Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 winter premiere of Chicago Med on NBC, called "Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore."
Chicago Med returned to the airwaves in 2020 with an episode that jumped more than a month ahead from the fall finale, and it seemingly settled the love triangle for now and dealt a huge blow to Will and Natalie's relationship, but the real heartbreaker of the episode was centered on Dr. Charles. The fall finale ended with Caroline saying goodbye to her friends and daughter, as her end was very nigh, and the winter premiere picked up with Dr. Charles mourning his wife.
Now, not all shows would let the immediate aftermath of such a game-changing death happen off-screen, especially with such a skilled actor as Oliver Platt to demonstrate the early throes of grief. Chicago Med showrunners Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov explained the decision to check in with Dr. Charles after the immediate pain had already passed:
Andrew Schneider: Part of it was because it's following our winter hiatus, and we wanted to make it, in effect, in real time. Ethan is coming back from deployment, it's been six weeks since Caroline died, so we wanted to actually give a sense of his loss. He hasn't resolved, it doesn't really get resolution until closer to the end of the episode, but we wanted to see that he's been dealing with it for a while.
Diane Frolov: And he's been grieving for these six weeks.
While Chicago Med did end the fall TV season with some answered questions, there was no cliffhanger like on Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. that would have made a time jump impossible. Fire and P.D. had to pick up where they left off; Med could keep to real time and show Dr. Charles six weeks into his grieving process. He needed the better part of the hour to get back in the groove at the hospital, but he seems to be slowly but surely on the road to recovery.
Dr. Charles' arc in the winter premiere culminated in a karaoke performance at Molly's, where Goodwin was surprised to learn that he actually planned to sing. He powered his way through an emotional rendition of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" that was positively heartbreaking, and a stellar performance by Oliver Platt. The Med showrunners commented on the song choice in their chat with CinemaBlend:
Diane Frolov: Well, it was expressing his grief and letting go of his wife. That was idea behind it, behind that choice of the song. Sort of ironic.
Andrew Schneider: There were one or two [other contenders], but this is what we landed on.
While the song did cap Dr. Charles' process of dealing with his grief in the winter premiere, viewers shouldn't expect for this to be the last we see of how Caroline's death impacts the characters on Med. It was a big loss, and more people than just Dr. Charles will feel the effects moving forward.
When asked if Caroline's death would impact other characters as Chicago Med continues, Andrew Schneider teased that it won't be Maggie, struggling with her own cancer diagnosis, but another person who will particularly feel the loss:
More for Goodwin. It's really for CC and Charles' close friends, but it'll affect Goodwin and it'll affect her relationship with Bert, her ex-husband. We might see them growing closer together again.
Caroline did use some of her final bursts of energy to try to push Goodwin and Bert towards each other again, so she would likely be pleased to find out that her passing at least had the positive of improving their relationship with each other. That's not to say Bert and Goodwin will be the next Manstead with grandiose drama from season to season, but the loss of Caroline clearly will be felt by Goodwin as well as Dr. Charles.
Another character undoubtedly feeling the loss of Caroline is Robin, who was distressed in the fall finale when she very suddenly faced the prospect of saying goodbye to her mom and never seeing her again. Robin didn't appear with Dr. Charles or anywhere else in the winter premiere, but showrunners Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov promise some coming developments on the Charles family front.
When I asked if we could see Robin return in Season 5, they said this:
Diane Frolov: We may. We think the world of her. He's still her father, so yes.
Andrew Schneider: That hasn't changed.
Diane Frolov: We also are going to meet his other daughter, his youngest daughter that we met when she was about eight years old. We're going to meet her in this second half of the season.
Although there may not be any set plans for Robin to return to Chicago Med, the long-absent Anna Charles is on her way back! Dr. Charles' much younger daughter debuted on Med way back in the Season 2 premiere, but the family focus for Dr. Charles since then has primarily been on Robin and/or Caroline.
Will Med deliver some answers about Anna, her mom, and what she's been up to while off-screen? And could she be what Dr. Charles needs to continue his recovery process? Unlike Robin, Anna won't be old enough to take care of herself. Maybe she needs her dad to be at his best. Whatever role she plays, viewers will get to see her again!
So, even though Caroline is gone, she's not forgotten, and her death doesn't mark the end of any Charles family stories. Thanks to the time jump, Med can continue to show Dr. Charles in the later stages of the grieving process, and the fact that he's well enough to get back to work bodes well for his emotional health.
Then again, Chicago Med has a knack for throwing curveballs at its doctors and nurses just when everything seems to be getting better, so we shouldn't absolutely count on smooth sailing throughout the grieving process for Dr. Charles. Med may get to be more Med-centric in the second half of Season 5, as the massive "Infection" crossover event was firmly planted in the first chunk of the season.
The only other significant One Chicago crossover seemingly in the works for now is between Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. Although the crossover case, which Fire showrunner Derek Haas described as involving a "pretty bad overdose," could technically require some medical expertise, any crossovers involving Med could be pretty minor.