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New Amsterdam Boss Breaks Down Max's Big Sharpwin Decision And Challenges Ahead With Veronica Fuentes

new amsterdam season 4 midseason finale sharpwin kiss
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for the Season 4 midseason finale of New Amsterdam, called “Death Is The Rule. Life Is The Exception.”

The fourth season of New Amsterdam hit its midpoint with a superbug ravaging the hospital, and Max and Helen put their travel plans on hold to pitch in to trace the source and find a cure. Max was clearly having some trouble saying goodbye, especially in light of managing the crisis while Veronica Fuentes wasn’t even in New York. He ultimately ran out of time and had to decide: would he stay at New Amsterdam or go build a new life in London with Helen? And what of Fuentes after her move against Max? Well, he made his call, and showrunner David Schulner spoke with CinemaBlend about what happened with Sharpwin and more in the midseason finale, plus what happens next. 

Even though it’s probably safe to say that the New Amsterdam team wouldn’t have found the way to defeat the superbug in time to save Walsh and others if Max wasn’t around, and even though Reynolds spelled it out for Max that everybody wanted him to stay, he chose love over obligation and is heading to London to start fresh with Helen. When I spoke with showrunner David Schulner about the midseason finale and what’s on the way in the new year, I noted that a lot of fans never really expected Max to go, and he responded:

We tried to tell everyone! No one believed us. I mean, we did make it as hard as possible for Max to leave. That was really the burden of our jobs for Season 4, is no one believed he would go, and then how could we make it as difficult as possible for the character to still leave. And that's what Veronica brought. And that's what this superbug for the midseason finale brought us. We just tried to test Max's resolve as much as we could. And it worked, he came through!

New Amsterdam threw just about every hurdle in the way of Max and Helen happily heading off to London together, but he got in the cab with Helen rather than staying behind. It did seem like he was fighting a losing battle against Fuentes, and his feelings for Helen were so strong as soon as they made the jump to romance that he barely even hesitated in wanting to go to London with her. The show had to build their relationship strongly enough in the first half of the season for it to make sense that Max of all people would walk away from the hospital, and David Schulner explained the approach:

I felt like we didn't have to do much, because this relationship has been building for three years. So I felt like it had a foundation that we could just keep drawing from and building on top of, because it's not like they just met and started dating. They've been best friends and confidantes for three years. So we really just wanted to throw as much as we could at them and see how they come through it. And each time we threw something at them, we know they'd come out the other side because of this foundation that they have. So it was super fun for us as writers to just test them every which way we could. And that final test being Max leaving New Amsterdam for her love, for joy.

As sad Sharpwin leaving may be for the characters who were left behind at New Amsterdam with the prospect of Fuentes continuing to make changes, good for Max and Helen for choosing love and joy! They deserve it after what they went through in Season 3, and romance was really just an evolution in their dynamic. They didn’t have to get to know each other, so they aced every test and cleared every hurdle. Considering what may have been a Bloom/Leyla breakup and the pregnancy bombshell in the Reynolds/Malvo/Baptiste relationship, it’s good that at least one romance is on solid ground!

But while they were able to manage every obstacle together while in New York, how will they fare in London? David Schulner previewed the challenges that are on the way for both Max and Helen, as well as how those challenges will compare to what’s happening back at New Amsterdam:

Well, they have their own challenges in London. Just because they're following the joy doesn't mean it's going to be easy. They've got their own challenges. Sharpe with her mother, Max finding his footing in a new country, both as a father and as a doctor. So there's tons of challenges for them in London, but it's certainly joyous for them. It's certainly a lot of joy, even with the challenges that they have to face. And unfortunately, we juxtapose that joy in London with what's happening at New Amsterdam, which could not be worse. Fuentes has remade the whole hospital in her image. And our characters are suffering the worst of it, no doubt.

A “joyous” experience is certainly good news for Sharpwin, even though it sounds like there’s no shortage of complications in store for them. Helen’s relationship with her mom was challenging even before she moved back across the Atlantic, complete with a man and his young daughter in tow, so it’s not hard to imagine that she’ll have a lot to deal with on that front. 

As for Max, he’ll be in an entirely new place with his daughter who might have her own adjustments to make. At least it sounds better than what Reynolds, Bloom, and Iggy are facing with Fuentes remaking New Amsterdam in her own image! When I mentioned to David Schulner that actress Michelle Forbes has been so good at being bad, he responded:

I know! Everyone hates her so much. I've never seen an audience hate someone this much. And that's a testament to Michelle Forbes.

Members of the cast, crew, and now showrunner have had nothing but good things to say about Michelle Forbes, so she really is nailing her performance as a character who is so widely disliked. At the same time, Fuentes actually has had good points about changing some of Max’s policies from a financial perspective, to the point that the board voted to keep her in charge despite some controversial decisions. David Schulner shared how Fuentes will be running the hospital once she no longer has Max getting in her way: 

She is running the hospital like a corporation. Which, spoiler alert, is how American healthcare is run. Like a corporation, with special interests, from the pharmaceutical companies and special interests from lobbyists. And what's great about what we're doing in London, is we're juxtaposing a corporate American health care system with a socialist one where healthcare is a human right. Where healthcare is a guarantee as opposed to crapshoot, and a winner-take-all wealthy elite system that we have here. Don't get me started. … What Veronica is doing is actually what happens when corporations determine your life, your health.

Fuentes’ methods of running the hospital sound just about as different from how Max “How Can I Help?” Goodwin approached things as possible. The relocation from New York to London will serve a larger purpose for the story, even beyond advancing the Sharpwin relationship and leaving New Amsterdam in Fuentes’ hands. With two key characters in the United Kingdom, the series can show off the differences between healthcare systems. And it certainly sounds like the American healthcare system isn’t going to look great in the comparison! As for how the characters who remained at New Amsterdam will deal with this new era under Veronica Fuentes, the showrunner explained:

Our characters at New Amsterdam feel abandoned, there's no doubt about it. Max left them at the worst possible moment in their careers, in their lives. And all of our characters start the season [in 2022] a bit defeated by Veronica, but there is a spark of resistance in the form of Dr. Wilder, who is brand new to New Amsterdam and is going to carry on Max's tradition as best she can.

Max is gone, but his legacy will live on in the form of Dr. Wilder, played by Sandra Mae Frank and brought on board to replace Helen as the head of oncology. She was a hit with the other doctors when she came on board to pull off a miracle surgery, and clearly wasn’t Veronica Fuentes 2.0, so it should be fun to see the “spark” that she brings to the hospital during what sounds like a very dark time. 

Unfortunately, fans have to wait a bit to see for themselves what happens next after the midseason finale. New Amsterdam is heading into winter hiatus until 2022, and won’t return to NBC for the midseason premiere until Tuesday, January 4 back in its 10 p.m. ET time slot. Be sure to check back with CinemaBlend for more on New Amsterdam Season 4, and take a look at our 2021 TV premiere schedule for what is left to hit the small screen before the end of the year.

Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.