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Forever - Skinny Dipper - Review - "Fall Finale"



Forever delivered a very satisfying fall finale with “Skinny Dipper.” We had an intriguing mystery, a terrific red herring, and a wonderful reveal. Perhaps even more importantly, we got to see how far Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) has come since we met him a relatively short time ago. The episode was written by the team of Chris Fedak and Phil Klemmer, and directed by Steve Boyum – one of my favorite directors from Supernatural, Revolution, and Criminal Minds. What I’m most excited about in this episode is the introduction of Burn Gorman as the “Anonymous Caller” aka Adam aka Dr Lewis Farber. Gorman’s credits include Torchwood – in which, somewhat ironically, he plays a dead man who can’t die – it’s complicated – and Pacific Rim. He’s just been announced for the sequel to Pacific Rim, and he also stars in Turn on AMC, so fingers crossed we can steal him away long enough for a nice meaty storyline!

In the episode, we see Henry’s secret almost revealed several times. I know I found myself holding my breath! But once again, the flashbacks help explain the present, and why Henry doesn’t confide in anyone. It’s not just that Nora (Victoria Haynes) didn’t believe him and even had him committed. Did anyone else notice how much Nora looks like Jo (Alana De La Garza)? We also see that while incarcerated in Bedlam – the historic equivalent to Bellevue in the present storyline – Henry was tortured. He’s subjected to the “very scientific” hydrotherapy – what we now call water-boarding. It’s no wonder that he’s developed this complete aversion to ever revealing his secret.

The final voiceover reflects on this theme of secrets and indicates that Henry may be getting closer to revealing his: “We all have secrets. There’s nothing wrong with that. But we all need a confidante, a friend to share our secrets with. In a way the shared secret tells us who our real friends are. They’re the people we trust the most.” So far, Abe (Judd Hirsch) is the only one in whom Henry can confide. We’ve seen that Abe is worried about what will happen to Henry after he’s gone, and it’s Abe who really urges Henry to tell Jo his secret, especially with Henry being in danger.

The entire episode really highlights how much Henry has changed and how close he has become to those around him – he has friends now and he didn’t when we first met him. I’m continuing to really love the interactions between Henry and Lt. Reece (Lorraine Toussaint). Toussaint is terrific, and I love her deadpan delivery. We get two great scenes with her in this episode. I loved her interrogating Henry about his skinny dipping. I have to admit, this is a question that’s been bothering me for some time – how has no one ever seen Henry emerging naked from the East River? Well, apparently they have – he has a rather thick file! Henry’s explanation is that he’s a sleepwalker – a somnambulist. And of course, Lt Reece will never learn not to ask Henry questions. When she asks why he’s naked, he tells her that’s how he sleeps! The looks on both their faces are priceless.

Henry has no illusions that he’s won Lt Reece to his side, so it’s perfect when it looks like the Anonymous Caller has successfully framed him, and Henry is making his case to the entire team, and  Reece leans in (breath holding time!) and says, “We’re going to catch this son of a bitch.” She then orders a task force and makes it their number one priority. This entire scene is really well done, as it seems that Henry is about to tell them all the truth. But Henry’s got very good at covering his trail with plausible lies and half-truths. Henry tells them he has a stalker – true – and that he was going to leave town so that no one else got hurt – also true. But Reese’s whole-hearted belief in him, and her commitment of the entire resources at her command demonstrate Henry’s acceptance.

We see how far Henry has come with his friends when he emerges from Lt Reece’s office at the beginning of the episode to be greeted by pretty much the entire precinct. Hanson (Donnie Keshawarz) presents him with goggles and a speedo. It’s really great to see them integrating Keshawarz into the show more and as more than the lazy cop stereotype. He still provides a nice contrast to Henry, but is more than a simple buffoon. It was nice to see him recognize the bullet casing as belonging to an antique gun and to learn that his father was a gun collector.
The entire scene at the recovered taxi is a fun one as Henry is in danger of being exposed. The scratches on the inside of the taxi are horrific for the terror that inspired their making and also because DNA gathered there could incriminate Henry – of course, he nixes any hope of evidence because of the water. And then when Jo discovers his watch, I held my breath until she simply assumed he’d dropped it. However, that did bring up a pretty major hole in the entire series – how does he normally get his watch or clothes back? Where do his clothes/watch go when he dies? I really, really want to see the writers get themselves out of that little conundrum.

We see from the beginning of the episode that Jo is concerned about Henry. She tells him twice in the episode that she’s there for him if he needs to talk. Abe urges Henry to trust her. When they finally get the lead on Clark Walker (Edoardo Ballerini), Henry asks Jo if she ever thought it could have been him. It’s clear that her good opinion of him very much matters to him. Once again, Jo displays her keen insight and says that while Henry may be many things, he’s definitely not a killer. Of course, by the end of the episode he has become a killer. I have to say that I was completely convinced that either Abe or Jo were in imminent peril, especially during the climax when Henry comes back to the shop and Abe isn’t there. In fact, I don’t think that Henry would have killed Walker except for two things – Abe was in peril and Henry didn’t believe he could actually kill Walker.

It’s after the fight that we really see how far Henry has come. Hanson shoos away the detective trying to take Henry’s statement, saying “he’s one of us.” He also tries to make Henry – who is clearly shaken – feel better, “It was a righteous kill. You did good.” Lucas (Joel David Moore) drapes a blanket over Henry’s shoulders.
        Jo provides the most support with her offer of someone to talk to, and she says his own words back to him – you only have real problems when taking a life doesn’t affect you. It’s a nice moment between the two because Jo has also come a long way. She squeezes his hand – it’s a gesture of friendship, not romance, and it feels right for the two of them. It’s funny that we haven’t seen Henry instigate a “hook up” since the very first episode when we saw him die in the subway car – just before he met Jo and the rest of the team… That fleeting physical release isn’t really enough anymore.

Gruffudd offers a wonderfully varied performance in this episode. We see him almost playful with Reece when he tells her he sleeps in the nude, but we also see him terrified – both of his secret being exposed and others being hurt because of him – his biggest fear. It’s been fun to really watch him unpack the emotions of Henry as Henry really comes back to the land of the living – we haven’t seen him obsessing over means of dying for a while either.

We see that there are differences between the Anonymous Caller and Henry. Adam doesn’t fear death while Henry does. Adam would appear to be alone while Henry is clearly surrounded by both family and friends. Henry does have a confidante in Abe, but Adam has no one other than Henry to talk to – at least that we know about. Gorman delivers a terrific performance. As Dr Farber, he is thoroughly likeable, and I have to admit that I thought he was simply being introduced as a potential new friend for Henry. As Adam, in the last scene, he is completely chilling, however. There is one slip up in the therapy session, however. Dr Farber asks if Henry has someone other than Abe to talk to, someone more Henry’s own age – how does he know Abe’s age? Henry doesn’t offer it. And of course, the irony is, Adam/Farber is in many ways closer to Henry’s age himself.

Henry makes it clear that he believes Adam to be insane and a dangerous threat. He kills at least one person – Raj Patel (Arash Mokhtar), the taxi driver. We can’t be sure if it’s Walker or Adam who makes the second kill, though it would seem it has to be Adam due to the details of the autopsy which Lucas attributes to Henry. Adam clearly sets Walker up – likely through acting as his therapist at Bellevue too. It’s a nice touch that Walker shows up at Henry’s with a sword – a katana – and wants Henry to kill him with it.

        This links back to Lucas referencing Highlander when Henry determines that Patel was killed with a sword. Highlander is the story of immortals – who can’t be killed unless they are beheaded. McLeod, the lead character played by Christopher Lambert in a series of movies, carries a samurai sword. In the movies, the immortals all try to kill each other – “there can be only one” – in order to gain power. They are also required to keep their immortality secret, and when they are killed, they are supposed to move on. Henry’s breaking some rules!

It’s interesting that Adam calls Henry at the end of the episode. Henry has confessed his biggest fear to Adam during their therapy: someone getting hurt because of him. Adam has forced Henry’s hand, but Adam seems to think he’s given Henry a treat – something new. The “thrill” of taking a life. But in a weird way, Adam also offers some comfort. He tells Henry that Walker was a full-blown psychopath – takes one to know one? – and that he would have killed again. He tells Henry that he’s done a good deed. And he’s also saved Abe’s life, right? Henry tells Adam that he’s “just as sick as the man you sent here to kill me. That’s why you hide. You’re insane.” The final shot of Gorman in the taxi is beautiful as he leans forward in the cab into the light so that Henry can see his face – it completely reveals himself to Henry. Now the questions remain – is he really a psychiatrist? Is he British?

Spoilers suggest that when Adam returns he will be more benevolent and less threatening, that he may in fact become more sympathetic to us. The isolation that Henry feels must be even worse for Adam. Can he be excused for having lost all of his social graces due to him immortality and his need to hide it? I can’t wait to see more scenes between Gorman and Gruffudd. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Henry will ever be able to confide his secret in anyone else? Should he? Are you excited to see Gorman back? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Forever returns on January 6, 2015!

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.

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