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New Amsterdam’s Ryan Eggold and Freema Agyeman on the new ‘feelings’ between Max and Helen

Freema Agyeman, Ryan Eggold on the set of New Amsterdam
Freema Agyeman and Ryan Eggold. Pic credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The season 3 finale of New Amsterdam will finally bring us to the moment we have been waiting for its entire three-season run when Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) and Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) finally confront the fact that they have feelings for each other.

“I’m just so excited to find a new landscape with Freema in the sense that that unspoken tension between them is wonderful, but if you jump the gun and they get together too quickly, it’s no good. And if you wait too long and sustain that tension forever and ever and ever with no [resolution], it’s no good either, so it’s finding that delicate balance of moving the story forward but in a way that doesn’t feel forced,” Eggold told Monsters & Critics in a Zoom interview.

Of course, forward movement might not be smooth going, as each of the two still has family issues to deal with. Helen has her disgruntled teenage niece Mina (Nadia Affolter), and Max has his infant daughter Luna.

“With the stuff that’s going on with Luna and Mina now, they are embroiled in a lot of family drama at the moment,” Agyeman says. “I think that they, obviously, have their feelings for each other and want that to go ahead, but sometimes other things in life just take precedence. Few things would make me go, ‘I’m going to put the brakes on,” but family would probably be one of them.”

Also, in the season 3 finale, several of the other characters will also get their time to shine as Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) receives a dramatic offer, Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) contemplates a serious life change, and Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) learns some potentially life-changing news about Leyla (Shiva Kalaiselvan).

“[Executive producers] David [Schulner] and Peter [Horton] structured the finale in this really cool way where each character is devoted their own act, so each chunk just lives with one character and really dives into their world, what they’re thinking and feeling,” Eggold adds. “So, it’s a lot of personal battles in the final episode.”

Then Eggold and Agyeman also spoke to Monsters & Critics about where Max and Helen go from here and how Max is going to solve his childcare problem with Luna.

Ryan Eggold and Freema Agyeman on the set of New Amsterdam
Ryan Eggold and Freema Agyeman. Pic credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Monsters & Critics: The finale is tonight. What obstacles are Max and Helen facing heading into the finale?

Ryan Eggold: Freema was saying something earlier – to steal from her brilliance — that this show often deals with social issues and these bigger themes. This finale issue is really about the personal; it is about these characters.

There were a lot of storylines that we were struggling with this whole season that are getting wrapped up in a sense, or at least for now, and there are those lingering deeper questions within the characters’ minds or hearts in their own lives and their relationships to other people and their relationship to their selves is really what we delve into in the finale.

M&C: Last week’s episode was disappointing in that we had had that big romantic scene in the shower with Max and Helen, and David Schulner had said in an interview that there’s no turning back, but it turned back. We saw them for a minute on the roof. Will they actually have a talk? Will we see them kiss? Are they going to get more intimate for us?

Freema Agyeman: There’s so much going on. As Ryan just said, these characters are trying to work out who they are, and I think we can often work out who we are reflexively in terms of the people around us in context to our loved ones and how we are with other people, right?

And I think that Sharpe, there’s a layer around their… a forcefield a little bit, and I think Mina is chipping away at that, which might lead to Sharpe being a little bit more effusive because I don’t think she would ever initiate anything with Max. So, then Max has to go through his stuff before he has the courage to initiate anything with her. I think that’s a convoluted way of saying they have stuff to deal with and when they clear that out of the way, they can see each other clearly.

Ryan Eggold: I had a similar thought actually. I just watched the most recent episode last night and thought that that shower business should’ve been in that episode. Freema had the line, “Everything’s a fight, even us,” in that moment on the roof, which was not a huge step forward in the development of their relationship, but was just nice to see them acknowledging something between them for the first time the whole season.

Then regarding the finale, there’s really great stuff between them. It’s time. I think they both know that it’s time to look whatever it is in the face, whatever it means, whether it means they love each other, hate each other, or are buddies, or are going to move to Bali and start a commune — that could happen, too. Whatever it is between them that is unspoken needs to be spoken, and it will be. It’s coming.

M&C: What was it like to play the scene where they admit there is something there?

Freema Agyeman: We tend to play things slightly different ways each time because we feel like we can. We have the freedom to play and explore and the directors are like that, too, and the producers, so there was a couple of versions that we could have played out with that ending.

We did a few where it would have been a little bit more teasing, which I think probably wouldn’t have been the way to go. I did see a couple of comments on social media and people’s expectations are quite low insofar as they’re like, “We’re never going to get to see it happen. It’s not going to happen.” I’m so excited for them actually because it does.

I remember having the table read and I think it was Tyler, who was like, “Sorry, I need a second to recover from the fact that that just happened,” because we all just thought it never ever would. I think the timing is right.

M&C: What would you like to see happen next for them?

Ryan Eggold: I think it’s the right time for something like this to happen and I’m excited to see what this new landscape holds for these characters, because they’re both very guarded. They’re both very protecting of themselves and both afraid to be honest with the other. Even though there’s one-half of them that can be very honest with the other person — Max and Sharpe — in a way that they can’t with other people, but for whatever reason, they’re both seemingly wary of the depth of that connection. So, to just go there now, I’m just excited to see what’s next and to play and to have some new and different scenes with Freema and to see where it goes.

M&C: It was Helen that encouraged Max to fight for custody of Luna. What does he do different now to make sure that it works? That he’s not so involved in his job?

Ryan Eggold: That’s a great question. Get a better nanny? I don’t know. I’m kidding. Max’s struggle between his personal life and his work has always been a major issue in the sense that he’s clearly a workaholic and that he clearly puts work first before almost anything. He’s very dedicated that way, which is very respectable but also damaging his personal life and leading to these problems.

But Luna is profoundly important to him and being a dad is profoundly important, but I think he’s just underwater with now being a single dad and figuring that out. I think he needs to dedicate more time to her. I have no idea what’s going to happen in season four with Max and Sharpe, but I do think Max is looking for someone to share that enormous job of raising a child, that enormous responsibility. So, I don’t know. I will leave that as a question mark.

The season 3 finale of New Amsterdam airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/9c on NBC.

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