This felt like a pretty solid episode with good pacing. Nothing that really stood out to me as good or bad – a lovely season opener with a personal patient story and the starting point for some of the threads that will unravel this season.

Before we get into it…

Those of you who have read my season 5 and 6 episode recaps will know that I used to cover quite a lot of detail when writing up these recaps. Unfortunately, I won’t have enough time anymore every week to get into the nitty gritty details of the episode content. So for The Good Doctor‘s last season, instead of recapping every episode in detail, I will be writing up a more cursory plot summary and focus on commentary and analysis more than retelling what happened.

The Technicalities

Written by Liz Friedman & Jessica Grasl
Directed by Rebecca Moline
Original airdate 20 Feb 2024

Patient Cases

Patient #1 – Jack Pierce

Treating physicians: Dr. Audrey Lim, Dr. Shaun Murphy, Dr. Jordan Allen, Dr. Jared Kalu

Diagnosis: Paediatric cardiac myopathy resulting in heart failure requiring a heart transplant

Patient #2 – Eden West

Treating physicians: Dr. Winston Moss, Dr. Audrey Lim

Diagnosis: Aortic stenosis, severe narrowing of the heart valve, obstruction and left ventricular dysfunction as a complication of Turner Syndrome, requiring a new aortic valve

The Episode Plots In A Nutshell

Shaun, Lea & Steve

We’re seeing Shaun and Lea’s first forays into parenting, and of course the two of them aren’t always on the same page about how to deal with a two-week-old baby. Not surprisingly, Shaun is all about strict routines and schedules with no allowance for any deviation. Lea wants to be a little more freestyle about it, so there’s friction waiting to happen. With Shaun now back to work and Lea staying home with the baby, new routines need to be established and things like sleep schedules worked out – and it’s not particularly helpful that Glassman isn’t in the family picture right now.

Shaun & Glassman

The first time that Glassman really sees his grandson is two weeks after he was born, during a chance meeting in the elevator when Lea is taking Steve for a stroll. It is here that he learns that his grandson’s middle name is Aaron, and maybe the ice has been broken. Or at least cracked a little bit. The cracks widen when Glassman sees Shaun struggle the next evening, failing to calm down a crying Steve in the hallway so that Lea can catch some sleep. Glassman is still, by and large, Shaun’s parent, and he steps in to help when Shaun is clearly out of his depth. It’s apparent that their reconciliation will take some time, but at least Grampa Glassy got to properly introduce himself to his grandson, whom we know he loves already.

Alex & Morgan

Things on the baby front don’t quite go as well for Morgan as they go for Shaun and Lea. Eden seems lethargic and tests confirm that her heart function is more impaired than expected, to the point where it’s becoming life threatening if she doesn’t get a heart transplant despite having had heart surgery only a few months before. Alex is trying to support Morgan through the ordeal, but Morgan is reluctant to accept it. With Alex fully committed to helping raise Eden, and Morgan’s aversity to accepting it, we can only wonder where the journey will take them.

The Residents

With Danny back in Texas, Asher living the homely life with Jerome, Lea being preoccupied with a newborn, and Jared giving her the cold shoulder for the decisions she made regarding Danny’s treatment, Jordan feels alone. There may be room there for her and Jared to become friends with or without benefits.

The Hospital Presidency

After Andrews quit his job, the hospital board is looking for someone else to fill the seat. The runner-up seems to be someone named O’Brien who’s mutually loathed by the staff. Glassman pushes hard for Lim to take the position, but Lim doesn’t actually want it. At the same time, she thinks it would be a perfect fit for Glassman, who’s been there, done that and is pretty good at it. Glassman himself isn’t quite so enthused, and we’re all surprised when it’s announced that the workable interim solution is going to be Lim and Glassman being co-presidents for now.

The Patient Cases

We have two babies of a similar age both needing a heart transplant in order to have chances for long-term survival, but only one donor heart – one of them being Morgan’s foster child Eden. Ultimately, the decision is made who will get the heart, but Shaun has a eureka moment and figures out a way to save both lives by using a domino approach. The babies both make it.

Things to Further Dissect

Parenting Can Be Very Hard

Shaun aptly said it at the end of the episode, and he has a point. I had been wondering how much the show would go into the challenges that mixed-neurological couples or autistic parents might be facing when it comes to raising a child, and it made sense to show us just how much Shaun relies on strict routines and planning and Lea being more of a play-it-by-ear person.

Lots of baby changes were made to the apartment since we last saw it. Some more utilitarian IKEA style shelves and, well, baby stuff holders. Lots of baby laundry and feeding bottles and accessories.

And of course the shelves and storage spaces are all neatly labelled. Surely Shaun’s doing. I really wonder how he manages to cope with the perpetual mess of baby items being strewn all over the apartment.

There’s more changes if you look closely. Albert (the fish) was relocated to the other end of the room. The fireplace is now fenced in. At some point when Steve becomes more mobile, they’ll also need to safety-protect the power outlets within baby reach.

The photo booklet was a cute idea, Shaun’s focus on Steve’s pooping habits not so much. But whatever this boy grows into, I have no doubt he will be a smart little rascal, what with Daddy teaching him all about Trauma and Acute Care Surgery from Day 1.

I gotta say, I’m perpetually impressed with Lea’s unending patience and how she and Shaun learned to (relatively) efficiently communicate. When Shaun was getting increasingly aggravated about Lea not sticking to the app-determined timetable (i.e. endless reiterations of, “The schedule is very important!”) and the speaker constantly disrupting her own (non-)schedule, she just took Shaun’s rule insistence on the chin. She knows by now that Shaun has to learn his own lessons, but this was mostly getting in her way and not in Shaun’s. At the same time, Shaun very effectively communicated to Lea why it was important to him that she stick to the routines, which of course helped Lea tolerate some of the aggravation.

It was interesting that they picked Shaun’s first case back at work after two weeks being a baby with a severe and life-threatening condition. I’m sure that, going in, many of us expected that it would turn out to be a “uh oh, Shaun will get way too invested and then get flaky” kind of thing, but the writers went a different route and never had Shaun deviate from his usual objectivity.

What came a little out of the blue for me was Shaun’s learning curve in this this episode, namely him telling Lea at the kitchen island at the end that he’d come to the realisation that people don’t always want the same things, and that especially in a romantic relationship, you should reserve some flexibility to let your partner do things their way, especially when you’re not there.

In past seasons, we usually had a whole episode subplot that was dedicated to Shaun traversing along that learning curve to arrive at an “aww, Shaunie” conclusion afterwards that resolved a tricky or friction-filled situation. And usually we would have a patient case or other sub-plot that would teach Shaun or make him rethink his own strategy or question his own motives and motivations.

In this episode, they didn’t really showcase any of that, so how did Shaun suddenly figure that, okay, maybe he was a little too set in his ways and should acknowledge that his approach to parenting may not be the only acceptable one? What triggered that realisation? Or is this natural progression for Shaun to be more in tune with the people around him and him questioning his own intentions and how they may be perceived by friends and family?

Melissa Reiner’s episode insights talks about that scene, and her take on it is that Shaun recognised that Lea must have had a hard day, partially because of his insistence on adhering to the app-determined schedule, which led him to extend the courtesy of allowing Lea some of her own flexibility when he’s not there.

I loved the hallway scene at the end, and Shaun instructing baby Steve to adhere to the schedule was peak Shaun logic. I think Shaun will have some lessons learned along the way that logic rarely gets you anywhere with babies and toddlers.

Last but not least, I love that Lea still calls Steve “Peanut”.

Familial Friction

Not surprisingly, Shaun and Glassman are still not on speaking terms, and by the looks of it haven’t exchanged a single word since Steve’s birth. We learned that Glassman hasn’t even seen his grandson until now. I’m glad that Lea gave him the snarky talking-to he deserved when she got the chance. This was easily my second favourite scene in the episode, because I love that Lea doesn’t take any shit from “the grumpy man who lives down the hall”.

This was pretty close to how I was hoping they’d eventually soften Glassman up a little – that Lea would be instrumental in helping rebuild that bridge and she would be the one to a) introduce Steve to Glassman and b) break the news that they named their son after him. In my version, she would have been a little more vehement about it, but this scene worked very well. Did you hear that she whispers to Steve, “I tried,” after Glassman walks away?

So, heh, the apartment building has an elevator now? I always thought Shaun and Lea were living on the ground floor. But looks like they built a set extension for an elevator car, so I can only imagine it’ll get a bit of usage in future episodes.

I wonder if Lea talked to Shaun about their elevator meeting – we don’t get any indication in the episode that they did, and maybe they didn’t because both are pretty stressed out with taking care of a newborn and Shaun being back to work. They probably don’t get a lot of intimate talk time, but I could imagine it’s also something fairly high on Lea’s “Oh, by the way…” conversation list.

There’s also a little guesswork involved in trying to figure out what exactly Shaun’s attitude is towards the whole “not on speaking terms” situation is. The overarching theme there in the season 6 finale was disappointment that Glassman was a no-show. In these past two weeks this seems to have transmuted into resentment and anger.

And that’s just as well – from Shaun’s point of view. He probably still feels like he has done nothing wrong, certainly nothing that would qualify for such a drastic cutting of ties after all he and Glassman have been through.

To recap: For Shaun, the most important thing about the stroke situation was that he wanted to keep Glassman’s potential future patients safe, to ensure that Glassman stopped performing brain surgery on patients when he had experienced a permanent limitation in executive function. Shaun’s actions at the time led to that outcome, and so Shaun feels like he did the right thing. Yes, Glassman told him later that he felt betrayed by how Shaun ultimately achieved that result, which confused Shaun – and then everything got sidetracked by his son being born.

Glassman, of course, saw this through a wholly different lens. His career of 40-some years that he had built and cultivated and given a whole lot of important things up for was single-handedly flushed down the toilet. And not just that – the main driver of it was the young man he loved like a son, he thought would always have his best interest at heart, and instead he humiliated Glassman in front of his respected colleagues in his own OR. And that stung. Deeply. So deeply that he’s having a hard time letting go of the hurt and disappointment.

Many fans are mad, are saying that Glassman is overreacting and holding an unreasonably harsh grudge. So is he? Yes, probably. But he’s only human, and he’s known to be the grumpy and broody type. There’s still voices online who keep saying Glassman is a jerk and has no right cutting Shaun and Steve out of his life. I don’t agree with that assessment, but I will say I don’t like what Glassman is doing, either.

So why exactly is Shaun so angry with Glassman? I can only assume he feels betrayed by Glassman not being able to put his own feelings of resentment on hold for something as life-changing as seeing his grandson being born, that Glassman seems to have cast aside his love for Shaun and is steadfast refusing to even say a cursory greeting in the hallway. Shaun was rejected by his biological parents all his life, lost the one person who loved him unconditionally early in life, and now he’s being rejected once more by the only person he has accepted as a father figure. Yeah, that must hurt. To the point that Shaun immediately rejected the notion of spending the night at Glassman’s to catch some much needed sleep before a big surgery.

The good news is that this episode showed us that not all is lost. That scene at the end in the hallway where Shaun was having trouble with an upset Steve who was refusing to sleep, Glassman’s fatherly instinct immediately kicked in. He saw a struggling Shaun who was pretty desperate, a young father and son who were both equally stressed out, and so he put aside all the personal crap for a moment and stepped in to help. Because that’s what good parents do – they put their kids before their own need when help is truly needed.

I really loved how conflicted Shaun was here when Glassman offered to take Steve so that Shaun and Lea could get some rest. He was staring daggers at Glassman at first, as if that was the most preposterous thing he could have ever proposed. But once Shaun decided that it was the best possible option given the situation, there was even a hint of a smile on his lips, realising that perhaps the ice had been broken just a little bit, and that Glassman was not as uninterested in Steve as he had tried so hard to let on.

Co-showrunner Liz Friedman commented on this in an interview: “I think Glassman has real reasons to be upset about what happened. I think Shaun has reason to have feelings about Glassman’s absence at Steve’s birth. It’s going to take them a bit to heal and get back to each other.”

I think that sums up what the end of the episode pertinently showed us: That Glassman and Shaun will heal, given time – that there will be convergence and finally reconciliation – hopefully in the form of a proper conversation between the two of them.

And of course we finally had the pleasure of seeing Glassman getting some long-awaited 1-on-1 time with his grandson. The Peanut will hopefully melt his heart in no time, and be a catalyst in glueing the relationship with Shaun back together. We can only hope!

Avid The West Wing viewers might have noticed that Glassman’s line at the end, “I’m Grandpa… in case you were wondering,” is a callback to a West Wing episode where Richard Schiff’s character Toby held his twins for the first time and told them, “I’m Dad… in case you were wondering.”

The Parnick Family

The Morgan and Baby Eden stories in this episode were both expected and unexpected. Expected in a way that we saw some early friction with Morgan and Alex. Let’s remember that it’s just been two weeks since the two of them decided to get back together, and understandably, it’s taking a bit of time for them to find back to their groove, especially with a baby in the mix.

Alex is clearly committed to raising this baby together with Morgan, but Morgan is a bit more reluctant to trust him and his loyalty and commitment to a child that is biologically neither his nor Morgan’s.

What was unexpected about the episode (and pretty much the only thing I was mildly spoiled about before watching) was that Eden became a medical emergency and part of the patient storyline of the episode, with her Turner syndrome complications putting her in sudden mortal danger. I quite liked that they utilized this plot to also cement the bond between Morgan and Alex a little more, but I think the three of them still have some work to do to function as a tight family unit. I guess we have nine more episodes to watch that happen. Fingers crossed.

Jordan’s Isolation

A side plot of this episode was Jordan and her feelings of isolation. Everyone but her is moving on in their private lives, is finding romantic partners that they are suddenly spending all their time with. With Lea being busy with caring for a newborn and the unpredictability that comes with it, and Jared giving her the cold shoulder, the loneliness is really starting to hit home.

Many single people at a certain age go through this phase, when your friends are starting families and having kids, and you’re suddenly on the outside looking in, be it on purpose or not. Jordan was hoping to at least count on Jared, seeing how he was the only one in the inner work circle not having much of a private life but had to realise quickly that he wasn’t keen on rubbing elbows with Jordan because of the treatment choices she made for Danny in the season 6 finale. Thankfully, they managed to talk it out, and Jared wasn’t oblivious to the fact that Jordan felt isolated, and in the end he extended an olive branch in the form of chorizo with hot sauce.

So are we seeing the beginnings of an actual romance here, seeing how there were already some sparks flying last season? Not quite sure how to feel about this pairing. They might have potential, but honestly not something I’m super rooting for. Let’s see who these two new residents are gonna be that we’ll see being introduced and how they fit into the picture.

The President’s Seat

We’re seeing now what was already confirmed a while ago – that Hill Harper was leaving the show and thus Dr. Marcus Andrews, after having resigned as president, is now traveling the world and very much absent from St. Bonaventure. The aspect of needing a new person to fill the president’s seat was touched on during the episode, and it turns out that both Glassman and Lim are in the running. The hiccup here is that neither of them want the position.

I wasn’t quite sure where this was gonna go, and Daniela had speculated that perhaps the show would pull a fast one and reintroduce Dr. Han as hospital president (which they still might do down the road, who knows), but now we’ll be seeing Glassman and Lim as interim co-presidents.

There had been that speculation before, that Glassman was going to be a good candidate for the role, seeing how he had worked in that position before and how he was still perfectly capable of handling administrative hospital tasks. I wasn’t quite expecting Lim to be an actual presidential choice, but it does make sense. I’m curious to see where they take this.

Random Observations

I loved the scene in the surgeon’s lounge with Shaun being the one to ultimately seal the fate of who would receive the donor heart, but being reluctant to voice his conclusion because he was well aware of the emotional implications of the decision, especially with Morgan and Alex right there to hear it. And I love that Morgan gave him permission to speak freely. They’ve both come a long way, I appreciate the mutual respect they have for each other now.

Lim no longer has the cane. Heh. Miracle recovery indeed. I’m still not super happy that they copped out on dealing with Lim’s paralysis.

There’s a tribute caption at the end of the episode – “In loving memory of Paul Lukaitis”. According to this article, he was a production manager on the show who passed away after losing a battle with cancer. As a special tribute, the show also decided to name a new character after him – Charlene “Charlie” Lukaitis, whom we will meet very soon.

Not sure if this is in any way worth mentioning, but the episode had an all-women team at the creative helm – written by Liz Friedman and Jessica Grasl, directed by Rebecca Moline. Probably not the first time that’s happened, but I like it, and I’d like to think perhaps it positively contributed to how the stories were told in this episode.

Maybe this is quite obvious, but the episode title Baby, Baby, Baby isn’t just a way of saying “all about babies”, it’s actually also kind of an itemised list of the three main plots in this episode. Baby Steve, Baby Eden, Baby Jack. 3x Baby. Baby, Baby, Baby.

The Elephant in the Room

I guess we need to talk about this, because… what the actual fuck, ABC? Cuz yeah, thanks for cancelling one of your best performing prime time shows despite fairly stable ratings and a steady viewership. It’s been puzzling critics and fans alike, and even though the showrunners said in interviews that it was a mutual decision and it was time for the show to end on a high note, it became pretty clear later on that there was little to no “mutual” involved here.

Same as with Station 19, which was also axed, word was spreading that the main reason for them to cancel some of their well performing scripted show was to make room for cheaper content. ABC wasted no time to put unscripted shows and local news in The Good Doctor‘s time slot after it ends, and the press reported that ABC imposed a premature ending of the show against the showrunners’ wishes.

To add insult to injury, Liz Friedman mentioned in an interview that they wanted the show to end on a swan song of 13 episodes, which ABC also nixed and only allowed them to produce 10. It’s incredibly sad and disheartening to see that our beloved show, among many others before, became a victim of profit-hungry executives who are all too ready to slap the production, the talent and the fans square in the face just to make a little more money. It sucks balls and, yes, I’m pretty mad but have been round this circuit long enough to know there is very little we can do.

So I’ll do what I can – I’ll make sure to enjoy the last ten episodes we’re getting, including the proper ending they were given time to write. A massive thank you to the whole team and crew, and I’m glad I got to be along for some of the ride at the other end of the TV screen.

Best Shaun Muffin Face