New Amsterdam Director Breaks Down The 'Complexity' And 'Vulnerability' Of Max And Fuentes After Latest Confrontations

New Amsterdam Fuentes and Max
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for the May 9 episode of New Amsterdam, called “Truth Be Told.”

New Amsterdam aired a new episode on a special night with “Truth Be Told,” and it delivered some game-changing confrontations between none other than Max and Fuentes. Ryan Eggold and Michelle Forbes’ characters have gone back and forth with each other over the course of Season 4, but Max’s big swing that seemed like a sure thing to take her down ultimately didn’t work. Jean Lee, who directed the episode, broke down their two confrontations from “Truth Be Told.”

Korean-American writer/director Jean Lee came to New Amsterdam from NBCU’s Female Forward program that strives to create gender parity in scripted TV directing, and she helmed “Truth Be Told” (which you can rewatch with a Peacock subscription) after shadowing some different directors on the medical drama. With New Amsterdam quickly approaching its Season 4 finale, her episode saw Max prove that Fuentes was guilty of criminal negligence, and he put the wheels in motion on a raid that shook Fuentes enough that she showed fear and a willingness to resign for the first time. 

When Lee spoke with CinemaBlend, she broke down the direction for Ryan Eggold and Michelle Forbes in the Max/Fuentes hallway confrontation:

First of all, Ryan and Michelle are incredibly intelligent human beings and seasoned pros. I'm so inspired by working with them because they have such a deep understanding of not only their characters, but obviously acting and performance. So that was really cool. Then finding the different shades for Veronica Fuentes' character was nice. She is sort of the antagonist to Max, right? That has been brewing for a long time. Then finally, seeing some cracks in that hard shell was actually really nice because it definitely adds a layer of complexity for the audience to see that. That was a really fun and interesting scene to shoot. Michelle and Ryan were so open.

New Amsterdam explored some different sides of Veronica Fuentes earlier in Season 4, but mostly via flashback. In the present, she has been the most formidable foe that Max has faced over the four seasons of the series, so Max finally getting a win over her and her feeling what it’s like to not have the power felt like it was a long time coming. According to the director, the actors really rose to the occasion of showing the complexity of the scene, which turned out to be even more important than it initially seemed by the end of the episode.

By the end of the hour, Max discovered that his victory was short-lived after getting inventive yet again. Despite all of the proof of Fuentes’ negligence, it wasn’t going to be enough to take her down because the company behind the whole scheme was just too big. Max hadn't taken her resignation when she'd offered it because he wanted her to go down for her crimes, but now she’s keeping her role as medical director, and Max seems more out of luck than ever. 

Michelle Forbes continued to deliver as Veronica Fuentes as her character resumed her role at the top; when I noted that the actress has been so good at playing bad over Season 4, Jean Lee shared:

Right! She's so good at playing bad, but she's also so good at playing every other color. That's why it was so exciting to work with her, because it's actually a really difficult thing to do what she does, and to still keep it grounded and not to make it into a caricature. She's just a very seasoned, talented, smart, human-slash-actor. It was a big honor to work with those two.

Actor Jocko Sims, who plays Reynolds on New Amsterdam, has also noted Michelle Forbes’ ability to play different layers of Fuentes, and Forbes’ scenes in “Truth Be Told” might not have worked as well as they did if not for the actress finding the nuance behind Fuentes. Jean Lee had only good things to say about her as an actress after directing what turned out to be an important episode for her character, even though the other characters might not all have good things to say about Fuentes! The director also weighed in on Ryan Eggold as Max in their final scene, when Max learned that his win wouldn’t last. She said: 

So fun to tackle! Ryan is such a great performer and he did these little gestures, these little behavioral moments that really elevate it, particularly that final scene in the episode where you see it really hitting him hard because he is so tirelessly fighting to address a very broken system. These issues translate very much to real life, to what a lot of people deal with, and being overwhelmed with these dark systemic issues and not knowing what to do. I think those low point moments are very relatable and make his journey really accessible and hard-hitting for an audience. He, as a performer, really brought that vulnerability, and even when he's not talking, he's communicating so much. That was really an exciting thing, not only to shoot, but also to edit and to watch and to see that.

Max “How Can I Help?” Goodwin has faced challenge after challenge in Season 4, and even had to return to New York shortly after trying to seize a happily-ever-after with Helen in London following the death of Vijay. New Amsterdam has already received an order for a fifth and final season, so there’s plenty of time for him to score the win that he deserves, but only time will tell if he gets that chance before the end of the fourth season, after the events of “Truth Be Told.”

Find out with the final new episodes of New Amsterdam Season 4 on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, and be sure to check out our spring TV finale schedule for when the medical drama and more of TV’s biggest shows will come to an end for the 2021-2022 TV season.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).