When the resident returns for season 6 at Fox (and it is officially a “when”, not an “if”), Conrad Hawkins will indeed be getting a new romantic partner – but Tuesday’s finale ultimately gave no indication of who the lucky winner will be.
During the emotional end of the season, Conrad found himself frequently revisiting the memory of his first real date night with Nic after Gigi was born. During their evening, Conrad came across a young woman whose husband had been diagnosed with cancer, who was now in intensive care after having an adverse reaction to chemotherapy. The break-in got Conrad thinking about his own mortality, and at home later that night he joked – and then got very serious – with Nic about wanting her to find another love if he died. .
“After a while, I want you to move on,” Conrad told his wife. “Just promise me, whoever, you’ll find someone who loves you as much as I do.” Nic promised, but on 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 seated. …and the episode ended just as it reached them.
Below, executive producer Andrew Chapman explains why this romantic cliffhanger seemed like the right stopping point for Season 5, despite the series not having been renewed at the time of our conversation. Plus, what awaits Devon and Leela now that they’re – hooray! – back together? Keep reading to find out.
TVLINE | Let’s start with that final scene and the cliffhanger of who Conrad could pursue. How did you and the writers find this to be the appropriate choice?
The whole season was, in a weird way, built around the loss of Nic – about the grief, about the return of grief, and about relearning life. Thematically, the whole show was about mortality and how you embrace mortality, embrace the loss of others, and move on with your life. Given that we already had Billie on the show and then we had Cade – and she was fantastic and a great character – we loved the idea that at the end of this season Conrad would be ready to move on, but we weren’t. I’m not going to make that choice yet. We felt like it wouldn’t fit the whole idea of grieving and moving on. Making the choice is for the first of next season, and in fact, we have an idea of exactly what it will be, and how we will present it to the public. It will be an entirely new idea.
Losing Emily VanCamp so early in the season was unexpected, and we had to reshuffle things. But once we got to grips with that, and once we understood that was the goal of the season, it really helped shape our finale.
TVLINE | A good number of our readers, at least, expressed that it would be too shocking 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 viewers. We write because we love the series and we think about what we want to see. We were all, as a group, not ready to see Conrad go with someone else. He had a brief banter with Marion, and it was fun, but it was only a toe in the water. For really move on – we weren’t ready to do that. We thought, “No, it has to be next season.” And by the way, Matt Czuchry, our Conrad, totally agreed with us and was very vocal that he didn’t want to see Conrad move on just yet. He didn’t want to see Conrad make a choice. And the finale, with all these flashbacks with Nic, really closed the book on that in a really nice way. After that, the audience – and we as writers – can move on.
TVLINE | You mentioned that there’s already a plan to unveil Conrad’s choice in Season 6. Does that mean you’ve decided, internally, who that love interest will be?
Yes. We decided, and we even decided how to analyze the information. I’ll just say it’s a fun, unexpected revelation where choices were 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. Could there be more serious conversations ahead for them?
Yeah, absolutely. No relationship is perfect. They have had their ups and downs this season. Again, thematically, one of the things we deal with is the lives of doctors, and not necessarily the lives of patients. [We’re exploring] how difficult it is for a female surgeon to have relationships, to have a family and still be an ambitious doctor. These are things that women have to struggle 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 and compassionate guy, and he at least partially behaves, and so does she. I think they love each other more than they have problems with each other, which is what we all ultimately decide when we’re with another person. We will continue to play these scenarios. 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 have had of them central torques. We have Devon and Leela, but we also have Kit and Bell. There is a wonderful symmetry between the two: they have problems, but then they work on their problems; Bell has health issues, and then Kit stands by her side. Going forward, these characters and relationships will be central to Season 6.
TVLINE | Was it ever a real possibility that Devon could 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 in that direction. He’s become that lauded and sought-after medical scientist by other hospitals, and we love the idea of him being a superstar. We wanted to show that and show how being an ambitious doctor takes its toll on your personal life.
TVLINE | Separately, you also touched on a storyline that turned out to be quite timely, concerning abortion and life-threatening pregnancies for the mother. Was it a coincidence, or maybe more pointed, given recent events?
Completely fortuitous. We planned this months ago. We were very careful not to make it a political issue. It’s from a true 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 with an ECMO machine. We’ve been careful not to bring up the issue of abortion and really 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 that way, but these things do happen, and it was an incredibly tragic story. It was so moving and poignant, especially the thought of Devon and Leela talking about starting a family. There were these really wonderful bonds with our couples. It all just seemed thematic, and we had no idea [it would be so relevant].
Your turn, Resident Fans! How did you like the finale (and seeing Nic again)? Grade the episode in our poll below, then drop a comment with your full thoughts!