Spoilers ahead for the winter premiere of Chicago Med Season 5, called "Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore."
One Chicago finally returned to the airwaves in January to answer some of the big questions left over from all the fall finales, and Med delivered a doozy of a development when it comes to Will Halstead and Natalie Manning's relationship. After some back and forth in the first half of the season that culminated with Natalie getting her memory back just as Will decided they weren't good for each other, "Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore" delivered what seemed like a killing blow to the Manstead dynamic. But, according to the showrunners, there's hope.
First, a quick recap of what went down. The winter premiere, which also dealt with the Ethan/April/Marcel triangle and revealed the aftermath of Caroline Charles' death, saw a woman named Lynn bring her young son Jesse into the hospital with a nasty burn on his leg. It turned out that Lynn had been a patient of WIll's four years previous, and she'd become hooked on pain meds after he'd prescribed her oxy. Feeling guilty and not wanting Lynn to lose Jesse to Child Protective Services, Will convinced Natalie to send Jesse to the PICU for 48 hours while he tried to help Lynn.
Unfortunately, helping Lynn consisted of putting her through a dangerous rapid detox, and although she did survive and come out the other side potentially ready to raise her son, Natalie had already called CPS after Jesse dropped the shocking reveal that he'd had to revive his mom more than once from drug overdose. Lynn left the hospital AMA, only to wind up back after a severe overdose. She died, after Will blamed Natalie for Lynn losing Jesse.
It was awful and ugly and not something that Will and Natalie seem like they could easily come back from, as friends or romantic partners, at least in the foreseeable future. But is it the end for Manstead? I spoke with Chicago Med showrunners Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov about the winter premiere. When asked if this was going to be an issue between Will and Natalie as Season 5 continues, Frolov said this:
Yes, his sense of betrayal drives a further wedge between the two of them, so it does affect the upcoming episodes, but he goes off on his own journey because of this experience in [Episode] 10 with the drug addict. And his sense of responsibility, or if he's feeling responsible.
Of course, the Chicago Med showrunners weren't going to divulge all the details about the second half of Season 5 that fans are undoubtedly dying to know after "Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore," so we can't say at this point if Will and Natalie's relationship is going to remain as volatile and damaged as it was at the end of the winter premiere. A "sense of betrayal" doesn't bode well, though.
That said, Natalie was arguably right in this particular conflict, so I wouldn't surprised if she doesn't back down from believing she made the proper call. There were no guarantees that Lynn would be able to care for her son as he needed after the rapid detox, and the fact that Lynn gave her young son the means to treat her drug overdoses -- and he'd had to do it -- was a sign that he was safer in a different situation.
Could Will come to see that Natalie wasn't in the wrong, even if she didn't make the right decision for Lynn to get her son back? And could that be the first step toward the formerly engaged duo rebuilding their dynamic? The future may look grim for Will and Natalie in the immediate aftermath of the winter premiere, but that doesn't mean fans should give up on them.
When I asked Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov if they had any hopeful words for Will and Natalie fans after watching their relationship hit such a low point, they shared this:
Andrew Schneider: Hopeful? Yes. We have many seasons yet to go. [laughs] They have a very deep relationship, and that'll never change. And it may come back in a profound way. Just, Will was serious at the end of [Episode] 9 when he said he was done, but you know, never doesn't always mean never.
Diane Frolov: We do want to give them some time to develop outside of that relationship and to see Will not so focused on Natalie.
So, just because Will and Natalie seemed like they could be done for good based on how angry Will was at the end of the winter premiere doesn't mean Manstead fans should give up hope! Anger doesn't mean their deep relationship can be ruined in one go, and Will has to cool off eventually. There is certainly no guarantee that they'll be romantic again at any point, let alone any time soon, but there's hope.
And it's definitely not a bad thing for these two characters to develop independently of each other, in my book. Manning and Halstead are much more than Manstead, and Will deserves some Will time after everything he's been through over the past ten episodes if that's what he needs. I think there's a lot to look forward to, even if the course of their dynamic won't necessarily be smooth after this "betrayal."
Find out what happens next on Chicago Med when new episodes air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, before new episodes of Chicago Fire at 9 p.m. ET and Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. ET. All three One Chicago series ended their fall finales on various cliffhangers, although at least Med fans weren't facing characters in mortal jeopardy.
Over on Chicago Fire, the fun of Dawson's return took a dark turn by the end of the fall finale thanks to the cliffhanger leaving Severide in danger of burning to a crisp in a basement packed with flammables with an arsonist holding a lit flare. Meanwhile, over on P.D., the fall finale proved Jesse Lee Soffer wasn't messing around when he teased a possible end for Jay Halstead, who was shot in the final moments of that show's fall finale. Between P.D., Fire, and Med, there's never any shortage of One Chicago action.