After a couple of narcissistic turns in the last few episodes, this episode finds Forrest being surprisingly self-aware and self-sacrificing. It still ends poorly for him.
Though “Quiet Time in a Rowboat” is a funny capper, the real thematic double-header is “William Tell” and “Making Dreams Come True.” “William Tell” starts in typical Forrest fashion; he decides he will need to make his son a human target for his arrows, things go poorly, and you suddenly start to wonder if this show is dark enough to depict Forrest maiming his own son. Then it gets darker–Forrest decides he needs to go to a foster home.
But then something unexpected happens. While trying to get a child, he has a moment of self-awareness and realizes he’s not possibly this heartless. And while bemoaning his situation, he realizes he can instead volunteer to be the target. To be sure, this puts strain on his father’s mental health, but by this point we know Forrest cannot simply not do a review… and this is definitely the option where he will cause the least collateral damage. Or so it seems until the arrow misses and hits someone else. But he genuinely tries to make himself the target and refuses to give up after being shot twice with arrows; he doesn’t want to feel obligated to hurt anyone else. He finally gives up after realizing that, in an odd way, he may have already been successful. Two stars.
This behavior continues with “Making Dreams Come True,” where he sets out with the motives to make his son’s birthday phenomenal. His initial plan to build a go-cart soon turns into convincing Suzanne to move in with John Dale Jr., in typical Review fashion, but even still Forrest commits and tries to get her to move in. Once again, this is Review, so nothing is without collateral damage (Forrest learns Dale has cheated on Suzanne already, though he “will try not to!”), but Forrest is again making a self-sacrificing move.
So of course the show sees fit to punish him by making the Rowboat activity far more stressful and miserable than it has any right to be. Of course, the least self-centered act would be for Forrest to quit the show, but the premise demands he stay absurdly committed. At least this week he put himself in harm’s way to (attempt to) spare others. We’ll see if the universe punishes him further.