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 under-served 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!