This is what I call the “Hilarious Shred Version” of my recap of Crazytown. I positively hated the episode the first time I watched it, and that very much reflects in this first version of the recap I wrote. I still don’t particularly like the episode now. But I got my act together and wrote a second, less acerbic (and also less hilarious) version of the recap that hopefully does the episode more justice. I will leave this version up for posterity, but it will not appear in the Episode Insights category. That said… enjoy the meme fest!
Hey, remember how I said last recap that watching episode 5×04 felt wholly unsatisfying and left a sour taste in my mouth? I’m sorry guys, but I positively hated 5×05, and the sour taste has somehow turned to actual bile.
I dunno. I just… Nope. Everything was awkward and discordant and off-putting and cringey, and I didn’t like it. I don’t know how I’m gonna get through this recap, because I really don’t feel like wanting to talk much about the episode, but I guess I’m gonna have to. I will need a lot of chocolate and coffee. A lot.
Quick note of warning: If you loved or even liked this episode, chances are you’re gonna hate all that I’ve written below. Because I very much didn’t, and I will be very honest and outspoken about it. This is your chance to turn back. Otherwise enjoy the rant fest, because here we go.
Written by Sam Chanse & Jessica Grasl
Directed by Rebecca Moline
Original airdate Nov 01, 2021
Sorry guys. I just can’t. This episode was awful, and I don’t know how to write a decent review for it. Maybe I’ll go back to it later when I’m in the mood to pull myself together and write something halfway eloquent. So this is all I can give you for now. Take it or leave it, won’t blame you if you’ll hate me for this one.
Patient #1 is some Asian dude who got beaten up by random hate crimers and needs to get his face fixed. His daughter wants her father to acknowledge that hate crime exists. The father thinks it’s irrelevant and also doesn’t want the brain surgery that will save his life, because fuck that shit, having principles is more important than living life.
Major cringe ensues when Shaun gets all fixated on needing these two “clients” to give him a good performance review, and more cringe ensues when Shaun super doesn’t get why the father doesn’t want the brain surgery.
But all’s well that ends well, Team Park & Murphy bring the folks back on the right track, brain surgery is had, everyone’s happy. Also, apparently the whole hate crime thing wasn’t really all that important, because it becomes more of a throwaway side plot to instead make room for cringey Shaun fixation cringe.
Patient #2 is… Who was patient 2? I’ve already forgotten. Oh yeah, right, the Guatemalan girl. Ugh. More cringe. So apparently Mateo fucked off to Guatemala on a whim. And then shuttled a patient to St. Bonaventure to get fixed up by his guapa. Who apparently isn’t guapa enough, because otherwise he wouldn’t just have up and left.
Oh hey, Guatemalan girl conveniently used to be Mateo’s girlfriend. And he ditched her a few times, too, to fly off to some underserved country to play medical relief hero. Lim and Gua-Girl bond over their mutual screwy romance woes, while also finding out that Gua-Girl has several aneurysms that keep them from fixing her the way she should be fixed (renal artery stenosis blah blah blah).
Salen wants Gua-Girl gone, cuz she no insurance and she no bring da monies. Lim tells Salen to go screw herself, while Andrews slyly transfers Gua-Girl to another hospital to get on Salen’s good side. Problem solved. Lim don’t care, she fixes Gua-Girl anyway at the other hospital. I think Gua-Girl makes it. Did she make it? Did they even show that? Anyway, Mateo doesn’t resurface, and seems to be gone for good. The End.
Shaun & Lea
Sigh. I don’t want to get into this. Where is that Lindt chocolate?
So yeah, this episode is all about ““client reviews””. Another cheap Salen stunt. Because apparently being top ranked for bedside manner is more important than, say, clients not suing you because you left a scalpel blade inside said client or ““accidentally”” severed an artery or something.
But before we get into the client review stuff, Shaun gets anxious about Glassman being AWOL. He’s already sent him half a dozen texts (okay, three) about the upcoming tux fitting appointment that Glassman mustn’t forget. Radio silence from Glassman, and Shaun gets nervous.
🚨 OOC Alert #1: Is this really in character for Shaun? Does he get this hung up about a tux fitting? Sure, he tends to fixate on plans and schedules, but sending more or less trivial texts during an important Salen meeting? I dunno. One of my big gripes with this episode is that a lot of Shaun’s actions and behaviours felt incredibly out-of-character. This is the first one.
Shaun is concerned because his ranking is the lowest in the entire surgical department and informs Lea about his misgivings with this. That’s not surprising, or is it? I mean, we all know Shaun is socially and conversationally awkward at the best of times. I dunno, I’d like to think that, if I were treated by someone who was socially awkward but was a kickass surgeon and actually saved my life or helped my medical condition, I’d still be happy overall. What most patients want from a doctor is to get their medical problem fixed and their pain or discomfort to go away, right? That said, I honestly don’t know what kind of review I’d leave for Shaun if I were his patient. Tricky, that.
Props to Freddie Highmore and Paige Spara, though. Cause they still carry these scenes, and it makes me all sad to see Shaun so anxious over not being well ranked. “I made five people very uncomfortable, seven patients said I talked weird, and one woman was a little creeped out by my manner.” It’s heart-breaking how sad this makes Lea. Protect-Shaun-Mode on.
Lea’s suggested solution to this is to change the algorithm of the review system and remove the blind spots. Shaun doesn’t want that, though. “I will learn how to make people feel comfortable and improve my scores.” Both Lea and I forebodingly know that this is usually a recipe for disaster.
And disaster it will be. Gotta say I love the bit of different music they used here to put over the title theme. (Hey look, I said at least one positive thing about this episode.)
They operate on the Asian dude and the patient has a complication during surgery. There’s one mention from Park about the hate crime aspect that kinda gets ignored. (Missed opportunity, yo.) Then Shaun remarking that father and daughter see the same situation very differently, which again gets totally ignored. Then the patient crashes and the team has a hard time figuring out why.
🚨 OOC Alert #2: In my mind, Shaun would now get into analysis mode to try and figure out why and what the underlying medical issue could be. What does he actually do on screen? He makes an off-hand comment about needing the father and daughter to leave him a good review. It’s like suddenly getting a good review score is more important than saving a patient’s life. No, that’s not Shaun. That’s out-of-character af.
Next Shea scene is Lea and Shaun trying to figure out what flowers they want for the wedding. Apparently yellow ones, but not gerberas because Shaun is concerned about high pollen count which can trigger migraines.
🚨 OOC Alert #3: Shaun sending Jordan away rather rudely to run medical tests on the Asian dude. I mean, that in itself isn’t too rude after you run it through the Shaun filter, but wouldn’t there be a basic understanding from him that Jordan is supporting Lea with the wedding planning? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something feels incredibly off-kilter throughout this whole episode. Maybe it’s supposed to because Shaun is stressed and has all this shit hanging over his head. If vicarious lingering discomfort during the whole episode was what they wanted to achieve, they sure succeeded with me.
Anyway, back to the wedding planning. Shaun inquires with the wedding planner if she’s using hyperbolic language on purpose to pay a compliment. She gives him some hints about appeasing and affirming and Shaun immediately writes it down in his notebook. Awkward looks ensue. I think this was supposed to be a cutesy Shaun moment. To me, it just felt awkward.
Then we get into the whole ‘Shaun tries to apply the advice he’s been given and totally fucks it up’ spiel when he talks to Asian dude and his daughter. Normally that’s somewhat amusing and there’s some kind of relief or release. Not here. Just more awkward looks, everyone totally ignoring Shaun, making everything feel 100% clumsy and uncomfortable. Not sure if they were going for that.
They pick up the hate crime aspect again. Park weirdly interrupts with meaningless medical banter. It’s kinda like they’re trying their hardest to bury the hate crime subplot matter.
🚨 OOC Alert #4: There is conversation here about being outsiders, about being different, all of which Shaun is privy to. Normally something for Shaun to pick up on and relate to. What does he do instead? He super awkwardly inserts a strange compliment at the worst time ever. Again, not unheard of or necessarily uncharacteristic for Shaun. But doing it at that exact moment? Ah. Sorry. I’d like to think Shaun’s interest would have been piqued by the “being an outsider” aspect rather than doling out the most inappropriate compliment ever.
Another really weird line from Shaun to Asian dude: “You’re right, community organising does not sound like a real job.” Why would he ever say that? Is he still trying to appease the man to garner Brownie points for a good review? What irks me here is not the fact that Shaun’s doing that, it’s what he’s actually saying. Because Shaun, to me, doesn’t feel like someone who would criticise community work. They could have achieved this same effect if they’d had him say a line that was more fitting to Shaun’s view of the world.
Then Asian dude’s vital signs crash again, and Shaun figures out he has a brain tumour. It seems to be advanced and inoperable.
🚨 OOC Alert #5: Shaun is immediately concerned with getting a bad review from the patient rather than actually worry about his medical condition. Park and Allen discuss possible approaches how to save this patient’s life. Shaun’s all, ‘I don’t really care about the cancer or how to treat it, my primary focus is on getting a 5-star review out of this.’
Come on, guys. Seriously? This is the man who was ready to break into a building to save a young boy’s life in the pilot episode. This is the man who yells at people when he isn’t being heard about treatment approach suggestions. This is the man who values his patients’ lives over sleep, who gets upset when he can’t solve a medical problem, who will skip meals if he needs to read 30 medical journals in order to find a solution to an unsolvable puzzle. And suddenly he’s more concerned with client reviews? I’m calling bullshit.
Next up: Tux fitting. The fact that Alex is with him tells us Shaun has chosen Alex as his best man. I approve. Awesome choice, and I know lots of fans were hoping for this. Sweet. (There, I said a second positive thing.)
Tux fitting is also paired with medical problem solving. Because apparently Shaun does care about dealing with the tumour problem after all. The guy who runs Henry Truman Tuxedos (wild guess, Henry Truman?) has some more advice for Shaun how to get his customer review scores up. I cringe again, because this will mean more awkward cringey Shaun stuff down the road. I’m not looking forward to it. Where is the chocolate? Or maybe it’s time to resort to alcohol.
Then, of course, there’s also still the issue of Glassman being a no-show at the tux fitting. For once, he actually answers Shaun’s call. He’s at a petrol station, filling up the Roadster. Shaun wants to know where he is. Montana. Huh. “I’m heading towards a little town called Paradise, and I’m thinking about hunkering down there for a little while.”
Shaun asks him if he’ll be done hunkering by Wednesday, and Glassman says, sure, he’ll see what he can do. (Uhm, Shaun, that’s a no.)
🚨 OOC Alert #6: “You are confirmed, goodbye.” Wtf? Shaun would never say that. Why is he saying that? Yes, he was distracted by the neon light, but that is just not something I ever picture Shaun saying. Not a fully focused Shaun, not a distracted Shaun. He might have said, “Please write down Wednesday, 12 pm.” Or “Please do not forget again.” Or “I have to go.” But sure as hell not, “You are confirmed, goodbye.” Ugh. I hate this episode.
Also, as soon as I heard that buzzing sound of the neon light, my initial thought was “Quarantine callback”. Because do you remember, back in season 2, a buzzing neon light was what eventually sent Shaun into sensory overload and a pretty hefty meltdown. Not sure I’d really want to call this another OOC Alert, but it seemed like quite a drastic change to have him go from ‘incredibly bothered’ to ‘super inspiring’ when hearing the buzz of a neon light.
I won’t even go into the situation in the break room where Shaun blatantly tells Emily (apparently that’s the daughter’s name, because this time I paid attention) that her presence is unwelcome in the break room and she better GTFO. Rude, Shaun.
🚨 OOC Alert #7: Too rude, even for Shaun. I don’t know if they were aiming at it being humorously overplayed for Shaun to take Henry Truman’s advice of following honesty with a compliment, but this one falls flat again. Just felt hella awkward. I wanted to take Shaun by the lab coat lapels and shake sense into him, and not in a good way. What are you doing with our Shaun whom we’ve grown to love and respect? Cuz this isn’t him, and I want him back.
The next scene Shaun is in, I actually kinda liked. He and Alex talk about sympathising with Emily and her father, and Shaun inquires if Alex managed to connect because they’re both outsiders. Finally, I thought, something that Shaun can personally relate to. This had potential for Shaun to find his own personal connection and redeem himself. And what do they do? They interrupt that dialogue before it can go anywhere. Ugh, another huge missed opportunity.
We’ve had all the right vs. wrong debates a lot in the past few episodes. Here we go into it with the brain surgery aspect. Shaun thinks it’s wrong for the father not to have the surgery. Yes, from the standpoint of a physician whose ultimate goal is to help their patients’ medical condition improve, I can see that. But when the daughter says she respects her father’s decision not to have the surgery, Shaun immediately judges her, making it sound like this decision is contemptible.
🚨 OOC Alert #8: I’ll have to broken-record this. This is not the Shaun we know. Of course Shaun has his own very black and white belief system. But Shaun has always—always—been open to second-guessing himself and considering that what he thinks is best for his patients may not always be what the patient thinks is the best for them. They should have followed this up with a conversation with Alex (or whomever) about the father and daughter’s motivation for their decision, rather than just tick the ‘address Shaun’s next conundrum’ box.
Normally I’d be rejoicing now, because we get a Shea scene, just the two of them, discussing very personal issues, even discussing Shaun’s bloody awful childhood. I know I keep repeating myself (and Freddie and Paige are still frickin’ acting heroes) but even this dialogue falls flat. Or maybe it’s just my overall testiness that keeps me from fully appreciating this scene, it’s hard to tell at this point.
Shaun looks super cute in his tux. Gotta agree with Lea here. She asks where Glassman is. “He is hunkering down in Paradise.” That line, though, actually is pure gold. (Third nice thing I’ve said. Fourth if you count my Freddie and Paige compliment.) Kinda doubt that Glassman feels very paradisiacal right now.
We’re still stuck in the revolving door of Shaun’s concern over his client rating. Lea sees it too how much this bothers him. She tries deflection. (“I love the tuxes.”). Doesn’t work. Shaun talks about being a fellow outsider but still failing to connect with Emily. Lea can’t really speak to that, she wasn’t there. (Missed opportunity.) She has a perpetual frown on her face, because she hates seeing Shaun so worked up over wanting to succeed and keeping to fail.
The dialogue about Shaun’s childhood should have been meaningful and deep, and I wish I could enjoy it more than I do. “Shaun,” Lea tells him, “I know you grew up not feeling accepted, you didn’t have many friends…” He interrupts her. “N-no. I did not have any friends.” Wrong, though. You had Steve. “Maybe the scores are bringing up some of those old, painful feelings?” Shaun considers that for a split second, but the connection is not there. “The scores are providing useful data… to help me track my progress.” Then he redirects. “Many people like you. Why do you think that is?”
Lea doesn’t know how to break him out of the cycle. “Shaun… Obsessing over whether or not people like you is a guaranteed trip to Crazytown.” It’s so sad to see Shaun this stranded. “That is easy to say when you are likeable.”
And then we get to the real heart of the matter. Lea blames it all on the poorly written algorithm. She thinks it may be easier to just take the issue to Salen and improve the system so that Shaun’s ratings go up. But Shaun finds the root of the issue and asks her outright, “Do you think that I can’t improve my scores?” Of course he can, Lea assures him. But is that really what she believes? Saved by the bell, because Shaun gets called away by a page.
Asian guy seizes and has to be kept in a medically induced coma that he’ll likely never wake up from. They give the daughter the choice to rescind the decision of not operating on her father’s brain. And then Shaun super awkwardly regurgitates Lea’s line about worrying what her father thinks being a guaranteed trip to Crazytown.
There’s a quiet moment when Shaun realises he’s said something really inappropriate. You’d think, yes, here it comes, now finally he’ll redeem himself with a cutesy Shaunism or a really moving thing to say, or an ‘aw, Shaun’ moment. Nope. “Your watch is a really nice shade of orange.” The ‘are you fucking serious?!’ look that Emily gives him is a 100% warranted. Fuck this, I wanna flip tables.
🚨 OOC Alert #9: Holy crap, this was so out of place and super cringe. Shaun surely has social situation dead angles, but it’s like they dismounted the whole side-view mirror here. Again, I can’t see our usual Shaun reacting this way in this particular situation. Maybe he was abducted by aliens and replaced with an alternate, overly caricatured version of Shaun Murphy? That’s the only viable explanation I have at this point. God, can this episode please end soon? I can’t take much more of this.
I shall point out, though, that Shaun’s deflated shoulder sag at the end of this scene makes me sad. Thank you, Freddie, for letting me have a moment.
More obsession about missed tux fittings follows. Shaun calls Glassman to berate him about the wedding attire obviously not being top of mind for him. He also reels off all his performance rating issues, like Glassman might actually care enough to get involved. The day is saved (kind of, I mean, maybe a little bit) when Emily finds Shaun to tell him he was right and they should do the surgery on her dad.
And honestly? I kinda even wish she hadn’t. Cause after all the clumsy, cringey stuff he said to her, why would she?
Happy ending for the father/daughter story there at the end. Dad wakes up with most of the tumour removed (thanks to Shaun’s fluorescent marker surgery idea – wish we’d at least gotten a Mind Palace moment out of it). Dad is proud of daughter for being strong and making a difficult decision in the face of tragedy, even though he didn’t want it. Shaun mildly gloats in self-satisfaction and shares a look with Park because he’s had a hand in it. Barely, Shaun. I’m not sure I’d call this one a win.
Side Note: Found a consistency error. When talking to Asian dude about the brain surgery, Park mentions he’ll likely have paralysis on his right side. At the end of the episode, Shaun mentions that, as predicted, they weren’t able to preserve full motor strength in his left arm and leg. So what is it now? Left or right?
The mostest most awkward moment is yet to come. Lea, at her desk, gets a notification about another review for Shaun coming in. It’s from Emily. She’s given him several ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ ratings and only one ‘average’ out of those we can see on the screen. Shaun’s overall doctor score is 6. Not sure out of what. 10? It has a ‘poor’ icon next to it, so probably more like 6 out of 30 or something.
When you read Emily’s verbatim review text, quite honestly, you can’t even blame her. She paints an accurate picture of what happened. Nothing she said was unreasonable. Words like jarring, disturbing, unsettling, disrespectful, insensitive, insulted, awkward, weird, irrational. They all align with how Shaun acted, and how your regular neurotypical person would perceive him in that situation.
Lea reads it, and she’s concerned. She knows Shaun will hate it. She knows it will make him sad and feel like, despite his best efforts, he’s failed. She calls Glassman, because maybe there is some last-ditch attempt he could make from a thousand miles away to reassure Shaun. Of course she only gets his voicemail.
And then she hits a key and the system prompts her whether she wants to omit the selected records from the database. She wavers for a few long seconds over the decision, then clicks ‘Yes’. Oh fuck. We all know it won’t end there and it’ll come back to bite her in the arse.
The real kicker comes when Shaun waits for her at home and presents her with surprise ranunculus. (A bouquet of yellow-orange flowers, in case you’re wondering.) They’re vibrant and lovely and have very low pollen count. Lea loves them.
Side Note: Shaun is standing by the kitchen counter, hiding the flowers behind his back to surprise Lea with them. She looks like she’s coming home from work. How did Shaun know she was gonna come in this exact minute? Has he been standing there with the flowers behind his back for an hour? Did she text him after she parked the car with a, “I’ll be there in two minutes?” I dunno, that doesn’t seem like the kind of communication habits they’d have as a couple. So maybe then…
… 🚨 OOC Alert #10 it shall be to round this off. It’s not necessarily out of character for Shaun to surprise her with the flowers. (In fact, I’d go as far as saying that was actually a very in-character thing for Shaun to do.) But just the timing of it seemed unrealistically coincidental for the situation that was depicted here.
Shaun wants to celebrate his success of his doctor review score going up by 2.3 points. He’s elated. He’s done something right. “My efforts to improve my performance have been effective after all,” he beams proudly at Lea. “And no one said I was weird.”
Oh boy. Good thing Shaun’s not great at reading facial expressions, because that frown on Lea’s face says it all. She did him a dirty, it was patronising as hell, and it has done absolutely nothing to help Shaun. And then the screen fades to black.
And it leaves every viewer on the planet with a super huge knot in their stomach at how big a disaster the fallout will be, because we all know it will be coming.
I don’t normally mingle these recaps with fan fiction very much, because fan fiction can be a weird and sometimes awkward medium which often doesn’t mesh with canon-compliance, but… (Yes, of course there was a but coming.) Some of you may know I’ve been trying my best at writing canon-compliant gap fillers for the season 5 episodes. I finished writing the ones for 5×04 before 5×05 aired, and I just need to mention how freaking ironic it is that I foreshadowed something in fanfic that I didn’t even know was coming.
Maybe that means they subtly set it up in earlier episodes already and I got a subliminal inkling before it was explicitly outlined on screen. Maybe it was just coincidence. Or maybe it means I am way too deeply engrossed in the hearts and minds of these characters. Either way, I find it uncanny that I wrote this thing here between Shaun and Lea where they talk about Glassman:
“[…] He also said that he spoke to Dr. Andrews about me getting kicked off the case, and that there wasn’t going to be a note in my file about it. I’m not sure if I should consider that patronizing, either.”
“Yeah, I can see how it could be. But I think he’s just trying to help you.”
“Is it helping me if other people try to solve my problems for me because they think I’m not capable to do it myself?”
Oh wow, now Shaun was really digging deep. But he also had a point. And Lea wondered if she was included in that statement. She probably was. And maybe she’d have to pay more attention to that in the future.
“You know, Shaun, it probably is, but remember how we talked about grey zones? Sometimes it’s really hard to figure out where to draw the line between being supportive and patronizing. But it’s brought up a good point. I think it’s really important that we talk about these things. If you feel I’m being patronizing or condescending with you, I wanna know about that.”
Like, hello?! Little did I know how incredibly relevant the whole discussion about patronizing behaviour would become. And now I hate myself for writing that. Because that surely wasn’t what I wanted.
Check out the Speculation Corner section further down for more on this.
That said, I wanna add something that I only realised quite a while after I had first seen the episode, when I was trying to sort out what all was wrong with this episode. We’ve had episodes before where Shaun fixated on something, read all the signals incorrectly, and then overcompensated, and did all the wrong things to try and solve it. But none of them felt like this.
And you know why? Because every single time, he managed to redeem himself in some way. He’d come to a realisation that his approach was wrong, that he took a wrong turn somewhere, or that he should have done things differently. And then he’d voice that and say or do something sweet or lovable that saves the day.
There was no redemption remotely on the horizon in this episode. None. Not a single spark of it anywhere. Why is that? Why the utter discordance, the alienation of viewers like me, and the huge, overflowing barrel of just unadulterated misery and cringe?
I can’t help but come back to a quote from showrunner David Shore where he said, “The show is at its best not when Shaun learns but when we learn from Shaun.” There was absolutely nothing to be learned from Shaun in this episode. Nothing at all. And that makes me sad.
Another interesting thought from Daniela: Again, we see a father as a patient for the case that Shaun is involved in, and a good one at that, who loves his daughter and wants to protect her at all cost. Not just that, we see a daughter who is told that, this time, she is the one who is supposed to support her dad, rather than the parent protecting the child.
Somehow, every single episode this season has been themed around parenting and parent/child relationships. Epic level foreshadowing for what is to come with either Glassman and Shaun and/or Shaun and Marcie?
Not too much to mention here that I’ve not already said. He’s still Roadstering somewhere out in the northwest. It looks like his trip took him from California through Nevada and Idaho into Montana. He’s thinking about hunkering down in a small town called Paradise. (Yes, I’m sure that name was not coincidental.)
“Small” town is an overstatement. It’s tiny. At the 2000 census, they counted 184 inhabitants. They have, like, 12 streets, probably zero traffic lights, two churches, a cemetery, a local bar and train tracks running right next to it. This is the epitome of bumfuck, America.
Not sure where he’ll sleep, it doesn’t look like there’s any motel or hotel there. Good luck with your hunkering, Glassy. Unless maybe he knows someone local he can stay with. Or he goes Airbnb and rents the one small cabin that seems to be rentable just outside of it. I’m probably asking too many questions. They merely picked this town so that they could add the pun to Shaun’s line of, “Dr. Glassman is hunkering down in Paradise.”
I’m glad he’s at least answering his phone, though. Sometimes. But only when it’s Shaun, and only when it’s convenient. The choice of the words “hunkering down” is also interesting. Who is he hiding from, then? Or maybe we need to ask what is he hiding from?
But what’s pretty clear is that he won’t be turning up for any tux fittings soon. And it seems he doesn’t have the guts to tell Shaun that. With the way things are going, it’s looking more and more like Shaun will have to come to Glassy, rather than the other way round. I’m curious how this will play out.
The Second Year Residents
Asher works on Guatemalan girl’s case (her name is actually Rosa) with Lim, and he gets to see the Mateo drama there first hand. He schmoozes up to Lim somewhat as a confidant, offering emotional support and a shoulder to cry on.
Asher being all buddy-buddy with the Chief of Surgery, though? Don’t get me wrong, the bonding between them over boyfriend woes is kinda sweet. But Asher is a second year resident, and Lim is the frickin’ Chief of Surgery. She’s his boss’s boss.
I mean, sure, the atmosphere in the surgical team has always been jovial and open, but this seemed all a bit… too frivolous. Not gonna lie, I love that Asher is candid and sassy. But it felt off (like so many things in this episode) that he did it with Lim.
The pep talk scene in Lim’s office was also cute, but again seemed so out of the blue. Does a second year resident talk like that to the Chief of Surgery? I get that they needed someone to guide Lim through the whole Mateo disaster. But was Asher the right choice? I guess in the absence of Claire, it was hard to find someone else who fit the bill.
As for Jordan, I’m happy to see her helping Lea out with the wedding planning and decisions. I think she will be an awesome confidant to Lea. I’m glad they’re going this route. And I’m glad she chose not to be upset over Shaun’s rude interlude there during the flower discussion. “Text me,” she told Lea, and I’m sure that Lea did.
Alex & Morgan
Not only Shaun gets a little obsessive over the client ratings, Morgan jumps on that same train, too. She is trying to aim high and isn’t above faking it to get good reviews. She’s concerned, however, that Alex is getting no more than average reviews. Doesn’t he want to perform well?
It’s driving Morgan crazy, so she asks him, “You’re not average, but you shy away from the spotlight. You’re a hot Korean martial artist surgeon, and your face isn’t on a poster. Why do you think that is? I just want you to reach your full potential. Don’t you want that for yourself?” Well, guess what, Morgan? The answer is actually no.
Here’s another of the few things that I actually liked about the episode. We learn a little bit more about Park’s past. He talks about how his father told him he was weak for quitting his job as a police officer and changing his career path to medicine. His father didn’t talk to him for a year afterwards, and it cost Alex a lot to get to where he is now.
He loves his work, his colleagues, his girlfriend, and he’s happy where he is. He doesn’t need the top ranking scores or the prestigious surgery or the chief of whatever department to recognise his name or his face. He just wants to be happy, and no one has the right to tell him that’s not enough.
He knows, however, that it’s different for Morgan. Achievement is everything, striving for more is the name of the game.
He needs to know that good is gonna be good enough for her where Alex is concerned. “I’m ambitious, that doesn’t mean I’m broken,” she tells him. But Alex thinks she’s unhappy. Is the next rung of the ladder ever going to be enough for her? I don’t think Morgan knows the answer to that, either.
I don’t know what it is, but nothing in this episode seemed to connect right for me. I liked the idea of Parnick. I was digging it. But there was nothing in the feelings department for me in this episode. There’s a clear direction of making everyone end up in bad places, and no one being happy or redeeming themselves. Same pattern here, the episode ends on a super discordant note, and the question hangs in the air: Is this the beginning of the end of their romantic relationship? I guess we’ll find out.
In terms of Lim, or rather Matlim, this one was a difficult episode to stomach. Mateo’s absence came pretty out of the blue for me, since I try to avoid spoilers. I had seen some rumours floating around about some actor making a rapid exit from the show, and had I yelled at everyone not to tell me who, but it quickly became apparent in this episode that Osvaldo was whom they had been talking about.
Oh, I should probably quickly recap what happened here:
- Lim mentions Mateo was called away on an urgent medical relief mission to Guatemala. Salen isn’t happy about it and berates Lim for not telling her in advance.
- We find out there’s a patient from Guatemala (Rosa) he sent up to San Jose to get surgery they can’t perform down there. She becomes Lim’s patient, and they bond over mutual dating history with Mateo.
- Rosa is not afraid to share her romantic experience with Lim. Mateo moves fast when he knows what he wants, he moved in quickly with Rosa, too. He’s also always been impulsive, leaving on medical missions short notice when it suited him. He’s now ghosting Audrey, while at the same time he keeps in touch with Rosa, and there is definitely trouble in paradise here.
- Learning more and more from Rosa about the kind of person Mateo is, Audrey eventually realises that he never had much intention to put down roots in San Jose. She also realises she doesn’t want to be like Rosa — left sitting at home with a bottle of wine he left behind, waiting until he might or might not come back.
- Audrey deals Mateo the death blow by leaving him a voicemail that she will see him on Thursday if he wants to come back for the work, but if he plans to come back for her, he shouldn’t bother.
Now, purely from an episode storytelling point of view, they left it open whether Mateo would return or not. But we know from online articles and his not being credited in the opening titles anymore that Osvaldo Benavides has left the cast, and so it’s pretty much confirmed that Mateo will not come back to San Jose, and Lim is a free woman yet again.
While this is a bit of a blow (I actually loved Mateo and the idea of Matlim), it is what it is, and I’m open to seeing new possibilities for Lim in the future.
(For further reading, there’s a Newsweek article that talks about Benavides’ departure, but there is very little information about his motivations and reasons for the decision. Personally I am going to refrain from engaging in speculation as to why and how Osvaldo Benavides left. Nothing has been officially communicated and I don’t see adding to rumours as being helpful or appropriate.)
Where Andrews is concerned, Jorg aptly said to me, “Andrews is doing 50 shades of WTF.” He is, isn’t he? First of all the whole “I’ll transfer this non-billable patient away from St. Bonaventure to appease Salen” thing. He’s become opportunist arsehole par excellence, hasn’t he? I don’t like it.
And then the dinner date? Marcus, what is going on?
Like, yeah, also awkward af. And if they want to build up a pairing there, honestly, I’m not seeing it. The names (#Salus? #Sarcus? #Marlen? #Andrisson? #Morridrews?) don’t work either.
Does Andrews have an end game with Salen? Is he smelling the first whiffs of Glassman’s position becoming vacant again? Or some other kind of promotion opportunity?
The Client Rating Thing
This one didn’t really come as much of a surprise, seeing how they introduced the smiley machines all over the hospital early on in season 5. And it’s not like healthcare professional provider review systems haven’t been in place before elsewhere. I think a lot of us are aware of the problems inherent in such systems. Reviews can be extremely subjective, and they can also be faked and meddled with. Judging a physician solely on user reviews is not a good performance evaluation method.
Take Mateo, for instance. They say in this episode that he’s the top ranked surgeon in the department. Is that because he’s the best surgeon they have? I daresay no. He’s good looking, he’s charming, and he always wants the best for his patients. Sometimes overly so.
Jorg reminded me of the medical case from 5×02, where he offered the experimental T-cell therapy to the patient as somewhat of a “magical solution”? Of course the patient would be happy with that, and it depicts Mateo as the out-of-the-box thinking hero who saved her life. But at the end of the day, Mateo broke protocol, suggested a dangerous, unproven treatment without running it through the proper channels and by his superiors, and not to mention never gave Shaun credit for suggesting the idea in the first place.
He’s a charmer and a renegade and him just up and leaving with his relationship with Audrey in the balance also shows us he’s inherently selfish. But patients love him. Shaun is probably, from a purely diagnostic and medical-technical aspect, the best surgeon that they have at St. Bonaventure. Yet, he’s lowest ranked among patients. See where the system is screwy?
A good performance review system ranks not only the soft skills, but takes all the required skills into account, and then adjusts the system to factor in adequate prioritisation of the required skills and their scores. And while I agree bedside manner and communication should factor into how well a surgeon performs at their job, I wouldn’t necessarily see these as the chief skill to have to be a good doctor. So why is Salen putting so much focus on the soft skill side of things?
It’s not a bad thing to have checks and balances in place to help your employees aim higher and maximise their potential. But Lea is probably right that Salen’s focus on merely the communication aspect is not fair. I wish they’d challenged that in this episode somehow. Maybe they still will in the future.
Glassman’s Road Trip
So Glassman is up in Montana now. Montana is adjacent to Wyoming. You know, just sayin’. Paradise, MT is still 700-ish miles from Casper, so who knows if that means he’ll eventually end up there. It’s still very much up in the air and I wouldn’t want to say yea or nay until they add more meat to those bones in upcoming episodes.
Let’s talk about the omitted review. Because, seriously? What the hell, Lea? I mean, I get that she wants to protect Shaun, that it hurts her to see Shaun struggle, that she wants him to just have one little win. But does that justify what she did? Hell no.
Technically, she also falsified hospital data. Granted, it wasn’t medical patient records or clinical trial data or anything like that, but still. Also, patronizing af. I mean, sure, it’s not like we don’t get it. She hates seeing Shaun hurt, and she wants to do what she can to make that go away.
It’s also, partly, Glassman’s fault. With Glassy being AWOL and out of reach, Lea is basically Shaun’s only support system right now. And she’s out of her depth and overcompensating, resorting to measures that are more drastic than warranted. It was more or less an act of desperation. A question Daniela has been posing: Would Lea have done what she did if Glassman had answered her call? We’ll never know.
Remember 5×01, the ending, what Shaun said to Lea? “This way, when it goes terribly wrong, it will be both our faults.” Well, now it’s going terribly wrong (not the wedding, more like a trust issue between them), and it’s solely Lea’s fault. Hm.
So where does that leave us? It’s pretty obvious that this will have repercussions in one way or another. And there’s a ton of different avenues this could go down. Let’s explore some of them.
a) Unprompted Confession
The whole thing keeps weighing on Lea’s mind until she feels guilty enough to tell Shaun about it. He won’t be happy. Perhaps even resent her for it. They would hopefully talk about it and work it out, but there will be friction for an episode or two (or more).
b) Forced Confession
Something happens that forces Lea to seek out Shaun to tell him about it in order to avoid more negative consequences. Rest see above.
c) Shaun Finds Out
Not sure how, but Shaun finds out from an external source. He’ll be pissed and disappointed. Total friction time and lots of unhappy Shea fans.
Side Note: The prompt on Lea’s computer screen said “omit record” and not “delete record”. Which means the record is still there, it’s just not being counted into Shaun’s rating. Which totally indicates that someone will find out about it and Lea gets called out.
d) Salen Finds Out
Being a data cruncher, Salen somehow digs around in the client feedback metrics and investigates a discrepancy that leads her to discover Lea omitted the negative review. She’ll likely reprimand Lea (would hope she doesn’t fire her). For transparency reasons (and maybe to support Shaun’s emotional growth), she tells Shaun as well. Shaun will be pissed, friction time, see above.
e) Nothing Happens
Unlikely, but could be an option. Might be used to create more distance between Lea and Shaun, her dealing with guilt but not enough to actually tell him. I dunno. Personally, I hate this idea.
What does all of that mean for their upcoming wedding? We’d hope that it won’t break Shea apart. Cause that would just be cruel. It would also go against everything that the show has been setting up over the last four and a half seasons, so let’s assume a full force break-up is not in the cards.
Again, several options here how this could affect the wedding.
a) Drama, Drama, Wedding Drama
Shaun somehow finds out about it before the wedding (either from Lea herself or otherwise), and it throws a wrench in the wedding preparations or even the timing of the actual wedding. A more likely scenario than some others.
b) Running Away Drama
Shaun somehow finds out about it before the wedding, and gets upset to the point where he packs a bag and physically seeks out road tripping Glassman because he doesn’t know how to deal with or digest it on his own. I actually quite like this idea, and some behind the scenes photos I wasn’t able to avoid may suggest that this scenario is actually not that unlikely.
c) Super Amped Up Wedding Drama
Lea carries around the guilt until the very last minute and tells Shaun about it just as they’re about to tie the knot. He gets upset and runs off to digest the info. No wedding, at least not on the originally planned date. I dunno. That’s Grey’s Anatomy level drama. Hopefully this won’t happen, because I’d hate it with a passion.
Presuming that Lea’s misstep will come to light, and Glassman learns about it, I really wonder how he will react. Will he sympathise because he understands wanting to protect Shaun? Will he be resentful towards Lea because it was a hella condescending thing to do?
The one scenario I actually like and that may not be completely off-base is that I could see Shaun learning about Lea’s misstep, he gets really flustered and upset and actually takes off to meet with Glassman wherever he’s currently hunkering down. And then Glassman will do what he can to figure it out with Shaun, and help him glue things back together with Lea.
What I like about that scenario is that it brings Glassman’s own predicament back into focus and will be a really apt opportunity to reconnect with Shaun and Lea, prove that he’s not as useless as he currently thinks he is, and will give him positive validation and encourage him to regrow his roots in San Jose.
Of course it could also happen that Glassman ends up resenting Lea’s action towards Shaun, and that would make things really tricky. If he ends up being unsupportive of her, and her marrying Shaun, that’ll be an ongoing matter of contention for Glassman’s relationship with Shaun. I’m not sure how that would affect their dynamic long-term.
As you could probably tell, I’m really puzzled by this episode. What I’m more puzzled by is why I seem to be the only one with such a strong negative reaction to it. As far as I can gauge (not that I monitor the fandom a lot), the overarching sentiment among fans was positive.
What is it that I’m seeing so differently? Am I just not a fan of Grasl and Chanse’s writing? I am, myself, being too protective of a character I’ve grown to love over 4 seasons, and now I’m projecting because I want to see justice being done to this person and his personal growth and endearing personality?
Don’t get me wrong, fundamentally the episode had great ideas, but I felt like the scriptwriting execution of them was considerably lacking. So much of the character behaviour and dialogue missed the mark. The hate crime/racism topic was important but felt like halfway through, they decided to sweep it under the rug and focus on less poignant story points instead.
They probably did the best they could with the Mateo situation, and I don’t have too many complaints there. However, the Asian patient story felt very unbalanced. There were too many issues they tried squeezing into this one patient story, some of the important points died on the vine, and the balance of dialogue between the father and the daughter was unevenly skewed way too much towards the daughter (and Shaun’s own issues).
Of course I understand that opinions and perception can widely differ from person to person. Of course I understand that, in a 20 episode season, I won’t love every episode the same. But the divide here, in comparison to the other season 5 episodes so far, was huge, and that feels so off. Don’t worry, I won’t despair. There are other writers, and there are other episode plots, and I’m sure I will get the season 5 mojo back with coming episodes. So let’s raise a glass and toast to better times!
Warning! I disagree with almost all of this. (But I don’t hate you!)
MR SONG and EMILY:
I do agree that the Asian hate crime wasn’t fully explored; however at least the writers recognized it as an issue to address. I get that it may be a stretch that he’d literally rather die than appear “weak” but apparently the need to be strong is common among certain generations of Asian men, particularly in Martial Arts that trickles down even to those not involved in those arts. Such as: Park’s father, who told his son to “be like stone”.
As for Emily, yes Shaun was rude to her, but he was, as usual, laser focused on saving his patient’s life. And although Shaun’s interpretation of the tux guy’s advice was awkward, it was yet another example of his taking things literally…often to extremes, It harkens back to Season 1 when he told Lea that she looked “ridiculous in that sweater” Not the same I know, but it’s characteristic.
Emily thanked Park for helping her see that she should support her father’s decision (NOT his intention), but did she thank Shaun for ultimately saving her father’s life? For all of Park’s and Jordon’s well intentioned, kind, empathetic efforts to steer her to sign off on the brain surgery, which, BTW, was Shaun’s design, it was Shaun who cut through the crap and (yes, rudely) got through to her by telling her it didn’t matter if her father got mad at her, but the only important thing was saving his life. In return, she not only wrote a bad review, but a long, detailed, nasty one. She couldn’t see past how he made her uncomfortable; didn’t it matter that he saved her father’s life? Because he did.
I thought this was a stretch too, but I’m glad they didn’t leave Audrey waiting, wondering, pining for several episodes. She’s too fine for that. This resolved Mateo’s status quickly.
As for Shaun’s fixation about the reviews, it’s fairly normal for him as he often fixates on an issue, particularly when he’s stressed. And he is stressed, not only about the reviews. Besides, Freddie Highmore knows more about Shaun than anyone. If he thought it was out of character I’m sure he would have made his objections known. He’s also an executive producer and has even more say over his own character’s arc.
I’m surprised that Shaun didn’t recognize the very real problems with the algorithms, to the point of telling Lea not to talk to Salen about it.
Which brings us, of course, to what Lea did instead.
Yes, it was wrong, I wish she hadn’t done it. Yet I understand why. She’s not only concerned about Shaun, she’s terribly worried. She was there for the hand dryer meltdown; even she couldn’t calm him. She also knows he feels abandoned by Glassman; she tried her best to get him to help Shaun. Yes, there will be repercussions, both professionally and personally, with Shaun.
About the speculations; I firmly believe she’ll voluntarily tell Shaun what she did, after struggling mentally. He was so relieved and proud about the “improved” reviews! But I don’t think she’s capable of lying to him, even by omission. She couldn’t about Marcie’s Save the Date; I don’t think she can now. Shaun has never lied to her, and he puts a premium on honesty.
As an aside, I’m starting to really dislike Salen. I can’t stand people who smile and smile while putting people down. Audrey hates her and I don’t blame her.
Please always call me out on my crap if you don’t agree, I love hearing different thoughts and opinions and explore the different angles. This, in particular, may help me understand the episode better and maybe start liking it more. I think a lot of my dislike for this episode stems from several angles and was probably a culmination of many different things hitting all at once. And ultimately, different people can have different opinions, which keeps things interesting.
The hate crime:
If the writers didn’t have enough space in the episode to address and explore the issue properly, sorry, they shouldn’t have used it as a storyline at all. That’s my personal opinion. They could have just as easily left that part out and said Mr. Song fell or had an accident, etc. and it would have sufficed to just focus on the story around brain surgery or not. They’ve always been very strongly advocating for addressing controversial issues, and you wouldn’t want to know how many complaints there are from idiots and trolls on Reddit about the show being too political, too SJW and too woke. I love when they make a stand for such topics, but it just fell flat in this episode. This is pure conjecture, but it may be possible that the plot was initially planned differently, and they had to course-correct relatively spontaneously because of Osvaldo’s departure, which could explain some of the disconnects.
To a degree, I agree with what you’re saying. Of course I recognise that Shaun has a tendency to hyper-fixate on certain things and lose sight of other things as a result. I also very much understand that he can overcompensate and overinterpret advice he’s been given to apply it in all the wrong ways. And I don’t mind seeing it done on the show, but I strongly felt like they over-caricatured it in this episode, and amped it up to a degree that felt unrealistic for how much Shaun had learned and grown particularly in season 4. Like I said, maybe that’s pure projection or wishful thinking on my part because I love the character so much. And I will say that, on a rewatch of the episode, I have softened my stance somewhat after all the discussion I’ve had with other fans.
But I stand by my personal assessment that a lot of the dialogue and behaviour felt awkwardly over-engineered, clumsy and forced. It’s easy for me to say because I’m not a scriptwriter, and I don’t want to claim I know this character better or even the same as the people writing or otherwise working for the show. And I agree with you that if Freddie or anyone else had felt strongly about the episdoe being too out of character for Shaun, they likely would have challenged it.
At the end of the day, we don’t know the inner workings of how these episodes come together, or what the motivations are for certain decisions that are being made. And whatever my interpretation of what’s in and out of character is, it may not always align with where the writers or producers want to take these characters. That’s ultimately true for any fictional character, unless they are your own creation. But I’m still free to yell into the void if I would like to see the character be treated differently, right? 🙂
I think in the end that may even be a good thing. It means I’m passionate about the show and the character, and if I feel he’s not being done justice, then it only means I’m invested. If my ideas stray from how the writers and producers see the character, then I can live with that, to a degree. If it starts bothering me too much, I can always take my leave from the show, though I certainly hope that won’t happen. I may just not be a fan of this particular writing duo’s writing style, and then I’ll swallow that pill and hope for better writing to come.
It’s interesting you made a comparison to the sweater line from season 1. First of all, that was 4+ years and a whole lot of learning and character growth ago. It’s not out of character for Shaun as such to be brutally honest, often awkwardly so. My gripe is not with that fact as such, my gripe is with how clumsily it was done in this episode. Everything was amped up to a degree where (to me) it felt unrealistic and uncharacteristic.
And the sweater line was somehow endearing in that moment, because it was not angry or selfish or self-serving. Shaun’s tirade towards Emily felt like it came from the wrong place, because it was all Shaun being cross with Emily for not having the same opinion he did, because he felt, simply, she was WRONG. And that’s an opinion you, as a surgeon or physician, can have, but it’s not the right way to go about it to then yell at your patient that you think they’re wrong, particularly not in such a rude way. Kinda feels like you’re comparing apples and oranges here.
If was I really invested and had the kind of time, I would actually love to take a stab at rewriting some of this episode into how I think I could have been done more respectfully while still having the same or a similar effect. (Cause it’s easy to say you think something’s sub-par when you don’t actually try to give specific ideas about how it could be improved, right?) I’d like to think it could be done. But it would be a pretty hefty effort, and I do, after all, have a full time job and already spend way too much time being engrossed in this TV show’s universe. For now, I think I’lll just try to come up with a few missing scenes that might help me with a certain level of reconciliation.
Thanks again for your lovely comment, and thanks also for challenging my viewpoint. I love the deep level discussion like this!
Some time ago, a university student diagnosed with ASD claimed in a support group meeting that there was no need for him to learn how to communicate properly with neurotypicals – if he was to become a luminary of his profession, they would come to him to be enlightened by his wisdom anyway.
When I retold that sentiment to a neuroscientist doing research at the very same university’s hospital (and accidentally knowledgeable about ASD), her reaction was a deadpanned “That might have worked in 1921, but not in 2021.”
That’s what came to my mind, TeeJay, when I read how you juxtaposed Shaun’s inadequate handling of patents and relatives with his medical prowess – yet, in today’s working environment the latter does not nullify the former.
In a way, season 5 is returning to questions that were raised in seasons 1 & 2: can Shaun properly communicate when lives are in danger (Andrews, 1×01) and can he handle the emotional needs of patients and their relatives. In season 2, Dr. Han’s answer to this was to keep Shaun away from patient care altogether.
The tornado that was Dr. Han blew over eventually with the remaining surgical team reacting in their own way to the whole affair: superiors and fellow residents closed ranks around Shaun and spanned a safety net around him.
Shaun losing control over his first lead surgery? Give him a full rehearsal while having the ICU short-staffed.
Shaun losing control over his second first lead surgery and insulting a nurse? Chief Lim has him running on long leash so that he does worsen the situation even further.
Shaun losing control in his mad pursuit of the death of a Jane Doe, frightening her son so that he’s put into jail an receives a restraining order? Park and Glassy to the rescue, no repercussions even as he neglected his duties.
Shaun defying direct orders by Chief Lim in his mad pursuit of rescuing Lea in the ruins of the brewery? Lim did not even consider to chew him out.
Shaun lashing out on a patient’s worried-to-death wife? Andrews gives him a mild slap on the hand.
Shaun dumping adult toys on his female boss’s desk and asking for an opinion? Never mind.
Shaun bluntly accusing a senior surgeon he does not know a bit of making fatal mistakes? Andrews covers for him.
To be continued…
Truth be told, Shaun fucks up a lot but is regularly saved not by his medical epiphanies, but the bubble his peers created around him.
Shaun has benefitted a lot from this grace extended to him – he could progress in his own (slow) pace with spare time to develop his romantic life. Though, this could not go on forever. Colleagues would transfer out (Claire!), superiors might change, the residency would end eventually. They couldn’t protect him forever from his own shortcomings – shortcomings he even might have underestimated greatly because of this safety net.
Now, Salen is rapidly cutting away the strings that held Shaun in balance and he is ill-prepared to stand on his own. Shaun is stumbling and Salen will continue to push him because neurodivergent herself, she does understand where he’s coming from, but doesn’t approve of the way he’s handled. Her philosophy is the stark opposite of the bubble created around Shaun: “Nobody made accommodations for my ADHD. That was hard, but it made me stronger, smarter, more resourceful. We have different problems and different strengths, but I know if you keep patronizing him, it’ll backfire.”
I approve of her approach by personal experience.
You know, Andreas, I absolutely love everything about your comment, because it gives me a whole new perspective. So thank you for that! Probably a lot of us are somewhat enamoured with Shaun and we want him to do well and succeed, but you’re right that he’s been surrounded with fluffy cushions quite considerably. Salen is taking them away, and suddently the ground feels so much harder and more uncomfortable. We’ve seen him flourish particularly in season 4, because he’s had the safety net of Lea and Glassman and his colleagues, and while that’s important for him, I suppose at some point you have to push the fledgling out of the nest and hope he flies on his own.
It’s pretty clear that season 5 is all about pushing (not just) Shaun to the limit, testing his strength, resilience and adaptability. While the neurotypicals around him also struggle but mostly manage to course-correct in time, Shaun hits one guardrail after the next, and the dings in his autobody are starting to become noticeable and detrimental.
I’ve been asking myself why I hated this episode so much, and I think partly it *is* because I hate seeing Shaun bumble and fail and, well, royally fuck things up. But I think there’s absolute merit to throwing him in the deep end and hoping that, while he may be swallowing some water in the process, he will eventually swim. I don’t approve of what Lea did with the omitted review, because it was patronising as hell. But it aligns with her wanting to protect Shaun, wanting to be that safety net you mentioned — particularly now that Glassman is AWOL that part of the safety net is hanging loose.
It’s always wonderful to hear your insights, because me being neurotypical, it’s not always easy to parse and understand where certain behaviours and reactions are coming from, also knowing full well we can’t fully free ourselves of biases, prejudice and socio-cultural beliefs and norms. If there’s anything that I want to take away from watching this show and writing about it, it’s to hopefully learn to be more understanding of the neurodivergent people around us. Please feel free to ever call me out on anything that is disrespectful or wrong.
I will stand steadfast, however, that some of the dialogue and story points were just not a great choice and could have been written in a way that it felt more in character and more organic, without compromising the intention to have Shaun struggle and fail.
You’re welcome, TeeJay. Wanting to protect a fictional character is sure proof of good drama…
Now, good drama is rooted in reality. There’s this student of medicine I happened to run across once, who was sure that she never could disclose her ASD diagnosis to any potential employer because no hospital would hire an autistic doctor. It was the year 2020.
It’s not fair, but this are the harsh realities any individual on the spectrum has to reckon with at some point. It’s a big pro of this show that it never shied away from depicting this.
Concerning the notion that a specific character would never say this or do that, I tend to look at this more relaxed. In The X-Files, another favorite of mine, the main protagonists Fox Mulder and Dana Scully could be a very different characters from episode to episode, which wasn’t only because they developed organically over seasons but also because different writers within the writing room were given the opportunity to explore different angles of themes and the characters. Thus, there never was a definitive Mulder or Scully character, but a rich assortment of character traits that were remembered by the fandom with individual emphases – the perception of a character varies, just as in real life. It’s a highly subjective matter in the end.
One episode, 5×12 Bad Blood, was even built entirely on subjective perception of characters and situations, parodying the beloved heroes with great joy: after Mulder killed a young member of a trailer park community he believed to be a vampire, Mulder and Scully are required to report to their boss. To get their story straight, they tell each other their individual version of the events.
Scully remembers Mulder to have acted like a real dick to her, dismissive of her professional opinions and personal needs. In Mulder’s version, Scully has been whiney, uncooperative, and unresponsive to his theories, while behaving like a smitten schoolgirl to the backwater sheriff, who, as Mulder keeps insisting, had an overbite.
The whole episode is about perception and subjectivity. Who to tell what were the “real” characters’ actions and discussions? In the end, nobody is able to tell or check it with the locals – because the whole community has pulled stakes and vanished. 😉
What is important to me about Crazytown isn’t a certain line of dialogue but the directions the plot is taking the characters. Shaun is on a straight way to be confronted with his weaknesses – a necessity for further character growth on his behalf – and Lea has handed Salen the lever to enroll the IT head and fiancée into in the CEO’s plans for St. Bonaventure’s new poster boy. A great setup for divided loyalties and hard choices down the road.
“Bad Blood” is one of my all time favourite X-Files episodes, I know it very well! But while I love the comparison you’re making, I feel that this comparison is “limping” (you know the German saying). Bad Blood was written in a way that it’s pretty clear the episode is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It was set up to poke fun at itself and not take itself seriously. I don’t think Crazytown was meant to be an episode with a self-ironic undertone. If that were the case, I wouldn’t mind so much that Shaun was (IMHO) portrayed as somewhat over-caricatured.
And I’m absolutely with you on the “big picture” topics that are presented in Crazytown. I like the general direction that they’re taking this season — the continuing alienation of Shaun from his safety net. Glassman is AWOL and out of reach. Lea is overprotetive and doing more harm than good at this point. Salen is fastening the thumb screws little by little, and everyone is under continual pressure. The rug is being slowly pulled out from under Shaun, and I’m a 100% interested in seeing that playing out in the long run. I have absolutely zero issues with them going this route, though I think they need to carefully balance all the misery with a little more hope and enjoyable moments. I do love my angst, but I need a bit of relief sprinkled in, just to keep me afloat, you know?
From what I’m seeing, there’s a pretty universal sentiment in the fandom that people really despise Salen and they want to see her gone as quickly as possible. I would not count myself as part of that group. I think Salen is a great character who is mixing things up and introducing a wind of change. Yes, that wind is also disruptive, and not all her ideas and changes are positive.
As a person who works in a corporate setting, I can very much empathise with the worker bee perspective, and how “helicoper management” head honchos like Salen are usually frustrating as hell, whose methods and ideas don’t always result in a good outcome for the company or the business. Disruptive change is only ultimately positive if you don’t end up disgruntling the majority of your workforce and making the work environment unbearable. And I think Salen isn’t necessarily on the right side of that equation, but we’ll see how that continues to play out.
I do realise that I may have overreacted a little with my initial strongly negative review of the episode. It’s great to be discussing the big picture views and weigh thoughts and opinions with other fans. It may ultimately motivate me to rewrite this recap into something a little less acerbic and somewhat more appreciative of the intent of the episode, even though I still feel it was not up to par.
Thanks again for all the food for thought!