How The Resident Used A Major Trauma To Set Up Emily VanCamp's Return As Nic

Matt Czuchry as Conrad Hawkins in The Resident Season 5
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 21 of The Resident Season 5, called “Risk.”

The Resident only has a couple of episodes left before the end of Season 5, and “Risk” delivered a major trauma that set up a big event coming in the finale: Emily VanCamp’s return as Nic. Of course, the medical drama isn’t resurrecting Nic in the present, but the character will appear via flashback intended to help Conrad move on from her death (which you can revisit streaming with a Hulu subscription) and look ahead to a new romance. Now, the show set up why Conrad is ready to move on and really needs to think back on Nic, and it has to do with Cade… and maybe even Billie

The trauma lasted for almost the entire episode, but the inciting incident came early on when Cade’s attempt to leave Chastain for good was ruined when a shooter opened fire on her car and inflicted some injuries that looked like she was doomed. The doctors had all hands on deck, but none was so affected as Conrad, who lamented that he and Cade never let themselves get too close because they knew she’d be leaving and they both put barriers up. 

He protested to his friends that he wasn’t projecting Nic’s injuries onto Cade as why he was so determined to save her, then finally opened up to Billie when they had a moment alone observing the surgery. He initially denied that he was in love with Cade, but then said “No” when Billie asked if he was sure. When she asked what his barriers actually are, he was surprisingly candid: 

It’s obvious. It always comes back to Nic. Something that stops me, and it’s not just with Cade. It’s with others, too…. I’m not sure [what stops me]. Protecting myself, maybe. Because I can’t face another loss like that and… do I feel like I’m cheating on Nic? I don’t know. All I know is that whatever I feel only goes so far, and then the walls come up.

Billie – who was looking so emotional that I’m almost surprised that Conrad didn’t pick on some more than friendly feelings from her – suggested that maybe he just needs a little push… and then Devon accidentally spoiled the moment by walking in. “Risk” made it more clear than ever that The Resident is setting Billie and Cade up as Conrad’s most obvious romantic options, but it was this conversation with Billie that really set up why he might actually be able to pursue one of them by the end of the finale. 

Conrad admitting that Nic is holding him back from moving on coupled with the show bringing back Emily VanCamp for flashbacks that will give him the push that he needs seems like a sign that the fifth season could end on a high note. Of course, Season 4 ended on a very high note with the surprisingly crisis-free birth of Gigi, only for Nic to die a few episodes into Season 5, but fans can still be hopeful for a positive ending that carries through into Season 6. 

At this point, the medical drama technically hasn’t been renewed for a sixth season just yet, but why not be optimistic? “Risk” finally debuted Brat Pack alum Andrew McCarthy as Cade’s dad, and the casting reports for him back in April established that there’s the potential for a promotion to series regular status in a sixth season. For now, you can look forward to the final episodes of The Resident Season 5 on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. For when the show will wrap for the season, check out our spring TV finale 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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).