‘The Good Doctor’ 1×17 Review: ‘Smile’

It’s not a good thing when the promo for next week’s episode sticks with a reviewer more than the episode she’s supposed to be reviewing right now. But that’s what’s happening for me with this episode of The Good Doctor. Despite an especially earnest performance by Patrick Sabongui as the worried, willing-to-do-anything dad of a teenage girl, I find myself dwelling more on what’s been teased for the season finale than anything that happened in “Smile.”

The case of that teenage girl provides the episode title. Gretchen does not smile. Indeed, she cannot smile because of a neurological disorder. She’s in the hospital for surgery to correct the problem.

Shaun doesn’t get it. He notes that there are risks to the surgery, and that it is not medically necessary. Nor does he buy Dr. Andrews’ contention that everyone likes smiles — and he spends part of the episode wandering the hospital with a phony smile just to see how people react.

Gretchen’s story touches slightly on the issue of medical costs and insurance, as does the other main case of the night.

A Tale Of Two Lucys

The first Lucy is a woman who comes to the hospital with a serious infection from not having taken prescribed antibiotics. She vanishes before Claire and Dr. Resnick can treat her. When they try calling the number on her insurance card, it brings in another woman – the real Lucy, whose identity had been stolen.

Don’t feel too sorry for Real Lucy, though; it doesn’t take long for the docs to figure out that she’s a garden-variety prescription drug addict and ship her off to rehab.

“Fake” Lucy is really named Beatrice, and she lacks health insurance because she made a choice to pay her son’s college tuition instead of her premiums. It’s a choice that proves to be fatal.

The Good Doctor has never been a show to really dig in to dilemmas such as opioid addiction or the difficulties presented by health insurance. There’s no digging in during this episode, either, although Dr. Resnick tries to make a case for prosecuting Beatrice before it becomes apparent that she won’t survive.

Perhaps in its next season, the show writers will take the next step to take some stands on some issues.

Moving Forward?

You might recall that last week, Jared made a move to possibly leave St. Bonaventure. Now he’s having second thoughts, after a visit from a patient he’d met before. (Remember the woman who got the fish scale treatment for severe burns?) Jared actually hands her care over to Shaun, just so he can ask her out without any ethical worries.

I don’t know if any of this is indeed ethical, but it strikes me that it’s awfully soon after he dumped Claire. Is he really ready? Or might he be packing up for a new job in Denver very soon?

Another continuing saga is Shaun’s relationship with his new neighbor, Kenny. Just last week, Dr. Park warned Shaun that Kenny was using him, and Shaun gets definitive proof of it in this episode when Kenny “borrows” his television for a night in with some friends – a gathering that Kenny will not let Shaun join. “You’re a great guy, but you’ve got quirks,” Kenny says, while physically blocking the door so Shaun can’t come in.

He also takes the pizza Shaun has brought.

Shaun, you ARE a great guy… and Kenny is NOT.

Shaun really needs the guidance of his mentor Dr. Glassman. But Shaun is sticking to the idea that he and Glassman can no longer be friends, and assigns himself the duty of finding Glassman a new friend. Specifically, a woman who works in the hospital cafeteria and who happens to share Glassman’s love of classic cars. That leads to dinner….

Which leads to a stunning revelation. At dinner, Glassman suffers a sudden memory problem, literally unable to remember a word and panicking over that inability. The show closes on this cliffhanger…

Then we get the promo for the season finale, with the ominous news that Glassman has terminal brain cancer.

Forget everything else that happened in this episode. THIS is the most important thing. Phillip Glassman has been Shaun’s friend and emotional tether more more than a decade. Yes, their relationship is strained, as often happens with fathers and sons. And sons do, in the natural course of things, lose their fathers eventually. But is Shaun ready for this?

Are we?

“The Good Doctor” season finale will air Monday night, March 26 at 10/9 Central on ABC.

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