The following post contains major spoilers for Season 5, Episode 3 of The Resident. Haven’t watched yet? Avert your eyes, stat!
In Episode 3 of the Fox medical drama’s fifth season, Nic passed away after the car accident she’d been involved in last week ultimately left her brain-dead. Despite Conrad’s initial denial of the situation, and the best efforts of Billie and the Chastain team — including the decision to put Nic in a medically induced coma — the head trauma Nic had experienced proved to be unsurvivable. In the wake of Nic’s death, several of her organs were donated, and she even made a trachea transplant possible for a patient suffering from long-term COVID effects.
Nic’s untimely death had been heavily foreshadowed since The Resident‘s season premiere, which aired three weeks after VanCamp’s departure from the show was confirmed. The actress’ voice was heard during a Conrad/Nic phone call in the premiere, but Episode 2 ended with cops arriving at Conrad’s door, informing him that Nic had been in an accident on her way home.
Below, The Resident co-showrunner Peter Elkoff and star Matt Czuchry (who’s also a co-executive producer on Season 5) unpack Nic’s tragic fate. (FYI: You can read VanCamp’s thoughts on her Resident exit here.)
TVLINE | When did conversations start to get underway with Emily regarding her potential exit from the show?
ELKOFF | Let me see if I can exactly remember. I feel like we knew last season, at some point in the last season, that [Emily] had gotten pregnant [in real life]. And by the timing, there would be no way that she was going to be able to be in the show, having given birth to [Nic’s] baby on the show. She couldn’t then be eight months pregnant in the show. [Laughs] It wouldn’t make sense. So we knew that her life was changing, and priorities were changing, and we worked with her to figure out the best way to do this.
CZUCHRY | I actually knew a while ago. I was one of the first people she had told, and she said she wanted to start a family. I was completely supportive of that and had been, of her, from the beginning, in terms of our partnership and relationship on the show and also as friends. We had long conversations about it, multiple conversations, and they were all healthy and positive and supportive. We had many conversations at the beginning of this season, too. There’s so much respect and love there, and that goes very much into our personal lives. Emily will always be a part of my life.
TVLINE | Matt, did you have any input on how Nic’s exit was written? Did you want input on that storyline?
CZUCHRY | There were conversations that I had had with the producers and showrunners… in terms of the proper conclusion for the Conrad and Nic relationship. Over the course of 70-plus episodes, we’ve had a chance to explore the human experience through Conrad and Nic’s eyes. It culminates, in Episode 3, in a way that is traumatic and guttural and shocking. In terms of shaping that piece of the puzzle, [co-creator] Amy [Holden Jones] and [EPs] Andrew [Chapman] and Peter — everybody is incredibly collaborative… I had the space to be completely in Conrad’s head, so I felt like I could offer some value there in terms of shaping their ideas. They were so kind and generous to allow me to collaborate in that way.
TVLINE | I know there will be fans who hoped Nic would just transfer to another hospital, or perhaps stay off-screen in some other way without passing away. Why did her death feel like the appropriate choice?
ELKOFF | Well, first of all, how could she have gone to another hospital and not taken her child with her? It just felt like, to preserve this fictional character as alive in this fictional universe, it would create immense logic problems. Based on who that character was, it didn’t make sense. She was a devoted mother and a devoted nurse, Conrad’s wife, she had this incredible history at Chastain. Why would she a) leave the hospital, b) leave Conrad, c) leave her daughter? None of it made any logical sense for us. Also, doing what we did is the thing that packs an emotional punch. Conrad as a divorced dad, a part-time dad? That’s just sad. Conrad as a single father, raising a daughter, is heartbreaking but also wonderful to watch, you know? It felt to us like we had to do the thing that was true to the character that Emily created and Amy created in the writing, and tell a story that had the maximum amount of emotion and really put Conrad through the wringer. It gave him an opportunity to challenge himself — challenge the actor, Matt, and also the character as a single father.
CZUCHRY | That’s a complicated question. Having the Conrad and Nic relationship come to a full conclusion was essential. You couldn’t have the audience, in my opinion, ever thinking that Conrad and Nic can get back together. I think we’ve given the audience everything they could ever want from the Conrad and Nic relationship. We saw them go through things with patients, we saw them when Nic’s sister passed away, we saw them get married and have a child. I feel we’ve given everything to the audience in terms of exploring that, and again, now culminating in this exit that is both guttural and beautiful at the same time, a celebration of someone’s life. It needed to be that way because we couldn’t have the audience wishing or hoping that there was something out there that could happen between Conrad and Nic, because that doesn’t allow the characters to grow and change. I hope the audience was, number one, fulfilled by the 70-plus episodes of that relationship that we were able to give, but at the same time, I hope they feel the grief and the sadness and the frustration and the disbelief that happens in Episode 3, because that’s what Conrad is going through. He is the eyes of the audience, so I hope they feel all that.
TVLINE | I had assumed a body double was used for Nic’s appearances in this episode, but the resemblance was quite convincing. Was there any digital trickery there, if Emily couldn’t be on set?
ELKOFF | We had to be very creative because there were so many elements that made it hard for us to do it in the most traditional and simple way. We have a brilliant crew, and Emily made it as easy as it could possibly have been, given all the circumstances. And we employed the wealth of experience and movie trickery that our people have — [Laughs] — and made it work.
TVLINE | I was also struck by the circumstances of the car accident that took Nic’s life: only one car involved, Nic hadn’t been drinking, the weather wasn’t bad. What prompted that choice? Will this become a mystery that weighs on Conrad?
ELKOFF | Yeah, that’s what Episode 4 is about — trying to make sense of the utterly senseless and inexplicable. Can you imagine, for the great diagnostician Conrad Hawkins, a more emotionally trying circumstance than trying to diagnose an accident that makes no sense? We felt it was the most creative way to tell that story.
TVLINE | Peter, when we spoke at the end of last season, I had asked you about that sweet final montage of Conrad and Nic’s relationship milestones, which almost felt like a series finale moment. Now that we have the context of Emily leaving the show, I have to ask: Was that montage an intentional farewell to their relationship?
ELKOFF | Yes, but also, you just never know what’s going to happen. We knew that Emily was pregnant, and it was a way to cover all our bases, as well as to create a really lovely, emotional montage — to have our audience come away from the season full of love for them and remember the journey and how far they came.
Resident fans, how did you feel about Tuesday’s highly emotional episode? Grade it in our poll below, then hit the comments with your full reactions.