The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 2 “Middle Ground” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Paul helping Shaun navigate knowing when to lie and when to not.
Paul (Faustino Di Bauda): Lies don't protect you from the truth.
100% (2)

With Lea back, combined with Dr. Glassman’s diagnosis, and Dr. Melendez deciding to test Shaun’s bedside manner, something is bound to give.


Network
ABC
Director(s)Steve Robin
Writer(s)David Shore
Air Date10/1/2018
Characters Introduced
Dr. BlaizeLisa Edelstein
MaraCamille Hyde
PaulFaustino Di Bauda

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You Stubborn Old Man: Dr. Glassman, Shaun, Dr. Ko, Dr. Blaize

Dr. Glassman, at this point, is stalling. As you can imagine, after living as long as he has, you’ve grown used to things being a certain way. Add in that he is a doctor, and that makes it so the risks are not lost on him and he can’t be BS into false hope. However, Dr. Blaize, his oncologist, grows tired of him being so picky over every last detail so she gives him an ultimatum: Two days to pick your surgeon or I’m out. Thus forcing him to pick Dr. Ko.

Leaving the only thing to do is handle Shaun who wants to be there for Dr. Glassman but doesn’t know how. For most of the episode, he is trying to learn to lie but isn’t sure when it is necessary or not. Plus, with the relationship he has with Dr. Glassman, there is the need to question if lying is something he wants to be part of their communication. So, instead, both deliver their hearts, a bit unfiltered, and without pretense. Thus leading to Dr. Glassman revealing some semblance of his fears to Shaun and Shaun trying to reassure Dr. Glassman that he’ll be okay.

Commentary

In the preview for next week, above, Dr. Glassman’s daughter is heard. Hinting she may be returning to the show. To me, that is probably more interesting than Dr. Ko cutting his brain up and the medical jargon which is sure to come with the procedure. For there remains so much to know about Maddy and with Jessica gone, now only Dr. Glassman can tell her story. A story which sets up why Dr. Glassman invested so heavily in Shaun and could setup us seeing their early years together.

Female Genital Mutilation: Mara, Dr. Lim, Dr. Andrews

Mara asking Dr. Lim for help.
Mara (Camille Hyde): Will you help me?

Remember when Claire had the tough decision of following the Hippocratic oath or letting a racist suffer, possibly die? Well, Dr. Lim doesn’t have a decision which goes that far but it is a bit of a moral conundrum. The issue at hand is a 16-year-old Mara, of Kenya descent, experienced a home done female genital mutilation procedure when she was 2. Now, being that Dr. Lim is American, and the custom she considers barbaric, naturally, she doesn’t agree with what happens in Mara’s family. So, to the best of her abilities, she ignores the legal issues of operating on a minor to remove 14 years of scar tissue.

Leading to the next issue: There are still enough nerve endings around Mara’s clitoris for her to feel pleasure. Problem is, at this point Mara can’t be snuck in and out and Dr. Andrews has to be involved, as well as child protective services. Not to forget, Mara’s parents. Leading to Dr. Lim wanting to take a stand and Dr. Andrews questioning why she is risking losing the opportunity to become chief of surgery, never mind losing her job, over this?

The answer? Well, when she was 15, she was fooling around with some boy and she got struck. Her father tried to control her sexuality. So, in a way, this feels personal. Hence why, despite what the parents say, and Mara tells her twice, when it is time to do a second surgery, because the exposed nerves are causing pain, Dr. Lim creates a clitoris hood rather than remove the nerve endings. Something which Mara thanks her for.

Commentary

Mara laying back, in pain.

Can we just begin by questioning how was this paid for? How exactly would Dr. Lim get away with doing the surgery, which requires an anesthesiologist, among others, and it just going under the radar? I’m sure the hospital has certain money set aside for possible pro bono jobs, but this was supposed to be a secret. One I’m surprised both Morgan and Dr. Park didn’t spill. Morgan especially since she loves throwing people under the bus. But, I guess this is part of her learning what it means to be a team player. Realizing your two cents isn’t always required and that sometimes you don’t need to shield yourself and make sure any damages reflect onto your peers.

But can we also question the fact Mara was just put under and woken up like a light switch? I don’t know much about putting people under, but it seemed, considering the patients we’ve seen, this method probably should have been used for every patient. I mean, how nice would it be if they got put into a nice, painless, nap, while the doctors plan and bicker on what to do? Only to wake the patient up when they are given their options. Which, again, pushed the need to question how much does having something like that done cost the hospital?

Though the big to do here might be Dr. Lim acting against her patient’s wishes, and attacking a rite of passage done in many countries. Not to imply I support it, but with how it was approached, I wish when Mara’s mother spoke up about it she pushed the meaning behind it further. For the way it was left just makes it seem like something backwards that only gets done because of tradition. Which didn’t settle right with me for it came from Dr. Lim in a rather pompous manner.

Oh, and one more thing, Is Dr. Andrews trying to make becoming the next Chief of Surgery a competition? Also, is it one which is strictly internal, or could Dr. Coyle be up for it too? Not to make talking about him a consistent thing, but also in next week’s preview is Claire being in trouble for being more assertive. So, I’m trying to imagine them picking up that storyline of taking Dr. Coyle down. Especially since it got left with Claire finding other victims and the show leaving things at that – quite abruptly.

To Lie or Tell The Truth: Dr. Melendez, Paul, Claire, Shaun, Lea

With Lea sleeping at Shaun’s apartment, and him feeling abandoned by her, he avoids her as much as possible. Even to the point of picking up on a maintenance worker’s skin and tongue looking weird and pushing the idea he has pancreatic cancer. Because, you know, finding minor things which makes someone seem strange means we should test them for tumors. But, to Dr. Melendez’s surprise, Shaun did pick up on Paul having pancreatic cancer. Which, unfortunately for Paul, is in stage 3.

Though, to make things worse, with the hospital being a teaching hospital, Paul, and his family, are subject to Shaun’s bedside manner and him learning how to lie. Which, luckily for the hospital and Shaun, Paul seems used to Shaun enough to not take offense to what he says or how he handles things. It doesn’t lessen the effect of the diagnosis, but at least Shaun doesn’t get yelled at.

However, there comes a point where Claire has to be tagged in as an attempted surgery, a Whipple procedure, fails. Thus leading to Paul’s death. Also, it means Shaun doesn’t have the distraction which kept him from dealing with Lea. Someone who he goes off on and basically asks to leave. Not just his apartment but maybe his life.

Commentary

Shaun addressing his feelings with Lea.
Shaun: You went away, and it hurt!

Um, wasn’t Lea keeping in contact with Shaun by phone? I can swear he talked about them still being in contact last season. Did something happen or is my memory false? Because the blow up to me seemed rather off. Unless his feelings about Dr. Glassman dying are being misplaced and Lea is taking the brunt of it. Perhaps because, while she kept in contact, she wasn’t physically accessible which meant Shaun didn’t have the support he so desperately needed. Never mind that, when she left, he ended up getting used by the person who moved into her old apartment.

So maybe that is the issue? Her leaving set up a chain of bad things happening and her being back doesn’t rewind the clock. It just gives him something he knows he shouldn’t invest his time in despite how badly he knows he needs someone. Because, at this point, as kind as Claire is, she is a work friend. There is no pursuit of hanging with Shaun outside of work and, again referring to next week’s preview, maybe Shaun doesn’t see her as a friend. Maybe he thinks Claire is just someone in a constant state of trying to figure him out, someone who treats him with kid gloves because her knowledge of autism isn’t strong?

Not to be pessimistic about the relationships Shaun has, but it is becoming clear to me his trust is as easy to gain as it is to lose. That is, alongside him knowing who can truly be relied on and who needs to be handled at arm’s length. At least for his own mental and emotional protection.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. With Dr. Glassman being set up for a flashback, or at least someone of his past, Maddy, showing up, could that mean we may get flashbacks for Claire, Dr. Melendez, Morgan, and others? We didn’t really get that in season 1.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

I can’t believe people ever lie. There are so many questions people might ask you but if you tell the truth, you already know the answers.
— Shaun

Lies don’t protect you from the truth.
— Paul

I can’t be honest if I don’t know how I feel.
— Shaun

When the truth can’t help someone, we should lie.
— Shaun

Highlights

  1. Glassman finally letting other doctors do their job but also being real with Shaun about his fears.
  2. Andrews presenting the idea the job of Chief of Surgery is a competitive position.

On The Fence

  1. While you have to enjoy Shaun’s emotional development, there remains this need to question why is that just coming about now? Did nothing happen in med school, or before the events of the series, which could have triggered the same need to question when to lie? Never mind abandonment issues?
  2. Though something hard to defend, it would have been nice if Mara’s family presented genital mutilation as something beyond just being a tradition.
  3. Shaun going off on Lea, considering I could swear they kept in contact, has to be him blowing off steam right? Him saying to her what he feels would be wrong to say to Dr. Glassman.


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New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

4 Comments

  1. It’s days later, but I hope you’ll read this anyway. I agree with you that it would have been nice to have more of an explanation or defense of why they do genital mutilation. But what I really was annoyed with was how Lim, after being told “no” verbally by Mara twice, did the operation she wanted to anyway. Yes, it ended up being what Mara actually wanted, so yay I guess. But Mara said no, twice, so to me that meant no, not “yeah she said no, but her facial expression said ‘yes’, so I’m doing the other surgery”. So much for following the patient’s wishes.

        • Which she may do if she feels she’d be better off with Dr. Melendez as Chief of Surgery over her. Since it seems Dr. Andrews is going to make that into a competition. Hopefully giving Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez a decent arc this season.

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