(This story contains spoilers for “Does One Door Close and Another One Open?” the Season 8 finale of Chicago Med.)
dr Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) suffers under the new for-profit leadership of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center since Jack Dayton (Sasha Roiz) took control of the hospital. The finale of the eighth season of Chicago Med brought his frustration to a head when Dayton, under protest from Dr. Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains) insisted on undergoing surgery with the support of his OR 2.0 system.
Routine hernia surgery is going well – no, thanks to 2.0 showing a complication that isn’t there. Halstead confesses to Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) that he rigged 2.0 to get a bad outcome – and protects Dr. Song (TV Carpio) who hacked the system – and submits his resignation letter. “What do we do without you?” Goodwin asks him.
However, the law of unintended consequences could catch up with the rest of Med’s staff: Dayton tells Goodwin that the botched public demonstration of 2.0 has ruined him financially and he has to sell the hospital.
The finale is Gehlfuss’ last episode as a regular Chicago Med; He is one of the few cast members (along with Marlyne Barrett, Merkerson and Oliver Platt) to have been with the show from the start. However, the door might still be open for a return to the show – as evidenced by the other surprise in the finale: after Will leaves Chicago, he boards a plane to Seattle, where he’s greeted by Natalie Manning (former series star Torrey DeVitto). and her son Owen. It was revealed in the previous episode that Nick and Natalie have kept in touch since they left at the end of Season 6 and he has now moved to Seattle to personally resume their relationship.
“It was really short and sweet and beautiful — exactly what it needed to be,” said DeVitto, whose appearance has been kept top secret The Hollywood Reporter. “He decided to join her in Seattle, where she lives now, and they kind of go into the sunset and can be expected to live happily ever after.”
DeVitto spoke along THR about the call to reprise her role and the “special degree” she got to have with Gehlfuss.
Can you tell me a bit about how your return to the show came about?
I feel like I left the show in such a good mood – it was just time to move on, time to go and really time to grow. But it was always one of those things that if they asked me back, I knew I’d love to go back. Because I love my cast so much. And most of all, you know, Nick Gehlfuss and I had such an intense history together for six years. I wasn’t expecting that call at all, but when they actually called me and told me what the basis of the plot would be and that I would be back to support Nick and his journey on the way out, it was easy for me so far a matter of course. I feel like fans never got what they wanted with Natalie and Will, and to be honest Nick and I didn’t even get the ending we deserved for either of our characters. To come back and not only give that to the viewers who love the show so much and are really excited about these characters, but also give it to me and Nick, who really wanted this ending for our characters, was really so nice. He’s like a brother to me so it was just so much fun to come back and support him in that way.
What was the experience like getting back on set? Did you feel like you had to shake off the rust to get back into the character? Was it fairly easy to intervene again?
She’s a character more like me than any character I’ve ever played. And because Nick and I have such great chemistry as actors and we have such a great friendship, it honestly felt like stepping into a pair of shoes that still fit perfectly. It was so great to see the crew. As I got out of the van (after arriving on set) everyone started clapping which made me blush a little (laughs), but it felt like coming home. It felt like returning to the place I lived in for so long. And it was really beautiful. It was short and sweet, and then I was on my way again.
When Natalie left Chicago, she wanted to be close to her family in Seattle. Have you figured out how she’s been doing over the past few years, either in your own head or in conversations with the writers?
I’m sure she went through some ups and downs because she didn’t leave the hospital in good condition. She acted quite unethically in trying to get these test drugs for her mother and her heart condition and was discharged from a hospital. I’m sure she took some time off and really reconsidered her life and goals. I’m pretty sure now that she’s settled in Seattle and is just living her life with her son and working at another hospital out there. Having Halstead out there now is probably the icing on the cake for them.
It sounds like this is some kind of closure for both of you and not an opportunity to resume your tenure in Chicago.
I feel like there’s always a chance – they can pull off anything that happens on this show. But as I see it now, it was the perfect ending, which I don’t think I ever managed to do with the character, and Nick and I never managed to do with our characters together. It’s a very special ending.
If I’m not mistaken, this was the longest role you’ve played in your career so far. What did this experience mean for you in terms of day-to-day work or development as an actor?
This is the longest role I’ve ever played as a series regular. But it was my turn pretty Little Liars all seven seasons. So this is technically the longest role I’ve ever played. But when you’re a six-season regular on a show, you have some feelings. You can’t help but be grateful – even ordering a show in the first place is sometimes like the luck of the draw. And then to have a show that actually gets picked for a second season — people’s attention spans are so short they don’t allow things to breathe and grow. It’s like if you don’t like it, it’s automatically out. As an actor it’s really scary because when you look at some of the best shows of the past, some of the first seasons weren’t that great. You kind of had to live with the characters and get to know them better to really appreciate them. Being on a show for six years and loving the character like I did, getting to know her like I did, and loving my castmates like I did was really an experience that I will never forget I’m so, so, so grateful for that. Also, working ten months out of the year is very tiring, especially in the Chicago cold. It can be a bit tiring. But when the break comes, you forget it all and only remember the good times. But sometimes it sure can be difficult. It’s a multifaceted experience.