On Wednesday's winter premiere, titled "Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore," the doctors of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center face some major changes in the aftermath of the episode -- from Ethan (Brian Tee) and April's (Yaya DaCosta) emotional engagement to Will (Nick Gehlfuss) and Natalie's (Torrey DeVitto) time apart to a surprising new pairing between Natalie and Crockett (Dominic Rains).
ET spoke with Chicago Med co-showrunners Diane Frolov and Andy Schneider about Wednesday's biggest moments and what this means moving forward.
ET: In the aftermath of Wednesday's winter premiere, how does it propel the show forward for the second half of the season?
Andy Schneider: We build to an emotional rift between Natalie and Will, and that will springboard Will into another story -- a larger arc that's independent of Natalie. It's the loss of the patient in [Wednesday's episode], where he feels some responsibility and it makes him reevaluate how he treats patients and how he can help drug addicts.
Diane Frolov: And his position and responsibility as a doctor to the opioid crisis. We wanted to look at [the opioid crisis] through a medical show, like the safe injection site, that's a very controversial thing. The way that doctors are treated when in rehab for addiction is different than how other people are treated in rehab. So there are the systemic issues that we could explore because we're a medical show.
What do you want to say specifically about Natalie's arc moving forward?
Frolov: Yeah. She's really going her own way as well. She will have more interaction with Crockett. They have a lot of conflict, those two characters. But we'll be seeing both Natalie and Will splitting off on two different paths right now for the second half of the season.
What has been creatively fulfilling or intriguing to you guys in terms of splitting Natalie and Will up, at least for the short term?
Schneider: There's so much of Will that has been driven by his relationship with Natalie. And now, like he said in 5x09, he feels free. Plus, he can go on a different journey without her.
Frolov: It also allows us to see the character in different situations, reacting in different ways, that we haven't seen [before]. When he told Natalie that in 5x09 that he wanted that freedom, we really hadn't seen that side of him -- that very strong independent side -- and that's what we'll continue to see in him.
There's also a love triangle between Crockett, April and Ethan, which is even now further complicated by Ethan's proposal and April saying yes but not being 100 percent truthful of what's really going on with her. What kind of challenges will Ethan and April face knowing that April chose not to disclose her kiss with Crockett and her health issues?
Frolov: And she hasn't been all that honest with herself. She has these feelings for Crockett that she doesn't really know how to deal with and that troubles her. Maybe that's a bigger trouble to her than the kiss. Her way of dealing with this is going to be to suppress it, which isn't really always a great idea.
Schneider: That doesn't work.
Frolov: It is complicated. I mean, because she loves Ethan, but she has these feelings for Crockett.
Do you see this coming to a head at some point down the line between the three of them?
Frolov: It will. It does. April wants it to work out with Ethan. She wants to say yes. You know, but again, she has these other feelings and so right now she just feels like she can get rid of those other feelings and go with the man that she knows she should be with, which is Ethan. She's asking herself about her womanhood, about her desirability, about her worth, all those things. A lot is going on in her.
We find out in this episode that Ben is in remission. How does Maggie internalize the fact that she's still going through cancer treatment?
Schneider: They have a very strong relationship. But the fact that it's a little out of balance because he's well and she still has this cancer will affect them. Particularly her.
Frolov: But what's so fascinating about those two is that the circumstances that they found each other in. Then you know, so there's love coming out of this, you know with the adversity. But there's a very deep bond there, that they've been in the fire together. It's difficult for Maggie because she is used to running things. She's the charge nurse. She doesn't want to be anybody's burden. And so here she is, the man she loves is good now. And of course, her fear would be that she would be burdensome.
What can you tease for the next episode?
Schneider: Well, the next episode will start Will's journey, which has to do with having lost his patient, Lynn. It makes him re-evaluate how he treats patients and how he can help drug addicts. And that takes him on his own path.
Frolov: In both 11 and 12, we have very impactful [mass casualties]. In 11, it affects one of our people. And 12, it's a school bus that's hit. We have almost everybody dealing with that-
Schneider: Including some crossover element to that. It will pit Crockett and Natalie against one another.
Can you talk about Crockett and Natalie because their dynamic is quite interesting. Does their pairing add a new dynamic to the show that you felt hadn't been there before?
Schneider: I don't think really she's paid that much attention to him before. And now we've fit them together and it becomes this sense of, there's an attraction there, but a lot of head-butting.
Frolov: He's a very different source than she is. They're fun to put together. She's a little more rigid than he is and it's a little oil and water.
And you mentioned, there's a possible attraction there. Is this something you're looking to explore romantically?
Schneider: We've been talking about developing their relationship.
Frolov: Yes. We will have a number of stories where they're together.