The Good Doctor Argentina on Twitter (@TheGoodDoctorAr) is currently running a ’20 Days Countdown to The Good Doctor Season 5’, and on Day 13 it’s time to take a closer look at episode 4×13 Spilled Milk.
Patient #1 is Miles Browne, Claire’s father. He collapses outside of Claire’s apartment door, and Claire initially suspects a stroke. However, the diagnostics don’t support that diagnosis, and they theorise it could be as simple as migraines.
When they want to run an imaging scan, Miles admits that he has terminal cancer. His cancer has already metastasised and is inoperable. He has complications, and if they don’t intervene, Miles will die. After some soul searching, Claire manages to persuade her father to have surgery and his prognosis for the imminent future looks a little better.
Patient #2 is Maya, a young professional dancer. She fell and now has a large haematoma on her abdomen that they want to get checked out. She’s there with her dance partner Leo, whom everyone assumes is her boyfriend, but he’s actually not. Good thing they came in, Maya has an abdominal bleed and needs immediate surgery.
During surgery, Maya almost bleeds out, and they find out she has a rare blood clotting disorder called Bernard-Soulier syndrome. When they tell her about the diagnosis, her dancer partner mentions that she’s had issues with her left leg as well.
Imaging scans determine that Maya’s blood clotting disorder caused blood-filled pseudo tumours in her leg that ate away at her femur. And then the surgical team has to come up with a way to save Maya’s leg so that she can keep dancing.
There may be a way to do femur replacement, but the surgery is complicated with a 10 to 15% chance of death. The safest route is to amputate, but of course that would mean Maya’s dancing career would be over. She wants the femur replacement, but Leo tries to dissuade her. They get one last dance before the surgery.
During surgery, Maya crashes and Leo, as her medical proxy, has to decide whether to go ahead with the femur replacement or to amputate her leg. They end up taking the leg to save Maya’s life, which she resents them for. And even though Leo said he’d be there for Maya, she knows it won’t be enough, so she asked him to go. Leo never left room in her life to let anyone else in, and in order for her to find true love down the road, she needs to allow herself to have that room.
Shaun & Lea
Having now made the decision to go through with the pregnancy, we follow Shaun and Lea along their journey. Shaun wakes up in the morning, and the first thought on his mind is that they’re having a baby. While Lea is, of course, also happy, the baby is giving her much despised morning sickness. “Why are you making mommy feel this way?” she asks the growing foetus, which they’re naming Berry for now, seeing how it’s the size of a blueberry.
Shaun is happy and excited, and wants to celebrate with a bit of morning sex. Lea, however, is very much not in the mood. The smell of Shaun’s toothpaste is making her feel even sicker than she already does, and she pushes him away. Shaun is taken aback. This is new, and he doesn’t like it.
Shaun gets a little overbearingly protective, trying to foist things on her that she doesn’t want, like a lumbar support pillow or the “proper” prenatal vitamins and not the chewable gummy kind. She tells him that she doesn’t need him to do any of that. “Just be the dad, not the doctor.” And she also tells him to stop calling their child a foetus. “It is a foetus,” Shaun says. But to Lea, it’s more than that. “It’s our baby.”
Shaun and Lea have a lot to think about, and Shaun feels more and more alienated from Lea. She is sick all the time, she’s irritable, and she’s growing a tiny human inside of her that both of them made that Shaun feels disconnected from. He tries to communicate this openly and honestly to Lea (“I feel very… alone.”), but her hormones are doing strange things to her mood, so she berates him for being selfish, and for dumping one more thing on her to figure out and fix. She leaves him standing dumbfounded and betrayed in the patio door.
This scene honestly punches me right in the gut, because it’s a pretty raw and honest moment for Shaun. Open communication about his emotional state is something he truly struggles with, and he does it beautifully in this scene, but Lea is not at all receptive to his efforts and concerns. And you can’t and don’t want to blame her, because she also has a point, and there’s things going on with her body that she has little control over. I kinda want to slap her in the face (Look at your magnificent, sweet boyfriend, he just did a wonderful thing!) and hug her at the same time. I have all sorts of love for this scene because it’s so wonderfully conflicted.
You can tell that things are a bit touchy between them the next morning, but Lea has obviously thought a lot about what Shaun told her the evening before. She wants to help him feel more connected to the baby and asks him to put his head on her belly (no, Shaun, not sex, okay?) and talk to Berry. Which he finds a bit strange, but does it anyway, and it’s the sweetest thing. “I am your father and I am a surgeon.”
But as much as it makes us all melt, Shaun destroys the special moment in one fell swoop when Lea asks him if that helped, and he plainly says no because the foetus can’t even hear anything yet. I mean, he kinda has a point. But sometimes it hurts that he takes everything so rational-literally.
Lea feels the same way, and there’s a definite ‘you can’t have it both ways, Shaun’ attitude from her, which is honestly also relatable. She asks Shaun not to come with her to the OB-GYN ultrasound appointment later that day. “There’s a chance it’s too early to hear a heartbeat, which will make me feel sad and scared, and if I can hear it, I will feel happy. And either way, you will probably feel… nothing. And that will make me feel more alone than I already do, so… you should just not come.” Shaun looks like he’s just been kicked in the teeth. “Okay,” he says in a low voice and leaves.
During the course of the episode, Claire asks Shaun to draw some of her blood for a gene test she wants to run, and they talk about fathers. Shaun admits to Claire that he’s having trouble connecting with his unborn child. “It is difficult to feel something for someone you don’t know yet.”
Interesting to note here, Claire asks Shaun if he’s glad that he saw his father before he passed away (re: episode 3×10 Friends and Family), and Shaun says no. “My father hurt me, he was a bad man who did bad things. I already knew that.” Testament, perhaps, to showing us that Shaun has moved truly past all the shit with this parents, or at least made great advances towards it. He doesn’t seem particularly perturbed by the topic, and has more pressing matters on his mind, which is his own impending fatherhood.
Shaun’s other partner in crime for advice is, as usual, Dr. Glassman. He goes to him and tells him about his issues with Lea. Shaun had told Glassman earlier that everything he does upsets Lea and makes her mad at him. He feels like he’s living with a stranger who doesn’t want him to breathe on them. Glassman then told him that, now that they’re a family with a child on the way, he’d have to make some adjustments.
When Shaun shares his woes of about Lea not wanting him at her OB-GYN appointment, Glassman imparts on Shaun that the year Maddie was born, he took on twice as many surgeries because he was afraid to piss off his wife and didn’t think he was very good at being a dad. The advice he gives Shaun is, “Do yourself a favor and be there for as many moments as you can.”
After talking to different people, Shaun makes up his mind. He doesn’t want to miss any of the baby moments if he can. He joins Lea for her ultrasound scan, and they can actually hear the first heartbeat of the baby. And suddenly Shaun is getting invested. He’s got a tangible image of his baby, he’s heard his or her heartbeat, and it’s a lot more real to him.
He looks at Lea very reverently and says, “We’re having a baby.” Yes, Shaun, you certainly are.
There’s also an interesting scriptwriting choice here, which I’ve outlined in one of my ‘Moments Easily Missed’ posts, so head on over there if you’d like to find out more about about the significance of the “we are having baby” line.
The First Year Residents
Full disclosure, I love Shaun and Asher scenes. Not that I think Shaun necessarily needs a new brother dynamic in his life, but there’s some brotherly vibes here that I wish they would expand on in season 5.
When the both of them do the imaging on Maya, Shaun remarks that she and her partner Leo seem like a very nice couple, and he wishes he knew how to be as connected as that. Asher tells Shaun they’re not a couple. “Leo’s gay.” Shaun makes me laugh here when he asks, “Can gay people really detect other gay people?” Asher grins. “You can, if you check out their Instagram.” Score 1 for Asher.
Side Note: Is it normal, actually, that residents do all the imaging scans themselves? Don’t they have technicians for that? Or is this regular resident scut work? The two MRI scans I’ve had in my lifetime (thoroughly unpleasant, by the way) were all done by techs or nurses, and it was a radiologist who read them later on and talked to me about them. But this was not in a hospital, and I’m not in the US, so…
We also learn a little more about Asher. When he was growing up, there was a girl named Rachel that he was supposed to get married to. And she was smart and funny, and Asher considered himself lucky. But then he fell in love with a boy down the street. Can we please give Asher a sweet and loving boyfriend in season 5?
“Stop smirking like you’re picturing me naked,” Morgan tells Alex as they are walking from the car to the hospital. So clearly there was some sexual activity the night before. She gets all weird when he offers to share his umbrella. She doesn’t want romantic gestures. Oh boy. Commitment issues much, Morgan?
Things finally come to a head when Morgan gets all resentful again over Alex actually trying to be nice to her. Alex says in her face, “Anything that resembles intimacy freaks you out, and you start throwing blows – low ones.” Alex is fed up with the constant whiplash and suggests they go back to being barely friends, no benefits. Morgan later apologises. “It’s okay for us to be nice to each other. Sometimes.”
Claire’s doorbell rings, and there’s a man standing there. “Hello Claire, my name is Miles Browne, I’m… your father.” She sends him away, doesn’t want anything to do with him. But then he collapses right in front of her door.
Claire struggles quite a lot with the idea of her father coming back and reaching out to her. She had already given up on him. She grieved and buried her father a long time ago. She’s not interested in reconnecting. Audrey, however, tells her that she’ll hate herself if she turns her back on him now.
And to top that off, her father’s cancer turns out to be hereditary. Claire has a 50% chance of carrying the gene. She asks Shaun to take a blood sample to find out, but she’s not a carrier.
As Miles recovers from the surgery, Claire decides she wants to take the leap and try to reconcile with him. He is her father, after all.
Most of you will probably know this, but “don’t cry over spilled milk” is a phrase that means that there’s no point to being upset over something that has already happened and cannot be changed. It’s also the phrase used by Claire to determine whether Miles may be having a stroke when he collapses. One of the few instances where an episode isn’t necessarily named after something directly related to Shaun.
I’m taking it to apply mostly to Claire’s storyline, as there is a big focus on her coming to terms with her father abandoning her and her mother, and now seeking to reconnect. She won’t be able to change what happened during her childhood. Would it not be healthier to acknowledge that and accept Miles’ helping hand to reconcile and work on their relationship, to try and forge and nurture a new bond as adults?