This one felt like a solid one with good storytelling and ample emotional moments. I really enjoyed it, and may or may not have teared up once or twice.
Written by Jessica Grasl and David Renaud
Directed by Mina Shum
Original airdate Mar 21, 2022
Patients #1, #2 and #3 all came into the ER at the same time – a family of three who were in a head-on collision car crash. The whole surgical team is there to get them taken care of and examined.
Can I ask real quick, though… Why are literally all the surgeons being paged pre-emptively to the ER when the patients haven’t even arrived in the ambulance yet? Isn’t the normal course of action here that the patients first get examined by ER doctors who are specialised in rapid fire medical judgement and triage treatment of trauma patients, and surgeons get called in for consults as needed? (Yes, I know the answer is dramatic writing needs, but it’s still so unrealistic. But what am I saying? This is The Good Doctor. Say no more.)
We see Bryan, Elaine and their 10-year-old daughter Isla getting examined by the surgical tag teams. Bryan Liu, 40 years old, hypotensive in the field, GCS 10, abdominal bruising and internal bleeding from a ruptured spleen. His right leg and arm are pretty mangled. Lim and Park are treating him.
We move on to Elaine who hit her head on the dashboard. GCS 15, vomited twice, has a severe headache. Glassman (who was reinstated just prior by Andrews as a neurosurgeon) and Wolke are her medical team. Glassman finds that one of Elaine’s pupils is dilated, he concludes she might have a subdural haematoma (i.e. bleeding around her brain).
Isla, the daughter, has pain and bruising in her chest that requires a chest tube because a broken rib punctured her lung. This is team Murphy and Allen. (And somewhat ironic because that was the exact injury that Shaun had in Trampoline that had him eventually collapse and also require a chest tube.)
Bryan and Elaine’s medical status declines as they are being examined, they both need to go straight to the OR. A scared Isla is left behind as Shaun inserts the chest tube.
Bryan: Team Lim and Park get to work on Bryan. His leg has to be amputated below the knee due to extensive damage. Park gets to work on his arm, but he can’t get the circulation to his hand going. They call in the vascular surgery expert – Marcus Andrews – albeit Lim being reluctant about it.
Elaine: Team Glassman and Wolke are hard at work on Elaine. Glassman has to open up her skull to fix the SSS tear (superior sagittal sinus, a certain area of the head), which he would rather avoid. Her blood pressure keeps dropping, they realise there’s also an issue with her heart.
Isla: In the meantime, a social worker talks to Isla while Shaun makes sure the chest tube is doing what it’s supposed to do. When Isla asks what’s happening with her dad, the social worker tries to evade and reassure, but Shaun crosses those plans. He tells Isla the harsh truth about her father’s medical condition, that his leg will likely have to be amputated and he has severe internal injuries.
The social worker tries to intervene before Shaun can do more damage, but Isla is pretty tough kid, and she prefers the honesty. She sends the social worker away and wants Shaun to stay. When she asks if her parents could die, Shaun says it’s too soon to tell.
Bryan: The surgery on Bryan becomes more complex when there are complications with the blood flow to his arm. A decision has to be made between amputating the arm and going into a long and complicated surgery that could result in catastrophic blood loss. Lim is not in favour of the risky surgical approach and would rather amputate, Andrews challenges her on it.
Isla: While her parents are still being operated on, Isla’s haemoglobin drops and there’s blood in her chest tube. They need to run an MR angiogram to see what’s going on. Her chest trauma damaged a branch of her pulmonary artery. The bleeding has stopped in the meantime, but it could re-rupture at any time.
Shaun goes to his Mind Palace to look for a safer plan than opening up her whole chest to repair such a small injury, but he comes up empty. He’ll have to find better options and monitor her around the clock in case she bleeds again.
Elaine: To fix Elaine’s cardiac issues, they call on Lim’s expertise as a trauma surgeon. She suggests an aortic pump to buy them some time to fix her heart valve later.
Bryan: In terms of Bryan’s arm, turns out that Andrews managed to restore blood flow after all instead of amputating like Lim had advised. Lim is still gunning for the amputation – it’s the only way to guarantee saving Bryan’s life, because more surgery presents more risk for bleeding. She and Andrews have a professional disagreement over it.
In the end, more surgery wins. Jordan reports that Bryan made it through the surgery okay. He lost his leg, but everything else looks pretty good, considering.
Elaine: At the same time, things don’t look so great for Elaine. She has brain swelling and needs a shunt, but that requires another surgery. Her heart is just running by a thread on that temporary pump. Now she has another problem: a tear in her trachea and she could lose her airway any minute. Maybe they need to call in the “president” again to help with the tracheal reconstruction.
There’s another territorial squabble between Lim, Andrews and Glassman as to whose organ is most important to be fixed first. Lim is pissed that Andrews is pulling rank and overruling her judgement again, but they never get to finish that particular conversation since Asher interrupts to inform them Elaine is crashing and being rushed to the OR.
Isla: Isla also deteriorates, she starts bleeding in her chest because her pseudo-aneurysm ruptured. They rush her to the OR too, even though Shaun is reluctant to operate.
Elaine: Team Lim, Glassman and Andrews try to save Elaine’s life. In a concerted effort, they get all her surgical issues fixed. She crashes during the surgery (because there can never be a surgery without a patient crashing at least once, right?). They all pull together and real teamwork eventually saves Elaine’s life.
Isla: In another OR, Shaun and Jordan are nervously waiting for an attending to be available to lead the surgery on Isla. Nurse Villanueva reports Dr. Cain will be there in 20 minutes, but that’s 20 minutes they don’t have. Shaun makes a decision. He has to open her chest now. He sends Jordan to get an attending out of surgery.
Andrews tells Jordan he needs ten minutes. “Tell Shaun to use every bit of his Shaun-ness to keep her alive until I get there.” Shaun’s already opened Isla up and is stopping her bleeding when Jordan returns. He has to make a decision how to approach the surgery, and there are many risks if he makes a mistake. He needs Andrews’s help, but Isla doesn’t have the time.
“You can do this, Shaun,” Jordan encourages him. He closes his eyes, takes a breath. Yes, he can do this. And he does. High five! (Not literally.)
The Family: Everyone makes it out alive, although the whole family has a long road of recovery ahead of them.
Patient #4 is Donald Adler. Morgan brings him the ER, he’s had chest pain for the past few weeks. Donald insists he’s fine, and when Alex inquires whether he’s Morgan’s patient, he tells Alex Morgan is his chess partner at the nursing home. Alex orders some cardiac tests, which determine he needs angioplasty and a stent. Morgan may have saved his life.
Shaun & Isla
Shaun is assigned as treating physician to Isla’s case, the young girl who got caught in a car accident with her parents. She is alone and scared that she may lose her parents, and Shaun is the person she latches on to because he is being open and genuine with her.
After Isla gets taken from the ER to the children’s ward while her parents are in surgery, they brought in a social worker to talk to Isla and make sure she is being looked after, whom Isla sends away because she prefers Shaun’s honesty over a stranger who is only trying to make her feel better with vague statements that are supposed to be reassuring.
Kudos to Shaun for realising that Isla is pretty distraught, less kudos that his reaction is to wordlessly pull a Kleenex from the box, hand it to her and leave. My initial reaction is, come on, Shaun, she’s a kid who’s scared as hell because both her parents may die. I’d like to think you’re not that oblivious, seeing how you lost a brother as a child and practically became an orphan that day. Apparently, I’m wrong. (Yet, I shouldn’t be too surprised, cause Jessica Grasl co-wrote this one. Why is Shaun always so crude and clueless with her?)
As Isla recovers from her injuries, she gets out of bed and seeks out Shaun in the hallway to ask for something to eat. The sandwich they gave her had pickles on it, and pickles are gross. Shaun and I both agree on the pickles, but he is more interested in his next surgery. Isla is merely a disrupting factor he doesn’t want to divert attention to. He first tries to get Jordan to take care of the kid, and when Jordan doesn’t have time, he sends a random nurse to do it.
Jordan makes a valiant attempt at explaining to Shaun that it wasn’t really about the sandwich. “She isn’t just hungry. She’s scared. She wants to spend time with you so she doesn’t feel all alone.” Shaun fends it off with a comment about maintaining professional boundaries. I mean, he has a point. It gets more difficult if you have to operate on someone you’ve bonded with.
Jordan thinks getting close to patients is the most rewarding part of their job, but Shaun begs to differ. “No. Minimally invasive microvascular surgery is the most rewarding part.” Jordan can only give him an inquisitive look as he walks away. I sigh. Shaun, my boy, there may be some lessons to be learned here.
Side Note: I already griped about this for other episodes, but Isla should not be running around like she does. She has a broken rib and internal injuries. I’m sure they’ve got her on painkillers, but that would still be hella uncomfortable and painful. She’d likely also be drowsy and not as alert. They took some real liberties here again in terms of medical accuracy.
As they wheel Isla to get an MRI later, Jordan and Shaun tell her she needs to take off the ring on her finger. Isla doesn’t want to. Even though it’s a ring made from a gum wrapper, it’s important to her since her dad gave it to her as a placeholder for a real ring with a sapphire—her birth stone—which they couldn’t afford. She hands the ring to Shaun for safekeeping, and he promises he won’t lose it.
Isla’s pulmonary vessel bleed needs close monitoring from Shaun, and when Jordan comments that it looks like Isla is gonna get some quality time with Shaun after all, he startles when Isla is suddenly in the room, asking if they’re done – she’s bored. Oh dear. Shaun is not a happy camper.
Shaun warms a little to Isla as he keeps treating her. In order to embolise her pseudo-aneurysm, he needs to inject anaesthetic into her arm. Isla tells him she’s scared of needles and still holds her mother’s hand when she gets shots. Shaun thinks about this for a moment, racks his brain how to handle this one, but this is not new. He tells Isla she can squeeze his hand as hard as she wants. After all, he practiced when Lea was pregnant. (Not sure you I’d want to call doing it once with Claire practicing, but okay.)
As inquisitive as Isla is, she asks if Shaun and Lea have a baby. That throws Shaun. He has to take a long moment, fiddles with the sterile wipe in his hand, before he can answer why they don’t have a baby when he just said Lea was pregnant. He reverts to what he knows best: medicine. “There was a clot in the umbilical cord. The baby died.” But you can see that it’s not an easy topic, and it probably still smarts when he thinks about it.
Isla squeezes Shaun’s hand while he injects the syringe, and both are real troopers here. Shaun doesn’t even flinch, and he’s clearly made sure to be precise and careful. “That hardly hurt at all,” she tells him, “You’re very good at your job.” Shaun loves hearing that. His proud little almost-smile is everything.
When Jordan joins them to tell Isla she can see her dad, now that he’s out of surgery, she says she doesn’t want to. Both Jordan and Shaun are confused. What’s going on there?
Lea is also concerned about Isla. She got her a Groot plush and wants to know from Shaun how she is doing. He gives her the medical details, because of course he does. “I meant emotionally,” Lea clarifies. Oh. Well, she’s refusing to see her father and they haven’t been able to figure out why. Lea thinks they should try to get to the bottom of that, but Shaun reassures Lea that Jordan is already on it.
Turns out Jordan didn’t get anywhere, Isla won’t talk to her. It has to be Shaun. He’s the one Isla latched onto, the one she trusts. I’m sure there’s a huge ‘uh oh’ forming in Shaun’s head. Lea is awesome when she just thrusts the Groot plush in his arms – a silent, “Go figure it out, Shaunie. I trust you. You can do this.”
Shaun isn’t so sure. The emotional stuff isn’t his forte, and that’s an understatement. How is he supposed to get a 10-year-old kid talking about her feelings when he’s ill equipped to handle his own? We shall see how this goes. I’m invested!
Shaun makes a valiant attempt when he walks into Isla’s room and holds out the Groot plush with a signature Shaun hum, which in his head I’m sure is a full-fledged, ‘Please take this as an offer to make you feel better, I want to help you, but I don’t really know how, so please meet me halfway.’
The look from Isla is part disdain, part ‘go away’. This time, Shaun won’t be so easily dismissed. He knows it’s important to find out the underlying issue here, and after all, he’s just been trusted with a challenging new mission. In true Shaun fashion, he looks for another in. Maybe this, he thinks: ‘Compliment her drawing skills, compliments are good.’ It comes out as, “That is a very accurate drawing of a horse.” (Shaun, was that an actual white lie? gasp)
It misfires. It’s supposed to be Isla’s dog Abigail. Shaun’s head voice probably goes, ‘Shit, I fucked this up. Need a rescue compliment, stat!’ “She… must look like a horse.” I chuckle. 100% Shaun, and of course it misfires again. Isla is annoyed now. She crumples the drawing up in her hand. Shaun’s head voice: ‘Shit, I’m fucking this up even more. What can I do? Maybe keep my mouth shut for now?’
Isla asks him if her dad is in a lot of pain, but Shaun assures her that he’s getting all the good pain meds. Medicine. He can work with that. And of course he asks her outright why she doesn’t want to see him, because how else do you get that answer? He tacks on more medical info, cause that’s his go-to, explaining the residual limb is heavily bandaged and won’t be gross to look at. But it’s not that.
Shaun waits. Isla stays silent. Okay. This probably requires some more work. So Shaun does the best he could have done. He just sits and waits patiently. It’ll have to come from Isla. His patience gets rewarded, because Isla finally opens up to him.
She tells him how she kicked the driver’s seat because she was upset that her dad couldn’t make it to her choir concert. When she didn’t stop kicking, he turned around to make her stop, and that led to the car accident, and so Isla is convinced that it’s her fault that her parents are seriously injured.
It resonates with Shaun. Deeply. What can he say to make this little girl feel better, to make her see that she alone isn’t to blame? He breathes in and out, then says in a low voice, “It was… my fault my brother Steve died.” It prompts Isla to look at him. “But it was Steve’s fault, too. It was his idea to hide on the roof of the train. He fell. He broke his neck. Your dad took his eyes off the road. And a car ran a red light and the airbags didn’t deploy, those things are not your fault.
“And even if it were, your parents would probably still love you, because of your shared experience in combination with the parental bonding hormone oxytocin.” He takes a moment, then adds, “Although in my case, it wasn’t enough. My parents didn’t like me.” Oh man, talk about a gut punch. I teared up right there, Shaun’s been through so much shit in his life.
Isla is a cutie, though. “I’m sorry about your brother. And your parents. And your baby. You’ve had a lot of bad things happen to you.” I wonder how much of his autism she actually grasps. Surely, she must have realised he’s different in some way, she’s a super smart kid.
It’s Shaun’s eternal and beautiful optimism that shines through. He smiles the smallest of smiles. “I’ve had a lot of good things happen, too.” Yes, indeed. It brings Isla around, she tells Shaun she’d like to see her dad now, but soon after she starts bleeding again and needs immediate surgery.
When Isla wakes up from her surgery, with her mother and father right there with her, Shaun gives her the gum wrapper ring back she gave him for safekeeping. “I didn’t lose it,” he assures her. She puts it on and smiles. “Thank you, Dr. Murphy.” And then she opens her arms and invites him for a hug.
I’m proud of Shaun that he goes for it. Look how far he’s come. Of course it’s uncomfortable and he doesn’t like it. This is still just a random patient he’ll likely never see again. Jordan watches it with probably a bit of amusement.
“Personal connections aren’t so bad, are they?” she asks as he joins her outside in the hallway. Shaun agrees. “No, they are not so bad. But I do not want to do it again.” What, though, Shaun? Forming personal connections with patients or a patient hug? To be fair, probably both.
Full disclosure: On the first viewing of the episode, I was actually a little disappointed with this whole Shaun & Isla plot because it seemed like they were milking the ‘Shaun is an emotionally stunted klutz’ cow again. But I changed my mind after a fellow fan who’s on the spectrum put it into perspective for me.
What they showed really well is how Isla takes a liking to Shaun because he doesn’t treat her like a child, because he is open and honest with her. Sometimes kids don’t want the sugarcoated “don’t you worry, everything will be fine” version, they want to know what’s going on, don’t want to be sheltered from reality.
That was such a great setup, but I initially took some issue with how they made Shaun clumsily bumble about with Isla. Cause Isla is smart and clever and adorable. And she hates pickles. So, Shaun, what’s not to like?
Like I mentioned above, after some healthy discussion, I reneged on that, and here’s why. Of course I know this is rooted in Shaun’s autism. First of all, and I wasn’t really cognisant of this until I was being made aware, what they were going for here, particularly the scene with Shaun handing Isla the tissue, was pretty cheap visual humour. And somehow, that doesn’t really work for me when they use Shaun’s autism for cheap gags that make him look daft.
Second of all, we need to keep in mind that Shaun doesn’t lack the empathy. He has that, he feels bad for Isla, but he lacks the ability to offer comfort or the ability to figure out on his own how to do that in a way that he thinks she’s worthy of. Perhaps he even knows he’s not good at it and thinks Isla deserves better, which is why he’d rather have Jordan or a nurse step in.
Let me quote something here that my friend said:
Thing with autism is that people who have it aren’t less emotional, they just aren’t always great at dealing with those emotions. Sometimes it takes practice. “I used to hate hugs, but now sometimes I don’t.”
Or in this particular episode, demonstrated by the fact that at first Shaun hands Isla a tissue and doesn’t know what to say, but later he offers his hand to Isla “to squeeze as hard as she wants”. He had time to think about it and come up with ways he could comfort her. He applied his experience with Lea’s pregnancy so he could better comfort Isla.
Point being, autism isn’t psychopathy. Shaun feels deeply, he just needs more time to calibrate those emotions, and results can vary from day to day for no reason. So maybe in The Family we were seeing Shaun on a weird day.
One could also argue that Isla is a random patient to Shaun, someone who Shaun sees as a medical case he will only be treating for a few days, and not someone he wants to make friends with or create a lasting bond with. He has no reason to be invested in connecting with Isla, because emotional connection is extra effort for him with questionable reward. And he spoke previously about keeping professional distance, though Jordan called him on that just being a convenient excuse.
Somehow I had this idea in my head that I could see Shaun going into paediatric surgery as a specialty after his residency. But judging by this episode, maybe that’s not actually a good place for him. So what specialty do we think he’d be good at and enjoy instead?
And just because these are too good not to share, here’s a few super cute behind the scenes photos from Isla Rose Hall’s Instagram.
Shaun & Lea
Before the big hospital announcement, Shaun hands out ‘Un-Save The Date’ cards to his friends and colleagues. They cancelled the wedding—for now. Lea explains, “We’re happy. We just wanna enjoy being happy. We’ve had enough stress in our lives.” (I say!) Shaun supplements it with, “We’re living in the moment.” (Wanna bet that’s echolalia of something Lea said to him previously when they made the decision?)
As Shaun is treating his patient Isla, part of his strategy to continuously monitor her is to take her to the cafeteria, because… Lea to the rescue! Shaun is carrying two trays with juice and pancakes (of course), Lea is excited to meet Shaun’s new friend. “She’s not my friend, she’s my patient. Isla Liu, 10-year-old female with a pseudo-aneurysm of the segmental branch of the left pulmonary artery,” he rattles off. He introduces Lea as his fiancé and head of the IT department.
Isla is very perceptive. She asks why Lea doesn’t have a ring if she’s Shaun’s fiancé. Lea tells her that it was she who proposed to Shaun, and it was a spur of the moment kind of thing, which Isla classifies as “very modern”. Isla does ask a lot of questions. What’s their wedding date, their cake, what’s Lea’s dress like? She doesn’t like the answers she’s getting. “You have no cake, no ring, no dress and no date?” Shaun cuts in, “We have a cake.”
But that’s not good enough for Isla. “Then how are you his fiancé? Isn’t it just like girlfriend and boyfriend?” Lea doesn’t know how to answer that. Neither does Shaun. And it gets him to thinking… Like, I can already see the gears turning in his head. By this time it becomes kinda predictable that he’s gonna get Lea a ring.
Shaun seeks advice from Alex on how to approach Isla’s pseudo-aneurysm and then quickly turns the conversation to him and Lea. “Do you think Lea and I are just boyfriend and girlfriend?” Alex doesn’t think so, and Shaun agrees. “But if we’re not planning a wedding, then what are we doing? Are we moving backwards?”
Shaunie, why you suddenly so concerned with this? Is it still the old insecurities of Lea not being committed to you enough? Sweetheart, she loves you. You just had a big crisis, she wants to let the waves smooth out a little before you throw yourself into another stressful undertaking.
Alex has some good advice for Shaun, though. A wedding is just a symbol. Real stability comes from committing to each other. Every day. Shaun asks what he should do, but Alex says only he and Lea can figure that out. That doesn’t help Shaun. “The older I get, the less everyone seems to know.” Welcome to adulthood.
Shaun talks about it with Isla too when he administers medication to her. Isla tells him symbols are a big deal, they remind us what’s important. All this contradictory information has to be hella confusing to Shaun.
Shaun must have thought about this a lot, because he runs the idea by Lea that they should start planning their wedding again. He suggests a new date in June to work towards. Lea is taken aback. What happened to enjoying the moment? Shaun isn’t enjoying it. He wants a plan. He’s Mr. Schedule, after all. It’s seems Lea wants to table this discussion, and Jordan interrupts before they can talk about it further.
So. I think they dropped something sneakily here that tells us the wedding will indeed be the season finale. Shaun suggests a new wedding date to Lea of June 8th. I would bet money that the season finale will air on June 6th, and since episodes usually take place over two days, the wedding will likely be what the finale ends on. Not a huge surprise, but it tracks with the airing schedule of the rest of the season if they now air weekly with two weeks skipped in between for whatever pre-empting reason. I daresay mark my words.
That night, Lea gets home and does a double-take because the lights in the apartment are muted and Shaun is on the patio. Something’s going on. She edges closer. There’s champagne and lit candles on the table, he is waiting in anticipation. “What is all of this?” she asks.
He steps closer, opens a ring box. Lea’s face drops, but in a good way. Wow. He takes out a silver ring, holds it up. “I made it myself.” From gum wrapper, Shaunie?
And then he gets to his knees. Because of course he does. He’s all cute little smile and joyful glow in his eyes, his voice reverent when he says, “Lea Dilallo. Will you make a bond of shared experience and oxytocin… and love with me for the rest of our lives?”
He looks up, meets her eyes. She is smiling, she loves him so much. “Of course,” she says. He puts the ring on her left ring finger. They both have the biggest smiles on their faces. “It’s a placeholder,” Shaun says just above a whisper. “It’s perfect,” she confirms.
Uh oh, please don’t let this be the kind of ‘perfect’ that means it’s actually not. Because we’ve had a lot of ‘perfects’ this season that turned out very much not that.
Shaun gets up and they kiss like we haven’t seen them kiss in a long time. I daresay all season. Lea steals a look at the ring with a giddy smile as she has her arm around his neck. Shaun draws her close for another kiss. Get a room, you dorks. I love it. I totally teared up.
Side Note: Did you notice how Lea answered the proposal with, “Of course”? Exact same thing Shaun said in Vamos when Lea proposed to him in Guatemala. Callback time!
What I’m wondering… Was Shaun’s mention of oxytocin foreshadowing of another Lea pregnancy on the horizon? Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding, reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth, which Shaun verbally mentioned to during his conversation with Isla. So basically what he said to Lea was that he is ready to commit to a long-term relationship and wants to have children with her.
Which is not new, they have talked about it before, and they were ready to have a child in season 4. But somehow this seemed pretty on-the-nose that he’s now talking about pregnancy hormones.
Interestingly, Daniela told me that she didn’t see Shaun’s proposal as an actual confirmation of an upcoming wedding. Shaun wanted to validate a deep commitment to each other for the rest of their lives, and the placeholder ring was a symbol of that. It doesn’t necessarily mean marriage, though one may conclude that is a logical step of that process. She said we might not even get to see a wedding this season, but personally, I think we will in the season finale.
As for my thoughts on the re-proposal… I’m happy. Of course I am. It was sweet and loving and it felt like both Shaun and Shea are back to old form. Maybe somewhat predictable, and I still think they should have taken a bit more time for the reconciliation after Shaun’s big meltdown, but I trust the writers to have a reason as to why they wanted it done this way at this time, and I’m open for what is yet to come.
The St. Bon’s Family
It’s a new day at the old workplace—that will hopefully be back to form, or so Marcus hopes. He opens his bedroom curtains to let in the sunshine of the new day, looking at a choice of wardrobe he’s laid out on the bed. What is most appropriate on your second-time-around first day as hospital president?
It’s not suit and tie. It’s not simple burgundy collared sweater either. Grey suit with simple black top underneath it is. He’s ready to face the day to come, but the house is empty, there’s no Salen, and he feels a lingering loss despite how things ended.
Meanwhile, Audrey is making over-easy fried egg for breakfast, which she doesn’t actually eat. Too much apprehension, too many bad memories, too much uncertainty.
Glassman seems pretty chill. He’s reading the daily newspaper at the dining table. No food or coffee. You an early bird, Aaron? Or just not a breakfast person?
Andrews has called for a meeting that morning to make an announcement about what’s going to happen now. Keen eyes will have spotted that they’re already removing the Ethicure signage from the outside of the building. What puzzles me a little is whom he is addressing. Just the surgical department? Because for the whole hospital, that seems like way too few employees. But anyway.
Andrews addresses the people present, explains that St. Bonaventure has never been about a logo or a fancy coffee selection. It’s all about the people – both employees and patients. They wanna go back to putting patients first.
What he also does is reinstate Audrey Lim as Chief of Surgery. She seems surprised by this, but is happy, once the initial astonishment passes. Everyone applauds.
The next bomb he drops is that he tells Glassman and Reznick he will be closing the clinic. As Salen already pointed out early on, the clinic was a money-pit, and now that they lost the big healthcare contract due to Morgan’s admission of guilt letter to Nira, there’s no more money to finance it.
Glassman makes another attempt, tells Andrews he’s gonna review the budget, find a way to keep the clinic open. But Andrews has other ideas. He wants Glassman’s skilled surgeon hands to do neurosurgery work in the OR. It is then that they all get called to the ER for the surgical emergency.
During surgery, Andrews wonders why Lim isn’t more excited to get her old job back, and she dryly comments, “Hard to get too jubilant about being given a job you never should have lost in the first place. One that you were happy to step into.” You have a point, Audrey.
They engage in a bit of a territorial cattiness match over what surgical approach to take, and Lim shuts him down just for the sake of wanting to have the last word. Hm.
Side Note: Man, the COVID omicron variant was really doing a number on the actors. Looks like they enforced a mandate that all main cast were to wear an N95 mask underneath the regular surgical mask during the surgery scenes. Seems sensible, but that must have sucked to shoot.
Loved it when Lim gave Glassman actual flack for fucking off to Montana. “When Ethicure took over, you just walked out, headed for Paradise. I know you were going through a rough patch, but we were going through it here, too. You didn’t bother to step up until it became a problem for Shaun.”
Glassman takes it on the chin, but bristles a little. “You want me to apologize for my commitment to Shaun? That’s not gonna happen.” Lim would never ask him to do that, but it made her realise how little the rest of them mattered to Glassman. Ouch. That hurt, but there’s truth to it. And Glassman surely deserved it.
Lim and Andrews also have a verbal sparring match in Lim’s office after Andrews tells her he disregarded her instruction and didn’t amputate Bryan’s arm. She talks about him wanting to serve his own ego. He seems to think he’s a knight in shining armour for having rescued Lim and her colleagues from their Ethicure related “suicide mission”. She gets up from her chair to be at eye level. “You want a medal for finding your moral compass at the last possible moment? You did her bidding, even after the baby died. And then leveraged the situation so you came out in charge.” Shots fired!
In surgery, Andrews tells Glassman he’s sorry about closing the clinic and reiterates that the focus needs to be on keeping the hospital running at this stage. Glassman thinks it’s less about that but more about Andrews making sure to stake his claims and mark his territory.
Can’t help but think, man, it’s so good to see Papa Glassman run around in scrubs again, doing actual surgery. Didn’t you miss it, Aaron? Come on, be honest.
When Elaine is being rushed into surgery again, Lim, Andrews and Glassman get another chance to talk. During a quiet moment, Andrews confesses that the death of Alma’s baby kept him up at night. He should have taken a stand then. But Salen told him it kept her up at night, too. She wanted to make changes, make it right. He was perhaps somewhat blinded by his love for her, and he has regrets. “I should have stepped up sooner. Because this place is my home. And you pains in the ass are my family. Together we can fix this woman’s heart and brain and neck and do great things for all our patients. If we don’t kill each other first.”
As for the clinic, Morgan actually has an idea how to save it, which she runs by Andrews. Old people. They need care the most and they have the least access. She suggests telemedicine services for nursing homes. And once they get treated at St. Bon’s, the money their Medicare coverage brings in will easily cover uninsured clinic patients.
Andrews likes the idea, but ideas aren’t Morgan’s problem. She knows she’s not ready to be in charge, so she proposes that Glassman stay head of the clinic. But Morgan also knows she will be ready. Some day. And then she’ll come to stake her claim. She knows she’s right, because Andrews is also one of those people wake up every morning, wanting to conquer the world.
Later that day, there’s a knock on Andrews’ office door. Glassman mentions he must have kept a bottle of Scotch around the first time Andrews stole his office. Lim is looking for her fizzy water. She likes the cucumber one, which is apparently refreshing and delicious. Honestly? It sounds gross, I’m with Andrews on this one.
Glassman hands Andrews a glass of Scotch. He accepts it with a, “Why not?” They sit down at the table and silently toast. To having the old family back together.
Side Note: Aren’t we glad we have the blue scrubs and old St. Bon’s lab coats and badges back? Shaggy-haired Shaun ftw, that fake smile Ethicure badge was the worst. Also, I think I know what ballpoint pen Shaun is using. Only because I have the exact same one in blue and grey. Gotta say Shaun has A+ taste in pens, because this is one of my favourite ballpoint pens to write with. #PointlessPropSleuthing
Alex & Morgan
After the disaster with Nira and the clinic being shut down as a result of it, Morgan tries to clear her mind with some mindfulness and meditation. It doesn’t really work. The tranquil moment is always disrupted by thoughts of Alex, of Nira, and finally, an oblivious Shaun (with too short hair cause this scene was likely shot out of sequence at a later time) who rudely interrupts with, “What are you doing?” I mean, Shaun, think for a moment. What do people usually do when they sit cross-legged with eyes closed. I’m sure you’ve seen Lea do this when she does her home yoga. (Grasl dum-dum Shaun writing strikes again? Ugh.)
The moment with Shaun is kinda cute, though. Morgan tries to explain mindfulness to him, telling him he’s being mindful by cancelling the wedding and enjoying the moment. Shaun is adamant that the wedding isn’t cancelled for good. They’re just postponing for a while.
Morgan shares her woes with Shaun. “I suck at the moment. I like making a plan, having a plan, following a plan.” That surely resonates with Shaun, cause he’s the list guy. Plans are good. Plans are helpful. He gets her. And I’m sure that contributed to the whole idea with the engagement ring placeholder and the realisation that he doesn’t enjoy “the moment” just as much as he thought, either.
Morgan’s conversation with Shaun might have sent her on a mission. Not just the talk with Shaun, of course. Alex called her on the loss of moral compass before, speaking to Nira again made her realise that there’s more important things in life than a job and ambition. She digs through an old lost-and-found box, fishing out a chess set. Alex invites her to a meeting with some important hospital folks as an in for Morgan to make some more professional connections. She declines and says she has to go. Mysterious much?
When Morgan brings in a new patient to the ER whom she met at the nursing home where she went to play chess with the residents, Alex learns that apparently now Morgan has a new life mission: do good and spend quality time with the elderly, including teaching decoupage. He frowns. That doesn’t seem like Morgan at all.
They get the chance to talk again when they review Donald’s imaging scans. Alex asks her if her sudden social streak has anything to do with Nira. He assures her that making one bad call doesn’t mean she’s a bad person, but that doesn’t quite sound like what he said last week.
She makes herself clear. “I’ve woken up every morning my whole life, wanting to conquer the world, and then I hurt someone. And I almost lost… I almost lost everything. So now, I’m going to cultivate virtuous intentions and generally not be so awful.”
Alex probably likes that she’s taken the criticism to heart, but he doesn’t want her to turn into a totally different person. He’d miss the old Morgan. “The world needs people who wake up every morning, wanting to conquer it. Those kinds of people land on the moon and cure cancer and… drag grumpy old men into the ER.” Morgan adds, “And trample innocent souls along the way.” Alex smiles. “Yeah, don’t do that part. I’ll be around to remind you.” He leaves her sitting with a loving kiss, and I’m glad Parnick are back on track, too.
Ye Olde Fandom Woes – Vol. 2
Okay, I need to talk about this, because I am still baffled by the amount of fan entitlement in this fandom. There’s a bunch of Shea fans who are saying Shaun and Lea only kissed in this episode because the fans have demanded it. And I’m like… guys, no. No no no.
The writers did not write the proposal scene just because you have repeatedly tweeted about the Shea pairing. Season and episode arcs are planned months and months ahead of time. By the time fans tweet about this stuff as the season airs, the episode plots and dialogues have long been written and finalised, perhaps already been filmed.
Because here’s how a 20-episode season is written: The writers have writers’ room meetings before they actually write any episodes or the season starts shooting. They plot out the overarching season arc, the big picture, the important milestones that will be happening across the season. Milestones like the engagement party, a period of wedding planning, a profit-hungry company buying the hospital and implementing changes, Shaun getting caught in that maelstrom, Glassman leaving for a while, the Shea marriage being called off, a showdown that will end the hospital takeover, Shaun and Lea getting back together, Shaun re-proposing to Lea to get them back on track, …
Then they take these big events and decide in which episode they will happen and start filling up the blanks with other more minor plot points and patient cases to run in parallel. They figure out what could happen in each episode, working the milestone events into those episode plots and making it fit together. And then they assign writers to each episode, possibly by preference of the writers, possibly by where their strengths lie – I don’t know how that works on TGD.
But I guarantee you that it was decided a long time ago that Shaun and Lea would get back together mid-season and Shaun would make a classic champagne proposal with a ring and a kiss. Long before fans started tweeting about it. And like… Shaun basically got on his knees and made a super sweet Shaun speech to (re‑)propose and Lea said yes (of course she did). How the fuck would they not kiss after that?!
That kiss was not just written because fans wanted it. It was a natural and organic result of the situation, and a beautiful depiction of an actual purposeful build-up regarding Shaun and Lea. It was absolutely intentional what so many fans complained about in the previous two episodes – that Shaun and Lea didn’t touch much or kiss. It was meant to be a journey that culminated in a kiss at the end of The Family to make it more meaningful.
That said, is it possible that the writers catered the whole Shea storyline to the fans a little bit? Sure. They know there’s a loyal Shea following, they read and hear some of what the fans are saying online. They wanna make sure that they keep us happy and throw us a bone here and there. But you’d have to show me hard black-on-white proof that the writers actually wrote something in a specific way just because a handful of fans demanded it, otherwise that’s very much what we call fan entitlement.
Fan Service – Blessing or Curse?
It may be a controversial discussion as to whether fan service is actually good or bad. In small doses, it will infuse the fandom with joy at their wishes being heard and keep people tuning in every week, but there’s a danger that it may subconsciously or even consciously force writers and showrunners in directions that don’t match their own vision for the show and the characters, and that can destroy the cohesion of a show or a character or pairing.
This Fanpop article talks about how it can squelch innovation and negatively affect the pacing of an episode or a season. It’s a dangerously fine line to walk for writers, and a hard balance to strike. There’s more articles out there that give examples of where fan service worked and where it didn’t.
But Shea fans now tweeting compliments that the writers provided fan service, going as far as saying this will now be expected from all Shea fans for future episodes to come because the fans “deserve it”, in my opinion, that’s bad.
I want to very clearly state that these people do not speak for the whole fandom. They do not speak for all Shea fans. I have to say I’m embarrassed being seen as a member of a fandom that vocally presents itself online in such a way.
We’ve also seen some questionable statements from fan accounts in the past week relating to ableism and individuals on the autism spectrum. As a fandom, I wish we could all do better and listen to each other and respect other people’s opinions rather than incite petty fandom feuds over it. Is The Good Doctor not a show about mutual respect that strongly advocates for respecting different opinions?
State of the Shea
Kelli Lawrence’s thoughts on the episode can be found in her State of the Shea blog, check it out if you’d like to read her take on The Family.
Will be added later, stay tuned.