Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Resident Season 5, called “Long & Winding Road.”
Well, The Resident finally did what has been inevitable since the big news over the summer, and said the final farewell to Emily VanCamp’s Nic. With VanCamp choosing to leave the show ahead of Season 5, the show had to find a way to write out Nic after Season 4 ended on such good terms. “Long & Winding Road” revealed that The Resident went the route of killing Nic off. And although it was a truly heartbreaking hour that I’m probably not going to be ready to rewatch any time soon, “Long & Winding Road” ranks as one of the best episodes in the history of The Resident.
For me, anyway. A large part of why this episode was so successful yet so incredibly sad – seriously, I went through plenty of tissues before the final credits rolled – was that it didn’t spend 58 minutes building the hope that Nic could survive, only for her to crash right at the very end and close with Conrad suddenly realizing that his wife was going to die. Nic’s brain death was established about halfway through, with the rest of the episode dedicated to The Resident saying goodbye and the characters getting the screen time to emotionally react. Plus flashbacks, and flashbacks with a character death are always sad!
If anything, The Resident worked through the five stages of grief with various characters, with denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance, although maybe not entirely in that order. And Nic’s death coming as a result of a brain injury in a car crash may still have some element of mystery to it since there was no collision, but it also meant that Nic wasn’t a quite literal bloody mess for the big farewell episode. She looked peaceful. There was nothing sensationalist about how she was killed off, and the focus was on the characters she's leaving behind and her legacy as a person and nurse practitioner.
Even the beats that were predictable – like one of Nic’s organs being used to save one of her former patients who had returned to the hospital after a long battle with COVID – worked emotionally, and nothing was rushed. And The Resident acknowledged the sadness of everybody, even though Conrad obviously felt it the worst and Matt Czuchry absolutely killed it from start to finish.
Billie had to deal with losing her best friend while also treating her and making Conrad understand what was happening, crying at times even as she did her job. Bell summoned the organ transplant team to honor Nic’s wishes, while Kitt tried to turn them away before ultimately insisting on giving the speech about Nic’s organs saving lives to Conrad.
Devon, still recovering from his ordeal from the previous episode, stepped up to be there for Conrad and perform the final test to make sure that Nic was truly brain dead, surrounded by the nurses who worked with and cared for Nic. AJ showed quiet strength even as he also felt the pain, and helped Leela focus on the fact that they were saving a life while doing a surgery with one of Nic’s organs, not to be sad.
Corbin Bernsen was heartbreaking as Kyle doing his best to deny that he was about to lose another daughter at Chastain, and declared that he would never forgive Conrad for following Nic’s wishes to not be kept on a vent, while Marshall was there to support his son and care for GiGi when Conrad couldn’t. Throw in the long line of people who loved Nic in the hallway to pay tribute to her as she was taken to the surgical suite where her organs would be harvested, and there’s no way that I’m the only one who was hitting the tissue box!
At the end of the day, “Long & Winding Road” stands out as an episode of The Resident by delivering an emotional blow and keeping the focus on the characters, rather than delivering plot twist after plot twist after plot twist at a furious pace. This was honoring Nic and saying goodbye, and while heartbreaking now, that could help with closure down the line, although maybe not for Conrad right away, based on the promo for the next episode. But Nic's death was treated with the utmost dignity by the show where she had been leading lady for four seasons.
This wasn’t the most eventful episode in the show’s history, and fans may have had a pretty good idea that Nic was going to be killed off, but The Resident nailed it, and will hopefully continue delivering fabulous episodes as Season 5 continues. Hopefully with less heartbreak! Find out with new episodes of The Resident on Fox on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET in the fall TV lineup.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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