A Critical Review of The Good Doctor Season 6
Having closed the book on an extra long season 6, let’s shine a light on what happened across the whole of the season and see what was notable and what might be worth highlighting in retrospect.
Just to set expectations, I will focus mostly on what’s happening around Shaun as the main protagonist, so other pairings or side characters may not get a lot of coverage.
This blog post was in most part written by TeeJay, but it will have views and commentary by two other wonderful members of the fandom, Daniela and Rosana, which I will indicate with the following coloured boxes.
Season 6.0: Wedding Aftermath
This time around, everything about how they started the season off was different, which was mostly due to the decision to shorten season 5 from 20 to 18 episodes and transplanting those last two episodes into season 6 for an extra-long 22 episode season.
Normally, we’d expect to see an approximately three months’ time jump after the previous season finale, but seeing how season 5 left off on a big cliffhanger with Lim and Villanueva bleeding out in the break room, it was pretty obvious that we’d be seeing the immediate aftermath of that.
We certainly jumped right in, with the hospital being on lockdown and the attacker still on the loose and a surgical team fighting for Lim and Villanueva’s lives. We saw Shaun struggling with old memories, reliving one of the most traumatic experiences of his life—his brother’s death—which eventually sent him into a catatonic episode after being forcefully ejected from Lim’s surgery. We also saw Lea being uncharacteristically thrust into the role of impromptu nurse to help out where there was a dire need, which was a refreshing change.
Lim and Villanueva both survived the harrowing experience, but the outcome of Lim’s surgery and Shaun’s involvement in decisions made that may or may not have led to a life-changing complication for Lim sent us right into the first overarching season arc: Lim’s paralysis and Shaun’s denial.
Way to start the season off with a bang, the paralysis revelation was unexpected and sure set the tone, and Shaun’s powerful shutdown right outside the OR in a blood-smeared shirt packed an emotional punch. It was also great to see a more grown-up version of Steve again as a catalyst to try and absolve Shaun of that deep-rooting guilt that he’s been carrying around with him all these years.
Season 6.1: Shaun’s Denial
After 6×01, we saw the time jump we’d usually expect in between seasons, which according to Shaun was fourteen and a half weeks. Lim has embarked on her recovery journey and is adjusting to life in a wheelchair, now ready to return to work. Things are a little awkward because there is underlying innuendo that Lim and others may be blaming Shaun for her paralysis.
In the meantime, Shaun and Park have also been promoted to attending surgeons with a shared office (and no mention of chosen specialties). All of what happened in those 14+ weeks is being glossed over swept under the rug, and we are being thrust into life at St. Bon’s as we see it unfold, including the addition of two new first year residents to the surgical team – the two Dannies.
In retrospect, it seems strange to think that they would have made the season cut after episode 6×02 if they’d stuck with the original plan to make both seasons 5 and 6 twenty episodes long. We would have seen the season 5 finale fading out to black on Lim’s angry and frustrated outburst of, “And I hate Shaun Murphy. This is all his fault.”
That’s, of course, assuming that the episodes would have been largely written the way they were, which might actually not be the case. It’s very possible that their original plans for episode content or dramatic endings might have been different, had 6×02 actually been 5×20. I guess we’ll never know.
Lim’s words in her car spoke loud and clear that she blamed Shaun for her predicament, while Shaun kept denying any kind of responsibility in the matter, insisting that he did the right thing. Shaun’s insistence on having saved Lim’s life in lieu of acknowledging the emotional repercussions that followed in the wake of his surgical decisions culminated in an arc of denial and isolation for Shaun.
With Lim openly keeping Shaun at arm’s length, calling it quits on any kind of friendship they may have had, Shaun moves out of his shared office and takes up residence in a tiny, out of the way broom closet office. His friends and colleagues all watch this with unease and worry – first and foremost Glassman who is concerned that Shaun is cutting himself off from what’s actually important in this life.
We know Shaun has a way to get under people’s skin, most of all Glassman’s, so there’s a strange dichotomy of Glassman being frustrated with Shaun’s stubborn denial and his love for Shaun that is hard to reconcile when Shaun is being a recalcitrant little bullethead.
What I thought played out beautifully during Shaun’s denial arc was the beautiful bonding with Glassman, the many little scenes that meant so much and told us everything about how much of a connection they still have and how much they still need each other.
Going into season 6, Freddie Highmore talked in interviews about how Shaun and Glassman’s relationship would mature and evolve over the season, and this was a strong show of that, of Glassman refusing to give up on Shaun, even when he was taking a path that Glassman saw veering off into the absolutely wrong direction. The one memorable scene that stood out for me here was when Glassman came into Shaun’s office after having a memory of Maddie and told Shaun that, no matter how mad he may get at Shaun, he’ll always love him.
Shaun’s denial arc also brought along a good amount of fan discordance, with many people taking either this or that side. Some vehemently defended Shaun and were adamant that Lim was doing him a misjustice and disservice by unfriending him, others were angry at Shaun for putting Lim in a wheelchair and refusing to acknowledge that she was going through a grieving process.
But Shaun wouldn’t be Shaun if he didn’t eventually learn. And even though it took a while, he finally worked through his self-imposed isolation and came to understand that his actions resulted in emotionally impactful consequences, for which he apologised to Lim in a heartfelt scene that beautifully concluded the denial arc.
What I found especially interesting during Shaun’s denial arc was that the writers used the closet office as a sort of physical metaphor of it.
Shaun isolated himself from everyone else, using that storage room as a sanctuary of sorts, and left it only after having settled his differences with Lim.
I also loved how Glassman, who knows Shaun so well, realized that from the very beginning, and how Shaun himself recognised that Glassman was right, at the end of Sorry, Not Sorry, when he moved back into his shared office with Park.
Season 6.2: Pregnant Again
Season 6 also touched upon the topic of Shaun and Lea trying for another baby after the tragic loss of their unborn daughter in season 4. However, the Shea fans weren’t so happy when it was revealed that Lea had a uterine condition that would put another pregnancy at high risk for complications for both Lea and the baby.
To distract herself from the unexpected bad news and the massive disappointment that perhaps they could never have a child of their own, Lea pushed for taking the next big step in Shaun and Lea’s marriage: buying a house. Before they could put a down payment on anything, though, there was some very surprising news for the couple – Lea is pregnant again. Understandably, both Shaun and Lea were anxious, seeing how this would now be a high-risk pregnancy, but both were committed to hope for the best.
We then went into the winter hiatus, having learned that another Murphy baby was on the way. Of course fans were also hoping for the best, which initially didn’t look like it would be enough. At the start of the second trimester Lea’s uterine wall showed thinning that was also putting their second pregnancy at risk. However, Shaun being the brilliant surgeon that he is, came up with a surgical solution. There was a bit of a scare when Lea needed to be rushed into emergency surgery, but all’s well that ends well since Shaun’s uterine surgery ultimately saved both Lea and the baby.
The rest of the pregnancy was pretty smooth sailing, so the show focused on other things for a while, also since we had seen both Shaun and Lea struggle with some aspects of pregnancy already in season 4.
We briefly shifted focus to Danica and her eventually sabotaging herself by performing illegal surgery on a friend at home that she ended up roping both Asher and Lim into. It led to her being fired for misconduct and unethical behaviour, so we had to say goodbye to Savannah Welch after half a season already.
Personally, I wasn’t terribly happy with that choice. Although disliked by some, I thought Danica brought a fresh breeze to the show and shook things up a little, particularly in Shaun’s world. I like seeing Shaun challenged sometimes, and usually those are the times where he has the most capacity to learn and expand his horizon.
I also really liked that they had cast an actor with an actual physical disability, something we don’t see all that often in these roles. Seeing her being pushed out mid-season felt like a cop-out, particularly since Danny up until the end felt bland and uninteresting. He seemed like that stereotypical “pretty boy” tickbox they wanted to tick to cater to that younger audience who would find him physically attractive. I think Danica would have given us more interesting stories than an ultimately underused drug addiction theme.
With several time jumps throughout the second third of the season, the pregnancy kinda ambled along with relatively fast progression at times. Viewers were made to believe somewhat incongruently that Lea’s pregnancy lasted anything from six months to nine months since the timeline and the sizing of Lea’s belly really didn’t add up, but we’ll chalk that up to creative license and trust in suspension of disbelief.
There wasn’t much focus at all on anything surrounding the pregnancy. We got a few glimpses here and there at the more mundane issues like maternity clothes, child-proofing and a family-friendly car to replace or augment the Striped Tomato, and of course the doggy episode where they briefly touched upon the insecurity and anxiety that impending parents might be feeling at having their first child on the way. We got a lovely little bonding scene between Lea and Glassman out of it as well.
Season 6.3: Family Bonding & Letting Go
As Lea’s pregnancy was progressing, the show shifted focus to Glassman. Maybe we should have seen the house fire coming when he was talking about the termite fumigation – I certainly didn’t. With everything Glassman ever owned turned to soot and rubble, we saw Glassman getting lost in digging through memories (very literally), trying to cling on to the last physical remnants of his past that weren’t totally charred and destroyed, as Lea and Shaun could only watch and offer as much emotional support as possible.
And as devastating as it was, it opened up a whole new outlook on life for Glassman. All these decades, he had clung on to the ever fading memories of Maddie, living in a house that she had grown up in, no doubt little reminders here and there that would bring the pain back to the forefront of how he’d failed as a parent, how he’d not done enough to prevent his daughter’s death.
The house fire gave Glassman a clean slate. It effectively underlined the journey of letting go and making room for new memories—the start of a new chapter late in life and a realization of all the things he still had to look forward to—including the birth of his grandson who was on the way.
At the same time, we saw Shaun struggling (again) with the worries that come with impending parenthood. Granted, some of it may have been planted there by Glassman, talking about how a baby would shift their marriage dynamics, but we know that it came from a place of wanting to reset Shaun’s expectations and better prepare him for what was to come, knowing that he would struggle with the shift in routine and the massive change a newborn baby would introduce.
What I definitely loved about season 6 is that they decided to explore the relationship between Shaun and Glassman even further. Not only their ever growing bond, but also their shared past, in the forms of the many things they have learnt from one another and of how much they have influenced each other.
For a very long time, fans had been waiting for some more clues about their shared past and more information about the exact involvement Glassman had during Shaun’s teen years. At least I had. And I’m very happy with what we’ve got.
Episodes like 365 Degrees or 39 Differences provided us with a lot of hints that suggested that Shaun and Glassy actually lived together in the past, and that they’d developed more than a few common habits. Shaun learnt from Glassman, and Glassman learnt from Shaun. The creative way the writers did that was an added bonus, which also brought in some good comedy for a change. The scene where Lea walked in on Glassy in the shower will always remain etched in my mind.
The fact that Shaun, Lea and Glassy had to live together for a while also contributed in no small part to the building process of the new family unit, consisting of the three of them.
The scene in which Shaun told Glassy that he considered him to be the baby’s grandfather was incredibly touching. It showed that Shaun has definitely made up his mind about what role he wants Glassman to have in his life and in his son’s life. And Glassy was so incredibly moved by that. It was the very first time in the whole series that we saw him taking the initiative to hug Shaun. A hug that Shaun reciprocated without any hesitation.
I found the scene equally touching that took place among the ruins of Glassman’s burnt house, when the baby kicked for the first time, and the three of them shared the joy of that moment and the hope of building new beautiful memories together.
The decision of having Glassman’s house destroyed was a very smart move by the writers, I think. It was definitely a boost in the development of the family dynamic. And I felt it was another potent metaphor representing Glassman’s need to let go of the past and to embrace the second chance that life has given him. Because, as much as Glassy loves Shaun (and Lea), he still seemed to be too attached to his past memories, probably out of a sense of faithfulness toward Maddie, to really be able to embrace the future and his new role in the family that Shaun and Lea are building.
And about this, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but while Shaun had been consistently calling Glassman his father and his son’s grandfather, Glassy never once called Shaun his son. With this I’m not saying that he doesn’t consider Shaun his son, he does, and he loves him accordingly. Still, we haven’t heard Glassy verbalizing that yet. I had hoped that it could happen in the finale, during the emotional moment when Glassy was supposed to meet his grandson for the first time and hold him in his arms. But, as we all know, unfortunately that moment never happened.
I still have hopes for season 7, in connection with the Shaun and Glassy reconciliation arc that I’m sure will take place. We’ve seen a lot of character development as far as Glassman is concerned, but I feel that there are still a couple of things left hanging. Explicitly recognizing Shaun as his son is one of them. The other is choosing family over pride, choosing not to be alone anymore.
Another theme explored throughout the family bonding arc was Lea’s insecurities about becoming a mother. We’d already witnessed Shaun’s worry about not being a good enough father in season 4, particularly in the episode Teeny Blue Eyes. His apprehension was specifically related to his ASD and the fear of not being able to provide the right emotional support for his child.
Lea’s insecurities were shown to be less specific and more related to not having had good parental role models in her life. She talked about this issue with Shaun during her babymoon, in the episode The Good Boy. Shaun was very good in providing reassurance, telling her that she would be a good mother, and also specifying that he didn’t think he was like his own parents at all, and that he didn’t plan to treat their children like his parents treated him and Steve.
Having lost their daughter through the miscarriage Lea went through in season 4, she was also probably very worried that she couldn’t protect their son and that something bad could happen to him. This fear in particular was beautifully explored in the very emotional scene between Lea and Glassman, outside the veterinary clinic, in the same episode.
Glassman divulged some of his memories about Maddie and assured Lea that 99% of the time things work out just fine. They shared a rare and heartwarming hug.
Lea’s worries manifested again at the very last moment, during the baby’s delivery, when she told Shaun that she was afraid of not being able to protect their son once he got out of the womb. And again, Shaun defused her fears and redirected her attention to the excitement of the moment. His, “I am very excited to meet our son,” did the trick. Way to go, Shaun!
Season 6.4: Reunion
The show gave us another unexpected surprise in the second half of the season: the return of a long-lost friend from way back in season 1. Dr. Jared Kalu made an appearance, and it was really refreshing and sweet to see Shaun so excited that his old friend was back.
And as elated as Shaun was, particularly at the fact that Jared decided to come back as first year resident, the damper came pretty soon when Shaun realised that having his close friend as a mentee and subordinate wasn’t going to be the smooth sailing he was confident it would be. But Shaun being Shaun, he eventually figured out how to separate profession from friendship, and it’s great to see part of the old gang back together.
Jared coming back also gave us the opportunity to explore his character and his backstory a bit more. We already knew from season 1 that Jared came from a wealthy family, that he wasn’t opposed to flaunting his status if he felt it served him. His stint in Denver didn’t exactly help in making him more humble – perhaps even the opposite.
Purple Lamborghini and all, Jared certainly had a few lessons to learn that put him in his place, including ample disapproval from both Asher and Jordan. We also learned that the wealth was not necessarily a positive influence in Jared’s life, since it was a means to compensate for lack of attention and love from his parents. As confident as he wants to appear to the outside world, behind the façade is a deeply insecure and doubt-filled man who still needs to find his place in the world.
Season 6.5: The Good Lawyer
Season 6 also gave us a quick little interlude away from the usual action – Shaun being dragged into a courtroom to deal with a sudden and unexpected lawsuit that is being sprung on him by a patient whose life he saved but also made an amputee in the process.
It was interesting to see Shaun out of his element, and see him making friends with a new person he immediately connected with, to see him master this challenge without so much as a hitch. Of course the episode also served as a backdoor pilot to introduce us to Joni and Janet, to gives us a first glimpse at who Joni is as a person, and to get us to buy into this new law universe and like it enough to want it to become its own thing.
Which I think a large enough audience did, but of course the writers’ strike put a spoke in the wheel and we don’t know yet whether ABC will actually greenlight The Good Lawyer as a whole series. There have been reports of it being the only new ABC show that’s still in the running of being picked up this season, which could be a good sign, but we shouldn’t be rejoicing before we see an official announcement.
That said, I believe Joni has been well received also within the The Good Doctor fandom, and people are excited at future crossover opportunities and getting to know Joni and her friends and co-workers better.
It’s probably not surprising that the The Good Lawyer episode only included four characters from The Good Doctor. Being a backdoor pilot, they obviously needed to establish the main characters of a possible brand new show. That said, it didn’t go unnoticed that two of those characters were Lea and Glassman. The writers didn’t miss the chance to keep exploring the dynamic of their newly established family unit.
It was sweet beyond words to see how supportive both Lea and Glassy were of Shaun. And how much comfort their presence throughout the hearing gave him. I loved seeing Shaun turning around and looking at them from time to time.
Furthermore, it’s essential to highlight how rewarding it was to notice that one of the crucial points of the plot lay in the fact that it was Shaun who put his faith in Joni, giving her the opportunity to showcase her potential as a lawyer and explore her skills beyond the limits of her tiny office.
Shaun believed in Joni, allowing her to be where she truly belongs, which was in the first chair at a trial. He realized that Joni had proven to be a brilliant attorney, and it was high time to take her off “suction duty”. Do you have any idea how meaningful this was for the story of these two characters?
In addition, the friendship based on empathy and mutual respect that started between Shaun and Joni was truly amazing to witness. I hope we’ll have more moments between these two, but let it be someone else who needs Joni’s legal services. 😉
The instant friendship between Shaun and Joni was one of the aspects of The Good Lawyer that really captivated me. Every scene where they interacted was just delightful. They genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company, and their conversations were filled with insight, fun and emotion.
The final moments of the episode showed Shaun and Joni so in tune that Joni could even anticipate Shaun’s wishes, like when he wanted to head to the lab to conduct tests on that gruesome amputated hand. Witnessing this synchronicity was truly heartwarming.
Seeing Shaun forming a new friendship brings me genuine joy, and I can easily imagine the two sharing more laid-back moments in the future. I also feel incredibly proud of Shaun for extending his support to Joni, which indicates that he’s taken valuable lessons from Glassman.
Taking a moment to discuss Joni, she completely captured my attention as a captivating, intriguing, and incredibly intelligent character. Her empathy, determination, and unwavering perseverance made her truly compelling. And I must say, I also enjoyed her style, which perfectly complemented her personality.
What particularly stood out about Joni was her sense of humor. She was naturally funny, not just because of situations arising from her OCD, as is the case in the show Monk. Her humor came across as authentic.
Joni was undeniably a smart and meticulous individual, showcasing remarkable skills in her work, regardless of her OCD. Her competence wasn’t driven by her diagnosis; it was an intrinsic trait of hers.
With that said, delving into Joni’s backstory and how her OCD developed was enlightening. Getting to know her sister, Abbie, was enjoyable, and it was touching to see that they found someone to bring order to the chaos in their lives – lawyer Janet Stewart, who inspired Joni to pursue law.
While Janet might have seemed to fit the stereotype of a career-focused, unyielding woman intolerant of errors, we were aware that there’s more depth beneath that façade. I’m eager to uncover more about her and explore the dynamic between her and Joni. The interaction between these two characters promises to be impactful and emotionally charged.
Another strong point was how The Good Lawyer dispelled the conventional stereotype of OCD within the first few minutes of the episode. Many people shared Lea’s notion that individuals with OCD are extremely neat and organized. “No, that’s not OCD,” Shaun corrected, and explained that people with OCD, like Joni, experience repetitive intrusive thoughts and manage them through compulsions. I appreciated Shaun’s concise definition of OCD.
Additionally, what struck me as both incredible and distressing in The Good Lawyer is our ability, as viewers, to witness Joni’s OCD episodes, from obsession to compulsion. Initially, we were immersed in her mind through voiceover, hearing her intrusive thoughts: “Tap three times or bad things will happen,” “Fix this or bad things will happen.” Meanwhile, everything around her became somewhat blurred; gradually, the camera zoomed in on Joni, and panic took over her expression. She lost focus, couldn’t keep up with or comprehend what was happening or being discussed. Following this, to alleviate the situation, she had to perform the compulsion or, if that wasn’t possible, she became entirely unresponsive.
I found this experience quite impactful, as it briefly allowed me to understand what it was like to be in Joni’s shoes, to feel a part of the distress she experienced. I always appreciate it when a book, a series, or a fanfic enables this kind of deeper connection with a character. Nevertheless, I realize that some individuals might find this experience with Joni somewhat annoying.
I can’t ignore how fantastic it is that Joni has her “Joni Vision,” just like Shaun’s “Shaun Vision.” I love these visual effects in The Good Doctor, and my enthusiasm remains for The Good Lawyer.
On a different note, unfortunately when it comes to Shaun’s trial itself, the resolution of the conflict might have been somewhat simplified, lacking suspense. Of course we knew everything would turn out well for Shaun in the end, but it could have been more engaging with a bit more challenge.
It would also have been interesting to see the opposing final statement, even though the plaintiff’s attorney wasn’t skilled at arguing and resorted to less ethical means.
In summary, I believe The Good Lawyer shone as a high-quality episode with captivating and intriguing characters. The plot was skilfully crafted, encompassing all the essential elements to pave the way for the potential spin-off.
Furthermore, I found it interesting to learn that Kennedy McMann, the actress who portrays Joni, was also diagnosed with OCD and shares many similarities with the character. You can check out the interview she gave to ABC here.
In my view, Kennedy was indeed the right choice for the role of Joni. This decision isn’t solely due to her having OCD, but also because of her excellent portrayal of Joni.
Keeping this in mind, it’s worth mentioning that Friedman and Shore put effort into presenting a realistic representation of the disorder, constructing a character with depth and complexity. This enables various people to identify with and understand Joni’s experiences. However, Kennedy maintains that the show (if it continues) can’t fully encompass all individuals’ experiences with OCD, given that each person has a unique journey.
Moreover, it’s crucial to note that Kennedy also emphasizes that the show isn’t aiming to depict OCD as a superpower; rather, it aims to show how this specific condition can be channeled positively in certain situations.
In this context, I’m convinced that The Good Lawyer can be a valuable tool that not only offers insights into the challenges faced by people with OCD but also raise awareness about the condition and contributes to reducing the associated stigma.
If you research The Good Lawyer, you’ll find that many internet users believe that Joni and Janet’s relationship seems somewhat repetitive, as it closely resembles what we’ve already seen in The Good Doctor with Shaun and Glassman, and thus there’s no need to see it again.
I believe that this opinion stems from a rather shallow and simplistic viewpoint, as it overlooks the individual perspectives of the characters (Shaun’s life story is unique, just like Joni’s), their development, and the dynamics in their interactions and relationships.
All I can say is that, repetitive or not, I’m eagerly looking forward to more of The Good Lawyer. I want to learn more about Joni, about Joni and Abbie’s childhood, about their mother, about Janet’s past and how she assisted the girls, I want to get to know the antagonists and the upcoming cases.
Lastly, it might sound overly corny, and I might be completely mistaken (which is quite likely), but I believe that relationships between characters like Shaun and Glassman represent an approach that Shore and Friedman have found to tell their stories in a certain way.
In interviews (you can check out one of them here), Liz mentioned that David was the one who offered her her first stable job and has since been a mentor, friend, and significant influence in her career.
Consequently, I believe that, at the end of the day, the core of these stories always revolves around highlighting the psychological significance of finding someone to admire, respect, and someone who, whenever you look back, will be there, supporting you and believing that you’re capable of achieving what you aspire to. This becomes evident in The Good Doctor, and I’m confident it will be the same in The Good Lawyer.
Season 6.6: Familial Friction
And then there was that one episode that started with Shaun and Lea where both mentioned how happy they were and how great everything was going in their lives, and instantly we knew that would forthwith be messed with.
The show strung us along episode after episode with a “cancer recurrence or not” guessing game regarding Dr. Glassman and his strange lapses in memory and executive function. Thankfully it turned out not to be cancer or anything equally sinister but a minor stroke that caused enough brain damage for Glassman to no longer be fit to practice neurosurgery.
At the same time, Lea was in her last pregnancy trimester, getting ever closer to giving birth, and this latest scare with Glassman couldn’t come at a more inopportune time with Shaun being afraid to lose his father, just as he was about to become one.
We were letting out a breath of relief when Shaun and Glassman mutually discovered it wasn’t the cancer coming back, but we didn’t get that much of a breather, because Glassman was his old stubborn self to keep denying he was no longer fit to be in the OR, while Shaun was his autistic self to hyperfocus on proving he was right and push Glassman juuuust a little too far.
We ended the season on Glassman and Shaun being at odds, Glassman choosing to alienate himself from both Shaun and Lea, deeply hurt by Shaun choosing to force his career-ending hand while humiliating him in the process.
The season finale concluded on a bittersweet note, with Shaun and Lea sweetly welcoming their son Steven Aaron Murphy into the world and Glassman bitterly refusing to even see his grandson while Shaun wanted nothing more than the four of them sharing the moment and the newfound joy.
Season 6: Expectation vs. Reality
If I’m being honest, I don’t even really recall what my expectation for season 6 was. Some of it was probably influenced by the pre-season interviews that dropped a few hints. Freddie talked about the dynamic between Shaun and Glassman being explored, which we certainly saw quite a lot of, and I feel like they did that incredibly well and in a really interesting and compelling way, showing incredible growth for both of them with a mature father-son relationship.
And as well as they showed their mutual bonding and Shaun’s repeated acknowledgement that Glassman is who he sees as his true, chosen father, the more painful it was to see all the hard work falling to pieces at the end of the season and Shaun driving a massive wedge in between their connection.
There were also hints being dropped about Shaun and Lea having discussions about trying to get pregnant again, and them looking to move into their own home. I will say that both of these things didn’t go at all like I had expected. I had certainly not expected for Shaun and Lea to have that “whoops, I’m pregnant, how did that happen?” moment for a second time. Clearly, both of them must understand how contraception works…?
The ”let’s buy a house” thing was featured in one episode only and didn’t really go anywhere. Not that I necessarily need Shaun and Lea to live in their own home, but perhaps after the initial teasing by Freddie, I expected it to be a bigger deal than it ended up being.
I’m not sure I expected for the season to end in an actual baby birth, but I certainly wasn’t surprised by it. I’m glad that they went this route, it was a beautiful conclusion to the season, and if the show hadn’t been renewed, it would also have been a beautiful conclusion to the series. Not that I want the show to end. I’m really curious to see how Shaun will handle new fatherhood.
My expectations around the two residents were certainly not met. It was pretty clear that it wouldn’t be a repeat of season 4, but there were also indications being dropped that we’d see Shaun evolving as a mentor and teacher, that he’d have to find his way into the new responsibility as an attending. I was hoping to see more of that, and I was also hoping to see more first-year shenanigans and quite frankly first-year mess-ups.
Instead we were given two first-years who seemed very mature, confident, experienced and knowledgeable, whom we never really saw struggle with any of the medical details or procedures and who just… kinda didn’t need much teaching at all. I thought that was a bit disappointing, if I’m being honest. I was also disappointed that they didn’t keep Danica on past the middle of the season, but more on that further down.
As for the other characters, it wasn’t unexpected to see Parnick at odds but slowly growing and reconnecting in their own right, to be reunited as a couple by the season finale. Morgan’s IVF and adoption journey was perhaps a little cookie-cutter predictable, particularly the adoption story, but rewarding all the same, and now a great new opportunity for Alex and Morgan to embark on a whole new journey together.
Definitely unexpected was also the fact that we’d lose not just one but both first year residents at the end of the year, with Danny deciding to go back to Texas (and Brandon deciding to pursue other acting opportunities). Along with getting to know Danny, we had a slowly blossoming romance with Jordan, that played the will-they-or-won’t-they spiel for a while. I wonder how short notice it was for the writers to learn that Danny would not be available to complete that arc and we had to say goodbye to him.
After the s5 finale, it was a no-brainer that at least the first half of the season would focus more or less heavily on Lim’s recovery. The “miracle cure to have her walk again” felt like a cop-out to many, and criticism has been uttered here and there that it was actually offensive to real people with a disability that she was offered the magic bullet to get out of the wheelchair.
It was also teased early on by Freddie that Shaun would be struggling with Lim’s predicament for quite a while, and the way this was executed and interwoven with the Glassman bonding was a positive surprise. As awkward and difficult as it was to watch Shaun walling himself off from the realities of the situation, the more rewarding it was when he finally learned to see past his own limitations, came out of his shell and apologised to Dr. Lim.
Not exactly anticipated was the discordant note on which the season ended, with Shaun and Glassman at odds, juxtaposed against the happy occasion of a new Murphy family member being brought into this world. Everyone was rooting for Grampa Glassy to cradle his long-awaited grandchild in his arms, but this was not (yet?) to be, and the curveball that would give us an interesting loose end to wrap up in season 7.
Overall, season 6 delivered solidly and surpassed my expectations as a whole, after season 5 had many rocky stretches and lots of ups and downs in cohesion and quality of storytelling. Perhaps it was thanks to adding Liz Friedman as co-showrunner, perhaps it was some learnings from the previous season, but season 6 felt consistent as a whole, with character development and overarching story arcs feeling a lot more seamless and organic as compared to season 5. I would even go as far as saying it was one of the best seasons they delivered since season 2.
Season 6 Bottom Line: What They Did Well
I already touched on this, but I felt the whole Shaun-in-denial arc over Lim’s paralysis was great. It was painful at times to see Shaun struggling and isolating himself, but the reward was all the sweeter.
I also loved the whole lot of Shaun and Glassman bonding that it brought, including that wonderful confession of mutual love among the two. “No matter how mad I get, I never stop… loving you.” Aww.
I would give definite thumbs up on Danni not quite as much on Danny. I loved Danni’s feistiness and confidence, and I thought she introduced interesting friction into the dynamic. I also loved the diversity casting with Savannah being an actual amputee, playing an amputee character. It’s a shame they got rid of her midway through the season, I feel like Danni should have been given more opportunity to redeem herself and develop a bond with some of her colleagues, particularly Shaun.
Danny, right through to the end, felt a lot more bland and uninteresting. Not quite sure if Brandon just wasn’t a good fit or if it was the writing, or maybe both. Danny’s addiction storyline felt a little too unexplored, I didn’t really feel any chemistry between him and Jordan, and I can’t say I’m super sad to see Danny go back to Texas. Which is a shame because I really wanted to like Danny.
Season 6 also brought us the 100th episode, and the writers didn’t shy away from making that very clear to the discerning viewer. As weirdly unrealistic as it was to have a hospital server crippling heatwave in November, even for California, the more fun it was to try and spot all the easter eggs. We had a patient who was turning 100, and then, at the end, a “Happy 100th” cake in focus, plus all the sweet behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the cast lusting over the well-crafted celebratory cake with a human heart adorning it.
Other things, in a nutshell, that I loved was the story arc with Glassman having to let go of all the physical Maddie memories, Jared coming back, the The Good Lawyer backdoor pilot, and finally getting to see the Murphy Munchkin!
It was also wonderful to see Freddie Highmore in the director’s chair again. I think he did a wonderful job and the episode he directed (6×19 Half Measures) came out well and hit all the right beats. I think it really translates when you have directors who know the characters and the show well.
I also loved, loved, loved the Freddie Highmore and Richard Schiff dynamic. I’ve always loved it, but especially this season it hit new high notes. As much as I don’t vibe with the friction between Shaun and Glassman, one can’t deny that the acting top notch and these two always deliver all the emotional undercurrents in just the right way. I’m hoping for more of it next season.
In terms of favourite episodes, here’s the ones that stood out to us.
6×01 – Afterparty
- Incredibly suspenseful, and Shaun’s catatonic shutdown outside the OR was gut-wrenching and packed a punch
- It was wonderful to see Steve again, albeit a somewhat more mature version of him
- The emotional moments were just right, particularly then one where Shaun told Lea how much he loves and appreciates her
6×08 – Sorry, Not Sorry
- The culmination of Shaun’s denial arc was beautifully done, and Shaun’s speech to Lim was heartfelt and genuine
- It was great to see Shaun coming to an understanding, to see him learn and grow
- Shaun’s evolving relationship and bonding with Glassman was part of what led to this episode, which was wonderful to see
6×15 – Old Friends
- Jared’s return was a highlight, as well as seeing Shaun so excited about the reunion and seeing his friend again
6×16 – The Good Lawyer
- The introduction of Joni and the premise and universe for a potential spin-off show were long-anticipated and didn’t disappoint
- The tie-in to The Good Doctor was compelling and well done and Joni seems like an interesting person I would love to meet again
6×20 – Love’s Labor
- With Lea in labour, we were all eager to meet the new Murphy family member
- Despite the friction with Glassman, it was still interesting to see Shaun trying to deal with it, and it illustrated very well how much he loves and cares about Glassman
- The episode was a fitting ending to the season and left us all with a big smile on our face as it faded out with Shaun holding his newborn son whom he named after both his brother and his chosen father
6×01 – Afterparty
- Freddie’s outstanding performance
- The chance to see Steve again, and to explore how much Shaun still feels responsible for his death
- The very sweet scene between Shaun and Lea towards the end of the episode, when he explains how much he loves her
- Seeing Lea and Glassman there for Shaun and supporting him 100%
6×05 – Growth Opportunities
- “No matter how mad I get, I never stop loving you.” – That line alone made the whole episode for me
6×08 – Sorry, Not Sorry
- Glassman’s endearing support of Shaun
- Shaun’s slow process of understanding and coming out of his isolation, and his beautiful apology to Lim
6×12 – 365 Degrees
- All the bits and pieces of information that unveiled Shaun and Glassy’s past history together and how much they ended up influencing each other
- The hilarious shower scene with Lea and Glassy
- “Grandpa Glassy” becoming canon for the first time, in the scene between Lea and Jordan
6×13 – 39 Differences
- Shaun and Lea’s support of Glassman during his very difficult moment
- The beautiful and poetic scene of the baby kicking for the very first time among the ruins of Glassman’s house
- The three of them bonding over it
6×14 – Hard Heart
- Shaun telling Glassman that he considers him the baby’s grandfather and their hug
6×15 – Old Friends
- Getting Jared back and seeing Shaun so extremely happy about his return
6×16 – The Good Lawyer
- Seeing Shaun making a new friend with whom he formed a connection, very easily
- Lea and Glassman’s silent support of Shaun and seeing Shaun’s evident relief for their presence during the hearing
6×18 – A Blip
- The amazing scene between Shaun and Glassman when Shaun implored Glassy to do the CT scan for him
- Lea’s understanding of Shaun’s thought process
6×19 – Half Measures
- There were a number of beautiful and touching moments. My favorite one was the scene with Shaun and Glassy building the crib
- Lea trying to defuse the tension at lunch, bringing up her indecision about what crib set to buy – smart move, Lea!
6×20 – Blessed
- The general positive vibes the episode tried to convey, in contrast with the building tension between Shaun and Glassman
- The underlying theme of the love provided by foster/adoptive parents that covered many of the episode storylines, from the patient Eddie Richter, to Morgan with little Eden, to Shaun and Glassy
- The scene in the OR, right before surgery, when Shaun expressed his gratitude for everything Glassman did for him
6×22 – Love’s Labor
- Little Steven Aaron finally arrived!
- Shaun’s beautiful attempt to comfort the newly widow, sharing his own personal experiences and being able to show empathy
- Those hats were so meaningful and told so much about Shaun’s deep desire to finally have the happy and loving family he’s always wanted
- The final scene was bitter-sweet, but so emotional in itself, especially with that song lyrics in the background
6×01 – Afterparty
- I liked the “flashforward”; it added suspense and tension to the episode.
- Heartbreaking meltdown scene
- It was amazing to witness the liberating conversation between Shaun and Steve. And it was great to see the latter again
- I thought it was great that Asher finally managed to tell Jerome that he loves him
- Hearing Shaun say that he loves Lea even more and finally realizing that he feels married was simply sensational
6×04 – Shrapnel
- This episode has something truly remarkable, not so much for what is explicitly presented, but rather for what is hidden between the lines – if you’ve been closely following the series up to this point, you’ll know what I’m talking about
- Tense scene between Shaun and Glassman, with Freddie and Glassman showcasing their impressive skills once again
6×07 – Boys Don’t Cry
- Lea infecting Shaun with her high spirits during the fun mission of trying to conceive again
- Shaun being completely in tune with Lea’s feelings amidst the bad news
- It was touching to see Shaun, who is also suffering, trying to cheer Lea up
- The comforting moment when they console each other in each other’s arms at the end of the episode
- I love the song “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure 😛
6×08 – Sorry, Not Sorry
- It was emotional to follow the dramatic progression of Shaun and Lim’s arc, culminating in the resolution of the conflict with Shaun’s speech
- Seeing Shaun open up to Lim, expressing that he was scared of losing her and that he misses her, was overwhelming
- Witnessing Glassy’s evolution throughout this journey was also truly beautiful
6×11 – The Good Boy
- It was adorable to meet Buddy 🥰
- The tender conversation between Lea and Glassman made me cry
- Comforting to see that Shaun and Lea may have differences about parenting, but as a team, they will find a solution to face whatever comes their way
6×15 – Old Friends
- Jared is back! Yay!
- Always love seeing Glassman and Lea together – they both have a great chemistry, and the surprise they prepared for Shaun was really cool
6×16 – The Good Lawyer
- Loved meeting Joni, and I love that her connection with Janet is similar to Shaun’s relationship with Glassman
- The bond built in each pair is ineffable, and it’s wonderful to see that the story of the meaningful human encounter we had with Shaun and Glassy can repeat with Joni and Janet, bring on the spin-off!
6×22 – Love’s Labor
- Steven is finally born! Baby Murphy came into the world healthy, and the delivery went smoothly for a first-time mom
- Freddie and Paige were incredible, and the birthing scene was one of the most touching and fun I’ve ever seen
- It’s amazing to see that, despite everything, the love between Shaun and Glassy remains unwavering
- Lea looking tenderly and lovingly at her baby was truly heartwarming.
- There are no words to describe what I felt when I saw Shaun holding his son in his arms – you deserve this and more, Shaunie!
- This episode was the best season finale ever!
Season 6 Bottom Line: What They Didn’t Do Very Well
My old gripe from season 5 still stands: This show has too large of an ensemble cast. There’s too many characters to really serve well every week on a time-limited network procedural. The writers all too often fall into the trap of trying to squeeze in something meaningful for all the characters simultaneously, and then that leads to shallow storytelling, little character development and so many loose ends that never get picked up again.
One such example is Lim’s boyfriend, Clay. While he was lovely when he was there, I’ve seen so many comments online where people asked if Lim and Clay had separated or why he wasn’t being featured on the show anymore. Sure, viewers are expected to be smart enough to figure Lim and Clay are having a happy off-screen relationship, but obviously not every viewer really gets that if we never see Clay again or he isn’t even mentioned. Another victim of the cast-overcrowding syndrome.
They kicked out Danni, only to replace her with Jared. It’s a bit of a catch-22, because I really love the idea of Jared being back. But, like… there’s too many characters already, guys. I will admit I don’t have high hopes for this to change in season 7. With both Danni and Danny gone, they’ll probably add more new cast next season, plus possibly make Jared a series regular, provided Chuku wants to stay. I will say, though, that with 99% certainty, we’ll be saying goodbye to Marcus Andrews since Hill Harper is now running for Senate in Michigan, and he can’t possibly do both at the same time.
What I will admit, however, is that I think they gave it a valiant try not to overcrowd all the episodes. It worked better for some than for others, but overall I still think this is a problem, and one that can’t be solved very easily and probably won’t ever be unless they radically cut down on important characters. Which is also problematic, because pretty much all of them have an established fanbase and it might deter viewers.
Canon-wise, what I didn’t like was that they glossed over some things that fans were rooting to see, particularly in the beginning of the season, such as Lim’s recovery or Shaun and Park’s promotion to attending. Tiny little detail, but I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t even have one scene where we had Danni/Danny name mix-up.
I already mentioned this, but Lim’s miraculously fixed disability was a bit of a letdown, as well as Danny’s addiction background being underused. What I was personally massively frustrated with at the end of the season was that they strung viewers along episode after episode with what was going on with Glassman’s brain scare, until we finally learned what was behind the whole thing.
Lea was infuriatingly inconsistent at times, for instance in the earlier part of the season where she gave Shaun unsolicited advice about firing Danni that seemed very out of place and judgmental when she hadn’t even met Danni yet.
About Lea being inconsistent at times, in addition to her foolish advice to fire Danni, I’d also like to mention a couple of other examples.
In Hard Heart, she seemed overly surprised that Shaun had shared the baby names with Glassman they’d discussed the night before. And again, she looked very startled that Shaun reported to Glassman that she’d complained about him.
Everyone, especially Lea, knows (or should know) by now that Shaun has a tendency to overshare. He did that plenty of times in the past, including details of his sex life with Lea. In the season 4 episode The Uncertainty Principle, Shaun even ran a poll at the hospital about shower sex, and Lea seemed to be fine with that. I found it unsettling that she could actually be upset about Shaun sharing innocuous baby names with his father.
I also found it a little bit unsettling how quickly Lea shifted from being overly worried about Glassman’s wellbeing (in 39 Differences) to becoming so very annoyed with him to the point of wanting to throw him out of their apartment, disregarding everything he’d just gone through (in Hard Heart).
There were several episodes, most markedly 6×10 Quiet and Loud and 6×14 Hard Heart that felt like they lacked emotion, or at least lacked tethers for me to feel the emotion translate across the screen. I’ve tried to figure out where this stemmed from, and the best I can come up with is maybe sub-par directing and cinematography work. Particularly for Hard Heart this was a shame—and I’ve read other opinions as well who felt similarly—because one of the episode’s patient stories was mirroring a very personal story for Will Yun Lee and his son. This episode should have felt special and impactful but it very much didn’t resonate with me.
This season also felt like it had a larger than normal amount of consistency and timing fuck-ups, although the show frequently disregards these things and hopes that viewers don’t pay attention. They kept mentioning specific time points and lengths of time periods, and it just didn’t add up. There was one instance where Lim talks about her recovery that was totally off, and worse yet, Lea’s pregnancy timeline was all over the place—to the point where somehow she gave birth at the end of an alleged full term when realistically she would have been six months pregnant at the time. But okay, suspension of disbelief needs to be at the ready for this show.
Besides these inconsistencies in The Good Doctor’s timelines, I would like to add that a small technical error did not go unnoticed by viewers, and I believe it deserves a mention in this section: the microphone on Lea’s hospital gown (Love’s Labor).
Even though these flaws and minor technical errors do not affect the overall context of the show or the wonderful emotions it evokes in us, it is still disheartening when we are fully immersed in the world of The Good Doctor, and suddenly, we are brought back to reality due to these errors, even if it lasts for a split second. That said, I can only hope that such errors and inconsistencies occur less frequently in the next season.
Last but not least, what they didn’t really do well were the romantic pairings this season. Sure, Shea and Parnick have been a staple and are established by now. Jasher are wonderful and quirky and I love them, but I wasn’t all that convinced by Lim/Clay, Jordan/Danny and Andrews/Villanueva.
Lim and Clay (I believe fans call it Claudrey) somehow lacked real chemistry, and the proposal from him seemed awfully sudden, particularly considering we don’t really see him again afterwards and no one knows what happened with them. Are they still together? Are they gonna get married eventually? Is this gonna be featured in s7?
I already mentioned that I didn’t really feel any chemistry between Jordan and Danny either, and the same goes for Andrews and Villanueva. I like the idea of them, but it just didn’t translate across the screen. And I know I’m not the only one saying that. Bit of a shame, and I guess with Hill Harper now entering national politics, this pairing won’t be going anywhere.
Season 7: What Lies Ahead
At this time, very little is known about season 7. The first hints about upcoming story content are usually dropped when the promotion machine gets rolling closer to the actual premiere air date, normally a few weeks prior to that date.
It’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing the continuation and eventually a resolution to the conflict between Shaun and Glassman. We’ve speculated a bit about how long they might drag this out, and it could go any one way. They might be able to wrap it up in just one or two episodes. They might also drag this out into a several-episode-spanning partial season arc. Liz Friedman talked a little bit about finding it interesting to explore the topic of forgiveness and when and how it is earned, so it’s more likely it’ll be the focus of more than one episode until Shaun and Glassman can fully reconcile.
It’s kind of a no-brainer that we’ll be seeing Shaun and Lea’s journey as new parents throughout season 7, along with the challenges that brings, particularly for Shaun’s ASD and their mixed-neurological marriage. We might get to see more on the “let’s buy a house” topic, although dealing with a new baby is probably enough stress, not to want to embark on adding more change and upheaval to the equation.
It’s also safe to say that Morgan and Park’s continuing love story will be prominently focused in season 7. With both of them already in their 40’s, caring for a young baby will be a significant change, although Park already has the experience with his now teenage son Kellan.
Everything else is anyone’s guess. Hopefully we’ll see more of Jerome and Asher. Hopefully Jared will stay and we’ll explore his character more. Will we see a blossoming romance between Jordan and Jared – who knows? Are Lim and Clay still together and will they eventually get married?
Will they add new cast members in season 7, perhaps replacing Daniel Perez? Will Andrews leave St. Bon’s and who will become hospital president, or will they just sweep that under the rug and it’ll be some anonymous person whom we won’t actually see and the hospital president will no longer be part of the show’s storylines?
Lots of questions that we’ll see answered when season 7 actually airs.
Season 7: When can we expect to see it?
To say anything now about the production process of season 7 at this stage is a little tricky since we’re in a unique situation this year where the American Screenwriters’ Guild writers are on strike and there is currently no planning, plotting, outlining or writing work being done on the show.
No one can say at this stage when work on season 7 will recommence or make predictions as to when it will air. It’s August 2023 as I write this, and the writers’ strike has been in full swing for over three months now. The actors’ guild joined the strike in July. Most of Hollywood involved in scripted productions is at a standstill.
We don’t know whether any season 7 material had already been written prior to the strike, and if it was, then it can’t be more than a handful of episodes. The summer hiatus is usually the time when the writers are huddled together in the writers’ room to outline and plot the season and start writing scripts. Shooting of season 7 was supposed to commence mid-July, but of course that didn’t actually happen.
ABC already announced a while ago that they were moving premiere dates for all their scripted fall shows to early 2024, and it’s becoming increasingly more likely that we indeed won’t be seeing any season 7 episodes air in 2023. It’s also becoming more and more likely that season 7 will be an abbreviated run with less than its usual 20 episodes, so I think we’ll need to prepare for an announcement of season 7 only consisting of 12 or 13 or 16 or so episodes.
It sucks for the viewers, but personally I think the strike is important so that writers and actors can be paid fairly for their work in a shifting technology environment and that guardrails will be put in place for the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence. Hopefully the industry can come to a mutually agreed consensus on this soon and we can enjoy a fulfilling season 7 next year, however long it may end up being.