The medical drama series The Night Shift is back for a second season on NBC, and the emergency room at San Antonio Memorial is as crazy as ever. Adrenaline junkie TC Callahan (Eoin Macken) is back at work after facing suspension, and after declaring his feelings for fellow physician Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), they both have to navigate what that will mean, for each of them.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, co-stars Eoin Macken and Jill Flint talked about how quickly they started hearing positive feedback from fans, that people have really responded to the show’s diversity, how fast the pace is, finding their rhythm with the filming, the status of their characters’ relationships and friendship in the hospital, how great it is to be able to just wear scrubs at work, and what it’s like to have Eriq La Salle as director of some of the episodes. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
JILL FLINT: It was really immediate. The Twitter world responded fast and feverishly, which we are absolutely grateful for. It was fun. We had a lot of interaction with them. We would live tweet every show, and it just kept the momentum going. I think it’s great.
EOIN MACKEN: We had no idea it was going to go, but it was fun because we like the show and you just hope other people like the show. And then, all of the response was really positive, which made it fun.
FLINT: There was definitely an energy that kept building each week, which was exciting.
MACKEN: You never know with a new show. It takes awhile for shows to find their feet and for people to connect with it. We just got lucky that people liked us, straight away.
FLINT: Doing the show, I felt like we had something fun and energetic and special to offer, but you don’t know how people are going to respond to it. Also, off screen, we all get along really well. We have fun together, we hang out with each other, and there’s a comradery with us that I think absolutely shows up in front of the camera, and people are attracted to that.
MACKEN: There’s a lot of diversity in the show, and a lot of characters, and there’s a lot of stuff happening. You’re never bored watching this show, and that’s what’s fun about it because you’re sucked into it. At least, that’s what you hope.
FLINT: A little quiet moment between two characters will tell a history between them, and then, in the next second, you’re off to the races again. There’s a new patient coming in and blood everywhere.
MACKEN: You finish a show and you’re emotionally exhausted and need to sleep for a week.
MACKEN: Yeah, it does. You have to do a two-page walk-and-talk, and you’ve got to finish by 10 steps away.
FLINT: You’ve got the intensity of a patient coming in on a gurney, and then you have all of these medical terms, and there’s all the stuff you have to do to them, at the same time, and you have to hit your marks and be present. Because of the intensity of the situation, you find yourself in this heightened place a lot.
MACKEN: That actually makes it easier to do, to an extent, because you’ve got somewhere to go. You don’t have a choice. You’re just swept along, and that’s what happens when you watch it, as well. And by the end of the episode, you’re like, “What just happened?,” because so many things are happening. But that’s what happens in the ER, every night.
Did having a season of experience make Season 2 any easier?
MACKEN: It feels like we’ve got a bit more time, this season. We’ve still got a lot of chaos and intensity, but there’s a bit more time to develop certain characters and storylines. Also, because we know what we’re going and we’re used to it now, you get into a flow and it just makes everything a little bit calmer.
FLINT: It doesn’t feel like it’s your first time at the rodeo, as far as the medical terminology is concerned. We are taking a bit of time, in particular, with Jordan and TC’s journey, to see why they fell in love with each other, in the first place. You get a little window into their life and what it is about them that makes them tick, as a couple. We’ll see how long that lasts.
MACKEN: We start off with TC and Jordan, after the end of Season 1, just having reconnected. You get to see why the two of them care about each other so much.
FLINT: He finally opened up to her. He harbored this guilt. He was carrying around this massive secret, and he was blaming himself and being so self-destructive, and that ultimately pushed her away. At the end of Season 1, he finally opened up to her, and she could understand him.
MACKEN: He opened up to her, but he is also being understanding towards her. Previously, TC was very distant from Jordan. If they’re going to have a relationship, they’ve gotta be able to connect, and he’s finally able to do that. But, we don’t know how long that’s going to last.
FLINT: Demons are demons, and if you have them, you can either put them away, exorcize them, or carry them with you.
MACKEN: It’s a very intense emotional relationship, that’s for sure. But that makes it fun because you’ve got somewhere to go with it, and it’s not cut and dry.
FLINT: Whether they’re together or not, they’re always bound to each other.
MACKEN: I don’t think TC and Jordan are ever going to have a straight-laced relationship because of what happened in their past. Also, having a relationship in an ER at nighttime, is hard to do, in itself. There are so many external factors that encroach on a relationship like that. Being in an ER and dealing with things, emotionally, with patients, is going to impact the relationship, as well. They can’t separate having a relationship from their work environment.
FLINT: They’re both adrenaline junkies.
MACKEN: Could you imagine the two of them on a beach for two weeks.
FLINT: They would fight with each other. They’d have to find something to save.
FLINT: I’m wearing pajamas, every day, at work. It’s the best thing, ever!
MACKEN: There’s a liberation, in the second season, because people liked it, so you feel justified in experimenting a little bit more. You know who you’re working with, as actors, and it becomes quite freeing. There’s a certain openness to it all because everyone knows how you operate and who your character is. You can explore things deeper.
FLINT: There’s a trust and a comfort that we have with each other.
How will TC and Jordan’s friendships with their co-workers grow, at work?
MACKEN: You still see the development with TC and Topher’s relationship, and TC and Topher and Jordan. And you get to see development of Drew and Kenny. You feel like they’re a more tight-knit group, this season. We’ve done a season, but they’ve been together longer, as well. There’s a short-hand between people.
FLINT: And Ragosa has an interesting twist with his character.
After having such a contentious relationship with Ragosa, last season, how are things with him now?
MACKEN: It’s different now. Ragosa had his own demons to battle. None of the characters are black and white, so even when there’s conflict between the characters, you get to see how that develops. Ragosa has his own issues to deal with.
FLINT: You understand why he is who he is, and what he’s going through.
MACKEN: And TC and Jordan try to adapt to that.
FLINT: He goes through a fair amount of hazing, this season, to welcome him in.
MACKEN: And you don’t want to get hazed in a hospital. It’s the worst place to get hazed. There are way too many scalpels and latex gloves, lying around the place.
FLINT: But, he gives as good as he gets.
MACKEN: I don’t think TC has any choice because he’s bound to Jordan, emotionally. Jordan and Topher are there. But I also don’t think TC can leave the hospital because he needs to be there for himself. While he’s opening up and beginning to understand what he’s gone through, that’s just the start of it. It’s not like, “Oh, great, he’s had a cry, and he’s discovered that he needs to deal with stuff.” That’s not the end of it. It’s an ongoing thing. TC needs to be in the hospital to save people.
FLINT: One thing I’ve discovered is that people in the military have a sense of purpose. They feel useful, and everything is laid out in front of them. What their job is, is very clear. When they leave the military, they get depressed. There are a million different reasons, but part of what they’re dealing with is that they don’t know what the hell to do with themselves because they need that sense of purpose. When you’re in the military, especially if you serve, you leave in this heightened world of having adrenaline course through you, all the time. You get addicted to that because adrenaline is essentially a drug. And in the ER, you do have that same adrenaline rush and sense of purpose. You need to move forward and constantly do something.
MACKEN: There’s a deflection to it, as well. By being surrounded by something going on, all the time, he doesn’t have to think about much. The way he deals with stuff is to park it for awhile.
FLINT: Every patient, for him, is his brother.
MACKEN: You’re not going to do something for a certain period of your life and be affected by it, and then stop and go work in a grocery store. You understand certain things and your personality changes. You can adapt to certain situations and to a certain way of life, but it has to be difficult to fully let go of something. You have to learn to make that work, in a different environment. And for TC, Jordan is really the only one who understands and can help him do that. For TC, he leans on Jordan and awful lot. That’s important for TC. In life, you need somebody to understand what you’re going through because you can’t fully express it. You might know why you’re doing things, instinctually, but not fully be able to express it. This year, TC actually begins to think more about Jordan than just himself. He was previously quite selfish, and he starts to give more to Jordan because she needs that. She’s also giving something to him. That’s a really important development for TC because he’s beginning to understand that what he’s done has affected her. As opposed to changing his own actions, he’s also trying to see what she needs.
What’s it like to have Eriq La Salle, who knows everything there is to know about medical shows from his time on ER, directing episodes?
MACKEN: I trust Eriq implicitly. If Eriq tells me to do something, I trust him, straight away.
FLINT: He’s really invested in all of our characters and our backstories and the relationships. He’s always there to listen and encourage us to keep building upon that. He sets the tone with us, in a way. He does have a full understanding of what it is to really portray these characters and to make sure that you are as truthful and honest about the situation at hand as possible. I guess that’s what you would expect out of any director.
MACKEN: We’ve had some really great directors. What’s really great is that everyone who’s come and directed really knows the show and cares about it. Eriq cares about all of the characters very heavily. He’s what you want. He’s cool and he’s funny, but he also knows what he wants. You want to work with people who see something outside of you and that you’re maybe not aware of. If someone gives you advice or tells you to do something, you want to be able to follow through with what you’re asked to do, and also believe that. Eriq is a leader, and you believe him.
The Night Shift airs on Monday nights on NBC.