‘The Good Doctor’ 1×05 Review: Point Three Percent

Freddie Highmore
“The Good Doctor” Episode 1×05 “Point Three Percent” Source: ABC

“A lie is a stone in your heart.”

“Lying is an important social skill.”

Two views of lying shared in episode 5 of The Good Doctor. As the old saying goes, honesty is the best policy – except when it isn’t. We’ve seen Shaun struggle with this concept before, and he struggles with it again in “Point Three Percent.” Adding to his struggle: A patient who looks and sounds exactly like his long-dead brother.

“A lie is a stone in your heart.”

It sounds like an old proverb, but “a lie is a stone in your heart” is something made up on the spurt of the moment by Claire as the doctors work to diagnose a patient’s series of severe allergic reactions. The liar in this case is the patient’s son, who doesn’t want to own up to a truth he is afraid will hurt his father, who’s already suffering over the death of his wife.

This is the “B” storyline of the episode, and it’s fairly familiar emotional territory, with the conflict between father and son resolved when the son finally tells his dad the truth. What’s unusual in this plot line is the nature of dad’s illness: The doctors go from pancreatitis to suspected cancer to tapeworm-infested cysts.


And the surgery to remove one of those cysts was oddly, grossly fascinating. My notes say, “A little real for my taste.”

But I kept watching. I don’t know how realistic the scene was – and I hope I never, ever find out – but so far The Good Doctor has managed not to completely gross me out with medical stuff.

“Lying is an important social skill.”

That bit of wisdom comes from the young boy at the heart of the “A” storyline of “Point Three Percent.” His name is Evan, and he comes into the hospital with a broken arm. Shaun is interested in the case for two reasons. For one, the break is more severe than he would expect from Evan’s description of his accident. But the second, more wrenching reason: Evan is the spitting image of his brother Steve. Evan is also friendly and talkative and accepting of Shaun just the way he is.

“The Good Doctor” Episode 1×05 “Point Three Percent” Source: ABC

Evan is also doomed. He has terminal bone cancer, and only a few months left to live. The boy’s parents say he doesn’t know and they don’t want him to be told.

This presents a dilemma for Shaun, who has proven to be a terrible liar. He doesn’t understand why the parents don’t want Evan to know the truth, and when told by his mentor Dr. Glassman that he must abide by the parents’ wishes, he enlists Claire’s help by having her lie to Evan about his treatment.

Turns out all the lying is for naught; Evan already knows his own diagnosis, thanks to Doctor Google. For months, he’s been telling his own lie to his parents, making them think he doesn’t know he’s dying.

Or is he?

After some late-night studying of Evan’s case, Shaun comes to the conclusion the boy might not have cancer after all. The chance is slim – just point three percent – and he needs to run a test to be sure he’s right. It’s a test his attending won’t approve, not wanting to give the parents any false hope. But Dr. Glassman advises him to do it and not tell anyone.

Unfortunately, Shaun has no idea how to do that. He lets Evan know about the possibility he doesn’t have cancer, but Evan’s parents walk in as Shaun is taking the needed sample for the test. Shaun is unable to lie about what he’s doing.

A medical complication crops up, requiring an operation that presents the doctors with absolute proof that Evan does indeed have terminal cancer that has metastasized.

It’s the first time in the series that Shaun’s been incorrect with a diagnosis. We’ve known that it had to happen at some point, but I really wished it hadn’t been with this case, both because the patient is a child and because he was such a wonderful foil for Shaun throughout this episode.

“You really gotta learn how to lie, Shaun.”

That was Dr. Glassman’s advice to Shaun while Evan is undergoing surgery. Shaun hasn’t learned the social grease of lying to comfort, to spare feelings, and to cover one’s own butt. While we wish it wasn’t necessary, we also have to remember Glassman’s warning that Shaun would be in trouble if his diagnosis was wrong.

Which it was.

He hasn’t gotten into trouble by episode’s end, but you cannot help but dread what might be coming down the road.

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

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