The Good Doctor: Season 2/ Episode 9 “Empathy” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Claire looking stunned.
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Dr. Andrews finally decides who will be chief of surgery as the residents deal with emotionally, and morally, challenging patients.

Director(s)Joanna Kerns
Writer(s)Karen Struck
Air Date11/26/2018

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You Don’t Know What It’s Like To Be Me: Lea, Shaun, Dr. Glassman

With Dr. Glassman failing Shaun’s memory test he takes his license. In fact, he goes beyond just taking it but threatens to tell the DMV about Dr. Glassman’s memory issues. Making it so it would likely be impossible to get his license back. Leading to Dr. Glassman feeling rather perturbed with Shaun. Someone who doesn’t get the freedom driving gave Dr. Glassman and how, after the surgery, it was one of the last things he had which made him feel like himself.

So, since Shaun is trying to learn empathy, he asks of Lea to teach him to drive. Something which, of course, is easier said than done. For even with Lea knowing how to speak Shaun, he doesn’t fully speak Lea. Yet, things get good enough where Shaun does have some comfort level in driving. Certainly not on the highway, but good enough to take Dr. Glassman to his radiation appointments.


Shaun learning how to drive.

At this point, any and all idea of Shaun and Lea I see not happening for a whole other season – if at all. I think, at this point, the idea is having Shaun catch up on the basics before sending him down that rabbit hole. I’d even bet you Lea is going to find a boyfriend, who isn’t Shaun, before the season is over. That may end up being the trigger for Shaun thinking he is ready for a relationship too.

Now, where and who is this person? Honestly, I’m coming to the point of hoping a guest star versus someone established. It just feels like if Lea, Claire, whoever, had romantic feelings for Shaun, they would have been acted upon by now. So while I get the wishful thinking, I’m guilty of it as well, I think we may have to move on and accept it’ll likely be someone new.

The Problems With Empathy: Shaun, Dr. Park, Morgan, Claire

One of the constant things this show deals with is how much should things be done based off affordability and science, and what should be done based on empathy. Take a patient who is having pedophilic thoughts. Do you bypass the legalities of getting them castrated, which they want, or have them do the process? How do you weigh them fearing that they may do something that could harm themselves or a child, vs. your own feelings? Perhaps your own prejudice?

Also, what if it isn’t something of the mind like that but of the physical? A deformity which has nothing to do with why they are in the hospital but can be fixed and you feel that their insurance will cover it? Do you do a medically unnecessary, even risky, surgery just because it may mentally or emotionally make the person feel better? Being that you aren’t a mental health doctor, should that even be your concern?

While one of the biggest fears in the series has been losing a patient and the weight that leaves you with, there is also the issue of you doing too much or too little. For sometimes it isn’t just a tumor, a bad lung, or something like that which is required to give your patient their papers and feel good about it. Sometimes you have to overstep and not just trust the ailment, but also perhaps something deeper than any scalpel could reach.


Shaun asking if empathy is required to be a good doctor?
Shaun: Do you need empathy to be a good doctor?

Whatever happened to that doctor Claire saw when she accidentally killed someone? A part of me feels, with Dr. Lim noting she is a trauma surgeon, it would be nice if we heard more about people’s specialties and saw them in action. For example, what was everyone’s focus in med school again? Is everyone just a general surgeon and practitioner at this point?

That thought aside, a part of me feels like this topic has been done enough times that we aren’t getting anything new out of it. We know Claire feels too much and Shaun can be a bit too blunt with patients. It is established that Dr. Park and Morgan can be good with patients but not the best co-workers. I’m all for reminders, since my memory isn’t the best out there, but we’re talking about core aspects of these characters and we’re not getting much deeper. All we are doing is giving their take on different scenarios to see how rooted they are in their point of view.

And The Chief of Surgery Is: Dr. Lim, Dr. Melendez, Dr. Andrews

The topic of who will be chief of surgery has been off and on forgotten like the hospital not being able to hire every resident in the cast. It’s something we’ve been reminded of but not consistently treated as a big deal. That changed this episode and we saw Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez’s old rivalry flare up. Unfortunately, though, Dr. Andrews plays them both and pretty much says he’ll take on the role of President and Chief of Surgery. Not for the time being but seemingly on a permanent basis.


Dr. Andrews announcing he will stay on as Chief of Surgery.
Dr. Andrews: […] to retain the title myself.

Well, that was anti-climatic. A lot could have come from Dr. Andrews naming someone but I guess he doesn’t have to. Though, lest we forget, it isn’t like the show has shown him doing either job all that much. Never mind showing how stressed he might be trying to juggle both positions. Instead, he disappeared for most of the season and reminded us the position was technically open. There wasn’t his wife talking about how she never sees him or how hard it would be to have a child with him rarely home.

Heck, when it comes to Dr. Lim v. Dr. Melendez, the competition has been passive and Dr. Andrews, just this episode, decided to watch them in action like he was going to make a decision. So maybe it was only right this flopped. It’s the kind of storyline maybe they were thinking about making a big deal but, since it didn’t pan out well long term, they just put this to bed. Either to be revisited or to make a done deal.


  1. Shaun learning to drive.

On The Fence

  1. The show seems to be on its way to sputtering a bit. Most of the characters have a foundation but development beyond that has been a little scarce. We get little tidbits about friends, family, and things like that, but we’re not getting big moments. That is, flashbacks, episodes focused on one character and really fleshing them out, or even anything new to break the forthcoming monotony of everyone’s routine.

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Season 2/ Episode 9 “Empathy”

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Season 2/ Episode 2 “Middle Ground”

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Season 2/ Episode 3 “36 Hours”

Things get a bit heated as Claire and Nurse Flores become assertive and the men in power positions not only question their judgement but say borderline offensive things.

Season 2/ Episode 1 “Hello”

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Season 1/ Episode 1 “Burnt Food”

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Season 1/ Episode 2 “Mount Rushmore”

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Season 1/ Episode 3 “Oliver”

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Season 1/ Episode 13 “Seven Reasons”

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Season 1/ Episode 16 “Pain”

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Season 1/ Episode 18 “More”

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About Amari Sali 3365 Articles
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.


  1. Hmm, though I don’t agree with Dr. Andrews decision I’m not surprised by it and feel it comes from a place of ego.

    I believe in time he’ll find it really challenging working both positions.
    If/when that happens it’ll be great seeing how his wife, and him are progressing in their marriage because that storyline just got dropped.

    I’ll also, like Dr. Glassman to recover fully; reclaiming his position. Otherwise what’s the point of him being on the show. Plus I really enjoy d him and that women getting to know each other, and would like it to develop into a healthy/loving relationship. I believe it’ll be good for Dr. Glassman.

    • I don’t foresee Dr. Glassman ever getting to be president again. As for the point of him being on this show? It is being the closest thing to a father figure Shaun ever had. On top of that, he is the only person from Shaun’s past, before becoming a doctor, who has a active role in his life.

      Hopefully though, with him being humbled episode by episode, he may get over seeming and being vulnerable and open up his heart to Debbie.

      • I am very curious to see which way they go with the Chief of Surgery position. It could go either way – Dr. Andrews naming himself because he is full of himself and then that ends up negatively affecting his home life; OR he names himself because the writers didn’t like the long term ramifications of Lim or Melendez getting the position. You both make good arguments that now I’m not sure which one it is. I guess we’ll see this spring. I did laugh when Shaun won all of the money in the pool :)!

        I like Shaun and Lea’s relationship the way it is. I’m very pleased that the writers have come up with ways for them to be “just friends” and do fun things together without Shaun calling Lea “my girlfriend” anymore. And I really like your idea of having a guest star be Lea’s boyfriend. I guess I’m not ready for Shaun and Lea to hook up because it is only the 2nd season of this show. That’s a dumb reason, but I want to watch them be friends longer, and maybe even see Shaun date a nurse at the hospital before he and Lea get together.

        I agree with you that the show is starting to sputter. I found your comment about their specialties very interesting. Seriously, do all 4 of them want to study general surgery?! None of them want to do anything else? Besides that, I think the episode was a little repetitive when portraying the interns, and they need to shake things up after the break to avoid any sophomore slump!

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