A page dedicated to the Shaun/Lea Pairing of ABC’s "The Good Doctor"

Time To Say Goodbye

This may come awfully sudden and a little ill-timed three episodes before the series finale, but I’m an avid advocate of instead of asking for fan service or endlessly complaint-dumping, to make conscious choices about what you want to keep consuming on television. And it’s now gotten to the point where I’m so unhappy with the writing choices made on The Good Doctor that I’m gonna call it quits.

Those of you who have read my blog regularly will know that my opinion about season 7 has been low overall, that I’ve been incredibly disappointed and frustrated by how they chose to approach and execute this season. While episode 7×07 on the surface wasn’t even all that terrible, it had a number of vivid and wildly fluttering red flags that were my last straws.

While I was trying to reflect on the storylines and character arcs they covered in this episode, I came to realise that this isn’t the show I fell in love with anymore, the show I became invested in and the characters I was passionate about. After a strong season 6, it did a 180° and turned into a source of annoyance, frustration and discontent, to the point where I wasn’t looking forward anymore to watching the new episodes but rather approaching them with a dreading anticipation of “let’s see how they’ll fuck it up this week”.

What drew me to this show were the rich character dynamics that felt realistic and organic, the friendship and family and romantic relationships and bonds between the characters, the journeys that these characters went on – first and foremost Shaun and the people around him. I watched him learn and grow and mature all these years, and it’s been an amazing ride to follow along.

I’m not even really sure where it all went wrong, and surely it has to do with how the 2023 strikes affected conception and production of network procedurals overall, but what I am seeing now is an endless stream of, in my opinion, ill-advised writing and character choices, shoehorned developments, out-of-character depictions of beloved fictional people to the point where they feel like caricatures, characters being needlessly killed, characters behaving in ways that it’s massively frustrating to watch, rich story arcs with potential being abruptly wrapped up or ignored without satisfactory explanation, new characters being needlessly introduced, and an overall sense of doom that the series finale will be based on more writing choices that’ll leave a lingering bitter taste in my mouth of how we’re parting with these characters for all of eternity.

You might want to know what it was that I actually took issue with in 7×07 Faith. Mostly, it was an amalgamation of several small things that just complete the bigger picture and push things in a direction that I am massively unhappy with and that I personally think are bad choices.

Nanny Stealing

This whole storyline was stupid, childish and out of character. A vindictive Lea who would want to engage in an immature personal feud of nanny stealing isn’t the kind of person I’ve grown to love and respect. It made Lea massively unlikeable and unsympathetic. In fact, how they’re written Lea overall this season has been extremely frustrating to watch.

I also didn’t like that they brought back Morgan, le Bitch. I liked seeing the softer side of Morgan that Eden brought out, of her setting aside some of that wealthy, pretentious snob persona, and I liked the unlikely mom bonding that Lea and Morgan had going. This whole story arc threw a wrench in all of that, destroyed all the progress they might have made as friends, and made both of them wholly unpleasant to watch.

Can we also talk about how unrealistic it is that Lea was worried they couldn’t afford buying clothes or going on vacations or afford a decent babysitter? Shaun is now a second year surgical attending. Lea is head of effin’ hospital IT. Daniela aptly mentioned that last year, they were considering purchasing a $1m+ house, and now they don’t have enough money to pay a nanny? Not to mention that it was stupid to suggest that Shaun would be swayed on the nanny decision purely based on the fact that Lea created a spreadsheet. Did he even review the content of it?

Also kinda weird to think that, at the size and prestige of St. Bonaventure, they wouldn’t already have a daycare facility, and for Shaun and Park to actually spark the idea and make it happen. Not to mention that it’s totally unrealistic they can just set that up within a few days in a conference room. Feels like the writers are insulting the viewers’ intelligence. But more on that later.

Grief Struggles

Not a bad thing as such that we’re seeing Jordan and Jerome struggle with their grief over Asher’s death, or that it’s plunging Jordan into a crisis of faith. This would have been an interesting thing to watch and delve more deeply into if we’d gotten a full season with potential for renewal. But as it is, to try and forcibly wedge all of that into the last four or five episodes when we have a vast ensemble cast of characters to tie up satisfactorily, it seemed like excess baggage and time they could have spent better on other things.

In essence, this goes back to Asher’s death itself being unnecessary and introduced at the wrong time or introduced at all. It’s sending ripples throughout the rest of the season that I feel are detrimental.

Benching Shaun

In this episode, Shaun felt like a minor character who was just there to deliver useful lines in order to advance a patient story and the asinine nanny stealing plot. I can’t even really say why, but as I was watching this episode, all of Shaun’s scenes felt awkward, to the point where it was borderline cringey to observe. I got no enjoyment out of watching my favourite character. And that’s a very bad thing for a show you used to be passionate enough about to spend several hours every week writing blog posts about.

Speedrunning Major Character Arcs

Charlie wasn’t featured at all in this episode, and that really bugs me because it indicates that they have now done away with what seemed like the most promising character development arc this season – namely Shaun becoming his own version of Dres. Melendez and Han and his struggles to grow as a mentor when faced with the challenge of teaching a fellow autistic surgeon.

This personal development arc was massively underused and dealt with in a way that it turned out to be cursory and shallow. For a hot second we got a glimpse of what could have been a really interesting growth opportunity for Shaun, but it was wrapped up just as quickly as it was introduced without a satisfactory resolution.

I was so much in it for character development stories like this, and what is being given to me this season feels stale, rushed and sloppy.

Cancer Recurrence Teaser (Or Not)

Haven’t we been there, done that with Glassman a season ago? Surely, the whole “I need to see this scan, where is it? Oh okay, that sounds bad” thing was meant to tease viewers and ratchet up anxiety that Glassman’s cancer may have come back. Again.

For a minute or two, I too was convinced that they were going for a tragic character arc for Glassman where the cancer from season 1 was coming full-circle and the show would end on Glassman actually dying, like he was almost destined to right when the show started. And that made me angry because it’s tropey and cheap and the worst possible ending I could imagine for all that Shaun and Glassman have been through.

But then Daniela reminded me (I had honestly kinda forgotten about this) that Claire was still going to return and that apparently there’s some health crisis attached to this story. So I think it’s safe to assume that these mysterious scans are tied to whatever is going on with Claire, for her to then come back to St. Bonaventure and be medically treated there.

A faint silver lining, I guess, because there’s hope that it’s not actually the crude TV trope of Glassman’s cancer finally returning at the very end of the show and him confessing to Shaun on his death bed that he considers himself Shaun’s father.

That said, this seems like a cheap and overused ploy at this stage. It’s offensive to be used and abused as a viewer with the cancer recurrence bait once again. It’s wholly unnecessary to introduce that scare all over again, and it’s just one more frustration among many.

Glassman’s Redemption Arc

By this point, it’s pretty clear that for the next two or three episodes, we will be bearing witness to Glassman investing much of his time and energy into helping a total stranger through detox and rehab.

This, in itself, is perhaps not the worst idea, but the execution of it seems immensely lacking and the timing of it is less than ideal. Again, this could have been interesting in a full length season where they’d have enough time to devote to it. But as it stands, it’ll end up being rushed and superficial in the few episodes they have left.

The biggest annoyance here is it all seems to be happening outside the realm of the Shaun and Glassman dynamic. For all we know, Shaun isn’t even aware of this new girl that Glassman has attached himself to. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be much interaction between Shaun and Glassman these days, period. At least not that we’re aware of.

The relationship between Shaun and Glassman used to be the heart of the show, and it was always popular with viewers. This was a thread that consistently wove itself throughout all seasons, and suddenly it seems like they totally forgot about it and Shaun and Glassman are now living separate lives with little interaction. Scenes with any level of significance between Shaun and Glassman this season have been few and far between, and if we got them, they were short and rushed with little substance or emotion.

A big part of the show, right from the beginning, was about Shaun and Glassman having that father/son relationship that none of them wanted to openly admit but were working their way towards. They were always very close and mutually invested in each other, with a level of trust you find in a healthy parent/child relationship.

Where did that go? I mean, yes, it’s only natural that you separate yourself from your parents as you grow up and start your own family. And for all we know, they might still be in touch and share what’s going on in their lives, but since the show is not giving us any hints that this is the case, we can only assume that it’s not happening.

That said, it’s insulting that they’re suggesting that Glassman is now taking on a new personal quest for redemption without so much as awareness or involvement from Shaun. Just a few episodes ago, we heard Glassman verbally reject the notion that Shaun was in any way his son. For years and years, we were taught that Shaun played a large role in Glassman overcoming the trauma of his daughter’s death, and by extension becoming a new family member to fill a void that Maddie’s passing had left.

What the writers are now suggesting to the audience is that, in order for Glassman to come full circle and to be fully redeemed, he needs to help someone who reminds him of his daughter to get to the happy ending he never managed to achieve for his own child.

In itself that could be a beautiful story. But it feels like a slap in the face that it’s being done at the expense of casting the long-established Shaun/Glassman family dynamic aside, especially when we’re still waiting for the two of them to actually acknowledge that they are, for all intents and purposes, father and son.

Autistic Steve?

It’s not like we haven’t wondered whether they were gonna do anything with this, right? The thing is, though, the timing here is off as well. In a very young child like this, you wouldn’t be able to make a reliable ASD diagnosis. So unless we’ll see a significant time jump in the series finale, we’ll never know where this is gonna go.

It may be premature to criticise this, because it may very well be resolved somewhat satisfactorily in the finale, but at this stage, it seems like an odd choice to just drop this ball and then leave viewers hanging, knowing that there’s not going to be enough time to explore this topic in any level of depth. Personally, I wish they’d just not mentioned it at all and left the outcome to our own individual headcanons. Some things are better left unsaid.

Climbing Mount Whatever-It-Was

This may seem like a really small and insignificant thing, but it honestly pissed me off big time.

I am well aware that The Good Doctor has always been a show where a certain level of suspension of disbelief was necessary in order not to constantly get frustrated as a viewer. And in most cases, that worked for me. But this scene at the end of the episode with the whole team climbing whatever mountain it was in a really terribly and very obviously fabricated artificial green screen shot was too much. There are just so many levels of unrealistic TV bullshittery here that I can’t even.

The first thing that irked me about this patient story was that they had Jared pressure Jerome into coming into the hospital in a personal capacity, solely to talk the patient into something he had already decided he didn’t want, which felt incredibly coercive and unethical. Yes, they’ve pulled stunts like this many times in the past, and it’s always irked me, but the way it was done here was particularly vexing.

But the thing that seemed especially puzzling was that they chose to actually show us the resolution of this particular patient’s personal story and his successful scaling the peak of Mount Whatever. In previous episodes we’ve never seen patient stories being wrapped up like this. They always ended when either the surgery was done or the patient was known to recover or the patient left the hospital.

Why are we suddenly seeing this random patient climb some mountain to reach his personal goal? Why was this even necessary? The show has always trusted the viewers’ intelligence and imaginative capabilities to fill in those blanks ourselves. There was no need whatsoever to actually show us the successful climb, because if they’d just left it at the surgery being successful, we’d have known in our hearts that this dude would have reached that goal with his daughter.

What is even more insulting to the audience’s intelligence is that they chose the absolutely ridiculously unrealistic situation that several of the St. Bonaventure surgical staff would be going on this hike with the guy and his daughter – people who are (presumably) not at all practiced in hiking up one of California’s highest peaks carrying an adult in a stretcher. Granted, after looking up where and what Mount Umunhum actually is, it appears to not be a super complicated or arduous trail with an upper parking lot, but still.

Let’s also add to that the unrealistic timeline that they’re suggesting to us here. The patient was going to have major spinal surgery. They were putting a metal cage around his spinal column that would render him a quadriplegic. Recovery from such a surgery takes months, especially considering that they were carrying him up rocky and uneven terrain on a hiking trail. This would not have been medically safe to do unless this scene was months after the surgery.

It also takes a considerable amount of time for a walking patient to transition into life as a quadriplegic. The way the timeline was suggested in the episode felt like maybe this was a week or two after the surgery.

Also, like… why the hell would they carry the guy up there in a manual stretcher? There are so many better and easier ways to do this these days. Apparently the trail to the peak is easily accessible, so why not just rent a hiking suitable, motorised wheelchair? These things exist, and they’re pretty cool. Watch the Roll With Cole & Charisma video and you’ll see what I mean.

I just feel offended that they think viewers aren’t intelligent enough to figure out that all of this is super unrealistic and would never happen in real life, culminating in this whole mountain peak scaling scene that was badly shot and 200% cringe. It really ticked me off.

Drawing The Line

So like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m drawing a line. No more episode commentaries from here on out because it got to the point where they lost me as an invested viewer. Of course the fact that the show is no longer for me doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of what’s to come can’t still be loved by other people. And that’s fine. That’s why I’m moving on.

I wouldn’t necessarily discount that perhaps I’ll write some kind of wrap-up after the series finale for final closure, but I’ll have to see when and if I can muster the energy to watch the remaining episodes or spend time writing about it. Probably depends on how unhappy I’ll be with whatever they’ll ultimately close the book with.

What I do know is that it won’t make me unconditionally or even conditionally happy. And that’s gonna suck and I kinda wish they’d just ended the show at the end of season 6 so that we didn’t have this disastrous canonical mess I want to ignore ever happened.

Just imagine how badly they screwed this up to lose me, as one of the most invested viewers they had, three episodes before the series finale. Kinda sad to have to say it, but here we are. 🙁

4 Comments

  1. Steven Hamburg

    All valid criticisms. They’ve definitely squandered valuable time in a truncated trb episode season. I’ve seen this on curb your enthusiasm which runs 10 episode seasons. Larry wastes a lot of storylines especially in the middle on glorified small talk and then leaves little time to wrap the season arc in the finale. I’m afraid TGD has fallen into the same trap.

    But I’ll watch until the end. The show has given me so much enjoyment over its run that I’ll see how they wrap it up.

    • TeeJay

      Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. I’m gonna watch the rest at some point, but I sure won’t rush to the television as soon as the episode is available for the remaining season. Best I can hope for now is that the finale won’t be a total disaster I want to scrape from my memory.

  2. Christine

    I feel like they’re phoning it in, and the fact that it’s the final season makes it even worse. So now, with three episodes left, are they going to explore the challenges of neurology parenting? A bit late, isn’t it?

    It looked like 7×06 was heading the show on the right track. I guess not

    My head canon is that last season was the latest official season. It just fell like the perfect ending. I said in Reddit that this show on track with Game of Thrones as far as disappointing and angering fans

    • TeeJay

      Yeah, it’s all really puzzling. Is this low effort writing somehow on purpose to give ABC the finger for the cancellation and shortened season? How is that fair to the fans? Or is it that the writers were too wrapped up in the details that they didn’t see the forest for the trees and they lost all perspective of what would translate well for the audience?

      These are all intelligent people running the show with lots of business experience. It seems like common sense that introducing a gazillion new recurring characters in a 10 episode season plus two old characters yet to come back and a major character death in the middle of the season that affects everyone and satisfactorily wrapping up everyone’s personal stories once and for all is too tall an order to pull off for a network procedural. I don’t get how this could fly with two experienced showrunners and so many executive producers.

      They really should have scrapped the Glassman/Shaun friction at the end of s6 and just ended it with Steve’s birth and a happy family.

      It’s really sad because a lot of us were really invested in the show and wanted it to have a decent send-off. And with how passionate everyone in the production seemed to be about the show, including Freddie, it’s just a mystery how they’re fucking it up so royally right now. Sigh

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