Forever RECAP: The Fountain of Youth only exists in your mind... er, brain (S1:E3)

forever 3 subway

FADE IN:

INT. ABC TELEVISION HQ

Inside the head production room at ABC television, various ABC suits and Warner Bros. TV producers have gathered for an emergency meeting. As usual, names have been changed to protect the guilty.

MR. TREND:
Thank you all for coming today. You all know why we are here. Just weeks ago, we met to launch our new monster hit, Forever. Well, we are here again to adjust our strategy…

MS. TRUTH:
Because Forever is a big old snoozing bomb?

MR. TROPE:
Well, it’s not doing as well as we hoped…

MS. TRUTH:
It’s on life-support, at best.

MR. TROPE:
But it can’t be on life-support! The main character can’t die!

MS. TWIST:
The show will last as long as he lives!

MS. TRUTH:
I think Doctor Morgan might find the solution to his quest for mortality soon, then.

MR. TREND:
Would you please stop bickering and roll the tape? We need to figure out why people aren’t watching this.

MS. TWIST:
Maybe he’s not naked often enough.

MR. TREND:
So, what do we have here, this week?

MR. TROPE:
Opening monologue…

MR. TREND:
I’m Henry Morgan, blah blah blah, student of death, blah blah blah, same old gunshot, comes back in water naked, blah blah blah. Well, there’s your first problem! The first thirty seconds of every episode is a rerun! Don’t you have any idea how short the average American’s attention span is?

MS. TWIST:
But we have to start out like that every time!

MR. TREND:
Because…

MS. TRUTH:
Very few people watch this drek twice.

MR. TROPE:
First scene, Abe’s closing the antique store.

MR. TREND:
Wait, what happened to his taxi?

MS. TWIST:
No taxi.

MR. TREND:
I thought he had a taxi.

MS. TRUTH:
He never had a taxi. Judd Hirsch just drove a car and people made assumptions.

MR. TREND:
I miss the taxi.

MR. TROPE:
Yeah, and Abe misses being young. There’s this kid doing tricks with his skateboard, and Abe wishes he could do that, too.

MR. TREND:
Why can’t he?

MS. TWIST:
Because he’s an old guy, and Henry says he’d break a hip.

MR. TREND:
So? When Abe was a little boy riding a bike, he broke his teeth a lot, and Henry didn’t stop him then.

MS. TRUTH:
This young, sexy guy is discussing the old guy’s childhood? As his dad? You lost your audience when you messed with their heads. American audiences are really easily confused.

MR. TROPE:
So is Abe. Henry’s been studying his weird immortality condition, and he thinks he’s made a breakthrough! He thinks he’s figured out how to die!

MS. TWIST:
But Abe was hoping he’d figured out how to pass on the immortality!

MS. TRUTH:
Well, yeah, because most people would kill for Henry’s situation. Eternal life and eternal youth? This is Henry’s curse? Maybe people aren’t watching because the main character is a morbid, self-pitying idiot who doesn’t know when he’s got it good.

MR. TREND:
What’s that blackboard?

MR. TROPE:
Henry’s charted out every single time he’s died.

MS. TRUTH:
That many times in just 200 years?! What does this asshole do, jump off a building every time he feels like going swimming? I’ve had goldfish who die less quickly than Henry.

MR. TROPE:
Well, immortality has made him a bit… careless.

MS. TWIST:
Maybe he just checks to see if it still works.

MR. TROPE:
Anyway, here’s where Henry tells Abe that he wants to grow old.

MS. TRUTH:
And here’s where Abe ought to deck him for being an ungrateful little shit. Abe is old and wants youth. Henry is young and wants arthritis. Maybe they should trade?

MR. TREND:
Maybe for sweeps week, if the ratings don’t improve.

MS. TWIST:
Well, there’s that skateboard kid again, but it’s night now. See the incredibly clever segue into the scene of the crime?

MR. TREND:
Who’s that old guy, and what’s in his briefcase?

MS. TWIST:
His pension fund. Uh, oh! Mugger!

MR. TROPE:
Heh heh! Watch old grandpa run that kid down!

Mrs. Truth:
And… grandpa beats the everliving shit out of him? Nope, not buying it. Oh, look, heart attack. Well, that makes more sense now.

MR. TREND:
Geezer croaks, kid gets the briefcase after all.

MR. TROPE:
But here’s Henry in the morgue, examining that old geezer.

MS. TRUTH:
And there’s that tech, Lucas, trying to make small talk, but Henry shuts him down. So basically, our hero is a rude jackass. Why do you all think people want to watch this?

MS. TWIST:
Because Henry is so brilliant! One look at the guy, and he can tell he used to be married and that he beat up the mugger, not the other way around!

MS. TRUTH:
People can watch Sherlock or Elementary for that.

MS. TWIST:
But look what happens when they cut open Grandpa’s shirt! MUSCLES! He’s ripped like a bodybuilder! The game is afoot!

MR. TROPE:
Because you can’t tell how old a guy is just by looking at him! Snerk. Ha ha! Get it? You can’t tell how old Grandpa is? You can’t tell how old Henry…

MS. TRUTH:
Ha ha drop it. Why is Lucas suddenly desperately searching for misplaced corpses? Wasn’t he just talking to Henry?

MS. TWIST:
Oh, that was a commercial break and a full autopsy ago! Keep your eye on that sinister guy with the gurney, Anton. Now it’s really getting good!

MS. TRUTH:
Really getting stupid. The missing corpse is on Anton’s gurney, isn’t it? And frantic Lucas doesn’t bother to check?

MR. TROPE:
Lucas would never dream of suspecting Anton! Anton gave Lucas a donut!

MS. TRUTH:
Remind me not to send my loved ones to that morgue.

MR. TROPE:
Jo comes in. Grandpa fucked up the mugger so bad he tried to go to the emergency room, so she’s got the perp AND the briefcase.

MR. TREND:
But the mugger didn’t kill Grandpa. He had a heart attack?

MS. TWIST:
No! Look! Henry shows Jo the guy’s brain!

MS. TRUTH:
No, Henry shoves the guy’s brain in Jo’s face and grosses her the fuck out. Nice.

MS. TWIST:
The man is sixty-seven, his body is thirty, and his brain is 100! And he’s got a yummy vanilla bile milkshake in his stomach, also on full display! That’s what killed him!

MS. TRUTH:
Remind me not to watch this after dinner.

MR. TROPE:
So the old guy’s son comes in…

Ms. Trend:
… and all he can do is bitch about how much the old man changed after his wife died. Junior doesn’t seem to approve of the new exercise regime. No, he liked his dad slow and flabby!

MS. TRUTH:
So the message is, forget about staying fit after 50, because healthy old people are creepy and wrong?

MS. TWIST:
They open the briefcase, and they find a picture of his wife, about seven grand, and a business card for somebody selling health tonic.

MS. TRUTH:
Let me guess. That’s the killer milkshake. Come to think of it, I think I saw that on an infomercial once…

MS. TWIST:
And here’s Henry and Jo checking out the crime scene again!

MS. TRUTH:
Why doesn’t he watch where he’s going in the middle of the street? That car almost hit him!

MR. TREND:
Maybe he felt like skinny-dipping.

MS. TRUTH:
Did he think Jo would go skinny-dipping with him? Wait, who’s that lady?

MS. TWIST:
She’s rich and she’s got on high heeled shoes! She’s GOT to be going someplace suspicious! They follow her!

MS. TRUTH:
But… couldn’t they just have gone to the address on the business card? Why did they have to stalk a lady who wasn’t committing any kind of crime at all?

MS. TWIST:
Because logic is boring!

MS. TRUTH:
So is this show.

MR. TROPE:
So they just happen to pass by the tiny, unmarked door where they sell the health tonic…

MS. TRUTH:
But they’ve got a business card, and they are stalking the lady? And they still found the place by accident?

MS. TWIST:
Isn’t this a gorgeous set on the inside?

MS. TRUTH:
Huge, pristine, dazzling white, with a gorgeous view, in the middle of a New York slum. Just a hole in the wall. Right.

MR. TREND:
Oh, look! They DO have an infomercial on that huge, flat-screen TV! Youth. Vitality. Vigor. Welcome to Aterna!

MS. TRUTH:
That guy looks like a used car salesman.

MR. TREND:
And the toxic tonic salesman, Doctor Gardner, is suddenly showing them the place. You too can have the body of an athlete instantly! Act now to get our Senior Citizen rate of only $7,000 dollars a week! You’ll use up your life savings in a few of months—but that’s OK, because you’ll probably keel over before the money runs out.

MR. TROPE:
Spend fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse!

MS. TRUTH:
I think we finally found out what really happened to Dick Clark.

MS. TWIST:
Jo asks for a sample to take back for analysis…

MR. TROPE:
Gardner says there’s a waiting list…

MS. TWIST:
Because it turns out Jo can’t get it free for official police work, because she didn’t get a warrant!

MS. TRUTH:
AGAIN???!!! The NYPD is going to start sending us complaints, I swear.

MR. TREND:
And when Gardner steps away from them, Henry makes rude comments about all of Gardner’s plastic surgery. That’ll show him, Doc.

MS. TRUTH:
You can afford to get all high and mighty about the vanity of others when you are doomed to look like Ioan Gruffudd for eternity.

MS. TWIST:
But here’s how clever Henry is. He finds that lady they were stalking, figures out in three seconds that her husband divorced her for a younger woman, and ever-so-smoothly and charmingly trips her so she spills her purse. Then, when he gallantly, apologetically and flirtatiously helps her pick up her stuff…

MS. TRUTH:
He steals a sample from her. So she’s out several hundred dollars worth of merchandise she bought legally because Jo can’t do her job right. Such ethical paragons, both of them.

MR. TROPE:
Oh, he was just relieving her of a deadly dangerous poison, remember? Henry’s been dealing with snake-oil salesmen since 1906. Flashback!

MS. TRUTH:
Let me guess, he drank an old-time elixir and it killed him?

MS. TWIST:
Nope! He doesn’t die at all this episode! We thought maybe the Henry-killing was becoming overkill. He’s just afraid the elixir might keep the sick from getting real treatments, like lobotomies and leeches.

MR. TROPE:
Anyway, back at home, Abe is acting just a little bit too hopeful and excited about that Aterna stuff. And there’s a free sample, right there! Henry tells him it kills its patients. Will Abe listen?

MS. TWIST:
And Lucas keeps losing corpses! Anton keeps giving him donuts! Will Lucas get fired?

MR. TROPE:
Meanwhile, Henry’s found out what’s wrong with Aterna. Gardner’s been using cheap ingredients. You know how a recipe calls for heavy cream and you try to use soy milk instead? It’s just not the same. Of course, the soy milk won’t actually kill you. And Jo found out that Doctor Gardner really is just Harold Price, used car salesman turned quack, with a history of killing his patients by accident.

MS. TRUTH:
Maybe they should go get that warrant now.

MS. TWIST:
And they’ll take it to Price’s mansion in the Hamptons. He’s got a bunch of beautiful girls partying poolside…

MS. TRUTH:
How come this stuff makes women’s faces look young, but not Grandpa’s?

MR. TROPE:
And Henry explains, in very mathematical and clinical terms, why Jo has a symmetrical face and is therefore attractive.

MS. TRUTH:
Is this how he puts the moves on her?

MR. TROPE:
Oh, we don’t think they should be a couple until very late in the series run.

MS. TRUTH:
Better hurry it up, then.

MR. TROPE:
Price is soaking up the party atmosphere with a knockout Russian girl at his side. He’s a little miffed; who invited these two? And why didn’t they bring their swimsuits? And why are they taking him in for questioning when they just got to the pool party? Drinks are on him! All the free Aterna you can guzzle; just inform your next of kin.

MS. TRUTH:
Why does the Russian hottie look so worried?

MR. TROPE:
Because Henry’s little friend from the Aterna office is stumbling around like she’s drunk, and suddenly Price is dead on the floor.

MR. TREND:
Aterna poisoning?

MS. TWIST:
Nope! He was stabbed! With a scalpel. A real doctor did this.

MR. TROPE:
But his brain was turning to Aterna-fueled mush. He’d have died anyway.

MS. TWIST:
Flashback! Henry had a friend who took electromagnetic shocks to cure his tuberculosis!

MS. TRUTH:
Ah. Aterna, circa 1906. I bet that went well.

MS. TWIST:
And that’s how he knows what’s killing the Aterna patients!

MS. TRUTH:
Tuberculosis? Or the hidden electroshock treatment they haven’t mentioned yet?

MR. TROPE:
Tuberculosis is a prion disease! And Price, or somebody, was slipping prions into Aterna! And the prions come from…

MS. TWIST:
Bra-a-a-a-a-ins! They were drinking human brains!

MS. TRUTH:
So that’s why they are all zombies.

MR. TROPE:
See all the painstaking research we did to make this sound plausible?

MS. TRUTH:
Try harder.

MR. TREND:
So where would they get the bra-a-a-a-ins?

MS. TWIST:
From stolen corpses!

MR. TREND:
Ah, so that’s where poor old Lucas comes in. Does he still have a job at this point?

MR. TROPE:
And Henry finally wants to know about Lucas’ life! It’s his lucky day!

MS. TWIST:
He’s been eating donuts!

MR. TROPE:
But where could he possibly have gotten the donuts?

MS. TRUTH:
Who gives a shit? Are they laced with Aterna, too?

Trope:
No, but that’s how they know that Anton stole the corpses!

MS. TRUTH:
Wait… what? They know Anton’s stealing bodies because Lucas had a donut? Shouldn’t they be questioning Anton because he had access to the bodies, period? Shouldn’t this have been a routine investigation as soon as the thefts began? Why does it have to be about donuts? Everybody eats donuts.

MS. TWIST:
But they find brainless corpses in Anton’s ambulance!

MR. TREND:
And he was covering this up… HOW????

MS. TRUTH:
This NYPD coroner’s office is almost as competent as the folks screening for Ebola patients at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

MR. TREND:
So here’s Anton, confessing to making the Aterna. Case closed. But… there’s fifteen minutes left.

MS. TWIST:
But here comes Henry! Here to save the day!

MS. TRUTH:
Here to make this mess even more convoluted and less believable.

MR. TROPE:
Henry wants Jo to ask Anton if he used the Robowski method.

MR. TREND:
Is that a thing?

MR. TROPE:
Nope. So when Anton says yes…

MS. TWIST:
That means he’s in the clear! About the Aterna thing. He’s still a corpse-robbing murderer.

MS. TRUTH:
That was a yes-or-no question. Didn’t Anton have a 50-50 shot at fooling them?

MR. TROPE:
Never mind that! Suddenly there’s a list of all the Aterna patients… and Abe is on it!

MS. TWIST:
Dun–dun–DUN!!!

MR. TROPE:
But don’t worry. Abe just got on the mailing list by accident. You know how that goes. One little slip, and you get junk mail forever.

MS. TWIST:
He did ask about it, but it wasn’t because he wanted to skateboard, or date pretty young women, or get a fake six-pack. He was just afraid of what would happen to Henry if he died.

MR. TROPE:
Because in this relationship, Abe is the old, thoughtful mentor with all the wise advice and good decisions and deep life experiences…

MR. TREND:
…even though he’s Henry’s son and a hundred years younger. Explain again how immortality made Henry such a pedantic know-it-all without gaining a lick of common sense?

MS. TRUTH:
Extra doses of angst and self-pity.

MR. TREND:
Maybe it’s time for Henry to adopt another orphan. Past time.

MS. TWIST:
Maybe some time we’ll invent a long-lost son or daughter for Abe, so they can come back just to take care of Crazy Immortal Grandpa.

MR. TROPE:
Abe didn’t buy the Aterna—since he’s just an antiques dealer, he probably couldn’t afford it—but he did cross-examine the beautiful young chemist on staff.

MS. TRUTH:
Let me guess. She’s got a Russian accent.

MR. TROPE:
Bingo!

MS. TRUTH:
So in this script, you can tell the bad guys because they are Russian. How Cold War of you.

MR. TROPE:
Sasha Savchenko, Ukrainian chemist! Anton’s little sister. He took the blame for her. How noble!

MS. TRUTH:
But he murdered Price, the patsy who might have taken the blame for them both? How stupid!

MR. TROPE:
Nah, Jo was already on to Price as the salesman and not the brains of the operation. But now Sasha can get away!

MS. TWIST:
Except—get this—she just happens to choose the same subway platform as Abe at exactly the same time.

MR. TREND:
What are the odds?

MS. TRUTH:
In Contrived TV Land? 100%. Wait, I thought Abe had a car? Why would he…?

MS. TWIST:
Because this is a more interesting chase scene? Everybody chases down people in cars! Abe’s using the subway!

MR. TROPE:
And scaring Henry half out of his wits. So Henry and Jo are chasing Abe, while Abe is following Sasha! See how innovative this is?

MS. TRUTH:
Of course, Abe doesn’t have a warrant, either… or a license to do police work, or training of any kind…

MR. TREND:
Like father, like son.

MS. TRUTH:
At some point, Sasha’s got to realize this weird old guy is staring at her.

MR. TROPE:
She does, but hey, there’s a lot of creepy people on the New York subway. When Sasha gets out, Abe tries to get a police officer to arrest her, but…

MS. TRUTH:
His story is too stupid to be believed, right?

MR. TREND:
Thank god Jo and Henry show up at just the right platform! How did they know where to go?

MS. TWIST:
Because Abe told them!

Mr. Truth:
So why do they have the officer arrest Abe?

MR. TREND:
Apparently because they are ungrateful assholes.

MS. TWIST:
Who just want to keep him safe!

MR. TROPE:
So when Henry catches up to Sasha, she tries to jump in front of a train, and Henry saves her because, get this, she’s too young to die.

MS. TRUTH:
Imagine what she’s got to look forward to. No medical license, no credibility, no family, no money, but lots and lots of prison time, guilt and regret. And yet here’s Henry, lecturing Jo because she spends every day working and mourning. Clearly, quality of life is more important for some people than others.

MR. TREND:
What happened to Henry’s friend? The one with tuberculosis?

MS. TWIST:
He gave up treatment so he could go outside and die in the sun. Oh, and Abe goes skateboarding.

MS. TRUTH:
OK, here’s why this show is failing. Derivative premise: we don’t need any more Sherlocks. Annoying main character: pities himself because he gets to be young and handsome forever. Irritatingly cutesy father/son dynamic: more confusing than innovative. Incompetent sidekick cop. Contrived crimes. Impossibly lucky solutions. Why is it still on the air?

MR. TREND:
Because everything else we have to offer is worse.

Secretary pokes her head through the door.

SECRETARY:
Delivery from McDonald’s. Did somebody order a vanilla milkshake?

MS. TRUTH:
Never mind. I’m not hungry anymore.

Previous episodes:

FOREVER RECAP: Leaping to Wild and Accurate Conclusions (S1:E2)

FOREVER RECAP: Cliches Never Die (S1:E1)

For more Claire Abraham, check out her website – Recapper’s Delight!

TV Show: Forever

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