New Amsterdam Series Finale Review: A Bittersweet Full Circle Ending UnderwhelmsJasmine Blu at .
And with that, New Amsterdam has concluded after five seasons. Still, it doesn't feel like closure.
With New Amsterdam Season 5 Episode 12 and New Amsterdam Season 5 Episode 13 creating a super-sized series finale, it had some strengths and weaknesses.
Overall, it resulted in a sendoff that didn't stand the test of time.
There were shadows of its former self, invoking a feeling at times that felt as if the series remembered bits of its roots, even if it was a distant memory.
There's no denying that New Amsterdam Season 5 has been rough, and the past two seasons have declined from the series that was so great in its earliest stages.
They tried to recapture some of the magic they once had, but it was too late in many ways, and so much of it felt aimless.
For a series that's been on for half a decade, the double installment didn't give the impression that they had a real plan for how they wanted to wrap up the series, which is why it doesn't feel like the season built up to anything.
If New Amsterdam has taught me anything, it's H-O-P-E. There's no one I'd rather leave this hospital to than you.Max [to Wilder]
Outside of the series' close with an adult Luna Goodwin, the sheer embodiment of her father, following in his footsteps and parroting his signature line, it doesn't feel like the writers had an idea of how they wanted this series to end.
They had that single scene and concept in mind, but everything else was half-baked, miscellaneous filler leading up to "the moment." There was no clear outline for how they wanted to get there, and it showed.
It highlights some of the series' flaws along the way, particularly this season, which is why the finale closed, but the concept of closure was utterly lost.
In many ways, everyone's story ended abruptly and arbitrarily. It's not that a chapter ended for most of them, but more so that we're just getting shut out of their lives now with no more access.
Given that it resorted to a flashforward, an update on what happened to the coveted few at New Amsterdam could have taken that ending to another level.
It's a series that followed the acclaimed This Is Us, a show that masterfully captured its characters through decades and reduced the audience to tears because of it. An attempt at something similar would've been nice.
Where the finale got some things right was in the cases and the heart they brought to them. Those were the moments when it had the vibes of New Amsterdam Season 1.
Iggy's earnest attempts at helping Carla showcased a passion and compassion in Iggy that we hadn't seen in a while. And there was no perfect solution. In the end, despite his forceful attempt to aggressively help and save her life, she had the autonomy and a choice to make.
Doctor: What's your name, son?
Young Max: Maximus Leonard Goodwin.
Doctor: That's a nice name. Think I can call you Max? How can I help?
And, as Iggy and her legal advocate concluded, she'll probably die on the street. There's nothing hopeful or happy about that; it's a realistic ending, and you can appreciate the honesty as sad as it is.
Lauren facing yet another tragedy with the loss of Paul after doing everything to save him was classic New Amsterdam. It worked infinitely better than the ridiculous, self-absorbed nature of her bumming a ride with the EMTs while they were on the clock to make it to an apartment she wanted to rent.
They didn't dive deep into preaching about the black market organ network with Floyd's case with Lilo. They merely introduced the concept, and somehow New Amsterdam'ed it up with Floyd removing the purchased lung from Lilo and informing Diego, in Honduras, that he was giving it back to him.
I'm unsure if lungs can bounce back and forth from bodies, be viable long enough to fly Diego from Honduras to New York to get it back, or how Floyd pulled strings to get this random kid a Visa. But to reverse one of Iggy's most notable quotes many moons ago: it's all about the feelings over the facts here, right?
Iggy: She's going to die in the streets.
Lou: Probably. Land of the free, Iggy. Land of the free.
And the juggernaut of "feel-good" cases was every single doctor and staff member coming together to pour hours of work and millions of dollars worth of equipment, time, and so forth into saving a single, uninsured immigrant mother who fled Ukraine.
When they teased the return of Daniel Dae Kim, we had something more significant in mind than a surgical and gallery scene where he didn't have lines. But at least he showed up, I guess.
When Floyd admitted that only one other doctor had successfully treated HLH, it felt like a setup for Cassian's reintroduction. Even if the sole point was to give the character the closure he never got during the lost ages of COVID.
But he was such a blink-and-you-miss presence, along with Agnes, that they needn't have bothered at all. For a series finale, you'd want them to go all-in, bringing as many people back as possible and doing something with them.
They gave themselves a setup for it with Max's exit from the hospital. It could've opened the door for cameos from previous patients, staff members, or so forth as they expressed gratitude for how Max changed their lives and New Amsterdam.
A simple trip down the hallway past photos of previous staff members would've been nice. A flash of Kapoor on a memorial wall would've been a sweet gesture to acknowledge his memory. But they just... did nothing.
Helen, well, the series would've been wise to leave her be because it would've beaten the alternative. I can't accuse them of being wise on that front, though.
Of all the plot lines they could've come up with for the first part of the finale, there was no real reason they had to revisit that cancer trial. No, but seriously, what was the point of it other than to sling more dirt on Helen Sharpe?
Why did anyone feel compelled to bring up that trial? They didn't even build to it all season or anything. Out of the blue, we learned a three-year-old trial got approved without any mention of it beforehand.
If they've washed their hands of Helen, why bring her up again to keep distorting everything we knew or our feelings about her? Is it that difficult to simply keep her name out of their mouths?
They've spent due time maligning her as a woman, friend, romantic partner, and maternal figure. Their insistence and intentions on browbeating us with how "complicated" she was has been one of the fatal flaws of the season.
Because, again, there's just no real reason for any of it.
Max: Five years ago, I was dying. My cancer treatment wasn't working. I couldn't swallow my own saliva; I couldn't stand without support. I didn't even know if I would see my own daughter be born, but then this place, New Amsterdam, saved me. So it's a great honor and perhaps a fitting legacy to announce today that our partnership with Ithaca pharmaceuticals has won the battle against bulky large cell lymphoma, and we did not just find a treatment; we found a cure.
Karen: To curing cancer!
But then they dredged up a clinical trial (was it the Castro one?) to cloud our perception of Helen as a doctor, too, by concluding that she's unethical. Because heaven forbid, we remember Helen fondly.
During New Amsterdam Season 1, Max decided to try target therapy, and Helen and Georgia begrudgingly agreed. Anyone who recalls New Amsterdam Season 2 knows that Helen was juggling her position as head of oncology, trying to save Max, and assisting in the medical director role.
But she got demoted after saving a patient in a drug den. Helen had to hand her department over to Castro, who she brought in to help treat Max via Valentina's clinical trial of targeted therapy.
An ambitious Castro used Max's illness to take over Helen's department, and she fudged numbers for her study, too. Helen eventually forces Castro out while protecting the interest of Max and the hospital once she learns the truth.
Is that the clinical trial we're supposed to judge her for right now, or is this supposed to be a different one? Because it's puzzling how something that arguably should've been on multiple people's radar suddenly became about Helen's poor ethics in the name of love.
Frankly, I'm tired of expressing my displeasure, frustration, and even hurt and offense over their choices with this character. It's redundant and meaningless now because what's done is done.
I genuinely want to understand the why of it all. Is it necessary? No. Is it kind? No. Has it been canonically consistent? Also, no.
If the series wanted us to move on from Helen, why couldn't they? In hindsight, erasure or death would've been kinder and more tolerable. All of this feels cruel.
The clinical trial fiasco felt incredibly contrived. If the result was to solidify that Max and Wilder are more ethical doctors and compatible, they could've done that without taking this route.
We learn that the clinical trial wasn't in good faith because the participants only included socially and economically sound white people between a specific age range with cancer and excluded all other types of groups.
You cannot greenlight a drug as a cure for cancer without factoring or testing the effects of the said drug on diverse communities. Many different factors can affect a person's reaction to a medication. Drugs can affect people differently depending on their race, lifestyle, etc.
But Big Pharma only thought about the money and how much they could make, so it's a drug that benefited their target demographic in the long run.
The pharmaceutical company representative went from being seemingly acceptable and reasonable to some stereotypical, bottom-line numbers guy with no care for human life in the blink of an eye, which felt tonally off just for the plot.
And Max's naivete as to why "Helen would do this," if that's the narrative we're going with, was laughably bad.
She watched her best friend, who had just lost his wife and had a newborn, a man she loved dying in front of her eyes. She's a woman who has previously told him to his face that everything she ever does is for him. What's to understand about her possible motivations?
People often do anything or can bend their own moral code to save someone they love.
Max: How can Helen do this? She knows that trial diversity is an issue. Of all people, she would've shut this down.
Wilder: Maybe under normal circumstances, yes, yes, but when the trial started, things were different.
Max: Different? How? Medical bias didn't start three years ago.
Wilder: You don't see it?
Max: See what?
Wilder: She did it to save your life.
If Helen was thinking from the perspective of a woman who knew that the hospital needed Max, Luna needed her father, and she didn't want to lose him either, why wouldn't she stack the odds for a chance of ensuring his survival? Of course, that's operating under this being the truth in the first place.
If anything, it was a bit odd that two perpetual rule benders for the greater good such as Max and Wilder, suddenly couldn't understand or approve of "Helen's ethics."
How can we take Wilder's statement about how unyielding she'd be and how she would never have done the same for Max when we've watched her violate ethics at least three times in this same season to save people?
How can we take Max, a man who has lost so many people, seriously when he says he wouldn't do anything to save the people he loves only to move mountains and push boundaries?
Max: You think she did all this for me?
Wilder: When you love someone, you will do anything to protect them. Even this.
Max: Would you?
Wilder: Do this for you? It's unethical. Would you? For me?
Max: It's unethical.
Wilder: Then why do we feel bad?
In all ways, this particular storyline falls to pieces, collapsing in on itself. It's a mess of contradictions and falsehoods cobbled together for a pointless plot that served no purpose other than twisting the dagger in the Helen saga. And it should've just been left on the cutting room floor.
And once again, they used it to draw these lines between her and Wilder as if there must be a constant comparison between the two at all. It's heartbreaking how much of a disservice they've done to both of these women.
Wilder had to spell out to Max what allegedly happened and why. And then she had the fix of carrying the drug under the condition that minority-run schools and more have access to run their own trials, so they could determine if it's truly safe.
Max and Wilder got to fix Helen's alleged unethical, bigoted snafu -- you know, the trial Max referred to as "Whites Only," whose fault got ascribed to one or maybe two WOC.
We've watched Helen as an advocate for injustices for years, and she often had to handhold Max through racial awareness, so this is a bizarre choice. It leaned into the series' knack for "white saviorism" again, and puzzlingly at the expense of a character who isn't even there anymore.
I just want to own a trial that doesn't say "Whites Only."Max
It's certainly a choice and another frustrating, tiresome one. Indeed, some of you hate hearing about it as much as I hate expressing and being gaslit about it, but it's a clusterfuck of poor optics for the umpteenth time. It's precisely why the series should've opted out of whatever the hell this was.
Other than getting used and discarded as a love interest, Wilder got a few wins. She also saved that sweet Ukrainian mother when it seemed like their extensive surgery was all for naught.
Wilder has become her wildest dream and proved those little girls poking fun at her as a child wrong.
The flashbacks to when each character decided to be a doctor were nice, albeit unusual. Why would we get this type of insight about the characters in the series finale and not the series premiere?
Those same flashbacks could've been a game-changer for the series if they placed them in New Amsterdam Season 1.
Wilder: You'll be back. You can't leave this place for good. You can't.
Max: If I come back, it won't be for this hospital.
Wilder: And what makes you think I'll be here waiting for you?
They would've set the characters up, given the writers a frame of reference to work with while they were writing them throughout the series, and the audience one for following the character development of the characters and noting their growth and journey.
Watching his sister dying in that same hospital fundamentally influenced Maximus, yet the kindness of a specific doctor inspired him to become a doctor. Her simple question, "How can I help" resonated with him so deeply that he built his entire life around it.
A scene like that makes you wish they had spent more time rounding Max out, filling in some of his past for us, so we could better understand how he became this type of man.
It definitely would've helped with his character development, which has ironically waned over the years rather than improved. As the lead character, Max never reaches his full potential, which is sad.
Until his last moments, he was still boasting that he was a doctor first, even at Luna's expense, a point of contention for him and many people throughout the series.
We never saw any improvement with that. Max finally realized that some things and some people are more important than New Amsterdam after he had to bail on Luna for the millionth time for work.
One could envision Georgia's frustrated facial expression as poor Luna's heart was broken, and she cried out how much she hated New Amsterdam.
But we never got to see if there was any real change on that front because of the end. Somehow, at some point, Max chose a new job. They never explained how a career in freaking Geneva, Switzerland, even came into play or why he opted to leave New Amsterdam.
And from that moment, because of those words, I knew I was going to be a doctor, and, um, I share this with you now, not just so you can imagine me as an adorable little five-year-old, but because I want you to remember when that moment was for you. When you knew this was your calling because this job can wear you down even on the best days, it takes a toll on your heart. If you find yourself in a tough moment feeling like all is lost, feeling what you do doesn't matter, I want you to remember why you became a doctor in the first plate and let that moment be your north star. I never imagined I would be saying goodbye to this hospital to this incredible group of people, but I think I did what I came here to do, which is to make New Amsterdam a place of hope for those who need it most and now the time has come for new challenges.Adult Max
But he saw moving Luna to a new country for another job opportunity for the second time as the right decision, but we never know what the job entails and if it will allow him to be something beyond a work-obsessed dad. Maybe he chose this new job for Luna, but it feels too little too late and underwhelming without expanding on it.
Even the flashforward to Luna essentially has her absolving her father of his most significant, consistent flaw they build the entire series around, so it never feels like he learned anything or grew.
And they double down on Max's role as our heroic Gary Stu of a protagonist by making Luna in his exact image for a full circle final scene that felt predictable enough with its shades of ER.
We learn that the new medical director at New Amsterdam is Luna Goodwin. She has all of Max's lovable, goofball quirkiness, personality, endearing awkwardness, passion, and drive.
She's the go-getter who likely will run the hospital the same way her father had, with kindness and chaos. Her first locker room scene with the staff, speaking to them in their language, mirrors that of Max's.
And she gives her "How can I help" speech to rally and inspire in the same space he did many years before, with the same tone. It's saccharine; there's a fond but distant nostalgia. She's sharing the story of that massive surgery that day because it's when she knew she wanted to be a doctor just like her dad.
It's a safe, predictable ending and a quick, easy way of eliciting "Feels." It works well enough and could've been worse.
It leaves some vague questions. What if an older Max sat in the audience or the doorway after Luna gave her speech? After all, he told Wilder that if he ever returned to New Amsterdam, it would be for someone he loved. It could've been for Luna's first day.
Hi, I grew up at New Amsterdam. My mother died at this hospital. My father spent every waking second here, breaking the system so he could make it bigger and stronger than before. Doing whatever he could to help his patients. I remember my father's last day as medical director. He was supposed to take me to this mermaid parade, a special day with my dad, but then he got called in to help with this impossible surgery. I was so mad. I thought this place had taken my father away from me yet again. But then, over the course of the day, I saw how hard he worked to save one life. I saw how hard everyone worked. And that's when I realized that New Amsterdam didn't take my father away from me. This hospital gave me my father, showed me who he was -- who I could be, and that's the day I realized I wanted to be just like him. It's the day I knew I wanted to be a doctor. So I wanted to start by asking all of you the same thing my father asked his staff every hour of every single day. How can I help?Adult Luna
We don't get any indication if Max is alive, nor do we know what the rest of his story was like or if he ever returned to New Amsterdam. The ladies in the locker room said that Luna would never live up to the last medical director, but was Wilder still there at some point?
Max made it a point of leaving her New Amsterdam and passing the keys to her, implying that she was the new him, which is how it would be anyway when he left for London. He makes good on that promise in that way, and it resets their relationship. New Amsterdam is in good hands.
Wouldn't it have been nice to know if any others were still working at the hospital or if they had moved on by then or retired? What if someone passed away?
Little references of the other characters building to the revelation that the girl was Luna would've been nice. Intercutting her speech with flashes of faces or something would've milked the moment for what it was worth.
We learned that Lauren wasn't inspired to become a doctor until she was helpless and unable to assist an unhoused man who died in front of her. She went from a job in the stock market to becoming a doctor, presumably with the money she made in that previous occupation.
It suits Lauren, and it's one of those things that would've been an excellent reference for her character if we had known it sooner.
The self-absorbed and ridiculous nature of the ambulance situation aside, it was nice to have her paired with Casey. And her happy ending came in the form of Vanessa joining her at an NA meeting, choosing a place, and getting to start from scratch.
It meant she had control over every little thing. She could build the home she never had and make it hers. It was a fresh start for Lauren, a new page in her book. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it works well enough.
Her story ends with her single, but her sister is getting sober, and she's learning to be on her own and create a life for herself outside of the hospital on her own terms.
Floyd's flashback was illuminating, too. If we had that same flashback in New Amsterdam Season 1 Episode 1, perhaps the messy controversy around why he would want to settle down with a Black woman would've landed ... better, more appreciation and admiration and less obligation.
If young Floyd craved stability and this idealistic version of a Black family, it would make sense why he'd chase after that specifically and why that became a fixation point for him.
Young Floyd showing off his dexterity by fixing the plate Horace broke after seeing his mother cry was very insightful and gave us a better idea of Floyd in one brief scene than they've given us in years.
They struggled so much with this character over the series. I only wish they knew how to build off that young boy and how he became the man we know now.
His final scene with his strong, united family and girlfriend seemed to be what he's always wanted. We didn't get a marriage, don't have any resolution with the kid he has on the other side of the country with the married couple, and nothing came to fruition over his apparent interest when Gabrielle mentioned Tanzania.
Initially, it seemed like he would go with her on the trip. He'd be into doing it since he's become so devoted to her and can't imagine his life without her.
Floyd was the badass surgeon, Max's trusted guy, and this man who found happiness with this new woman and his family, but it also felt very shallow and incomplete.
Young Iggy: Why are you telling me this?
Iggy's Brother: I don't know, freak, I'm just making conversation.
Young Iggy: No, it's not. You, mom, dad, everybody always talks at me. It's always weird, private grownup stuff that they never share with anyone else, but why does everyone think they can just dump their crap on me? They act like I'm invisible.
Iggy's Brother: Listen, you're the opposite of invisible, Iggy. You're like a rock, or a mountain, or something. You don't judge. You just listen. And I don't know why, but you being here listening, it just kind of makes things better.
Iggy's story felt rushed.
His flashback suited him, and it certainly makes sense how he got into the field when everyone in his family consistently lacked boundaries and confided in him about adult things despite his being a child.
It's the type of thing that would've been cool to dig into further and with more detail throughout the series. If so much of Iggy's life, even in his fundamental years, was based on other people, it makes sense that he's been so aimless for so long and needed time to figure out himself.
His connection to Dimi was sweet and turned out to be effective. It was a lovely moment when Dimi spoke to his mother for the first time in a year.
Iggy's pushy nature with Martin, pretending everything was new, felt like overkill, but Martin eventually submitted to it too. And they both discussed how scary and important it was that things worked out this time.
Next thing you know, they have remarried again. It felt like a happy ending for the sake of it.
But since they left an open door for Max and Wilder to play it safe after all that craziness and contrived writing to get to them, Lauren ended up single, and Floyd with Gabrielle -- it was probably a conscious thought to have at least one original pairing make it in the end.
After everything they did to dismantle Max and Helen and set up Max and Elizabeth, they didn't even bother to make them official. In hindsight, it feels like they wasted precious time for both Elizabeth and Max in the final season for a rushed romance that never takes flight, which is a pity.
It genuinely sucks that Wilder, the crown jewel of New Amsterdam Season 4, got reduced to a love interest in such a poor way, only to see that it didn't even lead anywhere in the end.
What was the point of all of this, then? There were better ways to have Max grow or learn to put his family first without the redundancy of a love story.
There were so many other ways they could've utilized Elizabeth this season.
Overall, the finale was a lackluster sendoff. It wasn't the worst thing ever. There have certainly been some awful installments this season.
I hate New Amsterdam!Luna
It wasn't particularly great or memorable, either. It quietly faded away, ending with some fizzle, perfunctory, much like the series itself.
I likely won't remember this finale a year from now, nor the characters I once loved, which is unfortunate. It's a far cry from the series' origins.
- Sweet Luna was a whole mood during this episode. I hope she got to attend at least one mermaid parade as a child.
- Do you think the song choice of Ludovico Einaudi's Experience was intentional during that surgery montage? It's such an evocative number. It's a song that got used in the Sense8 finale.
- The musical director/team of New Amsterdam will always be among my favorite people because the series has had a perfect, fitting playlist. You can never take that away from New Amsterdam.
- Seriously, when did Max get a job offer in Geneva? We missed something huge, and they were so casual about that happening offscreen.
- I know how much they like to make Lauren the badass at the expense of everyone around her, but it felt like Casey, the veteran medic, would be the one to make a makeshift retractor.
- Max and Wilder making out all over the hospital was very Grey's Anatomy. Ben's reaction to catching them was priceless.
- Adult Luna, following her father's footsteps as the next generation of New Amsterdam's finest, also feels very Grey's Anatomy, especially given the popular theory of the series ending similarly someday.
- Ben was one of the best things about this season. Also, it's still crazy that no one else bothered to learn ASL so he wouldn't have to struggle to sign medical jargon Floyd and Lauren couldn't even spell.
- Would their respective endings have landed better if the personal arcs were more cohesive and consistent? I genuinely hate that I felt no strong emotions about any of the characters or their endings.
- It was great casting for adult Luna. She embodied Max's personality while having a physical similarity and grace to Georgia.
- We missed out; there was a lack of an old-fashion montage of all the good times and characters over the years. It just felt like something this show would've done, and it would've pulled at the heartstrings and acknowledged all the familiar faces, big and small.
While the series lost some things along the way, I will miss the emotions and the theme of hope, kindness, community, and helping each other.
It was such an important message to share with the world. For nostalgia (or amusement), check out this old slideshow of why we loved New Amsterdam so much many moons ago.
For the final time, over to you 'Dam Fanatics. How did you feel about the series finale? Are you content with where they left things for the characters? What are your thoughts on the Luna ending?
Sound off below!
If you want to relive this series all over again or bask in your favorite moments, you can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on Twitter.