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The Resident Co-Showrunner Breaks Down Season 5 Finale's Flashbacks With Nic And Conrad, Plus Conrad 'Following His Heart' In Season 6

The Resident Matt Czuchry as Conrad Hawkins
(Image credit: Fox)

Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for the Season 5 finale of The Resident, called “Neon Moon.”

The emotional fifth season of The Resident has come to an end, after 23 episodes of heartbreak, triumph, catharsis, and even the occasional medical breakthrough. The finale brought the season full circle with the return of Emily VanCamp for some flashbacks that reunited her with Matt Czuchry to provide some closure for the Nic/Conrad relationship. Those flashbacks set up Conrad to make a big choice about what romance he wants to pursue next, and co-showrunner Andrew Chapman broke down the approach to the flashbacks as well as Conrad "following his heart" for the sixth season.

Andrew Chapman, who also revealed that the team at the show was already planning for the sixth season before the official renewal news, shared his expectation that fans would be “intrigued” that Conrad “doesn't make a choice on camera between the two women” even after he realizes that he’s ready to move on from Nic. The co-showrunner shared with CinemaBlend how the writers worked on the flashbacks to give Conrad closure without feeling like he was moving on too soon, saying:

We always knew from the moment that we had Nic die in Episode 3 that the season finale would be some form of this. That it would be some form of a moment when Conrad understands that it's time to move on, and we also knew very clearly that we didn't want him to make a choice of who he would move on to in this season. That this season was about closure and being free to make the choice but not making the choice. And that the choice was another season looking forward and going forward.

The finale didn’t pull focus from the closure with Nic by revealing Conrad’s choice for who he wasn’t to pursue next, and even fans who are dying to know who he picks can rest easy knowing that Season 6 is officially happening to reveal what he has in mind next. Andrew Chapman elaborated on the process of crafting the flashbacks to close one story while setting up some new ones for Season 6:

You have so many episodes that you're writing and moving forward through, but we just kind of knew that the shadow of Nic was haunting the entire season and we wanted to be very delicate and careful in putting her into the season finale so that the flashbacks made sense and were emotional and powerful, but they didn't overshadow our other characters… We had to be careful that people didn't watch it and go 'Man, I miss Nic so bad. All I want is for Nic to be on the show.' We wanted it to be 'Man, Nic was great on the show, and we're so glad that Conrad has finally understood how to move forward.' It was a tap dance.

Emily VanCamp’s performance as Nic was as natural as if she’d never left, so she and Matt Czuchry recaptured the chemistry that made them so popular with viewers over the first four seasons. The flashbacks also weren’t to a huge moment in their lives or their relationship, but rather just to their first night out after Gigi was born. 

The Resident Season 5 finale Nic and Conrad

(Image credit: Fox)

There was a little bit of squabbling over a misunderstanding when she spotted Conrad getting a very friendly hug from another woman, but it was overall a nice cap to their relationship that ended on such a heartbreaking note with her death. As it turns out, finding the right balance with those scenes wasn’t easy for the writers, as Andrew Chapman shared:

We really struggled. We really thought hard about how to make those flashbacks work. We didn't want them to be over the top. We wanted them to be simple and prosaic and every day in a way, the way that you have memories of people who you've lost in this world. Those memories are not always explosive memories. They're sometimes just the smallest little things, and we really worked hard to find a storyline that could thread through the entire episode that would make sense, that would give us sort of a resolution to their relationship, but also that was fulfilling and compelling.

Conrad was experiencing these flashbacks throughout the episode, before the culmination with the memory of them in bed together when they discussed moving on if the other died. The trip down memory lane over the course of an hour might not have worked if he was remembering something huge or intense from their relationship. The writers came to an important conclusion about how to handle those scenes, as Chapman continued:

When we realized that there could be a mystery embedded into the flashbacks, that Conrad was having these memories and trying to figure out what those memories were telling him, that was the answer. We were like, 'Oh my God, now we understand. Now we know what it is.' And the rest of it came so easily after that because it made sense. What he's finally coming to understand is that he told Nic to move on in case he dies, that she promised that she would move on, and that that promise allows him to move on now that she's gone. Once he has that revelation, once he has that understanding, then all of a sudden, he's clear. He's wrapped up the relationship. He's honored Nic, but he's honoring her also through moving on with his life. I think everybody feels that way when we're in a relationship. We're like, 'Look, if I die, still love me, but be happy.' That understanding was powerful, and when we got that, in the writing of it, we were like, 'Oh, this makes sense. This works.’

After Conrad’s confession to Billie that the memory of Nic always led him to put his walls up whenever he tried to move on, honoring her while also seeing a path forward was an important step for him. Now, whether or not Billie has a part to play in how he decides to move on remains to be seen. The finale set up Conrad’s last move in Season 5 in a way that he could have been approaching either her or Cade, and fans may have a hard time figuring out who his heart is set on at this point. 

So, who is the first woman to truly capture Conrad’s heart after the death of his wife and mother of his child? The Resident hasn’t given that away just yet, but according to the co-showrunner, Conrad has already made his choice. When I asked if he’s just following his heart or has a pro and con list about the two women, Andrew Chapman said: 

I think he's following his heart, but I think that we all have pro and con lists in our head even when we are following our heart. Cade is sort of like Conrad, right? She's a cowboy and she's a risk-taker, and he's attracted to that, but it also has issues. He's a dad. Is it good for Gigi to be with somebody who's just like him and a risk-taker? And then Billie is sort of maternal and caring and empathetic and she is already a mom and she's had this estranged son come back into her life, and that's really made her have less of a wall around her emotions, so that's really attractive to Conrad too, because he wants that person who will both love him and also be loving to his child. So I think in his head, or in our heads as writers – and as audiences, people who love the show – we were asking ourselves this question all the time. And we've made a choice! Conrad's made a choice. You'll see it in the beginning of the next season and we think that we have a really fun way to unspool what that choice is and how it's worked.

Season 5 ended on more of a bittersweet note than Season 4 did last year, when Nic had given birth to Gigi with no complications and there was no sign that The Resident would have to say goodbye to her in Season 5. Still, Conrad’s journey of loss, grieving, and recovery came full circle with this finale. His future is looking brighter than it has for a long time, and hopefully his next romance goes smoothly. Whether that’s likely with complicated “cowboy” Cade or the more maternal Billie will be revealed in Season 6. 

The Resident is expected to return with Season 6 (and Conrad’s choice) in the fall, although the medical drama as well as 9-1-1 received delayed renewals after some uncertainty that mean they weren’t on Fox’s initial schedule for the beginning of the 2022-2023 TV season. For now, check out our spring TV finale schedule for when more TV shows are ending for the season, and feel free to spend hiatus rewatching earlier seasons of The Resident with a Hulu subscription

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

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