Chicago Med faced some unprecedented challenges when it came to production on Season 6, but that didn't stop the hit One Chicago series from introducing a new character who mixed things up in the ED, particularly for Brian Tee's Ethan Choi. Steven Weber's Dean Archer is a blast from Ethan's Navy past, and their reunion hasn't been straightforward for either of them. Both actors have opened up about their characters' dynamic, which has included some triggers and an element of discomfort in an already unusual sixth season.
Brian Tee and Steven Weber spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets at a recent press event, and they only had good things to say about their complex character arcs in Season 6. When I asked Tee what it has meant to him to unearth a new layer of Ethan and approach the Ethan/Dean dynamic, he shared:
I love it, actually, whenever they bring someone new that has kind of defined Ethan prior to getting into Chicago Med. It just gives me access to build upon. And then of course, being able to work with Steven [Weber] and us kind of creating our relationship has been truly wonderful. And I feel like bringing him on board has elevated our show, I think especially with the Ethan character, because I think he needed someone to really push him in a direction that he was uncomfortable with, or take on a new role in particular, that he needs to actually build a foundation upon as far as being Chief, but yet allow himself to be vulnerable in certain situations where he has someone else to kind of bounce off things with, which is also with Steven's character.
Ethan's job became more complicated in Season 6 even before Dean showed up, as he landed the position of ED Chief (much to Will's dismay). The pressure he put on himself took a toll as he settled into his new role, and the arrival of somebody from his past – who had outranked him in the Navy, no less – made him uncomfortable in a way that he needed, according to Brian Tee. Ethan was clearly glad to welcome his former comrade into his ED, but also clearly had to push some of his own boundaries to pull Med rank over his former commanding officer.
As for Dean Archer, Steven Weber had previously spoken to CinemaBlend about the issues his character would bring to the ED, both on a personal level and a professional level as a skilled surgeon who was accustomed to being higher up on the chain of command, with the latter leading to some conflict between Dean and Natalie and Crockett over a case. Weber picked up on Brian Tee's comments about Ethan/Dean and Dean's role in the ED, saying:
The fact is that I didn't have to do much more than read what was there, and obviously try to personalize it. Everything that Brian said makes sense. It's fascinating when you come into a show with a given history, a given past. And it's jarring because there have been enough years between [since] the characters have seen each other. And they've undergone enough stuff, they've had challenges since the last time they'd seen each other. So, on the one hand, we fall into kind of a camaraderie that was always there. But people have been changed, they've been changed by circumstance and over time.
Chicago Med viewers have known from the first season that Ethan was in the Navy prior to joining the Med ED, and gotten glimpses of what his service has meant for him as a man and as a doctor. But Med is exploring Ethan's Navy history more than ever with Dean Archer on board, with so much history coming with somebody who is brand new to the show. Fans saw some immediate familiarity between the characters, but also some uncertainty due to the different directions their lives took since last working together.
Steven Weber elaborated on how Chicago Med is addressing Ethan and Dean's dynamic in light of all of their shifts over the years, as seen on Med over six seasons with Ethan and slowly being uncovered with newcomer Dean:
And that's what our episodes are starting to get into, where things are starting to be revealed, that indicate that there's less easiness, less simplicity than there was when we were both in the Navy. I have to credit the writers, obviously for creating my character and throwing him in there. But also they're being pretty, facile is maybe the wrong word, but they're figuring out where we can go. And where Ethan and Dean can go and see where they trigger each other in different and interesting ways, in ways that are different from what even the audience has come to expect, in a show of this style and caliber.
There are triggers in the relationship between Ethan and Dean as they can't help but relate their Navy history to the Med present, which is interesting for viewers but maybe not entirely pleasant for the characters. The arrival of Dean certainly guaranteed a complex storyline for Ethan in Season 6, as he deals not only with his new role in charge of his longtime friends in the ED but also complicated feelings for Dr. Virani with her relationship with Will. As if the tension between Ethan and Will over their positions in the hospital wasn't enough!
Chicago Med took the April 14 Wednesday off, along with Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., but all three shows will be back on NBC with new episodes on Wednesday, April 21. If you missed the early episodes of Steven Weber as Dean Archer on Med Season 6, or just want to rewatch them during the wait for the return of his character and the relationship with Ethan, you can find all eleven episodes of the sixth season so far streaming on Peacock.
Med has also delivered some major developments on the relationship front for Natalie and Crockett, character departures, some revelations with Maggie, Will proving that a pandemic won't stop him from pushing boundaries, and more. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2021 spring premiere schedule.