‘The Good Doctor’ 2×11 Review: ‘Quarantine Part Two’

“Quarantine Part Two” picks up exactly where The Good Doctor left us in December:

  • A so-far fatal virus has the ER quarantined.
  • The people stuck in the quarantine include a bone marrow donor, a pregnant woman, and Dr. Park’s son, who’s having a severe asthma attack.
  • Dr. Lim has the virus and has passed out.
  • Morgan is in the middle of emergency surgery in a jury-rigged OR.
  • Melendez and Claire are trying to resuscitate a patient, ignoring his DNR.
  • Aaron has learned his tumor may be back.
  • Shaun is nearly catatonic on the ER’s floor.

That’s a lot to handle. Part Two does it amazingly well, with multiple unorthodox solutions. But all the medical MacGyverism is balanced by deeply emotional stories that reveal so much about the characters.

What Makes A Man?

The timing of this premiere is interesting. There’s a real-life flap right now over a recent report by the American Psychological Association. It says “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful,” negatively influencing physical and mental health.

This episode explores fatherhood and masculinity in a way that makes me wonder whether the writers read the APA report. Dr. Park is a poster boy for all those “traditional” ideas. Stoicism? He has trouble expressing his feelings to his teenage son Kellen, thanks to his own father’s advice to never show feelings. Competitiveness? Park spent one of Kellen’s baseball games studying for an exam. Dominance and aggression? Park used to be a cop, and occasionally falls back on techniques and thinking from his days on the beat.

Park’s not the only one suffering from “bad dad” syndrome. Bob the marrow donor was even more of an absentee dad. And Aaron is trying to be the ultimate stoic by not telling Shaun his cancer may be back.

A 1982 satire defined masculinity this way: “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” All of these men are products of thinking that you cannot have balance between showing your emotions and controlling them. Between competition and cooperation. And of thinking that you must always be dominant and aggressive, instead of sometimes letting otehrs take the lead.

The best of us know how to balance all of these things.

Breaking The Cycle Of Toxic Masculinity

Acting a certain way in the past does not mean someone cannot learn and change for the future. It just takes an open mind and a willing heart, as displayed when Park apologizes to his son. He explains his own father advised him to be like stone. He says he still hears that voice — as we all do. Park speaks for all of us when he says he’s still learning to mute that voice.

Some prodding from Lea gets Aaron to concede that suffering in silence doesn’t help anyone. He tells Shaun there’s a new problem — meningitis. But as Shaun says, it’s better than cancer. They wrap things up with a rare hug; rare for Shaun because his autism makes him uncomfortable with touch, rare for Aaron because he’s a product of “traditional masculinity.”

While encouraging Aaron toward nontraditional thinking, Lea also tries to soothe the soon-to-be dad’s guilt about not being with his wife. She points out that in the “old days”, fathers always waited outside. His replies that today, we know better. That leads Lea to ask a question: Does he think his grandfather loved his father any less because he wasn’t in the delivery room?

The question is never answered, but of course it’s “no.” Parental love is not defined by what happens in the first few minutes or even the first few weeks of life. It is defined by the sum total of what happens over a lifetime. Sometimes parents fall short of the mark. But our love is not defined by our success and failure rates, either. It is defined by our continuing efforts to understand our children and help them to their full potential.

Real Men learn. They talk. They show love.

(And they eat quiche if they damn well want to.)

Other Notes

  • The fate of Bob the marrow donor felt like a gut punch, and I wept for him. I was especially touched that he knew the marrow had made it to his son before he went into cardiac arrest — he knew things were going to be OK.
  • I also cried over Shaun’s first delivery, a Christmas miracle. (And since San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital is named for TWO saints, miracles do seem appropriate.)
  • It was good to see much more focus on Shaun in this episode, and especially on his coping mechanisms in the midst of chaos.
  • Last spring I never would have believed I could become so sympathetic to Morgan, but I really hurt for her as she processed the death of the paramedic. And I have to admire her ingenuity first in helping get Shaun focused once more, and then in saving Dr. Lim’s life.
  • I also found myself admiring Dr. Andrews more as he helped Melendez figure out a MacGyver-worthy way to do the bone marrow transplant.
  • So, Melendez and Lim will be a thing? I think I like that idea.
  • I don’t like Aaron as a grumpy old man. But I know serious illnesses mean serious mood swings and behavior changes.
  • I did like Park’s practical solutions to problems in the ER. Not enough doctors? Steal a stun gun and threaten your way into the quarantine zone. No nebulizer for your asthmatic son? Jury-rig one. A buzzing light bothering a colleague? Smash it.

  • One other thing I liked, because I grew up in San Jose: Shaun’s calming technique took him along an actual bus route I took as a teenager. It was nice to start off with that little taste of home.

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

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