Thursday, September 25, 2014

Forever, Season 1, Episode 2: Look Before You Leap

We start with a death – a woman in a taxi desperately trying to contact someone before throwing herself off the bridge.

Before we get to this death, we have another body in the morgue – and Henry showing his awesome intellect to Lucas (his assistant), Detective Jo Martinez (secondary main character) and Detective Hanson (Jo’s sidekick). Having established how brilliant he is declaring an obvious murder an accidental death, he then takes them to the body of the woman declaring the obvious suicide a murder

I’m sure he does it just to mess with them and to feel smug.

Anyway, his evidence is enough for Jo because Henry’s always right (how many chances has he had to prove this? 3? 4?)Of course Jo has to explain this to her boss, Lt Joanna Reece who is new and more sceptical. Reece also decides to comment on Jo’s dead husband because that’s the thing it seems. She firmly declares the suicide a suicide

Which Henry refuses to sign off on – and he’s not letting people without medical degrees make that decision (and rightly so). He also has to deal with the dead woman’s grieving parents which is definitely not part of the job he does. The parents barge in and insists she couldn’t possibly have committed suicide (she had a very very very bright future ahead of her) and they demand Henry tell them whether she jumped or not which he tries to dodge

It also segues neatly into musing about being a father – and a flashback of Henry and his then wife Abbie adopting Abe when he was a baby then back to the present with him an old man and Henry unchanged. Abe promptly smacks Henry with some reality, how emotional investment and entanglement is the whole point of living and trying to avoid all emotion and connection is bad (I sense an ongoing theme).

So informed, and after poking Abe about his e-Harmony profile, Henry makes his way to the bridge to examine where the jumper, Vicki, went off while expositioning on how awful a way of dying it is. There he finds marks from her shoes and fingernails on the bridge where she struggled. Surprisingly, he doesn’t fall in. He does get hit by a truck though – the bridge isn’t good for pedestrian traffic. One more naked collection

Back to the office and the creepy stalker guy who claims to also be immortal has sent another note “Your Fan” he seems to see every time Henry dies. Which he does do rather frequently. Anyway, Lucas, Henry and Jo have all found evidence pointing away from suicide so time to investigate

And yes, the detective is taking the medical examiner to do this investigating because TELEVISION.

They got to Vicki’s room at college, discover she’s into outdoorsy sports like rock climbing, has an ex-boyfriend and was working on an Egyptian scrolls – while Henry notes little clues around the room. Professionally, Jo takes exception to Henry promising the parents he’ll solve the case because a) he can’t guarantee that and b) she’s not supposed to be investigating

They go to speak to Professor James who was working on the scroll with Vicki (more chances for Henry to prove his brilliance). Henry also makes one of his huge leaps to assume that Vicki and Henry were having an affair (someone smoked in her room, James smokes. There’s a similar scarf to his in one of her photos. Yes it’s that tenuous). Jo adds more police based suspicion (like him giving an alibi without being asked).

One magical DNA comparison later (2 seconds it takes) and they confirm that the professor’s DNA is under Vicki’s fingernails.

Henry also proves that being brilliant can also mean being pompous, boring and given to dropping random unwanted lectures as they head to the next location. They talk to James’s wife to check his alibi and Henry decides to expose the affair in a rather humiliating fashion using his super insight to expose her lies. She cracks

They bring the professor in for questioning and he claims he broke off the affair – and Henry believes him (his own angst about May/December romances kicking in).  Further insight provides an innocent explanation for why Professor James sheds skin cells – and now Henry angsts because everyone believes there is a murder – but they believe the innocent professor did it.

Meanwhile, Abe has done more research on the letter Henry received from his stalker and Henry realises the letter comes from a hotel in Italy – now closed – that he once stayed in where he once tried to break up with Abbie because their relationship couldn’t last (she refuses to accept it).

Back to the case – Henry finds flesh in Vicki’s mouth suggesting she bit her attacker – and the professor is found dead. Apparent suicide. Of course Henry declares it a murder. The police are not amused. This creepingly amuses me. He explains everything with his brilliance and they start treating it as a crime scene

The police focus on the professor’s wife while Henry wanders off alone to focus on a research student we’ve seen briefly who is apparently super jealous that he’s not credited for the paper Vicki and Professor James are co-authoring. Completely unshockingly, Henry is taken hostage at knife point – but they are spotted on the CCTV by Detective Jo

Of course the CCTV and the police presence means Henry can’t just die and laugh it off – he relies on the police rescue which they do by shooting the guy – that can’t be standard procedure.

Back at the police station Lt Reece takes Jo aside to talk about her disobey orders – and praises her for it (“going with her gut”.

And at the morgue, Henry agrees to see Vicki’s parents, not hiding from human contact.

And Abe and Henry have a really nice moment of mutually missing Abbie.

He also gets a call from his fan who realises Henry is only 200 years old – the fan claims to be 2,000.

So… a lot of what I predicted in the first episode seems to be happening. The supernatural element is somewhat in the back seat (just the odd death and the occasional contacts from the Fan)  with it merely being an excuse for why Henry is so brilliant doing brilliant things with the police – it’s a lot like so many others within the genre as I said before.

I don’t hate it though. It’s not bad to watch. It’s not even dull to watch. And it has interesting elements – like they’ve dodged some clichés with the cops. For example, I confess to being surprised about one thing – I fully expected Lt Reece to be hostile and generally hate Henry because his “logic” is such a stretch. I expected her to fight him and Jo every time they say a murder is a murder. And despite the fact reality would make her right, the plot would mean she’s always wrong and probably expect us to not like her very much because of it. Because that’s the cliché – there’s always a boss who gets in the way because of budgets or PR or afraid of upsetting powerful people or following the rules (which is ALWAYS shown as a bad thing on cop shows) – so I was surprised.

But it is clichéd. About the only truly unique element of the show I can see if Henry and Abe’s relationship which is really well done – the close father/son vibe that occasionally reverses and blurs and makes for a really interesting, complex dynamic.