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Spoilers ahead for the Season 8 finale of Chicago Med, called "Does One Door Close And Another One Open?"
Chicago Med has said goodbye to a surprising number of characters over the past year, and the Season 8 finale added another to that list. Will Halstead has left after eight seasons, making "Does One Door Close And Another One Open?" the swan song for longtime star Nick Gehlfuss. The good doctor resigned after sabotaging OR 2.0 for what he saw as the greater good, and nobody was happy to see him go... but a twist at the last minute guaranteed that there was some sweetness to go with the bitter, and I was left flashing back to an iconic moment from another NBC medical drama: ER. Chicago Med gave Will a farewell worthy of Carol Hathaway!
How Chicago Med Said Goodbye To Will
Will hasn't exactly been on board with OR 2.0 lately, and learning that the AI system is responsible for the death of a patient was a point of no return for him. When Jack Dayton pressured Crockett Marcell into doing his hernia surgery for the spectators despite the flaws, Will recruited Dr. Song to sabotage the tech and guarantee that it would cause problems during the procedure. And it did the trick – OR 2.0 failed in front of Dayton's investors and Crockett was easily able to complete the surgery without help.
Nobody was happy with Will's call, as Goodwin had a talking-to for him, while Song was upset that he took the fall for both of them and Crockett was furious that Will had acted without giving him a heads up. Goodwin had no choice but to accept Will's resignation when he offered his letter, and she warned him that she wouldn't be able to give him a reference.
But Will left anyway, after saying a goodbye to the ED and sharing a sweet moment with Maggie. That wasn't the end of the story for Dr. Halstead, however, as he boarded a plane to Seattle for a very sweet moment that paid off on all the recent Manstead hints that have been dropping. Outside the airport, he got a big hug from young Owen, followed by an even bigger hug from Natalie herself, with former Med star Torrey DeVitto making a surprise appearance.
After he explained his small piece of luggage by saying that he wasn't sure how long she'd want him to stay, she told him that she's "never gonna let him go." There was no kiss, but they walked off with Owen looking like a very happy little family. Against all odds, the good ship Manstead sailed off into the sunset in Seattle! And I was flashing back to ER before the final credits rolled.
Spoilers ahead for Season 6 of NBC's ER.
What Happened On ER
I'm not going to go into the six-season saga of Doug (played by George Clooney in his TV days) and Carol (Julianna Margulies) here, but they were arguably the biggest couple of the early years of ER. There were plenty of complications along the way, and Doug was already gone when she gave birth to their twins after Clooney moved on from television. They still saw each other off screen, but there seemed to be no romantic reunion in sight... until Margulies was ready to leave the show despite a $27 million offer to return.
ER said goodbye to Carol by giving her an epiphany about how much she still loves Doug, and she hopped on a plane to Seattle to reunite with him. George Clooney made a surprise cameo appearance to give fans an on-screen romantic reunion between Doug and Carol, and they shared a kiss. While they both made brief appearances in the fifteenth and final season of the show, ER gave them a happy ending in Season 6.
And how could I not flash back to that ending when Chicago Med saw Will quit his job at the hospital, hop on a plane to Seattle, and reunite with his biggest love interest of the entire series? It was even the same city as ER's Carol/Doug reunion! The situations weren't exactly identical, but all the Med scene needed to complete the parallels would have been Don Henley's "Taking You Home" playing over it. If you didn't watch the original run of the series or stream with a Hulu subscription, take a look:
None of this is to voice an objection to how Med handled Will's goodbye, whether or not the parallel was deliberate. Doug and Carol's reunion is what I would call an iconic moment in modern TV history, and no medical drama suffers if comparisons are made to ER. Plus, I'm just glad that Will got a happy ending, especially compared with how Chicago P.D. said goodbye to his brother when Jesse Lee Soffer left early in Season 10.
Med also didn't completely close the door on Will returning any more than it did Ethan, Vanessa, and Dylan, and we can always hope that he'll pop back up at some point... whenever the show returns for Season 9, which may depend on the WGA writers strike. For now, you can always revisit early days of Will and Manstead streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.