Episode 101 “Pilot”
Forever, having a few aspects of the science fiction genre, is a like a more morbid CSI series joined with some of the stupid, loveable, sappy elements of a sitcom.
The main character, Frank Morgan, works as a medical examiner in New York, and he spends much of this first episode going over the negative aspects of immortality. Right, also, Morgan is immortal. He can’t die, intentionally or otherwise. Not permanently, anyway. Whenever Morgan dies, he wakes up naked at the bottom of a body of water. He’s existed this way for 200 years, and since he was shot on a slave ship and tossed into the sea, he’s been fighting in wars and roaming the Earth — you know, doing immortal being things in general.
The plot for this episode involves Morgan being spotted on camera walking through the doors of a subway car, making him a suspect to the derailing of the subway itself and the murders of exactly 15 people. Morgan, however, as we know, died on the train along with the other passengers, and was just as surprised as we were when it crashed. He wakes up, swims to shore, and thanks to indecent exposure, catches a ride with the police and spends the night in jail. The rest of the episode continues how you would expect a CSI to (with periodic immortality-isn’t-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be segments): Morgan goes to work, searches the body of the driver of the same train he was killed on for a cause of death, and finds a site of injection behind the driver’s ear.
Morgan then points out that the bruising around this injection site meant that the train driver was alive when injected, and theorizes that the public transport official was killed by a substance known as aconite, (also called monkshood) but because testing what substance it was in the police lab would take just far too long, Morgan uses his better judgement and decides to inject himself with a sample. He lays down in his basement, filled with notes on death and has Judd Hirsch keep him company as he dies writhing in agony. Hirsch plays Abe, whom, as a baby, was saved from a concentration camp by Morgan and a woman whom we know he later married. Abe, being the only one who knows of Morgan’s immortality, (Morgan’s been hanged for heresy and dissected a few times, so publicity in this world =/= positive) drives him home.
The Detective on the case, Jo Martinez, brings Morgan in for questioning after seeing him get on board the train on the surveillance footage, but this scene is resolved once Morgan brings up the fact that he suspected that the case was a murder to begin with.
Morgan presses the case that the toxin used was aconite, and joins in the field investigation when a fingerprint is found on the train driver belonging to a Hans Koehler. In true CSI fashion, they sprinkle for evidence around the home of the suspect, and once Morgan spots monkshood growing in a greenhouse on his property, the sprinkle turns to a storm, and Morgan forgets all of the suspect’s rights. He breaks into his shed, discovers his aconite brewery and cryptic plans to gas Grand Central Station. Cue suspect: Hans Koehler.
He appears to not know what our team wants before showing his true colors once he sees he has no chance, throwing a jar at Jo. The jar breaks on her hand, which, with Morgan absent, would have been a death sentence. Morgan spots her wound immediately, and searches for Ethanol, pouring it over her hand, setting her on fire, and saving her life from the deadly toxin from the jar. Koehler and his pressure cooker full of aconite get away, however. Morgan decrypts the cryptic message and drags Jo along with him to Grand Central Station, where his spidey senses tingle and tell him that the air vents are the key to finding their would-be-mass-murderer. They rush to the rooftop, where both of them are shot, but Morgan manages to tackle Koehler off of the roof with his remaining strength. Jo survives, but Morgan dies, and as is in his nature, his body disappears and he’s reborn at the bottom of a body of water.
Jo tries to make sense out of seeing him from her hospital bed the next morning, but Morgan insists Koehler must have slipped. Jo smells the fishy, but doesn’t press it to him. Morgan is taken from the scene by a mysterious call.
This brings us to a sleeper character: the mysterious caller. This is a man who has apparently been watching Henry Morgan and knows of his condition. He calls claiming to have the same condition, and claiming to yearn for death, “just like (Morgan).” The caller, all things considered, promises to become a prevalent plot device. The writers greet him with spooky music and Morgan going wide-eyed, implying he’ll be a kind of looming antagonist. He calls Morgan while he’s in the hospital and implies that he knows about his spill off of the rooftop of Grand Central Station, and insists on being as mysterious and as creepy as possible.
All-in-all, the show is what you’d expect from an ABC deductive genius-type show. When it isn’t trying too hard to be Sherlock/Monk/(other show featuring a man in detective shoes) it’s actually quite watchable. Henry Morgan himself is very cynical of his own condition, and the show itself might be quirky enough it just might work.
What’s your take on it? Is this a clear example of a cookie from the Sherlock cutter, or does it have the genome to become something new and exciting? Let us know what you think.