'Chicago Med': Natalie and Crockett Are 'Faced With a Decision' About Their Romance, EPs Say (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven't watched Wednesday's winter return of Chicago Med.
Chicago Medtugged at the heartstrings in its winter return..
In Wednesday's episode, titled "Do You Know the Way Home?," Dr. Charles (Oliver Platt) and April (Yaya DaCosta), the latter ceremoniously pulled off the COVID ward, found themselves at the center of an emotional abduction case that resulted in a mother reuniting with her missing daughter after several years. Meanwhile, Dr. Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) made a life-or-death decision for one of his trial patients, while morally questionable, ended up being for the betterment of the patient. And the arrival of an ex-girlfriend forced Dr. Marcel (Dominic Rains) to confront his playboy past and current complicated relationship with Dr. Manning (Torrey DeVitto).
Following the episode, co-showrunners Andy Schneider and Diane Frolov spoke to ET over the phone about Chicago Med's biggest developments and what to expect moving forward.
ET: How are you feeling creatively as you're now deep in the trenches this season on ChicagoMed? (Chicago Med was temporarily shut down last fall over a positive COVID test.)
Andy Schneider: Creatively, there's this issue of trying to anticipate where the country may be five, six weeks ahead of when we're shooting. When we started our development process, we thought, "Is this going to be over by the time we start shooting?" and sadly it wasn't. It looks like, even with the vaccine, we're still going to have COVID with us for some time.
Diane Frolov: Yeah, for the writers, we start developing stories months ahead. It's been a challenge to try and anticipate what's going to happen.
What have you learned during the process of trying to look ahead, but also stay true to the signature Chicago Med stories that viewers are used to seeing?
Schneider: It's interesting that when we started the development back in June, we started speaking to our actual MD consultants. They were saying that even though they've learned how to basically deal with COVID, they were starting to see other regular cases. When there's COVID, it doesn't mean people aren't getting heart attacks and cancer. So they had to find a way that in the world of the pandemic to still treat the other serious conditions that would come into the hospital. Now, at least in Southern California, we're not doing elective surgeries. And they have been doing them again back in October. It's so bad right now here, they're actually doing almost battlefield triage with patients coming in. We're a medical show, so we have a world that exists but we're behind. It was just trying to anticipate... We were prepared to reshoot some things or change some things. We haven't had to sadly because the pandemic is still so serious.
Because this is a medical show and this is reflecting the real world, are we going to see these battlefield situations in the ED or do you not anticipate crossing that line necessarily?
Frolov: We continue to have those discussions, but we also are limited about how many people we can have in the ED. Just protocols. We can't see what is going on totally.
Schneider: In the first episode, they tell the patient up in the COVID [ward], they want to intubate because they're not allowed to do compressions if the patient is positive. We actually see the effect of that on our doctors who aren't able to do the treatment that the patient should have. That isn't triaged per se, but it's an effect of [it].
Frolov: We saw a triage in the first episode with the ECMO.
Schneider: But we will continue to have strained resources as a result of the pandemic.
There were a lot of emotional beats in this episode. One of the doctors who gets pulled off of COVID and is affected by it is April. What is the mental, physical, emotional toll that she's feeling as a result of that?
Schneider: So many caregivers are overwhelmed. For April, it also presented a sense of purpose that she hadn't felt lately as a nurse. And so getting pulled off of that, the real blow was that she invested herself both emotionally and physically. And in that young woman. But the rest of the season is really about April's search for continued meaning as a caregiver. She'll become involved with Will and his trial. Both were anticipating that the COVID ward will have fewer patients as the vaccine spreads and the trial will also begin to wind down, and then we'll leave April looking for a new direction in her life as a caregiver.
How does this affect her ongoing relationship with Ethan?
Frolov: Noah comes back and there is a great deal of conflict around the story of Noah's return. She's put at odds with Ethan again because of what goes on with Noah.
Schneider: Ethan is a guy who has this tremendous sense of duty in this new position [as Chief of Surgery]. He tries not to let his personal relationships color what he has to do as the chief. But that will put him in conflict with people that he has much better relationships with. Particularly April, but also Will.
Frolov: Yes, it's a change in the hierarchy.
Speaking of Will, he was a little frustrating this episode, just in terms of presumptively signing up the patient for his clinical trial, which ended up being a good thing in the end.
Frolov: The decisions that he makes, they're always based on what he feels is best for the patient. But if you're looking at it from the outside, you might think, "Hmmm, you're out of line." But that's what he's driven by. So in that story, Maggie misinterprets it a little bit but she apologizes for it, and it certainly looks like he's putting the trial over the interest of the patient. But he's not.
I imagine he can only go so long before there are actual ramifications for Will. Are there going to be challenges for him if he keeps operating this way?
Schneider: Absolutely. Will has been known to bend the rules.
Frolov: And there will be consequences.
Schneider: He will do it in the trial, again, for what he perceives is the patient's needs. But these trials have very strict protocols and you're not supposed to break them. He will put his position in the trial at risk. He will put his relationship with Virani at risk because he will do some things he's not supposed to. For the good of the patient.
By the end of the episode, Natalie and Crockett's relationship is even more complicated than before. Where do they stand? Are they going to face their true feelings?
Frolov: Yes, yes. It's going to move forward. And in episode 3, Natalie is expressing that she really cares about him and he feels it. He gets that she does. That's changing the dynamic.
Schneider: Both of them are a little gun-shy about a new relationship. He's always been protecting himself from being vulnerable by avoiding deep relationships since his divorce. Natalie has had a couple of very unsuccessful relationships that we've seen over the last few years. She, too, will have this tendency to want to protect her heart. But their relationship will deepen.
Will they try making it official and seeing how they are as a couple?
Frolov: They are faced with a decision.
Schneider: Definitely. Their relationship will deepen.
Is there anything you want to preview in terms of what viewers can expect in the coming weeks?
Frolov: We'll see more of the Crockett-Natalie relationship, we'll find out a lot more about Crockett going forward.
Schneider: Maggie's continuing storyline with this little boy and liver failure will also help us reveal a lot about Maggie's past. We're going to learn more about who this woman is, and what's driven her throughout her life. And there will be these kind of side sessions between Charles and the staff, including Maggie, April. Crocket, you saw a little bit of. But yeah, that's a continuing story point going forward is his clinical relationship with the staff who were so overwhelmed by the pandemic.
Chicago Medreturns Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. For more on the series, watch the video below.