The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 4 “Not the Same” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

As Shaun, begrudgingly, enters a supervisory role, Morgan continues to push Claire and Alex’s buttons – and ends up discovering Alex’s secret.

Shaun looking over his shoulder

As Shaun, begrudgingly, enters a supervisory role, Morgan continues to push Claire and Alex’s buttons – and ends up discovering Alex’s secret.

Director(s) Sarah Wayne Callies
Writer(s) David Hoselton, Adam Scott Weissman
Aired (ABC) 11/24/2020

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.


The Battles Continue – Alex, Morgan, Claire

Morgan becoming a primary care doctor seems to be worse than her being a surgeon. Mainly due to her means of advocating for her patients often leads to direct conflict with the surgeons. Add in Morgan knows their tricks, their ways, and likes to challenge them, and it just continues to leave Claire immensely frustrated.

As for Alex? Honestly, he doesn’t have the energy to go back and forth with Morgan. His divorce is getting finalized, and with that, he has been showing up late and is just struggling. Which for Morgan, that doesn’t work, for she lives for banter.

Current Living Situation – Alex, Morgan, Lea, Shaun

Hence her offering Alex to stay with her which gets rejected, at first, but then accepted towards the end of the episode. But it isn’t only those two who change their living situation. Shaun talks to Lea about moving back in, and she is rather hesitant. Mainly due to their relationships shifting, and while Shaun is not her exes, she still has baggage.

Morgan, at her doorway, looking comfortable.

Yet, despite past trauma, she paints the picture she will inevitably move in, so why wait? This may not be an enthusiastic response to the idea of moving in together, but Shaun got what he wanted, so he sidesteps what others may look deeper into.

Trying To Learn, Teach, And Do Your Own Job At The Same Time – Shaun, Claire, Morgan, Alex, Asher, Ernesto, Jordan, Olivia, Dr. Andrews, Dr. Glassman

For some, like Morgan, they think having 1st-year students is a blessing since they can do grunge work. And when it comes to Claire, who has it relatively easy with Asher and Ernesto, who actually helps save a patient’s life and work well with her, they are a blessing. However, for Shaun, Olivia and Jordan are borderline hell.

Why? Well, because now Shaun has to not only focus on the needs of the patient but also what Olivia and Jordan needs. Then, to further complicate things, Olivia is Dr. Andrews’ niece, and Shaun is forced to remember that, like her, she got a leg up and leeway because of what she knew as much, if not more so than what she knows.

Which for Jordan is a problem but not so much that it leads to her complaining. More so, she just needs and wants to know if she is doing anything wrong and for Shaun to have her back. She doesn’t need or probably wants to be babied. Yet, coming to the understanding that Olivia and Jordan have unique needs was an immense challenge. The kind that led to Shaun wanting to drop that being his responsibility.

However, with Dr. Glassman’s encouragement and a reminder that isn’t necessarily an option, Shaun toughs it out and figures out a system.


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Shaun’s Next Chapter

The Good Doctor needed to change – plain and simple. It’s four seasons in, and it needed new blood, new challenges, and while Shaun remains a rare depiction of autism in media, especially network television, the character was growing stale. This could just be how we felt, but there came a point where, as much as you have to respect and applaud the representation Shaun brings, the more you got used to him, the less of a thing his autism was.

And being that this show is about Shaun and how autism influences his life and decisions, it reminds you of the struggle man shows have when they aren’t a limited series. How do you keep the show fresh once it outlives its premise? Especially when you reach 60 episodes?

Well, you bring new characters to shake things up, cause conflict, and introduce new responsibilities. For Shaun, his next chapter deals with being someone’s boyfriend, maybe getting to finally meet his girlfriend’s friends and family, and having to learn when you date someone, you don’t solely date them?

Alongside that, Shaun, having to learn to not just manage his emotions and develop a bedside manner but also juggle multiple people who look at him for guidance and instruction. This is overwhelming for some atypical people, so for Shaun, it creates another opportunity to show how autism makes him unique, yet some practices he uses works universally.

Thus, for at least one or two seasons, The Good Doctor can feel like something fairly new – at least when it comes to Shaun.

The 1st Year Residents Are Earning Their Screen Time

New characters are a catch-22. On the one hand, they do bring new life and stories, yet there is also the issue of them taking away time from established characters. This, as noted below, has meant that Claire, Alex, maybe even Morgan have been shortchanged in order to bring these new characters up. Yet, as seen with Morgan, sometimes these new characters fit in so well, you forget they weren’t part of the original cast.

And, admittedly, while we’re not hooked on any of the new people, they do have potential. Maybe not in their interactions with Claire, Morgan, or Alex, but what they could potentially bring out of Shaun is of great interest. Though we would be remiss to not mention Olivia being Dr. Andrews’ niece allows for him to get some much-needed development. Especially since he has long stepped back from being seen as prominent.

A Reminder That Lea Had A Life Before Shaun

Lea’s hesitance about moving in with Shaun acted as a reminder that Lea had a whole life and dated other people before giving Shaun a chance. She was in relationships where she felt used, rushed things, and just was left unsatisfied, and while The Good Doctor rarely says anyone’s age, you know Lea has to be in her 20s and 30s and has baggage from living her life, often to the fullest. So in her reminding Shaun she felt things were too soon, it felt like a note to remind you that, despite usually only seeing her when Shaun is around, her life doesn’t begin and end when he calls for it.

Lea talking to Shaun

On The Fence

Claire, Alex, and Morgan

One of the things we always will find frustrating about The Good Doctor is that it isn’t a show which is consistent with its supporting characters. Often, they’ll get a rush of development for a few episodes then stall for what could be half a season before the character is revisited. We’ve seen that with Claire, throughout the whole show, Alex, multiple times, and Morgan to an extent.

Mind you, Morgan can be seen as an exception since she operates as the catalyst for supporting characters to speak their truth or remind us that, like Lea, they don’t exist solely to playoff Shaun. Yet, with Alex, he still feels expendable, and honestly, Claire is starting to feel that way as well.

This isn’t to say we don’t love her character and don’t understand, beyond Shaun, each doctor, on their own, also brings something to the concept of representation. However, I don’t think anyone can honestly say The Good Doctor knows how to juggle its characters well. I’d even add, in terms of cuts like Dr. Melendez, it doesn’t come off as decisions necessary and good for the show as much as one less person whose history has to be taken note of.

This could be unfair to say, for there could be tons of reasons why Dr. Melendez was written off, from budget concerns to the actor wanting out. However, for more than a season The Good Doctor has felt a bit bloated, and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.


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Claire, Alex, and Morgan - 74%
A Reminder That Lea Had A Life Before Shaun - 81%
The 1st Year Residents Are Earning Their Screen Time - 82%
Shaun's Next Chapter - 84%


As the new characters settle in, there is that aching feeling that with them becoming more prominent means established supporting characters either taking a back seat or sharing time to stay relevant.

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  1. The idea is sure appealing for the reasons you listed, Amari, but it comes with some drawbacks, too:

    1) It is somewhat repetitive of Claire and Morgan in season 3.

    2) While spending time off-work is good for the characters’ psyches and they sure will not be subjects of salacious rumors as with Melendez, there’s the question when they might cross the border to the next case of favoritism. It is already evident in episodes 403 & 404 that Lim holds Claire in higher esteem than the other residents.

    3) Such an story arc would push Claire’s character back to its roots in season 1 as the overly empathetic communicator, thus it might offer little for the characters continued growth and cause it to stagnate instead.

  2. Chiming in on the topic of Andrews, I must say that I really enjoy the slow burn character arc from part-time villain to stern mentor. Andrews has been an ambivalent character, struggling with his ambitions as well as his weak decision-making. He went high and fell deep, yet he recovers and grows, although slowly compared to the lead character. I still appreciate that.

    As with his wife, there was a backstory to her disappearance, but it was cut due to screen time restrictions. The scenes are included in the deleted scenes in the season 2 DVDs: after becoming hospital President, Andrews was forced to cut the annual budget of his wife’s department to fund his planned surgical center of excellence. Of course, this led to some tensions between the two and his wife ultimately decided to take on a research assignment at Stanford to preserve their marriage.

    Guess we can agree that TGDs cast is quite large for 43 min screen time and 18-20 episodes. Thus, the supporting characters are always the first to pay the price for that. 🙁

  3. Hi Emily! Indeed, Shaun had to struggle a lot this episode shifting his focus between his trainees and the patient, and Lea off course. I’m still laughing about him storming into the patient’s room announcing his girlfriend is moving in, just earning him blank faces from his colleagues… 🙂 To his defense I should add that multi-tasking can be especially hard for individuals on spectrum, thus the exchange during labor you noted. 😉

    As for your 2nd favorite Claire, the next storyline I might foresee is to take the role Morgan was to her in season 3: being a friend – to Lim. Because as short as the scene with them playing a video game was, “I like filling my evenings with numbing mindlessness” [and taking a drink], communicates a ton of information. Not only is Lim a lot alone at home, it also reveals that the stress of her job, the life-and-death decisions of “Frontline” are eating her away. Thus, Claire might be a supporting character to Lim soon.

    1. When you think about it, that’s not a bad idea. Claire and Lim’s storyline often had the focus of a man, like Melendez, or trying to gain validation from a guy from work. That not being a factor, and it just being two women enjoying each other’s company, not in competition, but them just being wanting comradery, that is a notable change for both. If not the whole show which usually is focused on a male character.

    2. I remember that Surgical Center of Excellence. I think the first surgery in that center was the guy with the huge tumor. Then I don’t remember ever hearing about the Center again. I guess one could say the Center was like a supporting character that got an episode in the spotlight and then was dropped. 🙂 Thank you, Andreas, for telling us about the deleted scenes with Andrews and his wife! That was very interesting! I hope Andrews and Olivia’s storyline doesn’t go the same way Andrews and his wife’s storyline did.

      Good point in the other post about Shaun not being able to multi-task very well. I did not know that. As someone who cannot multi-task, I can relate. I guess I thought Shaun should have just ignored the interns’s feelings until after the babies were saved.

  4. Hi Andreas! Hi Amari! Andreas – “an episode on ADHD” is a great description, especially in that scene where the patient was in labor and Shaun was helping the patient, attending to Olivia’s feelings and attending to Jordan’s feelings, all at the same time! I felt sorry for the patient and wanted to yell at Shaun “Who cares how Olivia and Jordan are feeling?! Just make sure both babies survive!”

    Amari – I really like this “new” layout for the website! Very sharp!! Regarding the show, I agree the new characters make the show fresher. But with my favorite (next to Shaun) character, Claire, I do worry she is about to go through another one of those frustrating dry spells where there is no decent storyline for her. The writers are setting up one for Alex and Morgan by moving Alex into Morgan’s place. I think all 3 of us are wondering if Claire will get to do anything in the upcoming episodes.

    Quick side note – I agree that it is nice to see Dr. Andrews get some character growth. That’s hasn’t happened in a looong time!

    1. Thank you! I find myself constantly wanting to make things look different, especially when I make time to see what my peers are doing.

      In terms of Dr. Andrews, I think like Claire, to a lesser extent, they present major moments for him, let them dwindle out, then set him back and have him explore a new path. Such as him trying to have a kid, then his wife disappearing from the show and putting him on ice. Dr. Andrews becoming president, getting fired from that, and back to being a surgeon. All the while us barely learning anything about him for he was at the service of others. But in this episode, we learned he had a sister, a niece, and there was some drama between his parents growing up.

      I just hope this leap is mutually beneficial for him and Olivia, and not just Olivia.

  5. This felt like an episode on ADHD; with all the newbies buzzing around the senior doctors who needed to attend not only to their patients but their various problems; the pace of the story felt restless to me – with some yoga inserted to underscore the haste. Just my humor.

    So, Lea, needing real commitment and security, wasn’t scared away when Shaun went down on his knee as if he was proposing to her – and gave away his banking password. Shaun still knows how to ruin a moment. 🙂 It fits TGDs style to hide such important moments in a hilarious scene.

    And on the other front: Morgan is almost everywhere! By taking away her surgical career, the show found a way for the character to interact with the other cast members even more than before. As much as Morgan hates internal medicine, it allowed her to refer both patients of the week to the surgical teams, overseeing their treatments and torturing the surgeons in one swift move. With this, Morgan has become the cast’s joker, ready to be played anytime when needed, tying stories together or giving them a push. Couldn’t have hoped for more.

    Now with Claire, I’m in the same boat with you, Amari. She feels sidelined since the season’s start, and that might be tied to real-world events, more specific the backlash fans of Claire and Melendez gave the show since the attending’s death.

    The social media accounts of the show and the writers have been barraged ever since with accusations of misogynism, racism, fascism, and the constant plea for stopping torturing Claire and #bringbackmelendez. In a way, the fans succeeded, summoning a “ghost”, whose most notable contributions were “fixating on dead people it’s not a life” and “you [Claire] have an amazing story ahead”.

    Now look at Claire in “Not The Same”: she enjoys company again, handles her job flawlessly, rules the OR, excels at supervising her first-years, is held in high esteem by the Chief of Surgery. The character even gets to reenact Melendez’s death with a positive outcome, boosting her healing process. Claire is in a better place and thrives. Yet, a character that isn’t challenged anymore quickly becomes irrelevant in a drama series. Claire’s most important contribution to episode 404 was to give Lim a reason to reveal how lonesome the Chief of Surgery feels after work.

    The main battles of season 4 so far are fought by Shaun and Morgan. So, the question is: will Claire’s run continue or will she get a decent drama plot again?

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