“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.” So goes the first line of a Mother Goose poem that runs through the consequences of that lost nail and shoe, right to the loss of a kingdom.
An apple is The Good Doctor’s version of a horseshoe nail in this episode, a story that one one level explores our need for causality – our need to have reasons or someone to blame. On another, it explores how we manage our emotions: in Shaun’s case, locking them down perhaps too firmly, and in Claire’s case, having trouble holding them back.
The episode doesn’t pack the wallop of last week’s “22 Steps,” but does include some emotional progress for Shaun and a win for Claire, who needed one so desperately after losing her first patient two episodes ago. There are also some hints of a tragic past for Dr. Glassman, who is getting more and more concerned about his protege.
Did it all go wrong with one missing apple?
All Shaun wanted was an apple for breakfast. Unfortunately, his neighbor Lea ate his apple while venting about their lousy landlord (and just before getting angry at Shaun when he offers what he believes to be a sensible solution to the problem). That sends Shaun to a corner store – just in time for an armed robbery where a woman is shot just before the gunman is knocked out by a bystander.
Through a flashback, we learn the gunman fired because Shaun wasn’t complying with his orders. There is some debate over whether Shaun should be sent home, and some anger from the young man who was with the injured woman. But Shaun doesn’t believe he is responsible, and wants to stay on the job. It’s a choice Dr. Melendez calls “cold-heartedness,” but one this spectrum parent recognizes as a need to cling to some part of the daily routine that has already been blasted apart twice, first by the stolen apple, then by the robbery itself.
Remember back in the first episode, when the hospital executives were worried about how Shaun could manage in a stressful ER? In this episode, we see that the stress of the hospital environment is actually a comfort zone for Shaun. He knows what to expect, and he has the knowledge to deal with whatever comes his way without melting down. Even a hospital counselor can’t do much to help him because he’s not looking for help in that setting.
What Shaun lacks are the emotional tools to deal with things outside of the hospital setting, whether it’s an unhappy neighbor or an angry gunman, and his inability to cope kept him from complying with the gunman’s orders.
Nor does Shaun have the ability to understand that his noncompliance may have contributed to the shooting.
Claire helps a little, explaining that Shaun’s neighbor only wanted support, not a solution. By episode’s end, Shaun is offering that support to Lea… and getting it in return as he finally admits he made a mistake and someone got hurt.
It’s a moment that would have pleased Dr. Glassman, had he seen it. More on him later.
Treating the enemy
The other patient in this episode is the gunman, who suffered some pretty severe trauma when he got hit. Claire winds up treating him, and may be just as happy to let him suffer when the medics find a swastika tattoo on his body. But she is ordered to care for the man after she publicly disrespected the female attending she was working with.
It’s a trope, the black doctor eventually saving the life of the white supremacist. Claire is not happy about dealing with him, and he’s not happy to deal with her, and there’s plenty of stereotypical sniping at each other. But in the end, a doctor’s duty is to save lives.
Even the lives of Nazi drug addict robbers.
The satisfying part of this storyline is that Claire seems to have regained the confidence lost two episodes back.
Who is Maggie?
We never did get the names of the patients involved in this episode, which is pretty common in The Good Doctor. But we did get a new name, of a mystery person connected to both Dr. Glassman and hospital attorney Jessica Preston. The scene between then felt very much like a setup for something in the rest of the season. We don’t know for sure who Maggie is yet, but something happened with her 13 years ago, and she may be the reason why Glassman is so determined to be a father figure to Shaun and is so worried that he’s not giving his protege the guidance he needs.
What we’re left wondering is what Glassman might do about Shaun, because he seems to not be trusting that Shaun can live alone without some kind of assistance – assistance Shaun has vehemently shown he does not want. We already have hints that Glassman was not there for Maggie – is it possible he will err too far to the other side with Shaun?
- Dr. Melendez has continued on his path as Shaun’s champion. It’s nice to see.
- The use of graphics to show how Shaun visualizes injuries could get old, but the producers have been pretty good about keeping it sparing.
- That poor woman who was shot. Her date wanted to ditch her. Ugh.
- Claire, I’d want to hurt the Nazi punk too.
The Good Doctor airs Monday nights at 10/9 Central.