This review contains spoilers.
1.6 The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths
Before I get on to the review, I want to talk about the show in general, and its likely longevity. Looking at the viewing figures and how they’re sliding there was some debate online if this production would beat the eight episodes that the very similar New Amsterdam (2008) managed to deliver before cancellation. With seven episodes complete, ABC has confounded many Network TV watchers by ordering a further three scripts. That is spitting distance away from a complete half season, even if it isn’t the full set.
Though, it’s worth pointing out that ordering scripts isn’t bankrolling them being produced, and Forever has just one more episode in the bag to prove it isn’t the most misnamed TV show of 2014.
The problem that Forever has is that while those who watch it generally like the experience, there aren’t many people raving about it. It’s a generally mild and unassuming show, with charming and likeable characters. What it lacks therefore is any great friction or spice, being like a comfy old sofa or well-worn shoes. As such it almost propagates a take-it-or-leave it attitude, where few people would be devastated if they failed to tune in, or tag in on the PVR. What’s lacking here a major plotline that makes you want to know what happens next, and gives the exercise some real momentum.
And, to a degree The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths tries manfully to bring those elements into play, as it heralds the return of Henry’s nemesis immortal, Adam. It starts out as a serial killer hunt, and then once they’re engaged in that detection game, the ‘fan’ is thrown in as much as a distraction as anything else.
Or is he? There seems no logical reason why he’d feel inclined to help Henry solve these crimes, or even step in to avoid Detective Martinez learning his secret. But that’s exactly what he does with little or no explanation.
As for the case; when somebody is murdering people, it is always useful for them to copy some other very famous killers, because most viewers will have heard of Jack The Ripper, The Black Dahlia and The Boston Strangler. And so it is here, as the penny soon drops that Henry is chasing an imitator of famous killers, presumably because he/she is not very creative themselves.
What is never actually commented on is that the killer chose two murders that were never solved, and one that ultimately was. The idea that Adam is Jack the Ripper is soon dismissed, thankfully, and the story winds along gathering up the reoccurring characters as it goes. The plot leads them eventually to a comic novel, and what seemed like a very odd homage to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Following clues, Henry and Jo end up at the library, where she runs after J Elroy (who magically becomes ‘Simon’ at some point) and they take him for questioning. It wasn’t long before I recognised what sounded like the distinct lilt of Andrew Robinson, the actor who is famously dispatched by Clint Eastward in the climax of Dirty Harry, but also played Garak in Deep Space Nine. Except that actor wasn’t credited, doesn’t do TV these days and seemed far too young to be Robinson.
And while that oddity was messing with my mind I then realised that the Frenchman who was played by Rosalind Chao in the previous scene, was Keiko O’Brien also on Deep Space Nine. Maybe I’m joining dots that don’t actually connect here, and this was all merely coincidence. Very probably.
Back to the episode. It teased that Henry will eventually get caught out with Jo, though frankly I don’t expect this to happen until the very final episode, if ever.
What worked best here were the character moments, and there were plenty of those to enjoy. From the under-the-breath comments of Lucas, to the dry pragmatism of Abe, all the characters are slowly developing. That Lucas is a comicbook fan is somewhat clichéd, but everyone needs a hobby. The character that seems most in need of one is probably Jo, because other than she occasionally sleeps around and she misses her lost husband we know relatively little about her. I don’t even think we’ve seen where she lives.
The clock is probably ticking on Forever, so those behind it need to do what they can with these characters now, and not bank those moments for an uncertain future.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, The Pugilist Break, here.
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