The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 2 “Frontline Part 2” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

As we end the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Good Doctor, we lose cast member(s), but a few gain what they need to press on so the season can truly begin.

Dr. Melendez noting Claire has an amazing story ahead

As we end the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on The Good Doctor, we lose cast member(s), but a few gain what they need to press on so the season can truly begin.

Director(s) Mike Listo
Writer(s) Liz Friedman, David Shore
Aired (ABC) 11/10/2020
Introduced This Episode
Jimmy James Kot
Donald Robert Leaf

This content contains pertinent spoilers.


The Difficulty In Moving On – Mia, Alex, Claire, Dr. Melendez, Donald, Shaun

This could be the last episode we see Dr. Melendez. You see, Claire, who we know doesn’t deal well with death, hence how she handled her mother’s, is trying to avoid really dealing with Dr. Melendez being gone by finding more items left by COVID patients and reuniting them with family. Thus her stumbling upon name tags for a man named Donald Sulkin and, instead of taking care of patients, hunting down who he might be related to, if not the man himself.

Someone who she finds, returns the name tags of, and it seems that small victory, and Dr. Melendez’s ghost acknowledging their story didn’t get to have a proper ending, allows Claire to release his ghost.

Donald (Robert Leaf) looking at his dog tags.
Donald (Robert Leaf)

As for Alex? Living with Shaun and experiencing his longing for Lea, it causes him to reflect as Shaun tries to seek what is normal and maybe just him. For example, how does Alex know he loves Mia, and with his answer dealing with Kellan, be it how she loves him and more, it clicks for him. Especially when Mia mirrors his answer, and it pushes him to realize they don’t love each other but love what the other person contributes to their shared son. So, effectively, it’s over.

It Often Gets Worse – Martin, Lily, Ambar, Kellan, Dr. Park, Nurse Deena, Morgan, Shaun, Dr. Lim, Dr. Andrews

Things aren’t necessarily looking good for a lot of the patients. Ambar is put on many things so that her body will hopefully focus on fighting COVID rather than its other functions. Which, with Dr. Park going to bat for her, it means missing out on things important to Kellan, who gets in his feelings. Then, when it comes to Martin, between blood clots and other issues, he ends up losing a foot and being that Shaun has a terrible bedside manner, when Lily lashes out, he blames her for giving her husband COVID.

But, at this point, while Shaun does get admonished by Dr. Andrews, there is no real repercussion since everyone is stressed, and what can they really do? Everyone knows Shaun’s weakness, and he has been forced to take note of it repeatedly. At this point, it seems it is accepted that Shaun may have reached his limits of improvement in that area.

However, while Shaun has reached his limits, Morgan is still finding hers. As an internalist, not a surgeon, she struggles with the smiles and bedside manner, but if she wants to be a doctor, she has to do this. That doesn’t make Nurse Deena being her patient any easier, though. Nor, for Dr. Lim, who is close to Nurse Deena, does it make seeing her go on a ventilator easy.

You see, Dr. Lim has a special connection to Nurse Deena since, during her first year, she had an ass**** of a boss who damn near broke her. However, Nurse Deena put him in his place, in front of everyone, and gave Dr. Lim time to compose herself. Dr. Lim has never forgotten this, so alongside being staff, their relationship pushes Dr. Lim to go extra hard for her old friend.

Before It Gets Better – Martin, Lily, Ambar, Nurse Deena, Morgan, Shaun, Debbie, Dr. Glassman, Jimmy, Lea

To pull the band-aid off, Nurse Deena dies. This, as you can imagine, is devastating for many members of the nursing staff. Yet, as for everyone else? Martin lives, Ambar lives, and Morgan has a nice moment with Nurse Deena’s son, Jimmy. One in which he paints the idea Nurse Deena didn’t always like Morgan, but she respected her.

Continuing on this happy train, Lea and Shaun get to see one another face to face again and pick up on the whole idea of her sleeping over, and then there is Dr. Glassman and Debbie. Debbie continues to be a polarizing character. You could submit that she forces you to see Dr. Glassman as flawed, perhaps selfish, and maybe someone who never really recovered from his first divorce and his part in why that relationship failed.

Yet, on the flip side, you can look at the relationship, and Debbie’s part in it, as an obligation. Their whirlwind romance that includes clearly moving in together too soon, and getting married too quickly, is still dealing with the kinks of not having a long dating or engagement period. Which since we know Dr. Glassman’s story so intimately, it makes it hard to truly grasp Debbie’s side since she continually pushes him more and more, and she barely changes in the process.

If anything, she gets more rooted the more she confronts Dr. Glassman, and there comes the point where you are left wondering, beyond companionship, what does she really provide him?

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. When it comes to Donald, anyone else think the way he described Greg that he wasn’t just his friend but his friend?


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Another Emotional Episode – Thanks To It Not Being Self-Contained [92]

Dr. Lim, Nurse Deena, and Morgan as Nurse Deena dies.

We know we’re a broken record at this point, but I do truly believe one of the big issues with episodic content is that it allows you to become numb. For with patients coming and going, after the first season or so, they become just a means to develop a character’s story. Especially as patients become so disposable.

Yet, whether we’re talking about Nurse Deena, who was infrequently featured, down to Ambar and Martin, just two episodes allowed everything you needed to feel. Beyond the coronavirus being featured, I’d even say it just made these patients feel real and human. That, they were more than the patient of the week who would exist in this dichotomy of either being really sympathetic or an utter ass. We got to know them, their family, if they had one, and got to build a connection to them.

I’d compare it to Alex’s love for Kellan vs. his love for Mia. Generally, most patients are like Mia. We care about them through the doctor that is treating them. However, take away that doctor, and then there is nothing unless the actor is a familiar face or phenomenal in their performance. So, while it is doubtful it’ll happen, one can only hope there are more multi-episode guests or the show at least slows down the process of finding cures or treatment so these people don’t seem in and out like a fast-food process line.

Claire Embracing Grief [83]

You have to admire Claire’s growth when it comes to handling negative emotions. Formerly, it seemed her main way of handling things was shutting down and pushing people away. However, with Dr. Lim, she made a routine and connected with her, and rather than use empathy to understand Shaun, she admonished Shaun him instead of putting his thoughts and feelings before her own. Mind you, this isn’t saying I want her to be mean to Shaun or anyone else, but even though the show is still learning to be comfortable about race, not just sexism, you have to take note of Claire being a Black woman.

The reason I say this is, with being raised by Black women and having them as the majority of my day job supervisors, through Claire, you can see someone who often takes on burdens she shouldn’t have to in order to prove herself. Alongside that, out of fear of possibly being the “Angry Black Woman,” she makes herself small, approachable, yet also easy to exploit at times. Which with her coming to the end of her resident years, it seems she is growing tired of that persona, and it could mean a new Claire emerging.

Morgan [81]

Sadly, you can almost see Nurse Deena’s death being used to boost Morgan. You could submit it also benefited Dr. Lim by presenting how she felt during her first year, which sets up a new batch of doctors coming onto the show. However, I think death is often the turning point for Morgan, and it is rarely the death of a patient but someone she is close to. So as much as I love seeing Morgan with her walls coming down and her changing her career trajectory, I hope she doesn’t become or already is, the type of character who must experience personal trauma to get her life together.

Low Point

Debbie [67]

Debbie reconciling with Dr. Glassman

In Debbie’s defense, we’ve been with Dr. Glassman from the beginning, so advocating for him comes easier than taking on her needs as a person. Also, we recognize Dr. Glassman needs to be held accountable for both his actions and inaction. Yet, she continuously rubs us the wrong way.

For this episode, she does so by not taking account of her own actions and placing all the blame on Dr. Glassman. All the while not really taking note of the man he is and reminding you that too much of their relationship was rushed.

Take note, when he had cancer, he expressed all the insecurities he did in this episode which circle around feeling expendable and not useful as he once was. So for him to be forced to repeat that because Debbie is insecure about her place in his life, it makes her come off more so as a liability than an asset. One that seems more part of Dr. Glassman’s life since Shaun created boundaries with him than because he truly wants, never minds needs her. If anything, his want is to avoid loneliness, and she happened to be someone conveniently available.


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Another Emotional Episode – Thanks To It Not Being Self-Contained - 92%
Claire Embracing Grief - 83%
Morgan - 81%
Debbie - 67%


As the first major COVID arc comes to an end, you can see the path ahead and most of it definitely comes off appealing.

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  1. Thanks Emily, guess reading all the English X-Files fanfiction finally pays… 😉 As for your questions concerning Park, it seems the writers of TGD agree with you that being an absent father is not enough of a storyline for Park, thus the freshly arrived synopsis of 405 “My Own Damn Fault” says that “Dr. Morgan Reznick and Park bond over failed relationships.”

    It is still to be seen if this bonding will be platonically or romantically, but from the phrasing Shore used in an interview hinting to this, I tend to a non-romantically plot development for the moment.

    Either way, this pairing makes sense right now. Morgan has a rough time ahead letting go of her dream of being a surgeon, yet her go-to of previous seasons Claire now leans towards Lim and Shaun isn’t available either for obvious reasons. Having no other support system than her resident peers, Morgan can only turn to Park. And if anyone is equipped for handling the … very special personality … Morgan presents, it’s ex-cop Park – he can return fire.

    As for Park not moving nearer to his son, the in-universe reasoning might go as such: Kellan just graduated Highschool, thus his son is leaving home anyway for college. With Mia being not a factor anymore, it might be easier for Kellan to relocate his academic education near his father than Park leaving his successful residency program at St. Bonaventure.

    1. Thank you, Andreas, for clearing up my confusion about Park. Your answer makes sense. And if Park must be on the show, then I guess Park in a storyline with Morgan is better then the Park storylines with his family, which I found to be very dull. But as far as a romance between Morgan and Park – Ew! I hope it is just platonic and stays that way!

  2. I concur with you, Emily, that the pressing question of season 4 is how the show will manage to allocate screen time to all the regular and recurring characters.

    There are a lot of pending storylines:

    + Shaun alone has two major plotlines with taking responsibility as a superior and being a decent boyfriend.

    + Glassman probably continues his squabbles with Debbie for contrasting Shaun and Lea, although this will less center-stage after self-quarantine.

    >> In an unfortunate twist of fate, Sheila Kelley, Richard Schiff and their son are currently fighting Covid-19 for real since episode 401 aired – my thoughts go out to them for a speedy recovery! <<

    + Morgan can’t easily let go of her surgical career; as spoiled in an interview, she works now directly under Glassy the Grouch. They were already bickering in season 3, so I guess Glassman might soon need even more escapes by nightly online video games and poker. And don’t forget: Lea works there, too…

    + Claire still must heal from her losses while learning not to run anymore from her problems but be more assertive and build a career in a shark tank.

    + Park will struggle to be a loving but absent father. He is said to have some more run-ins with Morgan and some bromance moments with Shaun – which already earned him a new hashtag on Twitter: #shark 😉

    + Dr. Andrews is said to have a special connection with one of the newbies – of what kind is still to be revealed.

    + Chief Lim finally will probably have to cope with the life-and-death decisions she has been forced to make in her position (e.g., refusing Max to be a liver donor in 317 “Fixation”, taking all the terminal Covid-patients off live support). Lim is an adrenaline junkie and liquor lover – could get tense, but her new friendship with Claire might prevent the worst.

    That is already a lot to follow through over the course of the next 16-18 episodes, even without the newbie’s individual stories and the various patients.

    I’m just relieved that with the serial-office-dater Melendez being out of the picture, most of the stories are not about who is screwing with whom or who has the hots about somebody. Let’s hope that Andrews’s wife is safe… 🙂

    1. Andreas – First, lol “with the serial-office-dater Melendez being out of the picture, most of the stories are not about who is screwing with whom or who has the hots about somebody.”! Besides being funny, your English slang is very good!!

      As I read through your pending storylines, putting aside the horrible news about Richard Schiff and his family getting COVID-19 (I also wish him and his family a speedy recovery), all of the storylines look really interesting except for anything with Debbie and Glassman and Park being a “loving but absent father”.

      By the way, maybe you or Amari can answer something for me – what is up with Park staying (aside from the powers that be liking the actor)?!? Just because he doesn’t want to reconcile with Mia, he blows off moving closer to his son? “Kellen, you’re not important enough to move to Phoenix for, just Mia was. And since I’m not getting back together with her, and I’m not going to move back into the house, I don’t want to be bothered with having to find a new job and a new apartment because you are just not worth it. So we’ll just continue Face-timing instead.” Am I missing something?

  3. Hi Guys! I finally got around to watching Part II, so I’m going to jump in mid-conversation. I hope you don’t mind. But first, Amari, the website’s new (to me) design looks sharp!! Nicely done!!!

    I think we are all in agreement that Debbie – Ugh! I got so annoyed with her “You’re a jerk, but I’m perfect!” attitude towards Glassman! Now that the show is not dealing with COVID anymore, can Glassman please go back to the hospital and leave Debbie at home and off the show?!?

    But I agree with Andreas that I do not want patients to stay for more then one episode. The cast is adding 4(!) new interns. If patients get and their families get an extended stay, with more screen time, that’s taking away from the growing main cast. Speaking of which, it looks like Alex is staying :(. How is everyone going to get a decent storyline?

    And lastly, I also wondered just how good of friends were Greg and Donald 😉 !

  4. I understand where you want to go Amari, but I have some ideas why the writers don’t go there: focus, style and character growth.

    The Good Doctor made it a basic principle that the patients’ cases are tied to a problem the attending doctors deal with personally. Take Martin and Lily Shaun for example. Shaun suffers from a comorbid alexithymia (quite typical with ASD); he has difficulties to discern and express his emotions. By his patient’s wife, Shaun learned more about the importance of emotional support and bonding in a romantic relationship and how to express it, something he was utterly missing in “Frontline Part 1”.

    If patients more often stayed for more than one episode, the main characters’ learning trajectories would be slowed down considerably, thus their characters would progress slower throughout the season.

    To avoid this, the writers would have to detach the patients’ cases from the main characters’ arcs. But by doing so, the show would lose its focus on the main cast – which is numerous enough already. Then, the show might feel more like a number revue than a coherent narrative. That’s a tough tradeoff.

  5. Dear Amari,

    indeed, Glassman and Debbie were painful to watch this episode – and I’m convinced it was intentionally presented this way. As you pointed out, it is remarkable that Glassman echoed his concerns from season 2 (!) of becoming a lesser version of himself, of being less useful, of becoming obsolete.

    As Debbie stressed in 401, Glassman is 65 years old, retirement is glooming, and this is a prospect that will frighten any person who is used to hold great power and have things his way.

    In the greater scheme of season 4, this makes me to believe that Glassman’s story arc might be about letting go of power, stepping back from leadership; while his surrogate son Shaun is starting at the exact opposite: learning to take responsibility for others (for the newbies, but also for Lea) and growing into leadership.

    To put some glue to your broken record… 😉 Being bored by his chemotherapy, Glassman stressed that he was (and is again now) President of 700-bed hospital. For comparison, in my hometown, the University Hospital Aachen has 1.426 beds, about 7.000 staff members and is treading roughly 48.000 inpatients and 183.000 outpatients per year.

    Chop these numbers in half and you get what to expect for St. Bonaventure. Large hospitals are revolving doors of human suffering. This is nothing near to a family doctor who sees the same batch of patients again and again over years. Hospital patients are expected to be seen only once – fix the problem and send them on their merry way.

    Have you ever noticed that medical dramas are rarely centered around a general practitioner in private practice somewhere in the countryside? These patients are meant to move the stories of the series regulars along. It’s the basic structure of these type of dramas.

    1. But that I think is what numbs you to these stories. By no means is it desired to drag out a patient half a season. However, the extended episodes, where a patient isn’t seen just in one, are when the patient gets to truly shine and not just be fodder.

      And considering how much things are changing, one can only hope the age-old structures of storytelling follow suit.

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