to end their old union to form a new one on a stronger foundation?

Sometimes to move forward you have to leave something behind. Our marriage is over. I’m okay with that now.

Iggy

Is divorce supposed to be symbolic?

Forgive me if I’m speaking out of turn. But for two men who went their whole lives not even knowing if they’d have the right to marriage and lived in fear that their right could be stripped from them, the idea that they’d divorce to start over again feels like they’re taking this for granted and doesn’t suit them.

It also feels pointless. It’s as if in the series’ final hours, they looked at their various outcomes and decided that maybe ripping Martin and Iggy apart during the gleeful disruption of all the relationships was a step too far, so now it’s backtracking them into a relationship again.

Sadly, Iggy isn’t even someone you root for much anymore, and Martin deserves better. Hence, the appeal of their relationship, like Iggy’s characterization, isn’t as favorable as it was in the early days.

Meanwhile, there aren’t enough words to adequately describe how infuriating this Helen situation is.

For starters, it was such a cheap, transparent ploy to tease a Helen return when it was abundantly clear that would never happen. Using old footage of the actress to sell the notion that she was there was pathetic, for lack of a more politically correct way of putting it.

The viewers aren’t stupid; at this point, the series has spent enough time stomping on and eroding what Helen used to be as a character; why keep beating the dead horse here?

They could’ve gone the entire final season without vilifying Helen and distorting her memory and our perception of her. The Helen they’ve sold us on now is nothing like the woman we first met, and I genuinely want to know the point of ruining her like this.

It goes beyond a ship. Helen and Max didn’t have to become a romantic pairing at all, regardless of how enjoyable their chemistry was. And with the path they chose for her departure, they ruined any reasonable expectation of the two reuniting or becoming some form of an endgame. Fine!

But for those who genuinely enjoyed Helen, the character, on her own, not as some extension of Max, what was the reason for completely destroying the character beyond recognition and marring the legacy she left behind?

Unfortunately, they brought back the idea of Helen — taking a sledgehammer to whatever goodwill the character had left after literally everything else they destroyed about her, and it wasn’t even necessary.

They could’ve just never revisited Helen after all of this. It would’ve been infinitely better than teasing some return just for Max and the others to allude to how toxic Helen is and for Max to choose Wilder.

Max: You know for months after she left, for months, I wouid’ve done anything to see her again, anything. Just to ask her why. I used to dream of this moment.
Lauren: you’re doing the right thing, Max. You going to see Helen would be like me going to see a 100mg of Adderall. Whatever she has to say, it’s not going to help. Just keep looking forward, not behind.

Pitting the two women against each other neither honors Helen’s memory nor respects Wilder as her own entity. They never had to destroy Helen to prop Elizabeth up when Wilder is perfectly likable and was well-received before all this and didn’t need the assist. 

But that aside, I thought he already chose Wilder anyway! Why even put Wilder through this thing of potentially being in Helen’s shadow again, something they reduced her to the entire season, just for this?

The idea that Helen would reappear in NYC after a year and then reach out to Max via text message is ridiculous and once again depicts her as a shitty human being.

Only an inconsiderate and selfish person would even dare unsettle someone like that after breaking their heart. And Helen was never that person, so this entire situation was just another slap in the face all around.

Of course, no one in their right mind would want Max to respond to those text messages or meet her. What she did was unforgivable, and there’s no getting around that.

They spent the hour with Max, recognizing that he’ll always love Helen, but she’s no good for him. He compared her to a deadly allergy. Lauren compared her to a drug and Max to an addict who needed to wean himself off and never get tempted again.

Someone previously compared Helen to cancer that needed to be excised. How do an out-of-character act and abruptly shoddy characterization suddenly erase everything good about a character?

How did we reach the final season where now the sum of everything we knew and loved about Helen has become her being the selfish asshole who broke Max and Luna’s hearts?

And why did they feel that doing that was necessary to push Max and Wilder forward?

Max didn’t need to get tossed into a rushed and accelerated romance with Wilder for the sole purpose of Max ending the series happy and in love.

Happiness and love are subjective, and he didn’t have to be in a romance to have a proper and fulfilling ending. He’s a character who needed enough self-growth that the final season could’ve focused exclusively on that and did the character’s journey some real justice.

As a Wilder fan, it’s frustrating that so many of the interesting aspects of her story and character didn’t get exploration because the show prioritized her as a romantic lead ahead of her own characterization and development.

Unfortunately, she spent most of the hour trying to reassure Max, hold her own, and wait for him to decide if she was who he wanted to be with — an answer we already knew.

She deserves better than that, which is why the development of their relationship has consistently forced her into this role of consolation prize.

They could’ve at least devoted more time to exploring how a hearing person who barely knows sign language navigates a relationship with someone deaf.

There is something beautiful in exploring a romance in that way because you rarely see them depicted on broadcast television. Whether or not they should’ve pursued Wildwin or not isn’t even the question if they could’ve done it well.

You told me to make a choice.

Max

But they half-assed it and made it about all the wrong things in addition to the insult to injury with Max’s previous relationship and the chemistry with Wilder and Mia getting left on the writing room floor.

They had their romantic ending; Max went to her, which was better than the reverse. Their kiss was sweet, and things are official now, much to the delight of all the Wildwin fans who’ve come to love this romance.

It genuinely sucks that there wasn’t enough time to properly build Wildwin, if they absolutely insisted, where they weren’t standing on the ashes of Sharpwin. It also sucks how much that detracted from Elizabeth as her own character.

She was the highlight and saving grace of New Amsterdam Season 4, and then they just reduced her to a love interest this season, and she deserved so much better.

But then again, most of the characters deserved better this season. The actors certainly do.

With just a two-hour finale remaining, saying goodbye will be bittersweet for all the wrong reasons, but at least we’ll see everyone move on to new projects.

I’m unsure what this episode was setting up for the two-hour finale. Hospital stuff has fallen into the background in many ways. The half-baked personal arcs haven’t been going much of anywhere.

I don’t know what New Amsterdam’s farewell is supposed to look like, but we’ll be back to unpack it together for one final time. We’ve made it this far, right?

Over to you, Dam Fanatics. What are you looking forward to most in the series finale? Were you disappointed in the “Helen return?” Sound off below!

And if you want to suffer through it again, you can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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