‘New Amsterdam’ Boss on the Original Finale Plan for Max & Helen, Shin’s Introduction & More
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 2 finale of New Amsterdam, “A Matter of Seconds.”]
New Amsterdam ended its second season early with what should have been its 18th episode, and when production resumes, it’s unclear what we’ll see next.
“I don’t think we can ignore the reality of the pandemic, especially as health care professionals in New York City at a large public hospital,” showrunner David Schulner told TV Insider. “All our plans are out the window, and like everyone else in the world, we’re going to have to rethink everything we do.”
In “A Matter of Seconds,” Helen (Freema Agyeman) and Bloom (Janet Montgomery) tried to figure out what was causing similar, alarming symptoms in patients. It was when the same thing happened to new trauma surgeon Dr. Cassian Shin’s (Daniel Dae Kim) patient that they found the answer: the problem was with the auto-injectors. Though they initially worried that they didn’t contain morphine like they should have, Bloom confirmed — by tasting it — that they did. There was just too much.
“The good ideas reveal themselves when everyone in the room gets excited,” Schulner shared. “That just seemed like such a bad idea and yet the best thing she could do. You do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Those are always really exciting character moves.”
Meanwhile, one relationship came to an end — Max’s (Ryan Eggold) with Alice, when he realized he couldn’t just keep pretending — and another one may just be beginning — Helen and Shin’s.
Here, Schulner discusses “A Matter of Seconds” and the pandemic’s effects on the NBC drama and reveals the original plans for the Season 2 finale.
We saw Max grieving this season, and he tried to move on. What did you want to show with his new, albeit temporary, relationship, and the decision he makes to stop pretending?
David Schulner: We were conscious of letting Max go through as many stages of grief as we could. The rebound relationship is a part of that. Wanting to be ready doesn’t mean you’re ready, and Max wanted to be ready to move on, even if he wasn’t.
That’s what the relationship with Alice let us explore: the difficulty of moving on and the confusion that grief brings emotionally, how it comes in waves. As soon as you think you’re okay, you get hit by another wave you didn’t see coming. His relationship with Alice was all about Max riding those waves and ultimately getting hit with a wave he didn’t see coming.
I did appreciate getting to see Dr. Shin’s scenes from the episode that didn’t air to get an idea of the kind of doctor he is. What did you want to do with his introduction and how he differs from the others? Will that change?
I don’t think so. [Laughs] That’s one of the reasons we love the character and what Daniel Dae Kim did with him because he has no interest in changing. What he does works for him. How he works works for him. I love what he says in the episode that didn’t air, but you get to see the scene. He didn’t come to New Amsterdam to save everyone. He came to New Amsterdam to save trauma victims. And if he is off being quixotic like Max is, he won’t be able to do his job. Dr. Sharpe sparks to that idea, possibly, as a healthier way to be than what Max asks of everyone.
We see Helen and Shin together at the end of the episode. There is something attractive about them together, romantically, yes, but also just in scenes together at the hospital. What did you want to do with those two with his introduction and what seems to be them on track for a potential romantic relationship?
Yeah, definitely. He opens up Sharpe’s eyes to a different way to be. Up to now, no one has challenged Max’s approach. Everyone has fully bought into his philosophy of running the hospital, but obviously, there are downsides to trying to care of everyone, that perhaps you’re not taking care of yourself, which I think is very true of Max.
Sharpe makes a conscious choice in the finale to go with Cassian rather than Max. That is a very micro decision about one particular evening, but it’s also a macro decision about where Sharpe sees herself in the future.
Speaking of that decision, where did you want to take Max and Helen’s relationship near the end of the season and what can you tease about how that will continue to play out?
As a lot of fans have been wondering, when were Max and Sharpe going to address that almost combustible kiss or something that happened in Episode 16? That was going to be a big part of the finale. Everything was going to come out and we were going to have a big come to Jesus moment between them. That’ll happen eventually.
But I don’t think we can just pick up where we left off in Season 3. I don’t think we can ignore the reality of the pandemic, especially as health care professionals in New York City at a large public hospital. Just like everyone else’s plans and lives and storylines were interrupted by this pandemic, I think New Amsterdam is no exception and we all have to recalibrate for it.
Bloom and her mother have been working on their relationship, and the sentiment behind the birthday surprise was nice, even though it’s sad Jeanie doesn’t know her birthday. How will having her mother in her life affect Bloom going forward?
Bloom lets her guard down, finally, with her mom. I hope that Bloom doesn’t get the rug swept out from under her, as is usually the case when Bloom lets her guard down with her mom.
Brantley and Kapoor?! Is that a new romance we’re going to see play out in Season 3?
I hope so. It was definitely our plan to continue that, but like I said, all bets are off because of this pandemic. As health care professionals on the front lines, some of our characters might not come back next year. We have to dramatize the effects of the pandemic on the nurses and our doctors and we have to reflect the world that we’re living in. Without proper protection, our health care professionals are dying. We’d be irresponsible not to address that.
Could that be how we might see Reynolds again? He’s in San Francisco, but this could bring him back home.
It could be, yeah.
What can you share about storylines that weren’t produced and any that might be cut completely?
I think we’ll be using many of the storylines that we had planned. They’ll just have to happen in a different order in different places. The biggest thing is obviously our pandemic episode, which had really important storylines, not only about the influenza but that our characters went through. One of our hardest jobs will be deciding whether to try to introduce those character storylines in future episodes or to let the pandemic episode air earlier so our audience knows where our characters are in their particular storylines.
Besides the Max and Helen stuff, what can you say about the original plan for the season finale?
The original plan was we were going to shoot the finale in the Dominican Republic during hurricane season. The original plan was to shoot it in Puerto Rico before the earthquakes happened, then when [they] happened, we moved to the Dominican Republic for our finale and we did a big scout there. It was going to be a really exciting, action-packed episode about how these islands are ill-equipped to handle the amount and power of hurricanes because of global warming.
Would any characters have died? Would there have been a cliffhanger?
There would have definitely been cliffhangers, but we weren’t going to repeat what we did in Season 1. It wasn’t going to be a life-or-death cliffhanger.