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Season 6 Recap: 6×21 A Beautiful Day

This day we watched unfold was of course less than beautiful, which was to be expected, and it certainly didn’t end on any kind of beautiful note or notion. The episode left me absolutely deflated, and I think I would have struggled with this recap even if I’d had the time to write it up before the season finale.

Apologies that I had to deliver this one late, but I hope it’s still useful even after the finale has already aired and some of the discussion in this recap is a little theoretical with what we now know.

The Technicalities

Written by David Hoselton & Peter Blake
Directed by Steven DePaul
Original airdate 24 Apr 2023

Patient Cases

Patient #1: Kurt Helfand

Treating physicians:
Aaron Glassman, Audrey Lim, Shaun Murphy, Jordan Allen, Daniel Perez

Head laceration, large malignant hemangiopericytoma

Case notes:

  • Kurt is being seen in the ER after hitting his head on the steering wheel in a car accident
  • The surgical team determines there is nothing wrong with Kurt beyond the head laceration, but his daughter takes Shaun aside to mention her father has been acting uncharacteristically friendly and jovial for the past six months
  • Shaun orders an MRI and it turns out Kurt has a malignant tumour that’s compressing his frontal lobes, which is causing his very positive change in personality
  • Kurt refuses the surgery to remove the cytoma because he doesn’t want to go back to being a “dick”, as his daughter and Shaun put it
  • Shaun asks Dr. Glassman for a consult who manages to persuade Kurt to have the surgery after all
  • The surgeons remove the tumour and Kurt recovers, although his personality does revert to being abrasive and rude after he wakes up from the anaesthesia

Patient #2: Nico

Treating physicians:
Marcus Andrews, Alex Park, Asher Wolke, Jared Kalu

Metastasising sarcoma

Case notes:

  • Nico is a boy with advanced sarcoma that has invaded his thigh and hip
  • With no signs of metastasis, the surgical team decide they can debulk the tumour and give Nico maybe nine more months to a year to live
  • Nico’s parents are glad at the news, it would give them enough time to take Nico to the Salzburg Christmas market he has always dreamed of visiting for Christmas
  • Pre-OP tests reveal that the chemotherapy has massively reduced Nico’s platelet count (22k instead of the normal range of approx. 300k), so he can’t have the surgery
  • Park recommends thinking about palliative care, there isn’t much hope that Nico can recover fast enough to go into debulking surgery
  • It may be possible to get Nico’s platelet count up enough for the surgery with blood transfusions and a medication cocktail, followed a few weeks later with a stem cell transplantation from one of his parents
  • The suggestion brings significant risks, but the parents decide in favour of the surgery after Andrews recommends it
  • During the surgery they discover widespread metastases all over Nico’s liver so that they have to abort the surgery and close Nico up
  • Nico now has maybe a month to live, and the parents have no choice but to accept Nico’s fate and to make some last good memories – one of them a visit to an impromptu Austrian-style Christmas market that Andrews has organised right there at St. Bonaventure

Patient #3 – Aaron Glassman

Treating physicians:
Audrey Lim

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) with permanent impairment of executive function

Case notes:

  • After Shaun came to Lim with Glassman’s diagnosis, Lim goes to Glassman to give him the diagnosis of a small stroke
  • Glassman looks at his brain scan again as Lim tells him, accepting the diagnosis and agreeing to go on a treatment regimen of ace inhibitors, aspirin and statins to help reduce the likelihood of future stroke
  • Struggling to accept that the stroke has caused permanent damage to his brain, Glassman dismisses that he has any impairment but has to eventually admit that his executive function is compromised and that he has to give up his career as a neurosurgeon

Shaun and Glassman’s Journey

With two weeks to go until the due date, Lea is trying to get as much prep work in so she can use those last two weeks off work to relax, but Shaun aptly reminds her that 73% of all births happen before the due date.

Lea makes sure to mention to Shaun that he should talk to Glassman, seeing how Shaun going to Lim behind his back with the stroke diagnosis might have been upsetting for Glassman. Shaun of course didn’t even realise that this might be an issue.

Lim, in the meantime, breaks the news of the diagnosis to Glassman, who goes all quiet and taciturn. Surely he’ll need a bit of time to digest that.

Shaun, in the meantime, gets assigned to a case with a personality-altering brain tumour patient, and I rejoice because seeing John Billingsley on my screen is always a delight.

Side Note: The brain is a really mysterious organ, and these tumours that drastically affect personality are definitely a thing. My best friend’s aunt happened to be such a case, but it was basically the other way round from what we saw in the episode. She had been a loving, caring person and at some point became very withdrawn and unkind and broke off contact with her family. It actually took several years for the brain tumour to get diagnosed. She had resection surgery and amazingly returned pretty much to her old self afterwards. Really mind-blowing.

When Shaun has a moment, he stops by Glassman’s office. After all, Lea said he should, so he dutifully follows her advice. It may not have merely been out of duty, but also because now he’s a little concerned that Glassman actually might be upset with him, and Shaun certainly doesn’t want Dad to be mad at him.

I love how Shaun has inadvertently trained the people close to him to explain their emotions and reactions to him, because when Shaun asks what Glassman is going to do about his job, Glassman explains he doesn’t know yet, he’s still reeling a little bit. And he asserts that he’s only a little mad at Shaun, which makes Shaun relieved since that means that Lea’s concern was unfounded. Well, that’s what Shaun reads into it, but isn’t necessarily what is actually going on.

Glassman then comes up with future career adjustment plans that he takes to Lim. He’ll reduce workload by 25% and have backups for long surgeries. Lim isn’t satisfied with that offer. She wants to run cognitive tests and isn’t sure Glassman should be in the OR at all, at least not until they’ve ruled out any actual impairment. Glassman doesn’t take kindly to that suggestion, he very much isn’t ready to give up surgery. He even goes as far as saying she’ll have to fire him if she wants him to stop operating, and he’ll sue her.

Shaun needs a little help with his brain tumour patient who is refusing the suggested operation, and Shaun knows he is not the best when it comes to trying to persuade patients. Lim proposes to take the consult to Glassman, but Glassman shouldn’t be encouraged to be in the OR right now, so Shaun isn’t very much in favour of that suggestion. However, Lim utilises her own persuasion skills, so Shaun does take the consult to Glassman.

When he approaches Glassman with the case, the latter is a little passive aggressive, which of course flies right by Shaun. As Shaun presses on about medical reasoning, Glassman finally snaps at Shaun, berating him for not seeing that the emotional aspect can be more important than the medical.

And now it’s not about the brain tumour case anymore, it’s about how Glassman is more than a little mad at Shaun. He’s actually pretty pissed that Shaun ratted him out to Lim, that he effectively had him declared incompetent without even coming to him first.

Shaun tries to justify his motives, because he did go to Glassman first, and was rebutted. Repeatedly. So many times that Shaun knew he had to find new avenues that would deliver results. Of course Glassman isn’t happy for Shaun to outline that he tried, that he came to Glassman a number of times already. Maybe for Shaun’s benefit he takes a breath and agrees to the consult. Sadly, Shaun doesn’t pick up on the fact that nothing’s been resolved here and that things are not “fine” at all.

They then go to actually have Glassman practice the surgery on a dummy. Which, like… is it for the sake of making sure Glassman still has his brain cells together before they let him cut into a real patient? Cause he’d know that surgery like the back of his hand. Or is it for the benefit of Jordan and Danny? Shaun, of course, goes right into hyperfixation mode, because this is it. This is a perfect opportunity to prove that Glassman’s stroke has impaired his brain function.

Of course Glassman gets real fed up with Shaun real fast, and after two or three attempts at trying to reel Shaun in, Glassman tells him in no uncertain terms he better leave. Which Shaun begrudgingly does. It prompts Glassman to tell Lim afterwards that she has to take Shaun off the case. Glassman needs a team he can trust and who will trust him. What he doesn’t need is someone breathing down his neck, just waiting for him to screw up.

Lim then takes it upon herself to be the assisting surgeon, and she goes to be the bearer of bad news to Shaun that he’s off the case. Shaun understands the decision, but he says he will watch the surgery from the gallery. Lim tells him there’s no need, she’s got this, but if there’s anything that Shaun doesn’t have a lot of, it’s flexibility and a sense to know when to stop and relinquish control.

Lim spells it out very clearly to Shaun that it would be a bad idea to watch the surgery, explaining that Glassman is pretty upset right now and that Shaun would likely hurt their relationship if he kept pushing. Her advice is sound, particularly when she says that Shaun doesn’t have to be the one to catch his mentor and his father’s mistakes when others are just as capable.

It’s a mystery why Shaun chose to blatantly ignore that advice and sit up on the gallery anyway, and half an hour in, he already can’t stop himself by pointing out what he thinks is an error in procedure. Glassman explains he’s been using a different technique, and he’ll have Shaun removed if he spoke again. The surgery proceeds, and since Shaun is still there when they’re going on 7 hours, are we to believe Shaun sat there all this time, waiting for the first sign of trouble?

The tumour is extracted without much issue, but a bleeder has them on their toes, which Glassman manages to stop pretty quickly. And then Glassman stalls, hesitates for too long, and Shaun is on his feet and on the intercom, insisting Glassman tell them what the next step in the surgery is.

Glassman immediately deflects and angrily tells Shaun he’ll call security to have him removed. However, Lim saw it too, so she asks Glassman to answer the question. Glassman struggles, wriggles his fingers unsurely, digs around in his brain that is now failing him, and is coming up empty. The answer is not there, so he turns around and leaves the OR. Lim sighs and finishes off the procedure with Shaun staying up on the gallery to keep watching.

Lim goes to find Glassman after the surgery where he’s sitting in the hallway, absently fingering the lid of a cardboard coffee cup. She lets him know the surgery went well and that his surgical plan was flawless. Glassman listens for a moment, then tells Lim about his first solo surgery.

The case was a 34-year-old mother of two who had a massive arterial bleed during surgery and they almost lost her. But Glassman didn’t give up, and the patient made it, though Glassman was scared out of his mind to ever go back into an OR. But then he saw the patient in recovery with her family, happy that Glassman saved her life. “Despite my raging ego, I’ve tried— I’ve always tried to make it about the patients. To do what’s best for them. I never thought that would mean putting down my knife.” It’s a little tragic and sad, and Lim has the tears in her eyes that we’re all feeling at Glassman’s loss.

Somehow Shaun hasn’t even wasted a second’s thought on maybe talking to his dad all this time that their brain tumour patient is in recovery, because he’s by the patient’s bedside as he wakes up and is happy to see that he’s alert and fine. Shaun watches with interest that despite going back to being a resentful jerk, Kurt reaches for his daughter’s hand.

It’s that happy news that he wants to convey first to Glassman when he finally goes to seek him out, the latter on his way out of his office to go home. Shaun is again oblivious to the underlying emotional currents and blabs on about how Glassman must be understanding of why Shaun did what he did, seeing how he only had the interest of Glassman’s patients at heart and seeing how in the end Shaun was proven right.

Glassman hasn’t said a word so far, and he’s stewing. Of course he knows he has to explain it to Shaun, so he lays out that he’s not so much upset at the fact that Shaun kept pushing, but at how he did it – that he ended up humiliating Glassman in public in his own OR in front of his respected colleagues. “Do you have any idea how much that hurt, coming from you?” Shaun tries processing that, stays quiet, suddenly knows he fucked up hard, knows that Lim was right and he shouldn’t have been up there on the gallery.

He struggles, doesn’t know what to say or what to do, so he asks that question with a helplessness that’s as sad as it is tragic. “I don’t know what to do,” he eeks out, but Glassman is beyond wanting to cater to Shaun’s emotional deficits, so he tells him, “You can just leave me alone,” before he turns and leaves.

Of course it’s the most inopportune moment that Shaun’s phone has to ring, and it’s Lea. The peanut’s coming early and she’s on her way to the hospital. Shaun’s distress and regret quickly turns to joyful anticipation, and there’s nothing more he wants to do than share the happy news with his dad, but all he finds is a closed elevator door and an empty hallway.

Morgan’s Journey

Morgan is going through the toils of new motherhood with a crying baby who just won’t go to sleep, no matter what she does. Morgan’s hair is all messy, and it pretty clear that she’s been at this for a while without much success.

Alex announces a visit, so Morgan makes sure to clean herself up. When Alex does drop by, she pretends that everything is peachy, Eden is eating and sleeping like the proverbial baby. Eden is still crying and Alex shares that when Kellan was fussy, they put his car seat on the washing machine – the vibrations knocked him right out. And Alex is a natural, Eden immediately quiets down when he takes her.

Morgan tries the washing machine trick, and it actually works. Problem is that Morgan herself could use a nap and she makes the mistake of “just sitting down for one sec”. Of course she falls asleep and the baby seat almost rocks off the top of the washing machine. Motherhood is off to a great start.

Now also out of nappies (or should I say diapers?), Morgan is approaching the point of reaching wit’s end, or at least it looks that way. Good thing that Alex knows how to save the day exactly at the right time because he turns up at Morgan’s doorstep with a fresh package of nappies that he hands to a teary-eyed and somewhat out of her depth Morgan.

She admits that she doesn’t know if she can do this, but Alex assures her that of course she can. Every parent muddles through somehow, and the trick is to not lose your mind while you’re muddling.

Morgan finally finds her sweet spot with Eden when she asks Siri to play Deceptacon by Le Tigre. Morgan starts dancing around her kitchen, and Eden actually loves it. So then finally Morgan gets Eden to quiet down while they’re dancing together.

Andrews’ Journey

Andrews’ current medical case is a tough one – a little boy with terminal cancer and parents who aren’t quite ready to give up the fight yet. In the more administrative department, things also aren’t running smoothly. With Lim wanting to bench Glassman, one of their top earners who is taking on all the cases that no one else will even dare touch, Andrews isn’t happy about Lim’s mandate to remove Glassman from the surgical service.

Lim is also accusing Andrews of still meddling with decisions that relate to her department that he shouldn’t be having any say in. Andrews isn’t so easily intimidated, however. He overrules Lim and tells her that they need to settle for the compromise of having Glassman to keep operating but that she needs to assign a second surgeon to all of his cases to oversee what he’s doing.

Later that night, Andrews has Dalisay over for fancy dinner at his house. They’ve been having a nice time with chicken and white wine, but Dalisay isn’t a 100% comfortable yet. She hopes that matters at work won’t mess with their relationship, seeing how the nurses are now organising a unionisation drive.

Andrews indulges her for a moment, suggests what he hopes may be a compromise and he asks Dalisay if she could check with a few of the nurses if it might fly. She actually does that, but the news she brings back isn’t great. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most inopportune moments to deliver the bad news since Andrews’ cancer patient has taken a turn for the worse and will die within a month, plus all the other things that aren’t really going well right now.

The nurses still want a union, and Andrews is brazen enough to ask Dalisay for actual names, which she smartly refuses to give up and just walks away. Andrews apologises to her later when they enjoy a moment at the impromptu Christmas market he had set up at the hospital for his dying patient.

Jordan & Danny’s Journey

Finally, Danny and Jordan are planning an actual date for the next evening, but they’re having trouble picking an appropriate venue. Danny says a movie is too predictable, an escape room is too dorky and dinner at his place is obviously out, seeing how last time they tried that, Jordan found him overdosing on the floor. Jordan wants to save the day and says he shouldn’t worry, she’ll find them the perfect spot.

Jordan then goes away and tries to find said perfect spot, but she’s also having trouble. The Italian place has house wine on the tables, indoor skydiving might be a bit too injury-prone. She runs it by Lea and asks if maybe that means they’re not ready to date? Lea encourages her to at least give it a try and suggests either the Batumi Grill or the khachapuri. Khachapuri sounds like a great idea!

With both Danny and Jordan are all dressed up and ready to go out for date night, Jordan admits that she also had no idea what khachapuri was when Lea suggested it. It’s a Georgian cheese bread. They’re just ready to head out, but then there’s Andrews’ Christmas market, and they decide to enjoy that rather than have a fancy dinner none of them know whether they’re gonna like it.

Things to Further Dissect

Glassman’s Fate

I’m writing this before seeing the finale, and I’m honestly having a hard time staying objective on this whole thing because I hate everything about it. Character friction and drama is obviously a mainstay and staple of the show, and it’s not the first time that they’re having Shaun and Glassman at odds, but this is pretty huge, and of course it had to come at the most inopportune time ever.

Sure, life doesn’t always happen in a way that is convenient for us, and I like that the show tends to go to these places that are tricky and suck, but the thought of Glassman not wanting anything to do with Shaun (and by extension Lea and their newborn son) right now because Shaun fucked this up, that just cuts a little too deep for my taste.

Without knowing what the season finale will do, I can of course only speculate on this. Perhaps the episode title Love’s Labor suggests that it’s not just Lea in labour but also Shaun and Glassman having do some emotional labour to get back to a place of love and affection. Perhaps it’ll all end with a happy family of four, welcoming the Murphy peanut into the world. Or perhaps it’ll end on Shaun and Lea naming their son Steve Aaron Murphy or Aaron Steve Murphy, which brings Glassman around. Or perhaps it’ll end on persisting family drama and they’ll spin this into an ongoing season 7.1 mini arc.

By the time I post this recap, we’ll already know what happened in the finale, so some of this will be moot points. At any rate, I should probably rewind a little so we can look at the details some more.

As we know, this all started when Glassman closed a surgical wound with eight stitches that as per textbook would have required ten, and which struck Shaun as oddly out of whack. Two screws missed in the assembly of a crib despite having clear instructions sent Shaun into a hyperfixation quest to prove whether or not that meant something was medically wrong with Glassman.

We know things don’t always go well when Shaun hyperfixates on something that affects the people around him, but this time Shaun’s quest didn’t just come out of a mere motivation to want to be proven right or to solve a new conundrum. It was largely an emotionally driven pursuit because Shaun was, as he came to openly admit, afraid that Glassman would die if they didn’t intervene early enough, with the overarching driving force to have reassurance that his father could stay in his life and accompany his and Lea’s journey as new parents for as long as possible.

But as we are well aware, things aren’t always that simple where Shaun is concerned. Of course Shaun had to go wrong in his endeavours, and of course it had to backfire in some way. What’s a little frustrating, however, is that Shaun openly and knowingly ran right into the trap despite having been told multiple times by different people to tread carefully, to consider what he was doing, and ultimately even not to do the exact thing he ended up doing.

The situation is a tricky one, because there’s just so many layers here to peel back. From Shaun’s angle, of course he thought he was doing the right thing – as he usually does. He felt perfectly justified in circumventing Glassman and going straight to Lim with the stroke diagnosis, in enforcing what was the only acceptable outcome for Shaun: For Glassman to be taken out of the surgery game to protect patients.

After all, Shaun had laid out the arguments for Glassman time and again, and he kept being rebutted time and again, even yelled at (twice) for trying to make Glassman see that something was amiss. Should Shaun really be blamed for not trying for the how manyeth time to go and talk to him about this, an argument that Shaun himself tried to make in front of Glassman?

I say yes, because all the other times before, there was no tangible evidence other than a more less wild guess of Shaun’s. When he went to Lim, he had a plausible diagnosis that even Glassman would have been hard-pressed to ignore. Yet, Shaun knowingly chose to circumvent Glassman and went straight to Lim, which then forced her hand.

What makes this whole situation so tricky is that Glassman and Shaun have completely different lenses they are seeing the situation with, and if you try to understand their views, it becomes hard to take sides.

From Glassman’s point of view, Shaun was hyperfixating on what seemed to be a whim, because he was convinced he was totally fine and was still a perfectly competent neurosurgeon with all his capabilities. Shaun was pointing out things that didn’t seem immediately alarming, and so he would look ridiculous if he went to Lim over nothing.

And then Shaun did go to Lim against Glassman’s very explicit and vocal instructions. The first time Shaun had a tangible and sensible diagnosis that even Glassman would have taken into account, he chose not to come to Glassman directly but instead went to their boss, and didn’t even make an effort to be there when said boss broke the news.

From Glassman’s lens, Shaun caused the avalanche that forced Lim’s hand to remove Glassman from active surgery. And apparently for Shaun, it didn’t suffice to let Lim take over and handle it, Shaun had to keep pushing and pushing, hounding Glassman during the surgery practice run, pointing out every possible error, making it clear he was just waiting to pounce on something that would indicate Glassman was no longer fit to be in the OR.

The last straw was that Shaun sat up on the gallery during the brain surgery, still waiting, ready to tighten the noose around Glassman’s neck at the first sign of trouble. And as if the moment when Glassman’s brain was failing him in front of the whole OR team wasn’t humiliating enough, Shaun had to be up there on the intercom, making it infinitesimally worse by spelling it out for everyone to see.

And did Shaun come to talk to him after Glassman left the OR, having to painfully admit that his career was over? Did Shaun do anything to support Glassman during all of this? Did Shaun make any effort to try and understand? Shaun was conspicuously absent during any of the big moments, and Glassman had zero indication from him that he even understood the magnitude of what was happening.

Let’s remember that Glassman had been a neurosurgeon for 40 years. His whole life revolved around his career, he sacrificed a marriage (or maybe even two) and the life of his daughter for it. Glassman has often been quoted as one of the most reputable neurosurgeons on the US west coast, he made a career out of taking on the most hopeless cases when no one else would, and took great pride in that. This vocation was his life’s work, and a big part of what he was living for.

And now Shaun was being the one person most instrumental in having to give it up against his will, with no indication whatsoever that Shaun was even aware of how big a deal this was for Glassman, and no attempts whatsoever to reach out a helping hand throughout the process. Shaun was taking a sledgehammer to Glassman’s career, found the weak spot and shattered it into pieces that he left Glassman to pick up all on his own.

Can we really blame Glassman to be fucking pissed and disappointed that Shaun, the person he had raised and supported for all these years, the person whom he loved like a son, was nowhere to be found when he really needed him, and then came gloating that he did the right thing and that Glassman should have no reason to be mad at him and to get over it already?

If you ask me, no, I don’t think we can, particularly when we consider that Shaun was specifically and explicitly asked by Lim not to watch the surgery from the gallery, and yet chose to do so anyway. That’s the part that really irks me, and the part where I think Shaun should have known better. This is the part where I find it hard to empathise with Shaun for having fucked up his relationship with Glassman big time.

What we can blame Glassman for, however, is that (as Lea actually stated in the season finale) he should know Shaun. He should know that Shaun has blind spots, particularly in the area of emotional intelligence, he should know that Shaun can’t be expected to react the way a neurotypical person would. Basically, he should cut Shaun some frickin’ slack. Of course that’s easier said than done when feelings of a certain magnitude and massively impactful life decisions are involved.

Particularly now knowing how this has played out in the season finale, is Glassman overreacting? Probably. But I wouldn’t want to dismiss that Glassman is entitled to his feelings of betrayal and disappointment over how that all went down. Like I said, it’s complicated.

If we look at it from Shaun’s lens, the perspective is a little different. He had openly admitted to Glassman before that he was scared to lose his father, that he was acting out of concern – not just for himself but also for Glassman’s future patients that he might hurt (or worse) if he kept working when he was not at full mental capacity.

Shaun had tried many times (by his own admission a lot more than four) to talk to Glassman about his possible mental deficits, and since that fell on deaf ears and even led to open aggression and reprimanding, Shaun did what he does best: He found a way to problem-solve that was effective and would lead to the outcome he thought was going to be in everyone’s best interest. He went to Lim and had her intervene.

Shaun felt absolutely justified to do so despite Glassman explicitly telling him not to, seeing how previous attempts at actively involving Glassman had failed. Shaun needed results, and this next step was going to deliver them. Then of course Lea pointed out that it might have a detrimental effect on how Glassman felt about Shaun, which led Shaun to inquire with Glassman if he was mad at him.

Shaun always takes people by their word, and what he heard from Glassman was, “Yes, I’m a little mad, but not that much because what you did may have saved my life, so you did the right thing,” plus also, “I’m still trying digest this diagnosis, and I’ll tell you when I need your help or advice about it, so there’s nothing you can do for me right now.” So Shaun went away with the reassurance that everything was—more or less—fine.

Then of course they had that conversation in the hallway and Glassman went off about how Shaun should have come to him first. It catches Shaun off-guard, because Shaun did that, repeatedly, without success. Shaun’s blind spots kept him from picking up on Glassman’s passive-aggressive tone there when he agreed to help Shaun with his patient, so from Shaun’s angle, there was nothing much to worry about – Glassman seemed to have understood that Shaun had no choice but to go to Lim.

The problem was still not really solved, though. Glassman was refusing to accept that the stroke had caused any impairment, and Shaun was still concerned that this would put patients at risk if it impeded Glassman’s competency in the OR. So Shaun had to keep pushing to make sure that Glassman was being scrutinised to eliminate any possible executive function impairment.

It’s hard to say what drove to Shaun to witness the surgery from the gallery after being unambiguously asked by someone he trusted not to do so. Perhaps it was the fact that Glassman was operating on his patient. Perhaps it was Shaun being convinced that it was his responsibility as a son to ensure that the right thing pertaining to his father was being done, perhaps it was a mistrust in Lim’s ability to spot any lapses in Glassman’s judgement or executive function.

It’s also hard to say why Shaun didn’t go after Glassman when the latter left the OR after being declared incompetent. It may have been a sense of duty that he needed to keep watching the procedure on his patient. Or he may have tried and didn’t find Glassman because the latter had gone somewhere to take a breath and digest. Or Shaun just didn’t realise how much of a momentous moment that was.

Yet, from Shaun’s lens, the end justified the means, because it had now been proven that Glassman would be a danger to patients if he kept operating, and so the only logical conclusion was that he had to end his career as a neurosurgeon. And from Shaun’s POV, that also made it logical that Glassman shouldn’t be too upset about it because it was an inevitable outcome that none of them had any influence on or could change. Shaun even explained his reasoning to Glassman: “It must be hard to accept you are compromised, but you did not hurt a patient, so now you understand why I did it, and you can’t be mad at me.”

The logic is hard to argue with if you take away the emotionality attached to what has happened. And logic is all that Shaun has, so it came totally out of the blue for him that Glassman was deeply hurt and angered that Shaun chose to go over his head and ended up putting him in a situation that was humiliating and hurtful.

The hardest blow here was the, “Coming from you,” that Glassman threw in Shaun’s face, making him understand very clearly that he screwed this up big time, that he failed as a son to handle a precarious situation with the necessary care and poise, that he made the wrong choice not to heed Lim’s advice. Shaun’s choked and helpless, “I don’t know what to do,” was clearly heartbreaking, but we also know he brought this on himself a little bit, so there’s a strange dichotomy here.

And then of course, just as Shaun’s eyes were watering upon his father walking away and wanting Shaun out of his life for now, Lea called that the baby was coming. Worst timing ever, and more heartbreaking yet that Glassman was already on his way down in the elevator before Shaun could tell him he was about to become a grandfather.

Without knowing what the finale was going to do as I was initially writing this, there were three possible scenarios how I figured this might go:

  1. Offer a springboard for Lea’s labour and the birth of their son to push Shaun to repair the chasm between him and Glassman over the course of the season finale so that they could have a happy ending with their son’s birth and being a happy family of four to lead us into season 7.
  2. Make this into a lasting friction thing with Glassman stewing and cutting Shaun out of his life for a while so that he wouldn’t be a part of the birth and so that Shaun and Glassman could get a “relationship repair” arc in early season 7.
  3. Amp up the drama to 11 with something tragic happening to Glassman while Shaun and Glassman were still at odds, juxtaposing a shocking tragedy against the happy occasion of the birth of Shaun and Lea’s son. (I very much hoped that they weren’t gonna take that route, but many fans were convinced that Glassman would somehow still die in the finale.)

Obviously by now we know which option they went with. I’ll dive into that more in my analysis of the season finale.

Melissa Reiner’s episode insights for this episode were interesting, because she talked about two different things. Firstly, she had asked that the writers include in the first scene with Lea that Lea prompt Shaun about talking to Glassman to outline more clearly that Shaun didn’t necessarily realise that going over Glassman’s head might have been upsetting, and secondly she had them change the last line Shaun said to Glassman where he said, “I don’t know what to do,” rather than asking Glassman what he could do to make things right.

Morgan, the Mum

It was both nice and maybe also a little predictable to see Morgan struggling with being a new mum to a little baby. In some ways, Morgan is like Shaun where she thinks she has it all figured out and she can’t go wrong and then of course has a hard time admitting she did go wrong and isn’t actually as capable as she wanted people to believe.

Morgan is fiercely independent, which can sometimes be her downfall, and I think that’s also part of why her relationship with Park didn’t initially work out. We can only assume that Morgan hasn’t had a lot of long-lasting romantic relationships because she strikes me as a person who’s not very used to accepting other people’s help, at sharing her life and her struggles and woes with someone and to accept that sometimes compromise is the best option. The estrangement from her family must have played a part, considering that her ambitions go into medicine were never understood or supported, coming from a family of artists, which probably amplified the wish to stand her ground even further.

It was almost inevitable that Morgan’s strong drive to prove to both herself and her friends and colleagues that she was perfectly capable of being a supermom who could do it all would fail sooner rather than later.

I don’t know if we should be talking about the scene where Morgan put Eden on the washing machine and then fell asleep, because that seemed just a little too reckless for the fact that Morgan is an intelligent being with enough foresight to figure out what that would lead to. That was one of those scenes that seemed like shoehorned TV writing for a textbook “oh my God no!” effect.


Or do we call them Marculisay? Dalicus? Villadrews? Or do we just call them Where-The-Fuck-Did-That-Come-From? I know I’m not the only person saying that this romance came very out of the blue and that the chemistry between them is questionable.

With what we know about Hill Harper considering to run for senator, one can’t help but wonder if it’s something they devised so that they had a more organic way out for Andrews, which is what they may or may not be going for.

Personally, I’m not super invested in this pairing. I don’t mind it, either. Let’s see where that goes, if it does go further.


Okay, that’s probably also not the right pairing name. I think I floated this earlier in the season, because Dandan or Jordanny or Allez all sound weird, too. It certainly took Danny and Jordan long enough to get to the point where they actually decide they want to get into the dating game for real, and of course now it’s gonna be awkward to mutually take that step.

I don’t have that much to say about this pairing either. Not super invested, but don’t mind it, and I think they could be good for each other. Then again, is Danny the right guy if Jordan feels that sex is a distraction from her faith and that she’d choose abstinence in a relationship unless they truly committed to marriage? I’d have said we should wait and find out, but…

Consistency Corner

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, and I know I’ve certainly mentioned it on Reddit, but sometimes it really irks me when the show is so blatantly inconsistent and unrealistic in terms of who is seeing patients. Why is an ER patient with a simple head lac being seen by three high-tier surgeons?

ER physicians are trained in triage and assessing and deciding which patients would need a surgical consult. Kurt clearly had no signs of actual damage beyond the simple laceration, Shaun even states so. This would have been pretty obvious to any halfway decent ER physician. No need for a surgical consult, no need for Shaun, Danny and Jordan to be there or to be called there. None. But then of course we wouldn’t have had this patient case to follow, so…

Favourite Scenes and Lines

Honestly, scenes with Shaun and Glassman together always top notch, not just because Freddie and Richard knock it out of the park every time. Perhaps not the most obvious scene, but even in the one where Shaun and Glassman talk to Kurt about choosing the brain surgery, there were a lot of underlying subtleties there that more or less directly related to Glassman and Shaun’s dynamic and their past.

When Glassman talked about how the brain constantly craves that dopamine high and how people strive to be the best version of themselves to feel good about themselves, that was certainly a look into Glassman’s past that pertained directly to his ongoing journey in raising and supporting Shaun despite some setbacks and struggles.

I also really liked the scene between Lim and Shaun where she takes the time to explain a concept to Shaun he has trouble grasping. It’s a shame that Shaun totally ignored that carefully phrased advice. Another Lim scene I loved was when she and Glassman talk after the humiliating OR disaster. The emotion and the gravitas was definitely there.

And then of course there was that scene at the end of the episode with Shaun tearing up after realising how much he’d hurt Glassman that sure packed a punch.

Sorely Missing

I really wanted to know how Lea would react to the massive chasm between Shaun and Glassman, particularly since it probably meant that Glassman didn’t want to be there for the birth of his grandson.

Lea had been written a bit inconsistently across the season, with sometimes blindly supporting Shaun, even when Shaun was doing something questionable, but sometimes also supporting Shaun in trying to steer him on the right path when he was going off-course a little too much. She’s also been known to act as mediator between Shaun and Glassman sometimes when they were both being obstinate and stubborn.

We did eventually see that play out in the season finale, which I was glad they chose to show us!

I already touched on this earlier, but I’m still a little baffled why Shaun didn’t go after Glassman when he left the OR after being called out for having impaired brain function. Shaun’s low EQ can make him a bit of an emotional klutz at times, but by no stretch of the imagination was it ambiguous that this would leave a mark on Glassman. It seemed uncharacteristically callous that Shaun didn’t even bother to check in with Glassman until hours later.

Best Shaun Muffin Face

1 Comment

  1. Ed Kihanya

    Even though it was posted after the Season Finale aired (the reason for which I understand), another great recap, as usual! I have greatly appreciated your insights all throughout this season, especially in light of the fact that you write these recaps out of the goodness of your heart, and not for a paid job.

    I agree that the whole situation between Shaun and Glassman is complicated. Furthermore, I do believe that it was ultimately necessary for Glassman to step down from surgery. I also wholeheartedly believe, even as someone on the spectrum myself, that Shaun messed up big time in the way he handled the whole situation in the end. However, did Glassman really have clear instructions for assembling the crib? About the crib assembly instructions, he told Shaun that there were just pictures (maybe diagrams) and arrows pointing everywhere. Or should his explanation of that not be taken at face value? Do you still think that that part of that story arc, in addition to the 2 missed sutures, was personality-based like you said before (in response to my comments on your recap of episode 6×19 – “Half Measures”)?

    I too wanted to know how Lea would react to the massive chasm between and Glassman, for the same reason you wanted to know this. Also, I agree that Lea had been written a bit inconsistently across the season. I would have liked to have seen her written more often as, like you put it, supporting Shaun in trying to steer him on the right path when he was going off-course a little too much. However, like you, I was also glad they chose to show us Lea’s tendency to act as a mediator between Shaun and Glassman when they are both being obstinate and stubborn play out in the season finale.

    Finally, like you, I’m also a little baffled that Shaun didn’t go after Glassman when he left the OR after being called out for having impaired brain function. Again, speaking as someone on the spectrum (who understands that not all of us on the spectrum are the same), despite having a low EQ, it should have been obvious to him that that would leave a mark on Glassman.

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