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New Amsterdam's Ryan Eggold And Executive Producer Break Down The [Spoiler] Final Scene And 'Catharsis' After Losing Helen In Season 5 Premiere

Warning: many spoilers are ahead for the Season 5 premiere of New Amsterdam, called “TBD.”

New Amsterdam returned to NBC for its fifth and final season that had to begin by addressing the end of Season 4. Sharpwin fans were dealt a serious blow when Helen called off their wedding from across the pond, and actress Freema Agyeman’s announcement over the summer meant that there wasn’t going to be a happy resolution in the fall. Now, star Ryan Eggold and executive producer David Schulner opened up about the Bollywood final scene of “TBD” and the “catharsis” that came with it.

The Season 5 premiere had some serious highs and lows, with the lows largely centering on Max’s efforts to move on from losing Helen… and Luna wondering where her “mum” is didn’t help. Freema Agyeman made a voice cameo in a letter that attempted to give Max some closure (and the bosses shared that they dropped clues in Season 4 to foreshadow the heartbreaking twist), and he was able to channel his energy into helping a young boy achieve his dying wish of visiting a Bollywood movie set. 

Unfortunately, all the combined energy in the world (with Max, Wilder, Reynolds, and even Brantley joining in) couldn’t make the boy well enough to travel to India, so they decided to throw him a Bollywood sequence of his own right there in the hospital. Not only did it give the boy something to celebrate, but the doctors jumped in to participate and join in the fun as well. 

Max had a lingering look at Dr. Wilder in the final moments after she tried to get him to dance, which suggests that maybe she could help him with what Ryan Eggold described as Max’s “healing.” The Bollywood number was a cathartic way to end the premiere and set up that the final season won’t be thirteen episodes of mourning the Sharpwin relationship. David Schulner shared that this particular storyline was originally planned for years ago, saying:

Well, the funny thing was this was going to be originally our Season 2 finale. This storyline was going to be the end of Season 2, and then COVID happened. And then we couldn't do it in Season 3, because it involved too many people, and COVID restrictions made it so there could only be a limited number of people on set. So we couldn't do it in Season 3. In Season 4, we just couldn't find a place for it, and so we were so excited to have it open Season 5 and kind of signal to the audience, this was going to be a joyful season, this was going to be a celebratory season, and this was going to be a fun season.

Apparently, the beginning of the fifth and final season was finally when the time was right for New Amsterdam to go full Bollywood! Even though finding joy was more of a theme for the fourth season, the dance number was intended to be a sign that celebration and fun can still happen despite the huge shakeup. Ryan Eggold, who directed “TBD” as well as starred, shared his own perspective on the ending:

The Bollywood dance summer was probably my favorite thing to shoot in 501. It was a beautiful episode all around, so there was a lot of great stuff to shoot. But that was just amazing, because we had amazing dancers in our hospital and our set, this incredible guy... did the choreography and he was fantastic. It was great to shoot that. I mean, we had more than we needed, because we couldn't stop shooting it because the choreography was great. Then shooting it from every angle, and then putting our regulars in. Putting Tyler [Labine] and Jocko [Sims] and everybody in for these fun little moments that were kind of freebies, and just those were really fun, and I think had a lot of life.

Eggold made sure to credit the choreographer who brought that “life” to the Season 5 premiere, when Max seemed like he needed a jolt of happiness to his system. Although he didn’t join in the dancing himself, it was clear that seeing all the joy was doing him a lot of good after how all of his friends were there for him in the beginning of the episode. The actor/director elaborated on what made this a “touching” story, saying:

I just thought, as an audience member, as a reader of that script, I just thought it was a really touching storyline. And it really embodies what this show does best in my view, which is, we can't always solve the macro issue overnight. We can't necessarily get this kid to Bollywood to be in a movie and make his dreams come true. But we can bring a piece of it to him and find that joy and that catharsis and manage it on the individual level. It's really a wonderful distillation of the show for me.

“Catharsis” was actually the perfect word for how New Amsterdam wrapped its first episode of Season 5, as it followed Max’s realization that he made a mistake in trying to fix everything for Helen. When I asked if learning not to try to fix things for everybody else is a lesson that Max “How Can I Help?" Goodwin can learn, Eggold responded:

I think sort of his series arc is figuring out – ironically, and get ready for it – how to help people. [laughs] I think that sometimes helping someone is letting them go. Sometimes helping someone is releasing and letting someone be who they are in that instance, and other times it's leaning in, and it's knowing when to give more, to give less and all that. So I think that's something that Max has struggled with from the beginning, because he so doggedly tries to help everyone and save the world. That's his greatest strength and his greatest flaw at the same time, Yeah, I think I think he'll continue to learn that in [Season] 5. I mean, same place he started in [Season] 1, really. Same lesson he's still learning.

The only bad news is that Max only has twelve episodes left to learn whatever lessons are necessary, as Season 5 only received an order for 13 episodes. Still, the Season 5 premiere set up what could be a joyous and celebratory season, which bodes well for finishing the stories of these characters.

New episodes of New Amsterdam air on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. You can also revisit some New Amsterdam days gone by streaming with a Peacock subscription, and find some more viewing options with our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.