Some The Good Doctor trivia for this one: Decrypt was directed by Freddie Highmore. Not his first, though — he also directed Risk and Reward in season 2, and had directed before on Bates Motel. If you watch some of the interviews with him, he’s said that he likes the process of being more involved, and being able to influence the episode not just through his acting performances, but also by telling a story with camera movements and having a certain level of control over the final edit of the episode.
Not that I can truly judge, but from an invested viewer standpoint with a basic level of TV production inner workings knowledge, I think he did great with this one.
Patient #1 is Jamie, a young woman with Down Syndrome who has autoimmune hepatitis and is in end stage liver disease. She needs a liver transplant. This is a struggle for Jamie. “Someone has to die, so I can live?” Yes, pretty much.
Jamie is on the transplant list, but since her Down Syndrome gives her a shorter life expectancy and she doesn’t have a good support system, she’s not ranked very highly and her chances of getting a liver quickly are slim. Lim encourages Morgan to look for creative (but of course legal) ways of getting Jamie the much needed liver faster.
Jamie’s story touches on the moral dilemma of organ donation, and how it can create survivor’s guilt that someone has to die in order for their organs to prolong someone else’s life. It’s never an easy situation. There are many valid reasons why any one person might be for or against organ donation, but personally I carry my organ donor card proudly because I would wish to help someone beyond my own lifespan if I could.
Patient #2 is Cort Graham, a leg amputee patient who almost drowned in a triathlon. He’s also a cancer survivor, which is how he lost his leg. Things get a bit stressful when suddenly the technology malfunctions and the electronically locked equipment cabinet won’t open to get the chest tube he needs. It’s not just the cabinet, the whole hospital now has computer malfunctions. Cue the inevitable ransomware episode.
Cort lost his leg and everyone thinks it’s because of sarcoma, but his story doesn’t add up. When things get tricky with Cort’s treatment, he has to admit that he’s never had chemotherapy, because he’s never had cancer. He lost his leg in a drunken motorcycle accident, but the whole cancer story was based on a misunderstanding and misconceptions he didn’t correct, and then it spiralled into him becoming a figurehead for cancer charity, which helped raise lots of money. And now it’s out there that he’s a fraud.
So is what Cort did really so despicable? He’s helped thousands of people with cancer through his charity work. He raised a ton of money that helped people survive. How is that bad?
Shaun also questions this. “When does a lie stop being white and start being huge?” Claire doesn’t really have an answer for him. Shaun underlines this with, “The amount of good Cort did was proportional to the size of his lies.” Another classic Shaun line.
Things get more complicated when Audrey suddenly has to juggle press inquiries on top of the ransomware crisis. A hospital employee leaked information that Cort abused his charity position, and now they want an interview with him. Audrey immediately jumps to the conclusion that it must have been Claire (since she was very critical of Cort’s actions), and so she’s off the case. And she’d be out of a job if Audrey could prove it.
Shaun & Lea
A nice change, because this episode focuses a lot more closely on Lea rather than Shaun, centred around the whole technology plot with the hospital being hacked and its technology being held ransom.
As episode plots go, somewhat of a yawner, because I think there hasn’t been one single medical procedural in recent years that hasn’t featured this before, but at the very least I’m happy that they used this less as a device to spotlight cyberattacking and more to empower Lea as a strong female character kicking ass in a male dominated field.
Which I actually really like, and it shows again how the show likes to break with traditional role models and traditions. We have several strong and awesome female characters, there is an abundance of ethnic and gender diversity (sometimes more so in the patient cases than the main and recurring characters), and there’s sometimes more understated hints that are dropped here and there.
For instance, Debbie loving vintage cars (usually a hobby more associated with male interests). There’s Lea’s IT skills and her ability to fix up cars, and we also learn she likes video games. We have Asher who’s homosexual and Enrique who’s polyamorous, and we see different religious views being featured as well. This goes back to the discussion from an earlier recap about the show having been accused of being too “woke”, and I can only underline again that their willingness to tackle these subjects is one of the things I really like about the show and can only applaud.
Also nice was more interaction between Lea and Dr. Glassman, even though most of it is purely professional and related to them solving their imminent IT program at hand. I’ve read some criticism online that Lea’s role in this whole scenario was a bit overdone – is she really capable of single-handedly solving a hacker attack on the whole hospital, but ultimately this will have to be another one we need to chalk up to suspension of disbelief. And we do know that Lea has a coding background, so why the hell not?
Shaun comes into play when he sees how stressed Lea is with the whole IT disaster, and he only wants to help by bringing her a sandwich in the server room (turkey, avocado and Swiss on wheat bread with mayonnaise, which is Lea’s favourite). She’s all apprehensive and under immense pressure, and gets snippy with Shaun about him being disrespectful to her abilities and skills as IT Director.
“Shaun. Would you walk in on Glassman while he’s doing brain surgery, offer him a sandwich and start telling him about your day?” she asks him. “That’s different,” Shaun says. Lea misinterprets his answer somewhat. “Of course, because his job’s important and mine’s not. Do you have any idea how insulting it is to hear you demean what I do, just like every man I’ve worked under and over my whole career?” She looks at him. “You don’t respect me.” Well. No. He does. You just need to listen to him, Lea. But it’s okay. Stress does this to us. I can empathise.
This segues into a dilemma about respect, and it feels somewhat unfair to Shaun because he had the best of intentions to support Lea, and she misread the situation and drew the wrong conclusions. But that’s life, right? We’ve all been there, and high pressure situations tend to not always bring out the best in us.
Side Note: There’s actually really interesting psychological modelling for this kind of thing, because most people have a ‘normal behavioural profile’ and one they go to under stress. Depending on how your brain is wired, these two profiles can be very close together, or have varying levels of divergence. I find it infinitely fascinating, and understanding where your strengths and weaknesses lie can help you greatly in terms of interacting with other people, especially in a work environment.
Lea redeems herself, though, when she seeks out Shaun to ask for advice. And boy, does he love being asked for advice, even if he can’t really help that much. Not to state the obvious, but it’s usually Shaun who does the advice seeking, and rarely the one who does the advice giving.
Lea asks him what she should do with Glassman, seeing how he told her explicitly not to mess with the hospital technology, even though she can’t be 100% sure that she’s found the solution that will save the hospital millions of dollars.
Shaun bumbles a bit at first, but then his beautiful and thoughtful side comes out that we all love so much. “Lea? I wouldn’t bring Dr. Glassman a sandwich in the OR because you can’t eat in the OR. I knew that because I know about surgery. I don’t know about computers, neither does Dr. Glassman. But you do. You always know how to fix things. I respect you.” Awww.
Lea works more of her IT magic, and actually manages to remove all the malware from the hospital’s system. She’s never a 100% sure it’s going to work, but like Shaun said, she knows how to fix things. She reboots all the machines, and the system is clean. St. Bonaventure doesn’t have to pay two million dollars in ransom. The day is saved!
Glassman gives her a good scolding about her having “usurped his authority” to reboot the system without his permission, and Lea is about to protest, but he yells at her, “Shush for a second! Wait for the compliment. Thank you. Well done.” She smiles at him. “You’re… welcome.” He sits down. “If I ever have another poker night, you’re invited.” The episode fades out on Lea sitting at Aaron’s poker table with his friends.
The First Year Residents
Olivia works with Shaun on the case of the cancer survivor. Morgan and Alex enlist Jordan and Asher to help find Jamie a liver. If they can’t find a direct donor for Jamie, then maybe they can find the right transplant chain. They plot out a transplant scheme with several different donors and eventually end up making it work and Jamie lives.
Marcus and Olivia continue having discussions about her abilities as a surgeon. “I suck at this. I completely froze. Could have killed the patient. I always freeze. Lim knows it. I feel like an imposter, because I am.”
I don’t think it’s ever explicitly said, but I think it’s implied here that Olivia may be living with imposter syndrome (a mental health condition where your psyche irrationally suggests to you that you’re a fraud, and that other people will soon find out and expose you). Marcus’s advice here is not exactly the best, though. “Suck it up and get to work,” he tells Olivia. And she does.
During surgery, Olivia admits to Lim that she’s the one who talked to the press about Cort. She claims to have done it so that Claire and Audrey’s trust would be reinstated. She doesn’t want to be responsible for there to be unnecessary friction in a well-oiled team.
Predictably, this results in Lim firing Olivia from her service. Claire and Shaun see her off before she can sneak out. She gets a hug from Claire, and Shaun is his usual charming self. “I’ll miss you, but I don’t want to hug you.”
Olivia truly wants to sneak out, but Marcus finds her just as she puts her boxes into her car. “You weren’t gonna say goodbye?” She apologises for letting him down, but he won’t have it. And he surprises her by admitting that he’s actually the whistle-blower. Olivia just used it as a convenient out because she’s never felt comfortable in this team of surgeons. She needs to do some soul searching and figure out what she wants and if she even wants to be a doctor. And so we say goodbye to Olivia.
Claire confronts Audrey about having jumped to the conclusion that she’s the whistle-blower. Audrey is not happy that Claire went to Glassman about her PTSD diagnosis, and that tainted their trust. Things are pretty prickly between them now.
Audrey sees Claire at her apartment to apologise. They talk it out and their friendship remains intact. After all, Audrey brought salted caramel and an insane amount of hot fudge.