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[Warning: The following contains spoilers for New Amsterdam. Read at your own risk!]
Much ado has been made about Daniel Dae Kim’s debut on New Amsterdam and rightfully so: his work on Lost and Hawaii Five-0 prove him to be one of the best actors on TV and well, he ain’t exactly rough on the eyes, either. But when New Amsterdam airs the episode that’s now the Season 2 finale after the show’s production was halted due to coronavirus, fans might not love his character, Dr. Cassian Shin, right away.
New Amsterdam, as die-hard fans know, is a place where everyone acts in concert as a team; from Day 1, Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) has set a strong, if sometimes controversial, tone by leading with the question “How can I help?” and getting everybody on board with that idea. Under Max’s leadership, everyone on the staff has felt empowered to bend or even break rules when necessary to help patients, and to overlook traditional job duties to pitch in when the situation demands it. Well, the crew is going to be in for a bit of a shock when Dr. Shin clocks in on his first day. His style, as folks including Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) soon learn, is completely different.
“They’re two characters with such different philosophies,” creator and executive producer David Schulner told TV Guide in an interview before the finale. “It’s fun to write.”
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Dr. Shin, unlike Max, doesn’t try to heal every patient he encounters. He isn’t guided by the same savior complex, and he doesn’t even compromise his morning rituals to hop into the fray. He’s still an exceptionally dedicated health care professional, but one who believes he has to take care of himself first, and then to hone in on exactly what he’s good at rather than put out every metaphorical fire that comes his way. It’s a point of view that’s instantly recognizable as different from Max’s, and although the two don’t have a ton of interaction in the finale, they’re going to engage — and butt heads — as New Amsterdam goes into Season 3.
According to Schulner, Kim was originally slotted to appear in five episodes in Season 2, with the potential for more, before production on the show was shut down and Kim was diagnosed with COVID-19. So fans can expect Kim in at least a handful of episodes when the show returns with the possibility of a longer run.
However long Dr. Shin does stay at New Amsterdam, count on some tension between him and Max — especially when some personal lines get blurred, in addition to professional boundaries. “Max did his homework on him,” Schulner said, adding that, “as much as they clash, Max does respect him.”
How much that respect extends to grace and kindness will remain to be seen.
New Amsterdam’s Season 2 finale airs Tuesday. April 14 at 9/8c.