‘New Amsterdam’ EPs on Delaying Sharpwin’s Major Conversation, [Spoiler’s] Return & More
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of New Amsterdam, “The New Normal.”]
COVID changes everything for New Amsterdam (the show and the hospital).
Medical director Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) struggles to get the supplies he and his staff need; it takes connecting with multiple hospitals to get a chain going. His get: drugs to wean Dr. Kapoor (Anupam Kher), who was hit hard by the virus, off the vent. But even then, the “best heart surgeon in the world” wouldn’t be enough, he’s warned. Good thing he has just that person on speed dial: Say goodbye to San Francisco, Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims). It’s time to come home.
Meanwhile, Drs. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) and Cassian Shin (Daniel Dae Kim) have hit the pause button on their budding relationship … and she’s not ready to jump back in even as they reach the other side of the pandemic.
Executive producers David Schulner and Peter Horton take us inside the premiere.
Did you always know Reynolds would be needed again at New Amsterdam this soon?
David Schulner: This was not in our plans at all. We knew Reynolds was going to San Francisco and we knew we wanted him back at New Amsterdam because he’s part of our family. We didn’t know how we were going to get him back. We had some ideas and once COVID happened, we ripped up all of our plans, like the rest of the country. This [brought] Reynolds back in a way that felt organic and not like we were toying with people. It was a really heartfelt way — and not for good, just to help Kapoor.
How much is Sharpe and Shin’s pause about them and how much is it how the pandemic has affected them as individuals?
Peter Horton: That’s a “yes, and…” One of the primary things we’re talking about this season is how do you heal from the pandemic? How do you come back from this and rediscover a new normal? How do you rediscover your humanity at this point? These people who were at ground zero — the real people at Bellevue hospital these characters are, to a degree, based on — went through the epicenter of this in the spring and continue to go through it, and so what toll has that taken on them and how do they heal and how do we all heal?
That is acted out through things like Sharpe’s relationship with Cassian. Unbeknownst to her, she just doesn’t know how to be vulnerable in that way after everything she’s gone through. What does that do to a relationship that otherwise would have been all systems go? That’s underneath everything we experience this season.
Max and Sharpe still have that moment last season to discuss. How has the pandemic affected the plans for their relationship?
Schulner: We were definitely going to address that moment. It was something we knew we owed, and then the pandemic happened. As you see through the montage, almost a year has passed, so all our plans, again, got thrown up in the air. Max missed his daughter’s first birthday, the anniversary of Georgia’s [Lisa O’Hare] death. The Max and Sharpe moment you’re talking about literally fell to the bottom of our doctor’s list of things to do once New York became the center of the pandemic.
I know people wanted to see that scene and we wanted to write that scene, but everything changed and to pretend it didn’t would have been a disservice to the characters and the show. The audience doesn’t need to worry — there’s going to be plenty Max-Sharpe moments and scenes and we’ll always keep exploring their relationship. It changes and evolves and grows deeper and deeper with every season.
As the hospital moves forward from pandemic patients, Shin’s back to “call me only when you need me.” How is that going to cause him to clash with Max this season?
Schulner: Shin actually clashes with some other characters you may not have expected. Everyone assumed there’d be a Max-Cassian blow up, possibly because Sharpe was in the middle of it, but we hope to subvert everyone’s expectations.
Horton: Cassian is a wonderful depiction of both the cockiness and self-importance of a trauma surgeon, along with a full-bodied character to go around it. He clashes with people. He’s got a very candid approach and even abrasive approach to how he has to get his job done to be a great surgeon. That inevitably is going to cause wonderful friction — drama’s based on friction — with a number of characters.
Bloom [Janet Montgomery] admits she missed the worst of the pandemic and helping her patients, even if it was just holding their hands as they died. Does her addiction play a role at all in how she’s feeling?
Horton: All of the doctors are going to have this underneath everything. We all have it, frontline worker or not, but especially the frontline workers. The fun thing about doing a series as opposed to a movie is you get to carry all of the experiences of your characters into the present moment. The fact that Bloom was addicted and has an addictive personality, whether we overtly state it or not, is part of who she is and how we know her to be. That’s not going anywhere. But it isn’t the focus on this year for her. It’s everything. It includes that but isn’t exclusive to it.
New Amsterdam, Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC