‘The Resident’ Boss on That Twist for Mina & AJ, a Bruce Greenwood Line, and More
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Resident Season 4, Episode 10, “Into the Unknown.”]
While Dr. AJ Austin (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) plans to go to Nigeria with his girlfriend Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson), whose visa is about to expire, he must stay behind. His mother has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The hospital staff throws a farewell party.
“You are my family, and I love you,” Mina tells everyone.
She then enlists her best friend Nic (Emily VanCamp) to watch over AJ during their own emotional goodbye. “You are my sister,” Mina says.
As for her future with AJ, “this is not over,” she insists as she heads to the airport.
But Wilson is leaving The Resident, TV Insider has confirmed, so Mina and AJ’s relationship is over soon after it started.
“After deeply thoughtful reflection, I approached the producers some time ago asking to leave the show and they agreed — and gave my character a wonderful sendoff,” Wilson said in a statement. “I am appreciative of them for allowing me to embody as beautiful of a soul as Dr. Mina Okafor. I would also like to thank the studio, network, cast, crew and, most of all, the wonderfully dedicated fans of The Resident for their support over the last four seasons.”
“Losing the extraordinary Shaunette is heartbreaking for us, but we are honoring her request to leave with gratitude and respect for her contribution to the show,” the show’s executive producers said in a statement. “We want the fans to know that we have lots in store for A.J. as he reels from this loss, and we want Shaunette to know the door is always open.”
TV Insider also turned to co-showrunner Andrew Chapman for insight into Mina’s exit and what’s next.
How did this end up being Mina’s exit storyline? Did you know Shaunette was leaving at the beginning of the season?
Andrew Chapman: We knew she was leaving pretty close to the beginning. She asked to be let go. We were heartbroken and we love the character of Mina. We love Shaunette. She was so foundational to the show, just such a presence. We just didn’t know exactly when she would exit and that was worked out and then we wrote to it to give her 10 episodes.
It makes sense that she leaves to go be a rock star in Nigeria because she has been one at Chastain.
Don’t you think like Shaunette and Mina, the combination, they’re going to be rock stars no matter where they go? Shaunette’s going to rock whatever she has, and Mina’s going to go off to Nigeria and be a rock star there. That is the DNA of the character.
Why did you explore AJ and Mina’s relationship finally in this way leading up to her exit?
If we’d had Mina for longer, we would have extended it obviously. But when we knew that she was going to leave this season, we decided that we’d been toying with their love relationship and it was so clear that they were such a fantastic couple, even in the flirty, will-they-won’t-they phase and that it was so powerful and that they represented something so fantastic for the show that we thought, “OK, well, if she’s gonna leave, let’s give the audience, and frankly, let’s give us and the characters what we’ve all been wanting, what we’ve all been waiting for: this intense, powerful love relationship.” We just decided that we would do it now and then have the heartbreaking exit of when they’re going to break up. The whole season was the last hurrah for Mina but also for the relationship with AJ.
And it seems like it’s fitting for their characters that they were all in so fast.
Yeah. We played with the idea of when to actually start the relationship. Then when we were writing the [premiere with the] Nic and Conrad wedding and the flashback to the start of COVID, we just thought that was so dramatic and powerful: the combination of this amazing episode all about the horrors of COVID and how heroic our doctors were and then the romantic moment of Conrad and Nic getting married. It felt absolutely perfect.
I was there when we shot their first kiss under the bridge at the wedding venue. It was fabulous. When you saw them kiss, you thought, “OK, I’ve been waiting for this moment. This is great and wouldn’t they just dive in?” Then not only just dive in, but within an episode or two, have a fight and then be mad at each other and then get back together. It was stormy and they both have these great, huge egos and they’re great surgeons. They just seem like the power couple of the universe. We wanted to honor that.
I’m assuming that we’ll only hear about what’s going on with Mina for the rest of the season and there are no plans for her to return?
This season, no, we’ve already written to the end of the season and she does not. We made it super clear to Shaunette that we love her and if she decides that she wants to come back to The Resident, the door’s open.
I have to say how glad I am that there was a [Dr. Randolph] Bell [Bruce Greenwood] and Mina scene and that you didn’t forget where they started. I think that was one of my favorite scenes of the episode.
Isn’t that wonderful? I’ve been on the show since the beginning and in the beginning, he was so awful to her and he was so abusive to her. He talked about screwing her over and booting her plans to be in the United States and screwing up her visa and all the things that eventually came to pass that he had nothing to do with. Calling back to that was so fun. They’re so wonderful together in a way that it’s really the culmination of her from resident to surgical star. She grew up and became a star before our eyes. I’m so glad you liked it because we really love that scene, too.
The mentor/tormenter bit was perfect.
That was a Bruce Greenwood line. We had at first had him say “your mentor.” And then Bruce is like, “I’m not really her mentor. I’m more of her tormentor.” And we were like, “Yep, that’s great. Tormentor. We love that.”
How is everyone going to be handling Mina’s departure? Obviously, AJ and Nic are going to be taking it the hardest.
Absolutely. AJ is going to struggle over the course of the next few episodes, but he will also be struggling with the fact that his mom’s sick and he has to be there for her. That will play through the rest of the season. Nic will also struggle because that’s her best friend out the door. But at the same time, she also has to deal with the fact that she’s pregnant and gonna have a baby. There are these huge life changes that will also preoccupy the characters. [They’ll] begin to make the shift from feeling grief about Mina to moving on with their lives.
The Resident, Tuesdays, 8/7c, Fox