The Resident boss addresses that shocking departure and how the series will honor [SPOILER]
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Tuesday's episode of The Resident, "Into the Unknown."
In a twist that absolutely no one suspected, Fox's The Resident bid adieu to one of its most beloved characters Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson) just as things were getting serious between her and AJ (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).
"After deeply thoughtful reflection, I approached the producers some time ago asking to leave the show and they agreed — and gave my character a wonderful sendoff," Wilson tells EW in a statement. "I am appreciative of them for allowing me to embody as beautiful of a soul as Dr. Mina Okafor. I would also like to thank the studio, network, cast, crew, and, most of all, the wonderfully dedicated fans of The Resident for their support over the last four seasons."
Series executive producer Andrew Chapman tells EW that Wilson is welcome to return in any capacity in the future. He also celebrates the contributions Mina made as a character and Wilson as an actress during her time on the series.
"We're all completely heartbroken," Chapman says. "We did not want her to leave. She was so foundational to the DNA of the show. She was always so badass and a truth-teller. We are devastated to lose her, but we have told her the door is always open for her here. There's no ill will at all."
For four seasons, viewers fell in love with Mina's fortitude as she worked towards achieving the American dream. She arrived as a Nigerian immigrant, and now she returns home a hero with a new dream — albeit with a broken heart.
"This show is about what's wrong with the American medical system and how healthcare can be so corrupted by money. Mina was incorruptible," Chapman shares. "She is the future of healthcare. We really wish her well, and it's okay for her to move on. But what was most important to us was that we honor her important contributions to the show and how she helped shape Chastain. Mina is not someone who would wallow in self-pity due to her circumstances."
He adds, "We knew she was leaving basically from the beginning of the season, and so we had to find a way to write her out. We had teased the will-they-won't-they for Mina and AJ for so long; we knew we had to jump into that relationship and tell that story. Two strong, African American surgeons who are egotistical fall in love and have this really tempestuous, powerful relationship. I really think we gave the audience a fun ride and a really complicated relationship."
A chapter is closed for the couple known affectionately as Minator, but complications lie ahead for AJ, who's left to care for a mother with serious health issues.
"She is the love of his life, and he's feeling ripped apart, but he also has to take care of his mom. How is he going to be a good and loyal son? And there's also the situation left in the wake of Mina's departure and the role Cain played in that. This will be a huge thing, and we're going to play out all of that," Chapman says.
"That relationship between Cain and AJ is going to be simmering moving forward and it blows up in episode 14. Our season finale is really going to rock it," he adds.
After losing such an integral piece of the series, fans can still expect to hear updates now and again about how Mina is doing back in her homeland. Even though she will not physically be there, her spirit lives on at Chastain through her powerful legacy and a shattered ceiling for incoming women of color, including the characters Billie (Jessica Lucas) and Leela (Anuja Joshi).
"We love the juicy relationship storylines, but at the end of the day, we're telling stories about strong, independent doctors who can stand on their own two feet," Chapman says. "We will always honor the character of Mina, who was first and foremost a badass doctor who never gave a crap about what anybody thought of her. We go there first, so our doctors start off on their own two feet, and then, we can think about the romantic side of things like with Leela and Devon [Manish Dayal]..."
The Resident airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on Fox.
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