The Good Doctor s2 ep 7

Plenty going on this week, in a busy and enjoyable episode. Patient of the Week #1, George, is having a stroke, brought on by anti-androgen medication which he’s self-administering. But why would he want to lower his testosterone levels? Well, it’s because he’s a paedophile, although one who has not – yet – assaulted any children, and wants to keep it that way. After being told he has to discontinue his medication, he leaves hospital and ups the ante by attempting to castrate himself. He’s unsuccessful, but the doctors decline to complete the job for him – there’s no medical reason to do so – until his testicles are beyond repair. So he has to suffer for a while until that state of affairs has been reached.

Patient #2 is Billy, who’s been brought in from juvenile custody after being beaten up because of a facial deformity caused by his father assaulting him. Shaun, Park, and Lim are on this one. Once again, the debate about what to do hinges on the definition of what is medically necessary: if he goes back to juvie the way he is he’ll get more of the same, but is that enough to justify risky and expensive surgery? Park, who thinks it is, tries to persuade Shaun over to his side by pointing to the similarities between his life and Billy’s: in particular, that both suffered at the hands of an abusive father. Park thinks this approach might work because Shaun has been practising empathy. (On taking away Glassman’s driving licence because of his memory lapses, “How do you feel about not having a drivers’ licence?” “Pissed”, replies Glassman.)

And the race to become the new head of surgery has entered the final furlong, with Melendez and Lim neck and neck, and Melendez by no means above a very dirty trick which Lim finds about. Which means that, furious, she enters the operating theatre at the very moment when Melendez is preparing to commence the severing of George’s nadgers. “Dr Lim!” he greets her. “Are you a castration fan?” “Right now I am”, she snaps back, fixing Melendez with a death stare. “There’s a long and dusty trail littered with people who have underestimated me.”

George’s castration can’t take place after all, and his story reaches an inevitable conclusion when he kills himself. Morgan openly wonders whether the world is a worse place for his passing. Shaun comes up with a suggestion for operating on Billy, and as Billy had been planning suicide as well manages to save a life. And Andrews ultimately decides to remain as head of surgery himself; I didn’t know that was even a possibility. Lim and Melendez retreat to a bar to lick their wounds; and possibly each other as well, judging by the body language. I might be wrong, but I would be HERE for that hookup if it happens.

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The Good Doctor s2 ep 8

Some challenging morality problems this week. Todd and Dawn, a married couple, have been in a car crash; he’s not too badly injured, but she needs surgery. It’s successful, but Shaun and Claire subsequently need to tell Todd that they couldn’t save Dawn’s pregnancy; a pregnancy, of course, he didn’t know about. And couldn’t have caused, as he’d had a vasectomy ten years ago. Maybe, he wonders, the vasectomy could have failed? “It’s more likely she got pregnant from someone who is not you!”, Shaun replies helpfully. Dawn denies having an affair, although Todd’s sperm count is tested and found to be zero.

But then when Shaun is leaning across Dawn, she kisses him full on his startled lips, ostensibly to thank him for saving her life. “I helped save her life too. Where’s my kiss?” Dr Lim demands, before being reminded by Claire that, had the genders been reversed, everyone would be treating it much more seriously. Shaun, though, realises that Dawn’s behaviour is likely to have a physical cause and, sure enough, a tumour is found which would have had the effect of suppressing her inhibitions. (This is discovered when she’s asked to draw a clock face and can’t do it properly. I’ve seen this before. House, maybe?) The problem, though, is that while she was uninhibited she had four affairs. Four! Can Todd forgive four affairs?

In a sharp contrast to that one – decent people struggling with an unenviable situation – Case of the Week #2 features Finn, a tween boy whose idiot parents don’t believe in vaccination. “We did a lot of research!” bleats First Idiot Parent, whose medical qualifications and research expertise remain unrevealed throughout. “We reduce his exposure to infectious disease by putting him in a public school, where he’s surrounded by vaccinated kids!” The jaw-dropping selfishness and stupidity of this don’t go unremarked. Poor Finn, as well as having to cope with this weapons-grade fuckwittery at home, has two spinal cords, which sounds kinda cool except it isn’t: as he grows, it will lead to paralysis. Surgery is successful, but Finn’s mother – proving herself, at least, to be not quite as stupid as her husband, asks Park to vaccinate Finn. The problem this time is that Finn’s father didn’t know about that, and throws a major marriage-endangering sulk. Dear God.

And two substantive private-lives stories as well. Andrews is warned that Claire is soliciting interest from other hospitals, and that losing two residents from diverse backgrounds in less than a year wouldn’t look good for the show. Uh, I mean the hospital. Thus he engages on shuttle diplomacy between Melendez and Claire to get them to make up. Claire, adroitly, apologises to Melendez but makes it clear to him that she doesn’t mean it, allowing him to take her back into the team without losing face. And Glassman, as hinted last week, is indeed having significant memory lapses. OK. Can we now get Lisa Edelstein out from that office and into the field? She’s being wasted at the moment. Otherwise, an excellent episode.

The Good Doctor s2 ep 7

Another very enjoyable episode. Case of the Week #1 features Claire’s old college roommate Kayla, who has terminal cancer. Claire thinks that Melendez might be able to perform a procedure which can alleviate her pain, and Melendez – despite the tension between him and Claire – readily agrees. (Wasn’t there a time when we thought they were going to hit it?) That surgery reveals that Kayla might be suitable for further – risky, natch – treatment which could prolong her life. Kayla agrees to proceed, but meantime is almost begging Claire and Dash to go on a date, with a view to them becoming an item once Kayla has died. Eventually they agree to go out for a meal.

In Case #2, builder Santiago perforates one of his kidneys with a nail gun. Well, I say “one of his kidneys”, but the quickest of peeks inside reveals that he only ever had one. He needs a donation, and his brother Armando is a match, but will only donate one of his own kidneys if Santiago agrees to sell the family business. The two of them are locked into a game of bluff: will Santiago sell; will Armando back down; will Santiago die?

Around about halfway through this episode, I had the pleasurable realisation that I had no idea who was going to live or die, and whether Dash and Claire were going to smash, with the blessing of Dash’s wife. They don’t. (Yet. I’d like to see this revisited next season.) The kidney is, eventually and grudgingly, handed over. And Kayla hangs on, with a mid-surgery save from Claire, which isn’t enough, yet, to get her back on Team Melendez.

I’m not sure the show is making the best use of Richard Schiff at the moment: this week, to what should have been the sound of portentous music, Glassman has a memory lapse. The Shaun/Lea roomies story is a little better: they buy a goldfish named Hubert; it dies, leading Lea to think that, after the spectacular failure of her return home to Hershey, she’s useless. Shaun proves that it wasn’t her fault, and gets quite the fond look. Hm. Will they go there? And The The’s sublime ‘This Is The Day‘ soundtracks the final scenes, rounding the episode off nicely.

The Good Doctor s2 ep 5

Jas, a young violinist, has an infected finger, which she thinks was as a result of a manicure. Or, offers Shaun, “it might be flesh-eating bacteria and we may have to cut off your finger”. Morgan advocates for a more conservative approach to diagnosis and treatment: as a former archer herself, she knows that even removing a small piece of tissues for biopsy purposes will have consequences for Jas’s playing. The problem is that Shaun is right about the diagnosis, and by the time it’s discovered it isn’t just Jas’s finger which is forfeit. Morgan blames herself.

Meantime Riley, a teenage girl with divorced parents, has a severe nosebleed. This is the latest in a long line of minor ailments, which she’s obviously faking to get her parents back together. This time it’s Claire – and I’m roughly a year and a half too late in realising that Antonia Thomas was also Alisha in Misfits – who sticks to her diagnostic guns as Riley’s condition worsens, insisting on risky surgery to explore what looks like a tumour on one of Riley’s lungs. It isn’t quite, but it is nonetheless the cause of Riley’s multiple symptoms. This enables Claire to look good in front of new boss Lim and former boss Melendez.

In personal backstory news, I’m not as taken with the flatsharing fights between Lea and Shaun as the writers clearly want me to be: Lea must have known what living with Shaun would be like, so although it’s entirely understandable when she starts shouting at him because of his behaviour it isn’t quite fair. It does, however, lead to a charming scene between Lea and Glassman – who I think she gets away with addressing as “Glassy”  – in which he tells her that if she can’t tolerate life with Shaun she should leave him now. She stays. Not as good as some of the episodes this season, but perfectly enjoyable.

The Good Doctor s2 ep 4

The two Cases of the Week are about… weight? Body image? I don’t want to go too much further than that. Louisa, a woman with anorexia, needs heart surgery but is too fragile, and resists attempts to increase her weight. Melendez nonetheless wants to go ahead with surgery. Claire, instead, suggests an experimental brain treatment which has had some success in treating anorexia; and when Melendez disagrees she takes her case to the hospital’s review board anyway.

Meantime Wade, in hospital with a sore knee, has fizzy urine and requires cystoscopy to find out the cause. Cystoscopy, he asks? “It’s like a knee scope. Except the camera goes up your penis”, replies Shaun brightly. The diagnosis means that Wade needs to have his gastric bypass reversed, which is news that Wade wants to hide from his somewhat fussy husband Spencer (the always-welcome Dan Bucatinsky); Spencer, you see, doesn’t know that Wade used to be obese.

As it happens, although both cases will lead to the patients being successfully treated, there are consequences. Louisa was told in advance that the brain procedure might affect her ability to feel maternal love for her son, and it seems to have dome just that. Also, Melendez tells Claire that she’s no longer part of his team, because she didn’t accept his decision as final. Harsh. And Spencer privately concedes to Alex that he doesn’t know if he’d be able to accept Wade were he to put on weight again.

It’s sobering and thought-provoking, but entertaining, and I enjoyed it so much that I might have cut the personal stuff a bit of slack: Lea makes it clear to Shaun that she has no romantic feelings for him, but they agree to share an apartment anyway; and Glassman is being stubborn about getting out of bed until visited by Debbie, who persuades him that he needs to start walking again. This show is on top form just now.

The Good Doctor s2 ep 4

It’s a bumper week of parents, children, and Secret Pain at St Bonaventure, and it kind of annoyed me. Patient of the Week #1 is Kitty, an 18-year-old free solo climber, who after her latest free solo climbing accident has a few fractured limbs. Two choices are before her: low-risk surgery which will restrict her movement, and high-risk surgery which might – might – allow her to keep climbing. Kitty opts for the latter, of course, which makes her the latest in a very, very long line of characters in medical dramas who want incredibly dangerous surgery in order to keep open the possibility of continuing to participate in a hobby. I mean, it might just be that I’ve never really been that invested in anything, but I’ll take the safe option and stay alive, thanks. At this point absurdity piles on absurdity, when Kitty’s parents have her declared medically incompetent – which she plainly isn’t, she’s just stupid – in order to override her wishes.

Patient #2, Mac, gets the best storyline of the week: he’s a young boy with a learning disability (fragile X syndrome), he’s in hospital having injured himself, and his single mother, Nicole, doesn’t want to admit that she can’t cope with him any more. It’s an incredibly difficult situation, and one in which a couple of doctors have a personal interest: Shaun has a degree of insight, of course, and a flashback or two to a foster mother of his own; Melendez’s sister lives in an assisted care facility. Eventually she makes the only choice she can, but it’s harrowing.

Meantime Glassman is still having hallucinatory visions of his dead daughter, Maddie, who seems pretty insufferable if I’m being honest. But we do, at least, discover the source of Glassman’s SP: he locked her out of the house when she was high, and she died. And Shaun is trying to work out how to apologise to Lea, who is still pissed at his behaviour towards her. Eventually they make up, but Shaun has a surprise: he’s rented an apartment for the two of them to live in. Well. 

The Good Doctor s2 ep 3

Glassman’s surgery was successful, so Shaun is more or less skipping with happiness. Which is just as well, because he and Morgan are going straight into a 36-hour shift in the ER, nominally supervised by Lim. “I have a ton of personal crap I gotta take care of today”, Lim makes clear. “So… I’m on call but don’t call me unless you absolutely need to. But you’d better not need to”.

Which means that Shaun and Morgan need to deal, on their own, with an unfortunate young man who has a bad case of priapism. “You don’t want necrosis to set in!” Shaun cheerfully exclaims. They also handle a boy with a lightbulb in his mouth. Yes, it went in, so in theory it should come out. In theory.

Back in the surgical unit, meantime, Dr Melendez is operating on a woman with endometriosis, in which he is assisted by Claire and Alex. But this goes wrong in every which way. On the table, the poor woman is in all sorts of bother. And beside the table, Melendez, Claire, and Nurse Flores stop just short of punching each other out: Claire is still bruised from an earlier encounter with Andrews, at which he brutally shut down her suggestion that 36-hour shifts weren’t going to yield optimal working conditions for doctors. So she’s very much ready to react when she feels slighted by Melendez on the basis of her gender. And this is all in the context of her being told, very recently, to be more assertive. Flores disagrees with Melendez’s behaviour so volubly that he tells her to scrub out because of her behaviour, and she flat out refuses to do so.

It would be easy to say that this episode’s treatment of some very important issues about women in the workplace was reductive. And it’s not for Mr Guy here to say it wasn’t. But… I thought it illustrated both macro- and micro-aggressions of the sexist kind swiftly and compellingly, in the necessarily restricted setting of a 45-minute procedural drama. Even the resolution to this – in which the three protagonists tell Andrews that everything’s OK – is attractively ambiguous.

Anyway. Lim’s personal crap? Oh yes. She’s representing herself in traffic court, pissing off the judge to the point where she’s found in contempt and is sent to the cells. Then on her release she beds the prosecutor. Dr Lim, I may be in love with you. And Shaun is still trying to find a way of dealing with his feelings for, and about, Lea. It;’s worth noting that Morgan seems to have shifted from straightforwardly obnoxious to snarky-with-a-point, which is better.

This, in short, was fabulously entertaining, moving, and thought-provoking. On any view, it was a very good episode of TV. I’d be inclined to call it outstanding.