Forever episode 15 review: The King Of Columbus Circle

Forever won't be winning any prizes for technical accuracy this week, but its character work deserves real praise...

This review contains spoilers.

1.15 The King Of Columbus Circle

Compared with the previous story, this episode of Forever seemed substantially better organised and included superior character moments to the last outing.

Starting with an old man asking for a visa to return to his country of birth, a lyrical narrative was formed where he was previously connected to Henry as a young boy with acute appendicitis.

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This show works well when referencing the past, even if sometimes the details aren’t as well researched as they could have easily been. (I suspect the Orient Express carriages should have been dark blue, and the width of the entire train was just 10.4 inches, making the sleeping car is at least four feet too wide. But none of that actually made the episode any less entertaining or interesting.)

However, they did make some odd choices in it; like they used an entirely fictional country, Urkesh, presumably not to offend anyone. But they then mentioned the death of the real Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko, and how he was poisoned with Polonium 210 in London. The pointing out of which has probably added my name to some list kept in the Kremlin, if it isn’t there already.

The overarching theme is bloodlines, and how they exist even if you’re entirely ignorant of them. This fits neatly with Abe’s mission to find out his true ancestors, and creating a sense of belonging. This was probably the only bit I took exception to, as being adopted and not having any real ancestors hasn’t bothered me in this fashion at all. To be honest not having them actually seems like a blessing of sorts. But, each to their own.

The places this story went which I really liked were the small amounts of information that Jo prises out of Henry at each encounter, and how they’ll ultimately add up to unravelling his puzzle. Surely at some point she’ll want to know when, and how, Abigail Morgan died? That’s becoming the true puzzle of the season, and as such is probably being held until the season finale.

The more information she gets, the greater the chance that he’ll slip up, and provide some reference that doesn’t fit. So far he’s actually avoided lying for the most part, but as this goes on it is going to become more challenging.

Where this story of the King living in a small Manhattan apartment goes badly awry, somewhat, is in the writers’ rather poor understanding of Polonium. Because how the Queen becomes instantly ill after sipping the Polonium tainted tea, is not remotely how this deadly, and very rare substance works. Alexander Litvinenko became unwell several hours after he was given the Polonium 210, and it made him vomit initially, he didn’t collapse. Also, I’m not sure I’d want a person sweating and exhaling radioactivity holding my baby, in reality.

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And, this week’s totally unresearched moment; you can’t detect Polonium 210 with a Geiger counter, because that device detects gamma rays, and polonium emits alpha particles. These can’t even pass through paper, so the whole scene in the elevator is utter bunk in what happens and is said.But, what they can do is damage the soft tissues inside the digestive system of a person, as they did when did with poor Mr. Litvinenko.

I’d also like to point out that the natural Yak habitat is centred on Western Tibet, a location that’s not within 5000km of any station serviced by the Orient Express.

So overall, Forever scored very badly on technical or geographic knowledge, but much better on getting some good character moments and interaction.I especially liked the one where Jo and Henry were assumed to be a couple with a new baby, and all those with Abe are as ever wonderful.

The character that needs the most work probably is poor Lucas, who hasn’t really progressed from being the nerd he was first introduced as. Maybe he’ll get an episode where we find out he’s more interesting before the season is run, hopefully.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Hitler On The Half Shell, here.