New Amsterdam 3×12 “Things Fall Apart” is all about hearing the universe, and about facing reality, two things that don’t always go hand in hand. For Floyd, that translates into a decision that ends up saving not just his patient, but everyone. For Lauren, it means both doing everything she can, and accepting that she can’t do it all alone. For Max, though, it’s even bigger. Because hearing the universe, accepting reality, means accepting the thing that’s been happening for a while, the person that is standing right in front of him. The one that’s always right next to him. Helen.
This is both a super romantic, emotional episode, and an episode about inevitability. Helen and Max have never felt more inevitable than they do this hour. Every step they take towards each other is a step we could have seen coming, because Helen and Max have been the emotional center of this show since the beginning, long before they were even outwardly romantic, and they remain so to this day. And yet, in a way only New Amsterdam can, the inevitability takes absolutely nothing away from the magic.
And it is magic, that in an episode about accepting the truth, whether that truth ends up being ugly or not, New Amsterdam focuses on connections for the staff, just as Iggy’s patients struggle with voicing their deepest, darkest fears. This show is always very good at the big messages within the small stories, and this is no exception. Because yes, sometimes positivity can be toxic when it means ignoring reality, but often, the people who avoid the good parts of the truth also suffer. Lauren could have – should have told Casey – that she didn’t want him to leave, because she cares about him. Because he’s her brother. Because she needs him. But she didn’t, not until the universe forced her to.
Max could have told Helen that she was the thing that mattered most in the world before his actions made it obvious, but he didn’t. He might have. It certainly has felt like he’s been ready this season, in a way he never was before. He’s proven that by taking his queues from Helen, but listening, by being what she needs, but also by being more outwardly obvious with his feelings than ever before. And yet he’s walked the walked before, with Helen. It’s about time he talked the talk. He needed that. Helen needed that. The self-sacrificing, the putting each other first, the way absolutely everyone in the entire hospital, and probably strangers on the streets, know what they meant to each other, that was already established.
But, just in case we needed it, Helen pulls a Max this episode by first offering to take on the danger so he can be safe, then refusing to leave him to his own devices, and finally, by just being there with him, in what will go down in history as one of the most intimate non-sex scenes in the history of TV. The chemistry between Freema Agyeman and Ryan Eggold sizzles, so much so that at times I was convinced that water was going to evaporate. Love confessions are nice, but has someone ever touched you the way Max touched Helen?
You know, like he just wanted to check she was real. Like he was just discovering what it was like to feel her, and in her he found the strength to draw one more breath. Like he was a drowning man and the only thought in his head, the last thing he wanted was just to check that she was real.
Like she was the only thing anchoring him to reality.
“I’m sorry that sometimes it takes me a minute to remember what matters, more than anything: You,” Max tells Helen in this episode, and it’s not a surprise. We already knew he felt that way. It was either that or he was playing the longest con known to man. But, as I said before, words matter. But you know what matters more? Intention. The decision to put the words out there, with all they mean.
Max made that decision. Helen accepted it. He put his hand over her heart again. She held it there. They both leaned in. This wasn’t just two people reacting, though yes, so much about them being in a place where they can make this decision is conditioned by the fear they felt. But this is still a decision. One they both make.
I’m not sure what the future holds for Max and Helen, but there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. He knows what he feels – has known it for a while. She knows what she feels too. But most importantly, they both know what the other feels. And right now, they need each other more than ever. Their lives have been heading in seemingly opposing directions this season, and yet …perhaps it was all leading up to this. To them. Not just a team within the walls of the hospital, but outside of it.
And yes, they could help each other. They can, and do, make each other better. But that’s not why Helen and Max work. That’s never why the best couples work. It’s not about destiny, or about chemistry, or even about love. Or at least, it’s not just about those things. It’s about choice. And these two have finally made the choice to let each other in. Fully. Completely. Now comes the hard – and fun part. Now comes the figuring out how that works. And we can’t wait to see what that looks like.
Here’s to Sharpwin. 🥂
Things I think I think:
- Grandparents judging you! A sign of parenthood.
- LISTEN TO MARTIN.
- “What do you need”/”Nothing”
- It’s a little silly exchange, but it means so much. Max doesn’t – shouldn’t just want to talk to Helen when he needs something.
- “It’s not dirty water, it’s a chemical spill”
- SUPER COMFORTING.
- Look, Max, I know you’re good intentions over common sense, but you should have used more common sense here.
- Helen is actually starting to think like Max.
- TWO SELF SACRIFICING IDIOTS, MADE FOR EACH OTHER.
- And Lauren, too. This damn show.
- The choice to not have any sound during the shower scene was absolutely the right choice. The moment is tender and powerful without any words, and the actors absolutely carry it. Nothing else was needed.
- “I can’t do this without you.”
- Don’t get into that mess, Floyd. Don’t.
- “I see you.”
- THE DAMN MUSIC IS KILLING ME. Like we needed to be hit any harder, you had to set the Sharpwin scenes to a love song?
- Of course they’re filing for custody. OF COURSE.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of New Amsterdam 3×12 “Things Fall Apart”? Share with us in the comments below!