'Chicago Med's Steven Weber Teases the Dean/Sean/Hannah Triangle
Tonight’s season 8 finale episode of Chicago Med has an intriguing title: “Does One Door Close and Another One Open”? It can mean so many things for so many people, especially considering the log line: “Shocking information threatens Jack Dayton’s (Sasha Roiz) surgery and the future of OR 2.0. Archer (Steven Weber) goes rogue to save a patient in need. And Maggie (Marlyne Barrett) questions her future at Med.”
Jack has bet his fortune—or at least a part of it—on the success of OR 2.0 and has asked the Board of Directors to take Gaffney Chicago Medical Center from nonprofit to profit status based on its success. What happens if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?
Maggie, not liking the direction the ED is taking as a result of the status change, has interviewed for a new job, and Dean Archer, well, he’s waiting for a kidney transplant that he was supposed to get from his son Sean (Luigi Sottile), who’s gone MIA.
The reconciliation between Sean and his dad was on track. There was a wonderful scene where the two talked about the upcoming transplant and then Sean admitted he had feelings for Hannah (Jessy Schram), which Archer tried to discourage. Nothing wrong with some parental concern until Sean saw Hannah and Archer in the doctors’ lounge and it looked as if they were having a moment—and he misinterpreted the situation. Or did he?
What exactly are Archer’s feelings for Hannah? Their work relationship started out on a bad note with him really on her case with drug testing and such. Then things smoothed out a bit as he came to trust her. Now that they’re work friends, though, she keeps interfering in his life, like telling Sean his father needed a transplant when Archer was trying to keep the information from him.
“It’s fairly complicated because of who Archer is and how he spent his life, which was highly defensive,” Weber tells Parade in this exclusive interview. “He has a lot of trouble being vulnerable with people and admitting vulnerability and allowing people in. It’s hard for him to love; it’s hard for him to be loved. He possibly thinks he’s worthy of it, and that’s something. So, the fact that he’s been less bothered by Hannah is because she’s proven herself to be very efficient, great at her job, and also trustworthy. And so, he’s lowered his guard enough to not be a complete jerk with her 24/7.”
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It's also complicated by the fact that Hannah’s example of how she’s dealing with her recovery and her advice to Archer regarding Sean is part of the reason the reconciliation was working, so it makes it difficult for him.
“The fact that his son has come back into his life, that he’s allowed for his son to come back into his life, is an indication that he is becoming more vulnerable,” Weber continued. “That said, I don’t think he’s ready to even entertain the idea that he might have feelings for Hannah, even though he may somewhere in the recesses of his tiny, Grinch-like heart, which is starting to grow. I think it’s a good tease for the audience, who, when they see this kind of triangle, immediately assume this is what’s going to be. I think the writers are attuned to that and they’re not going to give it away so easily.”
So was Archer genuine in telling Sean that now is not the right time to get romantically involved with Hannah, or anyone for that matter, because his sobriety is too new? The rule is to wait a year. Or did he have a vested interest in keeping the two as just friends?
“I actually do think that what Dean was saying needs to be taken at face value,” Weber added. “He’s great at his job, he understands people’s illnesses, he understands people’s medical proclivities, and he’s absolutely correct when he says don’t go there, don’t mix these emotions with the imperative of your own sobriety. It’s very important.
“However, it’s inescapable. You can’t completely dismiss the idea that he is in some way trying to protect himself and the idea that he doesn’t want his son to be kind of a rival. Again, not that he has romantic feelings for Hannah. I think he’s being very cautious. He’s not an idiot, he sees what’s going on. But I think he’s genuine in his concern for his son. He knows the ins and outs of sobriety and also, he’s genuine in his concerns for Hannah, with whom he has the beginnings of a good friendship going.”
But now Sean is MIA and we don’t know if he’s relapsed or what’s happened. There’s a clue in that there are photos from tonight’s episode of Sean in a bed in the ED, but without context, it’s impossible to know what it means. We’ll have to tune in tonight to find out.
During the conversation with Weber, he also reveals a bit about what Archer is feeling with Sean’s disappearance, he talks about Archer’s transition on the show from when he was first introduced to now, and he talks about his latest project, a podcast titled Eating Out with Eric and Steve.
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What happens with Archer when his son goes MIA?
Well, essentially after having let down his guard over a series of shows and after a period of time where he’s becoming more and more vulnerable and trusting, this is a setback. As anybody out there knows who’s been in situations that are not dissimilar from this, having to deal with people who have let them down in the past, this is something that is actually kind of comfortable to him. His distrust, his feeling of, “Oh I knew it, I knew this would happen, I knew that if I allowed myself to be vulnerable this much I would be let down.” Betrayal is constantly shadowing him and his life. So, it’s going to be tough.
It's a series of negotiations when you’ve been betrayed in your life, or if you’ve been a betrayer. And especially if you want to find a kind of balance and love and connection this is very hard. So, this is a big disappointment for Dean when his son lets them all down. And viscerally, if Dean is going to be completely honest, he might be a little afraid. He’s been on this [transplant] list for a while and he has not found a donor. He hasn’t found people who are candidates. It’s been very rough. He might be a little afraid dealing with his mortality.
You started on the show as a guest star and now you have this huge, major storyline. How has that transition been?
[Jokingly] I know, I think you have to play up how good I am as an actor and how well liked I am in the business in general. Anybody would be a fool to just use me sparingly. I think this show, Dick Wolf, NBC and, of course, the global audience is saying, “Oh, my God we want more Steven Weber.”
Right, can’t have too much. You’ve done so many different roles. One of the things about your character, though, is he is really a guy who likes the tried and true. For example, he’s been really resistant to OR 2.0. What does he think now about the hospital going for profit?
I think it offends him. I think his priority is people, not profit. I think he’s a guy that’s wary of technology, as I think human beings probably should be. AI is in the news now. There’s a lot of fantastic applications for AI. But, of course, there’s the terrifying possibilities, too. Dean is a guy that likes to be able to hold something in his hand, he likes to be able to look at it, touch it, see it, and help it if he can. He’s not a fan of something that he’s got to take a back seat to. Some of it is ego driven, too. He doesn’t want to be supplanted by superior technology. He has enough pride and belief in himself that he thinks that there’s no machine that can be better than him. He’s kind of like John Henry.
Dr. Archer had a little bit of a PTSD storyline going on? What happened with that?
Well, yeah. Look, the original incarnation and introduction of Dean into this world with Brian Tee as Ethan Choi was that he had a bunch of stuff happen to him back in Afghanistan. Same with Brian. Early on there were some things that triggered terrible reactions in him. And originally that was going to lead to his end. But I think the writers saw that this would be a good and interesting and provocative character to have at Gaffney. Yes, I mean it has taken a bit of a back seat and I think that’s a sign of his growth emotionally as a character. The more secure a person like this feels and the more the environment is less offensive and more supportive of that person, the less likely they are to be triggered and find themselves back in that dark place.
I identify with this character because I do some work with this great organization called New Directions for Veterans. They deal with veterans with PTSD. And so, it actually tells me that the world that Dean is in now is one in which he’s finding recovery. So, it’s not necessary for them to constantly go to that well where he’s freaking out or if he hears firecrackers or something like that, that he’s transported. He doesn’t need to be anymore. He’s finding camaraderie and security.
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You also have a new project. A podcast with Eric McCormack called Eating Out with Eric and Steve. How did that come about?
It’s basically a light and rollicking agenda-free conversation with Eric and me and two other guests over a meal. And the guests are people that the audience will probably know, everybody from LeVar Burton to Bryan Cranston to Julie Bowen—I’m trying to think who else, Peri Gilpin, Jason Alexander, a whole bunch of people that happen to be friends of ours. You can hear us chatting and chewing. You can find it at Apple.co/EatingOut. So, yeah, that’s what we’re doing and it’s fun to do.
Are these conversations that you would have even if you weren’t being recorded? Or are they directed because it’s a podcast and you have a producer and he says, “No, we’re going to talk about these subjects?”
Well, we’re not going to talk about things that would get anybody fired or arrested. Not that I have any friends that even have subjects like that. They’re fairly uncensored, good-natured and funny conversation that we have. Look, the podcast world is now global. There’s a tsunami of podcasts. Why should we have one? Well, by rights we probably shouldn’t, but we don’t care. It’s fun and we’re not trying to change the world, we’re not trying to hawk products. We’re trying to keep busy and interested and it happens to be entertaining so why the hell not?
Chicago Med, which has already been picked up for its ninth season, airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.