After a promising pilot, can New Amsterdam live up to its potential? This second episode, only a day removed from the first, makes me think it can…
John stands on the subway platform and, every time a train stops, he’s looking for Dr. Dillane but no luck. He returns to his apartment where Omar comes by and delivers a DVD that a cop dropped off. It’s surveillance from the street where the ambulance stopped to take John to the hospital after his heart exploded. As he examines it and tries to make out the number on the ambulance, Omar asks if he’s coming tomorrow at 10am but John isn’t paying attention. Hurt, Omar leaves but John doesn’t notice until after he’s gone.
John chases down the ambulance he thinks picked him up in his police car, siren on and everything. He pulls them over (a pregnant lady in the back) and asks the driver if he knows who Dr. Dillane is but he doesn’t remember.
Cut to this week’s poor victim – a tied up dude with a plastic bag over his head suffocating to death. The police check out the scene and Eva is already there by the time John shows up. Supposedly the guy, named Matt Shaw, died of auto-erotic asphyxiation. Matt’s parents come home and the news understandably doesn’t sit well with them. John and Eva go to the university Matt attended to find out some background information and meet his ex-girlfriend Marika and his British counselor, Anna Cleary. A medical examiner reveals that Matt was drugged and set-up to look like his death was accidentally self-inflicted, though John noted that the knot’s Matt had been tied up with were sailor’s knots and impossible to tie with one hand.
The appointment Omar was referring to was a visit to visit the grave of Lily Rae York – she died in 1945 at the age of 32 and was a beloved wife and mother, Omar’s mother as a matter of fact. He sits a moment and looks at his watch and is about to leave when John shows up saying he’d never forget what day it was but Omar isn’t so sure. They have a somewhat heated exchange and guess what? Omar is John’s son and that’s why he knows the big secret. Brilliant! It totally explains John’s behavior in the pilot when he finds Omar hurt at the bar (John attended to the wound, which anyone would do, but there was an extra layer of concern that now makes sense). Omar’s wondering what exactly his mother meant to John now that he’s so obsessed with finding this new chick and his feelings are understandably hurt.
Flashback to 1941 when John’s last name was York and he was a lawyer. Lily comes to visit him in the Chrysler building. And by visit I mean they end up doing bad things in the office. They are were sneaking around, especially from Lily’s father. When Maggie the Secretary comes in after Lily leaves to give John his messages, she asks if Lily’s The One. Huh? Oh, that’s because Maggie is his daughter. Boy, John really gets around. Later on, John and Lily are in a hotel and her father (who was one of John’s clients) shows up. He followed Lily and confronts them, spoiling their fun by bringing up that whole "harsh reality of interracial dating in the 40’s" thing. Killjoy. After that incident, John goes to a fancy restaurant and gives the host money to show Lily to his table when she gets there. He’s got a diamond ring and happily sits and waits for Lily. He waits and drinks and time goes by and it’s closing time and still no Lily. But there is a note from her telling him that she’s breaking it off. John decides to join the military after this.
Back in present day, Matt’s dad (named Jack) delivers some notes that he found in Matt’s bag to John and Eva in the police station. They’re in code and look like they may be transactions of some kind. John decodes them quickly and finds that the initials TL occur many times – Jack says Matt had a friend named Tommy Langer. But John still needs to find Matt’s decoder key for evidential purposes so he’s going to search Matt’s room. Jack gives John a key to the apartment (which he and his wife have no desire to stay in at the moment). But first, John and Eva visit counselor Anna who’s husband is the track coach. Matt left the team shortly before his murder and they noticed a call to the Cleary household the day of his untimely and unpleasant end. Anna can’t offer any incite as to why he called or why he quit the team but she does say that Tommy is trouble and not at all a good influence.
That night, John stops in at Omar’s Bar & Grill. He’d been trying to contact Omar but he hasn’t been answering his phone but instead of talking, John ends up getting introduced to Omar’s grandson Corey – aka John’s great grandson. Omar has a "romantic emergency" to attend to so he ropes John into babysitting despite John’s protests. John brings Corey with him to the Shawl apartment to look for the code book. Corey talks about how he likes Superman partially because he can’t die. John says that he can’t die either and lists the various and sundry ways he’s been dispatched in his life…except for getting his head chopped off, which corey points out. Corey believes not being able to die is why Supes is so happy but john says he thinks he’s happy because of Lois Lane. Before the conversation can continue, John hears someone trying to get into the place and hides his grandson in another room before turning the lights out and hiding. Someone with a flashlight is there looking around for a secret stash. John turns on the light and the two tussle when the guy tries to run, John eventually getting the upper hand. Corey walks in as John is cuffing the guy and John tells him that this whole excursion is a secret. Which, you know, makes sense as bringing a 7-year-old to a crime scene is generally frowned upon.
Back at the Bar & Grill, Omar’s daughter Hallie is not happy that Corey has gone off with some dude she doesn’t know. Omar tries to reassure her as John and Corey return. John says they went to get gelato and the line was terribly long. He introduces himself to Hallie and tells her he’s heard a lot about her, though Hallie can’t say the same. On the way out, John reminds Corey to keep their secret and when Hallie asks what about, he says that John can’t die. Mental note: Corey is terrible at keeping secrets.
The guy John caught is none other than Tommy Langer who Eva questions. He confesses that he and Matt were dealing cocaine and that Marika was there when he last saw him the night of his death. Eva and John talk to Marika at the funeral who confirms the fight Tommy and Matt had over skimming some drugs off the top and that she was getting back with Matt (something she’d previously omitted). She excuses herself as the funeral starts. Flowery speech upon flowery speech goes by until Marika goes up and calls everyone out for their hypocrisy – Matt had to deal drugs to keep up monetarily, Paul Cleary the track coach kicked him off the team, and Anna Cleary was schtupping him (oh look! Pictures!). Anna runs off upset followed by Paul who’s a different kind of upset. Marika got the pictures because she and matt had the same phone and she took the wrong one.
John goes to talk to Anna and she confirms that Matt got kicked off the team after Paul found some emails proving their affair. John says she’s lucky that Matt was 17, too old for her to be charged with having sexual relations with a minor but Anna says that they were in love. Eva talks to Paul who had confronted Matt but was at the movies (like Anna said) when Matt was murdered. At the station, John calls Anna’s former school employer in England and, using an accent, persuades the person on the phone to let him know why she left – there were some alleged improprieties with a student. When the British lady on the phone says "what do you expect from a fisherman’s daughter," it gives him pause. After Eva comes in with some additional info, John has a epiphany and they rush over to the Cleary household where they find the Paul being worked on by paramedics, Anna in the corner in catatonic tears and a suicide note complete with a confession. How convenient.
At his apartment, John examines the note and figures out that it’s a forgery thanks to little tick marks in words like "honor" which would have a "u" in it if spelled in the UK. John tells 36 that it’s not bad for an art teacher from Brighton but he could do better. Later, John brings Anna in to the station and, having read her her rights as a "formality," shows her a note that they supposedly found in her husband’s office. It’s an "in case anything happens to me" note that implicates her. Caught, Anna confesses that the phone call to the house before Matt’s death was to her to say that it was over, that he was getting back together with Marika. She went over in a jealous rage and tied him up (a fisherman’s daughter would absolutely know how to tie sailor’s knots) after drugging him. She also admits she killed Paul because he had found out what she did. After she finishes, John sets fire to the note which confuses Anna until John says, "I never said Paul wrote the letter, I just said it looked like his handwriting."
John visits Omar and gives him a book he had once given to his mother (which is where they got Omar’s name), saying that the inscription should reveal exactly how he felt about Lily. Flashback to John in the 40’s who has tracked Lily down to the hospital where she’s just given birth with Maggie’s help. Lily sent him the figurative/literal "Dear John" note because she didn’t think staying together would work. John gives Lily an old book of a poem he always read her (which I do believe he wrote under another name) and the nurse gives John the baby to hold. Looking at the book, Omar sees that John wrote "You will always be the one" which resolves the issue. They make up and Omar gives him some info he found out from some firemen who came into the bar. Turns out John got the ambulance number wrong – her name is Sara Dillane and now they know the hospital she works at.
The second episode has definitely picked up speed from the pilot. The police case was more complicated, which always helps, and what was really interesting was how they mirrored John’s "socially unacceptable" relationship with Lily in the 40’s with Anna wholly inappropriate relationship with Matt. Usually when this kind of parallel is made, they don’t show flipsides like they did here. I also think the use of the flashbacks, which can very easily go wrong, were well played. And speaking of well played, give it up to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for being so good at accents. His American slipped a smidge in the pilot but not this episode plus he got to break out his Brit.
Interesting things we learned about John:
- The medical examiner always tries to tell John a joke he’s never heard but John keeps interrupting the set-up with the punchline.
- The dog John had in 1941 was named 29.
- John was born June 1, 1607 in Amsterdam, Holland.
- John apparently never forgets anything.
Quote of the Night:
"I always thought Dopey got a bum rap. Just because he doesn’t talk doesn’t mean he doesn’t have something to say. And what’s the deal with Happy? Why does he have to be fat? Are most fat people you know happy?" – Omar when delivering John’s surveillance DVD, initially joking that it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
So I’m digging the show – are you? Did you have a favorite part? Over/under odds that the FOX curse bypasses the show?