Hm. I wish I could utter a ‘yippee’ about this episode. I didn’t quite hate it as much as Crazytown, but it is coming in a close second as imho weakest episode of season 5 so far. I’ll refrain from going all meme-fest on this one, though. Don’t expect any gushing, either.
Written by David Hoselton & Adam Scott Weissman
Directed by Dinh Thai
Original airdate Mar 7, 2022
Patient #1 is Joe Newburg, initially seen in the ER by Reznick and Park. He dislocated his shoulder and broke his clavicle when he tried to help his son Cody into his wheelchair. Cody has Kabuki syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental genetic disorder that, among other things, is characterised by mild to moderate intellectual disability, congenital heart defects and skeletal anomalies. Cody and Joe are a team, Joe is Cody’s sole caretaker after his wife passed away.
Joe isn’t feeling much pain from the injury, which has Park mildly worried. It might be that there’s nerve damage. While Joe is having further tests, Morgan sutures the wound on Cody’s arm. She reassures Cody that they’ve got their best doctors working on his dad. Cody is worried that his dad’s injuries will impair his ability to look after him, but Morgan is hopeful.
During surgery on Joe they find out that his nerve signalling in his arm is disrupted, which is why he doesn’t feel any pain in his shoulder. They remove the bone splinter that was in the way, but there’s a bigger problem: Joe’s arm will be permanently paralysed due to an ossified ligament that’s compressing the spinal cord. That’s not what they hoped to find.
Theoretically, they can try to remove the ossified ligament from the cervical cord, but there’s a high risk that it will paralyse Joe’s limbs. This worries Joe, because he needs the use of both his arms to take care of Cody so that he doesn’t end up in a care facility—it would break both their hearts. Joe wants the surgery to fix his right arm, even though both Reznick and Park advise against it because of the high risk of permanent paralysis.
The surgery doesn’t go very well. The ligament has eroded and is fused to the spinal cord itself. Cody gets upset because the surgery is taking longer than expected. He wants to see his dad, and goes into a panic attack when Morgan tells him he can’t. She tries her best to calm him down but Cody works himself up and crashes. He needs to be rushed to surgery because of a ruptured aortic aneurism that was an aftereffect of his childhood heart surgery.
It’s bad news all around because Joe comes out of the surgery a paraplegic. Cody is in the ICU, recovering from his aneurism surgery. Joe tries to break the news to Cody that he’ll have to stay in a care facility because Joe can no longer take care of him. While he does so, Cody has a spell of vision issues, which brings Morgan to suspect there may be something else is going on.
They put Cody in an MRI scanner, and it turns out Cody actually has a tumour in his pancreas. It’s been causing his low blood sugar, chronic fatigue and muscle weakness. If they remove it, he might actually be able to walk. No one really looked at these symptoms before because his previous doctors tied them to his Kabuki syndrome. Morgan saw beyond that, and now Cody might have a chance at a higher functioning life.
Joe is reluctant at first, he’s afraid there will be more complications and Cody won’t come out of it for the better. “If this works,” Morgan says, “you can make it together. As a team.”
Side Note: The screen of Cody’s MRI scan reads Dakota Newburg. So is Cody short for Dakota? Is Cody not actually spelled Cody but Koty? I have questions.
The surgery to remove Cody’s tumour is a success (which is medical BS because they wouldn’t perform two major surgeries on him in within 24 hours if the second one is not life-threatening). Coming out of anaesthesia, his blood glucose is perfect, and he is ready to try to walk. And walk, he does. Now they can be the best team ever again, with roles reversed. It’s a beautiful thing, even though it came with major drawbacks.
Patient #2 is Nelly Dunn. She was in a car accident five years ago and now has a permanent tracheostoma and can’t speak except with the help of an electrolarynx device she has to hold to her throat that makes her sound like a robot.
Side Note: Okay, I think I need to call medical bullshit again. It doesn’t really make sense for Nelly use to an electrolarynx. Since we know she still has a functioning voice box, they could have given her a tracheostoma with a special speaking valve. Patients with permanent trachs can practice speaking with it with their own voice. Sure, there could be some kind of underlying problem here as to why that didn’t work for Nelly, but smells of creative license to me.
Nelly is at St. Bonaventure for a trachea transplant so that she can have her voice back. However, Shaun finds that one of her carotid arteries appears to be obstructed and advises to get that checked out because it could interfere with the transplant. Shaun isn’t happy when Andrews assures Nelly that it’s probably not going go to be a big reason for concern.
Scans reveal that Nelly’s left external carotid artery is indeed stenotic. Shaun concludes they can’t do the surgery because it would have a high likelihood of the transplant failing and Nelly not surviving this or other complications. Andrews doesn’t seem to agree. The surgery just got more complicated, but not impossible. Shaun immediately tenses. He’s convinced the surgery will kill Nelly. He can’t, in good conscience, support that it goes ahead.
Nelly feels very strongly about going through with the transplant. She wants her voice back. She and her sister used to be famous pop stars—until she had the car accident that had Nelly lose her voice. She wants to be able to sing again.
They get Nelly started on immunosuppressive therapy in preparation of the transplant. Nelly’s sister Lexi comes to visit and agrees with Shaun, she also thinks it’s reckless for Nelly to risk her life just to regain her voice. Turns out that Lexi was the one driving the car when they crashed it, but Nelly wasn’t wearing a seat belt, even though Lexi had urged her to.
The sisters are at odds with each other, their conversations are laced with passive-aggressiveness and animosity. Nelly is the Queen of Snark, and Lexi tries to keep up. On the surface they seem to hate each other and constantly fight, but perhaps there’s more underneath…
Andrews, Jordan and Shaun practice the surgery on a dummy, and Shaun gets all contrary about it. They’ve already failed eight times, he thinks the surgery is impossible. Andrews insists that they’re practicing to make sure they’re as prepared as they can be. Shaun frustratedly throws down the surgical instruments and walks away from the dummy. He’s upset, he’s frustrated, no one is listening to him.
Andrews looks over to him. “This is an innovative surgery, Shaun. The exact kind of case that usually makes you very excited. Instead, it’s made you very contrary.” Jordan interjects that she thinks it may have to do with Lea currently crashing on Jordan’s couch. Shaun is a hundred percent in denial. “This isn’t about Lea, okay? This is about a bad surgery.”
Andrews talks about personal dynamics impacting people’s decisions, and then Shaun gets bold and asks if Andrews dating Salen is impacting his decisions. Jordan tries to prevent the worst by doling out a well-intentioned kick in the shin to Shaun, but as usual, he is oblivious. “Why did you just kick me?” And then Andrews gets a chance to gloat, because the ninth time is the charm and the perfusion on the dummy actually works. Shaun isn’t happy. About any of this.
Jordan and Shaun approach Lexi in the hospital waiting area. They talk about what it’s like to lose someone, to miss someone who you thought you lost because they are not the same person anymore. What resonates with Shaun is when Jordan says to Lexi, “You should tell her how you feel, and trust her to tell you the truth about how she feels.” Should Shaun tell Lea how he feels? Would she tell him the truth in return? Both Jordan and Shaun then get a page that Nelly is crashing.
Nelly has a bad reaction to the immunosuppressants. Shaun thinks this should be reason enough to call off the surgery, but Andrews says he’ll still do it if Nelly wants it.
Jordan and Shaun try to figure out how to still make the surgery happen. Shaun automatically rejects every idea that Jordan brings to the table. Emotional leakage leads to contrary Shaun, indeed. It’s not Shaun but Jordan who has the medical epiphany this time around, something about… bone marrow?
She hurries off while Lim and Shaun look on. And Shaun is… uncharacteristically clueless. “That was odd,” he remarks. Lim explains that she’s pretty sure Jordan just had an idea and Shaun better go with her. Shaun then idiotically proclaims, “I have to go!” and runs after Jordan.
Dafuq, guys, what are you doing?! This made Shaun look like a totally dense dum-dum. Emotional leakage or not, but that can’t make Shaun lose every ounce of intellect and sense of situational comprehension. Honestly, I feel like you’re insulting the man by making him appear so slow-witted. Where did all the learning and growing from the past four years go? I feel like we’re looking at early season 1 Shaun again. I’m getting more fed up with this episode by the minute.
Anyway, Jordan takes the bone marrow idea to Andrews, who seems to approve. Shaun is still not in favour, but Andrews is definitely his boss, and the boss wins. Andrews seems to be happy with that, as is Nelly. Lexi joins them just as they’re explaining the new approach to Nelly, and the sisters share a loving moment, realising they miss each other more than they care to admit. They want to make music again—together.
So then on to the surgery we go. Everything seems to go well—until it doesn’t. Nelly has a bleeder from her artery, her blood pressure drops rapidly. Andrews starts performing CPR while Shaun launches into a pretty nasty but not unexpected told-you-so tirade. Andrews keeps working on reviving Nelly past the point where there’s any hope, which is warily being witnessed by Glassman and Salen from the gallery.
Eventually, Andrews gives up. It’s futile, Nelly can’t be saved anymore. Another life lost, and innovation didn’t matter. Everyone stands in despaired silence with only the flatline beep penetrating it. But then, suddenly, there’s a rhythmic blip-blip-blip on the monitors. Nelly’s heart is beating again. The bleeding has stopped, Nelly seems to be doing fine.
When Nelly awakes from the surgery, Andrews tells her she had a bleed that most patients would have died from, but her incredible clotting factors saved her life. They encourage Nelly to try to speak without the electrolarynx. She sounds a little hoarse, but it’s beautiful when she says, “My name is Nelly.” Everyone but Shaun shares her happy smile, including Lexi by her side. When Nelly thanks them, Shaun walks away.
Shaun & Lea
Let me start this off with an addendum to last week’s recap, because there was something I pondered only after I posted the recap and I didn’t want to go back and add it later.
Remember that scene in the hospital hallway with Lea and Glassman, when Lea asks Glassman to talk to Shaun, and Glassman says Shaun’s way of coping is to retreat into medicine? It’s not that Glassman is wrong, but it’s interesting that in this case, it didn’t actually work for Shaun at all.
Most of what we saw in Rebellion when Shaun was actually “doing medicine”, he was immensely distracted. When he and Park were looking at their patient’s MRI, Shaun was preoccupied, thinking about something else (likely his issues with Lea), not paying attention at all. When Glassman came to see him in the break room, he was supposed to be in the process of figuring out the tibia/fibia alignment surgery, but he sat rubbing a pencil, staring into space, clearly not with it. During the actual surgery, he was zoning out, needing reminders from Lim to pay attention.
That’s not the Shaun we know when he “retreats into medicine”. Usually medicine is the one thing that centres him, that he excels at and pays full attention to. The fact that his mind was constantly drifting off and that not even the medicine could get him into a focused headspace says a lot.
Rebellion was also one of the few episodes where Shaun’s medical prowess offered no usefulness at all, or rather where he didn’t get to a place where he could make use of it. There were no epiphanies, no Mind Palace moments, nothing where Shaun could shine and stand out. Not that I’m saying Shaun needs to be exceptionally genius in every episode, but it was definitely an interesting fact to note, also underlining in how bad a place he really was.
Okay, but now on to the stuff at hand: Yippee Ki-Yay. We left off last time with Lea telling Shaun she was going to move out. Which she kinda did, but also not really. She turns up on Jordan’s doorstep with a suitcase to crash on her couch for a while.
Continuity question: I guess we need to assume this is the morning of the day after she walked out on Shaun, seeing how she’s wearing the same blouse. So where did Lea stay that first night? Did she get a hotel room? When did she go back to the apartment to pack a suitcase? Why didn’t she put on a new blouse when she packed the suitcase? This is confusing.
And here comes a much needed Jordan and Shaun scene, cause, come on, Shaun needs a little (not so) gentle encouragement to get his shit together and his head straight where Lea is concerned. First thing we learn, though, is that Lea likes huevos rancheros con salsa verde for breakfast. Lea, you mah girl, cause I can appreciate a hearty savoury breakfast. Screw chocolate chip pancakes. Give me all the eggs.
Jordan has some good advice for Shaun. “Stop being a relationship archaeologist, you’re digging up stuff that is irrelevant.” Shaun rejects that notion. He thinks it’s very relevant, because apparently Lea changing his client satisfaction scores means she can’t handle his ASD. Jordan seems to be getting through to Shaun. A little bit. “Shaun, you’re attributing an expired motive to her current actions.” Shaun asks how he can know it’s expired. Jordan’s answer is simple. “Because you trust her. And you love her for who she is—a flawed, messy and totally wonderful human being.”
This was raised in a conversation I’ve had with other fans, because should there be a question of whether Shaun is justified even challenging a statement of Lea’s from two years ago? I think there should, because I also think the answer is yes. Not that I can claim to know how Shaun’s mind works, but from what we’ve been shown of his character in the past, his autism works in a way that he operates mostly on verbal cues and statements.
Shaun sometimes has difficulty understanding how emotions come into play, how non-verbal actions or expressions can speak stronger than words. Cause for Shaun, it’s all words. Case in point, when Glassman talks about emotions having a tendency to leak everywhere, Shaun asking, “How do I know if that’s happening?”
I believe I already mentioned this in my last recap, but with Shaun’s strong reliance on verbal communication, he has every right to question something that Lea said two years ago. The reason this pushed Lea’s buttons so much was that she was going off of the (wrong) assumption that he should irrevocably know that she couldn’t possibly still be feeling that way.
Even though the both of them are often incredibly in tune, we can’t expect them to know everything about each other, can’t expect them to predict each other’s thought processes or behaviours. How much does Lea really know about autism beyond her own intuition and what she’s learned from Shaun and Glassman? How much does Shaun understand how Lea ticks, how she processes and expresses things, how she would likely react to certain cues and statements?
Neither of them come with a handbook, of course. Glassman’s experience is probably the closest we’ll ever get to having a handbook for Shaun. And I’m sorry for broken-recording the whole therapy aspect again, but I think both of them could really benefit from some professional help in this area to expand their toolset how to better navigate the challenges of a neurotypical/neurodivergent relationship. I honestly really hope that… No wait, I’ll get to that later. Back to the episode.
That night at Crib chez Allen, Jordan is all dressed up, ready to go meet her new date Sebastian. “First time I swiped right in… three months.” Lea comes back from a bachelorette run to pick up pizza and beer, getting ready for self-pity night on the couch. Jordan takes one look at her, and decides there needs to be some priority shifting. She texts Sebastian and says to Lea, “Gimme a beer.” While I can imagine how that conversation went, it’s a shame we didn’t get to be privy to any of it. That darn network procedural time constraint.
Over the course of episode, Shaun bears witness to Nelly and Lexi finding their way back to each other. What undoubtedly struck a chord was Jordan talking about how sharing your feelings can help you reconcile your differences and build bridges. After observing the sisters sharing their feelings and the resulting reconciliation, Shaun seeks out Lea in her office, imparts a poignant and pretty gut punching story from his childhood.
“In fourth grade, I always got picked on and beat up in the locker room before gym class.” Lea gets up from her chair, knows that there’s something profound here. She walks closer, giving Shaun her full attention as he goes on, “My gym teacher, Mr. Carl, tried to get the other kids to stop. That just made it worse. So he told me if I stopped coming to gym class, he’d give me a B anyway. So I stopped. I still got bullied. Just not in the locker room. All Mr. Carl did was make feel weak and useless.”
Lea can put two and two together. “The same way you felt when I changed your scores.”
Shaun looks at her for a long moment, then he repeats Jordan’s words verbatim. “You are a flawed, messy and totally wonderful human being. You’re definitely good enough for me.” Lea meets him the rest of the way, knows this is an important step on the way to reconciling and gluing things back together. “So are you, Shaun. I promise.” He tells her he trusts her, and she closes the gap and takes his hands.
But it’s not as easy as that, because at some point she knows he’ll feel worried and insecure again, or she will feel messy, and they will have more fights. Shaun pulls his hands out of hers because he doesn’t want to fight with Lea. Shaun is kinda cute when he says that if he feels insecure again, he’ll ring the cowbell. I’d glad they acknowledged the existence of the cowbell, but too little, too late.
Lea agrees. “I think we’re gonna need more than the cowbell. We’re gonna need a lot of hard work.” He looks down, takes her hands again. His voice has that quiet reverence to it when he says, “I like hard work.” I wanna yell, ‘Now kiss!’ They don’t.
There are many things I wanna say about this scene, but I’ll stick that in the Yippee Ki-Nay section. Cause while seeing them reconcile was, to a degree, heart-warming and sweet, it fell pretty flat to me. I’ll explain later why.
Shaun & Glassman
I didn’t touch much on this in last week’s recap, and maybe I should have. Maybe I was hoping we’d see some semblance of Shaun’s abandonment issues being addressed in Yippee Ki-Yay because Rebellion was too laden with other important things. Apparently my hopes were a little too high. Cause… nada. Shaun and Glassman seem to have gone back to normal. No talking about it, no more animosity or doubt, no addressing at all of “you are an awful Best Man and a terrible mentor – you said you would never abandon me, but that’s a lie!”
What the hell happened to that? Shaun had a huge meltdown over it (and some other things, too). So that’s just being swept under the rug now? Sure, maybe we’ll see it popping up down the road, but I have a feeling that won’t happen. Glassman is back, and that seems to have fixed everything. Hmph.
Back before 5×08 aired, I polled some fans on whether they thought Lea’s betrayal hurt Shaun more deeply than Glassman leaving, and the consensus was that it hurt him at least the same or maybe more. Well, looks like the show’s writers had other ideas, because it seems like they didn’t think it was that big a deal and was easily fixed by Glassman simply being back. Which, I dunno, seems incongruous, what with Shaun’s deeply-rooted-in-childhood and somehow ever-present rejection issues.
But okay. It is what it is. I don’t have to like it.
If you’ve read Kelli’s State of the Shea blog post about Rebellion, she also picked up on an interesting nuance that somehow flew right by me. In Rebellion, when Shaun was having his mini-meltdown in Glassman’s office and Glassman managed to calm him down, Shaun was extremely eager to listen to Glassman, Kelli called it “starving for guidance”. And when Shaun’s phone abruptly ended that conversation, Shaun was almost apologetic that he was being called away, because he wanted to talk to Glassman, wanted that advice and connection so badly.
At the time, I thought the phone interruption had been a cheap stunt to end the scene. Now when I look at it from this angle, it suddenly makes a whole lot of sense. And it gives even more depth to that scene. Sometimes it’s the subtleties that elevate things.
We got a few more Shaun & Glassy scenes in this episode, which was much welcomed. There’s the one where Shaun goes to seek Glassman’s advice about the Andrews situation, and of course the Lea situation bleeds into it, too. Shaun tells Glassman that, according to Andrews, Shaun is only anti transplant surgery because he’s upset about Lea. Aren’t you, though, Shaun?
Glassman seems to think so, too. “Well, you are upset. Emotions have a way of leaking everywhere sometimes.” Shaun wants to know how he can tell that that’s happening. Shaun, you’re cute. Don’t we all wish we had an emotion leakage detector… Glassman’s less than helpful answer? “You just have to focus on work, I guess.” That earns him a long, blank stare from Shaun. Not helpful, indeed.
Glassman’s lesson this time around is: Well, Shaun, you win some, you lose some, and the boss is always right. Still not what Shaun wanted to hear.
Small little thing, but I wonder why Glassman was watching the tracheal surgery on Nelly from the OR gallery. Was he merely interested in the surgery itself? Did he want to get away from his office, wanted a place to think and focus? Or did he want to watch Shaun in action, see how his surrogate son was faring with a situation he previously asked advice on?
At the end of the day, Glassman finds Shaun sitting in the locker room, hiding in amongst the lockers—apprehensive, stiff, tense. He’s clearly got something on his mind. I wonder why Glassman is there. Did Shaun text him to come? It’s a little too coincidental for a coincidence.
Glassman wonders why Shaun looks so beat down, seeing how he has patched things up with Lea (how does Glassman know this?), everything ended well, Nelly survived and has her voice back after the surgery. “It was a failure,” Shaun states, tears in his eyes now. “I knew it was a bad surgery, but everyone wanted me to think I was wrong. But you were wrong, and so was Dr. Andrews, and it is Salen’s fault. She’s ruining everything.”
Okay, let’s take a moment here. How is this particular thing Salen’s fault? Did she push for the surgery? Did she make Andrews do it? Did she recruit Nelly as a high profile patient to get the surgery at St. Bonaventure so Ethicure could make big money off of a pop star? Shaun is drawing some wild conclusions here—or was there a previous scene to explain this that ended up on the cutting room floor? Or maybe Shaun is talking big picture, and I’m being too literal.
“Shaun, there are some things that are out of your control,” Glassman tries to assuage him. “This isn’t one of them,” Shaun says and walks away. Most of us probably thought, ‘Okay, he’s going to Lim to tell her he’ll join her Magnificent Seven. Go Shaun!’
Nope. He goes to Andrews’ office where the latter is celebrating the pop star surgery win together with Salen. Shaun stands there, hands folded, looking at Salen, ready for… what exactly?
“That surgery was bad medicine. Dr. Andrews used to be a good doctor, but you made him a bad one. I need to leave before you make me a bad doctor. I quit.”
Man, they really know how to pull all these unexpected killer rabbits out of wizard hats this season. Cause that was not expected! Yet, I doubt it’ll last long. Either someone will talk sense into Shaun, or Salen will be ousted and then Shaun will want his job back. We shall see how this plays out.
Side Note: Not five minutes after I had typed “killer rabbit” in my recap document, Facebook decided to show me this meme. Creepy. (For the uninitiated, this is a Monty Python reference.)
It’s nice that they’re picking up on the original theme of the show, though. Cause right from day 1, Shaun’s goal has always been to be a good doctor, hence the show’s title. Now Salen is getting in the way of it, and he can’t have that. It may be the single-most important ambition in his life, so he’s ready to pull the plug and try his luck elsewhere.
Perhaps this is also a testament to how confident Shaun has become. He would never have done this before season 3 or 4. Now he’s self-assured enough to consider he could be getting a job elsewhere. I mean… Go Shaun! It’s heart-warming to see that.
Lim vs. Morrison
Salen is now engaged in massive power play, the bring-it-on type. She divested Lim from her Chief of Surgery position and put Andrews in that seat. What a surprise! (Not.) That’s a real Salen move. And Andrews is probably right where he hoped he’d be when he started dating her. Also kind of a dick move that Lim has to hear it from Andrews that she got demoted back to regular old Attending.
When Lim moves into Andrews’ old Attending office, Salen happens to drop by. She tells Lim not to bother unpacking. She isn’t exactly fired, but “expected to be moving on”. She happens to know Dr. Novick at San Jose General is looking for a new Head of Trauma. And Salen has already organised Lim an interview there.
“That’s one way to deal with dissent,” Lim comments. Salen isn’t flustered. “I’m sorry you couldn’t get on board with my approach. We coulda crushed it.” Ugh.
It’s hear-warming that Lim’s surgical team has her back. Nurse Fletch has quit her job as a show of support for Lim and a show of protest against Salen. Park and the anaesthesiologist are considering to follow suit.
Audrey does go to that job interview with Dr. Dustin Novick over at San Jose General. It goes well. Audrey is smart and charming and definitely qualified. Novick asks why the change of scenery? It has to be hard to leave home after so many years. Audrey has mixed feelings, for sure. “St. Bons made me the doctor I am, but I don’t know if it’s home anymore.” Novick is impressed and would like to have her to oversee one of the largest trauma centres in the Bay Area. The opportunity sure sounds tempting.
Glassman swings by Lim’s office when she’s back. Novick called him to ask if he could poach Audrey. “Six months ago, I would have been pissed,” he tells her. She responds dryly, “Six months ago, this was a great place to work.”
She asks Glassman whether she should stay or go. He advises her to get out while she still can. But Audrey comes to the realisation that this is her home, and she wants to fight for it. Glassman silently endorses it by putting a personal item from her moving boxed onto her desk. Who knows, maybe we’ll see him stand up for the hospital yet.
During surgery, Lim talks about the Magnificent Seven and offers up a clarion call to recruit for her ragtag group of freedom fighters willing to stand up to the bad guy (a.k.a. Salen). Nurse Fletch is in. The unnamed anaesthesiologist is in. Park is… surprisingly also in, even though he only has four months left in his residency and Salen will no doubt attempt to slaughter all of them when they go to war. Yippee Ki-Yay, fuckers.
Lim tries to also recruit both Jordan and Shaun. Jordan respectfully declines, she worked too hard to get into the residency program and doesn’t want to risk it. Lim respects that. Shaun also declines, but only because he’s having too many emotions and they may already be leaking and he can’t even tell. (Tell what? That didn’t make any sense to me at all. This whole scene was wacko. I hated it.)
Morgan and Park briefly talk about Park joining Lim’s posse. Park wants to live by the credo: People who kill babies shouldn’t run hospitals. Morgan still believes that, in the long run, St. Bonaventure under Ethicure rule will become a better place.
Lim also approaches Glassman while he’s watching the tracheal transplant surgery on Nelly from the gallery. She asks him if he’s thought about joining her rebellion, but he declines. “Aaron, please we need you. This hospital needs you.” He doesn’t seem to agree.
It doesn’t take too long for Glassman to change his mind, presumably triggered by Shaun’s latest job quitting stunt. Or rather Shaun’s downtrodden speech in the locker room since how would Glassman know about Shaun quitting his job by that point?
Glassman walks up to Audrey on the terrace outside the surgeon’s lounge. “I’m in,” he tells her. Lim has a wistful smile on her face. “Let’s run her bandit ass outta town.” The episode closes on the theme of The Magnificent Seven playing as Audrey and Aaron share a Yippee Ki-Yay look.
Or: The Epitome of Wasted Potential
I know that many fans loved the episode, apparently some have even said it was the best of the season so far. For me, Yippee Ki-Yay was an amalgamation of wasted potential. So much of it that I feel it’s the second weakest episode of the season yet after Crazytown. Sure, not every episode can be a high point, but this one was majorly disappointing in so many ways.
Missed Opportunity #1: The Shea Reconciliation
I was really excited after Rebellion ended to see what they would do with the Shaun & Lea situation. It had potential. I was hoping for some of these humongous elephants in rooms being addressed, at least in some small way. Yet, they gave us none of that.
Instead, what we got was a rushed Shea reconciliation in a less than intimate office setting by Shaun digging up a childhood story and a rather abrupt regurgitation of a Jordan line that suddenly made everything peachy again. Shaun and Lea have made up and are back together. Yippee yay.
Sure, Lea was talking about hard work ahead, so we don’t really know what that means and how much of that we’re actually going to see, but let’s not forget both of them broke off their marriage in these bomb-dropping, explosive ways. And all of that is just forgotten over a stand-up two-minute conversation in Lea’s office after Shaun shared a sob story from his past?
There was so much build-up over the first seven episodes of Shaun’s personal struggles and how deeply it all affected him. Like, six actual months of build-up. And suddenly that’s all forgotten and resolved over the course of three or four consecutive days? The pacing of all of this is incredibly off.
Over these last six months, we saw Shaun slowly and steadily heading towards autistic burnout. It cumulated in a massive meltdown, the worst we’d seen yet in four and a half seasons, a Molotov cocktail thrown into a an extremely combustible pile of childhood trauma, rejection, abandonment and self-doubt.
These are all issues that are rooted deep and are always under the surface for Shaun. And here we were, given the perfect opportunity to address it more openly, to suggest there may be a way to bring them up to the surface so they can be examined and tamed. Did they actually do anything with it? Nope. Like… why?! Why let that go to waste? I don’t get it, and it hurts me in all the wrong ways to see that opportunity go to waste.
Instead they opted for some light-hearted humour and a Shaun who felt annoyingly regressive, incapable and stultified. I may be a little overprotective of Shaun, but they made him look like a totally clueless dimwit in some of these scenes. He has autism, but he’s not stupid. This was my main gripe with Crazytown, and we’re back to the same level of Numpty-Shaun here. Sure, he is socially awkward and not the most perceptive regarding emotional cues and nuances, but it was a bit heavy handed this episode. My friend NiceNiceDevice summarized it very well: Shaun is a smart dude. How did he catch such a bad case of the “stupids” this ep?
I’m disappointed and disheartened, while the rest of the fandom rejoices because finally Shea are back to good and they can kiss and have sex again and make beautiful babies. Like… I’m happy for you guys, I really am, and I love Shea, but trivial quick-fixes like this are not what I’m watching this show for.
If I wanted to be heretical, I would ask if we’ve gotten to the point where the writers have fallen into the trap of pandering to the Shea OTP superfans and are now providing fan service. I’d like to think that’s not the case, but there’s that lingering bitter aftertaste.
Missed Opportunity #2: Shea Physical Touch
Maybe this was wishful thinking on my part, but I had hoped that Shaun’s reticence about being touched would carry much more symbolism throughout their reconciliation process. Twice he pushed her away when she tried to touch him in Expired. I thought that was sending a clear signal. Apparently, it didn’t.
Yes, their hand touching in the reconciliation scene was a point of camera focus, and maybe they made a valiant effort of it wanting to mean something (particularly the second time when he took her hands again), but I think it would have held a lot more poignancy if Shaun had been the one to physically reach out to Lea first rather than vice versa.
My personal wish would have been a quiet scene without much dialogue and him just reaching out to her through physical touch to tell her he was ready to reconcile. Okay, they didn’t go that route. Probably wouldn’t have made much sense at the speed that they wanted this out of the way. I dunno. I still think that would have been beautiful and a lot more expressive and emotionally captivating. What they did here fell flat.
Also… if the physical touch wasn’t even that big of a deal as they had set it up to be, why didn’t they kiss during that reconciliation scene? That didn’t make sense, either.
Missed Opportunity #3: Lessons for Lea
Honestly, this one really ticked me off. Because they made it look like all the onus to make a Shea reconciliation happen was on Shaun and none of the blame or effort was supposed to be on Lea.
In Rebellion, Shaun had apologised to Lea, had indicated she regained his trust and he was ready to reunite. Then Lea blew up in his face and effectively moved out of their apartment. And now Shaun is the one who is expected to make the first move again and apologise again and tell her he trusts her again, while Lea is the one who needs to extend forgiveness and accept him and welcome him back into her heart? Smells a bit Mary-Sue-y to me.
Now, let me make this clear. I’m not saying Shaun didn’t fuck up or Shaun is totally blameless. But, Goddammit, Lea was also at fault for their latest differences. She has massive insecurities herself, and those get in the way of having a flourishing relationship with a partner with ASD. Yet, there was no apology from her whatsoever, no admitting of having done anything wrong, no acknowledgement that some of the work will also have to be put in by Lea and not just by Shaun.
Yes, she did say that she might get “messy” again, and the “hard work” comment was somewhat ambiguously phrased, but there was an underlying implication that Shaun is the sole “problem” in their relationship, and Saint Lea is the one who repeatedly puts up with him and keeps indulging his screw-ups. Perhaps they didn’t intend to imply exactly that, but that’s how it translated across the screen for me. And it goes back to the question of fan service…
Let me reiterate that I’m not anti-Lea. At all. I love both her and Shaun. I love them together. I love them when they flourish as a couple. But I also want them to be three-dimensional, realistic characters. I want them to be a team, to meet at eye level and acknowledge that they both have flaws and insecurities and need to do an equal amount of work to make a marriage work. What I don’t want is any Mary Sues or Marty Stus.
Missed Opportunity #4: Glassman’s Redemption
So what is going on with that? Ostensibly nothing. We’re made to believe that Glassman coming back to San Jose and giving up on the moving to Montana idea is enough to reboot his relationship with Shaun back to what it was before he fucked off without so much as a goodbye.
I guess this goes back to Missed Opportunity #1, seeing how they spent six months in canon setting up Shaun’s epic breakdown that was, in large part, exacerbated by Glassman leaving, and then they did nothing at all with it. Shaun yelled at Glassman that he had abandoned him, that he had lied to him, for fuck’s sake. And Glassman just sweeps that under the rug, never to be addressed again? What is that?
Sure, Glassman isn’t known for his emotional acuity. I’m sure he wants to avoid that abandonment discussion with Shaun as much as Shaun does. But those things that bubbled up and got explosively vocalised during Shaun’s meltdown aren’t things you just ignore as a person in a father role.
Sometimes I get the feeling they don’t really know what to do with Glassman, or maybe different writers have different ideas about his behaviour and motivations. He tends to behave somewhat inconsistently across the seasons, sometimes even contradictorily.
Remember that speech he gave Lea in Parenting (4×08) about how he feels every one of Shaun’s highs and every one of his lows, and how he won’t stop caring about Shaun, even if he’s got Lea now? That’s quite a fundamental emotional attachment, and not something I’d expect any parent to just let go of because they are going through the aftermath of a divorce. That’s my view on it, anyway.
At any rate, more massive disappointment on my part that apparently we don’t get to see the abandonment issues being addressed this time around either. Will we ever? It feels like another letdown in the making.
Missed Opportunity #5: Glassy’s Reaction and Stance
Can we, for a moment, go back to something I wrote in my recap for Rebellion?
So here’s a question I have. Will Lea actually be moving out? […] 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!
So yeah. We learned nothing at all about any of that. We have no idea how Glassman reacted when he heard the news. We don’t even know who told him. He had no scenes with Lea that I remember. I would really have loved to see that being explored. Or if not explored, then at least hinted at in some way. And yet, we got nothing. I feel so short-changed.
Missed Opportunity #6: Alma’s Baby
So apparently they’ve now done away with Alma’s storyline. I can see why they didn’t necessarily want to drag it out over several episodes, but I can’t help thinking there would have been quite some potential for interesting and dramatic story points.
Imagine an actual Morbidity & Mortality conference as a lessons learned exercise for the hospital staff. Imagine they’d asked Shaun to present that. Would he struggle with revisiting the case? Would he struggle presenting to a public audience, particularly for such a high profile case? Would he bumble and fuck it up, or push his way through the challenge and persevere? How would he react if members from the audience started asking uncomfortable questions? Wouldn’t that have been an interesting situation to watch? Apparently not.
Missed Opportunity #7: The Emotional Fallout
I thought they did this really well in Rebellion. We saw a beaten down Shaun who was struggling with events that had severely impacted his life. We got punched in the gut a few times how badly he was doing, and how much it affected both Lea and Glassman in turn.
Somehow, there was none of that in Yippee Ki-Yay, even though Shaun had just effectively been left by his fiancé after he had apologised and told her he was ready to glue their relationship back together. There was no actual screentime conversation between Lea and Jordan about Lea and Shaun’s fight through which we could have gauged Lea’s true feelings, no scene at all how Shaun dealt with it. Instead, we skipped right to hospital routine and an emotionally leaky, contrary Shaun who was actually starting to annoy me.
This episode had very little emotional depth, and there were no connecting tethers for me to attach to. In fact, I got more emotional over the Dunn sister storyline than I did over these characters that I’ve followed and loved for more than four seasons.
The One High Point
I would like to point out, however, that it wasn’t all bad. The episode did have its moments. What I (and others fans I talked to) did like in particular was that Jordan, instead of resenting Shaun for holding an old statement over Lea’s head, took the high road and played peacemaker, gently pushing Shaun in the right direction. That was sweet and earned Jordan a lot of brownie points.
I talked a bit to fellow fan NiceNiceDevice about the episode, and she was disappointed at how David Shore didn’t really deliver of late. We know from House MD that he has excellent skills at writing compelling and emotionally deep drama. So why are we not seeing any of that?
The Good Doctor isn’t Grey’s Anatomy. TGD’s storytelling is too soft currently. Do the writers perhaps need a reminder that it’s okay to go a bit dark and gritty? The best scene by far this season that got the most buzz was exactly that—Shaun’s meltdown in Expired.
I can’t help but wonder what happened to Shore’s credo of “The best episodes are not when Shaun learns from other people but when we learn from Shaun”? What have we learnt from Shaun in recent episodes? I dunno. Feels like nothing much at all.
Also, let it be said that it’s certainly possible I’m doing the writers an injustice by lamenting all these missed opportunities. Maybe I just need to be more patient and some of them will be addressed down the line in episodes to come. In Shaun’s words…
NiceNiceDevice had a great analogy for what this episode felt like: A connecting flight. It got stuff out of the way, and hopefully the writers have a destination in mind that we’re now well on the way to. Please remain seated until the plane comes to a complete stop.
State of the Shea
If you’d like to read Kelli Lawrence’s take on the episode, you can check out her State of the Shea blog and see what she had to say about the Magnificent Seven.
Will be added later, stay tuned.