TV Series

The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 12 “Teeny Blue Eyes” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

As Shaun and Lea come to a decision about having a child, another resident exits, Alex and Morgan confront their banter, and we get a patient who might bring you to tears.


Community Rating: 100% (4)


 


Director(s)Rebecca Moline
Writer(s)Peter Blake, Mark Rozeman
Aired (ABC)3/22/2021
Newly Noted Characters
Dr. ChambersChristian Clemenson

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.

Recap

This Thing Between Us – Alex, Morgan

After going back and forth, moving in together, and being fated by the writers, Alex and Morgan finally admit they have feelings for each other. And I’m already hoping this ends quickly once they get their pent-up frustrations out of their system.

Alex and Morgan before they kiss
Alex and Morgan before they kiss

All I Have Is All I Am – Dr. Chambers, Enrique, Claire, Dr. Andrews, Shaun

Of the two patients featured, Dr. Chambers leaves the biggest impression, for he shows and reminds us of a few things. In terms of reminders, due to his prejudice against Shaun being someone with ASD, we’re reminded of Shaun’s journey to where he is now. Be it going from suction to doing actual surgical procedures, some improvement on his bedside manner, and just gaining social skills that weren’t there in season 1.

Yet, alongside the reminder of Shaun’s journey, Dr. Chambers shows how some not only feel about people with ASD but the potential of being diagnosed with it. Specifically, Shaun picks up that Dr. Chambers has a lot of similar mannerisms and quirks as he does, so he brings up the idea Dr. Chambers has ASD. This is treated as an insult, that Dr. Andrews has to step in about, which does remind you, as much as Dr. Andrews may have appeared to evolve, it could be that he sees Shaun as an exception. Perhaps similar to how, as a Black man, some may see him as an exception.

However, you know The Good Doctor is a little rough when it comes to the topic of race, hence it being mentioned seldom. But, getting back on point, while Shaun is dealing with Dr. Chambers and a part of him identifying with him, Enrique is dealing with Dr. Chambers being all he doesn’t want to be.

You see, Enrique is very comfortable with who he is, but not so much the world around him. But, as both Dr. Chambers and Claire notes, you can’t just expect the world to change, and you remain static. Claire had to learn boundaries and step back, Shaun had to develop better communication skills, Dr. Andrews had to modify his approach when speaking to Shaun, rather than use a one method suits all technique. Everyone, either for the job or for their peers, had to change.

Enrique saying goodbye to Claire
Enrique saying goodbye to Claire

But, for Enrique, whether or not he finds himself having to change at all won’t be something we see. Why? Well, he is transferring to John Hopkins, and thus, yet another person Claire got close to is on their way out – the curse continues.

Getting back to Shaun, though, and his interaction with Dr. Chambers, what perhaps sums up why both have this push and pull relationship is because of fear. If you look at Dr. Chambers’ life, that potentially could have been Shaun. Someone tolerated for their brilliance, but because of too many fights with nurses, bad bedside manner, and lack of social skills, they had no friends, family, or life outside of work. And as shown in the past, Shaun didn’t seem to envision a lot of the life he has now. Be it friends, Lea, or even the potential of becoming a father.

This is why you can see and understand Dr. Chambers’ fears. This young man clearly has decent relationships with his co-workers and proves you can have ASD and still have normalcy. Shaun forces Dr. Chambers’ to face that, whether diagnosed with ASD or not, his life is solely about work due to his lack of effort. ASD is a potential diagnosis, but he can’t use it as a scapegoat, and with him being older and stuck in his ways, it seems Dr. Chambers has settled on the idea that the path he chose, it is what it is.

Though, to present a glimmer of hope, before Dr. Chambers leaves, he does show he could potentially be more than the curmudgeon man we met and is polite as he says his goodbyes.

A Milestone – Claire, Lea, Shaun

Both Shaun and Lea aren’t sure about having a kid. Lea’s reasonings range from her career, not being mentally ready, to ASD being inheritable, as she talks with Claire about. As for Shaun? Well, it is about the challenge of connecting with the child and the potential of them not having friends or bullied. For it isn’t lost on him that he could have a son who becomes just like Dr. Chambers.

Yet, despite going somewhere to get an abortion, it is decided that the pregnancy won’t be terminated. Thus, we should expect, likely in season 5, for Shaun to be a father!

Review

Highlights

Dr. Chambers & The Fear of Autism

We’re in a burgeoning generation that has learned to accept labels like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other diagnostics, whether given by a professional or otherwise, aren’t the end of the world. Many openly talk about it, put it in their social media bios, and while there might be shame during moments of struggle, the label itself gives them a sense of what’s going on, so there isn’t as much shame in knowing. When it comes to ASD, you could say it is in the same vein.

Take note, while often these people aren’t played by actors with ASD, from the multitude of men and a handful of women, we see more characters representing those on the spectrum. All of which show that being different doesn’t mean your life should adhere to ignorant people’s limitations.

As seen, despite Shaun not having the best social skills, as Claire noted, he adapted. Yes, often times awkwardly, with questions that made people uncomfortable. However, dealing with short-term discomfort has created long-term gains for Shaun, and while still curt with patients, he rarely comes off tactless.

Dr. Chambers (Christian Clemenson) talking to Shaun
Dr. Chambers (Christian Clemenson)

Yet, with Dr. Chambers, we’re reminded of why many formerly hid or refused to get diagnosed. Between what society would think and the prejudice you have internalized, a diagnosis was less of an explanation and more of a limitation. One that sets standards of living and expectations, rather than inform you of where you may need to work harder to develop what you want or need to develop your personal sense of normal.

This is why we probably got teary-eyed for you could easily see, as we were reminded of how Dr. Andrews and Dr. Melendez treated and have seen Shaun, he easily could have become like Dr. Chambers. Easily, Shaun could have foregone changing himself and stuck to his ways and became willing to live in the box people put him in. Maybe eventually getting to do surgeries, but having such a chip on his shoulder, expecting the worst from people, he doubled down on his knowledge to compensate for all else he brought to the table.

And when you think of the people who have gone undiagnosed with ASD, amongst other things, and now have lives that aren’t as full as they could be, it’s a bit heartbreaking, isn’t it?

Another Resident Bites the Dust

Perhaps it is mean to say getting close to Claire is the kiss of death for any character; however, there is a pattern forming. In the case of Enrique, it seemed between mentorship or a relationship, something could have blossomed between him and Claire. Though that storyline seemingly fell to the waste side, and now Enrique is leaving the show.

Now, we’ll admit we’re not really saddened by this loss since Enrique didn’t bring much to the table. Yes, he brought a different attitude to medicine, but beyond not dressing like most doctors do, what else was there? He didn’t have Jordan’s backstory or her morals that conflict with her work. Also, unlike Asher, there wasn’t this draw or mysteriousness that makes you want to learn more. Enrique just came off like the rebel without a cause, and the Claire relationship was similar to Alex’s with Morgan – it may have given the character a tether to the show but didn’t make them more essential.

Shade towards Alex aside, Enrique’s departure does make me wonder what will be done now with Asher and Jordan in the future? We haven’t really heard about how many residents the school may keep, nor even, when it comes to Shaun’s group, any of them being hired either. So should we expect replacements for those who left, or are the writers whittling down things until they have just enough new blood to make things interesting but not take away from the series regulars?

Shaun Is Going To Be A Father!

Lea and Shaun after it is decided Lea will have the baby
Lea and Shaun after it is decided Lea will have the baby

While we won’t likely get to see Shaun as a dad until season 5, this is a major development for the show! One that probably will bring much more life to it than bringing in a handful of new characters. For just how Shaun evolves, Lea, Dr. Glassman, and everyone else on the show, it could be just what The Good Doctor needs.

Low Point

Alex & Morgan

I’m sorry, but I really don’t see it. While Morgan has found a rhythm with nearly every character, to the point of being surprised she wasn’t an original cast member, Dr. Park remains an outlier. And just something about the kiss, the confession, all of it, seems like an act of desperation despite spending most of the season building up these two growing closer and having moments they’ve hung out in past seasons.

But, as shown with Dr. Glassman and Debbie, as well as many of the residents introduced early this season, The Good Doctor doesn’t seem to stick with storylines and characters that don’t work. Well, at least it seems when it comes to storylines and characters we find lackluster, they don’t seem to last.

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Summary

Dr. Chambers & The Fear of Autism - 85%
Another Resident Bites the Dust - 83%
Alex & Morgan - 67%
Shaun Is Going To Be A Father! - 88%

81%

With a baby on the way, a character's exit, and a new relationship, The Good Doctor is finding ways to keep things interesting.

What Would Your Rating Be?

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Negative  (0%) Mixed  (0%) Positive  (100%)

Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

8 Comments

  1. Maturity means behaving like an adult – a quality that is defined by social conventions in the end. Standards that are set by the neurotypical majority. The way to reach this state is learning. That is what Shaun is constantly doing since the pilot: he is learning to navigate the world neurotypicals have defined.

    Though, with Lea it is most evident that Shaun also changes the way how neurotypicals perceive and react to their surroundings. This is true to a lesser extend for all cast members who have learned to accept and appreciate Shaun’s differing perspective occasionally, but Lea has been willingly diving into Shaun’s world.

    This is an important distinction because on a meta level the showrunner and his writers are giving us a dramatized version of ASD/NT relationships that have been described in Tony Attwoods widely distributed book “The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome”: Lea admires Shaun for his honesty (first mention in 1.4 Pipes!) while Shaun loves Lea for bringing qualities into the mix he lacks due to his ASD – “Lea makes him more” (3.19 Hurt). Traits that many autistic men appear to seek in their partners are advanced social and maternal abilities. Lea often has acted impulsive, but she also was depicted as caring and being able to connect to Shaun by pure instinct. Without any obligation, Lea willingly took on the role of Shaun’s life skills coach in “Islands” that Glassman was desperately seeking for. She continued this role ever since their reconciliation in early season 2.

    This sort of symbiotic relationship can pose a serious threat for the mental health of the neurotypical partner, but it also can be very strong and nurturing. And a curious side effect can be the NT partner taking on traits of their autistic partner. Which the show has been hinting quite often for example by Lea joining Shaun’s habit of jumping when overjoyed (becoming roommates, first lead surgery) or making lists.

    So, while Shaun is diving into the neurotypical world and learning to discern and express his emotions in a way this world can understand, he is also graced with a significant other meeting him halfway. A quite desirable situation that not everyone on the spectrum is granted, as demonstrated with Dr. Chambers.

    The notion of advanced social and maternal abilities off course brings us straight to the other important female figure in Shaun’s life that is Claire. Claire possesses both in abundance and this is her boon and bane as she acknowledged this episode: “I used to get too emotionally involved in my work, with patients, everyone. And I had to learn to distance myself.”

    Again, Shaun and Claire come from the opposite sides of “a” spectrum here. While Shaun often struggles to get in touch with either his own emotions or those of others, Claire gets easily lost because there is too much emotion involved with her.

    Going numb of course has some appeal for her but as seen in season 3, this is a maladaptive behavior in the long run. Just as Shaun must balance his autistic traits (that make him selfish by default) with a neurotypical world, Claire must balance her urge to invest into people emotionally (that often makes her so selfless and adorable) with an underdeveloped sense for self-care. This was what Enrique meant when he said: “You’re always doing so much for other people. Please don’t forget to do something for yourself every now and then.”

    It is not about stopping being a doctor, it is about developing professional detachment. Again, the show is exploring a recurring theme of the season – work-life balance. An urging question for everyone in the health care industry, be it doctors, nurses, psychologists or else – you need to be able to let go at the end of the day. Undoubtedly, Claire has been a prime example of work-life *im*balance so far.

    On a last side note, since this comment has grown again quite long – a dying man trying to make last amends is a common trope in drama, but according to palliative care workers it is well grounded in reality; the prospect of near death does often set free powers unseen before in individuals. It is their last chance to do it right and they therefore pursue it. It’s just that the average person is rarely confronted with death in real life nowadays and sees this happen in works of fiction more often than with their family and peers.

  2. I would like to give Shaun some credit. He isn’t emotionally immature as much as he is still learning. Which is why things with Lea are going so well because Shaun doesn’t seem geared towards manipulation and I think has learned to not make it his way is the only way. Granted, he still works based on what he deems as logical, but I’d like to believe with Lea he is learning to lead more with feeling when it comes to his relationships. Hence when it came to her wanting her car back, yes he still paid the man, but his empathy has evolved to the point he understood and knew what Lea needed.

    So while Shaun might not be the best for snap decisions, in a relationship context, if given time, I do believe he is emotionally mature, as long as the other party isn’t trying to make a game out of the situation where one side has to lose.

  3. A part of me wants and needs Claire’s father to not have terminal cancer, because it reminds me too much of another show, 9-1-1 which had the same storyline. A deadbeat father returning to make amends just when he dies, and you feeling more like this is about addressing a hole in the characters life than the writers trying to fill it.

    And with Claire, as much as I recognize this show isn’t about who your friends are outside of the hospital, I’m continually pushed to want to see her happy. Because, increasingly, I don’t know if Claire likes beign a doctor. Add in what Enrique said to her, and I could see Claire possibly leaving for something which doesn’t ask of her to harden or change herself. Especially since going numb seems to be her speciality when the world is overwhelming her.

  4. Speaking of Claire and her romantic potential with Shaun in season 1 – Amari, you highlighted in your review of episode 4.08 that she started to call her superior Lim, the Chief of Surgery, by her first name, shortly before she tried to take her keys away. Along with “Audrey” complaining about being lectured by Claire, pushing her, and throwing the keys into a water fountain.

    Of course, Lim’s aggressive and impulsive behavior was totally in compliance with the symptoms of PTSD, but as the scene had been framed, Claire was put into the role of the responsible adult while Lim was throwing a tantrum like a child. It was no coincidence that this scene happened in an episode called “Parenting”. In this sense, the show was depicting Claire as someone who is prone to infantilize others. And this is not the first time.

    In 2.04 “Tough Titmouse”, Claire was caught between her 18-year-old rock climber and her parents. When the young women declined Claire’s proposal for a procedure that would immobilize her neck and end her sport (it probably didn’t help that the patient chose Morgan’s therapy proposal instead), Claire manipulated the parents to have her daughter declared mentally incompetent. Thus, leaving the women with a life-long disability, unable to perform her passion and so estranged to her parents that she never wanted to see them again.

    Claire is at her heart the healer and the caretaker. But she is also headstrong (she became that due to her unreliable mother) and manipulative (she learned that from her mother). Claire orchestrated a series of public meetings with officials of other hospitals just to rope Aoki and Andrews into reinstating her in Melendez’s team in season 2.

    Claire had all odds in life against her and came all the way by her own. Though, she is a petite Black woman. She was looked down and swept under often. What keeps her going is the idea of being morally superior.

    So, there is much evidence to support the idea that Claire would infantilize Shaun. Not at once. It would be a slow process. Claire has been friendly and supportive with Shaun (as long as she was not stressed; Claire can be a jerk when stressed). But she did that in her capacity as a colleague.

    When this line is crossed, when colleagues evolve into something emotionally intimate, as with Lim, Claire’s instinct to take the helm becomes more visible. Claire fears to be vulnerable, to be hurt as she has been hurt by her mother, thus she takes control as a preemptive measure.

    Jared was a physically imposing figure, and his emotional maturity matched his age. With Jared, Claire stayed in control by keeping him at distance, by keeping it casual. With Melendez, she stayed in control by manipulating him to be a father figure with romantic undertones despite all the heat he got from Lim. Shaun is still emotionally immature; he is by no means a match for Claire’s emotional needs – except taking care for someone.

    Claire might very well try to mold Shaun to her ideas and needs. She is a master manipulator and Shaun is a sitting duck in this regard (Kenny…). Though, when pressed too hard, this duck can strike back – Glassman’s cheek can attest.

    Thinking of it, of all possible pairings in the show, Claire is probably the worst match as far as Shaun’s agency is concerned. Morgan might not have respected him as a doctor when they first met, but she saw him as a likeable person and adult at least. Lea finally was quick to recognize that they both had to compromise and must work together to make their roommate agreement work.

  5. Technically, Claire sure is still the female lead of the show. The writers invest a lot in the character to keep her relevant and shine in meaningful, compelling stories. Yet, I also share your sentiment, Amari, that Morgan often is only second to Shaun when the script gives her the stage.

    The show is between a rock and a hard place here: there’s a finite number of minutes each episode on one side and then there’s a cast of well-established, distinct characters, portrayed by actresses that all have proven to carry a whole episode on their shoulders: 3.03 “Claire”, 4.06 “Lim” and Morgan in 3.13 “Sex and Death”. With season 4, we might even add Lea to that list. Although the character always is at the disadvantage of not being a medical doctor on a medical drama, her portrayer can capture the moment and the character needs to be expanded this season for Shaun and Lea forming a family.

    All of this has shrunk the space in which Claire can be presented and developed as a character. Some of this might have been avoided if the show had followed the usual approach of pairing the male and female lead – but just as you, Amari, I’m glad they did not!

    Claire is a character that seeks figures of authority (Melendez, Lim) but also often challenges them (Lim in season 1 & 4, Melendez in season 2). Shaun would have been a poor match for the demands Claire has for a romantic partner.

    Yet, giving both leads other romantic interests also meant that these had a limited shelf life. Otherwise, the cast would have grown disproportionately.

    Having said all of this, there’s one point in my own theory that gives me some headache: when Claire’s story still is to mirror Shaun’s, how to proceed once her traumas have been addressed and healed sufficiently?

    There’s none to choose from for a stable long-term relationship in the main cast. Melendez was a dead end because such superior/subordinate workplace relationships are not considered appropriate anymore. Asher is gay and her subordinate, Morgan still straight and rooting for Park now, and while some fans already ship a Claire/Lim romance, I can’t see that happen either for all the obvious reasons.

    It might very well be that Claire and Shaun’s stories will part ways very soon. Romantically, Claire has reached the end of the rope with the existing cast. All that is left for further character development is work-related. Or, with first-years dropping like flies, we might see the introduction of another recurring character soon.

    (There’s also the slim possibility that her father’s cancer is found not to be terminal so that Claire has the chance to develop a positive relationship with him now, but I’m not sure how far such a storyline would carry.)

  6. Taking note of what you said, considering the parallels, Claire probably still is the female lead, but the female lead of an ensemble cast headed by Shaun. But with Claire remaining Shaun’s opposite in a multutude of ways, physically and story wise, it seems she does maintain prominence.

    If I may say though, i’m glad the theory of her and Shaun being meant for each other died off over time. The more we got to know Claire, the more is seemed that if her and Shaun ever went down that road, it probably wouldn’t have last. And considering Shaun’s romantic interest was written off, and the woman he was starting to have a crush on too, this only adds that Claire and Shaun remain the leads since, once they are done with you, so seems the show.

  7. Claire’s curse, the kiss of death – there is a pattern there indeed. On the surface, this reminds me of a trope of Star Trek Deep Space Nine – the recurring “O’Brien Must Suffer!” episodes, that put poor Chief O’Brien through every misery the writers could come up with.

    Though, O’Brien was a sturdy and proud Irish man, while Claire is a petite woman of color which might cause doubts in a time more sensitive with such issues. But weighing ethnicity or gender only as one factor of many, it becomes clear to me that a basic principle of The Good Doctor might be that both the male and the female lead* of the show must undergo roughly the same tests of character.

    In season 1 for example, Shaun was confronted with ableism, courtesy of Drs. Melendez and Andrews, while Claire had to deal with sexism via Dr. Coyle and racism at the case of the Nazi robber in “Apple”. In the end, both characters had to fight prejudices against them. In season 3, both characters were confronted with the death of their abusive parent.

    The difference between Shaun and Claire is that Shaun has a pervasive developmental disorder, so that even small improvements of his social skills are enormous victories, while Claire is extraordinarily gifted with empathy and compassion. Therefore, her scenarios are usually at a different level of complexity than Shaun’s.

    But speaking of their abusive parents, Shaun’s father, and Claire’s mother – the parallels don’t stop there of course. Both also have a neglective parent. Yet, while Shaun’s mother stayed with her husband and thus Shaun could find some closure with her in “Friends and Family”, Claire’s father had vanished.

    Claire’s reconciliation with her mother was cut short by the car accident in “Claire” and was only completed recently in “We’re All Crazy Sometimes”. Albeit her father’s sudden appearance at her doorstep next episode feels random, it is only consequential for the narrative that now Claire gets her chance for closure with both parents, too.

    With Jordan’s line “Forgiveness isn’t for the one you’re forgiving, it’s for you” in the CTV promo and the fact that the father’s cancer seems to be terminal, there is a real chance now to close this chapter of Claire’s past and the character finally moving forward without leaving behind a trail of desolation.

    *) Clearly, Claire was created as female lead in season 1, but the character was somewhat diminished by the evolution of the series. Characters had to be written out because the performers wanted to leave (Jessica, Jared), causing ruptures in the cast; new strong female characters such as Lim and Morgan were added, and Lea was found to be a better match for Shaun long-term.

  8. Not only did I get teary eyes when I saw Christian Clemenson’s great job of conveying tragedy of an undiagnosed individual with ASD, but also when I read your take on it, Amari. Thank you for your sensitive review.

    Though, I can’t stop myself from providing some further information that might deepen the sadness of Dr. Cambers’ case further: even if he had wanted to pursue a diagnosis early in life, he would not have gotten one, or not right one at least.

    The mild manifestation of autism the character shared with Shaun did not become an official diagnosis before 1994, when it was incorporated into the DSM-IV by the name of Asperger’s syndrome – by that time Dr. Chambers would have been already in practice for quite a while (C. Clemensons was born in 1958). Only in 2013, the DSM-5 merged autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other pervasive developmental disorders into autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

    So, the drama of Dr. Chambers is that he never had the chance to be like Shaun, owning the diagnosis when he was young, and change would still have been easy. At retirement age, like Dr. Glassman, he has lived most of his life and it is understandable that he has a hard time now to accept the idea that he chose a life full of deprivation based on a wrong understanding of his neurological condition; that he was born too soon.

    For further details see also: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/evolution-autism-diagnosis-explained/

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