Woohoo, first new episode after what so many tabloid media outlets frustratingly called an “unprecedented indefinite winter hiatus”! But wait, it’s not April yet. What happened? Well, apparently cancellation of Promised Land happened, and so here we are, with The Good Doctor back on our screens way sooner than we dared hope!
I’m a happy camper, and all those click-baity media outlets can go stick their doom and gloom articles where the sun don’t shine. The Good Doctor is alive and kicking!
Written by Thomas L. Moran
Directed by Gary Hawes
Original airdate Feb 28, 2022
Patient #1 is Phil Hall. Male, 32, single car MVA (motor vehicle accident), apparently he got drunk and drove his car into a tree. He has an open comminuted tib-fib fracture, so basically both bones in his lower leg have been severed. (Ew. Compound fractures are the one thing I have a serious medical squick with. Wish I didn’t have to see that, but sometimes that’s what you get when you like medical dramas.)
Phil is somewhat overweight, and he got friend-zoned by the woman he’s in love with (her name is Monica), hence the alcohol consumption that led to the drunk-driving accident. They take him to imaging for the head injury he also sustained. Shaun is somewhat intrigued by the unrequited love theme, finding himself in there somewhere. What makes someone love or reject another person? He’s invested to find out more.
Imaging on Phil looks okay, he’s being cleared for surgery on his leg. Monica is waiting in the hallway, stops Alex and Shaun who are walking by. She asks them to tell Phil that she’s still here and cares about him and hopes he will be okay. Shaun rather bluntly states that, yes, they can do so, but it won’t make Phil feel better.
This is, of course, a direct parallel to Shaun’s own situation, because he very clearly knows that Lea, in the aftermath of the pharmacy meltdown and wedding cancellation mess, is still there for him, that she loves him and wants to help him and cares about him, but none of that makes him feel any better.
Phil’s surgery goes well, though the discussion they’re having over it gives Shaun more food for thought. Park seems to think most women are greedy and shallow, and that adherence to social norms matters, or at least makes it easier for someone to fall in love with you. This has Shaun’s interest piqued, because clearly he falls into that “outside the norm” category.
Shaun runs into Monica again after the surgery. She waited all this time, and Shaun rewards her with a brief update on Phil’s status. He also inquires why she could never be more than just friends with Phil. Her answer is pretty simple: You can’t force love. Sometimes you just feel how you feel. What resonates with Shaun is that she says, “I shouldn’t just settle.”
When Shaun and Park go back to explain the surgical approach to Phil, he asks if Monica is still there, but Shaun tells him she went home last night. It still hurts for Phil. She doesn’t love him because he’s fat and a loser. Park interjects that he shouldn’t be so hard on himself, that if Monica was that superficial, would he have fallen for her? Maybe if he backed off and let things develop, she might change her mind.
And that resonates with Shaun, too, although he’s pretty sure Monica won’t change her mind because the feelings just aren’t there. He also sledgehammers any kindness that Park might have offered by telling Phil that Park actually said to Shaun that no woman who looked like Monica would ever love a guy who looked like Phil. Ouch.
I’m glad that Alex gives Shaun a “what the hell was that?” speech after they leave Phil’s room. He tells Shaun that if he can’t get his head straight, he needs to let someone else do the surgery on Phil. Shaun doesn’t want to hear it. “I can focus fine.”
Good for you, Alex, that you didn’t let Shaun get away with that rude stunt, but man, do I wish we could have a little more supportive talk between Shaun and Park. Here’s to hoping for the next episode or two.
The leg stabilisation surgery on Phil goes well, Shaun later brags to Glassman about it having been a success. After Phil wakes up, Park compliments Shaun on having done a great job with Phil’s leg fixation. Phil asks again if Monica is still waiting, which she isn’t, and Phil is glad because he doesn’t want her pity.
It’s Park this time who’s trying to get Phil to see his situation from a different angle. It seems like he cares a little too much about how his dates look, how they make him look, how other people perceive or judge him. “If you wanna find someone who loves you more than just a friend, you need to start loving yourself.” But I think it’s Shaun who has the epiphany here, not Phil.
And, man, that is such a beautiful notion, and I’m really grateful that they went there. Because it’s such an important lesson for Shaun to learn, and I really, really hope that he takes something away from that.
Patient #2 is Candace Williams. Morgan sees her in the clinic for complications of cosmetic surgery on her buttocks, a surgery that she flew to Brazil for. “They call it a Brazilian buttlift.” I mean, it sounds amusing, but it’s really not.
Candace has struggled with her weight and her body ever since her childhood and took a more drastic approach of surgery to help her feel better about herself, and now that’s backfired since her surgical sites are infected and she has several abscesses.
Morgan takes the case to Andrews, he orders tests and surgery to fix it while Jordan and Asher bicker in the background about their different stances on body shaming and body positivity.
Imaging shows that Candace’s abscesses are very large, the Brazilian surgeon probably tried to inject too much fat. While in the MRI, Candace starts crashing and coughing blood. They explain to Candace that some of the fat that was injected made its way into her bloodstream and is clotting her lungs. Candance is now faced with a difficult choice: Either treat the life-threatening clots in her lungs with blood thinners and delay the abscess surgery, which would mean increased risk of necrosis of her gluteal muscles, or fix her buttocks and risk death due to the untreated clots in her lungs.
Side Note: I’m not sure I get it. Blood thinners for lipid clots in the lungs? I don’t think blood thinners do jack shit on lipid clots. It would work on blood clots, but this is not that. They’d have to give her lipid dissolving meds, if those even exist. But that’s just my ignorant logic here, I haven’t looked into this condition or how it’s actually treated. I may be wrong.
Candace urges the team to ignore the lung complications and fix the abscesses first. She already took a huge risk and travelled to another country to fix her butt, it’s more important to her than anything else. The surgical team strongly urges her to reconsider since her lung complications are life-threatening and need immediate attention, but she is asking the doctors not to judge her and respect her wishes. Which they reluctantly do.
The surgery on Candace doesn’t go without complications. Lipid clots travel through her blood vessels to her lung. Andrews saves the day by extracting a clot that made her crash on the table. “Got you, you little bastard,” he says triumphantly, but Candace crashes again. More clots in her heart. Tricky.
Candace makes it through the surgery, even though they had to remove multiple lipid clots from her heart and brain. Her gluteal abscesses have also been fixed, though they need to wait and see how she heals, but it’s looking good for now. All’s well that ends well, right?
Shaun vs. Lea
I’m standing on a stage of fear and self-doubt, it’s a hollow play, but they’ll clap anyway.
Arcade Fire’s ‘My Body Is A Cage’ plays over a completely disheartened, beaten down, wearied Shaun getting up from the couch after what looks like a pretty sleepless night he’s spent there. He’s avoiding Lea, avoiding sharing their bed with her, still recovering from that hefty impact of the meltdown the night before that undoubtedly knocked him sideways. He’s trying to come to terms with the death of Alma’s baby, the expired medication, the falling out with Lea and the fact that he’ll have to face a difficult day of aftermath at the hospital.
It’s still dark outside, obviously early, Lea is asleep next door. He takes the bus to work, tries to steel himself to face a hard day ahead. Everything sucks.
Side Note: Why the hell is Shaun sleeping on the couch in the first place? They have a perfectly good mattress in the spare room. He hates sleeping on the couch as per episode 4×18 “Forgive or Forget”. Is this his woe-is-me self-pitying way of punishing himself? Or a post meltdown effect of being too raw and off-kilter to actually use the mattress? Or just another continuity error?
Looks like not even the pancakes Shaun has for breakfast in the cafeteria offer much comfort, he listlessly chews on a piece by himself. Lea finds him there, joins him at the table. He isn’t happy, doesn’t want to face her. (Side Note: Thank you for picking that blue chequered button-down today, Shaun, it’s one of my favourites. You look good in it. Would’ve preferred dark blue slacks with it, but okay.)
She tells him, “I was surprised you were gone when I woke up, I’d hoped we could’ve talked before work.” Shaun doesn’t want to talk. So apparently they didn’t speak to each other at all the night before, after the meltdown. (Okay, fair, Shaun might have spent some time with Glassman initially after it happened, then probably just crashed on the couch, wanting to regulate and decompress. The next morning he fled, like he does.)
He dropped a hefty bomb on Lea when he said he couldn’t marry her. Lea makes it clear to him he can’t expect her to just accept that without talking about it. He’s stone-cold, tells her it wasn’t just the one incident he has a problem with. She lied to him about Montana, she falsified his scores, she refused to fix it afterwards. He can’t trust her, can’t marry her.
And then he bails. Again. I may or may not have uttered a reproachful, “Oh, Shaunie!” at the television right there and then.
The whole thing is clearly running rampant in Shaun’s head. He’s distracted, not paying attention to his patient case, zoning out when Alex asks him a question. Alex carefully inquires if Shaun wants to talk about what happened in the pharmacy. So it’s probably made the rounds. Shaun doesn’t see how talking about it will help. It wouldn’t change anything. Alex doesn’t know what to do with it. They continue working in silence. I suck in a heavy breath and let it out slowly. Oh, Shaun. You’re in such a bad place, aren’t you?
Lea, in the meantime, seeks out Aaron and begs him to help. “I’ve never seen him like this before.” She’s clearly out of her depth. Aaron’s advice is to give him some time. Yeah, okay, it’s Shaun. Isn’t it kinda obvious he’ll need time to figure this out? Then again, not talking to Lea at all is kind of a dick move, Shaun.
Interesting to note is that Aaron says he’s talked to Shaun after the meltdown, so when did this happen? Did he take Shaun somewhere after the pharmacy? Did they talk then? Did he have lunch with Shaun that we didn’t see? We’ll never know. At any rate, it sounds like Shaun didn’t even really talk much anyway because Glassman tells Lea, “He’s Shaun, what’s he gonna say?” Yeah, Glassy, what did he say? Inquiring minds want to know!
Aaron thinks there isn’t too much cause for worry, it’s all gonna sort itself out. Shaun just needs some time, he processes by retreating into medicine. Lea is frustrated and desperate, though. Shaun refuses to talk to her, he literally ran away from her. Aaron reluctantly agrees to talk to Shaun. I hope this goes well. It probably won’t.
Aaron finds Shaun in the break room where he’s trying to figure out the best way to approach Phil’s tib-fib realignment, but clearly he is not really with it. He’s lost in thought, distracted, probably caught up in the revolving door of Lea-Lea-Lea. Glassman tries to broach the issue, but Shaun immediately shuts him down. “I don’t want to talk about Lea.”
Aaron isn’t as easily dismissed, though. “Why?” he questions. Shaun really doesn’t wanna talk about it. He gathers all his stuff, brushes Aaron off with, “Dr. Park said women are shallow. She’s never dated anyone like me before.” No, but what the hell, Shaun? What does that have to do anything? You’ve really got some serious blinders on, boy.
And Aaron sees it too. “Lea might be flaky and impulsive, but my God, she’s not shallow!” He tries to get Shaun to see that she made a mistake, that Shaun should consider giving her a break. Shaun’s answer? “I have to go.” Aaron rests his jaw on his hand with a sigh.
Side Note: I liked the little detail of Shaun stimming with the pencil. So that begs the question again, where is the toy scalpel? Why does he need to rub a pencil when really he should be having his scalpel right there. I miss the scalpel. Please get Shaun the scalpel back. #TeamToyScalpel
If we wanted to dig a little deeper here, one could ask the question whether the scalpel is a tangible indication of a bigger struggle – one that has been a sticking point ever since season 4. We’ve seen a lot of Shaun denying his ASD in season 5, or rather denying that it can and sometimes does adversely affect the perception of him by others as a person and a doctor.
I’m certainly no expert on ASD, but I’ve been discussing this with a friend who’s on the spectrum, and we wonder if Shaun putting the scalpel in that wooden box and not keeping it around anymore is a sign of masking. Is he feeling like the scalpel is a sign of weakness, a symbol for needing a physical aid in order to function in a neurotypical world? Is he decommissioning it because he feels that sends of message of, “I don’t need this anymore, I’m strong and capable enough not to require such a physical crutch”?
Quoting my friend’s words: Shaun can’t express himself the way others do. And that sucks. Now we know Shaun is smart—above average smart and also mature. He’s in a relationship, he was a damn rock during Lea’s miscarriage. He’s professionally incredibly successful. Yet, when he opens his mouth… in his eyes, his ability to express himself just doesn’t measure up to the complexity of what goes on in his head. So he probably lives with the constant need to prove himself and not be infantilized. Not wanting to “need” the scalpel may be another aspect of that.
But anyway, back to the episode. Obviously, the whole thing with Lea is running circles in Shaun’s brain, and Monica’s remark about not wanting to settle for anything less than true love has instilled all the wrong ideas in Shaun’s head. He goes to Glassman with it, bluntly states, “Lea thinks I’m not good enough to be her husband.”
This elicits another wtf, Shaun? from me. Cause wtf, Shaun? Where is this coming from? (I mean, yeah, I know where this is coming from. The childhood rejection shit. It keeps throwing him sideways in all the worst ways.) Aaron seems to agree with me because he tells Shaun that’s ridiculous. (It is.) “No, it’s not ridiculous. She told me before that we could never be more than just friends because of my ASD.”
So now we’re getting to the real root of the problem, and I wanted to actually cheer, because yes! Fuck yes, Shaun, please talk about this. Also, Shaun, no. You’ve got it all wrong. Shaun’s subsequent self-doubting rant hurts in all the right ways in all the gut-punching places as he lists out all the reasons why he thinks he’s not good enough for Lea.
“She saw me save a patient from a collapsed building, which shouldn’t have made her realize anything, because she already knew I was a good doctor who could save patients.”
Wrong, Shaun. She heard you talking to Vera about how she makes you more and how much she means to you. She heard you being sweet and adorable and brilliant, and it made her realise that she’d been in love with you all along but refused to see it because she thought she wasn’t ready to be in a challenging relationship.
“And she wanted you to come back from Montana so she wouldn’t be burdened with me on her own.”
Wrong again, Shaun. She wanted Aaron to come back so that you could have the person back in your life who’s like a father to you, whom you’re relying on and whom you love and miss. She wanted to do a good thing for you. (Although, yes, there was of course also the factor of having a better support system for you from the one person who’s known you the longest and best.)
“And she changed my client satisfaction scores because she thinks I can’t succeed by myself.”
Well, maybe that one has a little more merit. That was part of it, of course, but it was more the fact that you were losing your footing over these scores, that they were driving you closer to autistic burnout, that she felt an overwhelming need to help you get out of that spiral.
“I don’t want to be married to someone who is just settling for me!”
And that… that is fair. And I can see how Shaun would infer that after talking to Monica, after having that idea orbiting the whole Lea conundrum in his head to finally coalesce into that one conclusion which, in a way, actually makes a certain kind of sense.
I’m glad that Glassman is now interjecting when he’s telling Shaun in no uncertain terms that, “Lea is not settling. You’re hardworking and honest and loyal and brilliant and she’s lucky to have you, and she damn well knows it!
“Shaun, sometimes when people love us, they wanna help. And they help at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons in the wrong way. But Lea loves you. She loves you.”
He’s just about to let that sink in, understand what Glassman is telling him, but of course his phone vibrates at the most inopportune moment because he’s needed somewhere. He rushes off to tend to whatever emergency it was that called him away.
As painful as it is to see Shaun having another almost-meltdown, it finally brings out what is somehow always there, just underneath the surface. I’m still gunning for Shaun to actually get to the point where he would want to see a therapist, because by god, that boy needs someone with professional skills and knowledge to dig through all that childhood trauma and give him some tools to learn how to come to terms with it.
Can we have that? Please? I know it’s a little cliché and tropey, but come on. An episode with Shaun talking to a therapist with flashbacks to his childhood would be epic. I’d watch the hell out of that.
Skip to the next day, Shaun’s apparently done some soul searching (though we need to assume he and Lea still didn’t talk at home, which is… odd?), because he asks Glassman over lunch, “Do you really think Lea realized she was wrong about my ASD? Or were you just lying to cheer me up?” Glassman assures Shaun he wasn’t lying.
Shaun has memory from his childhood at the ready how he used to let Robin Johnson copy off his test because she told him how cute he was, but then another girl told Shaun that Robin would make fun of him behind his back. So who of them was lying?
“Shaun, you’re not a kid anymore,” Glassman tells him. “But I’m still… weird.” Glassy assures Shaun that everyone feels weird or inadequate at some point, that Shaun doesn’t have the monopoly on feeling like he doesn’t belong. Shaun isn’t sure what to make of that. “That… doesn’t help at all.”
Also: Repeated reminder of how much I love the Highmore/Schiff dynamic. Much love for all the Shaun & Glassy scenes. We sure got a lot of them this episode. I loved every one of them. [makes heart shape fingers]
Remember how Alex talked to Phil about that you first need to love yourself before you can truly accept being loved by others? Shaun has a moment of clarity when he leaves the hospital, looking up at his giant “Some doctors are different” billboard outside the ER bay. He is different. But maybe that’s not all bad.
When Shaun gets home, Lea is cooking dinner, spaghetti by the looks of it. It’s kinda cute how he first peeks in through the door before he enters, like, ‘Is she here? Can I come in safely? What’s her mood?’ He knows their relationship is on thin ice, that they’re both walking on eggshells, and he clearly has things on his mind.
Holding on to the straps of his backpack like maybe it’s a safety harness to offer support, he tentatively stands across from the kitchen island, trying to gauge Lea’s state of mind. Is this the right time to tell her? “I don’t want to cancel our wedding,” he says. He definitely has her full attention now.
He explains that they’re good for each other, that they love each other. He forgives her for lying and messing with his scores. She was just trying to help him. And this is the moment where they should have taken this to a more relaxed setting, maybe at the table or the couch, and then I think this conversation would have gone a lot differently. But I digress.
Shaun has all these things on his mind, wants to get some crucial aspects clarified and validated, now that he’s offered the olive branch to kit back together what had been broken. He asks Lea if she went to Montana to ask Glassman to come back so that she didn’t have to take care of him all on her own.
Lea tries to convey to him why she did, that it wasn’t about that, that she wanted Glassy to come back because he and Shaun care about each other. He’s still not convinced. “I don’t need you to take care of me.” Which Lea knows. She just wants to help him because she loves him and wants to support him.
And then things start to get into dangerous territory, because Shaun’s mind is still hung up on all these confusing things that run circles of doubt in his mind, that are still there despite all the positive encouragement from Glassman and Park and the people he’s talked to. He needs to know from Lea herself because this is important. “Do you believe I’m not good enough for you?”
Lea is confused because where is this coming from? “You’re not good enough? What are you even talking about?”
Shaun goes back there, back to that terrible moment two years ago on the patio when Lea told him she didn’t want to be with him because he had autism, wants to understand how it could be that she once thought he wasn’t good enough and now he is.
“Is that what you think?” she asks, incredulous. “It’s what you said,” Shaun explains. Well, yeah, but that was two years ago, Shaun. Lea has the same reaction. “Are you seriously telling me that you don’t see a difference in how I feel about you? That I haven’t grown at all, that our relationship hasn’t grown?!”
Oh shit, Shaun really stepped in it. It’s hard to fathom that he seems to think she would be so narrow-minded, that he’s implying she has just been with him for over two years out of a sense of obligation and pity. Is he gonna hold every mistake she makes against her forever?
He reiterates that that’s not what he meant, that he’s forgiving her. But Lea is done. She’s done apologising for helping him and caring about him and whatever else he seems to think she’s doing wrong. She’s upset and jumping to conclusions, and we’re definitely in derailing territory now.
“What you’re saying is that I’m not good enough for you,” she throws at him. Shaun desperately tries to backpedal. “That’s actually not true.” No, it isn’t, but Lea is too far gone now to want to listen, want to make an effort to take a step back and talk it out.
Ever since the pharmacy meltdown, everything’s been a disaster, and now Shaun is standing there, doubting her ability to grow and change and feel true love for him. That’s not the right foundation for a marriage, and she tells him to his face that maybe he was right after all—they shouldn’t get married. “And you know what, maybe we shouldn’t even be living together.” She’s in full huffish mode now, there’s no turning back. “So, I’m gonna get out of your way. Totally. And you can sleep in your own bed tonight, and first thing tomorrow, I’ll start looking for a new place to live.”
It’s the third time this episode I’m talking out loud at the TV screen, because I say, “Uh oh, Shaun, you done messed up.”
She grabs her bag and leaves. Shaun flinches as the apartment door slams into its lock behind her. As he stands dumbfounded and blindsided, we cut to Lea sitting in her car, crying in sorrow and possibly a pinch of regret at what she’s just done. Everything’s gone to shit, and everything between them seems to be shattered and broken.
Shaun’s day ends lonely, filled with sorrow, a grinding despair creeping in. The camera zooms in on him lying alone on the couch, trying to understand what just happened, his eyes filling with tears. Everything sucks.
Side Note: Did anyone else notice that the episode started and ended on the exact same shot – Shaun lying alone on the couch, being distraught, uprooted and kicked out of his equilibrium by things he didn’t expect? I think a lot of people hate seeing Shaun this miserable. Me, I drink that shit up. I’m all over the epic gut punches and stomach knots. Because I know they’ll do right by our boy eventually. And I’ll be there for that, too.
So here’s a question I have. Will Lea actually be moving out? At least for a while? Will she look for a new place and pack up her stuff and leave a dumbfounded and gut-kicked Shaun brooding alone in the empty apartment? Or will she crash with Jordan or other friends for a little bit while she and Shaun try to sort out their epic mess?
Also an interesting question: How will Glassman fit into all this? Surely, he’ll side with Shaun, will he judge Lea for her impulsive anti-Shaun move? Will he try to talk to her about it? If so, how antagonistic will that conversation be? Ooooh, I’m here for all of it. I can’t wait to see the next episode!
Shaun vs. Glassman
Okay, not so much a battle right now for these two, seems like we’re fairly okay in terms of Shaun’s abandonment issues regarding Glassman. Or maybe that’s just slipped further down the priority list, what with the whole Lea thing and the medication thing.
In conversation with Jorg, it came up that the way Glassman went about reassuring Shaun in the break room may not have done Lea any favours. Jorg said Glassman had one job, and that was to calm Shaun down and try to give him a better perspective on the situation with Lea. And what did he do? He instilled the idea in Shaun that Lea is flaky and impulsive, which didn’t really help Shaun much at all.
On the other hand, it was heart-warming to see Glassman taking a stand for Lea, see him strongly defending her and urging Shaun to consider forgiving her for her mistake. I think a lot of us were really waiting or hoping for that.
Honourable mention that I got a little kick out of Glassman asking Shaun whether he wanted to go out and have a drink tonight. Can they? Please? I want Shaun and Glassy to have drinks together. Not necessarily the kind that make Shaun end up stupor-drunk, sleeping in bathtubs. Although maybe… Hold my beer.
Random observation: I loved this little exchange between Shaun and Glassman.
GLASSMAN Have I ever lied before? SHAUN Oh. Yes.
Lim vs. Morrison
Like Shaun, Lim hasn’t slept much at all by the looks of it after the night they’ve had with the death of Alma’s baby and the knowledge that Salen’s policies have endangered lives and now ended one. She tries unsuccessfully to release some of her anger by running. Grey skies and rain paint as gloomy a picture as the day ahead will be. Alma lies alone in her hospital bed, the knowledge sinking in that her daughter’s life ended before it ever began. Everything sucks.
At the hospital, Salen gives what seems on the surface like a surprisingly moving and empathetic speech to Glassman, Lim, Shaun and Jordan. “I am so sorry for what you all must be going through.” Is she genuinely compassionate, or is this just part of her spiel? Lim and Glassman exchange knowing looks. Yeah, they’re not buying it. Shaun is stony-faced and kinda out of it. Jordan seems composed, thanks Salen for being considerate.
After the meeting, Glassman and Lim ride in the elevator together. Glassman sees that Lim is furious. He gets it, but he advises her to sit on her hands. He knows Salen is a snake and has the upper hand. Nope, Lim won’t have it. “I’m taking her down.” (Gotta love the ominous take on the title theme music they chose for this episode!)
Lim goes to Lea to elicit help in her dethroning plans of Salen, asks her to provide all the contractual documents related to Ethicure’s takeover. Lea recommends to actually print them out rather than e-mail them as to not having an electronic trail to trace. See, Lea is a smart girl. And she knows what’s up.
The speech that Salen gives Alma at her bedside is intriguing in its own right. Salen tells Alma how deeply sorry and distraught she is that her baby died, she goes as far as admitting it was a hospital mistake, well aware that it might put the hospital at risk of a wide open lawsuit. She praises Lim and Shaun for having been “truly heroic” in trying to save her baby’s life. She blames Dr. Fremes, the pharmacist, for the error that led to the tragic circumstances. She also makes sure to name Shaun as the person administering the expired medication. Coincidence? I think not.
So yeah, Fremes is now Salen’s fall guy. And Salen lies to Alma about him already having resigned. Which he had not. JFC, Salen. But okay. You’re smart. You know where this is going. You know how to manipulate people to do your bidding. Ugh.
She also offers an immediate payment of $200k to Alma for her pain and suffering. Is it just me, or is she actually lowballing Alma? And then she puts a tablet in Alma’s hands to sign what she calls a “short consent form so that the accounting department can issue the payment.” Likely there are clauses in the fine print that outline waiving certain rights to legal claims or something. I actually said out loud while watching, “Read the damn thing, Alma!” She didn’t. She just signed it. Probably a mistake. And we gotta hand it to Salen, she is such a master manipulator.
And master-manipulating she does. Next, she has a meeting the Fremes to coerce him into resigning. I daresay she’s even gaslighting him a little bit. Salen, Salen, Salen. I hope this bites you in the arse. In a recent interview, Freddie Highmore talked about how he loves that Salen isn’t your black and white evil baddie. He called her an “intriguing villainous person”, that she genuinely believes she is doing good in some way. She does care about the hospital, she does care about people.
Now, we know many fans really hate her. And I get that initial reaction. We want our beloved characters to be happy, to not have to face hardships. Personally, I’m absolutely down with the Salen storyline, and I’m loving how “Rebellion” walked that fine tight-rope walk of her showing compassion but at the same time wanting to 100% protect her assets. I’m invested in this fight. Bring it on, I’m here for it!
So anyway, Salen pressures Fremes into signing a severance package to take and leave, keep his mouth shut. He is the one she tells to his face that he killed a baby. I mean, yo, that’s harsh. Cause probably Salen’s policies and negligence is what ultimately caused the medication error.
Later that day, Lea calls Lim down to the server room and hands her a whole box with folders full of Ethicure documents. Lim will need some time to sort through all that! Let’s hope she digs something up that’s useful.
At home in her apartment, Lim fights her way through all the paperwork. It’s tiring and tedious. But eventually she comes across something that may actually be helpful. She goes to Fremes with it, hopes he can back her up. There’s a loophole that St. Bonaventure hasn’t yet officially been changed from non-profit to for-profit status, and that also means the deal of purchasing the hospital isn’t officially fully closed.
The way that Lim figures this will help them is that a non-profit hospital has to operate in the interest of the community, and the Attorney General will have to see that killing babies is definitely not in the interest of the community.
However, Lim needs Fremes’ to provide proof, because without Fremes, she has nothing. But he signed a non-disclosure agreement and took the severance payment. He has a wife and two kids, he doesn’t want to do it. She works on him a bit, tries to pander to his honour as a good person and proud father figure. He eventually reluctantly agrees.
Lim goes to Glassman to pass on the good news. “I did it. Found exactly what we need to get rid of her.” Glassman looks surprised. “You found 52 million dollars?” No. She found a loophole. She explains the AG situation.
Glassman isn’t so convinced. It’s a pretty thin argument and it solely hinges on Fremes standing up against Salen. “Look, I agree with you that Salen should not be running a hospital. But there isn’t an AG in America who would take this on.” Lim nods. “Unless it comes from you.” But no, Glassman doesn’t wanna go there, so Lim says, “Fine. We’ll go in on our own.”
Turns out they won’t, because Fremes changes his mind. Sounds like his wife had concerns and now he doesn’t want the risk of this affecting his family and his ability to get another job. Lim doesn’t manage to bring him around, so now it’s just her against Salen.
Lim goes to the Attorney General to talk about the case, and the AG tells her that without Fremes and actual evidence, Lim basically doesn’t have a leg to stand on. “I have a dead baby, and that is Salen Morrison’s fault. And I guarantee this is gonna happen again and again if you don’t step in and do what only you can do to stop it.” The AG wants some time to think about it. I guess that’s a no.
Later that night, Lim gets a call from the AG while she’s out on a run, and it’s indeed a no. Dammit. She makes her way to the hospital and runs into Salen on the way in. “How was your meeting?” Salen inquires in her sugar-sweet fake innocent tone. She knows Lim met with the AG (is she tracking Lim’s phone?). And of course Salen now goes on the offensive because she can’t stand not having the upper hand. “You went behind my back and tried to destroy it all. I’m never gonna forget it.” She walks away, leaving Lim seething.
Asher vs. Jordan
Bickering City, these two. Both of them are assigned to Candace’s case with Morgan, and there’s the old judgement issues again. Jordan has always been an advocate for acceptance of natural beauty. She doesn’t understand why someone would go the lengths of getting their body surgically altered for the sake of a socially promoted beauty ideal. Asher thinks she is being a hypocrite because she spends oodles of time and money on getting her hair done. They bicker about it while Morgan and Andrews roll their eyes.
The bickering continues while they look at their patient’s MRI. Morgan is the one who poses the question if this is about both their strong beliefs, or if it’s really more about just the fact that they enjoy arguing with each other.
Fun fact: Asher never dates guys who drive a sports car, can’t dance or don’t like the Golden Girls. (I secretly hope this is a tribute to Betty White passing away, but likely not since this would have been written and shot when she was still alive and kicking…) Anyway, Asher, you ma dude, cause he be like, “I’m not gonna date a total moron.”
When prepping for surgery, Jordan asks Ashes if he thinks Morgan is right, that they constantly argue because they like it. It gets antagonistic real fast when Jordan tells Asher he obviously didn’t grow up with a lot of strong women in his life. Which indirectly insults his mother, and, uh oh, that’s not good. Andrews has to butt in and put a stop to what would probably have become an ugly argument.
After their surgical success, Asher and Jordan go out to celebrate over cocktails. Whatever Asher is having, it looks awesome and I want it right now. Jordan is still thinking about their bickering at work. “The way we fight all the time at work, that’s how it is with me and my oldest brother. He drives me insane, but I love him.” Asher gives her the sweetest, most loving smile. Yep, that’s what they are. Bickering siblings who love each other underneath it all. Brother and sister vibes all the way.
Ye Olde Fandom Woes
Team Lea vs. Team Shaun
I’m not actually following much of the overall general fandom discussions right now. Mostly to avoid spoilers, knowing that some material from 5×09 has already been released. Also because some of the discussions tend to leave me feeling frustrated and dispirited because this fandom isn’t the most respectful or compassionate. But I hear people are taking sides now – Team Lea or Team Shaun.
I mean… is that really necessary? Why does it always have to be antagonistic among the fans, why does everything have to be a competition of who is more justified to act a certain way or more deserving to not be hurt? Sure, we all love these characters. We root for them and want to see things being done right by them. But they’re supposed to reflect three-dimensional human beings, people that feel real and human. We all make mistakes. Why are these characters not allowed to?
Have you heard of the term Mary Sue? If you haven’t, a Mary Sue is a character who is perfect, who cannot go wrong, who will always do everything right and have no flaws or weaknesses at all. Do we really want all the TGD characters or even just Shaun and Lea to be Mary Sues? I can say with a hundred percent certainty that, no, I don’t want that.
This show is supposed to promote diversity and understanding. I recommend that you watch the latest interviews with Freddie Highmore and Hill Harper (1–2–3–4–5–6), they speak to that, and both are super proud to be working on a show that seeks to encourage empathy and instil hope. I’m pretty sure the show doesn’t want to promote fans being at each other’s throats because they root for team this or team that.
I will admit this episode had problematic elements, particularly the ending with Lea’s rather drastic and out of the blue explosion in Shaun’s face. But you guys, look at it this way: Things have to get worse to get better. Both Shaun and Lea have made mistakes, can we not make an effort to try and understand where both of them are coming from?
Yes, Shaun can come off as rude and insensitive sometimes. And he definitely may have come off as such when he questioned Lea about whether she had changed her mind about him and his ASD. But this is his ASD. It surprises me a little that some people apparently are so taken aback by that, that they even condemn Shaun for it. And to be frank, I’m having a hard time understanding the criticism of it.
He wanted validation from the woman he was about to marry how she felt about being in a relationship with a person who has a neurological condition that he’ll always live with, wanted her take on how and why she changed her mind from what she said two years ago. This was a huge thing to him, and still is. He almost took a baseball bat to her car over it.
Keep in mind that Shaun is all about verbalised, literal expression. Something said, to him, is something you commit to. It’s hard for him to understand that sometimes when people change their minds, it doesn’t mean they lied when they said something else in the past. So how come Lea is now feeling totally different from what she said two years ago? He wanted a verbal explanation for it, particularly since he now knows she has been purposefully dishonest with him about Montana and the review scores. Is it unreasonable of him to ask for that? I don’t think so.
Can we expect for Shaun to phrase that as a polite, thoughtful and judicious inquiry? Honestly? No. And that’s his ASD, too. He blurts out things that are on his mind because he needs to know the answers. Sugar-coating is not something that is important to him, or that he is skilful at. Yes, that can come across as rude. Kinda puzzling to me how people don’t know this after four and a half seasons. He does it all the time. He’s done it with Lea before. A lot.
And that brings us to the topic of Lea and her somewhat surprising explosion in Shaun’s face. Because, honestly? That came totally out of the blue. I’m not saying it was unjustified, uncalled for, or out of character, but it was unexpected and felt a little too knee-jerk. It certainly had me go, What the holy fuck, Lea?!
But it’s not like I can’t see where it’s coming from. We know Lea can be impulsive. Glassman even said that in this very episode. She has insecurities, has self-esteem issues. So Shaun questioning her commitment to him pushed all the wrong buttons.
Here was Shaun, having basically cold-shouldered her for two whole days after dropping a huge no-marriage bomb on her, telling her he didn’t think she had the capacity to grow and develop, she had been stuck in the same place for two years and was only in this relationship with him out of a sense of duty and internalised pity.
Here was Shaun, revisiting things she said two years ago, implying she couldn’t change and mature, when Shaun himself was constantly driving the point home that he needed to work on changing and growing into a better doctor, a better boyfriend, a better person. It blew a fuse, and then she said things that seemed harsh, knee-jerk and came out of left field.
Both of them had their reasons and motivations for how this disaster of a conversation went down. Both of them approached it from an unfortunate, imprudent angle, succumbed to weaknesses instead of working on finding a common ground and an understanding for each other. Because that’s just where they stood at that moment, with everything that was going on.
This may be a sticky topic for some, and I will preface this with saying I don’t have personal experience, but I can only imagine that a neurodivergent/neurotypical relationship can sometimes take extra work from both partners in order to flourish.
And I think what we were seeing here was one of those situations. What was going on here was pure and unadulterated Shaun ASD no-filter brain. Lea could have put that through the Shaun filter and then parsed it and softened the blow. But she didn’t. I can only guess as to why. Perhaps in that moment she didn’t have the patience. Perhaps it was the fact that Shaun had been completely unapproachable in the past couple of days. Perhaps she was just overwhelmed by negative emotions that took away rational thinking.
Was she blowing it out of proportion when she not only basically broke up with him but also said she’d move out? In my opinion, yes. But sometimes we say and do irrational, stupid things when we’re overcome by emotions, when we’re hurt and feel treated unfairly. Jorg reminded me of one of Lea’s first lessons she taught Shaun: “Never make an important decision while you are angry, upset, high, or right before or after having sex.” Well, Lea…
If I’m being honest, I think this scene wasn’t the best writing. It felt too forced, like they needed to shoehorn more punchy conflict into the episode in a way that didn’t feel logical or organic. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have gone there, shouldn’t have had Lea get to a point where she was putting the brakes on their relationship. But the execution of it was lacking – her going from naught to sixty in the space of five seconds over a conversation across the kitchen counter.
What, in my opinion, would have served this situation better was for them to actually sit down and talk, have an honest conversation about the whole thing, the way they should have if Shaun hadn’t totally sidelined her these past few days. They could have still arrived at the same spot, Shaun bringing up all these things and Lea getting upset over his hypocrisy, but it would have felt less forced and drama-scriptwritey.
What hurts a little bit here is that Lea used to be better at this. Remember that scene in 4×14 “Gender Reveal” when Shaun tells Lea he doesn’t care about the baby’s gender? She put that through the Shaun filter, paused a moment and then patiently explained to him why she would like to share the moment with him. He understood that and it ended up being a super cute Shea moment. That was Lea putting in the extra work to get them both to the same understanding. She could have just as easily been peeved by the fact that he didn’t care about the gender and walked off and pouted that he was being a cold-hearted twerp.
That said, we’re now seeing rock bottom for Shaun and Lea. But we’re also finally seeing them address a lot of elephants that have been crowding up rooms in an epic way. Shaun’s recent constant denial of his ASD having nothing to do with anything… that needs to be addressed. Shaun’s seemingly ever-present fear of rejection because of his ASD, that also needs to be addressed. Hopefully some of the abandonment issues with Glassman will also see some resolution down the road.
In order to have a healthy, flourishing and functioning marriage, Shaun and Lea need to sort out all of these things and clear them out of the way. They need to have a mutual understanding that their relationship is coming from a place of faith and trust and love, that they are committed to each other because of who both of them are – flaws and mistakes and everything.
Have you ever actually considered that this is Shaun’s first and so far only long-term romantic relationship he’s had in his life? Carly showed him the ropes, but those were baby steps. What he has with Lea is a wholly different animal. And he’s bound to take missteps along the way.
We don’t know much about Lea’s first marriage beyond it not having ended well. She’s probably got a bit more experience in this arena, but like Shaun said, she’s also never been in a committed relationship with a neurodivergent partner. They both have a lot to learn. Can we not cut them both some slack and trust in their love making them find back to each other? Because I’d really like to do that.
And mark my words, season 5 will reward us down the line with a high note of Shaun and Lea getting happily married with all their friends and family by their side. It’ll be sweet and satisfying and we’ll all love it. Let’s enjoy the journey there. Together.
Fans vs. Writers
At the peril of stating the obvious, but what I think some people tend to forget is that the show does not solely consist of the Shea pairing. While it has become the primary reason for some to watch the show, that’s not how the writers approach writing and outlining episodes, so there has to be some expectation management here.
After some 80 episodes, I would think it should be fairly obvious what patterns and ideas the show is built on. But maybe not…? Because here’s the thing. The main pivot point of the show has always been Shaun and his professional as well as personal journey. This journey includes his relationship with Lea, but it’s a secondary aspect of it. If the writers decided tomorrow to break Shea up for good, the show would go on, depicting Shaun’s journey how to come to terms with another tragic event in his life.
Please remember that The Good Doctor is a medical drama. The name already implies that there will be drama, and there is a certain structure to how procedural dramas are being conceived and written. Whether that includes characters like Salen who seem to be universally loathed, or a wrench being thrown in the main character’s love life, those are all dramatic elements that have been inserted with the purpose of telling interesting, compelling stories on a weekly basis. Stories that people come back for to learn how they will get resolved.
If The Good Doctor didn’t include these dramatic elements, the show would have much lower ratings, and it would not have run for as long as it has. The drama is keeping the show on the air, basically. If those elements were completely removed, it would make it a completely different show. One that not as many people would watch. So can we not just embrace them for what they are and see where they take us, even if we may not necessarily like them?
TeeJay vs. Spoilers
If you’re one of the people reading this whom I have recently blocked on Twitter, I’m very sorry. I don’t do these things lightly, but I give my best to completely avoid anything that could be a spoiler for upcoming episodes. It significantly interferes with my enjoyment of new episodes if I already know or have an idea about what’s going to happen. This is unfortunately not something I can control or change because it’s just this thing that happens in my brain.
Usually just staying away from my Twitter timeline, hashtag tracking and accounts that tweet about the show works for me, but there have been instances recently where I’ve had Twitter notifications from accounts interacting with me who were using photos from upcoming episodes as their profile pictures. The only way for me to prevent inadvertently seeing such profile photos is by blocking that account.
I very much hate doing it, because it’s already pretty lonely having to stay away from fandom interactions while the show airs, and so please know that I have nothing against you personally. I wish I didn’t have to do it. I wish people would stop using spoilers in their profile photos or online handles. That sort of thing used to be common courtesy and fandom etiquette where I come from, but perhaps it no longer is on social media these days.
I’m honestly somewhat puzzled and disappointed that my personal choice to protect my own interests has now led to big fandom accounts ceasing their support of me and my content. That’s a pretty sad development and certainly not in the interest of what a supportive and diverse fandom should be about. But obviously I can’t control other people’s actions. I can only control my own environment.
I love talking to fans, I love sharing my views and thoughts with others, and I love getting feedback on my fanworks. It sucks a great deal that my own (admittedly narrow) spoiler avoidance policy gets in the way of that, but I care very much about getting as much enjoyment out of watching the show as I possibly can. If you wish to contact me outside of Twitter, I’m happy to seek dialogue on this, so feel free to leave me a comment below or get in touch via other means that are outlined on my About page.
State of the Shea
Please check out Kelli Lawrence’s entry on her State of the Shea blog where she gives us her also very interesting take on Rebellion.
Will be added later, stay tuned.