Warning: Spoiler Alert
If you’re going to create a show with a “Gimmick,” than you have to utilize that plot device to make your story and characters, bigger, grander and fuller. The new ABC series “Forever,” qualifies as a show with a “Gimmick,” its hero’s Doctor Henry Morgan, medical examiner for the NYPD, however he’s over 200-years-old, as he just can’t stay dead. Although he’s gotten killed countless times in his existence, he comes back every time no worse for the wear. However if the only reason for viewers to tune in’s to see how Morgan bites it this week, the story would grow old quickly and viewer interest would wane.
What the show was able to do in the pilot and once again in the third episode of the series and what could be the show’s hook, is exploring Henry Morgan’s time on this planet via flashbacks, comparing and contrasting situations he’s going through with events he lived through before. The medical situation Morgan confronted in this episode, took him back in time to the turn of the previous century, as he watched a friend grow sick and eventually die in front of Henry despite his best efforts.
Having a gruff old man with a gooey-center’s an added bonus on this show, as Judd Hirsch plays Morgan’s “companion,” Abe perfectly, in perhaps his best performance on TV since his glory days in “Taxi.” Although old in years, Abe still relishes his days as a protestor at Berkley and constantly pesters Morgan to get out and enjoy life more often. Abe opens the episode wistfully watching a youngster doing tricks on a skateboard, wishing he could be that boy just for a moment.
The episode starts in New York City’s Chinatown, as a well dressed elderly business man gets his briefcase stolen by an Asian teenager. Although the man appears close to 70-years-old, he chases down the kid, tackles him and starts pummeling the teenager in the face. Suddenly his body seizes and he starts hemorrhaging from his nose, then collapses. The teenager grabs the briefcase and runs off, as the man dies on the sidewalk.
When Morgan and his assistant Lucas examine the body the following morning and they’re amazed that the victim’s body resembled a guy in his early thirties, who works out every day. Morgan quickly ascertains that he wasn’t even injured in the mugging, in fact according to his knuckles the assailant took the brunt of the beating. However by the time Detective Jo Martinez shows up at the lab, Henry’s determined that the contents of the man’s stomach were what killed him. He can’t identify the liquid, but believes it’s some sort of energy compound. He then produces the victims brain filled with holes, ravaged by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease and dementia according to the medical examiner.
Martinez and Morgan meet with the victim’s son, who’s also amazed at his father’s torso, saying he’d never been that fit as a young man. He told the pair that his father changed two-years earlier, when his mother succumbed to cancer. Ever since his wife died, he started partying with people half his age and lost contact with the family. Martinez asks the son if they have permission to open his father’s briefcase and the young man consents, inside’s about seven grand in cash and a business card that’s logo’s a snake eating its own tail, a sign of eternity according to Henry.
Martinez and Morgan head to where the mugging took place and they follow a well dressed-attractive woman who looks out-of-place in the neighborhood. They follow her to a building with the same symbol on their door as the one on the card and step inside, finding a health clinic that promotes reversing the aging process. As they wait to meet the doctor in charge, Henry goes back in his mind to the year 1906.
Morgan and a friend and colleague are watching a con-artist trying to sell his magic-elixir to the crowd in the busy city square and both doctors are laughing derisively at the fools that believe in miracle cures. They jokingly describe all the cures that the great unwashed masses gladly hand over their hard-earned money for.
Henry returns to the present, when the head of the facility Dr. Gardner introduces himself to the pair. They tell him about the victim and he’s shocked, saying it’s the first report of adverse effects from their drug called Aterna, which gained approval of the FDA. Morgan asks Gardner to explain how the drug works and Gardner compares it to steroids and HGH for athletes, he says the reason that pro sports banned them was because they worked. His clients get a formulation that turns back the clock physically, giving them the physique and energy of somebody half their age. Martinez asks for a sample, but Gardner tells her they’re out of stock with a long customer backlog. She asks for a business card instead and she escorts him to his office.
Morgan sees the woman they followed into the building and says he’s interested in the product but asks her if it really works. She says it’s miraculous and changed her life. Henry then accidentally on purpose bumps into the woman and she drops her packets of Aterna, so Morgan collects them and hands them to her keeping one for himself. Martinez secured Gardner’s fingerprints on the business card and they head to their respective work-places to start digging.
Lucas’ starts to freak out in the morgue, asking another attendant if he knows where a corpse is, the last person documented working on the body was Lucas and it’s the second body that’s come up missing that week. The other attendant, shows little sympathy and walks away.
Henry starts breaking down the compound in his lab and once again flashes back to the start of the 20th century, this time he encounters his friend receiving shock-therapy by holding a live wire in each hand. Morgan, berates his friend for his foolishness, reminding him they’re men of science, when his friend goes into a coughing jag, spitting blood into his handkerchief. Henry quickly realizes and his friend confirms, he’s contracted tuberculosis, telling Morgan that they’re men of science until science no longer works.
Henry bursts into Martinez’s office yelling tuberculosis, then explains what he means when he sees the confused look on her face. He tells the detective that just like TB eats holes in victims lungs, Aterna does the same to its victim’s brains. He’s determined that brain tissue’s used in the compound, that produces the miraculous results but causes the horrific damage. Martinez also discovered that Gardner’s not a doctor and he’s using an alias, he ran a health clinic in Florida where two patients died before it got closed down by the state.
They head to Gardner’s home in the Hampton’s where a party’s going on poolside filled with young beautiful people. They finally track down Gardner and his girlfriend and Martinez says they need to head to her station, when Gardner questions why she starts revealing information. He says he’ll gladly go with him he just wants to get out of his bathing suit and into more formal clothes. As the pair wait for him, they hear a crash upstairs and when they get to Gardner’s bedroom they find him dead, slit in the chest with a temporary scalpel.
Morgan and Martinez head back to the medical examiner’s office and Henry tells Lucas it’s time to fess up about the two missing corpses. (How could Lucas even think Morgan wouldn’t realize what’s going on?) It turns out that a dozen corpses have come up missing throughout the five boroughs in the last year. Henry then tells Lucas to tell him step by step the details of the day the first body turned up missing and soon determines that the ambulance driver Anton’s the guy stealing the bodies and murdered Gardner.
Martinez arrests Anton then questions him on his involvement and he tells her that he’s the creator of Aterna and he and Gardner acted alone. Jo hears a knock on the one-way mirror and Henry tells her to ask him if he used a certain technique, and the former Eastern-European responds he did. Of course Morgan made up the technique proving Anton, didn’t create the compound. Right then a uniformed officer gives Jo a copy of the client list, Morgan looks at it, turns pale and runs out of the office.
Abe’s showing a painting to a couple who look interested in buying, but Morgan bursts in and chases them out. He then asks Abe if he took Aterna as his name appeared on the client list. Abe told him he just went in for a consult and didn’t buy or take anything. Morgan asks him why he would even entertain the idea and Abe responds, that sometimes he worries who’ll look after Henry after he’s gone.
He then tells Morgan that he asked so many questions they brought out the chemist to explain things to him, a very pretty young lady. Henry asks if he can identify her and Abe just responds with a look that says are you truly stupid? They head down to Jo’s station and with the computer programmed suspect sketch application identifies her. She’s the girlfriend of Gardner they met at the party and Anton’s sister.
Abe heads to the subway and sees the woman on the platform, then follows her into the car she gets into. He manages to call the station and speak to Henry, but they get cut off. The woman gets off at Grand Central Station and Henry and Jo find Abe and he points them in the direction the woman went. Henry finds her on the subway platform and she says she got blackmailed into making the compound, or threatened with being deported, she cries she’s sorry and she says she’s responsible for all the deaths. She attempts to step into the pathway of the oncoming subway car, but Morgan rescues her, telling her she’s too young to die.
We head back once again to the early 1900’s and now Henry’s friend’s near death. Morgan’s trying blood transfusions and tells his friend about techniques used in Europe, when his friend tells Henry enough. He’s not giving up, he’s giving in and he wants Henry to take him outdoors. Morgan wheels his friend outside in a wheelchair and his friend looks joyous, telling Henry to look how beautiful everything is.
Henry and Abe walk back to the shop and Morgan says he’s got work to do in the lab, but Abe tells him he needs him to come with him to help him. The last scene shows Abe wearing a helmet, knee and elbow pads on a skateboard, going to attempt his first half-pipe, we see him start and then see Morgan applaud.
The Story Continues Next Tuesday at 10:00pm on ABC