[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the New Amsterdam series finale “Right Place” and “How Can I Help.”]
Dr. Max Goodwin’s (Ryan Eggold) mantra (“How can I help?”) will continue on for years to come at New Amsterdam, thanks to the new medical director we meet in the NBC drama’s series finale.
A quick recap: Max leaves for a job in Geneva with the World Health Organization, and the hospital is in Dr. Elizabeth Wilder’s (Sandra Mae Frank) hands. Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery) finds a new place and her sister joins her in an NA meeting. Dr. Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine) and Martin (Mike Doyle) remarry. Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) and Gabrielle (Toya Turner) are going strong. And we meet the hospital’s new boss… years after Max has left, that is. The woman New Amsterdam tries to make us think is Max’s replacement is actually his daughter, Luna, now an adult (played by Molly Griggs), and she’s carrying on her father’s legacy.
Executive producers David Schulner and Peter Horton break down the finale’s twist, where it left Max’s love life, and more.
You gave us two auditorium scenes — even though it wasn’t the same room as the pilot — which I loved.
Peter Horton: Good.
David Schulner: I know. I wish we could have been back at that hospital, but that location is such a nightmare.
I had a feeling that was Luna from the moment she jogged in…
Schulner: Wow. Good for you.
Then you had all the callbacks to the pilot: the jogging, the locker room scene…
Schulner: So smart. As always, you get an award.
Horton: Yeah, you get a gold star again.
Schulner: We were dropping those clues, hoping people would, once we revealed it was Luna in the end, look back and be like, “Oh my God. Of course it was. The jogging, the locker room scene.” But you were there, so we love it.
How much was it about playing with the audience and her identity and making it seem like she could be the medical director replacing Max when it comes to him leaving? Because it was fitting that he’s leaving when the series began with him coming in.
Schulner: Once we knew we wanted Luna to be the medical director and we didn’t want that to happen until the end, we realized we should plant her in the beginning, but the only way to do that was to have Max leave. So Max leaving New Amsterdam didn’t come to us until much later in the story process. We just wanted people to believe that —
Horton: There was a vacancy.
Schulner: — Luna was the new medical director, not knowing it was Luna in the future.
So what was the original plan for Max?
Schulner: We had no idea. We didn’t know.
Horton: We weren’t planning this to end. We thought this would go on for years.
Max’s romantic future did seem a bit open-ended. He and Wilder did talk about him coming back, but there’s the possibility he reconnected with Helen (Freema Agyeman). What can you say?
Horton: We can say that it’s so awesome that you’re asking that question. That’s exactly what we intended. It’s so much more satisfying to go, “God, I wonder where he went. Where is he today? Were there any hidden messages that I missed that could have given me some sort of indication?” As David says, giving you the opportunity to be the participant as opposed to us saying, “this is what happened to him.”
We wanted to leave it on this note of possibility. Yeah, he’s going to Europe. Helen lives in Europe, but he’s really leaving the show in love with Wilder and giving her the keys to his most precious thing other than his daughter, which is New Amsterdam. All of those little tidbits and hints kind of suggest great possibilities and a variety of them, and we just wanted everybody to be able to participate in their own way.
So you won’t say anything either way?
Schulner: Meredith, what do you hope happened?
Horton: Yeah, that’s a good one.
I don’t know. I’m torn because I love Max and Helen’s relationship, but Wilder has been such a great character and they were so happy together at the beginning of 512. So you won’t say?
Schulner: [Both laugh] No, but whatever you want to happen is what happens.
Horton: And if for some reason with all of the pressure the studio gets from people like you and our fans, they want to open this up again and have us come back, we’re available.
Why have Helen set the trial parameters for Max and then address that question of love and ethical choices with regards Max, Helen, and Wilder’s feelings?
Schulner: Just because Max made a decision and chose Wilder over Sharpe doesn’t mean Sharpe just goes away, right? Just because Georgia [Lisa O’Hare] died doesn’t mean that she wasn’t in all of Season 2. These endings aren’t real. Just because you want something to end doesn’t mean it ends. The things in our life are constant and forever and we carry them with us even when they’re gone. And so what better way to test Max and Wilder’s newfound budding relationship than with Sharpe again? And I bet it won’t be the last time Sharpe comes up in their relationship going forward, or Georgia for that matter. I find it more realistic than he chose Wilder, therefore, Sharpe is gone forever. That’s just not how real life works.
Horton: No. He’ll carry Sharpe with him one way or another for the rest of his life. That’s how that works. Life is messy in that way. It’s why Iggy asks Martin out again. Nothing’s ending. Nothing ends ends in that way.
Schulner: Just like our show. We have Luna there at the end.
Speaking of that, at the end, I like that she brought up Georgia in her speech, just like Max brought up his sister in his at the beginning.
Schulner: Yeah, the ending was there from the beginning, whether we knew it or not.
What was the original plan for Max and Helen in Freema hadn’t left?
Horton: It was, let’s find a really cool path.
Schulner: And it’s a great question. Who knows? We never —
Horton: Got there. And it is sad that we couldn’t. We love Freema and we love that character. We had every intention of keeping that going forever, as long as the show went. It didn’t work out that way.
Is Bloom the happiest we’ve seen her with who she is and what she has planned when we last see her? She has her new place, her sister shows up at the meeting…
Schulner: Yeah. I love Bloom in that empty apartment, in that empty warehouse. I’m so impressed with how much she’s grown over five years.
Horton: That sense of herself, with or without her sister. And that’s one of the great lessons of it, too, is she didn’t get her sister back until she gave up the need to have her sister back.
In a handful of episodes, Iggy and Martin seemed poised to get back together, divorced, started dating again, and remarried. What journey did you want to take them on as a couple and Iggy individually this season?
Schulner: I think what Peter said about exploring the messiness of it. It’s so hard in Iggy’s medical storylines, you want to have resolution, and we only have 43 minutes, so a lot of Iggy’s storylines, we resolve them because that’s what storytellers want to do. Or we leave them unresolved because it’s more realistic. But they’re resolved or unresolved either way. And real life just is more messy than that. Real life starts and stops in the middle. And just when you think something’s over, it comes up. We wanted to make Iggy’s life as messy as possible because his medical stories are so clean.
Horton: [Laughs] That’s good.
It looks like Reynolds is on his way to the life we know that he’s wanted since the series premiere. Why is it working with Gabrielle?
Schulner: I think timing.
Horton: [Laughs] That’s true.
Schulner: We knew our series was ending and we were like, we’ve been torturing this man for five years. He deserves the thing he wants. But honestly, I think once he healed that rift between him and his father —
Which was so good!
Schulner: Thanks. I think that freed him up in a way, emotionally to accept love from the right person.
Horton: There’s also the right thing at the wrong time ceases to be the right thing anymore. It’s like timing is part of life. You could meet your perfect person when you’re 20 and it won’t work, but you meet someone who’s not so perfect at 30 and because you really want to get married and start a family, you kind of go, “Well, this one.” He went through a lot and ended up with Gabrielle and at the right time and in the right sequence of events. And so there she is. I know that’s not the most romantic take on it, but I think it’s the most human take on it, and to a large degree, that’s what our show was trying to do is be a mirror to experience. So you can look in the mirror and go, I know what that feels like.
Is there anyone or anything you’d wanted to include in the finale but couldn’t for any reason? Because you did bring back characters, like you brought back Cassian (Daniel Dae Kim) in the surgery.
Schulner: I wanted to bring back Sendhil Ramamurthy, but he didn’t play a surgeon on the show, so we couldn’t bring him back. And obviously we would’ve loved to bring back Freema for the finale.
Did you have any ideas in mind on what you would do if you had been able to bring her back?
Schulner: We had an idea, but we were totally like early stages. We just were like, tell us you’re coming back and we’ll figure out the rest. And we almost got it to work, but we couldn’t get it to work.
Horton: It was close.
How do you want Max to be remembered?
Schulner: He was the voice of the show.
Horton: Just remember him as his optimism, his realism. It’s not innocence, it’s not naivete. He’s a guy who had what feels like ideals that he believed in, in spite of the evidence in front of him, and was able to manifest them in concrete real ways. And so his idealism and his hope was real. It’s not theoretical or naive.