Chicago Med season 5 report card: What worked and what didn’t

CHICAGO MED -- "A Needle In The Heart" Episode 520 -- Pictured: (l-r) Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning, Joshua Moaney as Julian Moody -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "A Needle In The Heart" Episode 520 -- Pictured: (l-r) Torrey DeVitto as Natalie Manning, Joshua Moaney as Julian Moody -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago Med season 5 is complete, so it’s time to put the season in review: What worked? What didn’t? Here’s what we thought about this season.

This season of Chicago Med is in the books, meaning it’s time to look back on season 5 and see how it all turned out. What parts of the season worked and made us fans all over again? What parts didn’t and could use room for improvement in the future?

We answer those questions in our Season 5 Report Card as we examine where this past season of Chicago Med burned brightest, and where it didn’t always succeed. Looking back at the big picture, we hope you get additional perspective on all of the season that was.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts about season 5’s hits and misses in the comments, and continue the discussion.

Here’s how we grade season 5 of Chicago Med:

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What worked

  • Giving Connor and Ava an actual farewell: The premiere’s goodbyes to Dr. Connor Rhodes and Dr. Ava Bekker weren’t perfect, but at least we got an actual ending for Colin Donnell and Norma Kuhling. Kudos to both actors for being willing to come back for one final episode.
  • Dominic Rains: There’s a lot of work to be done on Dr. Crockett Marcel the character, but Dominic Rains stepped into Chicago Med this season and did a wonderful job. Even when he had some unbelievable storylines (like getting kidnapped and almost arrested for murder), Rains made it work.
  • Natalie as a supporting character: With Manstead no longer the focus of the show, we saw Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) in more of a supporting role once she recovered from her brain injury. Maybe it’s because there was always so much drama around the Manstead relationship, but for the most part Natalie seemed calmer this season, and really worked well teaming up with different doctors.

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What didn’t

  • Too much romance: Every character had some kind of romantic drama in Chicago Med season 5, and some of the cases were obvious attempts to push a romantic subplot forward. Maggie Lockwood (Marlyne Barrett) sleeps with a guy the same day she meets him—and Ben later miraculously recovers from near-death? A Chexton love triangle? Sharon Goodwin’s (S. Epatha Merkerson) only major character development was getting back together with the ex-husband who dropped her like a hot potato?
  • Not enough medicine: In prior seasons, the show had some genuinely compelling cases that were unique and often thought-provoking. This season we didn’t think about most of them after the episodes ended, and if we did, it was usually with frustration or sadness at the plot twist (like the poor parents who had to abandon their child at the hospital for him to get the mental health care he needed).
  • Missed opportunities: There were a couple of them this season. For example, introducing Dr. Hannah Asher (recurring guest star Jessy Schram) could have been a serious look at doctors who struggle with addiction. Instead, by having Dr. Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) sleep with her, the storyline then became about their relationship. At least Hannah is clean and sober now, but there was so much that could have come out of that plotline and didn’t.

Chicago Med season 5 was the show’s most dramatic and busy yet. Almost every episode seemed to bring a big surprise or plot twist, and you can’t say that not enough happened this season. But it also marked a major shift in the series—losing two more series regulars, refocusing on the ED, and putting the emphasis on the characters’ personal lives. Some episodes felt more like a show about people who happened to be doctors and nurses, rather than a medical drama.

If you judge the season purely on entertainment value, it succeeded; there were times when it was the most-watched show on Wednesday nights, so clearly plenty of people are interested in who’s dating who and the other personal stories. But this is a show that three seasons ago also gave us a powerful discussion about mental health, and this season didn’t have the same kind of impact. We’ll have to wait until season 6 to see if the show swings back in the other direction or if season 5 is the new normal.

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For the latest Chicago Med season 5 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Med category at One Chicago Center.