‘The Good Doctor’ 2×03 Review: ’36 Hours’

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Coming on the heels of the Kavanaugh confirmation, “36 Hours” resonates in a way the writers could never have anticipated. This episode reflects on how men treat women, how women treat women… and how women treat men, as well.

How Men Treat Women

Two episodes ago, Dr. Andrews told Claire to be more assertive. Apparently he meant “be more assertive except when you’re criticizing my decisions.” That’s certainly the message he gave when Claire talks to him about a new policy leading to 36-hour shifts for the residents. Claire and Andrews both have extensive knowledge of the subject; Claire had researched it in medical school, while Andrews was on a professional commission studying the matter. But rather than listen to Claire, he dismisses her input.

Melendez tries to encourage Claire, noting “Andrews likes to hammer a nail.” On the other hand, Dr. Park advises being assertive but “careful,” saying “everyone” takes that tack when talking to the boss. (My bosses, past and present, would take issue with that. And as a boss myself, so do I.)

The conversations devolve from there. Melendez puzzles over why Claire is so on edge. “Just one of those days,” he speculates after she leaves the OR, offending the women still in the room who presume he’s referring to PMS. (More on that in a bit.)

“Dr. Browne explained why she was on edge,” one nurse says. “Did you forget or were you just not listening?”

It’s a question many women are asking, if not screaming at the tops of their lungs these days. Neither Claire nor the other women involved do any screaming. They are calm and assertive, but Andrews still calls them – and Melendez – up on the carpet after 27 hours of surgery. To his credit, Melendez only blames the length of the procedure instead of throwing any of the women under the bus. But nothing is actually resolved – least of all, Andrews’ original dismissive attitude toward Claire.

This should be something that festers and is revisited in later episodes. But considering how the show walked away from last year’s #MeToo story, I’m not sure that will happen.

“The Good Doctor” Episode 2×03 “36 Hours.” Source: Facebook/TheGoodDoctorABC

How Women Treat Women

“Women in power are worse than men.”

Did anyone hear that line and not immediately think of Sen. Susan Collins? I certainly did, and wondered where the show’s writers found their crystal ball. That line could not have come at a better time, when so many are reflecting on the 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump, and on the women who’ve joined movements like “Walk Away” and “Women Against Feminism.”

The line came from Dr. Lim, regarding a female judge who first threw the book at her for traffic violations. Then she threw Lim in jail for contempt of court. It was Lim’s “reward” for first taking a phone call from the hospital during her hearing, and then protesting when the judge took everyone else’s case before hers.

I’d like to say the judge was a caricature of the stuffiest, most egotistical judges you can imagine. I hope she was. But considering the times we live in, perhaps not. Not in an era where Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys are told not to exercise prosecutorial discretion in deportation cases.

Lim’s case is a direct example of woman vs. woman. We also get an indirect example, as Dr. Morgan Resnick reverts to her previous bitchy form. She warns Shaun about his relationships with Lea and Claire, telling him they “want to take care of you like a cute pet.” She also claims they respect him as a doctor, not as a man, and that Lea had only given him a pity kiss.

My notes here say, “MORGAN RESNICK YOU BITCH.”

Not just because she’s feeding Shaun a pack of lies, particularly about someone she’s never met (Lea). She’s talking behind their backs instead of to their faces, pouring poison into Shaun’s ear. You want to talk about “nasty women?” You can define it as “Morgan Resnick.”

Now, we know from past precedent that everything she does is for her own gain. Lim calls her on it, to her face, by asking Shaun, “Does Morgan have a theory on why Morgan is so nice to you?”

It’s a good question. Maybe we’ll get an answer in the future.

How Women Treat Men

No matter how much we march, scream, perhaps even fantasize about Lysistrata solutions, the truth is many women are uncomfortable asserting ourselves to men. Especially those who are in authority over us. Claire backs down with Andrews, and apologizes to Melendez, giving her the chance to play a bigger part in the 27-hour procedure. The nurse who’d called Melendez out earlier for not listening once again calls him out for only giving Claire a privilege after she’s apologized.

The nurse made some very astute observations and was right with those callouts. We also got a taste of why the “not all men” argument gets made; Melendez and Park were both startled when the women took “one of those days” to mean “PMS.” Melendez tried to explain that he meant anyone can have a bad day.

I’m not comfortable with “not all men,” but I’m also uncomfortable with always presuming the worst from the things men do. I’ve experienced offensive language and actions that were intentional. But more often, I’ve experienced offensive language and actions not born of malice but rather of pure ignorance.

This is a conflict that’s not wrapped up with a bow in the hour. Nor should it be. We haven’t really figured this out in the real world.

Other Notes

Al of these male/female dynamics play out against two medical cases involving reproductive organs. The 27-hour procedure is on a woman who comes in for endometriosis relief and winds up needing a complete hysterectomy – which will destroy her lifelong dream of being a mother. The most interesting thing about this is how the husband defers the decision to Claire. “How can any man…” he starts to ask, and we mentally finish the question, “decide what should happen with a woman’s body?”

Indeed. How can any man do that? Or any woman, for that matter, if the body in question is not hers? Claire finally, not completely willingly, makes the tough call: “Her life matters more than a dream.”

The other case involves a man with an erection that just won’t go away. Initially, Resnick believes it’s because of drugs. He undergoes some rather painful procedures, and it all feels a bit absurd – until Shaun figures out the erection is a symptom of a much more serious problem requiring surgery.

Both cases are examples of what this show does so well; things are not what they originally appeared to be. It’s what keeps us intrigued.

Looking Ahead

The C story of this episode is Aaron Glassman’s current status. He’s had successful surgery to remove his tumor, to be followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

But he’s also having visions of his long-dead daughter. I’ve long been hoping that we would learn about her this season, but I’m so afraid that Aaron’s having visions of the dead because he is close to death himself. I hope I’m wrong.

The Good Doctor airs Monday nights at 10/9 Central on ABC.

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