When The Resident returns for Season 6 at Fox (and it is officially a “when,” not an “if”), Conrad Hawkins will indeed get a new romantic partner — but Tuesday’s finale ultimately gave no indication as to who the lucky lady will be.
During the emotional season ender, Conrad found himself frequently revisiting the memory of his and Nic’s first real date night after Gigi was born. During their night out, Conrad bumped into a young woman whose husband he’d diagnosed with cancer, who was now in the ICU after having an adverse reaction to chemotherapy. The run-in got Conrad thinking about his own mortality, and at home later that night, he joked — then got very serious — with Nic about wanting her to find another love if he passed away.
“After a while, I do want you to move on,” Conrad told his wife. “Just promise me, whoever it is, find somebody who loves you as much as I do.” Nic promised, but under one condition: “Only if you do, too.” And back in the present day, where Conrad & Co. were celebrating Kit and Bell’s engagement at the group’s favorite bar, Conrad approached the table where his much-teased potential love interests Billie and Cade were both sitting… and the episode ended just as he reached them.
Below, executive producer Andrew Chapman details why that romantic cliffhanger felt like the right stopping point for Season 5, although the show had not yet been renewed at the time of our conversation. Plus, what’s in store for Devon and Leela now that they’re — hooray! — back together? Read on to find out.
TVLINE | Let’s start with that final scene, and the cliffhanger of who Conrad might pursue. How did you and the writers land on that as the appropriate choice?
The whole season has been, in a weird way, built around the loss of Nic — about grief, about coming back from grief and learning to live again. Thematically, the whole show has been about mortality and how you embrace mortality, embrace the loss of others and move on with your life. Given that we had Billie already on the show, and then we got Cade — and she was fantastic and a great character — we just loved the idea that, at the end of this season, Conrad would be ready to move on, but we weren’t going to make that choice yet. We felt like that wouldn’t be appropriate to the whole idea of grief and moving on. Making the choice is for the premiere of next season, and in fact, we have an idea laid out of what exactly it will be, and how we’ll lay it out to the audience. That will be an entirely new idea.
The loss of Emily VanCamp, so quickly at the beginning of the season, was unexpected, and we had to shuffle things around. But once we got comfortable with that, and once we understood that that was what the season was about, it really helped shape our finale.
TVLINE | Quite a few of our readers, at least, have expressed that it’d be too jarring to see Conrad with someone new at this point in the season. Was that a sentiment you shared in the writers’ room?
Absolutely. We all write as audience members. We write because we love the show, and we think about what we want to see. We were all, as a group, unready to see Conrad move on with somebody else. He had a brief dalliance with Marion, and that was fun, but it was just a toe in the water. To really move on — we weren’t ready to do it. We thought, “No, it has to be next season.” And by the way, Matt Czuchry, our Conrad, totally agreed with us and was very vehement that he didn’t want to see Conrad move on yet. He didn’t want to see Conrad make a choice. And the finale, with all those flashbacks with Nic, really closed the book on that in a really nice way. After this, the audience — and we, as writers — will be able to move on.
TVLINE | You mentioned that there’s already a plan for how you’ll unveil Conrad’s choice in Season 6. Does that mean you’ve decided, internally, who that love interest will be?
Yes. We have decided, and we’ve even decided on how to parse out the information. I’ll just say it’s a fun, unexpected reveal where choices have been made.
TVLINE | We also got to see Devon and Leela reunite, but of course those worldviews about having kids and starting a family aren’t beliefs that change overnight. Might there be more serious conversations ahead for them?
Yeah, absolutely. No relationship is perfect. They’ve had their ups and downs this season. Again, thematically, one of the things we’re about is the lives of doctors, and not necessarily the lives of patients. [We’re exploring] how hard it is for a woman surgeon to have relationships, have a family and still be an ambitious doctor. These are things that women have to grapple with all the time, and that’s what we wanted to show, and we want to show it more next season.
But Devon is ultimately an incredibly understanding, compassionate guy, and he comes around at least partially, and so does she. I think they love each other more than they have issues with each other, which is ultimately what all of us decide when we’re with another person. We’re going to keep playing those storylines. One of the things we really wanted to do was, because Conrad lost Nic and the show lost Nic, we wanted a couple to take their place as the central couple of the show — and in fact, we got two central couples. We got Devon and Leela, but we also got Kit and Bell. There’s a wonderful symmetry between the two: They have problems, but then they work on their problems; Bell has health issues, and then Kit stands beside him. Moving forward, those characters and relationships will be central in Season 6.
TVLINE | Was it ever a real possibility that Devon might leave?
No, not realistically. We wanted to show that he is a real rockstar in the world of medicine, and we really want to go with that. He’s moved up to being this scientist doctor who’s lauded and sought after by other hospitals, and we just love the idea that he’s a superstar. We wanted to show that, and show the way that being an ambitious doctor wreaks havoc on your personal life.
TVLINE | Separately, you also tackled a storyline that ended up being quite timely, with regard to abortion and pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. Was that happenstance, or perhaps more pointed, given recent events?
Entirely happenstance. We planned that out months ago. We were very careful not to make it a political issue. It’s taken from a real-life story of a man in Texas where it happened exactly that way to his wife. She was pregnant, and he tried to save them both through an ECMO machine. We were careful not to raise the issue of abortion and to really just make it this medical thing that they can try, but you don’t know [if it’s going to succeed]. We don’t want to be political in that way, but these things really happen, and it was an incredibly tragic story. It just felt so moving and poignant, especially with the idea that Devon and Leela were talking about starting a family. It had these really great connections to our couples. It all just felt thematic, and we had no idea [it would be so relevant].
Your turn, Resident fans! How did you like the finale (and seeing Nic one more time)? Grade the episode in our poll below, then drop a comment with your full thoughts!