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MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for the Season 2 premiere of New Amsterdam, "Your Turn."
New Amsterdam delivered one of the most killer cliffhangers of the spring back when it left the fates of three major characters uncertain, and fans knew well ahead of the September 24 second season premiere that Helen Sharpe, Lauren Bloom, or Georgia would be dead following the ambulance crash. The Season 2 premiere took its time in revealing which of the women died, and there was a major red herring that may have given fans hope that maybe all three lived after all. Alas, one of the ladies did indeed die, and the showrunner explained why!
But let's start with what happened and who died:
Sadly, it was Georgia. When the episode kicked off, it seemed that New Amsterdam immediately ruled out Max's wife as the one to die. "Your Turn" opened with the seemingly happy couple in bed together, only to be roused by the crying of three-month-old Luna. Georgia apparently wasn't feeling 100% back to health, and told Max it was his "turn" to tend to their crying daughter. Max did so, and took Luna to work with him for hospital daycare. Yay for the family remaining alive and intact, right?
Not so much. The episode toyed with Helen fans' emotions for a bit when it revealed somebody else sitting in Helen's office, handling Max's treatment, but Helen was soon revealed to be alive. As was Lauren, although she's in pain from the effects of the crash. Something had to be off, and the clues began to drop when Lauren and Helen shared a scene, which had to be proof that both of them were 100% real and not a hallucination, right?
Fans who realized at that point that Georgia had only interacted with Max in the episode probably began to connect the dots, and the end of the episode proved the sad truth: Georgia had died and Max was imagining their interactions in the beginning of the episode. Tragically, he'd arrived at the operating room too late to see his wife alive one more time or say goodbye, as she'd already flatlined.
So, why the decision to kill off somebody so important to Max, both emotionally and practically now that he has a baby daughter to take care of? Showrunner David Schulner explained in a chat with TVLine why he decided Georgia had to be the one to die, saying this:
Well, it’s something I was kind of trying to set up in the pilot episode. When Georgia came in with the preeclampsia, and there was trouble with the baby, I was trying to set up the end of the season in those scenes. As we started talking about our season finale, I chickened out, and I decided we’re going to keep Georgia, because I love Lisa O’Hare, and I just loved seeing Max happy, finally. Then Peter Horton, our executive producer, gently nudged me and supportively said, 'I think you’re chickening out,' and I said, 'I know. I feel it too, but I love these characters, and I don’t want to hurt Max anymore.' And then NBC less gently nudged me and said, 'You’re chickening out. You set this up in the pilot. You’ve been talking about it all year. You should follow your gut.' And so we did it, and it was horribly painful to do in the room as we broke the episode, it was horrible as we wrote the episode, and it was horrible for everyone shooting the episode. It really was like a death. Having Lisa O’Hare play a corpse on that operating table, those things are really hard to ask actors to do, and we didn’t do it lightly, and we didn’t do it cavalierly. A lot of thought and anguish went into the process.
Georgia's fate was sealed way back in the pilot, when she was already having complications with her pregnancy. Although obviously death specifically via ambulance crash right after giving birth couldn't be too specifically foreshadowed that far back, the stage was set.
Touchingly, David Schulner became so fond of having Lisa O'Hare playing Georgia as part of the cast that he came to not want to kill off the character. Ultimately, however, he went ahead and dealt the killing blow to Max's wife. As fans can attest, the episode certainly didn't handle the death lightly, and the ultimate reveal was a gut punch despite the clues along the way that Helen and Lauren were 100% alive, making Georgia the only alternative.
It's already clear that New Amsterdam is going to deal with Georgia's death as an ongoing part of the story, not just killing her off and moving on after the Season 2 premiere. If for no other reason, Max is now the single father to a baby girl. Surely he's not going to be able to care for her without help from time to time, right? Hopefully Helen will help him out on that front. Their friendship seems as intact as ever, despite the ordeal.
Helen has become a fan favorite, so there were a lot of fears following the Season 1 finale that she might have been the one to die. After all, she wasn't shown alive after the initial crash. When asked if he ever considered going a route other than Georgia and killing off Helen or Lauren, David Schulner said this:
No, it was always just a red herring. We set up Lisa in the pilot, and something was going to go wrong during the birth of the child, and we found ways to hide it from the audience as best we could, for as long as we could. Peter, who directed the season finale… came to me and said, 'What if we just didn’t see Sharpe after the ambulance crash?' I think it was casually, just over lunch, I said, 'Yeah, that’s a great idea,' not knowing the impact and the gold that was, of not even seeing Sharpe, [and] how much leeway that would give us going forward in the premiere. And Lauren having just said that she was thinking about taking time off gave us a tremendous amount of red herring-ness in the opening episode.
It was no coincidence that the New Amsterdam finale didn't show Helen after the crash, but that wasn't because David Schulner and Co. were ever considering killing off Helen rather than Georgia. There's a reason why fans had so much to speculate about, ranging from relationships to practicalities to the biggest twist to kick off a season. Personally, I was leaning toward Lauren being the one to die, so Georgia's death came as a surprise.
To see how Max continues to deal (or not deal) with Georgia's death, tune in to NBC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of New Amsterdam Season 2 in the fall TV lineup.