‘The Good Doctor’ 2×13: ‘Xin’

According to Wikipedia, “In Chinese philosophy, xin can refer to one’s ‘disposition’ or ‘feelings…’ or to one’s confidence or trust in something or someone… Literally, xin refers to the physical heart, though it is sometimes translated as ‘mind’ as the ancient Chinese believed the heart was the center of human cognition.”

All of these things are in play in this episode of The Good Doctor, right down to a physical (albeit mechanical) heart. The doctors and their patients confront dispositions, feelings and trust.

Disposition: A person’s inherent qualities of mind and character

Google’s definition of “disposition” doesn’t seem too flexible. If something is inherent, it cannot change. In one of “Xin’s” storylines, a daughter doesn’t believe the strict, critical mother she once knew (ironically named “Sunny”) could ever become loving and caring. Then Grace is confronted with that very change. She sees Sunny smiling and interacting with another young woman, Teresa, who’s Grace’s age and calls Sunny “Mom.” It’s a twist on the love triangle trope, involving parental and filial love instead of romantic love.

The Dictionary.com definition of “disposition” fits better here. “The predominant or prevailing tendency of one’s spirits; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood; characteristic attitude.” It allows for what we are all capable of – change and growth. Predominant does not mean permanent. And while Sunny does fall into old patterns when she first sees Grace, she later admits to a softening of the stances that first drove Grace away. And with that, we begin to see a change in Grace. An acceptance that her mother wasn’t necessarily the bitter woman she’d thought.

It would be interesting to see these three women on Mother’s Day.

We also see change within the other medical story. It features an autistic patient, Lana, and her roommate Javi. Her male roommate, with whom she has sex. There’s a little time spent on some of the mannerisms and preferences that can come with being on the spectrum: sensitivity to light, schedule rigidity, a tendency to hyper-focus on certain subjects. (That last ends up being an important aid in Lana’s treatment.) But the more important part of the story focuses on Javi’s feelings for Lana. He has trouble expressing them — until he gets a little push from Morgan.

Feeling: Capacity for emotion

I am really enjoying this kinder, gentler Morgan Resnick. Even if she is just a tad pushy with Lana and Javi, trying to get them to define their relationship. But she does give Javi something to think about when she tells him that Lana makes his life better.

It’s also food for thought for Shaun, who’s been trying to sort his feelings for Lea. They have some extremely awkward moments when her new boyfriend stays the night…more than once. This is what Lea had been worried about when Shaun first pushed for them to be roommates. She’s trying to navigate this tough situation, but she’s working without a real map. When Shaun tells her she makes his life better, and she returns the sentiment, she has no idea Shaun was really saying he loves her.

Iceberg, dead ahead.

Trust: Confidence

Doctors traffic in trust. We trust them to treat our injuries and illnesses, whether of the body or of the mind.

But sometimes the trusted have trouble trusting. That seems to be Aaron’s problem as he suffers the side effects of chemotherapy. He spends most of the episode hiding his symptoms from Shaun. When the truth finally catches up to him, he sends Aaron away. It’s an echo of the strained relationship between Sunny and Grace. And in another echo, the two men reconcile in the final scene.

Aaron as a cranky patient rings so very truly. But I am worried that he may not get better after all.

Other Notes

  • I still love the gee-whiz nature of the medical problems. A problem with a mechanical heart? Brain surgery with the patient awake and talking? I’m continually surprised by the scenarios the writers create.
  • Nice little scene of Melendez and Lim in the elevator. And Andrews doesn’t seem to have caught on to their relationship.
THE GOOD DOCTOR – “Xin” – Dr. Shaun Murphy, Dr. Morgan Reznick and Dr. Audrey Lim treat a woman with autism and a delicate brain condition while navigating the complicated relationship she has with her roommate, who is also on the spectrum. Meanwhile, Lea and Shaun are still figuring out their friendship and roommate status on “The Good Doctor,” MONDAY, JAN. 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/David Bukach)
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ, CHRISTINA CHANG
  • Also a nice scene between Claire and Park, as he tells her that he and his ex are trying again, and she promises to be a supportive coworker.
  • Morgan is becoming remarkably empathetic this season. Still can’t believe this is the same character I hated a year ago!

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

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