From the title, it seemed pretty clear what the main theme for this episode would be, and I wasn’t disappointed in that regard. I wasn’t disappointed in other regards either, and this was probably one of the strongest episodes of the season so far. Very emotional, and Shaun really came through in this one.
Written by Tracy Taylor & Sam Chanse
Directed by Bosede Williams
Original airdate 05 Dec 2022
Patient #1 – Naveen Mukherjee
Shaun Murphy, Asher Wolke
Internal tissue and organ inflammation due to a retained surgical instrument from a previous open appendectomy
- Naveen is brought to the ER with acute abdominal pain. She is currently on Lupron, a medication used in the process of in-vitro fertilisation since she and her wife Luna want to get pregnant and have a child.
- Shaun diagnoses an irregularly shaped mass in the right pelvic region and orders a CT.
- The CT reveals a lesion with surrounding inflammation, she needs immediate surgery.
- During surgery, they discover that the inflammation and scarring are very extensive and that the culprit is a surgical towel that was left behind during the appendectomy several years ago.
- They fix what they can but leave the towel inside for now since it would irreversibly damage the organs that the towel has attached itself to.
- After Naveen wakes up, she questions who left the towel inside and also blames her wife since she was the circulating nurse during the surgery and should have noticed that a towel was left inside her. Naveen loses consciousness shortly thereafter, her vital signs tank and she needs to go back into surgery immediately.
- A ruptured abscess has now caused widespread peritonitis, but Naveen’s vital signs keep destabilising—she can’t tolerate the surgery at this time. Shaun orders for her to be closed up while she goes on further antibiotic treatment. They keep her sedated and intubated until she stabilises enough to proceed. They also need to find alternative ways to remove the towel, since clearly this isn’t working for Naveen.
- Luna agrees for them to do the total resection, even if it means removing Naveen’s uterus. She wants her wife to live.
- During the surgery, Shaun finds that there’s less infection of the uterine wall than expected and he suggests that there may be a chance to save the uterus after all, but when he tries to dig for solutions in his head, he realises that he was grasping at straws. Glassman reminds him to stick to the surgical plan, there is no other solution than removing the uterus, which is how they proceed.
- Shaun reports later that Naveen is recovering well and the surgery went as expected. Naveen wakes up from the surgery and is expectedly distraught that she will never be able to carry children, but at least she has a wife by her side who loves her and will support her, no matter what happens next.
Patient #2 – Toni Rhodes
Morgan Reznick, Alex Park, Daniel Perez, Jordan Allen
Disorientation, possible head trauma, peritoneal haemorrhage from a splenic injury
- Toni presents in the ER with disorientation and pain to her abdomen. She can’t remember what happened or how she got to the hospital. They suspect drug use and run several tests after Alex diagnoses internal bleeding from a splenic injury.
- Toni goes into surgery to fix the splenic bleed. When they are getting ready to operate, Morgan states from the gallery that a fall shouldn’t have caused the amount of damage they’re seeing. The picture changes dramatically when Jordan discovers severe bruising and signs of major trauma in the pelvic region. It indicates that Toni may have been sexually assaulted.
- Toni denies the possibility that she was raped, but her urine came back positive for Rohypnol, the date rape drug.
- Toni refuses to do a rape kit, insists that the friend she went out with wouldn’t rape her or let anything happen to her.
- Toni’s platelet count keeps dropping, they run an anti-platelet antibody test. Morgan orders a PRBC transfusion to get her haematocrit up. Shortly thereafter, they get called to a Code Grey, which means ‘combative or violent patient’. Toni had a nightmare and panicked, pulled out her IV and is refusing to be touched by anyone. Morgan gets her to calm down, but the episode aggravated her spleen injury and she starts bleeding from the wound.
- The APA blood test confirms the reason why Toni keeps bleeding. She has a condition known as ITP – immune thrombocytopenia – a rare and chronic autoimmune disease where your body attacks your own blood platelets and prevents your blood from clotting properly. I wish they’d spent a bit more time on this because rare disease education is always important. The diagnosis is pretty harsh because it’s incurable and can be very debilitating with only limited and pretty complicated or difficult to tolerate treatment options. I’ve personally been involved in ITP research, and knowing what it can do to patients, I felt really sorry for Toni to be given this diagnosis, they really downplayed it in this episode. It’s a much bigger deal than they suggested. If you want more info, I recommend you visit the Platelet Disorder Support Association website.
- Park mentions that they need to remove Toni’s spleen, which is one suggested option in the course of ITP treatment but doesn’t always have any actual effect on the patient’s condition. I suppose the fact that the spleen was already injured may have played into this. The regular approach of splenectomy would be a major risk for more bleeding, so they suggest removing it transvaginally.
- Toni agrees to the vaginal surgery, and Morgan reiterates that it will be the last chance to get a rape kit because the surgery would destroy all evidence that the sexual assault has left behind. Toni still refuses the rape kit because she feels like it would be inconsequential to find out who raped her and won’t undo what happened.
- Morgan suggests to Alex going in laparoscopically rather than the transvaginal approach, but Toni has asked for Morgan to be taken off her case. Morgan is still insistent that Toni may regret not doing the rape kit for the rest of her life, but Alex says it’s Toni’s decision.
- After a particularly moving and honest conversation with Morgan where she shares her own experience of having been raped in med school, Toni decides that she wants to do the rape kit after all and Morgan helps her through the harrowing experience.
- They perform the transvaginal splenectomy and from a medical point of view, it goes well with Toni ready to start her recovery process.
Patient #3 – Gwendolyn
Several large growths on her forehead
- Gwendolyn is being seen for several large growths on her forehead she’s had for a few years. They appear benign in nature but are now getting in the way of her being able to wear glasses.
- Andrews tells Villanueva to put Gwendolyn on his schedule so he can perform a minimally invasive procedure that won’t leave visible scars or require shaving her hair.
- Turns out that Andrews is unexpectedly double-booked at the time of Gwendolyn’s surgery, so he’s asked his colleague Dr. Annanian to perform the surgery instead, asking Dalisay to give the news to Gwendolyn.
- Andrews confronts Villanueva later as to why Gwendolyn’s surgery is still on his rotation, and Dalisay explains that Gwen panicked when she was told there was going to be another surgeon. She refuses to go back to Gwen with more bad news and tells Andrews to talk to Gwen himself.
- Andrews turns up in the scrub room later that day, telling Dalisay he rescheduled his finance meeting but that he very much doesn’t appreciate being emotionally blackmailed into doing surgeries he’s said no to. Dalisay is about to take it on the chin but then shares with him how much it meant to her that he sat at her bedside when she was recovering from Owen’s assault, and that personal attention with patients is important, even when you’re president.
- During Gwen’s surgery, Andrews finds that he won’t be able to fully remove the growths with just the two small incisions he promised initially, but instead of shaving Gwen’s hair to get better access to the uppermost growths on her forehead, he chooses a method part the hair where the incision will be and they work around that without having to shave anything.
- Gwen is incredibly happy that the surgery worked out so well, and we also learn that Andrews always wanted a daughter so he learned how to braid.
- When Dalisay later gets ready to leave the hospital, Andrews thanks her for making him remember that personal connections to patients are important. He wants to make it up to her by buying her a drink, and Dalisay negotiates for him to also throw in wings and fries. It’s a deal! (And maybe a date, not sure what the vibe was there.)
Things at work are plodding along and Shaun is treating patients as per usual. He and Asher are working on the patient with the internal abdominal inflammation, so Lim comments to Shaun and Asher that she’s aware of the case. Lim and Asher segue into a little small talk about that burrito place she and Clay chose for breakfast, and when Shaun wants to join in, Lim immediately cuts him off and leaves without further engaging with Shaun.
Of course Asher notices the awkwardness, and he quizzes Shaun later if it bothers him that Lim is giving him the cold shoulder. Shaun rationalises that a medicine-only relationship with the Chief of Surgery is logical and that it doesn’t bother him. There’s the denial again we’ve been seeing ever since things went haywire with him and Lim.
While they treat their RSI (removal of surgical instruments) case, Shaun consults with Dr. Lim to brainstorm how best to approach the surgery, but Lim isn’t giving him the time of day. She rather rudely sends him away, telling him he needs to figure the problem out on his own, now that he’s an attending. Clearly not what Shaun had hoped to hear.
The ever so confident Shaun seems to have a few chinks in his armour because he goes to Dr. Glassman for a surgical consult on his RSI surgery. Glassman has removed five sponges over his long career, which seems to be a statistically high number, so Shaun think she will be an excellent source of input and guidance.
In the process, Shaun also mentions that he already went to Lim with it, and she sent him away, which Glassman finds interesting. Glassman, Shaun and Asher meet later in Glassman’s office to go over the case and brainstorm. They weigh different options, but an aggressive gross total resection of all organs invaded by the towel plus all infected and necrotic tissue is the best option for long-term survival. Asher cuts in that it would mean also removing her uterus. That’s a pretty big blow since Naveen and her wife were in the middle of making family plans for a baby Naveen was going to carry.
Glassman suggests they run the options by Luna, the wife, and let her make the decision, but Shaun is concerned because the both of them fought before Naveen fell unconscious and she might not be happy with whatever decision her wife might be making right now.
It’s actually interesting that Shaun is making that connection here. He’s not usually very aware of underlying emotional currents. It’s kind of a big deal that he’s aware of the emotional repercussions of that decision, which is very noteworthy and speaks to the personal connection that Shaun was forming with Naveen and Luna despite not being particularly close to either of them.
When they do speak to Luna, she is understandably upset and reluctant to make this decision that will affect her wife’s life in a very impactful way. And I think that this stage, it’s dawning on Shaun just how much his own situation relates to all of this.
When he operated on Lim and chose the angio-embolization surgery, he didn’t so much consider the possible consequences. He sees the parallels in Naveen and Luna – a difficult but life-saving decision that will result in significant negative impacts for Naveen that will have emotional ramifications on a personal level.
And it’s not just that. Suddenly Shaun is well aware that the decision he made back then had a lot more in tow than just saving Lim’s life, that decisions he makes in the OR can affect someone for the rest of their life. The ever-so-confident Shaun is unexpectedly less than confident that he’s ready to shoulder all that blame, so he goes to Dr. Glassman to ensure Shaun won’t be the sole decisionmaker during Naveen’s surgery.
Glassman is surprised by all of this. Where is it coming from that Shaun has doubts about his surgical prowess? The OR is Shaun’s holy place, where he feels comfortable and at home and confident in his abilities. When Glassman asks Shaun about his motivations, he isn’t getting any helpful answers. Maybe because Shaun himself doesn’t have them ready to vocalise yet, maybe because Shaun doesn’t want to openly admit it, but as soon as Shaun says, “Please,” Glassman agrees to be there. Openly pleading with a ‘please’ is not something Shaun resorts to very often, so when he does, it really means it’s important.
The pattern continues during the actual surgery. Shaun finds that the level of infection is less than expected, and he knows how much it meant to Naveen to bear children, so can they maybe save her uterus after all?
He does his Mind Palace thing, but there’s no immediate miracle solution there for the taking. He peels back the layers and tries multiple times, but he never lands on anything better than 75% tissue loss. He wants so badly to help Naveen get pregnant, perhaps also because of what he and Lea are currently going through, but Glassman pulls him back to reality and reminds him that there’s no alternative and the uterus needs to be removed.
Clearly, Glassman realises that something may be amiss with Shaun, so he comes to Shaun’s closet office later to check in. He tries to get something helpful out of him to explain what has him so shook up. As usual, Shaun is all about the facts at first, but then he volunteers that he wanted to make an extra effort not to rob Naveen of the chance to carry a child, knowing how important it was for her and Luna. And that, that’s kinda new for Shaun.
It’s really subtle and kinda hidden between the lines, but this is actually a pretty big deal. Shaun is usually all about the medicine, about what’s medically best for the patient. Emotional matters are secondary, sometimes irrelevant to him. Shaun hesitating before removing the uterus because of emotional repercussions is a big leap for him, and perhaps greatly amplified by his and Lea’s personal situation right now.
And if you look very closely, I think Shaun is tearing up a little when he talks about how important it is to Naveen and Luna to have a child and that Naveen may never forgive Luna for deciding to have her uterus removed. It really does hit home for him, and that’s a meaningful personal connection that he formed.
It’s a little ambiguous as to whether Glassman is actually aware of the fact that Shaun and Lea are having conception problems themselves right now, he’s more focused on the fact that there are clear parallels here between Naveen and Luna and Shaun’s situation with Lim. It’s about medical decisions bleeding into their personal relationship and potentially destroying important emotional connections.
Glassman tries to scratch the surface a little more to get the underlying matters at hand. Isn’t it time that Shaun and Lim talk about their differences? Shaun’s walls go up right away, he says he has nothing to say to Lim and that he’s fine with the purely professional relationship they have, knowing full well that’s actually a lie.
Glassman tries to spell it out as clearly as he can. He and Lim are both hurting, and they should be telling that to each other. It’s possible Lim won’t forgive Shaun, but then at least it’s out in the open and they can perhaps work towards a reconciliation. There’s a moment’s hesitation and you almost think that Glassman may have gotten through to Shaun, but nope. The walls come up again. He is fine, he doesn’t have to talk to Lim, and there’s op notes to be written. This conversation is over.
When Naveen wakes up and they explain to her that they had to remove her uterus, she asks if there was no other way. Luna says yes, but she wanted Naveen to live, so she told Shaun and Asher to go ahead with the hysterectomy. Shaun is very invested in this conversation, he listens closely how Luna tells Naveen that she failed at her most important job to keep Naveen safe, how she was so focused on defending herself that she didn’t consider what Naveen was going through.
Luna gives Naveen the choice of having her there by her side or leaving, and of course Naveen wants her wife to be there – she loves her more than anything. Shaun lingers for a moment before he leaves the room, coming to realise something really important: An apology can go a long way, and acknowledging someone’s emotional struggle can be more important than your own pride and defense.
It must have gotten Shaun to thinking, because he approaches Lim in her office that night, wanting to speak to her about her surgery. She’s clearly not enthused but gives her best to at least listen. Shaun isn’t making it easy, opening the conversation with, “I can’t change what happened and I do not owe you an apology,” to which Lim responds reprehensively, “Dr. Murphy…”
But Shaun has a lot more to say. He has Lim’s full attention when he says he, however, is sorry for other things. “In my RSI surgery today, the medical choice was clear, but I did not want to proceed because I knew what the consequences would be. In your surgery, the medical choice was clear, and I did proceed, but I did not know what the consequences would be. I saved your life, but my decision also caused you harm.”
His voice is now shaky, and he’s beginning to tear up, but he goes on, “When I saw you hurt and bleeding, I saw my brother Steve when he died. When I thought I might lose you the way I lost him… I did not like that.”
His voice thick with tears now, he finally acknowledges how much of a struggle all of this has been for Lim. “I am sorry… this… has been very hard for you. A medicine-only relationship is not easy, I— It is not what I want. I have missed your friendship. I have missed you.”
Lim can definitely tell how much it took for Shaun to admit all of this, to voice his emotions, and that it’s possibly the longest she’s ever heard him say anything uninterrupted. She’s got tears in her eyes and she chooses to mirror Shaun’s words when she confirms that, yes, this has been really hard, but that her life is in a good place now and that’s she’s happy.
She does admit that the underlying anger may still shine through here and there and it will take a while to let go of that. Shaun isn’t sure what to do with that, but when Lim says, “I’ve missed you too, Shaun,” he’s deeply moved and a tear dislodges from his eye.
Did you notice how Lim switches from “Dr. Murphy” to “Shaun” in this scene? She’s only ever called him Dr. Murphy since she called it quits on their friendship, but when she said she misses him too, the use of his first name made the statement so much more powerful.
Shaun’s reconciliatory conversation with Lim has shaken a lot of things loose, and it must have lifted a huge burden off his shoulders. It seems to have made him re-evaluate a few things and opened him up to scrutinising some of the criticism that was brought to him by several people, most of all the fact that he was hiding way in his closet office.
Glassman finds him unpacking his belongings to move back into his shared office with Park and commends Shaun for the move (pun not intended). Shaun actually acknowledges that perhaps he was isolating himself and that it’s time to come out of hiding, now that all the murky fog around him has considerably cleared.
Glassman has something more important to share, though. When he was talking to Lim earlier and she was adjusting her position in her wheelchair there was movement in the muscles around her pelvis and femur. Shaun is as amazed by it as anyone, it could mean that perhaps Lim could regain function in her legs. What a way to end the day!
So Audrey and Clay (whose last name is Porter, apparently) are officially a thing. He’s sleeping over now, breakfast together, the whole shebang. Clay was very definitely a date with sexual intentions!
With her personal life being in a good place now, Glassman reminds Lim of her current predicament with Shaun and the fact that she’s treating Shaun unfairly and not doing a good job as Chief of Surgery. Glassman even goes as far as calling her personal resentment that’s now bleeding into her professional relationship with Shaun toxic.
Lim isn’t very receptive to the idea that perhaps she should try to work on sorting out things with Shaun and brushes Glassman off, basically telling him she values his advice but can keep holding this grudge however long she wants to.
After Shaun apologises to Lim, she stops by Glassman’s office, telling him that Shaun came to talk to her and thanks Aaron for the help and encouragement. When Glassman invites her for a Scotch or maybe a cucumber water, she says no thanks, she has a late dinner date with Clay. Glassman watches her leave with an ominous look on his face, having just witnessed that perhaps there may be a chance Lim could regain some function in her legs after all. We shall see how that plays out, possibly in tomorrow’s episode.
The case of Toni who was sexually assaulted is hitting especially close to home for Morgan. A victim of rape herself, it brings back a lot of unwanted and unpleasant memories. As they try and help Toni through this horrible experience, Morgan has flashbacks to her own assault – a man forcefully manhandling her and then raping her.
When Morgan pushes a little too harshly for Toni to do the rape kit and Toni asks for Morgan to being taken off her case because of it, Morgan makes a last ditch attempt at trying to convince Toni not to throw away the chance to convict and punish her rapist.
She approaches Toni just before she’s being prepped for surgery and apologises for trying to pressure her into saying yes to something she didn’t want. Morgan shares that she herself was raped back in medical school and didn’t do a rape kit. She never told anyone, and she regrets it now.
The guy was a friend of a friend and it progressed to him becoming a stalker. He showed up at a bar she was at and followed her home where he assaulted and raped her. She was ashamed and didn’t want to be seen as a victim, so she never told anyone. She let that creep get away and now she’ll never know how many other women he hurt.
She has come to realise now that it’s her own regret that she wishes she could fix, and it’s not fair to put that on Toni. It resonates with Toni, though. She comes to realise that there may be more to this choice than wanting to ignore and forget that a terrible thing happened, and ultimately it’s a blessing that Morgan shared her own experience with Toni. She decides to do the rape kit after all.
After the surgery, Morgan asks Alex how Toni is doing. He says she’s physically doing as well as expected, but emotionally it’s too early to tell. He asks Morgan why she never mentioned anything about her own experience in all that time they were together. Morgan explains to him that she doesn’t want anyone’s pity and that it’s in the past. Alex tells her what she did for Toni was really brave and offers that he’ll be there if she ever needs anyone to brave for her. She tears up, clearly moved, expressing her gratitude to him.
I really hope that there’s a path of reconciliation ahead for Park and Morgan. They’re paving more and more of the way for it now, and I think that would be a wonderful thing to see.
Jordan & Danny
We thought there was nothing going on between these two, right? Well, Danny crashed at Jordan’s place (though I assume her couch is still uncomfortable) when they worked late for a joint research project. Asher can’t help but notice that Danny is wearing the same clothes as the day before. When Asher asks if Jordan wasn’t supposed to go on a date the night before, she tells him she rescheduled it.
When Danny goes to have a shower, Asher plants the idea in Jordan’s head that Danny is breadcrumbing her—giving her just enough attention to keep her on the hook without wanting to commit. Is Jordan settling for whatever Danny is willing to give her?
When Jordan calls Danny on it, he gives her an evasive answer and says that real personal connections are valuable either way, irrespective of whether they’re romantic or platonic.
We also dig a little into Danny’s own drug addiction history. When Toni was first brought to the ER, he immediately judged her for being on drugs, jumped to the conclusion that she was to blame for getting herself hurt and didn’t deserve any empathy because she brought this on herself.
He later questions that reaction, feeling bad for jumping to conclusions based on his own clouded judgment. He shares his regret with Jordan and tells her she’s a good friend for listening, but Jordan is actually getting tired of the breadcrumbing. She’s decided she won’t wait any longer for Danny to make up his mind about a romantic relationship possibility, so no more just-friends hangouts and Jordan will reschedule the date she had planned.
After shift, Jordan gets ready for her date, reapplying her lipstick by her locker. Danny watches her go, but then makes a spur of the moment decision. He goes after her and stops her before she can leave and kisses her. Jordan looks surprised and asks what that was, but Danny says he doesn’t know. So what does that mean? Isn’t that just more breadcrumbing? We shall see what comes of it, maybe Jordanny or Joriel or Janny will be a thing after all.
Things to Further Dissect
This week’s MVP – Shaun Murphy
Shaun really came through this episode, and he made me so epically proud. On the surface this episode may have seemed unimpressive and a little nondescript, but if you peel back the layers, there was so much to uncover.
The most obvious piece was probably the Lim friction—a storyline they had been building up to for a good third of the season now. Freddie talked a lot about how Shaun would be in denial for a long time about how his decision emotionally affected Lim and, in turn, also Shaun. We saw him struggle with it all this time, saw him isolate himself in his closet office, saw him hiding away and keeping his friends at arm’s length.
Lea tried to talk to Shaun about it, and he immediately shut her down. Glassman tried to talk to him about it several times, and he was pushed away, too. Shaun just didn’t want to hear it, didn’t want to open himself up to the vulnerability of admitting that he might have made a mistake, that maybe he wasn’t as infallible as a surgeon as he thought.
With his medical case of the lesbian couple who are going through a difficult emotional journey of trust, blame and resentment, it resonates with Shaun on such a personal level that he starts to open up, and with Glassman’s gentle and consistent pushing, he finally lets the walls crumble and comes out of his shell.
Seeing all that unravel over the course of the episode was very beautiful, and it was a true pleasure to see it culminate in the heartfelt and deeply moving apology—a poignant and important means to lift that burden off Shaun’s shoulders that he was perhaps somewhat ignorantly carrying around all this time.
Peeling back more of the layers, there was quite a lot to unravel here. His beautiful, brave and heartfelt apology was everything they both needed, but what was truly moving and immensely powerful that Shaun shared with her how he had connected her assault with his brother’s death and how hard that hit him. It gave his speech extra gravitas, and Lim felt it, too. It probably contributed to her being receptive to Shaun’s apology.
It was left open if this will mean things between Shaun and Lim are now pretty much back to normal, seeing how Lim said it may take her a while to fully let go of the anger, but judging from previous seasons, the writers will probably consider this resolved and move on to new and more important/dramatic things. Of course there’s still the matter of Lim’s leg function hanging in the balance, so most likely we’ll see more coming out of that side of the field over the rest of the season.
High praise this week also came from autism consultant Melissa Reiner who thanked the writers in her latest episode insights for writing such a powerful episode. I can only echo that sentiment.
I wanna add how much I loved what Freddie and Christina did with the apology scene. I have now watched it several times, and they make me tear up and cry every single time. So much emotion and depth, it was wonderful and emotionally gripping work.
Goodbye Closet Office
This tiny office was such a perfect metaphor for Shaun’s denial and isolation – the perfect physical manifestation of his hiding away and denying all of the emotional fallout with Lim. It took quite a long time and was a hard road to get there, but I couldn’t be happier that he finally made the connection and had the guts to go to Lim to talk to her.
I will be honest and say that I didn’t quite expect for it to happen quite so soon, but I’m happy that Shaun and Lim have escorted the elephant out of the room in a joint effort to make room for reconciliation.
It’s also beautiful that Shaun has come to realise that it lifted the huge weight off his shoulders that he tried to put in interim storage in his little closet office hideout where it just kept toppling over to be picked up again. So now that the weight has been disposed of, he doesn’t need the hideout office anymore, and I’m hoping Park will be happy to have Shaun back as much as Glassman was to see Shaun come out of his shell.
Something else I wanted to highlight is how much of a pillar of support Glassman has been for Shaun in all of this. If we ever doubted that Shaun was a son to him, we surely know now just how much he loves him, and to what lengths he’ll go to try and contribute to Shaun’s wellbeing.
Glassman was probably already low-key worried about Shaun’s underlying state of mind and his vehement denial of the emotional fallout of the Lim surgery, but decided to watch from the sidelines and support Shaun when he was ready to tackle that particular issue. He’s seeing more of that coming to a head, and I think now he’s also seeing the cracks appearing in Shaun’s façade.
Of course Glassman is aware of the resentment that Lim is harbouring and understands why. Harder to understand is Shaun’s refusal to acknowledge any of it beyond perhaps the fact that Shaun’s ASD is getting in the way of that. Glassman’s in a tough spot because both Lim and Shaun and Lim are dear to his heart, and it’s getting to the point where he repeatedly gets caught in the crossfire.
It’s starting to bother him enough to go to Lim and encourage her to open up to the idea of forgiveness, but she isn’t quite there yet. Glassman tries to gently poke Shaun, too, ultimately being the catalyst to a positive outcome on both sides.
What I thought was very noticeable this episode was how gentle and supportive Glassman was with Shaun in every interaction they had. Freddie talked a few times about how Shaun and Glassman have to redefine their relationship this season a little bit, now that Shaun is married and perhaps doesn’t need as much fathering anymore, but I daresay they’re on an excellent path.
In past seasons, some of Shaun and Glassman’s interactions were outright confrontational, sometimes verbally volatile, often Glassman not quite finding the right balance of support vs. force or command, resulting in the two of them clashing here and there. It seems like Glassman is now slowly adjusting to the fact that he can safely step back a little and offer a helping hand when needed but let Shaun live his own married life now with the help and support of his wife.
Yet, we also know Shaun loves relying on Glassman’s advice and support when he’s a little flustered, and he also listens when Dad comes with a challenging idea or criticism. It makes me really happy to see their relationship grow and evolve, and I really, really hope that we can see Glassman become Grampa Glassy sometime in the future, no matter when and how that happens.
Random fact, and I don’t know if perhaps this was already depicted before and I never realised, but we saw in the elevator scene that Glassman’s office and the clinic are on the 3rd floor. I think that means Lea’s office is also on that floor.
The Shea Baby Dilemma
Seeing how there was no Lea at all in this episode, we haven’t learned anything further about the Shea baby storyline. We don’t know how Lea is faring, what may have been discussed or not discussed between Shaun and Lea, and we don’t learn either whether they’ve told anyone about it.
What I’ve been wondering: Does Glassman know? His and Shaun’s interactions this episode don’t give us any definite answers.
There was their conversation in Shaun’s closet office where Glassman mentions that Shaun made a personal connection to his patient Naveen whose uterus he had to remove, and they talk about Shaun’s freezing up over it. However, Glassman also specifically mentions the Lim surgery situation, so it’s somewhat ambiguous whether Glassman figures Shaun connected with Naveen over her inability to carry a child or over the fact that Shaun had to make a difficult decision that would have serious repercussions for Naveen’s future—the parallel to Lim.
Without actually knowing anything about the upcoming episode, I can only assume it will centre more significantly around the Shea conception issue, so we’ll probably go into the winter hiatus with either good news or bad news or in a holding pattern requiring more patience.
If I were to hazard an educated guess, I’d say they’ll discuss what they wanna do, and Shaun will try to convince Lea to have the hysteroscopy surgery—if there is any convincing needed. And then we’ll see next year what comes of that. Or maybe we’ll even see it on Monday already. I’d like to think I’m fine with either. Unless they end on a huge cliffhanger, then I won’t be fine at all and hate it with a passion.
What’s with all the Lim hate?
Granted, after this episode, there’s no further good reason to hate on Lim, but before it aired, a lot of people were still massively angry with Lim for pushing Shaun out of her friend zone. This latest development with Lea’s conception problems seems to have brought on a new wave of Lim hate. A subset of fans were saying that Lim is to blame for Lea’s uterine complications because she performed the foetoscopic surgery back in season 4. She basically messed up Lea’s womb, so people want Shaun to hate on her.
I mean, seriously?! If anything, Shaun knows what the complications of foetoscopic and D&C surgery are. There is actually a roughly 25% chance of patients developing Asherman’s syndrome after D&C surgery, which they neglected to mention back in season 4. In fact, many fans are pissed that Lim said in Dr. Ted that Lea’s condition shouldn’t affect their chance to have a healthy baby in the future, which just wasn’t accurate and now the fans’ hopes are being crushed.
Personally, I think blaming Lim for Lea’s current predicament is less than fair and totally fabricated. Lim did her job and most likely did it extra carefully and extra well, knowing whom she was operating on, having Shaun right there up on the gallery watching it. Shaun would have also interjected if he’d spotted anything being amiss during the surgery he was watching like a hawk.
I’d like to think that Sorry, Not Sorry proved that Shaun never harboured any ill feelings towards Lim. He was saddened that she cut ties with him and he lost a friend, probably thought she was doing him an injustice, but he never had feelings of true resentment towards her. I can’t see him even remotely wanting to blame Lim for what is happening with Lea right now.
You also need to consider that Shaun is the “looking ahead” type. He’s said on multiple occasions that dwelling on the past isn’t helpful. What happened, happened. Nothing you can do now will change what’s already happened in the past. All you can do is make the best of what you have. And I think that’s what they will do – try to make the best of what life is throwing at them.
I tweet, therefore I am
The Shea baby complications are also bringing on a new wave of fan entitlement that just makes me cringe so badly. If you’ve followed my season 5 recaps, you will know that I’m passionate about this, and I will say it again: The writers don’t have to cater to the shippers’ wishes, and in a lot of cases they won’t. They will not write a Shea baby just because the fanbase wants it or the fanbase thinks it has earned this reward.
The creators and writers have their own long-term vision for what they want to do with the characters, and while I’m sure they are interested in what the fans have to say and wish for, there won’t necessarily be an alignment between the two. The writers have no obligation whatsoever to write what the fans or the shippers want.
Sure, as fans we all have our wishes of what we’d like to see, and seeing our wishes being granted is always cool and gratifying, but too much or too frequent fan service can also harm or even ruin a show.
I see lots of mention of the term “deserve” on social media, what Lea deserves, what Shaun deserves, what he fans deserve. I’m not sure that’s the right way of approaching fandom. In the grand scheme of things, we’re consumers of a product that is being made independently by people who have their own vision for a creative path that is constructed outside of the fan environment. David Shore himself has said in a 2021 interview that he will write the stories he thinks are interesting, irrespective of what the fans want.
Purely from a logistical point of view, this doesn’t even work. By the time we see the episodes and react to them, the writing and filming is already months ahead of those developments. They would have built out Shaun and Lea’s pregnancy/children journey well ahead of time when they were plotting out the general season 6, maybe even possible season 7 outline. This would likely have already happened back in 2021 but at the latest in the summer of 2022. Sorry to say that whatever they have planned for a Shea baby in season 6, by this point, is already done and dusted.
The Baby Drama Trope Trap
And in terms of the actual baby storyline, think about it. When a TV show is written, the writers’ main motivation is to tell interesting stories that will sustain general viewer interest in the long run and build a basis for more interesting stories to be constructed from it.
Will seeing Shaun and Lea feed and diaper a healthy infant really be all that interesting for more than an episode or two? More interesting kid stories and deeper exploration of parenthood start when the kid is walking and talking. Seeing how a TGD season usually spans the time of a year, it would be at least two more seasons until we got to that point. I can’t really see Lea becoming a stay-at-home mom, and handing the child off to a nanny or childcare won’t be all that riveting to watch either.
Now, I’m not saying that they can’t write sustainably captivating stories around Shaun and Lea parenting a young baby. I just don’t want the show to fall into that trap of them fabricating lots of unrealistic dramatic baby scenarios just for the sake of drama. And I know many of the Shea shippers don’t want to hear this, but a perfect, continuously happy Shea family just isn’t good fodder for drama television.
From a more rational standpoint, is this really the right time for them to have a kid? Is it not a little too early? Of course it’s never the right time to have a kid, but Shaun only just made attending, he still adjusting to his mentor role and has his hands full with teaching Danny and Danni. There are potentially still remnants here and there of the Lim thing to gnaw on, and apparently there will be legal trouble he’s involved in later on (which of course he doesn’t know yet). I don’t know that adding a pregnancy and a newborn infant on top of that is the right time this season.
Of course I don’t know what the writers have planned for the rest of season 6, but my personal feeling is that, if we’re gonna see an actual Shea kid, it won’t be before season 7. And maybe that would be their season 7 arc, provided we will get one. And of course I could be totally wrong about all of this.
The rape storyline, while important and well executed, felt a little tropey to me. Granted, I’m not as invested in Morgan as a character as I am in other characters, but it feels like they’ve done this exact storyline in almost this exact way on pretty much every long-running medical show in the book.
That said, I’m always happy when characters are given more depth and we learn more important pieces from their past. Fiona definitely carried that arc and made the emotion translate across the screen to the viewer. I’m also in favour of Morgan opening up more about what shaped the kind of person she is, and possibly seeing a reconciliation with Alex. We shall see where that goes.
Favourite Lines and Dialogues
Audrey: “If I get back in that bed, it’s gonna be for more than twenty minutes.”
Go Audrey. Sounds like your morning is getting off to a great start!
Glassman: “What if I’m busy?”
Shaun: “You’re not.”
Of course Shaun would have checked his schedule. How did Glassman not figure that?
Shaun: “When I saw you hurt and bleeding, I saw my brother Steve when he died. When I thought I might lose you the way I lost him, I did not like that.”
Classic case of Shaun’s words having to be put through the Shaun filter to really figure out their full depth, because it wasn’t just Shaun “not liking it”. It really fucked him up at the time, he froze up and went into a full catatonic episode over it. It affected him deeply, to the point of him actually talking to Lea about it, telling her that he was still struggling with residual guilt of having a hand in his brother’s death and not being able to save his life. I daresay “I did not like it,” doesn’t quite cover it.
Shaun: “I have missed your friendship. I have missed you.”
This was so beautifully delivered, and it’s also pretty poignant for Shaun to be openly admitting that. This whole scene was so moving.
I suppose Lea was sorely missing from the episode, although I will say that I didn’t actively miss her beyond the fact that it was glaringly obvious that they were parking the Shea baby plot until the next episode and thus didn’t feel Lea could or perhaps should contribute anything to the episode arcs.
One thing I was wondering was how Alex knew about Morgan’s own sexual assault. He wasn’t present when Morgan told her story to Toni. Was there an omitted scene where that was explained? Did he just infer from Morgan’s and Toni’s bedside talk that led to Toni changing her mind on the rape kit? That’s a pretty big leap to then recount to Morgan as fact, or not?
Another scene we of course won’t be seeing is how Shaun goes home and tells Lea about his reconciliation with Lim and the great news that Glassman gave him about Lim’s leg muscles. More for the headcanon cardboard box that’s filling with unpublished scripts. Shea could definitely use some good news to lift their spirits in the midst of their current problems.
Best Shaun Muffin Face
No Spoilers, please!
Quick reminder that I love feedback but try very hard to actively avoid any kind of spoilers for upcoming episodes. Please don’t mention any spoilers in your comments, which includes information from episode promos, stills and other official promo material. Thanks, guys!
I absolutely agree that Shaun was the MOV in this very strong episode. Runners up: Glassy and Lim. Strong performances by everyone, but Freddie and Christina shone bright in that beautifully moving “sorry not sorry” scene.
Lea didn’t appear, but I think she was very much on Shaun’s mind with the Naveer/Luna scenario. Yes, Shaun connected the circumstances to Lim’s surgery and its repercussions, but surely he also saw the connection to his and Lea’s difficulties.
Tomorrow’s episode will end with a cliffhanger; I can almost guarantee it. The pattern has been a cliffhanger on the winter break, fairly quick resolution when the show resumes, happy days are here again at the finale.
Yes, agreed. The apology scene was definitely wonderful work, and Lim and Glassy were definitely runners up and carried the episode.
I’m very sure that Shaun felt deeply for Naveen and Luna and the parallel to Shaun’s own situation with Lea. I guess we’ll hear more about that later today (well, for me tomorrow because of the time difference). The thing that I’m still not sure about is whether Shaun actually told Glassman about it. It wasn’t very clear from their conversation if Glassy knew or not.
I fear you’re right about the cliffhanger. I won’t mind it so much if it’s not a huge thing they’ll leave in the balance. A little suspense is fine, I just hate the massive kind of cliffhangers where it’s like, omg, is she gonna live or die?!? I sincerely hope they won’t be milking that trope.
Great recap, Tina!
I agree with everything you pointed out about this beautiful episode (but you already know that 😉).
Winter finale is just around the corner. Let’s brace ourselves!