Forever RECAP: Leaping to wild and accurate conclusions (S1:E2)
Voiceover: I’m Dr. Henry Morgan, and I can’t die. Just thought you should know that in case you missed the pilot. Or the advertising. Or previous recap. Basically, in case you just finished watching Dancing With the Stars and forgot to change the channel. Notice that they threw in the naked part. It’s clearly supposed to be a major selling point.
It’s night, and a hysterical loony is screaming at her cell phone and her annoyed taxi driver by turns. As they begin to cross a bridge, the would-be Ophelia suddenly jumps out of the taxi and leaps off the bridge to her watery grave in the East River. That’s an extreme way to avoid paying a fare.
Henry informs us—in hyper-dramatic, maudlin voiceover—that he can tell how a corpse offed itself, but not why. So of course, he will spend the entire episode refuting that by picking out wild, improbable, contrived, and 100% accurate explanations for everything out of the clear blue sky, because he’s just that clever.
For example: There’s a stiff in the morgue with an ax in his forehead. It’s got to be a murder, right? Oh, no, says Henry, as he contacts the Darwin Awards. Clearly this idiotic tub of lard just climbed a ladder with an ax in his teeth and slipped. Henry even knows why the guy climbed the ladder. Case closed! The next of kin will appreciate the amount of time and thought you put into this case.
The jumper, on the other hand… well, she’s a pretty girl, so let’s take this more seriously. A bunch of people did see her jump off the bridge—including the stunned taxi driver, whom I’m surprised Henry never brought in for questioning—so of course, this has to be a murder. She’s got lead paint under her fingernails. What more proof do you need? Detective Jo buys this explanation without question because she’s seen Henry’s wild stories be right every time, but Detective Dawson is skeptical because he’s used to the way things usually work in the real world. Either that, or he’s hella lazy.
The next day, Jo’s boss, Lieutenant Joanna Reece (Jo and Joanna? REALLY?), corners her sternly. According to all the publicity, Reece is a hard-bitten cop who’s seen it all—except the wacky, wacky world of Immortal Naked Sherlock. She knows damned well that hysterics who climb over bridge railings can never possibly be homicide victims, except when the script forces them to be so. However, Jo knows that Henry is always right, because he’s the show lead. Besides, they’ve had a whole one episode of working together, and homicide detectives are known for how quickly they develop blind faith in strangers. Reece decides Jo must be delusional because she’s a grieving widow and orders her to drop the case. Hey, if Henry can pull irrational judgments out of thin air, why can’t she?
Henry freaks out morgue technician Lucas by staring at a preserved eyeball and making small talk about parasitic face mites.
As desperate as Lucas is to make friends, he’d rather talk about anything else—including Reece’s newest ultimatum and the arrival of the jumper’s parents to view the body. Henry hates all the icky emotional stuff, because he’s Immortal Naked Sherlock, but he can’t make his escape. Vicky’s parents have barged in to view her corpse, now adorned with lots of creepy autopsy tattoos to kick up the frenzied grief to an astronomical level. They aren’t buying the suicide story; their perfect little princess would never do that, and somebody must PAY! Can’t you understand, Doctor Sherlock? Haven’t you ever had a kid?
Why, yes, he has, and thanks for asking. The kid’s name is Abe, he looks to be about thirty years older than Henry is, and Henry adopted him because the woman he loved guilted him into it. Abe’s purpose in life is to make dinner for Henry and tell him to give a shit about other people occasionally. He also lies about his age and appearance on dating sites. (Doesn’t everybody?)
Fun Fact: we learn that Abe is an antiques dealer, not a taxi driver.
Inspired by Abe’s words of wisdom, Henry bicycles out to the jumper’s bridge (Abe’s got the car for his hot date) and climbs over the edge to investigate the scene of the crime. While Vicky’s jump caused a huge, terrified outcry, nobody sees or gives a fuck about Henry, because if they did, they’d get in the way and haul him out of there before he can collect the crucial clues and die again. He finds green crap, footprints on the supporting girder, and a carabiner. He’s about to fall! He’s going to die!
Psyche! No peep show here. He scrambles back onto the street! He’s safe! Then, he gets run over by a truck because he meandered into the street like an idiot! Gotta pity the poor driver. “Holy crap, I just killed somebody! Look at the dent in my truck! Wait… where the fuck did the body go? I swear I wasn’t THAT drunk! Who the hell is that naked guy swimming in the river?”
Abe has to leave his date simmering over bananas flambé to pick up Henry, who somehow managed to find a phone, but no clothes. Maybe Henry’s got an “Abe, pick me up” tracking device permanently embedded in his ear.
Back at the lab, Lucas has found a treasure trove of valuable murder evidence under Vicky’s fingernails. Paint chips! (Yeah, that’s old news, Lucas.) Skin particles! Kitty Vicky’s been scratching somebody! Oh, and Henry, somebody left you a present!
Happy Death Day to You,
Happy Death Day to You,
Here’s a reminder from your stalker,
I’m immortal, too.
There’ll be many m-o-o-o-o-o-ore!
Well, hi, Jo. Henry’s a bit panicked at the moment, for no obvious reason. Could she get to get back to him on the whole new evidence thing? No? Well, Henry went out on the bridge’s underside and found footprints. Her turn to be a bit panicked now. Crazy bastard. You know, if she’s any good at detective work at all, she’s got to figure it out eventually, right?
Henry wails plaintively about his stalker to Abe, who’s doing the actual deductive work on this particular problem. Henry’s too freaked out to think. Abe can trace the letterhead from its watermark, because he’s an antiques dealer, not a taxi driver. Got that? NOT A TAXI DRIVER! Jo pops in to buy some vintage glassware—no, actually, she’s found out that Vicky booked a plane flight for Paris. Maybe she jumped when she realized the cost of a ticket on a grad student’s salary? Or…
While investigating Vicky’s university, Henry and Jo discover that Vicky was an R.A., deeply loved because she didn’t give a shit and allowed the other students to smoke pot and smuggle guys with kegs into the dorm at any time of the day or night. Vicky’s parents have mounted a vigil/hunger strike in her dorm room until her killer is caught. They don’t actually know jack shit about her life, except that she was doing a Very Important Paper about some groundbreaking ancient codex with her professor. Henry can tell, from a quick glance at Vicky’s sheets, that she was having an affair with that professor. Of course he can. He promises to solve the murder, and Jo flips out because she’s not supposed to be investigating this at all.
Excuse me, Henry, but did you just make a promise that will get ME fired? Many cases never get solved!
But then, most cases don’t have an M.E. with supernatural powers and a death wish working them.
In another part of the campus, Professor Browning, Classics scholar and student-seducer extraordinaire, is lecturing a small group of awed nerds and bored turds about the earth-shattering importance of his prized scroll. Some grad student named Paul ushers Jo and Henry into the Super Sanitary Codex Room and Browning starts to explain the scroll to Henry, who starts reading it aloud in the original language just to give Jo another reason to gape in worshipful astonishment. Browning and Vicky were all set to publish a paper that would change the world as we know it; she called this scholarly work “The Last of the Latin Lovers.”
They question Browning, who might be called “The Most Recent of the Really Terrible Liars.”
No, I don’t smoke! No, I didn’t have an inappropriate relationship with my star pupil! Yes, I’m crazy about my old, frumpy wife! Yes, I have an alibi! I was at the opera all night! Ask my wife! For God’s sake, ask my wife! I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN! I SURE AS HELL DIDN’T KILL HER IN A FIT OF JEALOUS PASSION! I SWEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for answering questions we didn’t ask, Professor Browning. See you in jail real soon. Henry’s got a skin sample. Be careful what you leave lying around on your desk.
Lucas runs some tests and gives them the news—Browning’s DNA sample does indeed match the skin found under Vicky’s nails. Poor lonely Lucas hopes that means he gets to party with them now, but Henry and Jo don’t hang out with supporting cast members. Except Abe. Abe knows secrets.
Henry drones relentlessly on about the history of New York brownstones until Jo hauls him by the hair in to interrogate Miranda Browning. She’s an even worse liar than her husband.
Yes, James and I were at the opera. Yes, we love Madame Butterfly. Yes, I know it’s about adultery. No, he didn’t stand me up to go screw that little harlot of his. Put my family photos down, you creep! (Cracking) I admit it! He wasn’t there! Oh, my God, they are going to throw me out of the Junior League!
Handcuffed and broken in the police interrogation room, Browning confesses—to loving Vicky. He admits it—he broke up with her. What kind of life can a young girl have with an old, old guy? (Henry nods.) Henry decides that any geezer who loved a young girl too much to let her stick around is A-OK in his book… but what’s with those marks around his wrists? Hey, if there’s more on his back, maybe Vicky’s just a tiger in bed and Henry can clear this guy he just got arrested! Unfortunately, a forced strip-search was not included in the warrant for Browning’s interrogation, so… he’s toast. Your fault, Henry.
It only makes sense that Browning is innocent because he was arrested in the due course of actual police work. Logic and diligence will only lead you to the wrong answer; only Henry’s herculean leaps of wild speculation can be trusted.
So what to do now? Blame it on Abe, of course! If Abe hadn’t encouraged Henry to find out the truth, Henry wouldn’t have screwed up the investigation by fingering the wrong suspect! Abe suggests that Vicky might have dumped Browning, leaving him homicidal with grief. Henry assures Abe that this was a meticulously planned, cold-blooded crime, something his new soul brother Browning could never do, and Abe says…
(Drumroll please…) “Just a few weeks of homicide and already you’re Sherlock Holmes!” TA DA! Get it? Get it? Sherlock Holmes? See? See? Do we have to spell it out for you? Sherlock as overt sex object! Come on, Sherlock fans, gobble this shit up! Who needs Benedict Cumberbatch, anyway?
Oh, and by the way, while Henry was getting a pathetic old adulterer locked up for murder, Watson of the Antique Mall was carrying out his own more accurate investigation. The letter from Henry’s stalker was written on stationary from a Milan paper mill that got torn down after World War II. There’s a crest at the top bearing the seal of the Hotel Montoliogne. (Tracking down the paper mill might be an impressive bit of sleuthing, but really, wasn’t the whole crest thing a much more obvious and important clue here? Especially when it’s the hotel that leads to…)
Flashback alert! Sappy music must play now! The Hotel Montoliogne? Gasp! You mean the hotel Henry and Abigail were staying in when he decided to leave her because a mere mortal woman can’t possibly be happy with an old immortal geezer? You mean the hotel where she ran after him and bitch-slapped him in public for sneaking out on her without a fucking word, leaving her to raise Abe alone in a war-torn world? Wait, what do you mean she made out with him in public instead? And wait… does this mean Stalker Guy was watching the whole thing? My God, is nothing SACRED?????!!!!!!
Suddenly, we are gone from Italy and back in the morgue, where Henry has suddenly decided, for no good reason whatsoever, that Vicky must have been struggling with somebody else on that bridge. Maybe she bit him! (Of course she did.) And, the nasty little cannibal, she’s still got big skin chunks between her teeth!
This regularly scheduled flossing session will be interrupted for a breaking news bulletin. Browning, his life ruined, has committed suicide at his desk back at the university. Well, that’s a lot of bail money down the drain. But a single glance at the suicide note, and Henry knows this was also murder! CCTV cameras have caught Miranda Browning running around the building in drunken despair; was it her? No! That’s just a red herring! Some doofus spelled a Latin word wrong on the suicide note! Browning would never do that! Therefore, the murderer must be a bitter, jealous, left-handed Classics student who would kill to get his name on a major academic publication!
Remember that grad student we mentioned in passing earlier? What’s-his-name… Paul? It’s him! His agent promised him a bigger part in this episode! He wants his own dressing room and his name on all that incredibly important research! Henry waltzes through a couple of top-security entrances—nothing unsettling about that—and babbles some wild speculation with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Paul grabs him in a headlock with intent to slice his throat. Why on earth does Henry look frightened? He dies routinely just to get evidence!
Paul tries to escape down the corridors, x-acto knife still at Henry’s throat, but, of course, CCTV catches them. Paul threatens to kill Henry if Dawson and Jo don’t drop their guns… but Henry helpfully screams Dawson an order to shoot anyway. Is it time for a naked dip in the East River? Psyche! It’s just a scratch! Paul, however, is down. Yay!
Back at police headquarters, Dawson regales everybody with stories about the crazy M.E. who lives dangerously while Reece commends Jo for her blatant insubordination. You can ignore the boss all you like as long as you are right and you wrap the case up in 45 minutes. Henry, having overcome his terror of icky emotional stuff for a minute or two, consoles Vicky’s parents.
Jo sits at her desk and misses her husband while Henry sits at his and misses Abigail. Abe gently tells Henry to suck it up and move on; if he can get over losing Mommy after a couple of decades, so can Henry. But you know who will be with Henry forever? The creepy stalker guy! He just called to say, “I’ve been watching you for at least seventy years! You can call me Adam! I’m 2,000 years old, and I’ll warn you right now… after the first few hundred years, you’ll be as crazy and terrifying as I am! I’ll meet you when I damned well feel like it! Have a nice day!
Series end—I’m calling it, right now: Henry finally meets the stalker and finds out he’s just a lonely, socially inept bungler named Eugene. He’s never actually killed anybody and all he really wants to do is play chess. It would be even funnier if the stalker was Lucas, who keeps trying to befriend Henry and is constantly rebuffed. The stalking turns out to be payback for Henry being a complete prick.
For more Claire Abraham, check out her website – Recapper’s Delight!