As apprehensive as I was about the finale, I am super glad that all my fears were swept aside with these 42 minutes of pure joy and love and heart-warming goodness. What a relief, and—the cliffhanger not withstanding—such a sweet and rewarding ending to a rather turbulent season.
Screenplay by David Shore, Jessica Grasl and Nathalie Touboul
Story by Jessica Grasl and Nathalie Touboul
Directed by David Shore
Original airdate May 16, 2022
Patient #1 is Steph Lewis, 35, now living with the aftereffects of a brainstem stroke nine years ago that left her paralysed from the face down, though she still has residual movement in three fingers, and the voice computer she uses to articulate herself is programmed with a little bit of snark.
Steph is at St. Bonaventure together with her husband because she’s had four serious bouts of pneumonia in the last few months. There’s scar tissue in her lung that is causing repeated infections, and they would like the tissue removed to solve that problem longer term.
Morgan has brought in Alex to consult on the case, and Alex advises against the surgery. It’s risky and the benefit may not warrant taking that risk. However, Steph is sick of feeling crappy. She is well aware of what’s at stake and wants the surgery.
They go ahead and perform it, and it goes pretty well. Lim manages to remove all the scar tissue and things seem to look good until Steph realises that she can’t move her fingers anymore. Whatever they did during the surgery, it made her lose any feeling in her hand, so now Steph is left without any way to verbally communicate. Wow. That’s heavy.
There are options for Steph to use eye tracking technology, much like what Stephen Hawking used to communicate. Morgan isn’t too fond of that idea. It takes excessive training and communication will be very slow. But what other choice is there if the movement in her fingers doesn’t come back?
Steph’s husband says they’ve tried eye tracking before and it didn’t work for them. As Morgan is about to leave the patient room, the couple start playing a video on Steph’s laptop, and Morgan stops short. It’s a video that they filmed before the stroke, with Steph being all excited about a house they bought. Morgan watches it for a few moments, and it gives her an idea. She goes to Park and is excited that they can give Steph her voice back.
Morgan runs the idea by Lim, together with Park. She suggests that they implant electrodes on Steph’s sensory motor cortex (a region of the brain) which will decode her brainwaves. The transceiver would then translate the brainwaves into speech and give her the ability back to communicate. Since they have those recordings of Steph, they can extract relevant snippets to feed the device with them so that she can speak in her own voice.
Park is reluctant. This is brand new technology that hasn’t been used successfully in the past. He still advocates for the eye tracking device which wouldn’t require another life-threatening surgery. While Lim agrees that the surgery is risky, she doesn’t think it’s false hope, as Park called it. She wants them to suggest the surgery to Steph and her husband and let them decide.
And apparently they said yes, because next we see Steph in the operating room with Lim implanting the electrodes on her brain. (Why is Glassman not performing this surgery? He’s head honcho neurosurgeon, Lim is a trauma surgeon…)
Morgan goes to Lea with the software side of things and has her cut audio fragments of Steph’s words and phrases from the videos. When Steph is out of surgery, they tell her that it’ll take a while until the AI will learn how to connect her brainwaves with the right audio clips, but they encourage her to give it a try.
She looks at her husband for a very long moment, and then the first audio clip plays. It’s her saying, “I love you.” He tears up, then tells her he loves her, too. It’s a beautiful moment for sure, but I can’t help but wonder how they managed to even tell the AI to assign that audio clip to the brainwave. Wouldn’t they have had to have a baseline of those brainwaves that connect to those audio clips? Oh well, I guess they might have done that exercise before the surgery.
Steph has the ability back to communicate, and even if it may take some time to use it effectively, she and her husband can “talk” to each other again, and most likely it’s more than they would have had if they’d gone with the eye-tracking device.
Patient #2 is Yosel Wolke, Asher’s father. Asher’s parents have flown in all the way from New York to see their son, hoping he’ll perform a miracle and save Yosel’s life. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and has less than a year to live with no good surgical options. They want Asher’s opinion and hope he can do something more.
I’m super happy they assigned Shaun to this case because he’s the lifesaving genius, right? Shaun reviews the file, but with stage 4 lung cancer, Yosel has a very grim outlook. He orders a CT of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, CBC, blood cultures and an EKG. He will review the results with Dr. Andrews and try to find a way to help Yosel.
While Yosel is getting ready to get a CT scan, he deteriorates rapidly. The chest wall tumour has grown and is invading the thoracic cavity and is collapsing his lung. He needs surgery immediately.
They operate on Yosel, but what they find isn’t good. He has a malignant pleural effusion, meaning an accumulation of fluid in the space surrounding the lung. They could drain it, but it will keep coming back and spread the cancer in his chest cavity. It’s terrible news, because this means Yosel instead of a year to live only has a few weeks at best.
When Asher and Shaun discuss Yosel’s condition, Shaun has an idea how to treat the rebuilding fluid. He suggests they use talc pleurodesis, a procedure that causes the lung to adhere to the chest wall which will close off the space where the fluid keeps accumulating. It won’t cure the cancer, but it will give Yosel more time to treat the tumour with a targeted immune therapy that could give him over a year to live.
Asher’s mother Miriam is visibly relieved, but Yosel isn’t quite so ecstatic. He’s concerned that he won’t survive the surgery, and he really wants his life to come to a close where he can be surrounded by friends and family, and not in a secular hospital. Both Asher and Miriam plead that he go along with the idea because they want more time with him, and Yosel reluctantly agrees.
After much deliberation, Miriam and Yosel decide not to go through with the surgery and go back home to make the best of the time they have left and have Yosel spend his last days at home with his Hasidic family. Asher says goodbye to them with a heavy heart.
Shaun & Lea
The happily not-married couple is celebrating the last 45 minutes of their fake honeymoon by having pancakes in bed. Lea seems to be trying out different recipes, the one they’re tasting today is banana blueberry with a hint of cinnamon. While Shaun seems to enjoy it, he likes chocolate chip with syrup better. (He stated in the last episode that he doesn’t like bread with cinnamon, by the way.)
Shaun wants to have sex again, but he also wants to finish the pancakes first. Lea is all for that. Shaun remarks that they’re very good at pretending to be married but less so at actually getting married.
Lea is sick and tired of the wedding planning and dress fitting and all the tedious things that are a part of organising a wedding, and Shaun has an immediate solution for that. There’s an opening at the courthouse the next day at 4:30. They can get married without all that hoo-ha and get it over and done with. Lea’s little breathy, “Oh,” is in perfect imitation of Shaun, and it’s super cute.
At the hospital, Shaun and Lea are giving back unopened wedding gifts to their colleagues, because apparently some wedding etiquette website says you should when the wedding doesn’t actually happen. Well, it will happen. But with less guests. Or no guests? Probably just Shaun, Lea, Glassman and Jordan.
Morgan suggests a destination wedding instead of a place where people pay parking tickets, but Lea says they’re good. Shaun gets paged, but he can’t help but plant a sweet smacker on Lea’s lips before he leaves. After all, they’re finally getting married in 30 hours and 27 minutes! I’m so proud, there were times when Shaun never would have done this in front of people.
Side Note: Shaun mentions a URL called weddiquette.org, and when you try to go there, it redirects you to the Sony website. Well played, Sony.
As much as Shaun and Lea are trying to be kind with the wedding gift returning, it’s like people don’t really want them back. Audrey got them a blender. She already has one at home, what would she do with a second one? Jordan also doesn’t want her gift back. “Weddiquette says I can’t,” Lea tell her. “That’s dumb, just open it,” Jordan counters. And after a bit of deliberation, Lea does.
It’s a simple silver picture frame that has a photo of Lea in it with the simple wedding dress on that Jordan had previously told her would be a lot more ‘Lea’ than the glamorous glitzy one she had ultimately chosen for Sophie’s wedding. Jordan explains the photo is just a placeholder until they get the real wedding pics, although that dress looked amazing on Lea.
Opening that gift was fun, and Lea looks around the break room that’s littered with all these unopened boxes. What if…? Yep. She and Jordan spend the next fourteen minutes opening everything. Not sure what it all is, but looks like some garments and a lot of kitchen utensils and equipment, including Audrey’s blender, a waffle iron, what may be a fancy coffee or espresso maker, kitchenware and a bunch of other unidentifiable objects. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a scene from Friends with Monica opening all the wedding presents without Chandler.
Seeing how the episode was titled Sons, there was a bit of speculation (or hope) that it would also relate to Shaun. We get a first glimpse of it as the surgeons share father/son memories, and Shaun recalls a fishing trip by a river where he was cold, but we don’t learn anything beyond that at the time and are left wondering what that was about.
Side Note: I must admit that I didn’t read into it at the time what it turned out to be, perhaps because I was too preoccupied with the realisation that they managed to get actor Graham Verchere back for the role, who played young Shaun in early season 1.
When Morgan has Lea edit the videos of their stroke patient Steph, one of them is Steph and her husband getting married and her saying her vows. It’s a classic church wedding with Steph in a white dress, all made up, a friend holding flowers in the background. Lea’s face clearly spells regret that she’s not gonna have that now. A catch-22 right there if they don’t wanna plan a big church wedding.
Shaunie, on the other hand, is excited about the courthouse wedding. All he wants is to seal his eternal devotion to Lea with those rings, and be hers forever. He prances into the server room and eagerly tells her that they have two minutes in total to say their vows. He will need 26 seconds if he talks slowly, which he might because it is an important moment. Is 1 minute and 34 seconds enough time for Lea?
Side Note: Did you notice Shaun’s little bouncy jumps as he tells Lea about the vows? He’s so adorable when he’s happy-excited.
Lea is elsewhere with her thoughts, her gaze on the wedding photo placeholder, reminiscing what it would like to be to get married in a church. Shaun has to actually prompt her to answer, and she says, sure, 1:34 is enough time for her vows. Even Shaun picks up on the fact that she’s not exactly thrilled at the prospect. Is she not happy with the arrangement?
She confides that it’s kind of a bummer that she’ll never wear a real wedding gown at her dream wedding. Shaun wants to know if she’s changed her mind about the courthouse, but no. In those dreams, Shaun is the only constant. She’s fine with just him and her (and hopefully Glassy and Jordan).
Shaun’s concern sirens are flashing now. He goes and seeks advice from Mr. Oracle, i.e. Dr. Glassman. “I’m confused. I think I’m getting mixed signals.” Glassman thinks that’s a good thing because Shaun doesn’t usually pick up on non-verbal cues. “Is it? Doesn’t feel like it is.” No, I could imagine it doesn’t.
He explains that Lea says she’s disappointed they’re getting married at the courthouse, but she also says she wants to get married at the courthouse. This is like the thing where you want a red sweater, but you also want it to be green, right? So how does Shaun respect what she wants but can also respect her disappointment? Glassman tells Shaun he needs to think about that one, and that’s good enough for Shaun. He walks off with an, “Excellent!” Glassman can only look on.
Glassy has obviously thought about it, because he goes to see Andrews and asks him for a favour. “It’s gonna cost you,” Andrews says, but Glassman disagrees. “I don’t think it will.” They both sit down to talk about it, but we don’t learn what exactly Glassman is asking for. At least not until much later.
That afternoon, Shaun and Lea are getting ready to finally be married. Riding the elevator, Shaun is wearing what seems to be his only good suit (the grey-blue one that he looks dapper in, he wore it at their engagement party). Lea looks more like she’s going to a funeral. Dark red and black seems like an odd choice for a wedding, courthouse or not, but okay. She’s carrying a bouquet of pink gerbera that don’t go with her red dress.
They are welcomed by Glassman and Jordan outside of the elevator doors, who I assume were supposed to go with them to the courthouse. Glassy smiles at them, saying that won’t do. They’re going to throw them a proper wedding. Shaun says no, they decided not to do one of those. But that’s not what Glassy means.
Jordan presents the bouquet with the red roses that Villanueva’s boyfriend had delivered and she didn’t want. Because guess what, Shaun and Lea are getting married right here at the hospital—right now. Nurses Hawks and Martel bring a wedding dress (the simple white one from the photo in Jordan’s wedding gift frame) and a black tux. They should be all set. Shaun and Lea are amazed. A surprise wedding, but a real celebratory one with guests and a party. Yes, please!
The groom and bride are then getting ready post-haste for the big event. He and Glassman are in an unoccupied patient room (looks like it might be the one Victor and Brenna had sex in), Shaun is already in his tux and white shirt. Glassman is futzing around with Shaun’s bowtie, but before he can finish tying it, he says he got Shaun something. Of course he did, it would be rude not to at a wedding, Shaun remarks.
But it’s not what Shaun had in mind, I bet. There’s clanking of metal, and Glassman holds up a ring. “These were passed down from my great-great-grandparents. This was supposed to be for Maddie.” Shaun is suddenly well aware of the gravitas of the statement and the gift. He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t have to. Glassman adds, “I’m glad you two will be wearing them both.”
Shaun takes them silently, he’s definitely touched. As Glassman continues to try and tie the bowtie, Shaun poses a question that may have been on his mind for a while, seeing how there was all this talk about fathers with his friends and colleagues. “Was your father a good father?” Glassman tries to evade, but Shaun keeps prodding until Glassman says, “Shaun, I’m clearly trying to avoid this question, my father’s not around to defend himself, you know?”
Shaun asks if they can go fishing again some time. Ah, that’s what it was, the memory by the river. Glassman responds that he thought Shaun hated fishing, and the memory replays again. A teenage Shaun is standing in a river with a fishing rod, complaining that he’s wet and cold and very bored. Next to him is a younger Glassman, casting a fishing line, telling him with a smile that it’ll be a good memory.
And a good memory it definitely turned out to be, now that Shaun thinks back to it. Present day Glassman is still mucking about with the bowtie, not really getting anywhere, and Shaun says, “My father is a very good father.” Glassman looks at him curiously. “Is?” Shaun makes sure to look him in the eyes when he says, “I love you, Dr. Glassman.” Glassman’s voice is low, filled with emotion. “I love you too, Dr. Murphy.”
The moment is poignant and beautiful, and I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, but Glassman breaks it up by quipping that maybe they should go with the clip-on, because apparently Aaron can’t tie bowties for shit. Shaun is very much down with that.
I will sing praise about this scene further down, but how beautiful was this? We’ve been waiting for it for so long, and I have to say it was everything I wanted, and delivered absolutely perfectly by acting dream team Freddie Highmore and Richard Schiff. My favourite scene of the whole episode, for sure! Up there in the top 3 of all-time favourite scenes out of the entirety of season 5 as well.
And then it’s time for the big event! This is the favour that Glassman asked of Andrews, because Andrews is officiating the wedding ceremony. (May we assume that he went to get trained for it specifically?) Shaun and Lea are standing in front of a small crowd of guests, in excited anticipation of finally being able to tie the knot!
We hear the familiar words from Andrews. “Shaun Robert Murphy, do you take Lea Abigail Dilallo—” Shaun is a bit eager and interrupts with, “I do.” He just really can’t wait. There are chuckles from the audience. I don’t think Shaun has ever held eye contact with anyone this long in his life as he looks at the face of his beautiful wife to be, and she does likewise. There is all the love in the world in the way these two look at each other.
Of course both say, “I do,” Lea even goes for an emphatic, “Oh yeah, I do.” Glassman and Jordan hand them the heirloom rings. Glassman’s little shoulder touch on Shaun is really sweet, and more love being passed around. Rings are exchanged. “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” I don’t think we’ve ever seen Shaun smile as much, either.
Their first officially endorsed kiss as a married couple is sweet and happy and the audience supports it with cheers and applause. It’s about time!
In line with all of this going so perfectly, Glassman’s wedding speech is very moving, and a beautiful story of how he met and bonded with Shaun, accompanied by all the important flashback scenes from season 1 – how Shaun left Casper to apply as resident in San Jose, how he walked into his first surgery with Melendez, how he hugged Glassman when he survived the cancer, how they goofed out together while being high on marihuana, how he first met Lea over borrowed batteries, how he and Lea sang karaoke, how she got pregnant, his and Lea’s first kiss at the motel…
“About 20 years ago, a young man walked into my clinic with his brother, cradling a dead rabbit. He was very young and very sweet, and I thought totally lost. And here we are, some many years later, and I realized I was wrong. He was never lost. He always knew who he was. He always knew what he wanted. He always knew exactly what mattered.
“And he found it with someone else I may have underestimated just a tad. You two deserve each other. You deserve love and you deserve all the happiness in the world. And then some.” He hands them each a champagne glass. “To Shaun and Lea.” There are toasts and clinking glasses all around.
Extra sweet is the hug and the kiss Glassman gives Lea, because they’ve been on a long journey of acceptance as well. Now she’s, for all intents and purposes, his daughter-in-law and part of the family, into which he’s finally welcoming her.
The party is all merrymaking and joy. Guests are dancing and drinking, Lea throws her head back in a carefree, throaty laugh when Shaun asks her for a dance. As Glassman is standing to the side, watching the happily dancing couple, Lim sidles up to him and remarks, “They look so happy, don’t they? Makes me kinda hate ‘em a little.” It does, doesn’t it?
Glassman watches them dance for a long time with a with a serene and proud smile on his face. It’s a most perfect wedding for the two of them. Or is it…?
Side Note #1: The timing of this seems a little off, though. Shaun says their courthouse date is at 4:30 pm. We can only assume they were getting ready to go there when they were on the elevator, and then put on the clothes that Glassy and Jordan got for them, and then the ceremony would have started soon thereafter. Yet, the ceremony is clearly at night when it’s dark. Sundown in San Jose in May is around 8 pm and nightly dark isn’t much before 10 pm. Did it take them six hours to get dressed? How does that fit together? I guess it doesn’t. Suspension of disbelief, please.
Side Note #2: As an eagle-eyed fan on Twitter spotted, their wedding cake actually says Happy Birthday. Impromptu wedding planning isn’t really Glassy’s forte, eh?
Jerome, Asher and Jordan are discussing a video Asher recorded and maybe put online. Something about smoothies with tequila making Asher try really awkward butt-poky dance moves. He is about to demonstrate, when someone calls his name. He spins around, completely agape. It’s his parents. Talk about unexpected guests! The modified title theme music goes the ominous route.
His parents break the news to Asher that his father is dying from lung cancer, and now they’re putting all their hope in their son, for God to work a miracle through Asher. That’s a tall order, and I very much bristle when I hear Asher’s mother say that. That’s emotional blackmail par excellence, and it makes me kinda angry when parents get so manipulative.
You can see there’s a lot of tension there, and Asher carries a great deal of resentment. When his mother Miriam says, “G-d bless you,” to Shaun, Asher goes off on her, asking her to cool it with the devoutness since they’re in a secular hospital now. I like that Yosel’s retort is somewhat cynical, since he says, “It’s called Saint Bonaventure.” Maybe he has a sense of humour, after all.
Jerome happens to be Yosel’s nurse, and Asher is about to introduce him to his parents as his boyfriend but chickens out at the last minute. “Jerome is… a nurse. Jerome is your nurse.”
Asher and Yosel get a moment together as Asher prepares him for the CT scan. He tells his father that he read his letter a few months ago—the letter that Yosel sent six years ago. There is still very little understanding from Asher’s parents about the choice he made, and more gentle manipulation for him having wronged them and that it’s not too late to come home and rejoin their family. However, Asher made a choice then to accept and love the person he is, and that mattered more to him than his family and their way of life.
Asher observes the emergency surgery his father has to undergo and notices a scar on his wrist that he remembers he got when he taught Asher how to ride a bike. The surgeons in attendance share good memories they have of their fathers. Andrews’ father was a minister and taught him how to tie a tie. Jordan’s father taught her how to bake the best oatmeal cookies in the world. Not surprisingly, Shaun doesn’t have much to contribute in the good father memories department, though he recalls a fishing trip by the river that gets interrupted by Andrews with a statement about the medical problem at hand.
After they tell Yosel that his outlook after the surgery is grim and he only has weeks to live, he wants to spend the night celebrating Shabbos, the Jewish holiday of rest. Asher helps prepare everything, including kiddush wine. Yosel invites Jordan to celebrate with them, as well as more of Asher’s friends and colleagues. Together they drink and eat, Yosel offers up pieces from the loafs of braided challah.
Stories are being shared, there are smiles and laughs, but Asher is still apprehensive—residual tension remains. Miriam asks Asher to say the mi sheberach prayer for his father, and Asher hesitates. “You want me to pray to a G-d I don’t believe in?” They were hoping that Asher could honour his father on his last days, and suddenly they’re talking about hope and whether there is any left.
Yosel has accepted that he is going to die, which Miriam is appalled by. Yosel makes another attempt to ask Asher to come home with them and accompany his father on the last leg of his life’s journey. Here we are again with the emotional blackmail, and geez, can you just stop?
Asher stays quiet for a long moment, then lets out a sardonic chuckle. “I want to be your son—almost more than I wanna be myself. But I can’t.” He strides over to Jerome and kisses him. “This is who I am. And this is my boyfriend,” he adds, then leaves. Miriam is wide-eyed and shocked. Yosel seems to take it in stride. Jerome looks on awkwardly, then goes after Asher. Shabbos doesn’t end quite as celebratory as it started.
It’s Shaun as perhaps the most unlikely person to talk about relationships to fathers who gives Asher something to think about. He asks Asher if he thought his parents would like him more if he acted more… what is the word? “Straight?” Asher offers. Yes, that works. “I think they’d like me more if I actually was straight.” Shaun can relate to that. His parents definitely would have liked him better if he didn’t have autism. He adds, “But your dad is not like my dad. Your dad came to see you.”
And that’s a very good point, because Shaun’s dad also had terminal cancer, and they only reached out when he was already on his death bed with only a few days to live. Which, like… also super dick move. But we already know how that story ended. I really hope Shaun’s prevailing memory from that trip is how close he and Lea got that night and not what a massive jerk his father was.
Side Note: David Shore mentioned in a recent interview that they wanted to cut this scene for time, but Freddie Highmore fought to leave it in, and Shore agreed in hindsight that it was a good decision. I’m also glad they kept it, it added a level of connection between Shaun and Asher, and was a really nice illustration that, while Shaun can’t necessarily always help with parenting issues, he sometimes has the right ideas that can be inspiring, nonetheless.
Jordan is the one who tries to talk some sense into Asher. She finds him in the cafeteria as he spite-eats a huge piece of chocolate cake. (It looks so great, I want one!) She tells him to his face that he’s being a jerk. He’s sick of pretending to be person he never was, but it’s not about that. “For the two years I’ve known you, you have been cute and funny and clever. And caring. And sensitive. Suddenly your parents show up, and you’re… just angry.”
Jordan asks him why he thinks his parents came to California, and his answer is so that he can save his father’s life and they can go back to their real family. But Jordan tells him that’s not quite the way it is. “He would have found a reason to get on that plane if you were a car mechanic. He came here for peace, not a miracle cure.”
Asher tries to talk to his mother about it when they’re having a quiet moment in the hospital chapel. Miriam was so happy when they said they could give Yosel more time, but now Asher sees that his father is at peace and wants to go home and be with G-d. And Miriam should let him.
She’s a bit bitter about it. “You want me to take moral advice from you?” She is about to walk away when Asher quotes a passage from the Torah to her, urges her to consider her father’s wishes. They have a fight about Jewish principles, about whether letting Yosel go is basically suicide. Asher tells his mother about how people are curious about his upbringing, how much he was sheltered from secular life, and how they’re appalled by all of it—how he is appalled and embarrassed by a lot of it.
But there is one thing, the one big thing that he’ll always defend: his parents’ marriage and their love for each other. And the only reason Miriam is trying to fight for her husband’s life is because she loves him and doesn’t want to lose him.
Asher steps closer, takes her hand. “You don’t want the pain of losing him. But you love him enough to take away his pain. To make that pain yours.” It strikes a chord with Miriam, and Asher later watches them talk about it through the patient room window with a relieved sigh. Let love prevail. The scene between Miriam and Asher was executed and acted beautifully, it packed a true emotional punch, and I really like that Noah Galvin got a chance to let his talent and skill shine in this episode.
Side Note: I only realised this a little bit into the episode on the second viewing, but did you notice that Miriam is actually wearing a wig? And I don’t mean something the make-up department put her in because the actress’s hair wasn’t suitable for the character, I mean a wig that a Hasidic woman would wear in public. This is in line with Hasidic tradition, which dictates that according to the Torah, the Hebrew bible, married women must cover their heads. Some do it with a scarf, but like many other Hasidic women, Miriam chose a wig for it.
When Yosel has recovered enough to be discharged after the decision not to go through with the surgery, Asher bids his parents farewell outside the hospital. Miriam lovingly cups his temple. Asher has tears in his eyes, but chuckles when she tells him he needs a haircut.
Yosel meets Asher’s gaze and they look at each other for a very long moment, then Yosel closes the gap and pulls Asher to his chest. Both are crying as they hug. “I love you, son,” his father tells Asher. Asher says, “I love you, too,” in Yiddish. They say their goodbyes and Asher watches them walk away in sorrow.
Side Note: Okay, this is super nerdy and maybe a little too conspiracy theory, but remember when I was saying in a previous recap that Jerome’s St. Bonaventure nametag didn’t look like it spelled Martel as his last name, even though he verbally said that his last name was Martel? Turns out I wasn’t wrong. In one of the episode stills you can see it reads Betts. So then if we combine the two, we get Betts Martel. Is that a nod to Bates Motel? Or am I reading way too much into coincidental details?
That said, there’s another still where his name tag seems to spell something else entirely. Manuels, maybe? Jerome Betts Martel Manuels. Yep, checks out. 👍🏻
Alex & Morgan
Morgan breaks the news to Alex that she is interviewing for a job at New York Medical Center. She isn’t seriously considering to move to the other side of the country, she just wants to test her value on the job market and leverage being in demand to ask for more money from St. Bon’s. Hm, why do I get the feeling this isn’t quite gonna go how we’d expect?
Alex inquires with Morgan later how the interview went, and Morgan says great. She and the Head of Internal Medicine really hit it off. Yeah, okay, I can kinda see where this will be going.
This current uncertainty with the job interview bleeds into their professional life as well when Alex starts laying into Morgan for not being willing to commit to love and the idea that she may have to make sacrifices for the person she loves. They really have a lot of issues still to resolve.
Standing by Yosel’s bedside, Morgan confides in Alex that they offered her the job. That gives both a lot to think about. Later in surgery with Alex, Audrey comments on Morgan’s job offer and has another angle to contribute to the situation. “As long as she’s at St. Bon’s, she’s seen as the doctor who used to be a surgeon but can’t be anymore.”
As Alex and Morgan are slow dancing at the wedding, Morgan admits that she wants the job. Alex looks at her long and hard and says he understands. They continue dancing in a tight embrace, and we are left to wonder what that will mean for their future as a couple and for next season.
There’s a TV Line interview with David Shore where he talks about plans for season 6. He mentions that we’re not losing Morgan, but that her decision will have repercussions on her relationship with Alex. As to what that actually means, we don’t know yet. Could be many different things. Could be her going to NY for a while and then realising that it’s not what it was cut out to be and she comes back. Could be her finally deciding to stay but that having a negative effect on her happiness with her current job and life situation. Or something else entirely. We will just have to wait and see.
Lim & Villanueva
Lim and Villanueva (her first name is actually Dalisay) are enjoying domestic life together. Dalisay is making omelettes – peppers, no cheese. Owen is still calling her on her phone, he doesn’t seem to be happy about the restraining order she filed. Dalisay is ignoring all this calls. Good for her!
Later in the break room, Dalisay discards a bouquet of flowers that Owen had delivered to her. “I’m finding them a good home.” Off they go into the rubbish bin! And she tells Audrey that she found an apartment and will move out within a week. Wow, that was fast, Audrey remarks. She warns Dalisay not to think she’s moved on too quickly. These things take time. And she would prefer if Dalisay stayed with her for a few more weeks, to which Dalisay reluctantly agrees.
Side Note: I may have said “flowers that Owen had delivered to her”, but in actuality it was Owen himself who delivered the flowers. If you look very closely at the scene where he tries to first give them to Jordan, it’s Owen dressed as delivery man. That’s how he got past hospital security.
At Shaun and Lea’s wedding with Audrey reminiscing about Shaun and Lea as a happy couple, Jordan mentions that people are drinking a lot and they don’t have enough glasses. Audrey says she’ll get some more from the break room.
It seems already odd that the lights are off in the locker room as Audrey walks to the break room. I mean, a hospital never sleeps, right? Even if there’s a wedding happening on the roof… Lim stops short when there’s something slippery on the floor that almost makes her stumble. She looks down. It’s blood. Dalisay’s blood.
Dalisay is on the floor in the middle of the break room, barely conscious, puddles of blood around her. Lim feels for her pulse, yells code blue to whoever might hear her from the otherwise empty break room. “He’s here,” Dalisay ekes out in a whisper. Who? Who is here?
“My ex,” is one of the last things we hear her say as Owen jumps out from a corner, stabbing Audrey twice in the abdomen. She goes down and gasps in pain.
The camera pans away from the two women lying bleeding in the dark break room to the roof where people are still merrily dancing to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. And that’s how The Good Doctor bids us farewell into the summer hiatus, with what I think is the biggest season ending cliffhanger that the show has had to date.
Side Note: Me and plenty others on social media had serious flashbacks to 22 years ago, to the season 6 episode of ER where they did almost the same thing. On that episode, there’s a Valentine’s Day party with loud music that most of the staff is attending, and Dr. Carter is going to check on his absent colleague Lucy. Trying to find Lucy, he is stabbed and severely injured in a dark treatment room by a schizophrenic patient lying in wait.
That storyline ended with Carter surviving but Lucy, the other stabbing victim, dying from her injuries. Carter had lifelong kidney issues from the injury and struggled with drug addiction afterwards. I dearly hope that both Dalisay and Audrey make it, though we know David Shore isn’t always very kind to his characters.
That’s a Wrap on Season 5!
Last week I said I was apprehensive about the season finale, afraid that it wouldn’t deliver since the previous few episodes felt so sub-par. Turns out my fears were unfounded, which is a very good thing! This season finale was a win in every way, and I couldn’t be happier with it. Okay, maybe I could be a tiny bit happier with a few minor things, but I loved at least 97% of the episode. David Shore did good.
So where do I start? Let’s go with Asher and leave the juicy Shea bits for last. Because we revisited Asher’s family, and that had been a thing on my season 5 wishlist that was addressed in a way that I liked very much. I mean, sure, the whole “family tries to reconnect because parent is on their deathbed” thing isn’t exactly new or original, they did this whole storyline with Shaun in mid-season 3. But it was beautiful then, and it was also beautiful now, so I’ll give them a pass.
I said in previous recap that The Good Doctor is at its best when they delve into the characters’ pasts and personal stories with high stakes, and that’s exactly what they did here, and it had me invested as heck. I love Asher, and I love his carefree, playful, happy-go-lucky attitude. It was great to explore just how crushing and stifling that previous Hasidic life was for him, and I hated his parents quite a bit for being so manipulative. For a while I was afraid he was going to consider rejoining the family, but I’m glad that he didn’t.
It was also great seeing Noah Galvin getting to show more of his acting range and delivering all the emotional beats wonderfully. The scene with his mother in the chapel was powerful, as was the scene with his father before the CT scan.
There was a bit of a complaint from some fans that Shaun wasn’t present during the Shabbos celebration scenes. Many felt the relevance of father/son relationships would have been even more impactful if Shaun had been there, had been part of Asher’s attempts to reconnect with his family and witnessed his ultimate outburst of anger. I’m undecided on this one. I thought it worked well without Shaun, but I also agree that having him there could have added another layer to the storytelling. Who knows why that decision was made.
I’m also happy that Asher managed to stand up for himself and finally introduce Jerome as his boyfriend. I still stan the two of them, and they make me happy as a couple. I hope they keep them together in season 6.
Okay, let’s talk about Shea and Shaun. Because how good was this episode after all the recent disappointment and writing missteps? This episode felt like home, the characters felt coherent and consistent and harmonious. There were no “this doesn’t feel true to the character” moments, no weird reactions or word choices or behaviour. Everyone just felt right, you know. I’d like to think that’s thanks to David Shore having a hand in the script and directing.
There may be a small complaint that perhaps there was too little focus on Shaun and Lea until the last ten minutes of the episode, but I felt that the Asher story needed room to unfold, and I’m glad they gave it that. And we were rewarded with all the lovely Shea and Shaun/Glassman goodness at the end, so let’s talk about that.
Only last week, I was grumpy about five whole seasons and still no explicit acknowledgement of Glassman’s father role in Shaun’s life. I was fully prepared to keep whining about it, but now I don’t have to anymore, because, my goodness, that scene was perfect and beautiful, and pretty much exactly the thing that many fans had been waiting for for so long.
What’s kinda interesting here is that there is an overarching sentiment on social media that everyone loved the scene, but what most people single out is the “I love you” statement, when Shaun already said that to Glassman in season 1 (1×18 More). However, at the time, Shaun didn’t want to acknowledge Glassman as a father figure, based on his terrible experience with his biological father and his resulting rejection of anyone who may want to take that role.
The really poignant and important line in this scene is, “My father is a very good father.” That’s Shaun verbalising something he’s come to understand and accept over the last year or so, an understanding that Glassman has taken on and filled the father role ever since Steve died and Glassman became his protector and mentor.
It also means Shaun has processed a lot of his lingering childhood trauma and is ready to acknowledge that there’s room in his life for someone he sees as a father. And seeing how it took 15 odd years to get there, that’s a rally huge leap for Shaun, and a really big fucking deal. It made me so so happy and massively tear up, not only because it was also beautifully delivered by Freddie and Richard. These two really know how to pack an emotional punch in their scenes.
And then of course there was the wedding. Finally the wedding! They’ve been doing the ‘will they or won’t they’ thing for all of season 5, and it’s so relieving to finally see them tie the knot. It’s a bit of a shame we never got to hear their vows, even if Shaun’s were only 26 seconds long. The Glassman speech was also perfect, and David Shore mentioned in an interview that Richard Schiff really wanted to get it right. Which he did, and managed to redeem himself after that terrible engagement party speech. Kudos to everyone involved in the wedding scenes.
That said, I have one complaint, though. Let’s go back for a moment to Expired, and how Shaun crumpled up the wedding chapel contract after he told Lea he couldn’t marry her, let it fall to the floor, and they made sure that the camera depicted Lea picking up the scrunched up ball of paper. So what happened with that? Hm, let me think. Oh yeah. Absolutely nothing.
It would have been such a beautiful physical metaphor for their bond, their commitment to marriage and connection. You know, like the baseball in earlier seasons. Sure, the way things were going, they ended up not needing that chapel anymore, but that crumpled piece of paper could have signified so much more. And they could have used it beautifully to remind the viewers and each other through it. Guys. You dropped the ball a lot in season 5 on these really sweet little details that the viewers love to look for.
Also lovely to see was that Glassman came full circle. Or maybe not full circle, but more like made a 180° turn. He was so leery of Lea for a very long time, felt her manic pixie girl tendencies weren’t good for Shaun’s need of stability and routine, never considering that it could make him open up and learn, leave his comfort zone and discover things he otherwise never would have.
In 4×08 Parenting Glassman voiced that he had an issue with Lea, because he was so sure she would hurt him and discard him, leave Glassman to pick up the pieces like he’s always had to whenever Shaun was spiralling into a personal crisis. But ultimately, with a few bumps in the road, she proved him wrong, and he came to see that he could trust his surrogate son with her and hand him over into her loving arms without reservations.
The one dark shadow hanging over all of this is, of course, the physical assault on Villanueva and Lim, who unbeknownst to all the happily celebrating guests are lying on the floor of a dark break room, bleeding out from their stab wounds.
And if you think about it, that’s one hell of an ugly stain on a wedding day, because Shaun and Lea will forever remember what was supposed to be their special day as the day that two colleagues of theirs either died or were mortally wounded. I really hope that both Dalisay and Lim make it, because it would be pretty cruel to have a death hanging over a wedding. Then again, Shore loves showing people that tragedy can strike at any time in life and doesn’t have a regard for concepts such as decency and fairness.
For those who are more inclined to actually wanting to know what will happen with Lim after the shocking cliffhanger, Christina Chang posted a few photos that show surgeon dream team Andrews, Allen, Glassman and Murphy from a perspective that suggests Lim is the patient lying on the OR table. Glassman also seems to be wearing his wedding attire, so at least we know she’s alive enough to be operated on.
One of the Christina Chang fanclub accounts on Twitter had a whole list of speculation tweets what happens with Lim, based on behind the scenes photos that were shared. I didn’t look at them in detail since that felt too spoilery to me, but if you’re really interested in all those juicy details, you may want to take a look at that account and find those tweets.
Add to that, there’s a TV Line interview with David Shore that hints at the fact that Lim will survive but that there will be lasting repercussions for her. As for what those will look like, we can only guess.
Dalisay’s fate hangs completely in the balance. Since we know David Shore has a predilection for playing out drama and doesn’t shy away from killing off characters, I have a feeling she won’t make it, particularly since she’s been lying there for a while longer, losing a lot of blood and potentially more severe or just more stab wounds to bleed from. It would certainly add a whole other level to whatever Lim’s struggle will be in season 6.
All of this seems to suggest that we’ll see a larger arc playing out for Audrey that will deal with the aftermath of that brutal assault, and a personal struggle she will go through. And that sounds intriguing to me and I’m looking forward to seeing that play out.
As for what’s in store for our autistic protagonist, there isn’t all that much we know yet. Freddie Highmore mentioned in a short video at the Disney Upfronts and a few other short media appearances that there’s a promotion in store for Shaun, which likely means he will become surgical attending at St. Bonaventure in season 6.
We also know there will be two new junior residents added as recurring roles to the team, and Shaun will face new challenges as a teacher and mentor. An interesting aspect will be that in an attending role, there is less of a safety net, and Shaun will have rely more on himself with decisions and medical judgements. He’ll be the one his junior colleagues go to for guidance and decisions rather than him seeking it from his attendings.
And dare we hope we’ll maybe see a Shea baby on the horizon for real? Nothing has been said about it so far, but it’s something that many fans are hoping for. I could very well see that as the culmination of Shaun’s journey throughout season 6 and a happy ending for a season (hopefully not series) finale in 2023. We shall see.
(image from Will Yun Lee’s Instagram)
In terms of overall fandom reactions, there is a uniform outcry I’ve seen across most social media platforms I frequent, all a variation of, “Geez, that ending, how dare they?!” and, “omg, please no, Lim can’t die!” Many people spoke positively about the finale having been enjoyable to watch, and a shared happiness of Shaun and Lea finally in the hands of matrimony. I think overall people were very happy with the finale and how it played out, with some lingering malcontent of being left in the dark for four months with that pretty epic cliffhanger.
Personally, I’m super happy with the season finale, I don’t even mind the cliffhanger so much (because come on, Lim won’t die, right?), and I’m looking forward to four months of recap-free TGD geekery in the form of fanart and fanvids and all the nerdy, angsty-schmoopy fanfic that I’m already working on. So stay tuned and watch this space!
A Reminder about Fandom Etiquette
Last but not least, I wanted to leave a quick reminder here about etiquette in fandoms around spoilers. Even though there seems to be a general expectation these days that spoilers are normal and will automatically be encountered if you go on social media, can we perhaps try to be more sensitive to the fact that not everyone automatically wants to hear what is planned for season 6?
Right now we only have the David Shore interview that drops a few hints, and a bunch of behind the scenes photos from the first two episodes of season 6, which people are using to piece together what will happen with Lim.
Just please keep in mind that there are fans who don’t want to know anything about how season 6 unfolds, who would prefer to be kept in suspense and find out themselves as the season airs in the fall. To respect the wishes of those fans, it would be common courtesy to use spoiler warnings on any information you share that goes beyond what has already aired or what is pure speculation.
Also keep in mind that officially released promo or interview material doesn’t automatically mean it’s not a spoiler. Merriam-Webster defines a spoiler as, “information about the plot of a motion picture or TV program that can spoil a viewer’s sense of surprise or suspense”. Wikipedia says, “A spoiler is an element of a disseminated summary or description of any narrative that reveals plot elements.”
If an officially released still photograph or episode promo contains information that reveals important plot elements, it can very well be regarded as a spoiler. Obviously, the boundaries are fluid as to where you draw the line, and there are fans like me who have a very narrow view on what’s a spoiler and what isn’t.
All I can ask for at this point is to be more mindful of the fact that there are people out there who don’t want to know spoilers, and if you interact with new fans whose preference you don’t know yet, please assume that they would want to stay spoiler-free unless they tell you otherwise. And if you absolutely must spoil, then please at least add a spoiler hashtag or spoiler warning.
State of the Shea
Will be added later, stay tuned.