‘The Good Doctor’ 2×08 Review: ‘Stories’

We can usually count on The Good Doctor to weave stories of humanity into strange medical cases. We get both of these in “Stories.” The episode also delivers some strong yet non-preachy messaging about vaccinations, and it reminds us hospital management is Machiavellian.

Vaccinate Your Kids!

The show is unequivocal about the importance of vaccinations, as the doctors treat a young boy with an unusual spinal problem. The parents are opposed to vaccinations because of possible health risks. Eventually mom concedes without telling dad, a decision that drives him away.

But as Morgan notes, “Measles kill. Broken homes don’t.”

The show did not go down the road you might have expected with a lead character with autism. Shaun is not assigned to this case, and no one ever makes any claims about vaccines causing autism. Kudos to the showrunners for not giving oxygen to that debunked claim.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

The other case of the week involves a woman who’d been in a car accident. Through a somewhat complicated chain of tests, the doctors find she has a tumor that’s sending chemicals to her brain, turning off her inhibitions. That loss of inhibition led her to spend nearly all her family’s money, have four affairs (one of which resulted in an ectopic pregnancy) and to kiss Shaun.

All of this threatens to destroy the woman’s marriage. Her husband feels betrayed, even though he knows none of her actions were taken with intent. He is wounded, but eventually is willing to put his own hurt feelings aside to be with the woman he’s loved and trusted for ten years. Contrast that with the parents in the other story; the father is not willing to forgive his wife for violating his principles, even though she was acting in their son’s best interests.

“Reason and intent matter,” Shaun counsels at one point. One husband is willing to accept that idea, while the other is not.

Claire & Melendez Reconcile

This part of the plot could be another example of why reason and intent matter. After being frozen out of Melendez’s team, Claire has started talking to other hospital residency programs. The hospital brass get wind of these meetings, and put some pressure on Claire and Melendez to settle their squabble. But they’re not doing this because they want to hold on to a bright, promising doctor. They’re concerned about what it will look like if they lose two surgical residents with diverse backgrounds in a short time. So Andrews first goes to Claire, trying to get her to apologize. She refuses. Then Andrews tells Melendez he can’t support him as the next chief of surgery.

All the pressure leads to an encounter between Claire and Melendez, where he begins to apologize but she cuts him off, offering her own apology as cover for him so that he won’t lose face. It’s a frustrating denouement to this thread, considering Claire had been right in going around Melendez a few episodes back.

Other Notes

  • Just how much do they pay residents at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital? Last season, Shaun was dropping a few thousand bucks on a tux, and this season Park and Morgan are betting $500 bottles of booze!
  • Just days after a gunman opened fire in a Chicago hospital, and about a week after doctors nationwide blasted the NRA with #ThisIsMyLane, it doesn’t sit well to see Park and Morgan head to a shooting range to blow off steam after a shift. But of course, there’s no way the writing team could have anticipated those real-life events.
  • The cast was trimmed for this season, and it’s helped in developing the stories. Each one is getting more time to breathe.
  • I enjoy the scenes with Aaron and his oncologist, Dr. Blaise. But Aaron’s memory problems are getting worse, and it’s getting scary.

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

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