The following post contains spoilers for The Resident‘s April 20 episode.
As any of her Chastain Park colleagues would attest, there’s no replacing The Resident‘s Mina Okafor.
But in the wake of Shaunette Renée Wilson’s exit from the Fox series — which prompted Mina to return home to Nigeria in Tuesday’s episode — the fictional hospital will need to fill the void left by one of its most skilled surgeons.
According to executive producer Andrew Chapman, The Resident has no plans to introduce a completely new character as Mina’s replacement. Rather, with only four episodes left in Season 4 (and no current word on a Season 5 pickup), two recent cast additions — Jessica Lucas’ Billie and Anuja Joshi’s Leela — will instead have an increased presence in the remaining installments.
“Because we knew Mina was leaving from early on, one of the things we did was look for people to bring into Chastain who are not replacements, but are additions to the cast who will be fun to watch and will… bring new elements into the show,” Chapman tells TVLine. “We were handed lemons with [Wilson] leaving, but we looked to make lemonade.”
Though Billie is only just restarting her surgical career after a tragic error in the operating room years ago, and Leela is still a surgical intern, Chapman says he and his fellow Resident writers find the characters — both women of color — “so fresh and so interesting,” particularly in the home stretch of Season 4.
“[Billie’s] complicated backstory will get more complicated as the next couple of episodes unroll,” he teases. “We feel like that’s a star in the making and a really big addition to the show.”
Meanwhile, Leela embodies “a core idea of what the show is,” Chapman continues. “It’s about learning how to be a doctor, learning how the system can screw you up… And yet, as a character, she’s so stubborn and ambitious, and she will not be knocked down. [Both characters] are going to have big storylines going forward for the rest of the season. And, knock on wood, we get picked up for a fifth season, they will have big storylines in Season 5.”
Following Wilson’s departure during Tuesday’s episode, the actress revealed she had approached producers “some time ago” about leaving the series, adding her gratitude for Mina’s “wonderful sendoff.” And though Chapman admitted The Resident‘s creative team was “heartbroken” by her exit, the advance notice gave them ample time to craft a “long, 10-episode arc” that delved into “issues that are on the forefront of modern American health care.” (Read our full post mortem with Chapman here.)
TVLine readers gave Wilson’s farewell episode an average grade of “A.”