'The Resident' Producer on Conrad's Emotional Nic 'Reunion' and Bell's Devastating Diagnosis (Exclusive)
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's episode of The Resident.
Get out those tissues because The Resident wasn't done remembering Nic Nevin just yet.
On Tuesday's midseason premiere, Fox's medical drama "reunited" Conrad (Matt Czuchry) with his late love Nic (Emily VanCamp) when he came face to face with a young woman who was the recipient of Nic's heart. While there were complications that left the patient's fate in rocky terrain for much of the episode, all was well in the end. And, in a bittersweet (and emotional) moment in the closing moments of the episode, Conrad and Nic's daughter, Gigi, listened to her mother's beating heart for the first time since her heartbreaking death.
Elsewhere in the episode, Bell (Bruce Greenwood) was forced to come to terms with his life-changing health diagnosis when he was told he had multiple sclerosis -- his future and long road to recovery suddenly seeming uncertain, as flashes of what his new reality may be like revealed the difficulties that lie ahead.
"We obviously had a terrible, painful loss of Nic, but my own feeling and the feeling Fox and 20th [have shared], is that it's a great season. It opened up the door to some very big themes: grief, recovery, loss, persistence of love, haunting by the past," co-creator Amy Holden Jones told ET. "I think we made lemonade out of lemons, to be honest. We're proud of the season and excited about where it's going."
Following the winter premiere, ET spoke with Holden Jones about the impact of Bell's diagnosis, the emotional closure for Conrad and what's still to come.
ET: We find out Bell's diagnosis in this episode and get glimpses into what may be ahead for him in his journey moving forward. Can you speak to his multiple sclerosis diagnosis?
Amy Holden Jones: He's a man who's had a lot of power and this is a diagnosis that actually has potentially good or bad outcomes. One of the interesting things about MS is it is treatable, and the course of the disease enormously varies in individuals. There are people in which it goes into total remission. There are many surgeons operating today who have MS. It's not necessarily a career-ender and that affects one of the sub-themes of our season, which is living life with our disabilities. You see that worked out with Leela and with our new social worker Winston and now with Bell. We believe in the full integration of everyone into society. How do the institutions of medicine cope with that and how do medical professionals cope with it, when illness touches their life? It's part of a very big and interesting story, both emotionally and thematically.
What can you preview in terms of his next steps? It does appear that Kit and Bell are going to be in this together.
As of [episode] 10, Bell hasn't been treated yet for MS and there are some very effective treatments. Going forward, we'll see what happens when he's treated, his reaction to the treatments and ultimately, his resumption of life -- gradually and tentatively -- as a surgeon, until he realizes that he can manage his situation with vigilance, obviously. The initial half of this second half [of the season] does touch a lot more on those stories. After that, Bell is back operational pretty much, living with a disability [and] not exactly the same. And his stories transcend MS. After that, he becomes very involved in a very different arc, related more to our sub-themes of corruption of the healthcare system. His disability is not going to define him, in other words.
How does this shift his perspective on his life and his career? Clearly, it changes a lot of things.
It does change things. Bell's already had a considerable arc that began when he watched a child nearly die of a medical device he had recommended. But he has gradually grown and become a different person, who is himself involved in fighting the good fight of good doctors against problems of medicine. But yes, of course it will affect him. He's going to struggle a little bit against the role of patient, that's for sure, because it's not an easy one for him. I think it's a hard one for all doctors.
On the other side of things, Conrad found himself in an emotional storyline in this episode with the patient he's treating the recipient of Nic's heart. Can you speak to crafting that particular storyline and what you ultimately felt was valuable in this being a catalyst for Conrad moving forward?
This is a crucial turning point episode for him, because in the midseason finale, we introduced another new, very compelling and fascinating female doctor, Kate. And he now has on board three potential love interests: Marianne, Kate, and Billie. The question is rising in the audience's mind, and his as well, of can he restart his life without Nic. This episode was very specifically designed with this story here to remind him, and us, of Nic and how grief tends to persist more than many people will acknowledge. There are those who lose someone and remarry in a year or two, and there are others who love someone once and love them their whole lives. This is an episode in which Nic becomes present for him in a certain way, in a real way, in hearing her heart. And it reignites the question in the back and forth, which continues through the season of, "Can I move on or not? And do I want to move on?" He has another crucial love in his life, which is all-consuming, and that's his daughter Gigi. That does somewhat alter how people react in the situation. Whoever he ends up with would have to fit into the world he has with his daughter too.
It's a complicated dance, but the whole season in the end, once we knew that Emily [VanCamp] could not come back, we integrated those stories for our characters. How do you deal with loss and grief? Do you move on and how? It's actually played out in not only him, but also in Raptor's potential loss of his mother and his grief. It's a theme for Bell recognizing his own mortality. There is an endgame. These are very serious things, but it's not that the episodes about them are downbeat, even if this one is not. It's more about facing the things that doctors and all people face, which is mortality, grief, loss and a quote I like about it is, "The price of loving someone incredibly dearly is that you are accepting the fact that you will have to face the loss, if you outlive them anyway. And only if you love someone deeply is it that painful, and to love deeply is to risk your own heart." I guess you could say that's kind of what [episode] 11 is about.
How are you balancing Conrad's multiple potential love interests? How are you handling that delicate balance?
The decision was made, that I feel strongly about, that he can't just suddenly move on to somebody else because [Nic and Conrad] was a very powerful force for the audience but also for the characters. I felt it would be an injustice to move on immediately. The way we're dealing with it is something that's also integral to my entire career, which is, the first thing we're going to get to do is know these people deeply as people. Billie has an incredibly powerful arc coming up in a second half of the season related to her backstory, and to the appearance of the child that she bore when she was only 13. The evolution of that story, how she handles it, how she handles her relationship with that son and how the endgame is resolved, vis a vis the man who harmed her, that's much more her story than just what guy she's going to be with.
And Kate has an enormous story also. Kate is secretive about her past and Kate is actually in danger. She has a very huge part of our thriller arc, which kicks off in a few more episodes. What she's in danger from is related to that thriller arc, in which she played the key role. What we're trying to do is get the audience, as well as Conrad, to know these women more. And then we see where that leads [him].
What can you tee up in these coming weeks?
What the most important thing to know is in the near term, we're going to be very strongly dealing with the appearance of the child that Billie had, who now is an intern. What's her relationship with him? What is he like? When do the people around her come to know what happened? And it's somewhat about secrets. Kate has a secret also, and the burden that secrets pose, and the necessity of them ultimately coming out. That's thematically at play in both of those stories and they do come out with great dramatic [effect], I think. Running along them all is the core thing, that the show is about medicine, but it is also about our doctors in terms of their characters and their problems and how their lives are impacted by all of these things. Their life stories are front and center all the way through the end, and they all have some pretty big things to deal with.
The Resident airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. For more, watch below.
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