‘The Good Doctor’ 2×07 Review: ‘Hubert’

This episode of The Good Doctor is all about control; control of ourselves, control of others around us. Some people try to control others for different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are altruistic, and sometimes they’re self-serving. And we all try… and sometimes fail… to control our own lives. “Hubert” examines all these varieties of control.

Controlling Others

The episode’s two medical cases demonstrate two motives for controlling others. In one, two brothers are battling over whether to sell the family business. The bottom line isn’t the most important thing at stake; one brother needs a kidney from the other. The donor, Armando, says he’ll only consent if the business is sold. His brother Santiago says he would rather die.

 

The other example of control comes with Claire’s old college roommate. Kayla is dying of ovarian cancer. Claire convinces Dr. Melendez to do a procedure to relieve Kayla’s pain, and in the process they discover they might be able to also give her more time. It wouldn’t be a cure, but rather a reprieve… if she survives the treatment.

Like Armando, Kayla wants something: For Claire to date her husband after Kayla dies. “I want someone to take care of the man that I love,” she says. Claire is horrified.

Both Armando and Kayla are trying to manipulate others into what they want. But while Armando acts out of self-interest, Claire realizes Kayla is “a caring friend, trying to protect us from pain and suffering.”

Before you think there isn’t a self-interested bone in Kayla’s body, though, consider Claire’s additional observation: Kayla focuses on others’ pain so she doesn’t have to think about her own. Micro-managing others takes her mind off her problems.

And lest you think Armando has nothing going for him but self-interest: After several “negotiation” sessions with Shaun, he agrees to give Santiago a kidney, no strings attached. He may seem like a total ass, but he does confess to caring for his brother and disliking the way their father treated Santiago.

Usually on The Good Doctor, the medical cases aren’t quite what they seem. But in this episode, the people weren’t quite what they seemed.

Controlling Ourselves

Aaron’s story includes an interesting metaphor for control. While he’s waiting for his cancer treatment, a young patient teaches him to use a yo-yo. Aaron can’t control his illness, but he masters several yo-yo tricks. After treatment, though, he is again confronted by something he cannot control: A loss of memory related to his illness. If you’ve ever known someone whose mental functions started melting away like this, then you know the process can make them frightened and angry. Aaron brushes it off for now, but you know there’s more simmering under the surface.

Lea also feels a lack of control. She and Shaun get a pet goldfish, but Hubert the Fish dies within a day. Lea sees it as a metaphor for the rest of her life. “I’m pathetic,” she tells Shaun, confessing she went back to Hershey because she wasn’t feeling fulfilled in San Jose. But things fell apart in Hershey, too, so she returned to San Jose to get her life on track. But “how am I supposed to do that if I can’t even keep a damn fish alive?” she asks.

While Lea can control her work and living situations, there are still things that are beyond her control. Like what happened to Hubert. Shaun actually gets the dead fish tested, to learn Hubert was doomed from the start because of a common pet store parasite.

Perhaps Lea and Aaron would both benefit from Ralph Ellison’s observation in The Invisible Man: “Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”

Or to put it more simply – we all do the best we can with what we’ve got. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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




Lariel

My parents used to call me “TV Eyes.” News editor by day, crusader for quality TV by night. Current fandoms: Arrowverse, "The Good Doctor."