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Spoilers ahead for Episode 16 of Chicago Med Season 8, called “What You See Isn’t Always What You Get.”
Chicago Med is going strong in Season 8, but the last couple of seasons have seen NBC’s hit medical drama saying goodbye to a surprising number of key characters. For much of “What You See Isn’t Always What You Can Get,” it seemed like Dr. Nellie Cuevas (played by Lilah Richcreek Estrada) might be the next to leave the hospital. By the end, however, Nellie made a decision that means she’ll stick around the Windy City for the foreseeable future, and Med doesn’t have to replace yet another doctor.
Nellie revealed her big secret to Hannah (Jessy Schram) earlier in Season 8, telling the ED’s OB/GYN that she’s undocumented but legally allowed to work and live in the United States as a DACA recipient. In the latest episode, Goodwin (S. Epatha Merkerson) approached Nellie about getting her DACA paperwork in order, which put the psychiatrist on edge.
At the end of the hour, she revealed that her status as a DACA recipient while her parents relocated to Canada means that she hasn’t seen them in ten years, and she was considering leaving Med. Her parents can’t reenter the United States, and she’s not guaranteed to be able to come back if she leaves, even for a visit. The prospect of leaving Chicago was on her mind for most of the episode, as she teamed up with Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) to try and treat a girl on the verge of death from a mystery illness that killed her brother.
After they figured out how to save the girl, Nellie came to a realization: her parents had sent her to the United States because it was the best option for a bright future for her, so she needed to stay in Chicago and keep doing her job to honor their sacrifice. Goodwin was happy to hear that Nellie was staying, and I was happy to see that Med wasn’t going to lose another key character.
Nellie would have been the fourth this season, after all! Guy Lockard’s Dylan Scott bowed out after the fiery Season 8 premiere, with Asjha Cooper’s Vanessa Taylor leaving (to Maggie’s dismay) just a couple of months later. Next up was Ethan Choi (original cast member Brian Tee), although at least his hard-earned happy ending didn’t mean leaving Chicago! And those three are just from Season 8. The few years have seen the departures of Kristen Hager’s Stevie Hammer, Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning, and Yaya DaCosta as April Sexton, although DaCosta briefly returned to accommodate Ethan’s happy ending.
Luckily, we don’t have to add Nellie to the list of departures! In fact, after this episode, I’d love to see her team up with Will on another case or two. I didn’t see it coming this week, but in a season that successfully built an “emotional triangle” involving Hannah and Steven Weber's Archer, a Will/Nellie duo developing wouldn’t be the biggest surprise!
See what’s next for Nellie and the rest with new episodes of Chicago Med on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, ahead of Chicago Fire (which is moving on without Taylor Kinney for now) at 9 p.m. and Chicago P.D. (which brought back Jesse Lee Soffer to direct an episode) at 10 p.m.
You can also revisit episodes of One Chicago streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription while waiting for news about the futures of the three shows, which have yet to be officially renewed. Med, Fire, and P.D. are all hits for NBC, so renewals seem inevitable, but it would be nice to get the official news all the same!