Oh man. This feels like Crazytown all over again. I really don’t have many positive things to say about this episode. It’s one of those where I wanna write the recap purely through sarcastic internet memes. This one definitely didn’t push any of my buttons for what I enjoy and expect of intelligent and captivating television.
Written by April Fitzsimmons & Thomas L. Moran
Directed by Anne Renton
Original airdate Oct 10, 2022
Patient #1 – Jeremiah
Morgan Reznick, Jordan Allen, Daniel Perez, Alex Park
Large visible tumour on his neck that requires surgical removal
- Jeremiah presents with a large, visible mass on his neck that he says impairs his ability to swallow
- He hadn’t seen a doctor for ten or twenty years
- Daniel initially diagnoses the swelling on the neck as large palpable anterior mass, Morgan determines that the mass will need to be surgically removed
- Jeremiah is reported to have refused a psych consult, which was likely recommended to him because he’s a messy and shows sociophobe tendencies that keep him from leaving his house
- After imaging, it is stated that the mass has grown into the larynx with possible bilateral involvement, surgical removal may adversely affect the patient’s ability to speak
- Morgan suggests a laryngoscopy to assess the damage on the vocal cords, Alex wants a needle aspiration to assess malignancy – the team agrees to do both
- During tumour removal surgery, there is a bleed from the superior laryngeal artery which they stop with a clamp and a silk tie
- We can only assume the tumour removal goes well since Jeremiah is up and at ‘em that night, already walking around to end up adopting Wilbur, the genetically modified pig
Patient #2 – Brett
Shaun Murphy, Asher Wolke, Danica Powell
Unknown heart condition requiring an urgent heart transplant
- Brett is in the hospital to get a heart transplant, the actual heart condition leading to the necessity of a transplant is not given
- As the surgical team is in the OR, getting ready to transplant the heart, Danica notices that the donor organ has a tricuspid insufficiency which Shaun presumes happened during organ recovery
- Danica suggests they put Brett on ECMO and wait for a new donor heart to become available, Shaun agrees to that approach
- The team looks for alternative approaches, Asher suggests a xenotransplant (temporarily transplanting a pig heart into Brett until a better human version becomes available)
- The pig heart is being delivered to St. Bonaventure in vivo, meaning as a whole, living pig by the name of Wilbur
- Just as they are starting to cut Wilbur open to harvest his heart, an alternative human heart from a braindead person becomes available and Wilbur escapes with his life
- The transplant surgery is a success and Brett regains consciousness later that night
Patient #3 – Wilbur, the pig
Shaun Murphy, Asher Wolke, (Danica Powell)
No medical condition diagnosed
- Wilbur is at the hospital as a bovine specimen to provide a donor heart for a xenotransplant
- Wilbur gets prepped for surgery and is then transported to the OR for harvesting of his donor heart
- At the last second, the team finds an alternative human heart so that Wilbur’s doesn’t have to be extracted at St. Bon’s
- After the aborted surgery, Wilbur gets a new home with the tumour patient Jeremiah
Newly appointed attending Dr. Shaun Murphy is moving into his shared office with Dr. Park on their mutual first day as attending surgeons. Right away Shaun is annoyed at Park’s electric pencil sharpener, and Lea saves the day by coming to bear housewarming gifts. Shaun asks if it’s noise-cancelling ear buds. No, Shaun, far from that.
It’s actually a chatbot decision maker button, kinda like the electronic version of a Magic-8 Ball. The one she has for Park seems to be the generic version that says, “But of course!” and “Sounds like a brilliant idea.” Shaun asks if the answers are always yes, and Lea tells him to ask his decision maker button. He does, and it responds with, “Tequila stat,” which Shaun finds as amusing as Lea had hoped.
Shaun remarks that Tequila can’t be the answer to everything, but Lea is not so sure. Park interrupts that Lim has arrived in the parking lot. When Lea asks Shaun if he’s okay, he’s confused. Why wouldn’t he be?
Okay, but why would Park get a text that Lim is in the parking lot? And who sent it? I’m also confused.
The first meeting between Lim and Shaun after all this time is awkward, which doesn’t slip by Jordan and Asher either as they all welcome the now wheelchair-bound Chief of Surgery back to the fold. She thanks Shaun in front of everyone for saving his life, to which Shaun says almost bashfully, “You’re welcome.” He’s predictably oblivious to the palpable awkwardness here.
Shaun’s first big decision as attending is to choose whether he wants to work with the soldier or the farm boy when Park asks him which of the new first-years he wants to pick on his first day. Shaun is boastfully confident that it’s not actually their first day. They’ve been here five years and know the ropes. “Being an attending shouldn’t be much different than being a senior resident.”
Really, Shaun? First time I’m raising my eyebrow this episode, and certainly not the last.
Shaun can’t decide fast enough, so Park picks for them and Shaun ends up with soldier lady, Danica Powell, together with Asher. Their medical case is a heart transplant patient, and for the first time in his life, Shaun is standing by the foot of the bed as decision-making attending with all the doctors around him under his wing. He does pretty well, even when the patient’s wife and fellow surgeon challenges why a greenhorn junior resident on her first day has to be involved in her husband’s surgery.
Then it’s time for Shaun to shine. A lot of firsts in this episode – first time Shaun having full control as attending over a surgery. Decision making, indeed. He seems to have fully internalised the expectation that he’s now supposed to be teaching more than actually doing, so he offers the most complicated part of the transplantation to Asher. The latter is initially surprised but then elated he gets to get his hands dirty.
It doesn’t actually come to that, because Danica realises that the donor heart has a damaged valve and they’d just be replacing one faulty heart with another. They discuss options, and when Asher asks if they really wanna take that risk, Shaun reminds everyone that it’s his decision what to do. He takes a moment, then decides to abort the surgery and hope a better heart becomes available quickly.
Okay, so let me get this straight. They saw open the guy’s sternum, prep the chest cavity to cut out the old heart, and then they check if the donor heart has any defects after the patient’s chest is already cracked open? Wouldn’t it make more sense to check the donor heart before forcing open the guy’s ribcage??
The patient’s wife doesn’t take very kindly to the news that her husband is still left with a failing heart and gets a little testy with Shaun, who very much focuses on the facts, which only upsets the wife more. It’s Danica who saves the day, reassuring the wife that the team is doing the very best to save her husband’s life and offers to help in any way that they can. The situation is quickly deescalated, and both Shaun and Asher are impressed with Danica’s social skills.
Interesting tidbit: Melissa Reiner states in her episode insights for this episode that Shaun was initially supposed to use the wording “you shouldn’t be trying to intrude on…” when he was telling the wife she had no business getting involved in surgical decisions regarding her husband. Melissa requested they change the dialogue, and they did so that it wasn’t quite as harsh with Shaun saying she was “just a wife”.
What neither is very impressed with, however, is when Danica refuses to participate in a xenotransplant procedure, which is currently the best option to keep their patient alive. Danica doesn’t believe in killing animals for selfish reasons, and Shaun points out that refusal to take part in the surgery would be grounds for termination of her employment. It doesn’t seem to intimidate Danica in the least.
As is Shaun’s MO, he seeks advice from all the people he trusts. Andrews brushes him off, tells him he has to have the balls to make his own decisions now. He catches both Glassman and Lea his Glassman’s office. Lea is quick to judge, tells Shaun that he should definitely fire his new resident because if she’s already this defiant on Day 1, it’s only gonna get worse. Glassman is a little more level-headed and asks Shaun to think about it before he makes impulsive decisions. After all, Shaun himself has been defiant to his superiors. You know, like when he chose to do the embolization that paralysed Lim.
Glassman was totally right that Shaun has also been a troublemaker more than once. How often did his attendings have to put up with his shit? There’s actually a long list of things where Shaun fucked up in one way or another and perhaps should have not gotten away with it as easily as he did.
- Went to a patient’s home to insist on further tests that his superiors had said were unnecessary.
- Told a young patient he had cancer against his parents' wishes and tried to perform a bone marrow aspiration without the parents’ and his attending’s consent.
- Slapped the hospital’s president in the face in the hospital lobby.
- Skived off and went AWOL for two days without informing his employer, later openly admitting to his superiors he was away on an unsanctioned road trip.
- Refused to acknowledge a transgender patient’s pronouns despite clear guidance.
- Contradicted a superior in front of patients about a proposed surgical approach.
- Almost killed a patient because he was distracted by Glassman’s cancer diagnosis, which caused Glassman to have to resign as hospital president.
- Defied orders not to treat a homeless patient he suspected had a brain tumour.
- Yelled at a pregnant woman and a nurse to be quiet so he could concentrate.
- Told a mother of a newborn with birth defects that they were likely caused by her taking antidepressants during pregnancy.
- Went into a patient’s room and went through their belongings on his first day in Pathology after being explicitly instructed by the Chief of Surgery to have no contact whatsoever with patients.
- Lost it and yelled at the Chief of Surgery to reinstate him to the point where it got him fired.
- Full-blown meltdown during surgery.
- Threw a scrub nurse out of his first lead surgery because she handed him an instrument at the wrong angle and refused to apologise to her afterwards.
- Hyperfixated on needing to perform an autopsy that his superiors deemed unnecessary and performed said autopsy without authorisation.
- Left the hospital in the middle of his shift because of lovesickness.
- Crawled into a basement of a collapsed building against his Chief of Surgery’s and firefighters’ orders.
- Openly accused a patient’s wife of giving her husband COVID.
- Was rude and disrespectful to a pregnant transgender patient.
- Repeatedly upset a patient by insisting on running ASD diagnostics despite his attending’s explicit instructions.
- Told a key opinion leader guest surgeon he was wrong and forced his hand to run a diagnostic procedure against explicit orders from his superiors.
- Yelled at the hospital’s CEO about how inappropriate the changes she implemented were.
- Threw a tantrum and yelled at a patient’s father that got him taken off the case.
- Completely disregarded a daughter’s feelings and wishes and repeatedly and rudely tried to guilt her into changing her mind about her father’s treatment.
- Threw a tantrum in the pharmacy and destroyed hospital property in a fit of rage.
- Aborted a surgery practice exercise with his attending in a frustrated huff because he felt the surgery was ill-conceived and irresponsible.
- Caused an asthma attack in a patient following medication administration because he didn’t take the time to look at the patient’s medical history.
- Ignored a direct command from his superior and (apparently) paralysed a patient in the process.
So, Shaun, after all this, you can’t take a hot second to think about how it may perhaps not be the right thing to do to terminate your new resident’s employment on the spot after the first sign of trouble? Like, srsly?! Even more infuriating that Lea enables and encourages that kind of behaviour when she knows exactly nothing about the situation, doesn’t know the person they are talking about, and probably doesn’t even know what a xenotransplant is. What kind of idiotic, shoehorned and out-of-character writing is this?
Shaun doesn’t actually get to fire Dr. Powell before they can have that conversation, they are called down to the ER bay where the pig heart is being delivered. It comes with the whole pig still attached – the pig that is very much alive and is named Wilbur.
Apparently Wilbur was named after the pig in the children’s book Charlotte’s Web. Totally flew by me, I had never heard of that book before. It may not be as well-known in other countries as it is in the US.
Shaun gets a moment as they prep Wilbur for surgery to inform Dr. Lim of his decision to fire Danica. Finally, someone gives Shaun some pushback, because she tells him it’s not his job to decide which resident is a good fit for the program, his job is to teach and mentor them. Apparently, that did give Shaun some pause, because next we see him sitting with Danica in his office and he informs her that while he thinks her refusal to operate is grounds for termination, his job is not to fire her but to mould her into a good doctor.
Shaun’s solution is to suggest to her that she watch the surgery from the gallery, because that way she doesn’t have to actively participate but she can still learn how it’s done. That’s actually a pretty good approach, a great compromise, and Shaun lets out a little relieved breath when Danica says she’s okay with that.
You know, the more I think about this, the more I think this should have gotten more focus during the episode. One of the really interesting aspects that are always fun to watch is when Shaun is hit with an interpersonal conundrum and he weighs this and that option, tries different things, and in the end finds a workable solution that serves everyone and that’s often sweet and thoughtful.
This was a perfect example of that, but it just got so little attention in the episode, it was almost like an afterthought. It could have given the episode a lot more weight and depth and would have been a great way to explore the dynamic between newbie Danni and autistic Shaun. Seems like a missed opportunity to me.
Shaun doesn’t appear to have formed any particular connection to Wilbur, but he’s pretty cool with the pig and even reassures Dr. Lim that he’s very friendly. By the time he has to cut into him to extract his heart, we know he’s maybe gotten a tiny bit attached, because he says it is harder than he thought as he starts wielding the sternal saw. He is definitely relieved and elated when Jerome comes bursting into the OR with the news that they found an alternative human heart and they don’t have to kill Wilbur, to the point where Shaun is doing his little happy bounce we love seeing. All’s well that ends well for Wilbur.
Do we need to talk about the fact that a whole room full of medical staff was cheering that a person was declared braindead and fit for organ donation? They did comment in the episode that it was inappropriate, and of course the people in the OR were all rooting for the poor pig they’ve grown attached to, as compared to some random motorcyclist they haven’t even met. Yet, there may be a lingering awkwardness around the fact that the episode tried to drive home the point of vegetarianism and animal cruelty, and then a whole group of medical professionals rejoiced that someone died.
If Shaun has learned one thing, though, it’s that he knows the value of having a strong team to achieve your goals, because he tells his heart transplant patient later than his surgery was a team effort, although he is also quick to exclude Danica from it who really didn’t help at all.
When Lea later comes to pick Shaun up in his office to go home, she asks how his day was. His best answer is to push his decision maker button. Tequila stat it is, although Lea isn’t sure if it’s gonna be a night of celebration of commiserating. Shaun assures her it’s definitely to celebrate, and they skip happily out of his office together. A first day gone well, a least from Shaun’s perspective.
Alex & Morgan’s Journey
Friction time for Alex and Morgan. It appears that in the last three and a half months, their relationship has been totalled after their breakup on the night of Shaun and Lea’s wedding.
The first time we see them, they are already bickering and fighting over who gets to work with newbie resident Perez. Morgan comes to snatch him up before Alex can, which Alex is less than thrilled about. Shaun can only state the obvious to Danica and Daniel that Alex and Morgan used to be an item but that it ended badly. Yep, pretty much.
It gets a little tricky when their bickering and personal feud bleeds over into their medical case, because suddenly they’re not just fighting over who gets to work with whom, they’re also fighting about priorities of diagnostic procedures each of them wants.
Someone must have gone and told on them to Andrews, because the latter asks them into his office to let them know in no uncertain terms that they need to sort out their stuff and get their shit together. Both say they will and rush out. Hm, why do I have a feeling it’s not gonna be quite so easy?
So we finally get to meet the two Dannies! Danica Powell (Danni) and Daniel Perez (Danny) are enriching the St. Bon’s general surgery team as junior residents. They’re introduced to us as “Handsome Dan”, a.k.a. Daniel, the Farm Boy, and Danica, the Soldier. Shaun corrects that Naval Academy graduates are called sailors, but Park says combat is combat. Shaun also tells us that they both have excellent US Medical Licensing Examination scores. But of course.
There’s a few bits and pieces we learn about them along the way, namely that Danica spent two years in Afghanistan and has plenty of experience in deescalating conflict. She’s headstrong and doesn’t back down from a difficult argument, particularly when someone tries to tell her that she has no choice in accepting something. “Everything I’ve ever done has been my choice,” she tells Shaun.
Danica is assigned to Shaun’s case with the heart transplant, which she refuses to partake in since she’s strictly against killing animals for personal gain or food. Although when Asher prompts that preclinical studies are also done on animals, she concedes that she may be a hypocrite when she says that’s different. (More on that later, because I need to call them on their clinical research BS. Again.)
The whole thing almost gets her fired because Shaun thinks clearly that’s an inacceptable view to have when you’re a surgeon, but in the end he is being set straight by Lim that it’s not appropriate to fire his resident over this, so he asks Danica to watch the surgery from the gallery so that she can learn how it’s done without having to actively participate.
Danni’s lesson in humility ends with Shaun openly stating in front of the patient and his wife that she didn’t help at all with the heart transplant, but we’ll hopefully see her do actual surgical work in upcoming episodes that she doesn’t haven an ethical issue with.
In terms of Danny, he’s assigned to Jordan and Morgan’s case with the electronics hoarding recluse. Danny apparently grew up on a farm, collects Egyptian pottery and was obsessed with King Tut in elementary school. He also used to spend every summer alone in the cab of a combine, and he loved the solitude of it. He already knows every nurse by name and Jordan calls him a lone wolf. When his grandmother died, he saved her sweaters because they smelled like her pipe tobacco. And they had a pig on the farm once who was super smart and could do long division.
I wonder if the long division thing is based on a real story. Googled a little, didn’t find anything, but didn’t wanna spend a long time trying to dig deep. So who knows.
He takes Jordan’s very obvious flirting in stride, and he’s also seems to know his surgical stuff since he doesn’t do half-bad in the OR either. He gets his moment when he’s the one to connect their hermit patient with Wilbur, and he praises Jordan later for the brilliant idea. When Jordan invites him out for a drink, Danny declines cause he’s tired and yearns for a night with restorative yoga and much needed rest. Jordan feigns respect but is actually kinda bummed. Wonder where this whole romance chemistry thing will be going.
Okay, then. Pretty boy is into yin yoga… What’s kinda cute, though, is when Asher calls Jordan on her inappropriate flirting. I still love the sibling vibes between the two of them! Makes me happy to see them being so comfortable around each other.
Perhaps not that surprisingly, we’re being introduced to what the outcome of Audrey’s recovery process is, and we learn that she is now in a wheelchair, paralysed from the waist down.
After three and a half months, she is ready to return to work, which she does in a hand-control car that was modified for a paraplegic driver. When she is taking apart her modular manual wheelchair to load it into the car, a man passing by offers to help, which she assertively declines. She’s got this.
Arriving at St. Bon’s, she is welcomed by a group of colleagues, giving her a round of applause, conveying welcome-back sentiments. It’s a little awkward with Shaun being there and Audrey actually publicly thanking him for saving his life, because apparently it’s unclear whether his insistence on the angio-embolization over the liver resection caused Audrey’s paralysis or not.
Going back to a work routine is particularly difficult, memories linger and hit her hard as she enters the break room. She and Dalisay were stabbed here, but Morgan interrupts before the recollection can fully surface. Morgan needs a surgeon and doesn’t want Alex to be it. Obviously Lim can’t do it herself, but wait a minute. Why can’t she?
She immediately goes to Andrews to insist that she wants to go back to active surgery, starting with an impending hernia repair. Andrews is reluctant at first but then agrees to let her do it, but only if he supervises.
Audrey has a motorised chair that can hold her upright which she’s practiced in at length. Villanueva is there to help her get strapped into it. She shares with Audrey that she still has nightmares and can’t sleep and wishes she was as strong as her. But that’s not quite true. Audrey says she’s just a better poker player.
The surgery is harder than she expected. Audrey is sweating profusely and she has trouble keeping her concentration because of the physical exertion of standing upright, held up by straps and equipment. Eventually she has to admit she’s not quite ready and has Andrews take over the surgery.
Interestingly, Glassman ends up being the person Lim confides in how hard a time she has adjusting to her new life. The stand-up chair for surgeries doesn’t seem to be the ultimate solution, so Glassman suggests to instead lower the patient and let the rest of the medical team sync up with her. Heh, interesting concept she hadn’t considered yet.
Nurses Hawks and Villanueva try to help her figure out how they could adapt the existing OR tables, but they run into several issues. These tables are just not built to be accessible, so they’re not getting anywhere. When Shaun talks to Lim about firing Dr. Powell and she sees Wilbur in the background, it gives Lim an idea: a butcher table.
When she runs this by Villanueva, she suggests that they have those kinds of tables down in the morgue. Problem solved! And the idea is a success, Lim’s next appendectomy surgery has everyone sitting down with her around the patient, and everything goes well. Andrews also compliments it with, “Nice work.”
When Audrey meets Glassman again up in PT where he’s trying to get his sudden onset back pain sorted out, she confides in him that she feels like a racehorse who’s been relegated to the carousel. Glassman knows a little bit about this, doesn’t he? It took him two years to come back to surgery after his brain tumour. But the thing is, he never went back to being the surgeon he once was. So what Lim needs to figure out is who is the surgeon that she has now become.
When she goes home in the evening after an exhausting first day back, she runs into the same guy in the parking garage she met in the morning. He offers to help again, and she again refuses, but the damn wheel is stuck behind the passenger seat, and the unmistakeable sounds of frustration out of her mouth get the stranger to pull the wheel out for her anyway.
Kindly, he asks her if she’s okay, but, no, she is very much not okay. “I’m so sick of this chair, I’m sick of having to drive with my hands, I’m sick of not being able to get around because there are stairs everywhere. And I hate that my body won’t do what I want, I hate that I’m having to train like an Olympic gymnast just so I can get off the damn toilet, and I hate Shaun Murphy!” she bursts out in a fit of angry frustration, whispering, “This is all his fault.”
The episode fades to black on a discordant and ominous note here.
Glassman’s Back Issues
This was just a little side storyline that probably was written in for Glassman to have a reason to be in PT and talk to Lim, maybe also so that he could be in the floor in the office scene and, I dunno, provide a reason for him to be below both Shaun’s and Lea’s line of sight so that Lea could be in his desk chair and take over his usual advisor role. Total plot device, but anyway…
Glassman is getting ready to get to work in the morning, all happy and carefree, basketballing his dirty laundry into the hamper, taking his anti-epileptics with a happy-go-lucky attitude, because life is good, right? Until it isn’t, because a wrong movement throws out his back, and suddenly he has to concede the fact that he’s not getting any younger.
If you’re wondering why Glassman is actually taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), that would still be related to his brain surgery. The medication bottle they show has levetiracetam listed on the label, more commonly known under the brand name Keppra, a common AED and often first-line treatment for epilepsy or seizure prevention.
While we’ve not seen him have actual seizures, it’s common practice to keep taking AEDs after brain surgery as a preventative measure. Damaged or scarred brain tissue can be a source of seizures, and it’s not unheard of that Glassman might be taking an AED for the rest of his life, just to be on the safe side and prevent possible seizures.
Trying to get through the day with an aching back, Glassman goes up to PT to look for a heating blanket where he runs into Lim. (Oh, what a coincidence!) A helpful physical therapist also can’t quite refrain from telling him he has bad posture and should work on that. It prompts him to go back there to run into Lim again. Plot device par excellence, but okay.
Things to Further Dissect
Okay, this will be rant corner this week. Cuz… who the hell were these caricatures of the characters that we know and love?! There was so much out-of-character and plot device stuff going on, and I still have whiplash from how much of an abrupt change in quality this episode was compared to the season premiere.
Interestingly, I think I’m in the minority on this since it seems like a good number of people actually loved the episode. I didn’t, and neither did Daniela, so let me explain why neither of us did and what our issues with it are. I’d love to hear your personal take on it if you disagree with us, though!
At times, Daniela and I felt like we were watching an alternate universe version of the show and its characters. There were so many “wtf, Shaun?” moments in this episode. Not just Shaun, many of the other characters, too. I had a similar complaint for last year’s episode Crazytown, so I checked if this one was written by the same writer. Nope. Ugh. Guys, what are you doing?
What struck me and Daniela as odd regarding Shaun was his overconfidence as attending he was suddenly exuding. Perhaps this was supposed to be interpreted as misguided overcompensation, but it didn’t quite come across that way, at least not to me.
All of this felt just way too rushed. Last year we saw a senior resident Shaun who was getting comfortable in his field, getting ready to make important medical decisions, but at times still needed a helping hand or guidance. Suddenly, three months later, he is all-knowing and bold and self-assured in a way we’ve never seen him before – on his very first day as attending, of all things?
It appeared very unrealistic that this would happen so quickly. Suddenly being the high-ranking mentor and decision maker is kind of a big deal, and even though Shaun has been mentoring more junior residents for a while, we’d like to think there’d have to be a learning curve until he’s actually that confident in the role. Since we never saw the actual transition from resident to attending, this made him look more like a rebel teenager in need of asserting independence than a mature, growing professional.
Remember how only a few months ago Shaun totally lost his shit because Glassy didn’t want to give him advice anymore and then left for Montana? And now Shaun is suddenly all self-sufficient and sparkling with confidence? When did this magical transformation happen?
Last week I referred to several interviews Freddie gave where he talked a great deal about how it was going to be a big challenge for Shaun to fit into the attending role and to get used to delegating and teaching, yet he seemed to have no trouble at all with it in this episode. There’s a definite disconnect here, unless the plan is to have Shaun crash and burn real fast from overconfident to fall from grace.
During the heart transplant surgery, he was prepared to delegate the most complex part of the procedure to Asher, and he made sure that Danni got to do all sorts of surgical tasks on her first day like a model attending.
Remember Shaun’s first day at St. Bon’s? It was all scut work and second row sneak-peeking and then finally… suction. Sure, Shaun’s attending was kind of an arse there at first, and I’m sure Shaun would want to aspire to be a better teacher, but this seemed like a little too much way too fast.
Freddie also talked about how Shaun suddenly was missing a safety net and had to struggle with decisions resting on his shoulders. Where was any of that? Here he was, in the OR, telling Asher and Danica, “It’s not her decision, it’s mine.” Maybe what’s supposed to happen is that Shaun will learn a lesson in humility. May not be the worst idea, actually.
Fans raised the point that Shaun’s least favourite part of treating patients is the bedside talk (which is probably true), and he’ll love being an attending because now he can delegate that to others and he doesn’t have to talk to patients so much anymore. I don’t know that I agree with that.
Shaun knows it’s part of the job to talk to patients. If he still wants to be an active surgeon, that won’t go away. It’s just as important for an attending to talk to patients as it is for residents, perhaps now even more so. Maybe he won’t be tending to patients quite as much anymore (as in the more routine monitoring now being done by residents), but he’ll still be explaining treatments, procedures, risks and outcomes to patients.
If we wanna get a little more specific, I wanna talk about Shaun’s decision to fire Danica on their first day. Get this, he wanted to fire a first year resident after having met her for all of 10 minutes. Had Melendez applied the same parameters to him when he was first hired, he wouldn’t have lasted two days at St. Bonaventure.
Yes, of course this is all in line with Shaun’s ASD and his somewhat rigid judgement and trouble with accepting that there may be grey zones. Shaun’s world is often very black and white, right or wrong, and clearly in his view Danica was wrong in a way he felt was inacceptable if she wanted to be a surgeon. But, like… have you learned nothing in the last five years, Shaun?
Firing someone is a big thing. On her first day. On your first as a boss with hierarchical authority. Granted, he sought advice from Andrews, who said he needs to make his own decisions. Then again, as soon as Shaun mentioned firing someone, Andrews’ attention should have been piqued. Shaun likely didn’t go to Lim because of the whole awkwardness between them. Although I’m not sure Shaun even realised that was there. So maybe he should have gone to Lim with it.
True to form, he went to his mentor for advice, and then decided to totally ignore that advice (even though it was good and very relevant) and chose to instead listen to his wife, who knew nothing about the situation, who had never even met Danica, who hadn’t made any effort to learn what it was about, yet felt confident enough to tell Shaun to go ahead and fire Danni on the spot.
As an exercise in hypothetical scenarios, what if Lea hadn’t happened to be in Glassman’s office? Would Shaun have gone to her separately and asked for her advice and then decided to take it over Glassman’s? I have a feeling that conversation would have gone a whole lot differently if he and Lea had talked one-on-one in her office. Because, come on, she should have fucking asked for more context!
I will say, though, I loved how Shaun went ahead and sat cross-legged on the floor as if that was the most natural thing in the world. Those are the little moments I can appreciate.
Side Note #1:
Remember when I posted about Shaun’s life decisions shirt? It made a comeback, and he was wearing it on his first day as attending. Score +1 for the shirt having a certain significance. 🙂
Side Note #2:
Shaun’s attending desk is, of course, super clean and tidy. There’s exactly eight items on it:
1) a landline phone
2) a framed wedding photo
3) a pad of post-it notes
4) Lea’s “Tequila stat” button
5) a pencil cup with two pens in it
6) a desk lamp
7) his laptop
8) Shaun’s toy scalpel on top of the folded blue cloth inside a display stand
So I guess that answers the question we’ve been asking ourselves all of last season, if Shaun has retired the toy scalpel as a comfort and stimming item. Seems like the answer is yes.
I spotted, however, that the scotch tape is no longer there that was holding the blade to the grip after Shaun accidentally broke it in season 2. Is that a continuity error? Or did they glue the blade on with superglue and figured that would be good enough, now that Shaun isn’t gonna actually handle the scalpel anymore? Or is it a replica that Shaun keeps there for visual purposes only (in my mind the most unlikely scenario). Or does the production think the fans are too stupid to notice these things?
Lea, the (continuing) plot device
We already had this complaint at the end of last season, that Lea felt more of a plot device than a three-dimensional, organic character. I have this complaint again now.
Yes, it’s always wholesome to see her supporting Shaun, see her enabling him in his ability to be more comfortable with making his own decisions and standing up for himself. Yet, all the things she did in this episode felt incredibly shoehorned and only written the way it was to serve a storytelling purpose, most of all the advice scene in Glassman’s office that I already talked about above.
Another reason why the advice she gave seemed so plot-devicey was that it came across as Lea just blindly supporting Shaun, particularly when he acted like an irresponsibly stupid ditz. She was only written into the scene so that there was someone who could offer an opposing point to Glassman, potentially to set whatever Glassman and Shaun conflict up that is apparently to come.
What’s even worse about all of this is that the advice that Glassman was giving wasn’t even weird or controversial or out of line. All he suggested to Shaun was that he should take a minute to think about what he was going to do and to look at all the angles before he made an important decision what would affect someone’s whole medical career.
Makes you wonder what the purpose was of having Shaun go to Glassman to ask for advice in the first place. Maybe he should have gone directly to Lea since apparently she’s the only one he trusts now and Glassman’s advice isn’t worth considering anymore. And since when do we need Lea and Glassman to be pitted against each other? Or was it maybe just another plot device so that Shaun could later change his mind when Lim pointed out that an attending is supposed to teach and mentor? Hmmm…
There’s a few opinions and theories floating around as to why the writers chose to write Lea this way. Some people argue that she is usually the type to act on intuition rather than knowledge, and her intuition tends to make for positive outcomes. But there is really nothing here that she could base any intuition on – she’s never met Danica and knows nothing about the situation. That’s not intuition, that’s just a random stab in the dark.
Was it so that Lea could show Shaun and Glassy who’s boss? I dunno, that sounds stupid. Lea and Shaun don’t have the kind of relationship where anyone needs to be the “boss”. And I don’t see what Lea would have to prove to Glassman in this particular situation.
Did Lea sense that Danni could be some kind of opponent for Shaun in the future, and she wanted to enable Shaun to get rid of her? I dunno. That seems far-fetched, particularly since Lea had never met Danni, and I don’t think Lea thinks in terms of rivalry, particularly where Shaun is concerned. Besides, he is an attending and she is a first year resident, how does rivalry come into play there? If this was about romantic rivalry, come on, we’re talking about Shaun who is still head over heels in love with Lea and for whom the feisty war veteran first-year is not even remotely on the romantic radar.
Did Lea base her statement on an experience she’s had in the past where she regrets not having fired someone and wanted to spare Shaun the same fate? We know very little about how much line management authority Lea has had in past jobs. Her previous positions at other companies sounded more operational than having much people management. She doesn’t work in Human Resources either right now, so this sounds like an unlikely justification to me as well.
Did she just say this to support Shaun as a loyal and helpful wife? Lea has always been depicted as a guiding light for Shaun, empowering and strengthening his ability to use his own judgement before he decides. Blindly supporting Shaun just for the sake of it seems out of character for her.
Was it merely to enable the writers’ ulterior motive in which Shaun was to get to a point to try and fire Danica, perhaps to set something up for future conflict between them? Yeah, sure, that’s in line with what I’m saying about Lea being used as a plot device, but it still makes the whole thing kinda aggravating for someone who actually really likes Lea.
If this was truly the case, I think they’re doing Lea a disservice. We know she has been unhappy in previous jobs herself, hasn’t particularly connected with co-workers. Would she totally disregard her own experiences and be this cold, especially since she didn’t even know the person Shaun was about to fire?
If the writers really needed Shaun to make an attempt at firing Danica, then that same result could have been achieved by him listening to Glassman’s advice and weighing his decision before he made it, still coming to his own conclusion that Danica’s refusal was reason enough to kick her out of the resident program.
A lot of the avid Shea fans seem to be happy, though, that everything is a-okay on the Shaun & Lea front and that there’s no friction or drama. While I can echo that sentiment overall, I just really wish their interactions were more thoughtful and, I dunno, a little more profound, I guess. The superficial and shallow dum-dum humour is just not for me.
Shaun vs. Glassman
In one of the recent published interviews with co-showrunner Liz Friedman, it was mentioned that this season we’ll see more friction between Shaun and Glassman without giving away any details. So were we witnessing the first beginnings of that here? Is this going to be about Glassman not agreeing with Shaun’s decision making?
Daniela said that whatever bomb is supposed to explode with Shaun and Glassy is likely to happen very soon, possibly in the next episode. The both of us honestly couldn’t blame Glassy if that were the case. Both of us would have kicked Shaun in the butt after how he behaved in Change of Perspective. It should have called for some kind of “wtf, Shaun?” talk between them.
Can we also talk about the whole back pain storyline? What purpose did that serve? All the scenes that had him in places the back pain took him could have been done in a different way, including the physiotherapy stuff. I can’t even say that felt plot devicey because I can’t discern what plot that was supposed to be devicing. It just felt totally pointless to me. Did they need Glassman to be on the floor for that scene in his office to underline visually that Lea was above Glassman in Shaun’s hierarchy now and that Lea was in the boss’s desk chair instead? If that was the point, it certainly did nothing for me.
What was definitely tangible, though, was that there was a general tension between Shaun and Glassman throughout the episode. The way Glassman immediately brought up Lim when Shaun went to ask advice and the supportive attitude Glassman had towards Lim. Was Glassman already reading the signs? Was he trying his best to counteract a potential lawsuit?
Daniela had a very interesting idea that perhaps the rift between Shaun and Glassman will have to do with what happened in the OR during Lim’s surgery. She speculated that it may be possible Glassman didn’t exactly tell the whole truth during the investigation about Shaun’s cowboy move in the OR. Out of fatherly protection or a feeling of responsibility, he may have omitted a few details that would otherwise have more irrefutably implicated Shaun as having caused Lim’s paralysis.
We don’t really know how the M&M went and how much official heat Shaun got over the whole thing, but it sounds like there wasn’t quite a lot of that, so did Glassman act as a buffer of sorts? It may cause Glassman to feel very conflicted towards Shaun, may cause him to question Shaun’s judgement more than he should or cause him to keep Shaun at arm’s length to a point where probably even Shaun will begin to register that something’s not quite right. And then if Lim drops a lawsuit on them, that will get really tricky, because suddenly there’s court statements involved.
And if Shaun finds out that Glassman lied to protect him, he will not take kindly to that. It would make the two of them go out of whack real fast. Not sure Daniela and I would like it if it played out that way, but at least it would be an emotional storyline. Now, let’s see if we’re totally off the mark.
What I like about this theory is that it would be oddly poetic, compared to season 5 where Lea was protecting Shaun and Glassman was judging her for it. Now, if Glassman lied to protect Shaun, he would be doing the exact same thing. Daniela pointed out that it wouldn’t be the first time Lea and Glassman are switching positions regarding Shaun.
Glassman used to shield Shaun a lot in the past, e.g. keeping his cancer diagnosis from Shaun. And Lea went hard against him, stating that Shaun was an adult and not a child in need of protection. Then, last season, she behaved exactly the same way as Glassman, omitting the negative patient reviews. It was Glassman who reprimanded her that time. Would they really reheat this storyline again? Is it their eternal destiny to struggle in finding the right balance in their respective relationships with Shaun?
Part of the problem here is that we really know nothing about the outcome or the details of the M&M or the investigation around it. All we know is that there was an M&M and the results were inconclusive in terms of whether what Shaun did was directly related to the paralysis. This episode, however, indicated that Glassman seems to be convinced that this is the case, and Lea didn’t contradict it either, she just made an effort to change the topic and divert attention away from it in front of Shaun. Perhaps because of what he told her about his lingering guilt about Steve’s death, perhaps she figures he doesn’t need another thing in his life to feel guilty about.
And Shaun apparently doesn’t. He seems to be 100% convinced that he did the right thing with the angio-embolization, that he saved Lim’s life, and that he made no errors in judgement.
Another option in this scenario could also be that Glassman is still pretty pissed that Shaun went against his explicit instructions and tried to make a point during the investigation that Shaun’s error in judgement is directly related to Lim’s paralysis, that the outcome would have been different if Shaun had done the liver resection as ordered.
If Shaun knew about that, he’d likely feel somewhat betrayed that his father figure and mentor doesn’t trust his medical judgement. If it already played out that way in the three months we missed, and Shaun is aware of it, it might explain why Shaun chose to go with Lea’s advice over Glassman’s about firing Danica. Is that likely, though? Wouldn’t that disregard all of Glassman’s paternal instincts towards Shaun? Loving parents don’t willingly throw their children under the bus just to prove a point… But The Good Doctor has done some strange things with Shaun and Glassman in the past, so who knows?
And if I’m being honest, after five years of push and pull with Glassman and Shaun, I was hoping they could finally get to a place where they’ve levelled the playing field a little. They’ve had over fifteen years to figure out their relationship. With them so beautifully acknowledging their father/son status end of last season, wasn’t it time that they found a better equilibrium, that they get to the end of the learning curve that slowly tapers off towards zero? Sure, parents and children may always bicker over stupid stuff, but it just seems like they blow all these things out of proportion with the two of them after so many years.
Powell vs. Perez
You know, I was excited that we’d see two new residents joining the team. I’m honestly not sure what I was hoping for in terms of a worthy introduction, but it certainly wasn’t this.
Perhaps this is owing to the fact that they spent a lot of time introducing the first years in season 4 when Jordan, Asher, Enrique and Olivia joined the team, because in comparison this felt really offhand and unceremonious. This was kinda like, “Here, have these two new people, we’ll get to them later, they’re not real important right now.”
This should have been their first day in a new school. Meeting new people, learning the ropes, being told who everyone is, how things work at St. Bon’s, getting to know Shaun as perhaps a somewhat more unusual doctor with ASD. What we got instead was two new doctors who seemed to immediately know everything and everyone, not questioning anything, not being taught anything. It was like they had worked there already for several months, like they fit in perfectly. There was no “first grader” feeling at all here, and I think I was really hoping for that in some way.
I was waiting the whole time if the topic of Shaun’s ASD would come up with them, or at the very least with Danica who was working as Shaun’s first-year on the case. Nope. No mention of that at all. Shaun is usually quick to tell people about it, so why not here? Of course it’s possible that they already knew about it (perhaps from Nurse Hawks’ orientation) and the show was trying to shoot for “let’s not make a big deal out of it”, but that was just another thing that didn’t quite work for me.
And is it just me, or was the immediate flirting of Jordan with Danny awkward af? She went super hard at it, and on their first day, too. Seriously, I’m not sure if I’m down with this.
Reznick vs. Park
Ah geez. And we’re back to the pointless elbowing and bickering that we already had enough of in season 4. Daniela was saying that a little bit is fun, but too much of it is becoming really annoying. And I think we’ve already crossed the line of annoying.
I guess I maybe had some hopes the two of them would find their way back to each other, but it certainly doesn’t look like that’s in the stars. At least not any time soon.
Lim vs. Shaun
Funnily enough, before the episode aired and I knew anything at all, I said to Daniela, “Hey, what if the episode title alludes to Lim now being in a wheelchair and having a whole other line of sight?” Turns out I was right. But maybe that wasn’t such a huge leap.
Now, with Lim’s very emotional outburst at the end that she hates Shaun Murphy because it’s all his fault, I think it’s pretty clear where this is headed. What with The Good Lawyer on the horizon and Shaun apparently needing a defence attorney, the logical conclusion here would be that Lim will actually sue Shaun, right?
I’m not even averse to the idea. It would definitely add a whole new and interesting dynamic to the character interaction this season. How do you work with a boss who’s suing you? And how does that affect your relationship when one party wins the lawsuit? (Though more likely they would settle out of court, actually. That is, if they play it the realistic way. Which we know they don’t always do, so…)
I’m also wondering about all the what-ifs. What if Shaun would have performed the hemi-hepatectomy and Lim would not have been left a paraplegic but instead would have life-long liver function issues and need a transplant eventually? Would that be the better outcome? Can anyone ever conclusively say they’d rather trade one significant health impairment for another? What if they’d done the liver resection and Lim had died? Would Lim say she’d rather have died than become a paraplegic? What if she’d ended up being a vegetable? Do we even want to dwell on all these what-ifs?
One thing’s for certain, though: Shaun seems to be very confident that he made the right choice when he saved Lim’s life, consequences be damned.
I hear the fandom is also somewhat divided on the whole topic. A lot of people are wondering if Lim’s paralysis was actually Shaun’s fault or not. There’s a question of how that’s medically possible. Someone asked the episode’s writer Peter Blake about it, and he said, “Watch what Glassman warns Shaun about during the liver surgery scene.” Not sure that answer is helpful because there’s nothing tangible there in the dialogue.
Glassman warned Shaun that the angio-embolization would require a major blood transfusion that they didn’t have if it went south. It did somewhat go south and there was more bleeding, which Shaun managed to stop by injecting gel foam particles way before anyone could have resected the damaged part of the liver. Shaun cautioned Glassman that he was being short-sighted to disregard long-term effects, to which Glassman answered he was indeed very short-sighted because his focus was on keeping Lim alive rather than prevent lasting sequelae and reduced life expectancy.
That said, there appears to be actual precedent in scientific literature that, as a rare complication of chemoembolization, paraplegia may be caused by inadvertent blocking of blood supply to the spinal cord, resulting in damage to the nerves. Makes you wonder how an M&M would deem the cause of the damage inconclusive, but I guess there may be uncertainty as to how much of the nerve damage was stab wound induced and how much was because of the embolization procedure.
Of course the weak point still remains that Glassman was the senior doctor and Shaun should not have gone against his explicit instructions without consulting with him first. I really wonder if they’re gonna dig more into that later.
Now. There’s also the matter about Lim’s strongly negative reaction towards Shaun. A lot of fans seem to think she’s out of line with that attitude and if she needs someone to blame, it should be Owen and not Shaun since Shaun saved her life. I’m not so sure I’m totally on that side.
Lim is going through the stages of grief. Anger and associated blame are part of that. She probably blames Owen to some degree, but Shaun is also an easy scapegoat because there are all these what-ifs about the surgery and Shaun’s decision. I wouldn’t want to dismiss her right to be angry at Shaun or resentful towards him. I get it.
The question here, though, is also episode execution. Lim went very quickly from “thank you for saving my life” to “I hate you, Shaun Murphy”. Maybe a little too quickly. Plot device writing ahoy. I guess one could argue that her expression of gratitude towards Shaun wasn’t genuine here, but she’s pretty hard to read in that scene, and I think it could be interpreted either way.
Speaking of unrealistic writing, I think the whole part about Lim having access to all those accessibility options within a period of two to three months doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. She had a fully modified car, a fancy modular manual wheelchair and a high-tech motorised stand-up one that would have been customised and fitted for her.
I will assume that it would have taken her at least a month to recover to a point where she can even start getting custom stuff made for her. Lim’s sternum (breastbone) was actually sawed apart and her chest cracked open to access the heart. Apparently it takes at least two months alone for the sternum to heal back together. Shaun said it was 14 weeks between the assault and now. Is that enough time to heal enough and then get all these custom accessibility things made for her? I don’t know. Seems unlikely.
In terms of the customisation, I’m not an expert on this, but my understanding is that for long-time wheelchair users, the chair is customised and fitted and sometimes moulded for them, particularly the more rigid chairs like the motorised ones. That’s a process kinda like getting a prosthetic fitted, where you go in several times over a longer period of time to try things out, get adjustments made, learn how to use it, etc.
In this Squirmy & Grubs video (an interabled couple doing disability education), Shane and Hannah talk about how long it takes to get a new wheelchair for Shane. At some point Shane mentions that the whole process takes “months and months, maybe up to a year”. After the first measurement appointment for a new wheelchair, it took four months for them to get a chair to actually try out, plus lots of fighting with his medical insurance. So in a real life setting, that makes it very unlikely for Lim to have all this equipment fitted and ready to use within three months.
You know what’s also pretty telling when someone able-bodied is playing a paraplegic? That their legs look strong and healthy. When you can’t use your leg muscles, they will atrophy and dwindle. You can probably do a bit to keep that at bay with physical therapy, but it’s not quite realistic that a paraplegic’s legs look like someone’s who walks around on them all day.
This is probably a bit of an extreme example and wouldn’t quite be like this after three months, but here’s a screencap from the movie Avatar where they used prosthetic legs for Sam Worthington they cast from the legs of a real paraplegic. You see how little muscle there’s left on them?
Let’s also talk about the modified operation table. For this, we should rewind to season 5 and Salen’s inclusivity ad campaign. There was a Dr. McGinley, General Surgery, Ophthalmic Surgeon on a poster who was in a wheelchair. His tagline was “Differences Count”. So how are they making it look like Lim is the first ever surgeon in a wheelchair who needs accessible OR tables and equipment? Wouldn’t there already be available options out there to accommodate a surgeon in a wheelchair that don’t necessitate Villanueva to unscrew OR tables or borrow those from the morgue?
Somewhat related and very interesting is this video that’s actually directly connected to The Good Doctor that tells two inspiring stories of physicians with disabilities, including one of a surgeon whose tale is very similar to Lim’s and who actually uses a stand-up wheelchair to perform surgeries in a regular OR. It may have inspired part of the plot in this episode.
The Good Doctor has a staff writer who’s in a wheelchair after a car crash left him paralysed from the waist down, David Renaud, who also has an MD and worked as a family doctor in the past. I really wonder what he has to say about all this…
The Patient Cases
I’m not a fan of those episodes where they come up with some high stakes medical story and then totally disregard actual medical reality, just to make the story work. Which they did here with the pig heart. Yes, xenotransplants are a thing. But as far as the medical reality side of things go, that’s where it ends.
- They wouldn’t bring a live animal to a hospital for organ harvesting without telling that to the hospital staff beforehand.
- Even if they did bring the pig to the hospital, they would not keep it in a regular hospital bed.
- It’s unlikely that the general surgery team (i.e. Shaun and his residents) would be performing the pig heart harvesting surgery.
How cliché did they have to get with the last minute donor heart save that miraculously became available literally the second before Shaun was sawing Wilbur apart? Hackneyed trope much? This whole storyline was milking the “aw, poor cute piggie” pity party aspect, particularly when they also brought in the kids who wanted to pet good old Wilbur. It made the whole thing predictable and corny.
And don’t get me started on the storyline around Danica and her stance on animal testing. First of all, how did she get through med school if this was such a big issue for her? I can’t be sure about this, but aren’t there courses where she would have had to cut open animals for research and education? Did she refuse all those instances, too? I know that we had to do this when I did my biology master’s degree at uni, but this is now over 25 years ago, so maybe that’s changed or is different for (American) med schools.
Not just that, the whole argument they made about clinical research was ridiculous and wrong. When Asher makes the point that every drug for humans gets tested on animals, Danica said there’s a difference between a rat and a pig. Lady, what animals do you think they run pre-clinical studies on? Pretty much every drug for human use will be tested in actual mammals, including mice, rats, dogs, pigs and monkeys. Argument invalid. And whoever wrote this doesn’t know shit about clinical research and didn’t do their homework. Sigh
This is also somewhat reminiscent of that storyline they did in season 4 with Jordan when she refused to do an abortion for religious reasons. I dunno, this feels a little repetitive in that respect. And suffice to say, firing Jordan over it was never on the table.
I already talked about how it felt like we were missing the “first day in school” orientation feeling with Danny and Danni. It seemed like an odd choice to have her thrown right into the middle of a complex medical case, make it look like she was a fully embedded member of the team who was familiar with her colleague and surroundings, and then cause immediate controversy by refusing to participate in her first surgery to the point where her attending was ready to fire her. That could have been a good story for, like, episode 3 or 4.
Also seems unrealistic that Wilbur gets to go home with Jeremiah, the tumour patient. Wouldn’t he have to be returned to whatever research facility he came from so that his organs could be donated to someone else in the future? Daniel says he would have to be euthanised otherwise because he’s been genetically modified, not sure why he couldn’t be returned to wherever he came from…?
The whole thing is kinda weird. Danny says Wilbur has to be euthanised because he was genetically modified and can’t be around other pigs. I don’t know the regulations for keeping genetically modified livestock, but just scientifically that seems odd.
This should only be a concern if Wilbur was going to procreate, which they could prevent by castrating him or just not letting him be with the pig ladies. We don’t know how exactly he was modified, but it’s not like bodily fluids of a GMO pig would automatically be harmful to other pigs unless his sperm was involved in producing actual offspring. If there was anything remotely harmful to having a GMO pig around, they wouldn’t have let Wilbur roam freely in the hospital. I dunno, this sounds like more TV bullshit to me.
Then of course we also have the other patient case with the sociophobe hermit who never leaves his house. Is it just me, or did that patient case feel super pointless? And since when is Jordan the type to insert herself and meddle with the private lives of random patients? Did they suddenly realise that Claire was missing and they had Jordan channel Claire’s personality in absentia?
This was the patient case that was supposed to introduce us to Danny as a person and physician, right? Could it have been any less interesting and pertinent? I’ve only seen the episode once as I type this, and I’m trying to remember what we’ve actually learned about Danny from this episode. I’m coming up blank other than that he’s a farm boy. Which I knew before from online articles. And that Jordan flirted with him super hard, which was like… 🤨.
Things I actually did like
The scene where Danni talks down the upset wife was interesting, and how she basically aced the job that Shaun should have done (which his ASD makes it hard for him). It could have led to more interesting discussions about how the newbie did what the boss should have done, but that went nowhere at all.
Another positive thing about the episode is that Villanueva was there. I was afraid they’d cast her aside after she served her major plotline purpose (which they’ve done in the past with characters like Carly, for instance). Very happy she seems to be here to stay.
The scene with the kids asking Shaun about why Wilbur is in the hospital was kinda sweet. Asher shaking his head no when the kids ask about killing Wilbur elicited a chuckle. Typical Shaun, and I think we all rolled our eyes along with Asher when Shaun was his usual oblivious self.
Fun fact we learn from Glassy’s pill bottles: The official address of St. Bonaventure Hospital is 350 West 41st Avenue, San Jose. And before you open Google Maps, no, that street doesn’t actually exist in the real San Jose. It does exist in Vancouver, though. I think they also messed up with the address that’s listed for Glassman, because it’s not the same they used on the envelope that Lea mailed to him with the Save-the-Date card for the wedding.
Overall sentiment about the episode
Sometimes there are writers on the show where I’m wary of their episode content – Thomas L. Moran is one of them. Despite him being involved in a lot of the “big” episodes that I liked, he has a bit of a history of writing scripts in a way that bend the characters to fit his storylines, sometimes disregarding important aspects that have previously been established about them. Looks like that streak continued with Change of Perspective…
I actually ran a sentiment check on Twitter, to which 32 people responded. Almost 90% thought the episode was okay or great, with over 60% of people loving it. Hm. I feel kinda stupid now, because what is it that sets me apart from all these people? I honestly positively hated the episode and will file it away as one of those I’d rather forget exists.
The part that really aggravated me was that everything felt incredibly forced and unrealistic. A lot of the writing was pushed in our faces as mere plot devices, the characters were at times acting very uncharacteristically and strangely as opposed to their previously established character traits and actions. Sure, I get that they need to establish certain facts and set the stage for what’s to come in the next 20 episodes, but there’s gotta be a way to do that more organically.
What I also hated is that with the time jump, we were put before so many fait accomplis that were never explained or mentioned. We know nothing about the process how Shaun or Park became attendings, we know nothing about what specialties they chose or why. We don’t know if this was any kind of struggle at all for Shaun, if the night of the wedding factored into any of it.
We don’t know if Shaun and Lea ever went on a honeymoon. We don’t know what Lea’s new last name is. We don’t know what happened with Alex and Morgan other than that they’re separated and hating each other.
We don’t know how they chose the new junior residents, who chose them, how they came to be at St. Bon’s. We don’t know anything about what happened in the wake of Lim’s surgery except that there was an M&M with inconclusive results. It’s like they put all these things in front of us and said, “Here you go, deal with it.”
Of course I understand that they had to set the agenda and point us straight in the direction they’re taking this season, but instead of easing us into a little, they took the fastest track they could. We jumped three and a half months ahead without any significant clue about anything. I have a feeling of déjà vu, because they made similar mistakes end of last season. Guess we better get used to it…
What’s also annoying is that the show can’t seem to make up its mind about whether it wants to be intense and deep or humorous and light-hearted. Perhaps some people may ask why it can’t be both, but the switch in tone between Afterparty and Change of Perspective was just hugely different, and to me that’s grating. If the show’s episodes all had the superficially humorous and flippant tone of Change of Perspective, I wouldn’t be watching it. But I guess it spoke to the viewers who like that sort of thing.
In hindsight after almost a week of working on this recap, it’s probably not so much that the episode itself was bad, it’s just that I don’t relate to the more humorous or superficial aspects of the show and characters. I like the more cerebral, thought-provoking and realistic aspects of the show, the deep character exploration and insights into the psyche and motivations of the characters, the stuff that hits you in the feels and makes you think. I also like it when they tell realistic stories that reflect actual life. This one had very little of that and probably appealed more to people who like the chuckles and light entertainment.
What I think they may have wanted to do here was tell an entertaining and kinda cutesie story with a pig to give a lonely man a new reason to live for, and a story about a tragic accident that messed up someone’s life in a way that it would resonate with people, irrespective of whether it was terribly realistic. So there was just a whole lot of creative license to make that work, and they cared more about telling the story than making it terribly realistic.
I also already complained about this a whole lot at the end of last season, that the episodes were trying to cover way too much in the time they had each week. And that trend seems to continue. Cause let’s look at all the things they were trying to do here.
- Shaun and Alex’s first day as attendings
- Danni and Danny’s first day as residents
- Alex and Morgan’s antagonistic interpersonal crap
- Danni being defiant and Shaun trying to solve that in a way behoving of a good mentor
- Jordan and Danny’s sexual tension
- Lim adjusting to her new life as a paraplegic surgeon
- Shaun’s potential implication in Lim’s paralysis
- Glassman’s back pain mishap and him becoming Lim’s mentor and confidant
- Pairing up a hermit patient with a new bovine friend
- Ethical aspects of animal use in research and the food chain
That’s ten pretty major storylines that they all tried to fit into 42 minutes of screen time, which basically means just 4 minutes to spare for each topic. Like, I dunno, seems common sense it would mean none of these topics could be covered in a profound way and things would be rushed and stay pretty much on the surface with not enough time for real exploration. I guess my mantra of less-is-more has to continue. Le sigh.
Favourite Lines and Dialogue
Lea: Am I awesome, or what?
Shaun: You are awesome, but Tequila can’t be the answer to everything.
Lea: I would not be so sure…
Hehe, Lea may be right. And now I’m imagining random people coming into Shaun’s office, hitting his decision button just for laughs.
Lim: Well, unlike Murphy, I have to be over the patient to see inside.
Nice little nod to Shaun’s savant syndrome ability to do his Mind Palace visualisation thing.
Nurse Hawks: Doctors Wolke and Allen, meet our first-years, Danica Powell and Daniel Perez.
Asher: Heh! Newbies.
Jordan: Don’t call ‘em that!
Lol, Asher. I love him when he gets cheeky! Maybe also a little bit of a throwback because the episode where Asher and Jordan were first introduced in season 4 was called Newbies.
Shaun: I need some advice.
Glassman: And I need an epidural.
Snarky Glassy. I like it.
Jordan: And we were definitely not flirting.
Danny: Absolutely not. I usually wait till the second day on the job for that.
So our farm boy has a dry sense of humour. I like that, too.
Shaun: Okay… Come along, Wilbur.
Shaun is always kinda cute when his precious planning is disrupted but he just shrugs it off and rolls with it.
Shaun: (to Danni) You can go now.
Yeah, Shaun, we really need to work on your conversation enders.
Jordan: (to Asher) Can we continue this argument over negronis?
Made me smile. I love their sibling energy.
I already mentioned a lot of what I would have liked to be addressed, period, or addressed differently up above. Most glaringly, perhaps, some of the really important things that took place over the summer gap.
Fait accompli #1: The Attendings
How did the interview process with Shaun and Park go, how was the decision made that they became attendings? Last thing we knew Shaun was a senior resident, next thing he’s moving into a shared office with Park with no mention at all about the process how that happened. Sure, we already knew well in advance that Shaun and Park were going to be attendings in season 6, that’s no big surprise. I think it would have been really interesting to learn more about how Shaun and Alex had to compete for it against others, how Shaun’s ASD may have factored into it. Instead we got the “surprise, this happened, take it or leave it” approach.
Fait accompli #2: The Junior Residents
Sure, they covered the resident application process thing back in season 4 with Jordan, Asher, Olivia and Enrique, but this felt rudely shoved into our faces: Here’s the two new people, get used to it. No time was spent at all on trying to get to know them, of easing them into the job. No orientation or introductions. Instead we get a, “Let’s go,” from Shaun. And then they went, and their entrance felt incredibly trivial and sudden.
Fait accompli #3: Lim’s Disability
Clearly, the overall intention of this episode wasn’t to ease the viewers into anything, probably it was even on purpose that everything was thrown in front of our feet to pick up and dust off.
Fait accompli #4: Shaun’s Specialty (or absence of it)
It took me a little while to notice this, but God, I’m so mad right now. All this time we’ve been wondering what specialty Shaun would choose after his residency. And we still don’t know. He was in charge of a heart transplant, so what does that mean? Guys, can we please be given these kind of important details that actually define Shaun in more profound way?
This whole episode had so many holes and things that were blatantly glossed over. Daniela said probably the show won’t ever even tackle the specialty aspect, since it doesn’t matter and all the surgeons do all types of surgeries anyway, irrespective of their specialty. Sadly, I think she may be right.
Danni’s Disability (or absence of it)
Okay, so what is up with that? Anyone who’s seen behind-the-scenes footage or looked into who Savannah Welch is would have stumbled across the fact that the actress playing Danica is an above-the-knee amputee who wears a prosthetic. How is there no mention or visual cue for this at all in the episode? Clearly, they took great care not filming her in a way that we actually see her walk or move much.
While I believe there can be people with certain prosthetics where you may not necessarily discern that they are wearing one, from footage I’ve seen of Savannah, you would notice that she has a somewhat unusual gait. I may be proven wrong about this, but I think it would be noticeable that she had a more severe leg injury that impairs her ability to walk in some way, also in the way that she would sit down and get up or walking up and down stairs. I can only guess they have some sort of plan for a future episode where her amputated leg becomes a topic of discussion or part of an episode plot, perhaps the one called Shrapnel.
Still, the whole thing feels… almost disrespectful? I dunno, maybe it’s not my place to even say this, seeing how I am able-bodied, but I could imagine that people with disabilities would love to be represented realistically on TV. Meeting someone with a disability that’s pretty recognisable and then spending a whole episode with that person without it being mentioned or even shown once seems odd. They want us to believe the whole team worked with Danni for several days and no one noticed or mentioned or questioned this?
I mean, sure, you wouldn’t want your disability to be a defining feature of you as a person or something that people stare at you for or ask inappropriate questions about. We’d want Danni to have been hired and be respected for her professional and personal skills and not because she ticks a disability box. They did of course mention that she served in Afghanistan, so I have hopes this will come up in the future, but it just felt like they were hoping the audience wasn’t informed or intelligent enough to question any of this.
I dunno, maybe this is one of those things where you have to separate the avid fans from the casual viewers. The casual viewers will likely not know Savannah is an amputee, so whatever reveal they may have planned for Danni’s disability might work well for them. And seriously, if they write this as something along the lines of, “Oh wow, no one on the surgical staff ever noticed that she’s got a prosthetic leg, that’s such a huge surprise!” I will scream bloody murder and be vocal about it through sarcastic memes.
And while we’re talking about Danni, what I also would have loved to see is further exploration of the scene where she basically rubbed in Shaun’s face that he was being incompetent at emotional connection. What I mean is the scene where they talked to the wife of the heart transplant patient after Shaun decided to abort the surgery. Shaun was getting nowhere with the wife, and Danni jumped in and talked the wife down like a pro.
While it certainly showed her great skills at de-escalation, it also made Shaun look like an inept fool, and we got zero indication as to how he felt about that and how that undermined his authority as attending. Of course Shaun (and the viewer) knows this stems from his ASD and it’s not something he’ll ever excel at. But usually these types of situations give him fuel to improve, or at least talk about it with someone, or have someone address it with him. It felt like a loose end that they left dangling and a missed opportunity.
Best Shaun Muffin Face
Well, here’s the silver lining. At least we got a few Shaun muffin faces out of it. Let’s have at it.
I love feedback and episode discussion, so I’m always happy to receive comments on the blog, but please be reminded that I hate spoilers and take great care trying to actively avoid them. Please don’t mention any spoilers in your comments, which includes information from upcoming episode promos, stills and other official promo material. Thanks, guys!