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New Amsterdam - Double Episode Series Finale - Review

19 Jan 2023

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New Amsterdam said farewell with a 2-hour series finale that, much like the rest of the season, would have been best if it never aired at all. It was abundantly clear that the show runners had no idea how to end the series as every storyline felt contrived, forced and out of place. For long time viewers, the decline in the quality of writing has been staggering. Seasons 1-3 were so well written, so captivating and inspiring, that it is difficult to believe that the same writing team was responsible for season 4 and 5. Two seasons that were messy, filled with gaping plot holes, and where character development was non-existent or essentially destroyed. This entire season had viewers feeling as though the writers had no idea where to take the characters that they themselves created. Good writers develop strong character arcs with an endgame in mind. How could these writers truly have no idea what to do with any of the characters? Every episode this season felt like a stand alone leading to nothing, and the series finale was just a bunch of manufactured storylines, thrown together in a half-assed attempt to complete everyone’s character arcs. The problem is, they all felt far from completed. 

In all honesty, it is clear that the writers had no idea what to do with the show without Freema Agyeman, who was ultimately proven to be the heart and soul of the show. Regardless of what the show runners want viewers to believe, the writing was terrible before Freema left and it continued to get worse after. In fact, the entire season felt like the writers were executing a vindictive vendetta against Freema for leaving the series. Her character was written off in a way that was spiteful and cruel and instead of just letting her story end after the first episode, the writers continued to drag her name through the mud time and time again. And for what? The show creators continue to use the excuse that Agyeman left the show and there was no other way to write her out. That is a pathetic and ridiculous statement for any network television writer to make. Fanfic writers have come up with many better ways of writing her character out. More importantly, instead of honouring Helen Sharpe’s legacy on the show, her character was vilified in an attempt to get viewers to turn against her. Even Dr. Kapoor was sent off with a beautiful funeral, where everyone spoke touching words about him. Why could the same not have been done for Dr. Sharpe? Having her die would have been a much kinder fate than what was done to her instead. Using Helen in the finale was absolutely pointless and an obvious, blatant attack on her character that felt vindictive and cruel. The drug trial had no bearing on any other storyline and had not been mentioned at all previously. So what exactly was the point of bringing it up now? Are we to assume this was the same drug trial from season 2, where Helen gave up half her department to Valentina Castro, found out Castro was tampering with the trial, then did what she could to force Castro to resign while keeping the reputation of the hospital and Max’s treatment intact? Do the writers have any recollection of previous storylines? Do they think viewers would just forget that such a powerful moment happened in 2x16 between Helen and Max because of that storyline? When you have to resort to retconning your own stories, it is safe to say you are a bad writer. 

What's worse, is that the writer's essentially had Max and Wilder accuse Helen of conducting a racist trial, just so they could use it as a way for them to come out as heroes and affirm their love for each other. Not only did they insinuate that a woman of colour was racist, but both Wilder and Max stated that she was unethical as well. The writer's spent the season trashing Dr. Sharpe’s image as a person, only to use the finale to try and paint her as a horrible doctor, too. I have never seen such a blatant character assassination in all my years of television viewing. The show creators and writers can spew whatever excuses they want about their reasons for doing what they did, in an attempt to gaslight viewers, but the writing is on the wall and there is absolutely no way to deny that this was done with cruel intentions. Having Max declare that the study, which was approved by a WOC, was “white’s only” so that he could be the white saviour, absolutely reeks of bigotry. The clinical trial storyline was solely used to solidify Max and Wilder's relationship, which was pointless, since they did not even remain a couple in the end. It is also laughable that Max and Wilder both stated that they would not have done the same for each other, because it is unethical, yet we watched at least four instances this season alone where both made very unethical decisions for the patients in their care. So now ethics matter? The continued comparisons between Wilder and Sharpe, and the degradation of Sharpe to elevate Wilder, a white woman, reeked of discrimination and was a disservice to both female characters. What exactly was the point of having Dr. Wilder in the final season? To be a love interest for Max? A replacement for Helen? She literally served no other purpose and the show could have gone on without her and quite frankly, no one would have noticed. 

The final episode begins with Max relaying a heartfelt speech to the staff of the hospital, and viewers learn that he is moving to Geneva to work for the World Health Organization because according to him, he has done everything he came to do at New Amsterdam. This move came completely out of left field, since in the previous episode, Max was completely committed to the hospital and he spent all of season 4 being torn between staying in London with Helen and being home at New Amsterdam. The other concerning piece with this storyline, is that the doctors were all happy for Max and supported his decision to leave, but when he left with Helen, they all tried to force him to stay and even tried to talk him into leaving Helen to remain at New Amsterdam. So are we to believe that Max is allowed to leave, as long as it is not with Helen? In the end, Max hands the keys to the hospital to Wilder and tells her that there is no one else he’d rather leave it to. Why couldn’t this be the case in season 4, when he had made the decision to leave with Helen? Sadly, all of Max’s character development went out the window half way through season 4 and of course he is unable to leave the hospital so easily. He disappoints Luna for the millionth time by missing the mermaid parade that she desperately wanted to go to, so that he can play the saviour at the hospital one last time. Max’s character degradation is quite shameful. He went from a man who always put the hospital first, before his wife and daughter, to finally making the choice to choose himself, love and his daughter by moving to London, only for him to come right back to New Amsterdam as medical director, once again putting the hospital first. What exactly was his storyline this season? Being a lovesick puppy on the rebound, chasing after Wilder? He certainly didn’t spend any time at the hospital making an actual difference. In the end, he is painted as a hero when it is revealed to viewers that Luna, now an adult, has taken over New Amsterdam as medical director, praising her dad for his hard work and inspiration, even quoting his famous line, “how can I help?” Is that Max’s hero story? That he chose a hospital above all of the loved ones in his life and now Luna is destined to serve the same fate? 

The one story in the finale that had potential, was the case of a Ukrainian refugee who needed a complicated, life saving surgery or she would die, ultimately leaving her only son an orphan in a strange country. This could have been such a poignant story, had the writers taken time to develop it. Instead, they used it as a way to bring some familiar faces back for the finale, Cassian and Agnes, just to have them on camera for less than a minute while they assisted with the surgery. Why bother bringing back such beloved characters, just to have them appear for a few seconds and not have any dialogue? It was completely pointless. 

The episode also featured flashbacks of the leads, providing insight into their younger selves and revealing the reasons why they chose to become doctors. It seemed ridiculous to only get this information in a series finale. This is information that viewers needed and begged for a long time ago to ensure proper character development, but I digress. Through the flashbacks we learn that Elizabeth was bullied by children who didn’t think she could be a doctor, because she was deaf. Even her own brother suggested she try a safer career. In the end, she defied the odds and became a successful surgeon. Lauren chose to become a doctor after going on a bender and witnessing a homeless man die right in front of her, and she was unable to help. Lauren’s present day storyline of hijacking an ambulance to take her apartment hunting was completely selfish and ridiculous, and it culminated in her finding a fixer upper that she would try and make her own, in order to have a fresh start. Her story ended with her sister joining her at an AA meeting, the two of them joining hands. None of this says much for character growth, but I guess it could have been worse. 

Iggy’s flashback made sense. As a young child, the adults around him lacked boundaries and confided in him things that were inappropriate for a child to deal with. This would have been great information to learn back in season 1. It would have helped provide much needed backstory, so that viewers could understand why Iggy spent most of the series trying to figure out who he was and what he wanted in life. Perhaps then viewers could have empathized with Iggy instead of coming to loathe him. The final Martin/Iggy storyline was completely rushed and obviously done for the sake of giving these characters a happy ending. It also diminished all of Iggy’s character growth. Iggy and Martin had decided to divorce and move on. Iggy was no longer good for Martin, and he realized that he needed to better himself before he could enter into another relationship. Having Iggy choose himself and work on creating a healthier life for himself would have been a great ending for his character. Instead, the writers had Iggy attempt to woo Martin all over again like they had never met in the first episode, then jump to them being re-married in the second. Talk about a whirlwind of confusion and trauma for their children who were innocent victims in this ridiculous storyline. 

Once again I have to say, poor, poor Floyd. The writers have struggled to give Floyd a proper storyline all series. In the end, the only remaining black character just happened to be the one who grew up with an abusive father, perpetuating yet another racial stereotype. At no point during his attempt to reconnect with Horace, was it mentioned that Horace was abusive. Turning him into an abuser in an attempt to round out Floyd’s character arc made very little sense and the optics were just horrendous. Ultimately, Floyd ended up living his dream life with Gabrielle by his side. His final scene was him and Gabrielle happy and in love, at a dinner table with all of their family members including Horace. Although it appeared that Floyd got everything he wanted in the end- a connection with his father and the love of a black woman, it was absolutely shallow. Not to mention the fact that this man gave up the rights to his daughter. The show runners claimed that Max was “heroic” for choosing his daughter Luna in the end. So what does that make Floyd? And is someone truly a hero for doing the right thing and putting their child before their career? Make it make sense. 

Overall, the finale was exactly what was expected after a disastrous season. There were no moments of nostalgia for the good ol’ days of the show, there was nothing to make me wish it wasn’t the end, and I ended up not caring at all about the characters that I once loved and waited on baited breath to watch every week. It is very sad that this is how it all ended, considering its beginnings. One thing is for certain, I will not watch anything produced, created or written by any of the New Amsterdam show runners and writing team, and I don’t have to look further than Twitter to know that I am not the only one. I would love to hear your thoughts on the series and its ending. Were you satisfied with the conclusion? Let me know in the comment box below and follow me on Twitter by clicking the link in my bio.