Chicago Med’s latest episode leaned too much into romance

CHICAGO MED -- "Too Close to the Sun" Episode 508 -- Pictured: S. Epatha Merkerson as Sharon Goodwin -- (Photo by: Adrian Burrows/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "Too Close to the Sun" Episode 508 -- Pictured: S. Epatha Merkerson as Sharon Goodwin -- (Photo by: Adrian Burrows/NBC) /

Chicago Med has evolved greatly in season 5, but this week’s episode pulled the show too much into romantic drama and away from the medicine.

There have been a lot of changes on Chicago Med over the last two seasons, but none has been more notable than the show’s increased emphasis on romance—and the drama that comes with it.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Chicago Med.

Wednesday’s episode “Too Close to the Sun” showed how the series has moved from a medical drama with personal subplots, to a series where the medicine is tied up in the romantic issues and affairs of the hospital staff.

The main storyline involved Maggie Lockwood (Marlyne Barrett) finding out that her latest love interest was going to die—a man she’d met just the episode before. Someone the show told us she had slept with, or at least fooled around with, within hours of meeting him.

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Yet the writers were already prepared to have something terrible happen to him. And Maggie was already so upset that the normally upstanding nurse committed a felony—forging Dr. Natalie Manning’s (Torrey DeVitto) signature to get her boyfriend out of the hospital.

Meanwhile, Chicago Med established a new love triangle between Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee), April Sexton (Yaya DaCosta), and Dr. Crockett Marcel (Dominic Rains).

After Marcel tried to kiss April last week—a moment that already felt awkward—this week viewers had Choi looking suspiciously on at April and Crockett’s conversation.

Sharon Goodwin’s (S. Epatha Merkerson) only real storyline is that she’s seeing her ex-husband again, while Manstead fans have themselves caught in the same cycle of the duo splitting up and dating other people; this time, the person stuck in the middle is med student Elsa Curry (Molly Bernard), who’s taken a liking to Will—something which, again, only came up an episode ago.

There are still medical storylines on the show, of course, but many of those stories are either tied in some way to a romantic subplot or feel like they’re being utilized to further a romantic subplot.

Romance and shipping have always been part of not only Chicago Med, but the entire One Chicago universe; that’s what separates these shows from, say, Dick Wolf‘s Law & Order brand. There’s no problem with getting into characters’ personal or romantic lives.

It’s when the drama has them acting differently, or feels like it’s pulling away from their actual jobs or is over the top, that it becomes an issue. And “Too Close to the Sun” hit too close to those three criteria.

The existing storylines, like Maggie’s cancer battle and Chexton’s desire to start a family, were interesting enough without piling romantic complications on top. Maggie doesn’t need to break ethics (and technically the law) for someone that she hardly knows, and the viewers know even less.

Crockett doesn’t need to be the third wheel in April’s relationship; in fact, there could have been a great friendship there, instead. Maybe that’s where it will end up, since the writers wouldn’t break Chexton up twice in three seasons—would they?

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But we don’t know, because Chicago Med has muddled its romantic waters so much. The love triangle has become fairly common around the hospital, particularly with Manstead, who seem to be on a never-ending cycle of breaking up, dating or having tension with other people, and getting back together.

Elsa’s sudden interest in Will is a great example. Where did it come from? The two haven’t interacted much in the season-plus she’s been on the show, so it feels sudden. But we know it must be romantic in nature, since Elsa was shown looking disappointed when Will’s paramedic date turned up.

The two characters could play well together, but it’s hard to say because we’ve not gotten to watch it develop—just like Maggie’s romance and whatever Crockett may feel toward April. The show is going for too much, too fast, and the end result was Wednesday’s episode that was all over the place.

Chicago Med has a good cast and interesting characters, and it can tell great medical stories and great platonic stories, if it chooses to. “Too Close to the Sun” was an example of how the show is different now, and it’s definitely not the same when it puts romance first.

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