The Good Doctor: Season 3, Episode 2 “Debts” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Shaun, Alex, Claire, Morgan and Dr. Lim as Dr. Lim decides who will get to lead their first surgery.
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Shaun continues to be pressed by everyone to give dating another chance as Dr. Andrews tries to embrace his demotion.


Network
CTV/ABC
Director(s) Mike Listo
Writer(s) Peter Noah
Air Date 9/30/2019
Introduced This Episode
Josh Mik Byskov
Olivia Tina Georgieva

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Recap

A Fight For Prominence: Morgan, Alex, Dr. Lim

Since we’ve met Morgan, she has dedicated herself to finding a way to be the top by either underhanded means or trying to present herself as having a strong work ethic. After all, she doesn’t have much else beyond her pursuit of being a doctor.

Unlike nearly everyone else, she doesn’t have friends and family who are consistent presences in her life. So, to justify how alone she is, partly by her own doing, she tries to appease Dr. Lim with gifts and advocate for herself. However, with Dr. Lim discouraging gifts and pleads, she fails to secure the first opportunity to lead a surgery. That goes to Claire.

Question(s) Left Unanswered
  1. What happened to Morgan’s grandfather that we saw at the end of the last episode?
  2. With the way Morgan has increasingly been looking at Alex, does she perhaps have feelings for him?

The Balance of Being Selfish & Selfless: Dr. Lim, Dr. Andrews, Josh, Shaun, Olivia

A major demotion, working for your former pupil, and also making less money – Dr. Andrews has fallen from grace and all for a person he, just in season 1, wanted to fail so he could become president. Yet, times have changed, and Dr. Andrews is trying to change with them. It’s just difficult for he is so used to being selfish, thinking like a president advocating for the hospital, more than any patient or employee, that he seems unsure if he is regressing or evolving.

Yet, as he faces Dr. Lim to help a virtuous patient named Josh, with Shaun by his side, it seems he understands his sacrifice wasn’t for naught. For after Josh saves a young girl named Olivia from being groped, and nearly loses his ability to speak and eat solids, shouldn’t he be fought for? To not be treated just like everyone else considering not everyone would step up for another person?

Question(s) Left Unanswered
  1. How does Dr. Andrews’ wife feel about all this?

You Gotta Get Back Into The Saddle: Shaun, Lea, Debbie, Claire, Breeze, Dr. Glassman, Carly

While Shaun would love to focus on helping Josh be able to speak and eat again, everyone keeps bringing up the date with Carly. Lea tries to push him not to give up, Debbie coerces Dr. Glassman to tell Shaun to keep going, but the person who breaks through is Claire.

As always, Claire’s empathy allows her to reach Shaun in ways other people can’t. For while she can very much be assertive, she knows how the empathize with Shaun in a way that doesn’t make him feel like he is being manipulated but treated as a person. Perhaps with some regards to how autism influences his decision making, yet not treating it as something which provides Shaun with a handicap. It is simply something that makes him different.

So, taking note of their interaction, Shaun seems willing to try. Plus, after Carly, on her own, comes to Shaun’s apartment, asking for clarification on what went wrong on their date, since she enjoyed it, he takes note Claire’s advice that the best dates don’t have to be the fanciest. They can just be a bag of chips and quality time.

But, despite Claire giving wonderful advice to Shaun, she still struggles with her mom. Someone who would be homeless without Claire. Though with Breeze off her meds, infrequently seeing her doctor, Dr. Donovan, she initially wants their time together short. However, that is her mom, and perhaps like Morgan, there is a recognition that the opportunity to grow is key, and while Breeze is far from perfect, she is trying.

Review

Highlights

Shaun and Carly Back On

You can’t downplay the importance of Shaun dating. In terms of representation, it is like when the patient saw someone like him was a doctor. Also, while this is a work of fiction, there is enough respect given to Shaun as a character to never push him beyond what he is capable of. But, alongside that, there is the constant reminder that Shaun isn’t the typical person with autism and that they vary in abilities.

Yet, that doesn’t negate seeing him, or the roommates turn couple from last season finding love either among someone in their community or with someone atypical.

Realizing All Morgan Has Is Her Work

While we did see Morgan have a friend last season, unlike the majority of the characters, we aren’t familiar with her outside of the hospital. We know of a grandfather and parents, she was into sports during high school, but we don’t see Morgan having a life outside of work. Which pushes you to wonder why she may fear developing more than a professional network?

Is it because of how she lost Tyler last season? A side effect of her upbringing? Realizing how much she isolated herself in trying to compete with everyone? What gives? Heck, could it be that, after being paired with him so much, she has developed feelings for Dr. Park and is afraid to express them? So rather than pursue them, talk about them, possibly get hurt by him, she shuts herself off? Making it so, while she is at least cordial now, there is still a bit of a wall?

Claire Giving Her Mother Another Chance

Breeze has been a pain in Claire’s side since her introduction. Also, she has been the source for our understanding of why Claire is reserved, empathetic, yet also struggles with getting close to people. So one can only hope in possibly healing her relationship with Breeze, Claire may find her life renewed.

After all, it has been quite some time since Jared, and she broke up, and it would be nice for her, like so many on the show, to not daydream about past loves but find something new. If not, at the very least, a proper friend whom they spend time with outside the hospital.

Carly’s Reflection On Dating Shaun

Carly confronting Shaun at his apartment.

Carly reveals her little sister Andi has autism, thus joining Dr. Melendez in having a younger sister with a development condition. But, what makes Carly bringing this up of interest is her confronting how it might have affected her feelings towards Shaun. Specifically, the idea she was trying to prove something or, maybe, deal with her own bias?

With her being so upfront and honest, it leads you to see a side not shown when we see a character, usually a woman, take interest in an autistic person. For often, like on Atypical, they romanticize how honest to a fault the guy is, but don’t challenge their feelings for them. At least in a way which recognizes the questions viewers would have and even confronts their bias and ignorance.

For, let’s take note: Carly is shy, yes, but otherwise atypical. She has a good job, is youthful, and her main issue may only be not putting herself in social situations. So for her to not only accept Shaun randomly showing up to her apartment, but accepting a date from him, it has to get your wheels turning. Not to say Shaun isn’t a catch, but she surely knows about his saga with Dr. Han, his sometimes tumultuous relationship with Dr. Glassman and with her having a sister with autism, there has to be certain expectations.

The kind that, just as Shaun has dispelled assumptions about what it means to be autistic, one can only hope Carly will provide a real, day to day, look at what it means to love, and be loved, romantically, with someone who has autism.

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