‘The Good Doctor’ 1×09 Review: ‘Intangibles’

“The Good Doctor” 1×09 “Intangibles.” Source: ABC

“Intangibles” gives us two sides of a coin. One one side, there is hope – the hope of a mother for a cure for her son, the hope of a woman waiting to learn whether she has cancer. One the other, there is fear – a doctor’s fear of failure, a hospital executive’s fear of a lawsuit. Both of those intangible feelings drive the characters to sometimes questionable actions connected to two patients in this episode of The Good Doctor.

“Our greatest want is hope.”

The first patient, Gabriel, is a boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo with a bad heart. He was selected for a special surgical program at St. Bonaventure Hospital despite being a poor candidate for it, simply because he is photogenic – and photogenic causes are good for raising money.

The other patient is Elizabeth, a woman who works as a podcaster, who needs a biopsy of a throat nodule to determine whether she has cancer. But the tissue sample is lost, leaving her with the terrible choice of having her voice box removed, thus ending her career – or leaving things as they are, running the risk of having cancer.

In both cases, the executives of St. Bonaventure are making decisions and giving instructions that are cynical at best. Young Gabriel is a fundraising opportunity. When Elizabeth’s sample is lost, Claire is instructed not to say anything that implies the hospital is to blame, in order to avoid a lawsuit. We are frustrated along with Claire, who wants to sympathize with her patient, and with Dr. Melendez, who believes he cannot do anything to help Gabriel.

“The Good Doctor” 1×09 “Intangibles.” Source: ABC

Melendez only changes his mind when dealing with Gabriel’s mother, who stopped giving the boy his medicine in the hope that it would keep them in the U.S. for surgery. “If we leave here, we leave hope behind,” she tells him.

Hope is what also drives Claire to continue searching for Elizabeth’s lost sample, even when it looks like time has run out.

“Is fear of failure a good reason not to do something?”

It’s no surprise that Shaun comes up with an idea for fixing Gabriel’s heart, but the way he does it is surprising. It may be the best use of a Mr. Potato Head toy since Toy Story! While Melendez initially calls it a terrible idea, eventually he does come around, and the two of them test it in a fascinating virtual reality sequence before going into a marathon surgery to save Gabriel’s life.

It’s also no surprise that Claire finds Elizabeth’s sample, and while the patient is cancer-free, it’s also not surprising when the hospital is slapped with a lawsuit anyway.

But there is still one surprise in this episode, and it’s an unnecessary complication.

Learning to flirt

We all know Shaun has problems with social cues. Claire tries to help him understand his neighbor Lia by explaining what she calls “the flirting trifecta:” giggling, body movement, the hair toss. Shaun then turns it around on Claire, saying she’s used those moves on Dr. Melendez.

Or maybe, be suggests, she just has ringworm.

I’d prefer the ringworm. We don’t need the cliche of the resident crushing on the attending. Especially when she’s already in a relationship with another resident (even if that relationship has been given little to no depth). Writers, let’s not go there. I really don’t want to see more of that.

“Are you giving up on me?”

What I DO want more of, though, is Shaun and his mentor. And Shaun seems to want more of the man who befriended him so many years ago. He’s not interested in the life coach candidates Glassman is sending his way; he wants his surrogate dad to teach him things. But Glassman says he can’t always be there to help Shaun.

It’s a familiar fear for parents of any child, even those children who are neurotypical. But since these worries have been so front-and-center for Glassman for several episodes now, I begin to worry that something terrible is coming.

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

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