‘The Resident’ season 3 was cut short but the finale opened up so many possibilities for the future. HL spoke with EP Todd Harthan about season 4 plans and whether or not the show will address the current health crisis.
The Resident ended its third season with 20 episodes, which was 3 episodes short of the original plan. The FOX medical drama was forced to end the season early due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The season 3 finale featured a former love of Cain’s coming into the hospital for surgery. Despite his best attempts, Cain couldn’t save her. She became the first person to die in his OR. The episode showed a much different side of Cain than we’ve ever seen before.
HollywoodLife talked with showrunner Todd Harthan about what the shortened season means for a potential season 4. He revealed that he has big plans for Cain following the season 3 finale. HL also got an update about Conrad and Nic’s wedding. While CoNic’s wedding wasn’t “in the cards” for the final episodes of season 3, Todd said the writers do talk about the wedding and when it will happen. Check out our Q&A below.
The show is ending 3 episodes short of the intended season. Will the plans that you had for those final 3 episodes be carried over into a season 4?
Todd Harthan: It’s part of our plan. It’s a yes and no. There are big elements that existed in those last 3 hours that we love, and I think it would have made either for exciting end or an incredible jumping-off point for a new season. I think some of the pieces are being moved around. A lot of what we had is being preserved, but we’re just kind of retooling some pieces around it. The best analogy I can give probably is that we kind of had a well-built puzzle, and then someone came in and kind of messed up the left half of it and the pieces got thrown on the floor, which my 8-year-old son did this morning. Now we’re looking at all pieces again. We’ve been talking a lot — myself, Amy Holden Jones, Andrew Chapman, some of the other writers about what might slide to the third episode in season 4 or that’s great for the premiere. It’s been an interesting exercise and challenging one but a lot of it is being preserved.
The finale felt like a great jumping-off point for Cain. Is it in your plan to have him back?
Todd Harthan: Yes. I think that he’s been so fun. This is my second go-around Morris Chestnut and he was fantastic for us this year. With each passing episode, we found kind of new colors to play and layers to peel back. For me, today, I think there’s a lot of story left to tell with him. We were kind of teasing that there’s a human buried somewhere underneath all this hubris and God complex. Now there’s an interesting tug of war to be played on the heels of that tragedy, and there are some other things that we’re planning to throw at him at the beginning of season 4 that will challenge him at his core. That will either send him deeper and darker or this could be his path to redemption. I think that’s the thing that we’re sort of talking about now and mapping out. We certainly have plans for him.
By the end of the episode, you see him sort of turning away from Red Rock for the first time all season. I was wondering if this was going to be the beginning of the end of his alliance with Red Rock.
Todd Harthan: That absolutely is something that was going to start tugging at him. It is in our finale, and at the beginning of season 4, I think that at some point you do have to wake up and stare yourself in the mirror ask who you want to be. Do I want to get back to who I once was? I think those are the questions we were just starting to ask. I know we were going to ask some of those questions in the last few episodes. I think they would have been interesting questions to ask of him and to see what his reaction was going to be and the surprises we were going to throw at the audience. I think our plan is still to sort of lean into that at the top of season 4.
As Cain is turning his head away from Red Rock, we kind of see Conrad possibly leaning into it. With Logan coming to Conrad and asking him to be the face, was this the beginning of Conrad going into exactly what his dad had just warned him about?
Todd Harthan: Well, that’s the question we want the audience asking, right? Has the villain just opened the door to our hero so the hero can get in close proximity? Is he keeping his enemies close and then going to work on his own agenda and making some progress in this war that dates all the way back to season 1? I don’t know if our audience would ever buy that the hero that we know and love at this point would ever be intoxicated by the power and the pull of somebody like Kim. I think they would always know that it was probably a ruse. But now that the door has been opened by Kim, how will Conrad use this opportunity and this power that he has? Will he play it perfectly and be victorious? Or will he let his guard down? Will it ultimately backfire? Those are kind of the things that we’re playing with because when we’re telling our stories in this show, we want the audience to feel like our heroes are on a smooth path to victory and then throw a huge wrench into that.
When I was watching it, I knew he was not going to be intoxicated by power, like you said. But he would be dealing with a lot of big fish and a lot of money. They could make him the face and he could ultimately have to take the fall.
Todd Harthan: Absolutely. When you’re in those powerful rooms, sometimes you can’t play things as you did when you were a foot soldier. You have to change your strategy. Is Conrad the kind of guy that can be a chameleon? Can he change the way he deals with conflict? That’s an interesting situation that we’ve talked about putting him in in season 4 as well.
Earlier in the season, fans were so excited that Nic and Conrad got engaged. Was a wedding going to be in those final 3 episodes?
Todd Harthan: No. Because for us, that would be giving the audience too much, too fast. We wanted to nail that proposal and we also wanted to live in that period of engagement for a while. What you were going to get in those few episodes was this really fun scene where they were doing the things that you do when you’re planning a wedding, where you’re either going to try the cake and those sort of fun relationship type scenes that were very charming. I want the audience to get to experience this particular phase before the wedding. We do talk about the wedding and when we would do it and how we would do it. It’s certainly a very big part of the conversation. And with this abbreviated season, anything could happen. I’m not taking anything off the table, but it wasn’t in the cards for the end of this past season.
So we might see a little bit of those engagement scenes in season 4?
Todd Harthan: It’s possible. Truth be told, we’re just now starting to do these kinds of fun Zoom calls with myself, Amy, Andrew Chapman, and some of the folks who’ve been with us since season 1. There’s so much up in the air and everything’s on the table right now, so you never know. In the world of a premiere, we’ll see what we can cook up.
AJ and Mina have definitely been the ultimate slow burn for so long. In the finale, we sort of see an inkling of regret in Mina’s eyes. What would you say about the plans for them in season 4? I mean, fans have been wanting this for a very long time.
Todd Harthan: I know they have. I’ll take half the blame and Amy would happily raise her hand and take the other half of the blame. I grew up watching Moonlighting, so I have a very slow trigger finger when it comes to crossing certain relationship lines with characters like that. I like the audience to be frustrated by the near misses. Granted, frustration can become anger and then I get in trouble, but I think that it’s obviously starting to become a little bit of a powder keg. I think that our plan is to see if there’s any more drama and this frustration to get out of the push and pull of mentor-mentee versus a personal relationship, which is very complicated especially in the medical world with him being her mentor. It’s a certain line that we are hesitant to cross until we feel like it’s right. It’s a respect thing and he respects her so much. That’s the thing that’s holding them back. We’re dissecting it and we’re debating it. There will be a lot more Mina and Raptor to come. They’re always at the very, very top of our writers’ list. I don’t want to rush these things.
At the beginning of the season, Devon and Conrad really didn’t see eye-to-eye. What can you say about where Devon’s journey would go from here?
Todd Harthan: We knew that was going to be challenging for the audience. Just like in life, you go through these tough trials and tribulations with the most important relationships in your life and you’re stronger for it on the other side. That’s how we really saw that storyline. They have to go through these really, really tough and challenging times to see if their relationship can withstand them. Now that they have, I think that they each learn sort of new things about themselves. But Devon, in particular, he kind of has his legs underneath him now. You’ve seen him teach with confidence to Ezra and some of the interns. For him moving forward, I think what we’re talking about now are the stories of him being the student in scenes, he’s past that now. So what kind of challenges do we want to throw at him professionally in season 4? For us, I think it’s going to be putting him in the line of fire more of having to make those kinds of Conrad-esque decisions, the really tough choices that could get you in hot water. Putting a young doctor under his wing, that’s a different flavor and challenge than you’ve seen before. We have a lot of things in our canon that are going to be interesting for him to play professionally. Personally, we’re always looking for… he’s had a very strange and complicated love life. I think we would kind of want to stay the course with that and we’re talking about what’s going to happen with the princess character that was in his life. Will it be somebody new that enters his life? We have a lot of different things we’re thinking about.
The Resident has never shied away from tough subject matter when it comes to the medical community. Is the coronavirus pandemic something that you would want to address in some aspect in season 4?
Todd Harthan: I think we have to. We have 6 or 7 doctors, surgeons, nurses, and nurse practitioners on our staff, that consult our series or work on our set in Atlanta. I think that a lot of them, by the way, have gone to the front lines to help in Boston, New York, and we have some in Los Angeles. The way we would approach it is we would consult our doctors and make sure that, in whatever way we’re going to do it, we do it in a way that we feel like isn’t going to scare our audience or advertise to them what they just experienced 24/7 in life and on the news and everything else. But also, we don’t want to be irresponsible and act like it didn’t happen. We’re talking about how we would address it in a respectful and responsible way, so that we do right by the heroic doctors and nurses and health professionals that are out there fighting this war right now. But also, we want to be very aware of our fans and people that have watched the show. It’s a tough target to hit but it’s one that I think we have to address and can’t ignore.