New Amsterdam 4×14 “…Unto the Breach” was about the hard decisions we make, the memories we keep of our loved ones, and how we can try to ensure we leave behind something good. The episode would have already been packed enough with those ideas floating around, but there were so many other pieces.
With “…Unto the Breach,” the series has raised the questions of what it means to come home and whether or not it’s even possible to do so. But, what if that part doesn’t even matter? What if what matters more is our legacy, the thing we are remembered by? If our time here—whether “here” is a hospital or life itself—is limited, and we may or may not be able to return, can our legacy endure? Should it?
And, since a huge part of that legacy is always going to be what we intended to make of it, what happens when the end result isn’t enough? Is there a way to go back and fix it, and do noble intentions outweigh the pain they may cause in the battles along the way?
May his memory be a blessing
Maybe we should have known, when New Amsterdam 4×14 opened with such a moving memorial to Dr. Vijay Kapoor, that the episode would truly force us, as viewers, to dig deep. As Chaplain Alpert told us in those opening moments, “a passing is not an ending.” Of course, it might be in the most literal sense, particularly depending on what your views may or may not be. But it’s undeniable that Dr. Kapoor’s story didn’t end just because his body stopped living.
There are still so many people whose lives he impacted, and they all took different things away from their time with him. All our main characters were able to share their thoughts on their late friend, and those thoughts weren’t all the same. Because we experience each other—we love each other—in different ways and for different reasons. We even honor our loved ones after their deaths in our own, unique ways. And all of this means our stories continue, in some way, whether we’re here or not. We’re just not the ones writing them anymore.
None of this, however, made Iggy’s assessment of Rohan’s situation—claiming he made his dad’s day about him and should be ashamed of himself—any more palatable. Even the supposedly reassuring parts were…not great.
It’s not that his father is inside of him, or that he’s everything his father was. That’s actually a burden, not the blessing the memory of a loved one deserves to be. There are pieces Rohan will carry on, and there are things he can become because he knew and was loved by his father, but his story is his own. We do not honor the dead by putting aside our own lives to become them or to do what we think they would have wanted. We do it by being the people they loved: ourselves.
That doesn’t mean we’re always left with only the happy memories, or only the ones that motivate us to do something good in this world. Sometimes, there’s an extra pain laced with the loss—pain like Rohan’s that led him to overdose on those amphetamines—regret, a feeling that we weren’t good enough, or perhaps some other enduring tension.
”Nothing about me was good enough for him. I was desperate for his love, and all I could do was disappoint.”
That’s reality, though: We can eulogize someone after a death and only remember the good times, all shiny, happy “hey, he taught me so much” or “wow, he was a soldier who became a hero,” or any of those other things. And they’ll all be true.
But the real truth is taking the bad with the good. Without that, we’re not remembering the whole person we loved at all—we’re cutting off their story in a way that, honestly, is not the great honor we thought. New Amsterdam 4×14 did a great justice to all the difficulties of losing someone you loved but had a complicated relationship with. It made the way we memorialized Dr. Kapoor real; it made that struggle with complicated grief visible for people who need to see it, to know they’re not alone. This should be applauded.
That strained relationship with Rohan was, after all, part of Vijay’s legacy. It was part of his story, and as long as that story is told, it has life. As long as the story has life, it’s far from over. And that means it’s not the end.
When coming home…isn’t
While Max Goodwin and Helen Sharpe have been away from New Amsterdam, Veronica Fuentes has been busy destroying everything they built. And when they come back for Dr. Kapoor’s memorial, for the first time, they see just how dire the situation has become. New Amsterdam viewers have seen all this unfold bit by bit, and it’s been difficult enough to swallow. But Max and Helen see all the changes thrown in their faces at once, when they’ve already been through a big change of their own and have never quite adjusted.
Neither one of them seems to understand why their friends from back in New York haven’t reached out for help, and they can’t fathom how so much of their work has been dismantled in so little time. But that’s what happens. Life goes on. If someone wants to break something, they will break it. And it’s often so much easier to rip all the good down than to have built it in the first place, especially for someone as motivated as Fuentes.
As far as reaching out goes, that’s often far too difficult. Not to mention, if people like Lauren, Floyd, and Iggy have been powerless in the face of the changes at the hospital, what could two people on the other side of the world have done about any of it anyway? So, the ones left behind did the best they could. They put one foot in front of the other, day after day.
New Amsterdam 4×14 makes it very clear from the jump that whatever has happened here, whatever Max Goodwin’s legacy might have been, his role in this story has been on hold until now. But he finds he can’t come back—he can’t go home or live his life, or anything else Chaplain Alpert suggests—because the home he left behind isn’t the same. This happens. We move on, others move in, and they make of it what they will.
But there’s been Dr. Wilder and her resistance, keeping the lights on for Max. She has lost a major battle, but the war is far from over.
Now, Max has the chance—the duty, the drive, and the pure desire—to try again. He and Helen wanted to leave this place better than they’d found it, and somehow, it’s so much worse. Somehow, even doing the right thing in this new New Amsterdam—Fuentes’ New Amsterdam—is doing the wrong thing, as Dr. Reynolds learns the hard way. He’s going to have to work for forgiveness. It won’t be easy, but at least he’ll have Max to ask how he can help him now.
Because Max was always going to have to make his way back here, somehow. Those closing moments of New Amsterdam 4×14 and Max’s return to this hospital were always going to happen, one way or another. He belongs in this place, with this family, for as long as it takes to complete the work he set out to do. And Helen belongs in London. She has her own mark to make, her own work to do—her own legacy to leave.
…but that doesn’t mean either of those places is “home” for Max or Helen. And it absolutely does not mean Sharpwin is in any kind of jeopardy. Because Max and Helen are each other’s home. They don’t have to physically be in any one location or another at the same time to be together. And while long-distance relationships are certainly never easy, especially when time zones and difficult, important work are both involved, this isn’t an ending—just the next chapter. It isn’t a destination, just a detour.
We don’t look back, only forward. Sharpwin will continue to move forward, just on a little bit unconventional path.
“This place, these patients, our friends…They’re all losing. They’re fighting back, and they are losing. Because you’re not here.”
But if you look at how this has all gone down, Max didn’t decide he needed to stay behind. This is not that kind of show, hasn’t been all season. Helen didn’t just support him staying; she directed and encouraged him. Because she needed to make sure his legacy and hers, this thing they made together and this place where they fell in love, was safe. It needs to be rebuilt, and Max Goodwin is the man who needs to lead in mending the fractures.
Max can’t do it all, and Helen will be with him every step of the way. The “with” might not look the same way we’ve always been used to right away…But New Amsterdam and Sharpwin are both in good enough hands that the mere physical distance that separates them isn’t likely to last long.
Because the only “home” you can go back to is the only one that matters. And that’s the one in your heart. Sharpwin lives; death was never even an option.
More New Amsterdam 4×14 thoughts
- “…but it meant the world to me to be seen…” Louder for the assholes who refuse to understand why representation is so important in the back.
- I’m going to be haunted by Jocko Sims quietly reciting “Invictus” as Dr. Reynolds scrubbed in, set against the aftermath of his decision to tell Fuentes about the resistance, all while “breathe again” by Joy Oladokun played in the background…forever. What an utterly beautiful, heartbreaking few moments.
- Like, literally, this is the kind of moment Sims has deserved, and been robbed of, all along. As pissed as I am at his character for what he did by going to the enemy and selling everyone out or whatever, it was all so good. You could see the struggle; you knew Floyd did it for the right reasons.
- The song + the poem = magic. Example: “If my intentions are good, why can’t I come clean” while Floyd was literally scrubbing himself clean before surgery. And he’s trying to remind himself he’s the master of his own fate with the words. New Amsterdam 4×14 really said, “we’re leaving you with so much to think about.”
- And the title? “...unto the breach” is literally a line from Shakespeare’s Henry V.
- “You’re on the wrong track, Dr. Frome.” Presented without comment.
- “You’re on the wrong track again, Dr. Frome.” I mean…
- Lauren has needed her best friend all this time. That hug gutted me.
- Not sure what New Amsterdam has in store for Leyren going forward, but Lauren making a decision for her and her mental health, even when Leyla said they could still work with each other, was right.
- …until it wasn’t, I guess?
- “Fair. Who says that I deserve fair?” I am in this quote, and I don’t like it.
- It remains “Freema Agyeman deserves more than this world” o’clock in this house. Exit forever if you don’t get it.
- Ryan Eggold kind of murdered that last Sharpwin scene, too.
- Eh, fuck it. It was everyone. They all outsold in New Amsterdam 4×14. It was just…art, from top to bottom.
- “What if I lose you?” “Losing me is impossible.” Also impossible: Shutting up about this, like, ever.