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Forever - New York Kids - Review

Forever, “New York Kids,” was written by Zev Borow and directed by Steve Shill. Borow is another Matt Miller alum from both Chuck and Human Target. Shill has an extensive and impressive filmography with lots of procedurals on the list, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order (though no episodes with De La Garza), and Dexter. While the basic case had a few plot holes, I’m still more than charmed by the main cast. The larger themes of the episode are nicely woven together between the past and present of four of the main characters: Henry (Ioan Gruffudd), Jo (Alana De La Garza), Abe (Judd Hirsch), and Reece (Lorraine Toussaint). What really sets this show apart is the characters.

Henry’s voice over at the end of the episode tells us that “our past, our secrets, mark us, like it or not.” And each of the characters has a secret which centers around a “me or them” incident. In fact, the primary case of four rich kids who cover up a murder also reinforces the same them. Of course, it’s also how these past events mark them going forward that’s important. Tyler (Christian Schneider) channels his guilt into immersing himself helping others, Paul (Kett Turton) becomes a drug addict, and Carter (Raul Casso) and Cassandra (Meryl Jones Williams) appear to simply put it out of their minds – putting themselves squarely before the victim.

We see Jo curious about Henry’s past, wondering why he quit being a physician. He tells her it was time for a change, but in fact, we see in the flashbacks that he had to sacrifice a shooting victim to protect himself – and his secret. Abigail (Mackenzie Mauzy) reassures him that he did it for them (she and Abe) not himself. This contrasts nicely with Henry prepared to take the bullet for Jo in the forest. If he was killed, his secret would be exposed, but he puts her squarely before himself. I loved the scene at the end when she calls him on his own lack of a self-preservation instinct and forbids him to do that again.

Once again, one of the highlights of the episode is the final scene between Abe and Henry when Abe tells Henry his real secret. Earlier we see him buy some merchandise from a young man (Avery Glymph). Abe protects him from his father’s secrets by not telling him the truth about the things he’s selling. Abe reflects that sometimes what we don’t know won’t hurt us and Henry disagrees. This leads to another delightful exchange between the two. Abe missed a once in a lifetime chance to see a play at the World Series because Henry and Abigail had been working in the Emergency room at the hospital and couldn’t take him. A sacrifice for the greater good.

When Henry presses Abe for his greatest secret, he initially lies because he’s ashamed. He tells Henry that when he first opened the store, he lied to a customer about a piece. Henry looks skeptical, and we also learn that Henry “wasn’t around then,” begging the question of where he was – a secret for another episode. Abe’s real secret goes back to his own tour in Vietnam – a nice dovetail back to the beginning of the episode. Early in his tour, Abe hides during a firefight, learning afterwards that three of the men in his company were killed. Abe feels guilt for their deaths. Henry tries to tell Abe not to blame himself, but Henry cannot erase Abe’s past for him.

We learn a lot about the characters’ pasts in this episode. We learn that Henry likes Chanel perfume – or at least easily recognizes it – and that he likes Jaguars. Lucas (Joel David Moore) is delighted to learn that Henry knows about boats. Henry even tells him he’s been on “bigger” ships. Of course, we know that Henry traces his “change” to being shot on the slave ship 200 years ago. And in that instance, he also put others before himself. Is there a connection there? We also learn that Henry was a gravedigger. A profession he found “rewarding.” No doubt it was also very helpful for his research into death!

We see Henry die in the flashback this time rather than present day – during which he only suffers a flesh wound. I wonder if we are ever going to get an explanation for the things that flash before his eyes as he dies/comes back. In this case, I noticed a woman with dark hair and a piano. Are they significant or just memories of his youth? His mother and piano lessons? Henry draws on his past to save Paul from an overdose with a disgusting mixture of sour milk and baking soda. He tells Jo, “You live long enough, you learn a thing or two!” Henry is clever but he also has time on his side.

We also get some interesting backstory on Jo. We learn that she earned a scholarship when she was 11 to a prestigious Manhattan private school. She found the students sophisticated and smart, but also vicious enough to push her down the stairs and break her wrist. She clearly still has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. She not only dislikes the spoiled rich kids at the heart of the case – though she clearly remains objective – but there’s also some nice banter between her and Henry. She twits him for using “vector” instead of angle and force, for instance, and gets offended when she thinks he thinks she doesn’t recognize the roman numerals on Tyler’s chest. She is a bit intimidated by Henry’s intellect.

There are two really nice scenes between Jo and Reece. She’s concerned about Jo’s reaction to the shooting – with good reason we see by the end of the episode. Reece relates her own first shooting, telling Jo that she thought she wasn’t affected by killing someone too. She tells Jo that “nothing stays buried. It all comes up one way or another.” Certainly, that sentiment also reflects the secrets of the past throughout the episode. Toussaint and De La Garza have great chemistry in these scenes – including the final scene at the firing range. I hope that we will see more of Toussaint acting as a mentor – a similar relationship as that between Hirsch and Gruffudd.

As the majority of my review reflects, I’m much more interested in these larger themes and the character dynamics of the show. I’m also not bothered with the lack of Hanson (Donnie Keshawarz) in the episode – they just haven’t found a rhythm for his character. However, I’d be remiss in not pointing out the logical flaws that bothered me in the episode. Why were the roman numerals backward? Why pick the date of graduation rather than the date of the murder – surely the more significant date? Why blackmail only one of the four? And why blackmail the one least able to pay? If you’ve got answers, I’d be happy to hear them!

I’m still very much enjoying this show. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the new season for me. Yes, the writing of the cases could be tighter, but the excellent acting more than makes up for it. And in general, the episode was tightly written to weave the themes together through several story lines. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.