Chicago Med has an Ava Bekker problem, and it’s time to fix it

CHICAGO MED -- "The Things We Do" Episode 412 -- Pictured: Norma Kuhling as Ava Bekker -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "The Things We Do" Episode 412 -- Pictured: Norma Kuhling as Ava Bekker -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago Med has taken Dr. Ava Bekker down a very strange path, and Chicago Med season 4 needs to decide the fate of her character.

When Dr. Ava Bekker became a Chicago Med series regular last season, she was poised to become a strong, assertive character who would shake up the hospital.

One season later, the show has painted her as a manipulative woman who’s obsessed with Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell). She’s shaken things up, but not in any good way—for her, for him, for the show, or with the messages her storyline is sending.

Let’s look at where Ava has gone in Chicago Med season 4. She started the season pulling a thread introduced in season 3—capitalizing on Cornelius Rhodes’ (D.W. Moffett) interest in her to get him to fund a hybrid OR, solely to keep his son from taking a job at the Mayo Clinic.

Cornelius has since accused Ava of doing more than persuading him; he claimed that she pursued him for sex, an assertion that Connor believed and which ended their renewed relationship.

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She was accidentally cut by a scalpel that Connor was holding, but the show implied that she may have done it on purpose instead.

And then this week, Connor accused Ava of reporting him to the hospital administration—just so she could testify on his behalf and save him from losing his medical license.

The episode ended with him telling her to get some professional help, and based on the writing for her this season, can you really blame him?

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At best, Chicago Med has taken Ava Bekker down a dramatically awkward path that it will be hard for her to come back from. At worst, it’s made her out to be an incredibly dark character who wouldn’t be out of place in a Lifetime movie, down to her telling him, “I’d do anything for you.”

This has nothing to do with Norma Kuhling, who’s delivered great performances throughout the season even when the material hasn’t always been its best. It’s everything to do with the writing, which is either building to some kind of super-dramatic climax or choosing the dramatic story at the expense of actual character development.

Since Chicago Med hasn’t proven or disproven any of the claims against Ava yet, it’s impossible to say which. But either way her season ultimately goes, it’s a problem.

If we lean into the drama and assume that Ava has actually done even some of what she’s been said to have done, there’s no way to redeem her character—or even necessarily to keep her on the show.

That means she’s a woman who traded sex for money, who intentionally hurt herself in an OR, and who manipulated hospital policy for personal gain. She’s got a mental problem, would have an ethics problem professionally, and Connor certainly would never work with her again. Nobody else would be chomping at the bit to be in an OR with her, not knowing if she’d pull another stunt.

And the PR problem that would result from the whole funding scandal would be enough for her to get fired. Keep in mind that decision rests with Gwen Garrett (Heather Headley), who’s so fixated on the hospital’s image that she was trying to keep Pat Halstead on life support so it didn’t look bad when he died. If she’ll go that far, do you think she’d keep a doctor on staff who slept with a donor, now board member?

If Chicago Med really wants to go full bore with this evil Ava idea, the only logical ending is for her to be written out of the show. The sole saving grace is if the writers reveal all of her behavior was caused by some kind of actual mental health issue, but considering that they kind of wrote that in the second season with Connor’s last girlfriend Robin Charles (Mekia Cox), that would not only be a huge reach, it’d be repeating themselves.

And let’s be honest: it would be a waste to get rid of Norma Kuhling. While her character didn’t get the best introduction—already sort of flirting with Connor while Robin was in the hospital—she’s come into her own over the past season and a half. When Chicago Med gives her feature episodes, or even just more scenes where the character stands on her own, she’s excellent.

Which is what makes the state of Ava Bekker so frustrating. Even if you take the sympathetic line and she turns out to be innocent of all charges, what is she supposed to do? Where does she go in season 5? The specter of these accusations and everything that’s come out of them is still going to be there.

At the absolute best, Ava comes out of this season having not been honest with Connor. It’s true without a doubt that she did not tell him where the money for the hybrid OR came from. So if they reconciled again that’d be after she was dishonest and he accused her of having sex with his dad. Even though they’d apologize, and even though Connor is overly sympathetic toward Ava, it’d still feel awkward if the writers just made them happy again.

And there’s another issue Chicago Med has to consider—the fans.

This storyline isn’t just about Connor’s perception of Ava and whether or not he decides to be with her. It’s also about the viewers’ perception of Ava, and whether or not they’re able to support her.

Chicago Med still hadn’t told us an awful lot about Ava when this season started. Her character had so much more left to explore. And now, when fans look at her, we don’t think about her as a doctor. The first thing we think is that she may have essentially prostituted herself to keep her would-be boyfriend in Chicago—with his own father. It’s creepy, it’s uncomfortable, and especially when the treatment of women has become such a prominent issue, it’s out of place.

We’re having conversations about how women should not be pressured to trade sexual favors for career advancement, and how they deserve to have safe working environments. Yet Chicago Med writes a story about a woman who either voluntarily had sex with someone for professional gain, or at the very least, knowingly used a man’s romantic interest in her to approach him to fund her project. And her motivation? To hold onto another man. Even if you give Ava every benefit of the doubt, what is the show trying to do here?

The simplest explanation is also the least interesting: that the writers are simply writing the most dramatic, entertaining story arc, without any larger point or long-term plan. That’s great if you’re just watching Chicago Med to be entertained, and understandable to a point. After all, the stories have certainly gotten us talking about Ava and wondering what she’s going to do next.

But when you’re talking about a show that can be so powerful (speaking of Robin, remember the great discussion about mental health?) and is so well put together, it’s hard not to want more. It’s hard not to ask where all of this is going to leave Ava and Connor, both of whom deserve to catch a break—and who both should have stories outside of their relationship, by the way. There’s more to both of them than who they’re dating, and there’s a lot more Chicago Med can do than this.

Whether or not you’re an Ava Bekker fan, there’s no denying that Chicago Med season 4 has been writing her very strangely, and the constant vagueness surrounding her doesn’t help. There need to be answers, and almost more than that, it’s just time to stop the ride so everybody can get off. Ava deserves more, Connor deserves better, and One Chicago fans deserve to know where these characters are going—because right now, it doesn’t look good at all.

Next. Colin Donnell gives his thoughts on Connor and Ava. dark

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