The medical series follows baby-faced medical school graduate Devon Prevesh (Manish Dayal) on his first day of residency. Hawkins is his new mentor and in a matter of hours, Devon is given a crash course in realistic medicine. The resident is waging a war against the medical industrial complex, personified by Chief of Surgery Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood). With Devon under his wing, Hawkins attempts to deconstruct the system from the inside with mixed results.
While Hawkins' intentions are altruistic, his methods sometimes cross ethical lines. The final scene of the series' first episode shows Hawkins shutting off the life support of a patient who was declared brain dead earlier in the day. He's caught by Nic (Emily Van Camp), a nurse at the hospital and his ex-girlfriend, and the second set of eyes convinces him to turn the machines back on, allowing the patient to live until her family decides to pull the plug.
TV Guide talked to Czuchry at the Television Critics Association winter press tour about what that final scene says about his character and where The Resident plans to take fans from here.
The last scene feels like a turning point, or is this a line Conrad has crossed before?
Matt Czuchry: For him, it's about preserving a life. Turning off the [life support] is the right thing to do because that's no longer a life. As he says to Devon, "That's just a brain stem."...He's all about saving lives and maximizing patients' lives. The ethical way for him to go, the right way for him to go is to turn it off because it doesn't burden the family, because it's no longer a life and he preserves the life of the patient by doing that. That's very in tune with who Conrad is.
Nic catches him doing it though and makes him rethink what he's doing. How does that complicate their relationship going forward?
Czuchry: I think it highlights the issues that they have in terms of Conrad does like to break the rules, does like to go against the system. In a lot of ways, that's how they have conflict...It's not something new for them. It really highlights their relationship and you'll see that even more in Episode 2.
Conrad is very comfortable confronting Bell, but he won't fully expose him. What is it about their relationship that allows him to do that?
Czuchry: Conrad still has to work within the system because he's a part of the system. If he wants to save patients' lives, if he wants to be the patients' voice he has to work within the system. At the same time, he's willing to let Bell know and go against the system at the same time. It's a balancing act of how much does Conrad push, how much does he pull. How much force is he going to use? You'll see over the course of the season that he has some dirt on Bell and Bell has some dirt on Conrad. They use that to manipulate each other to get what they want. Also sometimes they're on the same page. For Conrad, Bell represents the system...[but] he knows that if he wants to stay in his position and help his patients he's going to have to work with Bell in some capacity.
He clearly knows that Bell is past his prime, but how much does he know about Bell's condition and what's going on?
Czuchry: All doctors [make] medical errors. The question with Bell is that his medical errors have been rising a concerning amount. That's the issue for Conrad. As he says in the pilot, "You need to consider a change before you kill any more patients." Medical error happens in a hospital, but the medical error for Bell is happening over and over to a degree where now its no longer acceptable.
What is Conrad's motivation in this series?
Czuchry: It's about every single patient that comes through the door. He takes care of people who can't take care of themselves. He helps everyone who comes through no matter what they're experiencing...There's always someone who relies on him for more help.
Conrad and Devon have a rollercoaster of a first day. Are they officially on the same page now or will that push and pull continue throughout the show?
Czuchry: They have two different perspectives that they're coming in with. Devon comes in with having just coming out of medical school. Conrad has — this is his third year at the hospital, plus he was on the battlefield in the military. He has more real world experience. The dynamic is that Conrad is trying to impart his wisdom onto Devon. In order to do that, Conrad also puts a little chaos into the mix with Devon. That relationship ebbs and flows throughout the course of the season, but that's the basis of what the relationship is. They have two different perspectives on medicine in general at this particular point in their careers.
The Resident two-night premiere event continues Monday, Jan. 22 at 9/8c on Fox.