After getting a double-barreled promotional push behind American Idol last week, New Amsterdam settled nicely into its regular time slot tonight with an installment that asked: what will John Amsterdam do once the path to his newly found "one" becomes a bit bumpy?
Star-crossed spoilers below.
It’s only the third episode, but already the structure of the show is well established, with part of the episode devoted to Amsterdam’s personal life and search for the one, part of the episode devoted to the murder of the week, and the final part devoted to flashbacks to a period in Amsterdam’s previous life (which helpfully tie into his case of the week and shed some light on the psyche of a person who’s lived for over 400 years). So far, the weakest portion of the hour has always been the murder of the week, and unfortunately this one was no different.
This week’s murder victim was Dr. Evelyn Prender, a psychiatrist who worked with veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She was found bludgeoned to death in her office with an award she won for her work helping vets. Fingerprints on the murder weapon lead detectives to one of her patients who holds a grudge because she wanted him to go on medication to help him forget his experiences and all he wants to do is remember them to honor the friends he lost in the war. The case then leads them to a very mentally unbalanced vet (twitchy guest star Orlando Jones) who is so far gone that he can barely remember talking to Dr. Prender, let alone murdering her. Still, Amsterdam interrogates him until he falsely confesses to the murder. Amsterdam is not happy with the confession, however, and continues to investigate which leads him to Dr. Prender’s former emphasis on repressed memories and a family she tore apart because of memories one of her former patients discovered. This experience caused her to split away from her partner at the time and devote her time to debunking the theory of repressed memories, even going so far as to write a book that implied her partner also knew the process was tainted and yet continued with the practice. Of course, the former partner then killed her to prevent the book from being published, a fact Amsterdam found when he recognized Dr. Prender’s desk as a Civil War era piece and discovered the manuscript in a secret compartment. Little payoffs to the "he’s really old" premise like those are fun.
You can see why this was the most tedious part of the hour. Just typing that made me bored.
Tied in with the murder of the week were Amsterdam’s flashbacks to 1862 and the battle of Antietam, where he was apparently a medic. Is there any traditional occupation Amsterdam hasn’t tried? Is he smart enough to be able to do whatever he wants? Because it would really stink to be alive for 400 years and not have the mental capacity to do all of these cool, exciting jobs. During his time as a medic he amputated the leg of a young solider who had his own case of PTSD (then called "soldier’s heart") which caused him to take his own life. Amsterdam relates to Orlando Jones’s war vet because he feels he couldn’t save the soldier so many years ago, so it is his duty to save Jones now. The best part of these flashbacks was the reveal at the end that his medic partner was none other than Walt Whitman, who gives Amsterdam one of the first copies of Leaves of Grass. Neat. The worst part of these flashbacks were the beards. Can we get a bigger beard budget on this show, please? Being able to see the beard glue on HDTV is getting very distracting.
The best part of the episode, as always, was Amsterdam’s search for "the one" Dr. Sara Dillane and his interactions with son Omar. Since Omar gave him her name last week he’s been researching (a.k.a. stalking) Sara, and ends up serendipitously meeting with her when the week’s murder victim happens to work closely with Sara at the hospital. When they first meet she questions him as to where they have met before, but he blows it off. The next time they meet, however, she calls him out on being her dead patient and he explains how he woke up in the morgue and casually asks, "has that happened before?" Hee. When she mentions his strange test results (toxic levels of lead, extinct blood type, etc.) he agrees to let her run a multitude of tests on him to appease her curiosity. This leads to a fantastic montage where Sara and Amsterdam make lots of flirty eyes at each other while blood is being drawn and x-rays are being taken. It’s like the children’s game of playing doctor, except all grown up. Just when things seem to be going swimmingly, though, Amsterdam "runs into" (a.k.a. stalks) Sara on the streets and meets someone he wasn’t expecting – Sara’s husband! Looks like Amsterdam is one crappy detective after all. I mean, how hard is it to find out if someone who is supposed to be your long-fated true love is married? Come on, John!
What did you guys think? Are the cop stories working for you? Are you buying Sara as Amsterdam’s one true love? And how about that husband reveal?