No new episode of The Good Doctor tonight, so instead, we’ll take a look back at last Monday’s “Faces.”
For the most part it’s an excellent episode, with the character relationships and the cathartic moments we expect every week. But what was intended to be a leaven in an otherwise heartbreaking story felt inappropriate. I never thought I would not want to see moments between Shaun and Aaron, but that’s what I felt a few too many times during “Faces.”
Molly and Karin are the teenaged girls at the center of “Faces.” These girls never met in life. But they’re forever bound when the brain-dead Karin’s face is donated to Molly, whose own face was disfigured in a gun accident years before.
The walk of honor scene, where Karin is wheeled down a corridor lined with medical personnel, is one of the saddest things I’ve seen on television. Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.
— The Good Doctor (@GoodDoctorABC) February 6, 2019
I was also moved by the way the girls’ parents are also bound. Not only by the donation, but in understanding something only a parent can: The guilt you feel when something happens to your child. Karin’s mother, Shannon, feels guilty about the car accident — even though they’d been hit by a trucker who’d fallen asleep. Molly’s father feels guilty about her accident, because it had been his gun. The show doesn’t get into any kind of debate over gun safety in this confession; this is not the venue for it. The focus is supposed to be on Shannon’s pain, and Molly’s dad is trying his best to commiserate. “Should haves” didn’t have any place in the discussion at that point. And in Molly’s case, “should have” will never help.
Guilt With 40 Years Of Interest
The secondary storyline featuring Aaron and Shaun (and an exceedingly patient Uber driver) would have been a great part to any other episode. Juxtaposed against the drama at the hospital, though, it felt too dissonant most of the time. Still, there were some great moments.
Shaun and Aaron get high on medical marijuana, and when they get the inevitable munchies, go on a quest for Mallomars. This is not just any junk food journey, though. Mallomars mean something special to Aaron, something he’s felt guilty about since high school.
If “in vino veritas,” then “in cannabis contrition.”
Aaron feels guilty about something he wrote in his crush’s yearbook. So he takes Shaun on a literal guilt trip, traveling eleven hours to Portland to visit her and apologize. That action eventually gets Shaun to admit he’s not OK about Lea dating others.
In any other episode, this would have been great. But I found myself irritated every time we left the hospital to rejoin the Mallomar Hunters.
Nice To See You Again, Dr. Browne!
It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve seen Claire’s special knack for connecting with patients and families. She’s been benched a little in favor of developing other characters. While I’m pleased to see those others grow, I missed seeing a focus on Claire the doctor. But “Faces” gave us plenty. She clicks so well with Molly, who is herself a funny, warm young lady. And while Claire can’t quite understand the nature of Shannon’s guilt, she does try to relieve it.
I hope we get to see more of Dr. Browne, as more than just an extra pair of hands in the surgical suite.
The Problem With Workplace Dating
Lim And Melendez (is there a ship name for this yet?) run into a bit of a rough patch after Karin’s death. But it’s based a bit in misunderstanding. Melendez tries to tell Lim she shouldn’t feel guilty. Lim feels no such thing, and wonders if Melendez is. At one point they discuss ending their relationship, but that’s not gonna happen.
Well, not yet, anyway. Expect more drama from these two. And then even more when the hospital brass catch on to the relationship! It’s a bit of stock workplace drama, but I still like these two characters, separately and together, too much to complain about it yet.
The Good Doctor returns to ABC on Monday, February 25 at 10 p.m./9 p.m. Central.
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My parents used to call me “TV Eyes.” News editor by day, crusader for quality TV by night. Current fandoms: Arrowverse, "The Good Doctor."