The Good Doctor s3 ep 10

With Shaun on his road trip, of which more presently, there’s only room for one Patient of the Week in this emotionally-charged episode. Art Kalman, pro footballer, suffers a spinal fracture at the gym – coincidentally while Claire and Melendez are there – and in the immediate aftermath is paralysed. Art is taken to St Bonaventure for treatment, although to start with another surgeon – a specialist in sporting injuries, I think – makes a case to Art that he would be better performing the operation. Melendez convinces Art to stay where he is; he’s confident that he will be able to reverse the paralysis, and that Art will not only be able to walk again, but will be able to resume his career. 

The surgery is successful, but here’s the thing: Art confesses to Claire that he hates football, and he was kind of hoping that the operation would be a failure – in fact, he picked Melendez and his colleagues to wield the scalpel precisely because he didn’t expect them to care so much about whether he’d be able to play again. But there are a lot of people who are financially dependent on him, including his mother, who worked all her life in minimum wage jobs: how can he explain to her that he’s giving up an incredibly lucrative career just because he doesn’t like it? Claire uses this as motivation to address her own mommy issues.

Shaun, meantime, is in Wyoming with Glassman and Lea – not Carly – to visit his dying father. To start with, he gets as far as his parents’ house, then has to leave. Glassman and Lea persuade him to return, which he does, essentially telling his father that he doesn’t care about his impending death. After an intervention by his mother – and a midnight swim with Lea, or at least by Lea – he goes back one more time, only to be verbally abused by his father, who dies a few hours later

The end result of all this – which would have been traumatic enough for a neurotypical person – is that Shaun has a meltdown in their motel, stilled only when Lea wraps her arms around him and holds him until he calms down. Perhaps significantly, he doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem with physical contact when it’s Lea, although of course that may be because he sees that as platonic rather than erotic. On the other hand, he was notably reluctant to call Carly earlier in the episode to tell her that he was going to see his father. Presumably this will all be picked up with the show returns after its winter hiatus. I was never convinced that Shaun and Lea as a couple was a good idea, so I suppose that makes me Team Carly, although that final scene, with a fully-clothed Shaun and Lea entwined on Shaun’s bed, perhaps changed my mind just a little.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 9

I’m a few days late with this one, but it’s Sex Week at San Jose St Bonaventure! Sex sex sex sex sex. Patient of the Week 1 is Jeanie, a 25-year-old woman whose symptoms are discovered to be attributable to tumours in her genital area. They can be removed, but to do so would mean that she couldn’t have vaginal sex ever again. To leave them where they are, on the other hand, would mean that she runs the risk of a life-threatening seizure during coitus. “Sex could kill this woman”, diagnoses Morgan, which is as hardline a moral message as any you might find in a 1940s public education film about STDs. Despite that, after discussion with her fiancé, Jeanie decides not to have the surgery. Morgan really just can’t with this, and twists Fiancé’s arm in an ultimately successful attempt to get him to change Jeanie’s mind. Or, at least, I think it’s his arm she twists. “Sex”, she advises him, “makes you stupid”.

Also having sex – stupid or otherwise – is Claire, whose latest one-night-stand, Kane (our old friend Sharif Atkins) turns up in the hospital a matter of hours later having been in a car accident. Her knowledge of what he was up to the night before at least enables her to make some life-saving calls about what might be in his system: “Maybe – and, y’know, I’m just throwing ideas about here – he’s on MDMA? Or not? Who would know? Definitely not me”. It all gets much tastier when Kane’s wife and daughter turn up. “We’re gonna take good care of your dad”, Claire tells the little girl. Think you’ve already done that, girlfriend? Anyway, Kane’s wife suspects that he’s a cheater, and Claire – presumably in a self-flagellating mood – tells her she should demand the truth from her husband. She does. Claire gets slapped.

And Shaun is… well. He turns up at Carly’s lab with a bunch of flowers. “I’d like to have sex tonight!” he announces in front of her colleagues. “Would you?” She would. But when it comes to it, Shaun is still troubled by the prospect of physical intimacy. Is it fixable? We may have to wait for an answer to that, because at the end Glassman tells him that his father, who he hasn’t seen in years – decades? – is gravely ill with pancreatic cancer. Which presumably means that next week’s episode is a Very Special, with a road trip. Meantime, I enjoyed this one.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 8

Patient of the Week 1 is Rosalind, a brilliant scientist who made very significant medical advances during her career, but at the cost of personal relationships. Shaun, of course, thinks she did the right thing, and who’s to say he’s wrong? However, she’s about to die, and the only person she wants called is her lab assistant to make sure that her experiments continue to run. Park takes it upon himself to track down Rosalind’s ex-husband, Leo, and try to persuade him to come to the hospital. Leo tries to explain to Park why the marriage failed, but we know he’s going to do the right thing, and he does. It’s nice.

Patient of the Week 2, though, has all sorts of consequences for Melendez and Lim. Wren, the patient, is a young woman who plans to become an astronaut, for which she needs both lungs; the problem is that she has a tumour on one, and as far as a (still gun-shy) Melendez can see there’s no way of removing it without taking the whole lung. Lim thinks that robot surgery offers Wren a chance. Their ongoing disagreement both about the surgery, and about their workplace relationship in the context of their romantic one, will eventually see them both carpeted by an irascible Glassman. Melendez asks Glassman to look at the file and take a view. Hell no, says Glassman: Lim is my chief of surgery and I trust her.

Lim performs the surgery herself, helped by Melendez, but as things progress it looks as if Wren isn’t going to be able to keep her lung. Whereupon Melendez leaps into action and comes up with a brilliant save. Which is all well and good, but this really can’t go on. And it doesn’t; Lim breaks up with Melendez. It’s been coming for a while, and it was inevitable. If this means that Lim can start being funny again – she’s barely had a good line all season – then this might be a win for the show.

We don’t find out very much about Reznick’s first surgery as lead; it’s a complicated procedure, but Andrews thinks she’s ready for it. The real issue, though, is her rheumatoid arthritis, which she reveals to Glassman. She performs the surgery successfully, but presumably we haven’t heard the last of this. And Shaun and Carly are, slowly, moving towards having actual sex. With a midseason finale two weeks away, one imagines that we’ll be at make-or-break by then. Not quite as good as last week’s excellent episode, but satisfying.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 7

After a couple of weeks when The Good Doctor was, perhaps, treading water just a little, this was every inch a return to form. In particular, the storylines of both Patients of the Week had a real emotional heft. Patient 1 is Charlie, a twelve-year-old boy who is, on the face of it, remarkably sanguine and good-humoured about the fact that he is about to have his one functioning eye removed because of cancer, rendering him permanently blind. Charlie disappears before surgery, but Claire and Morgan track him down and let him have a bit of fun. Then Claire is kinda mean to him – yeah, OK, Claire, but he’s a child who is not only about to go blind for ever, but who knows he’s about to go blind for ever – and he decides not to have the operation after all, before she talks him round.

I was expecting the usual Good Doctor last-minute miracle surgery, but we, and Charlie, don’t get it at all: he wakes up from surgery, he’s blind, and he wants to speak to Claire, who’s not there. Morgan finds Claire at a bar, where she’s presumably brooding again about the loss of her useless mother, and suggests that Claire should have been there when Charlie woke up because she connected with him emotionally – well maybe, Morgan, but you’re the one who flashed him, as a last sighted-world treat. “Deal with your crap”, snaps Morgan at Claire, “before this is who you really become”. Co-signed.

Patient 2, meantime, is endearingly acerbic Tara, who is not “the girl in the bubble”, except that she totally is: she has SCID, severe immunodeficiency, which means that she needs to stay in an isolation chamber, even when being operated on. She takes to Shaun’s kind of plain speaking: he, like her, is isolated in a way, although for different reasons. Tara even helps Shaun reply to Carly’s texts: she is, she explains, good at phone sex, that being the only sort she can have.

But here comes this week’s miracle cure, sort of: Park proposes a form of gene therapy, high-risk for sure, but which if successful might give Tara a chance at a normal life. Melendez, however, is gun-shy after last week’s tragedy, and declines to push the treatment, which isn’t like him; he’s normally all over flashy interventions which might succeed spectacularly. (This isn’t Claire and her stupid mother, I’m fine with the after-effects of something like this lingering for a while.) Shaun persuades Tara to go ahead, and it looks as if it’s successful: by the end of the episode, she takes her first steps outside her bubble, and contemplates the world. Coming in the same episode as Charlie’s last sight of the world, it’s quite moving. 

The quick subplots work this week as well – Glassman is an idiot for thinking that he can work with Debbie, who orders him around, acts out to Lim, then quits; Lim and Melendez are doing their very best to negotiate their relationship, even though Melendez is refusing to admit that he’s not coping well with what happened last week; and Shaun is still learning how to be in a romantic relationship with someone neurotypical, this time in particular that texts which don’t appear to need a reply actually do need one. And his final text to Carly – simply “I’m here” – is, frankly, what we all need to hear at some time or another. Wonderful.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 6

I have no real idea why, but for the first time this season I wasn’t feeling it with this episode. After last week’s false start, Shaun is once more lined up for his first lead surgery: this time, it’s an appendectomy, and as we don’t know anything about the patient that’s a reasonable steer that we’re not expected to get too invested in whether she or he lives or dies. And, indeed, it’s a success; right up, that is, to the point where Shaun throws a strop because poor Nurse Hawks doesn’t hand him a clamp in precisely the way he wants it. He then kicks her out of the ER, watched all the while by Andrews and his told-you-so face. Lim tells Shaun to apologise to Hawks. Instead, he tries to mansplain to Hawks why he was right all along. Nuh-uh, says Lim; now she’s filed a complaint, and if you do that again Imma kick you out.

The main surgical event of the week, though, is on Melendez’s table: it’s Patty, a woman who is 23 weeks pregnant and also has a non-malignant ovarian tumour. The first attempt to remove the tumour and leave the baby fails, whereupon Patty and her husband need to make some tough choices: Patty favours a risky surgery which offers a chance of saving her baby; Mr Patty wants, first and foremost, to save his wife; and Melendez needs to remember to run big decisions past his boss, who is also his bae. This one goes very wrong, and Melendez takes it badly. And, unfortunately, much as I like Lim and Melendez as a couple, I don’t see that lasting too much longer either.

The personal life stuff doesn’t quite grab me this week: as I feared, Claire is still behaving self-destructively, and I really wish she wouldn’t. Debbie is fired from the hospital coffee shop and wants to come and work with Glassman in his clinic. Glassman is clearly reluctant. I’m with you, dude. And Shaun manages to get some apology practice in with Carly, when she – rightly – points out that if he has a problem, she always hears about it from Claire or Morgan rather than from him. But she confirms that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, which is a happy ending for Shaun at least.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 5

It’s Shaun’s turn to get his first lead case: Beth, a good-natured woman who requires apparently straightforward surgery for oesophageal cancer. Unsurprisingly, it becomes more complicated, and when Shaun’s patient communication skills aren’t quite up to the mark Beth requests that he be taken off the case. Lim – who hand-picked this case for Shaun, which troubles Andrews – intercedes and Shaun is reinstated, but when the surgery actually starts Shaun appears to be having a meltdown. Andrews and Lim eventually discern that Shaun has actually found a way of performing the surgery which will be better for the patient, but which is too complex for him to perform. Thus Beth’s life is improved, Shaun loses his lead surgery, and Andrews and Lim can debate whether Shaun is worth the trouble.

Meantime, Claire and Morgan are treating Curtis, an alcoholic who has been sober for six years, he says. He has all the symptoms of intoxication, though, and Claire doesn’t believe him. Even when Curtis’s wife says that she stands by her husband, Claire isn’t remotely convinced. We kind of know how this one’s going to go as well: sure enough, Curtis has a medical condition which is causing his intoxication. Of course, all of this business about refusing to believe an alcoholic is off the drink is bound up, so far as Claire is concerned, with her Coming To Terms with the Loss of her Mother, something about which I truly don’t care, because her mother was appalling. I really, really hope that this won’t go on for too much longer.

And Glassman’s new wife Debbie has a gun. Glassman is appalled; Debbie says it’s her thing and she’s not giving it up. Relationship counsellor Shaun prescribes second base to Glassman, this being an experience he’s presently enjoying with Carly. It works for Glassman. And, presumably, Debbie and Carly. It’s not The Good Doctor at its absolute best – the Cases of the Week are a little too predictable – but it’s perfectly fine.

The Good Doctor s3 ep 4

St Bonaventure has a patient on the “celebrity track”: one Mitchell Stewart, conspiracy theorist, played with brio and star quality by our old friend Joshua Malina. (Unfortunately he doesn’t appear in any scenes with Richard Schiff. How hard could it be to contrive that, folks?) He has a genetic liver problem, but insists he’s being poisoned by – well, who knows? Someone determined to stop him from spreading his batshit ideas about “crisis actors” and the like. Nor does he trust any of the hospital staff; apart from Shaun, that is, as he realises that Shaun would find it very difficult to lie to him. Even if he claims that Shaun’s autism was caused by vaccination, something Shaun immediately debunks. Anyway, Stewart is being poisoned, after all, but not by who or what he thinks.

It’s an entertaining diversion from the rest of the episode, which is loosely themed around the question of whether we can ever know someone. Well, can we? Can we? Patient of the Week number 2 is Lily, who doesn’t really think there’s much wrong with her, until she turns out to have a ruptured appendix of which she was entirely unaware. She can’t, it transpires, feel physical pain. And just as I was thinking we’d probably seen this before in a medical procedural or two, her story takes an intriguing twist: she can’t feel emotional pain either. Well, well, well. This leaves Lily’s husband somewhat adrift: does she actually love him? Can you love someone without the possibility of loss, and the pain which ensues, hanging over you? This, of course, is a topic close to Claire’s heart this week, given that her useless mother checked out last time round. I’m not mad on the final scene, in which Claire numbs the pain with meaningless sex: I mean, I’m all for numbing pain with meaningless sex, but if this is going to turn into a season-long exploration of destructive behaviour, then count me out.

Meantime, Glassman is just about to get married to Debbie, when he’s thrown by the discovery that Shaun and Carly are working their way through a whole list of topics designed to ensure that they know as much as they can about each other. How much does he actually know about Debbie, and what the hell crazy kind of idea is it to leap into marriage anyway? And Shaun negotiates, with Carly, the tricky business of hand-holding: she wants to, he doesn’t. It’s a likeable and engaging episode, if not quite as good as this show is capable of being.