‘The Resident’ Boss on AJ’s Decision, Kit & Bell’s Future, and More

Malcolm-Jamal Warner as AJ in The Resident
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Resident Season 5, Episode 19 “All We Have Is Now.”]

Malcolm-Jamal Warner delivers his best performance of The Resident in the heartbreaking “All We Have Is Now,” as Dr. AJ Austin spends his mother’s (Summer Shelby) last days with her.

After Carol’s death, AJ surprises Padma (Aneesha Joshi) when he shows up in time to donate sperm as her twin, Dr. Leela Devi (Anuja Joshi), is about to have her eggs harvested. There’s one twist: He wants to be a father, not just a donor. Also in the episode, Dr. Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood) loses his position on the medical board as he continues to fight for the patients — and goes on a morning show to call it and the governor out.

Co-showrunner and executive producer Peter Elkoff teases what’s ahead in the final episodes of the season, including with new recurring cast member Andrew McCarthy (who could be a series regular in a sixth season).

How does AJ handle his grief going forward? It seems he’s taking that conversation with his mom about opening himself up to a family to heart, but how else will it affect him?

Peter Elkoff: It’s mostly with the Padma sperm donor story. He will decide that’s the best way for him to forge a closeness. There’s no one in his life right now as a love interest, but there’s a potential for him to find a connection and not to be alone.

That wasn’t exactly part of Padma’s plan, so how are they going to navigate that new dynamic?

That’s a really big part of the last four episodes of the season, is that negotiation. And the complications of it have a lot of tentacles that reach into other people’s stories, particularly Devon [Manish Dayal] and Leela’s. It is something that we fully settle in a really fun way in the finale. Sperm donors are usually anonymous and they don’t get asked for parental rights. Raptor and Padma used to be lovers, and it’s a complicated thing. As you remember, Devon tells Leela he’d be willing to donate sperm to her sister, and that creates its own ongoing drama and complications, so yeah, there’s a lot [about] what all of this unleashes in other characters’ stories.

Manish Dayal as Devon, Anuja Joshi as Leela in The Resident

Guy D’Alema/FOX

Speaking of Devon and Leela, they haven’t been on the same page about kids, and they disagreed about her plan for specializing. What’s next for their relationship?

We’re going to see them really at odds for the first time in this season. It’ll be also tied into some surprises in Devon’s career. While the Carol-Raptor is obviously the emotional and dominant story in the episode, that rabies medical case is really cool and one I really love for the show. It’s also great because Conrad-Devon working together is the meat and potatoes of our show. But this wonderful success that they have opens up unexpected possibilities for Devon because it’s a very rare thing to cure rabies, to save someone who’s already been bitten. Based on the complications with Leela and suddenly he’s blowing up in a scientific way, there’s a lot of drama and potential pitfalls and we settle it in a really cool way in [the finale].

How significant is the danger to Conrad (Matt Czuchry) when it comes to what’s going on with the fake prescriptions? Or is that more something Cade (Kaley Ronayne) has to worry about?

Yes. In Episode 20, it comes to a head because they have an unexpected patient in the emergency room who holds the key for breaking open the story and the case and off that, there are some interesting and scary moments for both of them that will lead to a lot of the action and drama that we lay out from [Episode] 20 through 21, 22, and 23. It’s a pivotal — while 19 is a very pivotal episode, Episode 20 just really lights a burner under the stories as we go forward and finish the season.

Matt Czuchry as Conrad, Kaley Ronayne as Cade in The Resident

Tom Griscom/FOX

Bell is no longer on the medical board and he called it and the governor out on TV. What’s next in his fight there?

He has an interesting dilemma. He’s starting to be nervous about the future of his career as a surgeon because of the multiple sclerosis. It can be a non-event, he can continue if it doesn’t come back, or it could affect him, he doesn’t know. But he’s also suddenly getting all this attention as a scourge of inefficiency and corruption in the medical world. His profile is changing. People are looking at him as this hero, this guy who stands up for patients. If you remember how we began with him, it’s a really nice full circle. He has a lot of options and a lot to celebrate and to be concerned about, so it’s a pretty full plate for Dr. Bell.

The logline for next week’s episode teases “Kit [Jane Leeves] and Bell make a big decision about their future.” Are we talking a proposal? Or talking about talking about a proposal?

You and I are talking about talking about a proposal. Who knows? It could turn into more. Yes, we are heading towards something really wonderful, again, in our final episode that impacts all of our characters in a different way. The denouement of the Bell-Kit story will have strong emotional impact on a lot of different people in a really cool way.

Bruce Greenwood as Bell, Jane Leeves as Kit in The Resident

Tom Griscom/FOX

I love how you’ve handled their relationship this season. It’s so well done.

You have these two wonderful actors who are friends and they’ve been working together a couple years, and it’s just really great when one of our hottest romances is with not-25-year-olds. Our fans love them together, and we just think they’re great.

Andrew McCarthy is coming in at the end of the season as pediatric surgeon — and Cade’s father! — Dr. Ian Sullivan. How will he shake things up at Chastain?

He’s a brilliant surgeon and an incredibly charming guy, but he’s also one of those guys who thinks he’s pretty much God’s gift to everything and everyone — and he may well be — except perhaps to his daughter, who he has a very complicated relationship with. If you have a complicated relationship with Cade, you’re probably going to have a slightly complicated relationship with Conrad. He arrives at the end of Episode 21 and then I was down there for Episode 22, which I wrote with Elizabeth Peterson, and we shot all of his major scenes in Episode 22 where we really introduce him to the cast, and he’s fantastic. Everybody loved him, he’s a great guy, and he inhabited this role that we created to perfection. And he’s really wily and fun and a little bit of trouble.

What’s the next challenge Kit will face as CEO?

She’s not facing any enormous challenges as CEO. Most of what she’s facing is the new characters, with Ian, and her future with Bell, his illness. But there is a fun story where we have a guy who comes in for a lung transplant and he makes it hard for us to give him that transplant for reasons that should probably remain unsaid for the audience and Kit gets brought into a really complicated, moral decision that our doctors, Devon and Raptor, have to make. That’s her big episodic challenge, but her last few episodes are really mostly soap, in a good way.

What else can you tease about the finale and the end of the season heading into a potential sixth?

What we’ve done is we’ve put all of our characters — and this is normally a beginning of the season thing that shows do and I think that we did it in Episode 6 when we did the time jump — on the brink of enormous changes and so as we get through these last, including tonight, five episodes, we’re going to see all of our characters having to make big decisions about their futures. Some, we’ll see what the decisions are, and some, we’ll use as cliffhangers, but the point is everybody is facing enormous changes at the last minute and I think it’ll be really rewarding for the audience, given the stuff we started this season with.

The Resident, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox