Chicago Med interview: EPs explain Colin Donnell, Norma Kuhling exits

Ava BekkerEntering the Chicago Med season 5 premiere, it was common knowledge that both Colin Donnell and Norma Kuhling were going to be leaving the series. Yet, there was still mystery surrounding how it was going to happen. (Warning: Premiere spoilers ahead.)

Within the closing minutes of this episode, everything was spelled out — and it was dark. After being confronted with potential evidence that she killed Connor Rhodes’ father, Ava Bekker chose to bleed herself out in the hospital, ending her own life in what felt like the ultimate Shakespearean tragedy. She is gone, and Connor determined that he couldn’t stay in this hospital anymore and continue to work.

In our interview with executive producers Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, they talk through the decision made to write out these characters in such a way — remember, in part one of our interview they confirmed that they had to change things given that they were not originally planning to wrap things up so soon. They also talked about one of the episodes’ best scenes, where Connor tells Dr. Latham about his decision to depart, and then also Crockett, a new character you met in the premiere.

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What made you decide to kill off Ava, and then have Connor decide ‘you know what? This is too much for me.’ After that, I fully understand why he would leave.

Frolov – That’s what we wanted. We wanted the audience to understand his departure. We also wanted Ava to have her ultimate revenge.

Schneider – It really forced him to leave. In a lot of ways, their stories really dovetail. Her death was the final thing that made him decide that he had to leave.

Is this incident going to be something that hangs over the hospital for some time? These people were close to Connor and Ava before all of this.

Schneider – It does come back, though our second episode jumps ahead in time. It’s not as though we’re picking it up the next day. They have processed this, but it is a stunning thing to have happened.

Frolov – We have an episode with some new medical students coming in and then Natalie coming back.

My favorite moment of this episode was Connor having that moment with Dr. Latham, where Latham was telling him that he didn’t want him to go. I love Ato [Essandoh] and it’s always great to have him back, but since we didn’t have goodbyes with Connor and a lot of other characters, what made this particular conversation so important and representative of other goodbyes?

Frolov – Latham was his mentor. They had this deep relationship. Connor brought Dr. Latham out in a way. Even though Latham doesn’t express his emotions very much, he feels them. We just thought that this would be a very touching scene for all that wouldn’t be said.

Schneider – It was an important scene in resolving his exit, and that scene with Latham sets up the final goodbye to Goodwin.

We know that Natalie is alive, but there are these other issues now in memory loss. I’m not a doctor, but my understanding is that traumatic brain injuries are very difficult to set a specific recovery time from. How will this impact her, and also impact Will?

Frolov – It’s big. She does go to rehab and therapy in that time frame we were talking about, but when she comes back, Dr. Lannick thinks she’s come back too soon. There’s doubt about her capabilities as a doctor. Even Will at times is worried about her in that way.

For Will, he’s not satisfied that she was coming to tell him that she was engaged [before the incident in the finale].

Schneider – He can’t let go of his feelings for Natalie and it creates a triangle with Phillip.

Let’s dive into new characters. Is there anyone now coming up you’re excited for people to know about?

Frolov – In the first episode, we had a newcomer and that’s Crockett. He is an important new character.

Schneider – He can work in the hybrid OR and he’s a very different kind of guy.

Frolov – He has a different energy and a way to go about looking at things.

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