[Movie] New Amsterdam season 4, episode 3 recap – “Same As It Ever Was”

This recap of New Amsterdam season 4, episode 3, “Same As It Ever Was”, contains spoilers.

[Movie] New Amsterdam
[Movie] New Amsterdam

Max and Helen probably aren’t leaving for London. Call me a cynic, but you can’t really just move two of a show’s most fundamental characters halfway across the world in the middle of a season, or even at the end of one, at least not permanently. Together or apart, the likelihood is that they’ll remain in New York, at New Amsterdam, because nothing can be guaranteed to work without them. “Same As It Ever Was” opens with various pairings of lead characters — Lauren and Leyla, Iggy and Martin, Floyd and Lyn — lamenting the news that they’re going to have to face a hospital without the glue that holds it together. For every couple, the discussion leads, weirdly, to sex. Every couple, that is, except Max and Helen. Despite everyone else thinking they’re enjoying the exciting honeymoon period of a new relationship, they’re really waking up early in Max’s little apartment and making Luna waffles. Helen’s face says it all. You’d think she might have considered the lack of glamour in the lifestyle of a single father, but I guess not. She’s certainly considering it now.

New Amsterdam season 4, episode 3 recap

Helen actually considers this out loud to Lauren — Max snores, and he’s messy and disorganized, and she hadn’t realized that falling in love meant living together. Oops. Lauren suggests she breaks up with him so the hospital at least gets to keep one of them, which is a sentiment that rattles around Helen’s head. So, too, does what Veronica Fuentes, Max’s hand-picked emergency replacement summoned when Karen Brantley sent out the Bat-Signal during last week’s big announcement, says to her about her dating her professional inferior potentially being a HR issue. Two problems begin to emerge here, at least for me. The first is that Veronica is broadly the Anti-Max, which feels like a cheap way of scaring everyone — including himself — into convincing him not to leave. The second problem is Helen. Her nitpicky self-sabotage is kind of annoying. Are we really supposed to believe that she didn’t anticipate Max, of all people, being a bit messy at home?

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Fans of New Amsterdam have been shipping Sharpwin since Season 1, so their current relationship feels like a way to appease those people while also piling on reasons why they can’t work long-term; it’s like the show’s writers are saying, “Look, you wanted this, and here are all the reasons it shouldn’t happen.” But the audience knows that the writers could make it work if they wanted. It’s their choice! In retrospect, it might have been ballsier to just deny the Max and Helen relationship outright. I’m not sure this long-winded will-they-won’t-they approach makes for particularly good, organic drama.

Luckily, subplots elsewhere pick up the slack. Max, who’s off-campus for most of the episode, largely to keep him out of Fuentes’s way until later, is judging a local science fair where he, as usual, goes a bit too far with the winner, an 18-year-old girl named Imani who had developed some revolutionary color-changing fever-detecting turnip sutures. He immediately tries to requisition a load for New Amsterdam but is then rather unceremoniously told that her research will be shelved so as not to cut into the profit margins of a similar product that works using smart technology that thus isn’t applicable to poorly-funded hospitals — particularly those in the third world. Unfortunately, though, all the science fair entrants, including Imani, signed a consent form to give a giant pharmaceutical company control of their IP, so thanks to Max’s meddling Imani is threatened with a half-billion-dollar lawsuit. Of course, he finds a loophole for her and everything is okay in the end, but that’s fine, it’s how this show works. And it’s how this show has always worked, which is reassuring in the face of so much change. If Max can’t annoy Big Pharma and Karen every week, what are we even doing here?

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Elsewhere, Iggy and Lauren’s subplots are really just continuations of arcs that were established in the season premiere. Iggy still judges his residents in terms of how closely they mimic what he’d do in any situation, and while at one point it looks like he’s about to impart some genuine wisdom, he’s hit with a counterpoint, and then the whole matter is kind of left alone, unresolved. Of course, there’s no easy answer to the question that was raised, but it still felt a bit anticlimactic. Gladys is beginning to take on a weird role as a sort of all-knowing psychotherapy shaman, there to make Iggy feel better about every development, which is fun but keeps absolving him of responsibility for his decision-making. At least Lauren and Leyla actually switch up their dynamic a bit, with the latter taking the former’s advice to toughen up a bit too far, standing up to her in the middle of the ED, and insisting on performing procedures in a less safe way because she trained in the darkness — literal and figurative — of a warzone and the technology holds her back. It’s not an ideal approach to work, but it turns Lauren on enough to corner her in the supply closet, so swings and roundabouts.

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It wouldn’t be New Amsterdam without a heavy-handed sociopolitical point being made, of course, and outside of the Big Pharma stuff with Max, it’s Floyd’s turn this week. When the ED is overrun with a spate of gunshot victims, Floyd starts to believe he recognizes all of them, which isn’t an entirely clear point being made about the frequency of such mass shootings. Not sure this works, to be honest. It’s a serious issue being dealt with in an irritatingly glib, fancy-pants way. The fact that “Same As It Ever Was” ends with Helen deciding to move in with Max to get used to his personal proclivities and then a literal group hug is much more its speed. Even if things aren’t quite the same as they ever were, at least we can pretend they are, just for a while.

You can catch New Amsterdam season 4, episode 3, “Same As It Ever Was”, on NBC.

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