New Amsterdam 4×20 “Rise” is an episode about the little people, the ones that people like Veronica Fuentes take for granted. It is also an episode about how, sometimes, in your darkest moments, life can pay you back for every kindness. But above all, it is a revindication of the Max Goodwin way of looking, not at this hospital, but at people.
Like Karen says at the end, the difference was Max. And not because Max is better than anyone else, but because Max is kinder than so many other people. Life has broken him, again and again, and yet even when he’s down in the dumps, when he has already given up, Max Goodwin will always, always try to help. Not because of any reward, but because that’s who he is.
And, in a way, that’s what New Amsterdam is because of him.
To be clear, Max Goodwin exists in a world where being the way he is will forever be seen as an asset. He’s celebrated for it, in ways many other people in his position wouldn’t be. That’s always the caveat with Max: He gets away with so much, he manages to do so much, because he’s kind and good, yes, but also because he’s a white man. That part must never be understated. But it’s also worth saying that life would be so much better if more of the men who hold the privilege he does would use it the way Max Goodwin does.
So let us talk about parenthood, about the future of Sharpwin (and Leyren) and about Iggy, as we discuss New Amsterdam 4×20 “Rise”:
BEING A PARENT IS …HARD
New Amsterdam 4×20 “Rise” examines parenthood in many different ways. First, it confronts Floyd with the reality that he already knew but probably hadn’t really processed — he’s going to be a father. This has been at the center of his journey for the past few episodes, at the center of his desire to reconnect with his own father. But till this episode, it felt like the reality of his impending fatherhood was more an abstract than a reality. Now it’s real, with all the good and bad that brings.
This is also Helen’s journey, and in many ways it feels like it’s the journey that’s going to bring her back to New Amsterdam. Because Helen isn’t seeing her patient from the point of view of a doctor; she’s looking at her patient from the point of view of a mother. That’s what she is now. A mother. And parents put their kids first.
What would Helen have done, had it been Luna? What would Max have done? Anything and everything. And is being in a place where she cannot do anything and everything for her kid worth it, for Helen? Is this the thing she wants? Every storyline this season has been leading towards a decision for Max and Helen, and it has always felt like the decision had to be New Amsterdam, but how? Well, now we know.
IGGY REMAINS THE WORST
My issues with Iggy would take up way too much space I’d rather dedicate to the ships, but I do need to take a moment to say Iggy is, by far, the worst character in New Amsterdam. He never learns. He never seems to want to. Every small lesson, every patient he helps, it’s all undercut by the fact that, in his personal life, Iggy only cares about himself.
Bad things happened last episode. Most of the people Iggy cares about are going through a hard time. Does Iggy have some comforting words? Nah. He’s got a case, and that’s more important.
But later, when it’s time to celebrate, he can sure greet Max with the words “we did it!” while we sit here and wonder …who’s we, exactly? You did nothing, Iggy Frome. Absolutely nothing.
…except sitting there, playing video games and lying, we guess? You really thought that counted, huh?
A NEW BEGINNINNG?
It’s easy to see now that the issue with Leyren was always timing — nothing more, nothing less. Because in this episode, As Lauren tells Leyla that she’s ready, and that she’s changed, that actually feels …true. Not that she’s okay, all her issues fixed. Fixing yourself isn’t a matter of snapping your fingers and wishing it. But she’s better. She’s more self aware. And she’s actually making a choice.
A choice to try to salvage this relationship. To put love over anger or resentment. A choice to try to be open. Before, Lauren was acting with her heart and not her brain, and that might feel like a more romantic thing, but love, real love, is about decisions. It cannot be sustained by just feelings. You have to make a choice to communicate, a choice to try even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Lauren and Leyla weren’t there before, but maybe now they can be. Maybe this is a new beginning.
If it is, though, we need a better reconciliation, just saying. Show, don’t tell, and all.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The battle’s done, and Max kind of won, so now …what? Where does he go from here? Where does Sharpwin go from here? I have no doubt that whatever the answer to that is, they will go together. None whatsoever. Max and Helen have gone through too much to even consider any other possibility right now.
The only question that remains is …where do they want to settle down with their family? What is best for their future? This is TV, so the answer is clear, and the way they get there seems more straightforward than before. But the journey is still worth it, mostly because it’s not unique to them.
Many couples are faced with a decision such as this one, and there are no wrong choices as long as the two of them see eye to eye. We tend to view decisions such as this one as sacrifices, on one side or the other. But the truth is, you have priorities. Max and Helen’s priority hasn’t been their job for a while. And that doesn’t mean the job isn’t important, or that they don’t love it. It just means that the journey of New Amsterdam wasn’t, has never been, just about the hospital. It’s been, as New Amsterdam 4×20 “Rise” showed, about the people.
New Amsterdam is a show about one man’s desire to change the world, starting with one hospital. But it’s also about the people he met there, about the family they’ve created, about the ways they’ve grown and yes, about the love they’ve found. A love story, that’s what New Amsterdam is. Or, many, many different ones. But, just like with the hospital, it all starts with Max, right? And if it starts with Max, then …it starts with Helen. Or ends with Helen. Because Helen is Max’s happy beginning. Simple as that.
Things I think I think:
- Even in an episode where she’s only there as part of a case, Dr. Wilder remains the best. Her addition has been a breath of fresh air that has made the show so much better.
- Did Martin leave? Tell me he left and took the kids.
- Look at the mess he made when you weren’t around, Gladys.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of New Amsterdam 4×20 “Rise”? Share with us in the comments below!