While Max is currently dating Alice, a fellow single parent (who, like Max, is raising her daughter alone since her spouse’s death), fans have been wanting to know where his relationship really stands with Dr. Helen Sharpe. As of the March 10 episode of New Amsterdam, though, we got a tease of a significant Max and Helen moment that still just did not quite happen...Because the good friends were on the verge of kissing! Now, we have a better understanding of why they didn't go all the way there.
Max’s wife and his daughter’s mother, Georgia, died in the Season 2 premiere, with the crash that eventually killed her occurring in the previous season’s finale and left viewers in suspense as to its deadly outcome. Georgia’s death and a three-month time-jump were revealed in the premiere, and Max has struggled mightily with his grief. Then, he met Alice and sparks sort of flew, meaning that Max is embarking on his first post-Georgia relationship on New Amsterdam.
But, Max and Helen’s intense chemistry almost culminated in a kiss during a conversation they shared in “Perspectives.” At first, the almost-kiss seemed like it could be my wishful imagination. Was it? New Amsterdam’s showrunner, David Schulner, told me:
No, no, that almost happened, without a doubt. But it did not for a lot of reasons that you know I could let the audience infer or we could talk about some of those reasons. Well, I think so much of that first scene in the episode was Max experiencing love or affection for the first time since Georgia’s death and his confusion and angst about should he take his ring off, should he leave it on. And he knew he wasn’t ready to take it off, and that was okay because neither was Alice, and they’re both in the same place emotionally in their grief and in their feelings for each other.
After the Season 2 premiere, New Amsterdam’s showrunner warned that the drama would be exploring Max and Helen’s friendship. Max and Helen almost kissing certainly puts their relationship in a place where it could potentially reach beyond the platonic. However, Max is still processing his grief while balancing a budding relationship with Alice, and his very apparent feelings for Helen.
New Amsterdam’s showrunner confirming that the kiss did almost happen is pretty huge. The thing, though, is that Alice is also very likable, leading to a very messy triangle. Or, should I say, quadrangle, since Georgia is understandably still a massive part of Max’s personal equation? What kept Max from getting entirely swept up into the moment with Helen? David Schulner answered, saying:
That Max and Alice want each other and want to move forward, but both of them aren’t ready to let go of the past quite yet. And in the scene between Max and Sharpe, Max was still in the same place of not being able to give up the past, which I think when we saw Max walking to Sharpe, he was instinctively touching his wedding band, reminding him of what’s holding him back. Alice is certainly holding him back, and his grief over Georgia is certainly holding him back from starting anything with Dr. Sharpe because that’s a very different person than Alice.
I have to give major credit (as always) to New Amsterdam because the show has created a likable character in Alice. It makes sense that Max would find her appealing, especially since they share something so personal and tragic in common. When it came to what held Max back from kissing Helen, it sounds like it was a combination of Max’s new feelings for Alice and his continued love of Georgia.
Is there another reason that Max is gravitating towards this relationship with Alice in the first place? I asked New Amsterdam’s showrunner if there is any part of Max that is jumping into this relationship with Alice as a way to put a barrier between him and Helen, because he knows he relies on their friendship so much already? David Schulner responded, saying:
Oh, that’s interesting. See, I think that’s great. I love that. That wasn’t my intention, but I think that’s a really complicated and beautifully messy explanation.
Time will tell if Max and Helen eventually find a way to be together, as the question of where the simmering chemistry between Helen and Max will ultimately lead is a substantial one. New Amsterdam has set up quite the will-they or won’t-they dynamic!
On that note, a new doctor is set to join New Amsterdam this season. Hawaii Five-0 vet Daniel Dae Kim will play the new head trauma surgeon, Dr. Cassian Shin. Cassian is set to interact quite a bit with Dr. Helen Sharpe, and I am curious to see if there are going to be any sparks!