The Good Doctor: Season 3 Episode 17 “Fixation” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Dr. Lim and Max (Luke Slattery) in the hospital chapel.
Dr. Lim and Max (Luke Slattery)

Community Rating: 91.67% (4) | How This Number is Tabulated


In “Fixation,” Shaun turns his hyperfocus onto his relationship with Lea as Kellan returns, and so does Claire’s old friend Dash.

Directed ByLisa Demaine
Written ByJessica Grasl, Debbie Ezer
Aired (ABC)3/2/2020
Introduced This Episode
MaxLuke Slattery
WesHarold Perrineau
AliceEver Carradine

 Plot/ Recap

A Series Of Unfortunate Events With A Silver Lining: Max, Wes, Alice, Owen, Dr. Lim, Shaun, Morgan, Alex

For Shaun, the case of Alice, who has been struggling with doing something as simple as sitting up, is a hard thing to diagnose. Mind you, she has 5 years of medical records, has been through a litany of tests, and so much more. Yet, as always, Shaun being a savant leads to him, in a matter of days, finding solutions other medical professionals didn’t.

But, side-eye to the quick fixes Shaun miraculous comes up with aside, the case Morgan and Alex have isn’t so simple. It deals with a man, named Wes, who mentors at-risk male youth. All of which are in the hospital with him, see him almost as a father figure. But the one who actually gets to have notable lines is Max. He is 16, but emancipated, and while Morgan looks down on him as she does the other youths, his passion and volunteering to donate his kidney even gets her in her feelings.

Alice (Ever Carradine) in her hospital bed.
Alice (Ever Carradine)

Heck, even Alex, who can be as icy as Morgan sometimes, he seems moved. However, while they support the one, of many, surgeries Wes needs, Dr. Lim ultimately shuts it down. Max is 16, and sans the role of a hospital lawyer, since that aspect was cut when Jessica left the show, Dr. Lim decides it just isn’t worth it. Not only because of the legal aspect but considering the various complications, she can’t live with that. So, she informs Wes of the truth and uses his support to deliver Max the kind of lie so that he won’t make a scene and will accept Wes might struggle for a while.

The Return Of Familiar Faces: Dash, Kellan, Alex, Claire

Do you remember Dash? The husband to Claire’s friend, Kayla, we met in Season 2/ Episode 7? Well, Kayla is dead now and seemingly to fulfill her wish, he genuinely asks Claire out and while they stay in and attempt to cook, that awkwardness from last time isn’t there. Now, as for how Dr. Melendez feels about this? Well, there is a hint of jealousy but not enough to say he officially threw his hat in to win Claire’s heart.

Also, Kellan returns, and we learn he suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Two things Alex didn’t know since he lives so far away and Kellan masks how he really is so his dad won’t worry.

Some Problems Cannot Be Fixed: Lea, Shaun

Between usually being able to diagnose what is wrong with patients, and the amount of work Carly put into her relationship with Shaun, it seems he is under the impression he can solve the problems Lea predicts they will have. However, the issue isn’t Shaun having the toilet paper one way or how he stacks cans, it seems what is both endearing to Lea might be what keeps her from wanting to take things further – Shaun being autistic.

This is something she danced around in the last episode, but after trying to be nice to Shaun and let him down easy, she realizes she has to be harsh. Otherwise, as the episode title implies, he would get fixated and go beyond testing the possibility of a relationship but potentially test their friendship. Though considering how Shaun reacts to hearing Lea admit his autism is a major obstacle, who knows if Shaun sees Lea as a friend anymore.

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Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

Shaun nudging Claire.


  1. So should we add Dr. Lim calling her mother to the dropped potential storylines list?

 Review/ Commentary


Lea Still Rejecting Shaun

Lea rejecting Shaun.

In the kindest way, I’m happy Lea is remaining firm in rejecting Shaun. To me, I feel like Shaun has been put on such a path where there is no obstacle he can’t surmount that Lea proving herself to not be an obstacle, but a person is necessary. She doesn’t like Shaun romantically and, unfortunately, it is due to one of the qualities she likes in him as a person.

It brings back the whole concept that, on shows like this and “Atypical,” there is this romanticizing of certain features that are commonly associated with people who have autism, but it doesn’t dig into the day to day, the meltdowns, fixations, and perhaps the tantrums. All of which Lea can handle in a friend capacity when she can walk away but knows she can’t commit to in a relationship.

Hence her need to push she is selfish and things like that. In my mind, that is her saying that she isn’t willing to go through the compromises and all we saw Carly do in order to make things work. Lea simply wants chemistry and things to be chill. Hence why she is single now. Overall, Lea enjoys that honeymoon period and doesn’t want to deal with the fights, yelling, people hurting her feelings, and perhaps them going away after.

I’d say, when it comes to Lea, she is the prime example of how much characters suffer because what they need is a friend, and to obtain that they allow themselves to become someone’s significant other. A path I think Lea has been on enough that, with Shaun, she doesn’t want to repeat that.

The Guest Stars This Episode

After a certain point, you catch on to a show’s tricks and make it so they have to escalate things. For example, throughout most of the first season, I was crying left and right thanks to the guest stars. However, with knowing how “The Good Doctor” operates, I’ve usually been able to keep my composure.

Wes (Harold Perrineau) in his hospital bed.
Wes (Harold Perrineau)

But, Max, his love for Wes and hearing his story, alongside him breaking down to Dr. Lim, that got me. I wasn’t bawling tears but was getting teary-eyed since, if there is one thing this show doesn’t give us too much is passion. Because of their work, most of the doctors are stern and methodical. Making it so, outside of Shaun, the only time we see the majority of them becoming passionate is due to their ego. Specifically wanting validation for a diagnosis or surgical procedure – almost all purely work-related.

Which is why when characters like Max come on and show a sense of selflessness, a sense of vulnerability that doesn’t come from potentially feeling like they are a failure because they aren’t good at their job, it hits different. It forces you to remind yourself that while things usually go well for the characters you see day in and day out, their patients aren’t always so lucky, or their loved ones. Thus making each death or inability to cure more impactful than when Shaun pulls a procedure out of nowhere.

On The Fence


While “The Good Doctor” has downsized season to season by either eliminating characters, like Jessica, basically writing them off, like Allegra, or making them people we rarely see, like Kellan, it still feels bloated. Which, when I first was writing this section made me want to repeat the usual, “Can we please stop trying to make Alex’s family a thing?” But, perhaps the issue isn’t so much Alex and his family who I just personally am not invested in. It is more so feeling that too many storylines on this show are started and let go, which makes Kellan showing up frustrating.

Take, for instance, Dr. Lim calling her mom in the last episode. There was so much excitement that came from the possibility of meeting her family, maybe seeing where she is from, and so much more, it makes Kellan taking up all this screen time just bad timing. For I think I constantly forget this show isn’t an ensemble and that Dr. Lim and the rest will never catch up with Shaun, in terms of development. At best, we’ll get like we saw this episode where, after more than a season, a character we were introduced to, Dash, returns without any fanfare or marketing. And, at worst, like with Dr. Lim calling her mom or Morgan’s grandpa, and we’ll add Dr. Melendez’s sister to boot, you’ll get a nod that people not named Shaun Murphy have lives, but never the spotlight they deserve.

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Lea Still Rejecting Shaun - 90%
The Guest Stars This Episode - 89%
Kellan - 70%


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