Forrest swaps roles with A.J., tries to live like Helen Keller and visits Suzanne to review forgiveness.
Andy Daly rightfully gets a lot of the attention and critical acclaim for his performance on this show. He is Forrest MacNeil and the show is predominantly about how doing these reviews constantly ruin his life and him being too ignorant to stop. Megan Stevenson, Jessica St. Clair and James Urbaniak have been fantastic performers as well. It's always great to see A.J. Gibbs or Grant just look at the camera in horror or excitement over what Forrest is able to do. They are essential to this show. Meanwhile, the transformation Suzanne has had over the course of the series is incredible. She started in love with Forrest and blissfully unaware of the show. And now, she just has no tolerance for his antics. He's hurt her one too many times and isn't even aware of that. Every season Forrest seems ready and willing to quit the show because it has ruined his life too much. But he keeps getting lured back into the job because he sees himself as a professional life reviewer who needs to fill this necessary void for his loyal audience. He sees the job as more important than anything else in his life - even though the job has destroyed everything else around him.
Review doing an entire segment about what it's like to be a co-host seems like a way to flesh out A.J.'s backstory a little more. It's always been curious why she only appears in the intro and outro of each review. She's only been seen on that set. She and Forrest have a lovely dynamic onscreen. They have playful banter - even though the joke is frequently lost on Forrest. It's great to see this episode open with a knock-knock joke and Forrest completely lose the thread to it. That's just an amusing detail that shows how inept he is with social norms. A.J. is constantly warning him to use his vetoes. She's seen firsthand how destructive this show has been for him. But she makes no efforts to stop his reviews after he leaves the stage. In fact, she's not in the office at all. Forrest has interacted with assistants, interns and producers but never A.J. He knows very little about her life outside of the show. Of course, it takes having to review being a co-host for him to actually wonder about what she does. That shows just how close-minded he can be. He has a single objective mentality a lot of the time. He's only curious about things when they are a part of his reviews. Nothing else is as important as that. That's why he refuses to see the connections amongst the stories even as they slowly overwhelm his life.
Of course, the co-host segment is just so much fun because it flips the roles for Forrest and A.J. She's the one who goes out into the field to review a life experience while Forrest has to wait around for her to eventually come back. It's great to see him take advantage of all that personal time to work on his testimony for his murder trial. The way the show introduces that segment of the story is terrific. Daly's line reading of being on trial because of "last season's review of killing someone - in which someone was killed" is phenomenal. It creates the legal loophole for reasonable doubt. But it's also great that A.J. has a simple assignment and finishes it quickly. It would be devastating to see her life get ruined by this show just like it has with Forrest. And yet, she seems aware of her surroundings and the people in her life. She has an awareness and consideration for others that Forrest lacks. So even though the review is simply slapping a stranger's ass, she doesn't do it because it would violate and affect too many people. And the show just lets her get away with not doing it. To Forrest, that's horrifying. He believes in the strict rules of this show. They must be followed at all times. He believes the reviewer has to do what's asked. So, that's what leads this segment to getting a low star ranking.
It's also not surprising that all of Forrest's preparation for the murder trial ultimately goes to waste because of the next segment. He is asked what it's like to live like Helen Keller. It's a really fun and silly segment. It shows the lengths that Forrest is willing to go to for the show. Even though he is facing the rest of his life in jail, he does not stop being deaf, blind and mute to give the testimony he has practiced. That's where this story gets really entertaining and fun. It's horrifying to watch as Forrest's ineptitude may cost him his life. He's committed to this review with no consideration for the effect it will have on his life moving forward. He's completely oblivious to what's going on at the trial. Plus, the trial itself is just really fun. Forrest's lawyer isn't that good but he relies on her for everything. She calls Suzanne as a character witness even though she despises Forrest for all the pain and suffering he has caused her. And yet, Suzanne still believes that he wouldn't commit murder for the show. That's a profound statement. Maybe, it's the thing that ultimately leads to his acquittal. Or maybe it took the jury seeing him as Helen Keller to realize that he is an insane person. But more important than all of that, it's just crazy and ridiculous that Forrest wasn't convicted. That's a crazy statement on the judicial system. Forrest doesn't understand the privilege that comes from being a white man but it certainly helped him avoid jail time. And yet, him getting off now is probably setting up even more devastation for him in the future.
In fact, the show doesn't wait long for that to actually happen. Yes, it's fun and silly to see Forrest review these over-the-top life experiences. But every once in awhile, the show does something truly meaningful and profound as well. That's what forgiveness is. It's a heavy subject. Plus, it's something that Forrest really needs. There are so many people he could go to and ask for forgiveness. He has hurt so many people. But of course, everything circles back to Suzanne. He still genuinely loves her. He doesn't realize all the pain he has caused. And yet, the reveal that Forrest believes he has to be the one to forgive another person is incredible. It's such a well-crafted twist that shows that Forrest is still incredibly selfish. Wouldn't it be great to see what he was like before the show took over his life? Suzanne claims he would do stuff because he wanted to do them. He was a normal person. And yet, these three seasons have proven that Forrest is anything but normal. If he didn't do the show, he probably would have hurt the people he loved in some other way. He doesn't deserve to be forgiven by anyone. It's great that Suzanne slams the door in his face. It shows that there is no easy way back to her. And yet, Forrest still gets forgiven elsewhere. He barely has to work for it too. He asks Grant to forgive him for the fall off the bridge and the paralysis. To the audience, it's clear Grant's just doing it for the good of the show. But to Forrest, it's this huge burden lifted off his chest that will more than likely only reinvigorate his passion for the show even more.
Some more thoughts:
- "Co-Host / Ass-Slap / Helen Keller / Forgiveness" was written by Jeffrey Blitz and directed by Jeffrey Blitz.
- These are Forrest's reviews for this week: Being a Co-Host: half a star; Slapping an Ass: A.J. didn't do it; Being Helen Keller: five stars; and Forgiveness: four stars.
- The audience really doesn't need to be reminded of all the horrible things Forrest has done to Suzanne. We have longer memories than he does. But the show does that in order to show just how clueless and forgetful Forrest is. He has no idea just how much he has actually cost Suzanne.
- How has it taken the makeup and wardrobe people this long to get Forrest to change his outfit? And yet, it shows that the production largely just lets Forrest do whatever he wants. It also shows just how demeaning it can be to be a co-host or woman. The expectation is that the outfit changes in each segment while Forrest - a white man - is able to wear the same thing over and over again.
- Forrest believes he got acquitted because the members of the jury are fans of his show who understand the importance of his work. His lawyer presented no evidence to back that up. Plus, them being fans probably would have disqualified them as jurors. And yet, Forrest is blissfully ignorant to the truth.
- Forrest always running into the little person in the elevator is a fun recurring joke. It's always when he's doing or wearing something completely outlandish too. Josh and Tina are horrible as aides while he's living as Helen Keller.
- Forrest: "You can't give zero stars." Suzanne: "Well, I give zero fucks!"