‘The Resident’ Boss on Bell’s Diagnosis, a Finale Return & More
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Resident Season 5, Episode 11 “Her Heart.”]
The Resident returns with a heart-wrenching winter premiere (and one of the series’ best episodes).
First, there’s Dr. Randolph Bell’s (Bruce Greenwood) diagnosis: multiple sclerosis. Though he tries pushing away his girlfriend, Chastain’s CEO Dr. Kit Voss (Jane Leeves), she refuses to let him. “Whatever complications may be ahead, we will face them together because you are the great love of my life. And I’m pretty sure I’m the great love of yours,” she tells him. Together with his stepson Jake (Conrad Ricamora), they’ve started looking into treatment options.
Elsewhere, Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) treats the donor recipient of Nic’s heart and brings their daughter GiGi (Remington Blaire Evans) to listen with a stethoscope. “Hi, mommy,” GiGi says. Plus, Dr. AJ Austin (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) tries to fight to get his mother into Dr. Devon Pravesh’s (Manish Dayal) trial, then must accept she doesn’t meet the criteria and would rather focus on palliative care.
Co-showrunner Andrew Chapman breaks down the episode and teases what’s ahead.
When and how was the decision made for Bell to have multiple sclerosis?
Andrew Chapman: The decision was made a while ago and with a lot of debate and forethought. We really wanted it to be thematic to the show and to the season going forward. You and I have talked a lot about the idea that this season has a lot of work-life balance involved in it, and MS is one of those diseases that can be brutal and debilitating for some people and for other people can be really just a chronic thing that you manage. It has a lot of variability, and so we really wanted to have this disease that could go either way. MS is a disease that has a really strong community of people who are managing it and they’re very vocal and political, and we really wanted to respect that community. We did a lot of research. We talked to a lot of our doctors.
It’s all part of Bell’s story arc. In the very first episode of the very first season, he kills a guy giving the guy an appendectomy, and then he covers it up. This is a very different doctor now, five seasons later. This is a guy who’s trying to figure out what it is to be both a patient and a doctor, and he’s trying to figure out the core question of the whole show: What kind the doctor are you gonna be? How are you gonna impact your patients in the world? Bell struggling with a disease is struggling with that question: What kind of doctor are you gonna be going forward?
We’re just starting to see how he’s handling his diagnosis, and Bruce Greenwood was so good in this episode.
Wasn’t he fantastic? He’s great in general, but in this episode, there’s just these moments when he looks like he’s in so much inner turmoil and you can just see the pain on his face and the struggle. He’s so human.
What are we gonna see from him going forward and what is next for him career-wise? Because Kit is so sure that he’ll return to Chastain.
This is why we chose MS, because it is variable, because there are doctors, there are surgeons out there who absolutely continue to work with MS and are cleared for surgery. And there are doctors out there who retire, who give it up, who can’t go forward. We’re gonna really dive deep into that question and where it’ll go and what kind of doctor Bell will be going forward. How does he become the best person and the best surgeon, given what’s going on with him? Bruce is gung-ho, and he’s been doing all this research and talking to all these people.
What’s next for Kit and Bell regarding his diagnosis — as a couple and since she’s CEO, so she has to think about the hospital?
Absolutely. We love the relationship between Kit and Bell. Audiences love that relationship. It’s really human. It’s really grounded. It’s like watching these two mature actors express their love for each other. Jane Leeves and Bruce Greenwood in real life are just wonderful together and adoring of each other — they both have spouses and they’re in committed relationships, but as friends on set, they’re funny, they’re charming. They’re exactly as you see them onscreen. They really adore each other and they really are supportive of each other. When Bruce is in an episode and Jane’s not there, she worries. “Is he gonna be OK by himself? Do I really need to be around?” And it’s so darling. We love them as a committed relationship going forward. They lend a kind of grounded love and weight. They lend a center to the hospital and to the show, which we love.
That “great love of my life” declaration seems to suggest that a wedding could be in the cards. And last we spoke, you said that the issue of a wedding will be on people’s lips. Is there anything else you can say now?
I can only continue to say that it’s in the cards and that it will be an issue moving forward.
I was watching Cade (Kaley Ronayne) closely for her reaction to learning about Nic, and we see she’s trying to keep everyone at arm’s length. What can you say about what she’s hiding and what to keep in mind about her from this episode?
Cade’s backstory and background is gonna be revealed in the next three, four, five episodes. You’ll learn more and more about why she has this mysterious background and what it’s all about, and it will tie in very closely to the ongoing big thriller story that we’re gonna tell in the back half of the season. It’s gonna be about the thing that we always tackle, which is the corruption of the healthcare system by money, and Cade will have been involved in that in a way that will be interesting and different and we’ll definitely learn all about it. But she’s definitely hiding things, and when it comes out what she’s hiding, it’ll be really shocking.
You’ve talked about the areas in medicine you’re bringing into focus with AJ and his mom. Now, he’s had to accept where they are, so what does this mean for the AJ we’re going to see going forward?
We’re really exploring the idea of what it is to be a doctor with somebody in your family that is dying. It’s a storyline that will really resonate with audiences because let’s face it, most of us have had someone that we love care about — a grandparent, a parent, ourselves eventually — get sick and struggle with their own mortality and how we deal with that going forward, how a doctor deals with that. How much do you intervene? How much do you not intervene? Do you intervene to save that person you love, when maybe they don’t want the pain of the saving and maybe they just need to live the best possible life they can lead in the time they have left?
It’s an issue in healthcare, in medicine, in America that’s underserved and really needs to be talked about. We’re gonna talk about it in AJ’s case and really dig deep into that. It’s gonna be very, very, very powerful and really resonate with our audiences in a deep and emotional way. And it’ll resonate for AJ. He’s a mama’s boy and that’s what’s wonderful and fun about him. He’s this emotional arrogant bragger, but he’s also deeply attached to his mom and nostalgic and sentimental about her.
Devon’s been tested with clinical trials already. What are some major challenges coming up for him?
What I love about this episode and the whole idea of Devon becoming this scientist doctor is it really cuts to like the thematic heart of the show. Early on, Conrad is this rule breaker in Season 1, Season 2, who’s trying to impart to Devon how you become a rule breaker and still be a doctor. What are the rules that you break to save lives? And now Devon is this doctor/scientist and a scientist, if you break the rules, you might screw up the science. In a sort of a zeitgeisty kind away, this is what the entire country is dealing with. When you talk about COVID, you talk about mask policy or vaccines or vaccine mandates and we’re all trying to figure out the science and all the doctors are trying to figure out what’s best and how do we save the most lives and be compassionate and yet at the same time respectful of other people’s wants and desires and needs. In a thematic, metaphoric way, that’s the question that we’re dealing with with Devon and his being a scientist and these clinical trials and that’s going to continue going forward. We’ll see him dealing with other patients in clinical trials, and we’ll see the seriousness with which he treats the clinical trials and the science and the outcomes.
Since we’re now in the second half of the season, is there anything you can tease about plans for the finale?
The finale is going to have a huge surprise, and it’s gonna be great. There will be a returning character that will knock your socks off.
The Resident, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox