THE GOOD DOCTOR – “Tough Titmouse” – Shaun (Freddie Highmore) recalls his own past to help an intellectually disabled teenager face separation from his mother, while Claire (Antonia Thomas) is put between an injured teenage rock climber and her worried parents. Meanwhile, Glassman’s (Richard Schiff) post-op hallucinations force him to confront a personal tragedy on “The Good Doctor,” MONDAY, OCT. 15 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eike Schroter) FREDDIE HIGHMORE, NICHOLAS GONZALEZ, WILL YUN LEE

The Good Doctor 2×04 Review: “Tough Titmouse”

When you have an ensemble show like The Good Doctor, the stories weave in and out, leaving you feeling more than you might expect. In “Tough Titmouse,” viewers simultaneously experience Shaun’s journey to figuring things out with Lea, Dr. Glassman’s struggle post-op and seeing his dead daughter, and Claire and Morgan helping a young climber figure out what surgery she wants to heal.

Laying it out it sounds so simple, but the emotion it evokes feels as real as the kind we go through every day out in the world. I’d love to say humans are creatures of logic as we have powerful brains, but those pesky feelings sneak in and affect everything — whether we like it or not.

Let’s see how the emotions snuck in, shall we?

when you care about someone, it’s hard to give up

In “Tough Titmouse,” hard choices were what I felt the most. We make small ones every day, but the ones that are the scariest end up being the ones we are not sure what price we may pay for making them. Katherine’s choice led to a splintering with her parents over what type of spinal surgery she chose; Shaun’s choices kept pushing him farther away from Lea than what he wanted; and Neil’s decisions revealed far more about him than the patient he was helping.

In the medical arena, what I loved most on this hour of The Good Doctor was the residents’ struggle to not let their personal histories affect their decision-making towards their patients. As a patient, it can be easy to assume that a doctor is consciously choosing objectivity as much as possible, but at the end of the day, they are as human as anyone in a hospital bed. Their medical training is as much about getting practiced at treating people as it is about learning to balance their personal experiences versus their professional judgment.

As it is when you have more than one doctor in a room, disjointed opinions can be a confusing thing, even more so when you have patients who are torn in decisions over their own health or the health of a loved one. Claire and Neil’s personal revelations with their family were touching in a way I hadn’t expected because I hadn’t expected them to be honest with their patients.

Can we get more of these two in scenes together? Please and thank you, ahem.

love is a complicated thing

Shaun and Aaron went through the full gamut for that experience. Shaun’s struggle to reconcile his behavior with Lea was both heart-wrenching and adorable in his refusal to give up. Shaun has gone through life fighting what he can’t cure, but it’s an entirely different challenge when he’s faced with genuine consequences for his actions. I can’t blame Lea in the slightest for getting freaked at his apartment “hunting,” but when they busted out the karaoke, I about melted on the floor.

Which was quickly replaced by a “What?!” at Shaun dropping he got the nice apartment Lea could never afford. Oh man, I can’t WAIT for the next episode….on October 29, damnit.

This sentiment was made worse after bawling my eyes out at Aaron Glassman’s scenes with his daughter, Maddie, via hallucination. Played perfectly by The Americans‘ Holly Taylor, her back-and-forth with her father, fake or not, pulled back so much about the choices he fights with himself about to this day over her life and death. I hated seeing him torn apart and these wounds ripped open and freshly bleeding as if it’d only happened yesterday, but the idea that he found a sense of peace within himself was amazing character writing.

I can’t really express how good the writing is for letting this cast develop their characters and let them drive the narrative — especially when it’s in an ensemble that might seem overwhelming if it wasn’t as well balanced. Whatever your opinions might be about The Good Doctor, I think we can all agree the term “sophomore slump” isn’t one that applies here.

Final thoughts

  • Am I the only one who is shipping Claire and Neil? I’m good if I am, but I swear there’s a spark there — and not just the kind where you’re rolling your eyes at over “typical” written interactions for drama’s sake.
  • I know they haven’t known each other a terribly long time, but I am kind of wishing Shaun and Lea maybe try living together to see how that goes. They care about each other so much despite all the hurt feelings, and it’s easy to root for them to not give up on their friendship.
  • Shining a light on the two sides, between taking care of a loved one who struggles mentally and giving them up for others to look after, was a good choice. It’s easy to anchor yourself on what side you gravitate to, but it’s another to see the perspective of patient and doctor personally struggling with one of each choice.
  • The flashbacks to Shaun’s time in a foster home complemented what was going on with his patient and his mother. His unique point of view lent a voice of experience that wouldn’t have existed without him. I like how there was a reason for these flashbacks, other than just to have them. There’s a point to everything The Good Doctor‘s writers include, and a medical ensemble without drama for drama’s sake is a breath of fresh air.

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

 

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