The Good Doctor has returned to our screens after a two months winter hiatus, and it’s wonderful to have it back! Added bonus that I got to watch it first on my birthday. That said, I have mixed feelings about this one, which I’ll get into in more detail below.
Written by Jessica Grasl & Nathalie Touboul
Directed by James Genn
Original airdate 23 Jan 2023
Patient #1 – Lea Dilallo
Aaron Glassman, Audrey Lim, Asher Wolke
Second trimester pregnancy with thinning of the uterine wall and danger of uterine rupture
- During a routine OB-GYN appointment to monitor Lea’s pregnancy that has now progressed into the second trimester, Dr. Winkler finds that one side of Lea’s uterine wall shows thinning that could result in a uterine rupture and loss of the baby if it progressed further
- Shaun suggests an experimental procedure to Glassman and Lim to reinforce the uterine wall with expanding collagen fleece
- The surgery is risky with potential for serious complications, but Shaun has studied the technique and will teach Lim and Glassman because waiting until Lea’s uterus is going to rupture will most definitely not be a good outcome
- Lea agrees to the surgery and despite a small bleed during the procedure under Shaun’s guidance, it goes well
- During the post-op recovery process, Lea starts feeling nauseous, which prompts Shaun to perform an ultrasound that detects increased fluid in the abdomen
- Lea loses consciousness which suggests internal bleeding, so she is being wheeled into the OR again
- Glassman and Lim try to locate the source of the bleeding but can’t find it
- Already considering to remove the uterus, they realise that Lea’s left uterine artery was tethered to scar tissue, and as the uterus grew, it ruptured
- Glassman and Lim manage to repair the damage and stop the bleeding, saving both Lea and the baby’s life
- Lea recovers well from the surgery and is later released from the hospital without complications
Patient #2 – Drew Dewitt
Morgan Reznick, Alex Park, Jordan Allen, Daniel Perez
Recurrent desmoid tumours caused by Gardner’s syndrome
- Drew currently has a benign tumour on his liver that hasn’t responded to chemotherapy and is encroaching on the stomach and spleen, so it has to be surgically removed
- Drew also has a history of major small intestine resection and is currently waiting for a donor organ
- He has already had 20 prior surgeries and 16 rounds of chemo
- During the surgery they find that the tumour is a lot larger than it showed on imaging and they have to resect half of Drew’s liver
- After the surgery, Drew’s liver function is declining and it’s getting more important now that he gets the bowel organ transplant
- The muscles in Drew’s abdomen are weakened from prior surgeries and the internal stitches from the liver surgery tear open (dehiscence), causing severe pain and danger of infection
- At the same time, Morgan finds Drew a small bowel for transplantation, but with the dehisced wound, it’s not possible to perform any further abdominal surgery
- Drew is running out of options and Danny is the one to suggest a rather radical approach: Together with the new small bowel, transplant this donor’s whole abdominal wall
- Drew and his mother agree to the new approach and the double-transplant goes well
Shaun and Lea’s Journey
It’s been three months since Lea’s found out she was pregnant, and it sounds like the first trimester has been progressing fairly well so far. At a routine OB-GYN check-up appointment, Shaun mentions that Lea last vomited three weeks ago, the nausea and fatigue are getting better. Not so much the constant state of terror that something could happen with the pregnancy, though.
When Dr. Winkler asks if they want to know the sex of the baby, Shaun enthusiastically says yes (interesting, since he initially didn’t care back for their first pregnancy), and Lea emphatically says no. She’d rather have it be a fun surprise, but Shaun says it’s fun to prepared.
Their happy anticipation soon turns to dread when Dr. Winkler finds that Lea’s uterine wall shows some thinning. It’s not an immediate cause for concern, but as a worst case scenario it could rupture and they would lose the baby. Shaun, however, has spent much of the past three months researching every possible complication of Asherman’s syndrome (as he does), and he knows just the right surgery that could help fix this particular medical issue.
He pitches the idea to Lim and Glassman, who both listen with interest. The procedure is experimental and the success rate has been 3 out of 5, but Shaun is confident it’ll go well since both Lim and Glassman are above average surgeons. Lim aptly says, “Lea’s body, her call.”
Shaun, Glassman and Lim outline the surgery to Lea, and Shaun is very adamant that it’s their best option and they better do it now, because the longer they wait, the higher the risk of uterine rupture. Glassman is expedient to remind Shaun not to pressure Lea. She’s clearly torn, afraid to make a decision, but she trusts Shaun explicitly, so she tentatively says yes. “On one condition. I want you in the OR. Not for me, but if something were to go wrong and we lose our baby, I need you to be with her… or him.”
Shaun doesn’t seem all that worried. He has a solution and two of the most skilled surgeons at this hospital will be executing it. Or maybe that’s just his way of reassuring himself and not giving in to the underlying worry that is undoubtedly there.
Remember episode 4×16 Dr. Ted where Lea had to undergo the D&C because their first baby wasn’t going to survive? Shaun sits at her bedside and quietly asks, “Do you want to discuss risks and benefits?” In this episode here, he uses a very similar line, “Would you like us to go over the risks and benefits again?” Not quite sure that was intentional, though.
Shaun channels all his nervous energy into making sure that the surgery goes as well as possible, having Glassman practice the technique on a dummy. He completely ignores Glassman’s attempt at showing sympathy that he and Lea are going through this, and focuses all his attention on the surgery technique.
Prepping Lea for the surgery feels a little too familiar and Lea hates that they have a routine for this now. Shaun is still confident that this time it’s different. Jordan and Asher drop by to keep Lea company and help cheer her up a little, but Shaun immediately send them away. Visitors increase the risk of infection and complications. There’s definite internal eye-rolling going on from Asher, Jordan and Lea, but likely they all know Shaun is just worried and showing it with his unmistakable Shaun charm, so they don’t dare argue.
Shaun’s nervousness is certainly also tangible throughout the operation, which has some minor complications that are quickly rectified and fixed. In the end it all goes well, and Lea’s recovery process can begin.
Even though the surgery went well, Shaun doesn’t quite allow himself yet to breathe a sigh of relief. The surgery was experimental and Lea still needs to be monitored closely. He’s hovering, insisting that Lea be kept away from anything that could pose a risk, and finally Lea tells him how much she loathes being in that hospital room all by herself. “I can’t go days like this, Shaun. I hate it here.” Shaun, however, shrugs it off in kind of a “tough luck, our baby is more important” manner and keeps insisting that no one should be visiting and Lea needs rest and quiet to recover more quickly.
Is it just me, or was anyone else slightly perturbed by this version of Shaun? Sure, he isn’t always acutely aware of the negative emotional effect certain circumstances can have on other people, but this just doesn’t seem like Shaun.
Part of this may be what I call the Grasl effect. Episodes written by Jessica Grasl often tend to show us a Shaun who blunders himself through anything that requires even a tiny fraction of emotional awareness and who’s kind of a rude and totally oblivious klutz. Always make me a little sad because it suggests Shaun has had zero emotional growth and has zero emotional awareness, which we’ve been shown before isn’t the case, especially where Lea is concerned.
I’d like to think that, if Lea is so massively unhappy and she verbalises that to him, he’d at least try to understand it and try to find a way to compromise other than just shrug and say, “Tough luck, I don’t care.” But anyway…
It’s Asher who finally takes Shaun aside and clearly outlines to him that Lea is not, in fact, fine and that Shaun’s active efforts to protect her are making her feel miserable and alone, and in turn make Shaun kind of a pain in the arse. Asher suggests that Lea needs her friends, that she needs company and laughing and being shown concern and love. And he suggests to Shaun that maybe he himself needs that more than he thinks.
Shaun actually takes that to heart because he “allows” Jordan to spend ten minutes with Lea, which they put to good use, laughing about how Shaun is running around like Thor, protecting Lea with the Mjölnir hammer and a breastplate and red cape. I will admit the imagery is a little amusing.
When Jordan inquires about the gender of the baby, Lea tells her she doesn’t want to know because she’s afraid it’ll jinx it. Last time, they already picked out names with S after her grandmother Suzie. On Lea’s shortlist were Sage, Skyler and Sophia.
I wonder if this is a not so subtle hint that Shaun and Lea will end up naming their son Steve after Shaun’s late brother. Personally, I’ve always hated the concept because I think it would be a painful daily reminder of that dark time in Shaun’s life, but a lot of people love the idea of the tribute, so perhaps the writers do too, and I’m the odd one out.
Things take an unexpected turn for the worse when Lea starts feeling nauseous and actually loses consciousness (which we don’t see on screen). An ultrasound Shaun ran showed free fluid in her abdomen, all of which suggests she has internal bleeding. Shaun wheels her into emergency surgery, afraid that the first surgery he pushed for has caused these complications.
Shaun, of course, wants to fix it, wants to make sure Lea is going to be okay, but Glassman tells him in no uncertain terms that he can’t be in the OR, particularly since they may have to make the hard choice to remove the uterus to save Lea’s life. He promises to come and get Shaun if that were to be the case.
A scared and worried sick Shaun relents and sits down against the wall outside of the OR, trying not to go crazy. Medicine is always Shaun’s safe haven, so he starts picturing the surgery in his mind, recounts the steps the surgeons would be taking and how long it’d take.
Interestingly, this was a direct result of what autism consultant Melissa Reiner had suggested. In her latest episode insights, she talks about how the writers approached her early on and asked for advice how Shaun would handle the situation. She suggested that he would try to go over the surgery in his mind in an effort to stay calm while his friends and colleagues came to sit with him.
Aware of what was happening, Andrews shows up to offer emotional support. He silently sits down next to Shaun to keep him company. Time crawls slowly, and while Glassman and Lim try to find the source of the bleed, the news of Lea’s predicament travels fast. One by one, all of Shaun’s close friends and colleagues come to sit with him outside the OR. It’s beautiful, heartwarming and reassuring to see Shaun being shown so much love and support in the figurative arms of his chosen family.
This scene was powerful in its own right, and in its essence everything I wanted, but like the rest of the episode, it just felt… off. Something was lacking, and I wasn’t as emotionally invested as I should have been, perhaps as a result of directorial or cinematographic choices. I will go into this further later when I try to dissect the episode more.
In the OR, Lea’s bleeding is hard to locate, but eventually they find where it’s coming from: one of the uterine arteries had attached itself to scar tissue and it ruptured as the uterus grew. They manage to repair it, and Lea and the baby will be fine.
The relief at the news is more than palpable, and you can almost see the 16-ton-weight slide off of Shaun’s shoulders, particularly when Glassman tells him that his first surgery most likely saved Lea’s life. If the artery had ruptured outside of the hospital, she would have probably bled out and died.
Shaun is so relieved, and there’s a much deserved and comforting hug in store for Glassman, of course, who draws Shaun close and tells him, “I got you.” Shaun’s gratefulness also extends to Audrey and her efforts to save the lives of both Lea and their baby, and it’s the very first time that Shaun invites her in for a hug. Quite a show of fondness and friendship, seeing where they started out at the beginning of the season.
It’s not just Shaun who is massively relieved. The fears of everyone there are alleviated and there are hugs and smiles all around. Glassman takes a quick look, and knowing Shaun is in good hands, he quietly slinks away.
After the emergency surgery, Lea recovers well. Everything looks good in the post-op ultrasound, and Asher comments that their baby is cute and squirmy. When he asks them again if they wanna know the baby’s gender, Lea checks in with Shaun, and he looks uncannily mischievous. “You already know, don’t you?” she asks. He does. He’s been looking at Lea’s uterus a lot. And he can keep a secret if need be.
Lea must have decided that she wouldn’t mind knowing the gender after all, because the next thing we see is Shaun and Lea back home, trying to decide on what colour to paint the nursery. There’s different pastel colour choices ranging from beige, purple, light blue and teal to taupe and orange.
Hard to say what their baby would like, but they agree that the light blue is a little too heteronormative and Lea thinks he would like something in the grey palette—calming but warm, elegant yet understated. Shaun adds, “I think our son would like that very much,” as he takes Lea’s hand. So now we know: It’s a boy!
Not a huge surprise that Danny would survive the overdose if you’ve paid attention. They made an official announcement some time end of last year that Brandon Larracuente had been elevated from recurring guest star to series regular, so that clearly indicated he would be on the show for the long haul.
We see Danny back at work, asserting to Andrews and Lim that he’s been clean for 92 days, was in rehab for 2 months, and goes to meetings every single day. Andrews and Lim decide to extend the courtesy to him to stay on as a junior resident, but he will be on probation for 6 months, he can’t prescribe controlled substances and he’ll be subjected to random drug tests, plus every step in patient care will be supervised by the senior resident on the case. Danny is fine with that arrangement and happy he is given a second chance.
We also learn that he hasn’t contacted Jordan at all during the three months after the overdose. When they finally meet again at work, he somewhat awkwardly explains he didn’t know what to say. Yeah, I can imagine, seeing how Jordan was the one who very possibly saved his life and got him taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
It’s unclear how or if the two of them will be moving forward romantically, but at least Danny opens up to her and tells her that he’s been trying to figure out why exactly he chose to OD that night instead of spending a nice evening over turmeric chicken with asparagus on a date with Jordan. There may be a healthy portion of self-sabotage in there, or maybe fear of commitment or fear of screwing up again. I’m sure we’ll learn more about him as we traverse through the rest of the season.
Both Danny and Jordan wish they could travel back in time and wipe the slate clean, but they both know that’s not possible, so all they can do is take it slow and see where it goes. Danny certainly will need more time to figure his own stuff out, so a romantic relationship is definitely off the table for now.
He even goes as far as requesting that Jordan not be assigned as his supervisor because he doesn’t want to allow himself to get close to her. He knows he can’t fall for her again if he’s not okay, and him agreeing to their date was probably a way of trying to convince himself he was okay when he was not. He wants more time to be ready for them.
The awkwardness and the spark from Jordan towards Danny is certainly there when everyone is hugging outside the OR upon hearing Lea and the baby are fine, the pointed look Jordan gives Danny clearly says she wants to hug him but is respecting the boundaries he has set.
More to come on this front, I think, but we’re probably in for a slow burn romance, if any.
In the three months between Lim’s surgery and now, she seems to have worked a great deal on her recovery. She is back on her feet – quite literally – walking with a cane.
She and Clay are still going strong. Clay has stayed over three times this week, and it looks like Audrey hasn’t decided yet about the engagement ring. It’s still sitting there on the table, and has been all these months. She admits it’s starting to make her fell the pressure, but Clay reassures her that that’s not what it is. It’s just a reminder that he’s committed if she’s ready. However, he sees what she’s saying, so he takes the box with the ring off the table. Not to unpropose but to unpressure.
When they talk the next evening, Lim has a different proposal to show her commitment – she asks Clay to move in. He’s happy with that too, and tells her she’s made him the happiest man alive.
We pick up on Morgan’s desire to become a mother, and her desire or rather decision to go it alone. Frequent phone notifications tell Alex that she must be getting close to the point of embryo implantation. He offers to help and support, but Morgan doesn’t want him to. She wants boundaries.
There’s a bit of back and forth when Alex offers to drive her to the embryo implantation procedure, and when she refuses, he more or less says it’s kinda sad that she has to a take an Uber to potentially one of the most important moments of her life. Morgan is offended by the implication, tells him she chose to do this alone, and that there’s nothing sad or pathetic about that.
An intimate discussion with her patient Drew has Morgan reconsider her stance on fierce independence, and she and Alex have another conversation where he tries to apologise, tries to explain he didn’t mean that she was being pathetic, he just feels bad for himself that he can’t be a part of this new life chapter of Morgan’s.
Morgan is actually almost impressed that he’s so uncharacteristically self-absorbed to make her situation all about him. He grins a little. “You changed me.” He reiterates that he doesn’t think what she’s doing is sad but that she doesn’t have to do it alone.
It strikes a chord with Morgan, but not in the way that Alex was trying for. She decides that she doesn’t want to be driven to the embryo implantation by a stranger after all, but she chooses Aaron Glassman as a chauffeur instead of Alex.
Okay, weird choice, but I have another question. Since when does Glassman drive a Mercedes sedan? Last I remember, he had an SUV of some kind, next to the Roadster.
Things to Further Dissect
It’s always difficult for me to dissect those episodes where big plot points weren’t a total surprise. What with the long winter hiatus, I did watch the episode promo back in December, so I was already aware of the general Lea emergency surgery storyline.
And honestly? I really hate knowing these spoilers beforehand because it messes with my ability to fully enjoy the episodes in a pretty significant way. I makes me apprehensive the whole time while I watch because I always wonder when the things I already know about are gonna happen. Spoiler chasing is definitely not for me.
The spoiler related discontentment aside, I’m not sure it would have elevated the episode much if I had gone into it totally blind. It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but I also didn’t think it was a particularly good episode either.
What’s interesting is that the vast majority of fans seem to have loved the episode, some have even said it was one of the best episodes The Good Doctor has ever done. Personally puzzling to me, since I felt it was severely lacking in important aspects, but of course tastes tend to vary, and if the episode was well received overall, that’s good news in my book.
Emotional Tethers (or lack thereof)
I talked about this with Daniela and we both felt short-changed but couldn’t really put our finger on why exactly. At the end of the day, I think it mostly stemmed from there being a huge amount of potential to capture and engage the viewers emotionally, particularly those invested in the Shaun and Lea relationship, and that just didn’t happen. At least it didn’t happen for either me or Daniela.
With Lea and their unborn child being in danger and Shaun going crazy with worry, somehow that didn’t translate as well as it should have. Shaun’s worry was mostly channelled into him being an obnoxious jackass to everyone around him, and which turned him into an ostensibly cold-hearted, patronising jerk.
Now, of course I know it wasn’t an unrealistic scenario, and it was Shaun’s perhaps somewhat misguided way of protecting Lea without being aware of the emotional repercussions it leaves in its wake. I actually really like that they clearly presented Shaun’s fear and concern in a way that wasn’t what you’d hope of a neurotypical partner supporting their just as worried and scared wife. It was definitely in line with the Shaun we know and hold dear.
However, something here was lacking because the predominant underlying emotion it evoked in me was mild annoyance and frustration, when there should have also been compassion and a tangibility of Shaun’s emotional upheaval beyond him just running around, chastising friends and colleagues how much they’re upsetting his wife’s fragile state. Freddie shines in those moments where we see Shaun going through something really troubling, and he was given zero chance to show us that. I feel that’s a big missed opportunity.
We were also short-changed on seeing more of Lea’s emotional journey. Of course the apprehension and anxiety weighing on her was very tangible, but the way that was portrayed didn’t draw me in emotionally.
It’s hard to say where they might have gone wrong or how that could have been done better, but I think what was lacking was spending a little more time on emotionally charged scenes with just Shaun and Lea that gave both them and us the opportunity to really empathise with their struggles and give us an in to their emotional states. Instead I feel they focused too much on the technicalities around the medical details, the problem solving and, well, Shaun unintentionally being a condescending prick.
It’s also hard not to compare this to the big pregnancy trauma episode back in season 4, Dr. Ted, which (at least for me) had a totally different vibe and a totally different emotional pull. Shaun and Lea’s panic and worry and fear was palpable in that episode in a way that was stomach knot inducing and had me emotionally invested from minute one.
What’s a little frustrating as well is that the writers can’t seem to make up their mind in how they want to write Shaun. Despite his emotional radar being impaired by his ASD, he’s often incredibly empathetic and caring, particularly where Lea and his closest friends and family are concerned. However, in some episodes they seem to completely ignore that aspect of him and just write him as a bumbling klutz with no redeeming moments. Interestingly, these episodes tend to have writers Sam Chanse or Jessica Grasl attached. Case in point when we look at who co-wrote this episode, I guess.
By no means do I want to imply that either of these writers are not skilled at their job or are doing a bad job. It may just be personal preference on my part. After all, different things speak to different people in different ways. There are many fans who loved the episode and felt it was written just right.
The more I think about this, the more I’m actually thinking that most of the flaws or missing pieces in this episode weren’t so much in the writing but in the directing and the choice of camera angles and cinematography.
I don’t know if this is something specific to me and perhaps my brain being wired in an extremely visual way, so let me try to explain where I’m coming from. I talked about how I was missing tethers and cues that would draw me in and keep me emotionally invested. I think a lot of those come out of cinematographic nuances such as close-ups of facial expressions or little gestures and body language that speaks to an emotional state of mind. And a lot of that was missing in this episode.
In many of the scenes, it felt as if the characters were going through the motions, were giving us the barebones storytelling markers so that we knew what was happening and what we were supposed to be feeling for the characters, but without that actually being supported by visual indicators.
I actually have some examples. No. 1 is the scene where they pitch the uterine wall strengthening surgery to Lea, Shaun is sitting at her bedside. Lea is wavering a bit about the decision, and Shaun reaches over to take her hand while they’re still talking. There’s also a lot of eye contact which is really special for him (maybe not so much with Lea anymore, but still). While they do insert a barely one second close-up of Shaun reaching one hand in to take Lea’s, at some point he puts both his hands in there, which you can see in some of the episode stills, but the camera doesn’t capture that at all.
Shaun reaching in one hand:
What happened a little later in the scene as they were talking further:
What we saw on screen when Shaun reached both hands in:
In my opinion, that was an important visual cue that could have said a lot and could have made the viewer more invested in how much the two of them mean to each other and how Shaun is there all the way to offer support. Freddie and Paige were doing all the work with the subtle nuances and gestures, yet they didn’t choose to capture it to its full extent.
Example no. 2 is from that same scene. Lea tells Shaun that she wants him to be in the OR in case something goes wrong and they lose the baby. Lea is all teary and worried, still fighting with the memories of losing their first child. And Shaun? Shaun happily and confidently announces with a little smile on his face that there’s no need to worry because with his guidance, nothing can go wrong.
That felt way too cursory and flippant. The more organic and in my opinion natural reaction for him would have been to feel and convey a pang of the painful memory of losing their first baby. He’d sit there and look at Lea for a long moment with teary eyes or maybe a stern or sad expression, then pull himself together and go to “positive mode” and tell her not to worry because he’s got this.
Even more frustratingly, they also cut away to Lim looking at Shaun and Lea right at that moment. It’s like they do all these misguided cuts in many of the deeply meaningful scenes that should belong to the characters that the scene and the dialogue is about, and they ignored all the emotional beats that the camera should have lingered on or zoomed in on and glossed over them to quickly move on to the next cut or the next scene.
Example no. 3 is that beautiful waiting scene in the OR hallway that I loved for what they were trying to do, but that I think could have been so much more poignant if they had filmed it a little differently or let Freddie do a bit more of what he excels at.
There was a lot of wider angle use for that scene and only one Shaun close-up that I daresay was badly chosen for what it was supposed to convey. We saw all of Shaun’s friends and chosen family piling in, offering silent support that meant more than a thousand words. It should have felt like a really big, important thing. But it didn’t. What it felt like to me was just random people sitting there to wait for an outcome of a random patient’s surgery.
That scene should have been all about Shaun, it should have done its utmost to tell the viewer just how much of a big deal it was that all his friends showed up, that they all cared so much about him and Lea, and that he realised that.
There was nothing at all that told us visually that Shaun even registered any of that on an emotional level. They chose to show us one close-up of Shaun in that scene, which was him staring blankly ahead with clear anxiety and barely subdued panic all over his face that his wife and his unborn child were fighting for their lives in the next room. Which we already knew, which they had shown to us several times before, and which was pretty darn clear to everyone.
How much more beautiful and meaningful would it have been to use that close-up to show us a little moment of relief and gratefulness from Shaun that his friends were all showing up. A thankful look, maybe the faintest hint of a smile or tears. Just… something, especially since Asher had previously said to Shaun that maybe he could benefit from people showing him that he’s being loved and cared about. We know Freddie can do this. Instead we were being shown that Shaun was scared, which was just… duh.
Example no. 4 is that same scenario, just later after Glassman tells them that Lea and the baby will be fine. Sure, Shaun’s relief and happiness was definitely tangible, but there was a lot of cutting back and forth between Shaun and Glassman and all the other people there which took away from the impact of the scene.
With everything that Shaun and Glassman had been through during the Lim arc that led up to this, with their father/son bond being strengthened and solidified across several episodes, they could have used cinematographic means to translate their special connection in a much more impactful way, and it definitely felt puzzling and out of place that Glassman just gave Shaun another look and walked away when everyone was clapping and smiling at the great news.
Interestingly, the official TGD Twitter account posted a short video of that scene that was cut in a way that it used the same shots but cropped to focus a lot more on the actors’ faces, and that alone gave the scene a palpably more intimate feel that made all the difference.
In many ways, this episode mirrored what they did in 4×16 Dr. Ted, where Shaun and Lea’s pregnancy was hanging in the balance, and the 42 minutes were all about finding out what would happen with their baby. It fills me with a certain kind of frustration, knowing what a powerful episode Dr. Ted was, and how much of the potential that Quiet and Loud had was wasted.
One of the big strengths of Dr. Ted was that it conveyed those scenes with vast emotional impact wordlessly, between the actual dialogue, that it spoke to the viewer through the deeply intense, silent moments. Just think back to the scene where Shaun gives Lea the toy scalpel as a show of his love, the scene where he tells her the devastating news that their baby isn’t going to survive, the scene where he sits with her as she goes into anaesthesia for the D&C, the scene where Glassman waits for Shaun outside the OR and they hug, the scene where Lea is discharged from the hospital, the scene where Shaun brings her a glass of orange juice as they sit on the couch in sorrow. There was little to no dialogue in all of those scenes, yet they were the most powerful and most emotionally gripping of the episode.
Comparing that with Quiet and Loud, the episode was, well, way too loud. Almost everything was conveyed with dialogue, very little time and effort was spent on showing rather than telling. The actors were given way too little room to convey the emotions in a way that it would tangibly translate across the screen and give the viewer that connecting point to tether to.
I think The Good Doctor does its best work and delivers its biggest impact when they show and don’t tell. I think Quiet and Loud could have been a great rather than a mediocre episode if they’d approached it differently. (FYI, Dr. Ted was written by Patti Carr & Sam Chanse and directed by Anne Renton.) Daniela summarised this whole thing in one very apt sentence that I think can’t be said any better: This episode was all technique and (almost) no heart.
Coupling and Not Coupling
Maybe a few words on Lim and Clay. Even though I really loved the introduction of Clay and I love Lim in a stable and happy relationship with a decent guy, I would agree with some of the voices online who are saying it feels a bit stale and superficial. Things are moving awfully fast, and we’ve barely had the chance to get to know the dude. Perhaps another symptom of the large-ensemble-cast disease. Too many people to focus on and too little time to do so properly. I’ve talked about this before. I wish they found a better balance for it.
Not coupling right now are Morgan and Alex. I’ve also seen online comments that said, “just get them back together already!” I’m not sure where I stand on that. I would agree that the constant bickering is getting a little old. We’ve already been through that in earlier seasons. I liked them together, and I’d be happy to eventually see them back together. I would guess that it’s going to be a slower journey over the course of the season along with Morgan’s planned pregnancy. We shall see.
Not coupling are obviously also Jordan and Danny – or at least not yet. The spark is surely still there, for both of them. But Danny has slammed on the brakes quite hard, and right now I’m not sure if I’m on #TeamSlowBurn or #TeamMovingOn. I’ll just watch and see what they do with that in the next few episodes and revisit this.
Odds and Ends
On a quick and amusing side note. I was talking to Daniela in a private message chat, and we were speculating a little bit about things we’d love to see in the upcoming episode before it aired. One of the things I said two weeks before the episode aired was this:
Seems strangely prophetic now, doesn’t it? I’m super happy that the writers seem to have had the same idea, perhaps we can even thank Melissa Reiner for it. That notion of all of Shaun’s friends coming to show support was really beautiful and I loved it despite the shortcomings in its execution.
Also amusing is that I randomly happened across this screencap from 2×18 Trampoline, and something caught my eye.
Shaunie, why did you pick Baby’s Breath for Carly when they smell so strikingly unpleasant?
Also seems like they filmed a scene with Shaun and Lim walking down the hallway, talking, which ended up on the cutting room floor. There’s a bunch of stills from that scene that were published. Presumably, this was a conversation that happened after Shaun suggested the collagen fleece surgery on Lea’s uterus to Glassman and Lim.
I mentioned before that they used a similar line in a scene with Shaun and Lea from an earlier episode. What they also reused was the episode introduction shot and camera pan from Change of Perspective. The episode starts out with the camera panning up from the table at which Lim is sitting. In 6×02 we learn that way that she’s now in a wheelchair when she goes to the kitchen to discard her uneaten breakfast. In 6×10 we learn that way that she can walk again when she gets up from the chair and walks to the kitchen with a cane to fetch two cups of coffee for her and Clay.
Some may have noticed that Danica wasn’t in this episode at all—people on Reddit certainly did. Some people were even questioning whether she has been written out of the show. I find that hard to believe. More likely is that they assumed Danni had a day off or not the same shifts and thus wasn’t with the team.
I would hope she will be back in the next few episodes. After all, there have been episodes in the past that certain characters weren’t in, particularly if they were still just recurring guest stars. We’ve had several episodes that Asher and Jordan weren’t in. Lea wasn’t in Sorry, Not Sorry. That’s not super unusual with a cast this large.
Last question I have is: Why was the episode named Quiet and Loud? Yes, there was that reference to Lea needing her “loud bunch” by Asher when he told Shaun that Lea could benefit from more visitors, but where was the quiet part? The fact that Shaun wanted to keep everything quiet around Lea? Just another indication that the episode as a whole felt kinda discordant, starting with the title…
Favourite Lines and Dialogues
I wanted to get this recap up tonight and I haven’t had time to look for the best quotes, but some of my favourite scenes were definitely these:
- Dr. Winkler asks if they want to know the sex of the baby and Shaun and Lea simultaneously say yes and no.
- Jordan and Lea comparing Shaun to Thor, and then Jordan actually calling Shaun Thor.
- Danny and Jordan talking about the night of the planned date.
- Asher telling Shaun he’s being an obnoxious pain in the ass.
- Shaun outside the OR recounting the surgery in his head and all of his friends showing up.
- Glassy and Shaun hugging, Glassman telling Shaun he’s “got him”.
- Shaun mischievously trying to hide from Lea that he already knows they will be having a son.
Obviously one of the big missed opportunities was that they made a time jump of three months and skipped over the immediate aftermath of what happened in the winter finale. There’s a Cinemablend article that speaks to that as well, and others have said so too that they would have loved to see more of the actual recovery process of both Lim and Danny.
Personally, I’m fairly sure the main reason for the time skip was Lea’s pregnancy. They already showed all the trials and tribulations of early pregnancy for Shaun and Lea in season 4, and doing that again would have been a repeat of stories already told. Skipping over this made perfect sense in that regard, but it had the unfortunate side effect that we missed to see other things that happened in those three months, too.
As I already outlined above, I would have wanted to see more emotional depth to the Shaun and Lea story in this episode, so I won’t rehash that again. That’s already enough missed opportunities for one episode, I’d say.
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!