The resident loses the original actor; EP teases like [Spoiler]’s Exit sets up the final episodes of the fourth season
The following post contains important spoilers for The resident’s April 20th episode. Proceed with caution!
The Chastain Park Memorial Hospital is in one phenomenal surgeon.
TVLine has confirmed that The Resident’s Tuesday hour, which Mina Okafor left Atlanta to return to Nigeria, was the final episode for actress Shaunette Renée Wilson to leave the series.
“After careful consideration, I reached out to the producers some time ago and asked them to leave the show and they agreed – and gave my character a wonderful goodbye,” Wilson said in a statement. “I am grateful that I was allowed to embody such a beautiful soul as Dr. Mina Okafor. I’d also like to thank the studio, network, cast, crew, and most importantly, the wonderfully dedicated fans of The Resident for their support over the past four seasons. “
“The loss of the extraordinary Shaunette is heartbreaking for us, but we honor her request to go to the show with gratitude and respect for her contribution,” The Resident executive producers added in a separate statement. “We want the fans to know that we have a lot in store for AJ as he is affected by this loss and we want Shaunette to know the door is always open.”
Wilson has been part of Fox’s medical drama since the pilot episode in 2018, and Mina has quickly established herself as one of Chastain’s most talented surgeons. However, earlier this season, after realizing Mina was ready to testify against him about his medical misconduct, Dr. Deporting Cain, Mina and putting their entire medical career at risk. When Cain tried to abandon his plan, it was too late. Mina finally decided to return to Nigeria voluntarily, which, unlike deportation, would enable her to return to the USA one day. (AJ, originally planning to join Mina in Nigeria, will stay in Atlanta after his mother was subsequently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer on Tuesday.)
Below, EP Andrew Chapman explains how the creative team at The Resident Minas’ exit storyline approached, and then offers some teasers about the impact of their departure on the remainder of season four.
TVLINE | What can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding Shaunette’s exit? Did you and the writers have a lot of time to prepare?
We knew from the start of the season that Shaunette wanted to leave the show and that she could leave the show. We were heartbroken. We love Shaunette, we love the Mina character, we feel like the character of Mina is so embedded in the show’s DNA, and she was such a fundamental member of the cast – that strong, truthful character is so important. But it is what it is, and people move on, so we knew from the start that we had to find a way to get out of them.
We knew it would be in episode 10, and then we had great ideas for issues that would plague them because we had talked about immigration issues many times before. One of the most important things about her character was that she was an immigrant doctor and that was a key thing in this world. There are so many immigrant doctors in the United States and they are struggling to stay in that country and keep their visas. We felt like, “OK, we’ve got a lemon in losing Shaunette, but let’s do what The Resident does really well.” Let’s find a way to make it personal, and find a way to tackle issues that are at the forefront of modern American healthcare. We thought we would take this long arc of 10 episodes and explain exactly what happened and why and how.
TVLINE | Mina and AJ also got together earlier this season, although Shaunette’s exit was in motion. Was there an internal debate about whether they should finally be paired since they would have to split up?
They would meet at some point. If we had Shaunette for more seasons we might have postponed it for another season, but we knew they would get together. When we knew she was going to leave, we said, “OK, we need to tie the knot in this relationship. It’s just too important and too powerful. “And the audience has been asking for it for so long. You can’t just say, “No, never.” And they have great chemistry together on screen. It was just tangible, wasn’t it? You could just see it. It was so moving and interesting and not always perfect either. They got mad at each other even when they were a couple. We wanted to go the whole pig and we did. And I’m glad we did. I think it was the right choice.
TVLINE | What can you say about how this affects AJ? Will he take revenge on Cain to set this all in motion?
You will have reached one of our core storylines by the end of the season. [Editor’s note: Season 4 will end with Episode 14.] AJ does not forgive Cain and is still mad at him even as he deals with the heartache of what is wrong with his mother. Especially in our final episode, you’re going to see the pain that AJ fights will cook and cook and cook, and in our season finale, the head comes to a head and it’s just great. I’m not going to reveal it, but he’s dealing with the loss of the love of his life, he’s dealing with his mother who is sick, and now, in the last couple of episodes, he has to face the fact that this guy is here whom he blames for a huge amount of his problems. You have to come to some kind of understanding, or one of them has to go. That’s what we’ll play until the end. And honestly? It is great. [Laughs] Not to use our own horns, but Malcolm[-Jamal Warner] is a great actor, Morris Chestnut is a great actor, and they just got into it. Every scene they have together is electric. You’re like “holy mackerel” and you just want to see more of it, see more of it, see more of it.
The resident fans, what do you think of Shaunette (and Mina) leaving the show? Rate their farewell episode in our poll below, then express all of your feelings in the comments.