Last week’s episode of NBC’s New Amsterdam was titled “This Is Not the End,” because, well, this week’s episode is the end. Of season 1, anyway.
After last week ended in a bit of a cliffhanger when Max (Ryan Eggold) answered his door covered in blood, having gone home after collapsing at the hospital following another round of aggressive chemotherapy, showrunner and executive producer David Schuler says to expect another cryptic climax — for “everyone” involved.
To say much more would likely border on spoiler territory, hence the playful “nothing” response he gave via email when asked what he can tease about the medical drama’s season finale.
Fortunately, EW has an exclusive clip above that sheds a little more light on the goings on in New Amsterdam, where Max — when he’s not trying to make sure as many people as possible know they can come to the New York City hospital for free treatment… because, well, it’s public… because socialized medicine — is dealing with his own medical problem: cancer. But with Max out, Dr. Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) temporarily steps up as deputy medical director, and she is facing no shortage of issues on her first day, as Dora is quick to point out.
“Max’s DNA?” Dora questions when Sharpe hands her a file to have messaged to another doctor. “Please don’t Jurassic Park him. One Max is more than I can handle.”
“It’s for a new treatment, one that will get him back into the hospital ASAP,” Sharpe says before she’s interrupted by Iggy (Tyler Labine), who wants her to sign off on the use of MDMA, a.k.a. ecstasy or molly, as part of a treatment plan for one of his patients who is suffering from aggressive PTSD.
“Sharpe does have a big idea to help Max,” Schuler says, “and if Sharpe had her way she would have spent the entire episode on Max’s care. But something comes up that forces Sharpe to take a left turn and abandon that road. And if she comes back in season 2, it’s definitely something she would pursue.” (NBC did renew the series for a second season in February, so let’s consider that “if” as a finale tease.)
Max tried to stay quiet as long as possible about his own diagnosis, but alas, it wasn’t something he would be able to keep a secret forever.
“We were always thinking about the audience whose own lives were sucker-punched by the disease, about cancer survivor Eric Manheimer, who wrote the book on which the show is based. We had no choice but to be as honest and unflinching as we could,” Schuler explains when asked how they’ve managed to strike the right balance in allowing the audience to connect so quickly with the lead character in the first season of a series while also showing him in such dire straits emotionally and physically. “To NBC’s credit they never once asked us to water it down or pull it back. If anything, because we have cancer survivors at the studio and network level, they would encourage and challenge us to be as accurate as we could. So, to answer your question (finally), ‘What has been the key to striking the right balance?’ well, there is no right balance. Life is messy and random without having cancer. We just embraced the messiness. Sometimes we had whole episodes where Max never said the word ‘cancer,’ and sometimes we had episodes where cancer just took out a big ugly beige recliner and refused to go away, no matter how much Max didn’t want to deal with it. And let’s face it, he never wanted to deal with it. Which was, in the end, his Achilles heel. But, it allowed Max and the show to remain optimistic despite the shadow of death following him around.”
Watch the exclusive clip above for more, and tune in to see what happens to that shadow and with Sharpe’s idea on the New Amsterdam season finale, airing tonight at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.