[Warning: This post contains spoilers from Chicago Med's Season 5 premiere. Read at your own risk.]
Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) has officially checked out of Chicago Med. Wednesday's shocking Season 5 premiere bid farewell to the fan-favorite doctor in a rollercoaster hour that saw his toxic relationship with Ava Bekker (Norma Kuhling) come to a startling and bitter end.
After vehemently denying any involvement with Cornelius's (D.W. Moffett) death, Ava finally admitted to murdering the elder Rhodes following Dr. Latham's (Ato Essandoh) reveal that he was close to tracking down the killer. Ava's twisted efforts to win back Connor again fell short, resulting in the former killing herself in a final act of revenge. The shocking, violent moment essentially confirmed that Ava had been manipulating Connor throughout their relationship and that he was right to break things off when he did.
According to co-showrunner Diane Frolov, that tragic ending had been planned for Ava all along, and Connor's impending exit set the wheels in motion for it happen sooner rather than later. "That was what we had been heading for," Frolov told TV Guide. "Because of the way it all came down, it was faster than we had originally planned, but that had been our original plan."
Frolov continued, "We debated for a while [whether or not she] would survive and then go to prison, but it kept [her story] alive in a way that we didn't want to keep her alive in the story by not finishing it."
Co-showrunner Andrew Schneider added that "having [Ava] actually die really helped seal Connor's fate, in terms of having to leave this place."
In the wake of Ava's death, Connor resigned from the hospital so that he could start fresh somewhere that would allow him to be "just another doctor" and not the guy whose girlfriend slept with and then murdered his dad. In contrast to the chaotic earlier moments of the episode, Connor's final scenes on Chicago Med were filled with sweet goodbyes from both Dr. Latham and Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) that left us reaching for the nearest tissue. The door is open for Connor to return, but for now, don't expect him back in the Windy City anytime soon.
Connor didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Will (Nick Gehlfuss), who was dealing with is own set of issues following that horrific car crash that left Natalie (Torrey DeVitto) unconscious and bleeding from the head. Will sustained minor injuries, while Natalie suffered serious head trauma, rendering her unable to remember the events of that day, including what she planned to tell Will after Agent Lee said she'd be a fool not to take him back.
The next episode, which picks up about a month and a half later, will find Natalie still dealing with memory loss while her fiancé, Phil (Ian Harding), takes full advantage of the vulnerable situation. He lied about actually proposing to Natalie in the premiere, which may stir up trouble once Natalie starts to suspect that something is off with their relationship.
"She comes to feel that her loss of memory is connected to her absence of feeling. She's hoping that will come back along with her memory," Schneider explained.
To offset that, Phil will position himself as the perfect fiancé and tend to her every need. How that stacks up again Will, who won't let Natalie go so easily, remains to be seen. Their situation is especially precarious given that neither Will nor Natalie knows what she was going to tell him in the car before the accident.
"[Will]'s gonna fight for Natalie. But it's a very delicate situation because he doesn't know what to believe, either. At this point, it looks like she was coming to tell him she was engaged. That's his perception at the moment, but he's not sure," Frolov said. We know this show loves a love triangle, so expect things to get super complicated as both Phil and Will vie for Natalie's heart.
Natalie's in for a rough road ahead, with her injury poised to also affect her career. As she continues to recover, other doctors, including Will, will start to question whether or not she's still up to the job."It puts her in a difficult position because she's not back at a hundred percent," said Schneider.
Chicago Med airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.