Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Forever, Season 1, Episode 11: Skinny Dipper

We pick up just before we left it last time – with Adam the sinister immortal murdering a taxi driver so he can use his taxi to kidnap Henry. He drives recklessly and accuses Henry of ignoring him (wait… has Henry even had a means to contact the man?) Adam decides to prove he’s immortal while killing himself while driving at high speed. He vanishes, as dead immortals do and the car careens out of control and ends up in the river.

Henry desperately struggles to escape but, inevitably, drowns. It’s been a while since he died. As he comes back to life in the river, Henry reflects that he fears death still but, clearly, Adam does not and that is worrisome (he calls Adam “insane”). As he swims to shore he is seen by the police, swimming naked

Which means the next day he is sat opposite Lt. Reece who has her excellent “you make no sense you frustrating man you” face on. Henry goes for “I’m a sleep walker who sleeps naked” which is actually a pretty good excuse. She gives him an ultimatum – his eccentricity is ok, but this can’t go on because it will challenge his credibility and undermine his work.

Of course, far more embarrassing for Henry is that the entire police department now knows he was brought in naked and of course he will be teased mercilessly. While everyone else thinks it’s hilarious, Jo is concerned. Henry, of course, deflects her.

He also has to autopsy the taxi driver that Adam stabbed; Henry quickly recognises him from the ID in the taxi and that he was stabbed by a sword. Lucas makes a Highlander reference which, hilariously, the immortal Henry doesn’t recognise.

Henry takes a brief break to go home and tell Abe what he’s doing and Abe says he can’t possibly go hunting for Adam alone he needs help – from someone with a badge; he wants Henry to tell Jo. Me too. Of course, this hits Henry’s sensitive sports because he did once trust Nora, his wife, with his secret and she had him committed to an asylum.

Back to the murder, Henry passes on his findings and the police fish out the taxi. In the taxi they find the sword hole and a bullet casing from where Adam shot himself. The gun was also antique, as recognised by Hanson. Throughout the investigation Henry is distracted and traumatised. Jo also finds Henry’s watch – but says Henry must have just dropped it.

Henry recruits Abe to help him investigate which also involves jumping into the river. Except the police are watching for him and Henry ends up explaining himself to a not-amused Lt Reece all over again. Henry has his explanation for finding evidence this time showing yet again that Henry really doesn’t understand evidence rules. He gets very excitable over the case then apologises to Reece when he realises he’s shouting.

Jo, again, tries to get him to open up to her or see a therapist. Henry agrees to see a therapist but is very very worried since his time in the asylum was torturous. They manage to find him a British doctor  - who outright calls Henry’s observations “Sherlockian” which means Forever isn’t even trying to be subtle. Actual therapy is a lot less stressful than Henry’s memories and, again, pushes him to trust Jo.

Meanwhile, Hanson finds the gun where Henry said it would be and he and Jo go to the address where it is registered. They find the flat empty – except for a body that has already been autopsied. It’s the man who owns the flat – Richard Smythe. And Henry tells them the man was autopsied while still alive. Examining the body, Henry is horrified to realise a tool exactly like his was used in the autopsy – he hurries back to the office to find his tools still accounted for – but his knife is bloody. Henry hides it from Lucas.

Henry goes to tell Abe that Adam is trying to frame him for murder and Abe suggests they leave the city though Henry thinks this is what Adam wants. Abe lays it out – they either run or Henry relies on Jo, on the police.

Jo goes looking for Henry and finds Lucas who quickly folds and reveals that henry has disappeared but also that the autopsied body concerns him – because it has been done in Henry’s style. She goes to the antique shop and finds him packing and ready to leave and holding the bloody knife. Jo demands he explain. Abe joins them and tells Henry to tell her. The whole situation triggers Henry’s flashback to his torture in the asylum.

Taken to the police station, Henry tells Reece, Jo and Hanson that he has a stalker – an insane stalker who thinks he is immortal. He thought if he could leave town the stalker would stop – Jo puts in that Henry was with a therapist when they found the body – Henry acknowledges they should suspect him but Reece assures him they will catch the guy doing this. She trusts him

Back to the autopsy and they find a bite mark and both victims were vaccinated for Hep B – and realise they both worked in Health Care, in Belleview psychiatric hospital. There they learn that both this man and the cabby left the hospital after a “physical altercation” with a patient. Except they can’t find which patient without a warrant unless they happen to be a psychiatrist. Time for Henry to bother, Lewis, his therapist. Somehow managing to appeal to universal Englishness.

That opens up Clark Walker with no birth records which Jo snarks is useful for an “immortal”. He has also been repeatedly caught skinny dipping in the river. Added details is that he attacked the employees, is violent and has absolutely no fear of death or sense of self-preservation. He also, as part of a plea deal, has to attend counselling daily. And they learn he’s due any moment. My isn’t Lewis an accommodating psychiatrist? Let’s hope they say nice things to him as he’s struck off and fired.

They lock down the building but Clark manages to sneak out before Henry can reach him

But they do have his picture and ID so Reece can put out a full search operation. Jo reassures Henry that she never thought him the murderer – and that she’s sure they’ll find Clark because you can’t just disappear in New York which is not just objectively wrong but even Henry knows better than that.

Henry goes home to find loud music, no Abraham - and Clark waiting for him. Clark kneels and draws his sword – and asks Henry to kill him with it. He looks desperate and even tearful. Henry refuses – but then Abe comes home, calling for Henry. Henry and Clark grapple in the basement and Henry manages to stab him with something sharp. Abe comes down to see Clarke collapse and Henry remove the bloody spike. Except… he doesn’t vanish. He isn’t immortal, he’s just dead, he isn’t Adam/the Anonymous caller.

They call the police and all the investigating happens, with Hanson looking out for Henry with the other cops. Hanson reassures Henry it was a “righteous kill” and he took out a serial killer. Jo gives him some good advice – the same advice that Henry gave her when she killed someone.

Henry muses about sharing secrets and gets a call from the Anonymous – apparently he convinced Clark they could pass on their immortality (not true) and Clark was a psychopath therefore Henry did a good deed. He did it because it gave Henry a new experience and killing is super-duper thrilling fun. Henry insists that Anonymous caller is just as insane and dangerous as Clark and, outside, he leans out of his taxi window: it’s Lewis, his therapist. He tells Henry he’s leaving town for a bit but will be back.

Ok point of order – why is Lewis so pissy that Henry didn’t get in touch when Lewis has been the one playing mysterious, ominous and unreachable? Why is Lewis’s casual suicide proof of “insanity” but Henry’s obsessive study of death to try and die PERMANANTLY totally understandable and not proof of mental instability?

Again we have the mental illness trope where the sane man is locked in the asylum and suffers torture – because it’s such a terrible thing to happen to someone who is sane. The insane are shrieking wretches in the background, adding colour to the horror of the sane person’s experience. And we top this all off by having a disposable random psychopath because MENTALLY ILL SERIAL KILLER clearly needs more time on TV.

The only positives on that collection of tropes where Henry’s legitimate reaction to trauma that worked nicely in informing why he was so unwilling to trust

I think I kind of love how Reece put her faith in Henry – because she would. I know the idea that he should be suspected and, of course, ethically he should be taken off the case. But if you had a work colleague, a friend, who you respected, wouldn’t you believe them? If we were in Jo or Reece’s place I think we would accept Henry’s excuse – but a lot of TV shows wouldn’t show that because the drama would be better if Henry was suspected.

This whole episode kind of makes me happy and frustrated. Happy because we’re finally getting to the meat of Henry’s meta plot and introducing elements that will actually make Forever a unique show that could stand  - on the cusp of revealing more secrets to Jo, some final, albeit minimal, Characterisation of Reece and Hanson and, of course, Lewis finally showing himself and setting himself up as an antagonist. These are all good things – but it’s now episode 11. I don’t know how many episodes are left in this season (I’m not even sure if this is the season finale) but I do know the ratings for this show haven’t been great – it’s another too-little-too-late and Forever may have buried itself in its own generic-ness.