THE GOOD DOCTOR – “Middle Ground” – As Shaun pushes back against Dr. Melendez in order to treat a gravely ill hospital janitor and deal with the return of Lea, Dr. Lim risks a lawsuit and her career to help a teenage girl repair the damage caused by an archaic custom. Meanwhile, Dr. Glassman exercises demanding oversight with Dr. Blaize in choosing a doctor for his brain surgery, on the “The Good Doctor,” MONDAY, OCT. 1 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/David Bukach) FREDDIE HIGHMORE

The Good Doctor: 2×02 “Middle Ground” Review

If The Good Doctor‘s latest episode, “Middle Ground,” made one thing clear, it’s that life is never as straightforward as we want it to be. Unfortunately, Shaun and Dr. Lim learned this the hard way. The Good Doctor exercises a lot of confidence in letting its characters drive what they deal with each week. Let’s dive into that story, shall we?

We all have a choice.

One of the things I love about The Good Doctor is its capacity to surprise me. I haven’t regularly watched a medical drama since House was on the air, but seeing these writers go for what you don’t expect is wonderful. This week, Shaun struggled with his choice to figure out how he felt about Lea coming back; he also had to navigate the blurry line between truth and lies to Paul, a janitor diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Lim faced a similar challenge in deciding what to say, and what to hold back, when a teenager who’d been mutilated as a child wanted surgery to fix what had happened to her.

Every day when we wake up, we have an expectation of what we will deal with; but that doesn’t mean in the course of a single day — or even a few days — we can’t experience emotions and feelings that make us prone to bursting out at any second. Shaun’s inner conflict about Lea made it easy for him to dive into helping a janitor who had no clue he had pancreatic cancer. Reality set in quickly, and I admit that I admired Paul for taking the risky choice because it was what his family desired so he had a chance to live longer than a year.

I just wish it worked out that way. Full confession: I was crying my eyes out when they weren’t able to save Paul because his talk with Shaun in the church hit hard on the truth/lie wrestling we all do. It wasn’t what he came into that room to do, but I need to thank Paul for kindly telling Shaun what he needed to hear despite the circumstances he was in.

Who we are is who we choose to be.

Dr. Lim is the kind of doctor I wish we could all meet when we feel our backs against the wall. The shock of seeing what happened to her teenage patient was equal to my reaction to The Good Doctor touching on female genital mutilation — a topic I’ve never seen handled on network television. Knowing people, there are sides being taken with the word “controversial” at the forefront. I can’t judge anyone’s opinions about it; but the writers portrayed the conflict between everyone in this story through the characters, and it felt true to form for them.

This kick-ass doctor tried every which way to help this girl the way she asked for, but I believe you know the phrase about best-laid plans. Her parents were the picture of kind and loving, but I couldn’t get past letting an archaic custom hurt their daughter so badly. I don’t care what kind of tradition your family follows, how could you ever do that to your kid? The writing challenges your thinking on a taboo topic, and while I wish they had waited to tackle this with more focus, it still made you ask: “What would you do in this situation?”

In all honesty, I don’t even know if I have an answer.

Shaun finally found his, though. I hated seeing the look on Lea’s face, but it felt cathartic, in a sense, for Shaun to let out what he’d been struggling with. He’s in pain; and while I don’t think it’s the end of the road for him and Lea, it’s going to take some time for these two to get their groove back. Good thing Paige Spara is a series regular and will be sticking around to do so!

Final thoughts

  • Dr. Andrews might still drive me nuts, but when you need him to back you up, he does. Thank God in this case, because however much those parents loved their daughter, the fact that it was a lot made it hurt even more, they also deserved that call out for following a “custom.”
  • Shaun’s “white lie” about needing to come to work early was as adorable as it was telling. He is not comfortable with lying until he learns firsthand the good it can be used for, depending on the circumstance — in this case, for Paul’s family.
  • What I really loved about this particular episode was that all these doctors put as much effort and time into treating a patient physically as they do mentally. How they talk to them, coaching what to say when giving bad news, learning the hard way what you should or shouldn’t do. It’s all those little things that you don’t normally see that I’m enjoying a lot here.
  • Audrey Lim, you now rank as one of my favorite fictional lady doctors.

The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.

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