‘The Good Doctor’ 1×02 Review: “Mount Rushmore”

Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) discusses a case with Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) in “The Good Doctor.”

A few hours before tonight’s episode of “The Good Doctor,” I tweeted that I needed to make a stop for some tissues on the way home. After watching “Mount Rushmore,” I’m making plans for a Costco run, because I’m going to need a lot more tissues.

Episode 2 takes the framework created in the pilot and builds on it. While last week was all about meeting Dr. Shaun Murphy, this week we’re getting to know more about the other doctors in his world.

Much of this episode deals with truth and lies. Most of us tell little white lies to cushion difficult truths. In the medical profession, that’s known as “bedside manner.” For those on the autism spectrum, that kind of prevarication can be difficult to impossible.

For Shaun, make that “impossible.”

In his very first rounds with his new boss and teammates, Shaun gets in trouble for his blunt but accurate assessment of a woman’s condition. He gets a sarcastic scolding from the boss, Dr. Melendez, and is sent off to do scut work – all the jobs the other doctors don’t want to do. While doing that, he gets into trouble again for overanalyzing every detail and ordering tests the hospital management considers unnecessary. That kind of perseverance eventually proves to be lifesaving.

As in the pilot episode, flashbacks to Shaun’s youth provide important context for the man he’s become. We see young Shaun’s discomfort as his doomed brother works to con adults out of cash (the episode title is taken from the premise of the con), and his own utter inability to do anything but tell it like it is.

Episode 2 also begins to flesh out the other characters we first met in the pilot. They too have to struggle with truth and lies, particularly fellow resident Claire Browne, whose truthfulness Shaun had challenged back in the pilot.

The other resident on the team, Jared Kalu, is also truth-challenged in the matter of taking the credit for one of Shaun’s radical ideas. But Claire is no angel in this; she didn’t call Jared out when he presented it to their boss, and Jared is convinced she was ready to let him take a fall if the idea failed.

But if you think the residents are Machiavellian, you should get a load of the chief of surgery, Dr. Marcus Andrews (whom I called “Dr. Arrogant 1” in last week’s review). Andrews was opposed to Shaun’s hiring in the first place, but now he orders Melendez to let him into the operating room.

A change of heart? Hardly. If Shaun succeeds in his residency, then Andrews looks like a brilliant, forward-thinking individual. But remember what Shaun’s mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman, promised in the pilot: If Shaun fails, then he will resign as hospital president–leaving an opportunity for Andrews to move up.

I suspect Andrews already has the measurements of Glassman’s office and is picking out furniture.

As for Melendez, whom I called “Dr. Arrogant 2” last week? Well, he’s still arrogant, and in this episode he reminded me somewhat of the kid who picked on mine back in elementary school. But we see that he is getting pressured by Andrews and by Glassman, while Shaun continually challenges him with observations about his behavior. I do wonder how many episodes it will take him to figure out that his sarcasm is wasted on Shaun, who simply doesn’t understand it.

Kudos again to Freddie Highmore for making us feel Shaun’s confusion and his dedication. And kudos as well to Graham Verchere, who plays the young Shaun. Once again all the details are just right, and I’m eager to see what’s next.

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

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