SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “The Long and Winding Road,” the third episode of “The Resident” Season 5.
The third episode of the fifth season of “The Resident” finally fully answered how Nic (Emily VanCamp) would be written out of the Fox drama: She was killed off.
The actor’s exit was announced in August, just a little less than a month before the fifth season premiered. In that first episode back, Nic’s absence was explained as her being at a spa, communicating with Conrad (Matt Czuchry) only via phone (though never FaceTime). VanCamp did record voice work for these scenes, but she did not appear on-screen until the third episode, titled “The Long and Winding Road,” which was her final one.
The second episode of the season continued the pattern from the premiere, though Conrad and Nic began to miss each other as his schedule was increasingly hectic between working at the hospital and being with their baby. Just when he thought she was finally home though, he opened the door to find two police officers instead; they told him there had been “an accident.”
“The Long and Winding Road” picked up not many moments after that fateful visit, with Conrad racing to the hospital in his car while Nic was being helicoptered in. He had to be physically restrained from rushing at the chopper as it touched down on the helipad.
Perhaps because of how severe her injuries were or because of her status at the hospital or both, others including Kit (Jane Leeves) were paged with the info about Nic’s accident. Kit, Randolph (Bruce Greenwood), AJ (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and Billie (Jessica Lucas) stood with Conrad and watched as there was an issue moving Nic. When the team around her didn’t move fast enough, Conrad finally rushed into the helicopter to tell Nic that he was there.
There he learned she was involved in a one-car accident despite normal weather and tried to implore Nic to wake up. (She was not sedated but still presented as unconscious.)
Randolph and Kit knew Conrad, as Nic’s husband, shouldn’t be responsible for his wife’s care, but the immediate concern was figuring out why she was in the state she was in: From the neck down, she appeared fine, but she was still not waking up, and she had a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When Devon (Manish Dayal) came in, he looked at her brain scan and immediately told Conrad he was sorry, but Conrad refused to believe anything other than, “Nic is going to be fine.”
But she wasn’t.
Although Conrad scoured previous TBI cases to see how they made it through and Billie did her best in surgery, a phenobarbital coma was recommended because the pressure on Nic’s brain was too high. Putting her in the medically-induced coma would mean she couldn’t wake up until the drugs wore off and Conrad wouldn’t be able to tell if she was improving — but without it, Billie said chance of recovery would be greatly compromised.
Upon additional scans, it was revealed Nic’s brain was herniating, and although Conrad still did not want to give up on her, Billie was frank: She couldn’t reverse the injury, and Nic could not recover from this. Kit seconded the “not survivable” opinion. There was one last series of tests to administer, in order to confirm brain function. They fell to Devon, but many members of the staff joined him to help the doctor they loved and admired so much. The tests revealed she was brain-dead.
Both dads (Conrad’s, Marshall, played by Glenn Morshower, and Nic’s, Kyle, played by Corbin Bernsen) turned up at the hospital and spent some time in Nic’s room, although her infant daughter was kept in the hospital nursery. Nic’s dad, overcome with grief, wanted to allow the machines to keep Nic’s heart beating and lungs breathing. He told Conrad he’d never forgive him for not allowing that.
Nic was an organ donor, and Kit pointed out that her life-saving work would continue, those organs saving “the lives of eight critical patients and vastly improve the lives of dozens more.”
“This is what she wants, so this is what I want,” Conrad said, in between tears.
To add insult to injury, patient Gabe (Juan Carlos Cantu), who had been previously hospitalized at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital with COVID-19 and was one of Nic’s patients, was admitted again with permanent trachea damage from his recent experience. He was going to need to go back on a tracheostomy tube — indefinitely. And Nic was not there to check in on Gabe or hear his wife’s (Marlene Forte) gratitude for her caring for Gabe so well the first time.
However, Gabe’s wife attempted to care for Conrad this time around, telling him Nic “was going to live forever in [his] heart” and reminding him that he needed to carry on both for himself and his daughter. In turn, though, Conrad advised her not to let Gabe give up. How she (and a few of the of doctors) were able to do so was by telling Gabe about Nic’s condition and that Conrad would now have to live without the love of his life.
After Conrad brought their daughter in to see Nic in her hospital room, he, Randolph and Kit walked alongside her bed as it was wheeled down the hall, where the staff lined up to see her off. There were also some flashbacks (set to a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”) to Nic’s earlier days, including when she explained that she did her intense job because “not many people get a chance to make a difference” and key moments when she was there for Jess (Jessica Miesel) and Ellen (Denitra Isler), while they were hospitalized. But in the final moments of the episode, as “Forever Young” played, Gabe was on the operating table, receiving his new trachea from Nic, and her daughter said “Mama” as a helicopter lifted off with another one of her organs inside, on the way to its recipient.
“The Resident” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.