Forrest MacNeil has done some very bad things. But, as Season 3 hits its stride, “Review” seems to be asking a simple question: What if Forrest simply said no — to any of it? Would his life be the dumpster fire it is today? Probably not.
In Thursday’s (March 23) episode, Forrest was presented with a challenge that had him switching places with his co-host A.J. Gibbs (Megan Stevenson). The experience was eye-opening for Forrest: It seems the life of a co-host involves a life outside of “Review.” To A.J., a co-host’s life may be a bit trivial — a means to a paycheck if you will. For a man like Forrest, this revelation hits hard. Being a “life reviewer” is important work, after all. But when the cameras are turned off, what happens then? Where are the friends he can meet for weekend drinks? Sadly, there are none.
Since the shoe was on the other foot, Gibbs was the one who went out into the world. Her challenge didn’t take very long, though. She ultimately decided against slapping a stranger’s behind and headed back to the studio all smiles.
It was a morally sound decision, to be sure: Assaulting a stranger never goes over well, and what would her boyfriend think? Her ethical refusal hit Forrest like a ton of bricks.
After all this time he could’ve been declining reviews? Can you imagine how simply saying no would’ve changed his life. Here’s a quick rundown:
- He wouldn’t have divorced his wife.
- His father-in-law would still be alive.
- He would’ve never killed a man.
- His producer Grant (James Urbaniak) would still be able to walk.
As groundbreaking as this realization was, the moment became fleeting. There are rules to “Review”! There’s no room for conscience or free will. Forrest’s decisions are made purely for the show and his audience. Without either, he just may cease to exist.
Everything comes crashing down in the next review, which finds Forrest tackling adversity — which he uses as a reason to become Helen Keller. Deaf, blind and mute? How more adverse does it get? Forrest gets the assistance of his assistants to fully make this happen: A soundproof, vision proof helmet is applied to his head and the awkward hilarity ensues. Of course, it doesn’t take long before he takes his review into the courtroom where he’s being tried for murder.
In the end, Forrest ends up being acquitted for killing that man. As unexpected as that turn of events was, it’s mostly downplayed as a joke. As the justice says: “It’s impossible to convict a white man for carrying a gun in America.” It’s also impossible to ignore the irony of that statement.
We really want Forrest to learn something here — anything, really. After all the reprehensible actions he has taken over the years, just to simply review life, there have to be consequences. But when you really think about it, his punishment has already been doled out.
Regular nightmares remind him of his ex-wife and the relationship he ruined. This is where the forgiveness segment kicks in. You would think, after the chain of events that transpired in the courtroom, that Forrest has finally seen the error of his ways. Yet, he ended up forgiving Suzanne (Jessica St. Clair) — not the other way around — for the statements she gave on the stand, asserting that Forrest couldn’t be a murderer, that he’s just not committed enough to his work.
When your whole life is your job, asserting that you’re not committed enough to it can cut deep. “You are not a person, you are a malfunctioning robot,” Suzanne says on the porch. “And it’s sad, Forrest, because you used to be a person. You used to do things because you wanted to do them.”
There it is, right there in her words: The real truth of Forrest’s situation. Forrest’s self-worth relies solely on “Review” and vice-versa. Without one, the other may die. We’re doubtful Forrest will ever find happiness or ever learn his lesson. But with just one episode remaining in this truncated final season, we’ll find out one way or the other very soon.
“Review” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.