The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 5 “Fault” Winter Finale – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

The winter finale of The Good Doctor reminds you why deaths are rare on the show, and it is because, when someone does die, it needs to have an impact.

Director(s) Vanessa Parise
Writer(s) Peter Blake, Mark Rozeman
Aired (ABC) 11/30/2020

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.


Pushing Boundaries For A Better Tomorrow – Morgan, Alex

It seems, as shown when Claire’s mother died, Morgan likes to be involved with people going through a major life change they don’t want to embrace and acknowledge. Leading you to wonder, in a limited capacity, could psychology have been better for her?

That thought aside, through picking with Alex, Morgan does her best to force him to move on from Mia, and, in time, it works. He burns a memento and even joins Bumble. As for how Alex pushes back? Well, he takes note of Morgan’s issues with commitment, without her failed engagement or losing that guy one or two seasons ago being brought up. Yet, for those who have enjoyed Morgan’s storyline thus far, you know there are some definite fears when it comes to Morgan and romance.

But, let’s collectively hope Morgan’s banter with Alex doesn’t evolve into flirting and a relationship.

Love Is The Ultimate Sacrifice – Jordan, Claire

Once again, Jordan finds herself in a bit of a conflict with her superior. The reason? Her butting heads over who should be speaking to and for a patient that has what is called a “Dermoid Cyst.” For with the side effects being memory loss, Jordan finds herself getting involved in a way which makes you wonder if the reveal she is single has to deal with it? Not to imply that plays a major role in everything she does, but just follow us here.

When it comes to the patient, what makes the memory loss a major thing is the patient was having an affair, and their marriage, is complicated. To break it down, the patient and their husband haven’t had the best year or more due to her being sick, him being a former alcoholic and all the baggage that has come from that. Yet, with this new guy, the patient has found joy and a renewed interest in things. But, with meeting the new guy 8 days ago, versus the husband who is angry over being cheated on, so comes the question of how to handle the patient losing memories, which could include the new guy?

Well, despite what he could gain, the husband is willing to lose his wife in order to save her life. This leads to the possibility that he may keep his wife and the other guy become a distant, or simply non-existent, memory.

A New Learning Curve – Shaun, Asher, Dr. Lim, Dr. Glassman

Shaun has overcome many things that weren’t expected for him to surmount. While he hasn’t perfected his bedside manner, he gets fewer complaints. Though he did struggle with dating previously, he now has the perfect girlfriend for him. However, what being a doctor and being someone’s boyfriend had going for Shaun is they wanted and needed Shaun to succeed, so they worked with him.

Shaun noting Asher made a mistake.

When it comes to being a supervisor, Shaun doesn’t get that extra help. If anything, he gets criticism left and right, and while Dr. Glassman tries to help, Dr. Lim isn’t always as merciful. Mostly due to Shaun not being ready or willing to admit fault or failure, especially when it wasn’t because of something he specifically did or didn’t do. So Asher missing things and a patient dying, Shaun doesn’t want to own that.

Yet, with Asher not having much, and lacking even a family, maybe we’ll see Shaun connect with him more. After all, their stories, while not the same, did lead to the same result. At least in terms of Asher losing his family because of who he is and Shaun, after losing his brother, also being forced on his own due to things beyond his control.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

I don’t know what you went through. Please don’t pretend to know what I went through.
— Asher



Morgan Likes To Fix People

One could submit that Morgan latching onto characters has been one of the main ways to keep her active on the show. Yet, taking note of how she likes to challenge, even fix people, does push you to realize how much of an asset she has become.

Take note of her time with Claire and attempting to get her to open up, let out the pain, and move on. She didn’t try to do that after Melendez’s death since Lim took up that mantle, but with Breeze’s death, she was there and gave Claire the space and intimacy she needed. Granted, she eventually pushed Morgan away, and their relationship hasn’t been the same ever since, but if you don’t understand what Morgan is trying to do, she can be confusing.

Morgan happy with her form of radical therapy

Heck, look at Alex. Morgan is relentless when it comes to messing with him but is letting him live in her home and doesn’t even get mad when he goes through her things to clap back at him. She is just disappointed he doesn’t try harder in their banter. Yet, unlike Claire, you can see her make headway and really enjoy having a positive effect on someone while not compromising how she likes to poke the bear and wrestle it, if need be.

A Reminder That Deaths Do Matter

It’s not that guest stars don’t die on the show, it is just rare. On top of that, when people do die, since the show doesn’t push any patient to really be more notable than the next, it doesn’t matter for too long. Yet, with Asher losing his first patient because of a mistake, it reminds you of when Claire did the same and how that sent them down a rabbit hole.

However, what’s different for Asher is this person was misdiagnosed, and they saw Asher. Not just physically, while conscious, but helped him acknowledge all the parts of him he loved and hated. So to lose someone who gave you access to that should be difficult to bounce back from. Though, who knows what the long-term plans are for Asher, and the rest of the newbies, at this point?

Shaun Realizing He Doesn’t Know Something & The Other Person Can’t Make It Easier On Him

Most of what we’ve seen Shaun accomplish has come from him checking in with others and usually being given some form of grace. Not just because Shaun is someone with autism, but also because of the challenge he was faced with. Being a supervisor doesn’t feel like what we’re used to.

Instead, as much as Dr. Glassman continues to be a mentor, it does seem Dr. Lim isn’t trying to how Shaun’s hand as much and is giving him the tough love that usually doesn’t bode well. Mind you, more so for the person using that method than Shaun. As shown with Dr. Andrews, and especially Dr. Han, Shaun being held accountable is realistic, necessary at times, yet usually backfires.

Dr. Lim reacting to Shaun not taking responsibility

However, what helps Dr. Lim is that you can’t say she is unfair to Shaun. Dr. Andrews wanted Shaun out to become president of the hospital, and Dr. Han didn’t trust Shaun, and rather him be in a lab than with patients. When it comes to Lim, she has that perfect balance between Dr. Glassman and his mentor relationship with Shaun and how Shaun’s former supervisors took him to task.

And honestly, as much as we do enjoy seeing Shaun grow, there is something to seeing him struggle as well. Mainly due to the need for him to not always be exemplary. In balancing his medical feats out, it makes him human again. Because, in seeing him have a difficult time dating, being someone’s boss, or connecting, that is when you can truly have empathy for then, whether you have a form of autism or not, you can see yourself in Shaun.

Rather than him be this rare example of a community that barely gets any representation, so Shaun, and Freddie Highmore, in extension, has to be this shining beacon. One that has to take on this responsibility of being real with viewers, respecting the community Highmore isn’t part of, yet also aware that Shaun sets an example and reference for thousands, if not millions. A balance that is hard since maintaining a sense of being aspirational and yet entertaining isn’t easy. Never mind trying to keep Shaun likable and not overly rely on his autism to dismiss criticism.

On The Fence

The Newbies

Jordan is starting to slowly get on our nerves since she is a poor woman’s Morgan. Olivia, as sweet as she is, we saw a better version of her storyline when we first met Claire. Enrique is cool and all, but he just doesn’t pop even with his random reveal of being polyamorous. And then, with Asher, he feels like Shaun remixed.

In the beginning, this seemed cool, for it was like watching the characters we’ve come to love be modified. Be it if Shaun wasn’t autistic but gay and sheltered, if Morgan was Black, and so on. However, a few episodes in, while they are good for the sake of challenging Shaun and seemingly presenting few, if any, challenges for Claire, I think they might become liabilities more than assets.

[ninja_tables id=”46813″]


The Newbies - 74%
Shaun Realizing He Doesn't Know Something & The Other Person Can't Make It Easier On Him - 87%
A Reminder That Deaths Do Matter - 84%
Morgan Likes To Fix People - 83%


The winter finale does present an interesting challenge for Shaun and features Morgan at her best. However, it does lead you to question the long-term plans for the newly introduced characters and whether they will be liabilities or assets?


  1. Back to your questions about Lea, Amari. With TGD’s bold decision to break from standard procedure of pairing doctors with doctors came the serious drawback that it has always been hard to integrate the character into the natural flow with all the other characters. Even with her being the head of IT now, Lea is still the odd ball within the cast, most likely to interact with Glassman or Lim, but not the attendings and residents.

    Thus, as you pointed out lately, the show places reminders that Lea has a life beside Shaun. We saw that during all seasons occasionally, but with the recent episodes this has become a real information dump to the point where Shaun literally lists his girlfriend’s likings.

    As I wrote before, one theme D. Shore wants to explore in season 4 how Shaun fares in a mature relationship. We have seen in “Fault” that Lea is capable of being a supportive partner, she can even stand back so that Shaun can do his duty on patients in immediate need of treatment. But being in a mature relationship also means that Shaun has to demonstrate at some point that he can return that. Reciprocity in relationships is one Shaun’s recurring weaknesses. Therefore, the show must set up a professionally challenging situation for Lea. Thus, her promotion and the mentions about hackers, bots and system updates that went bananas. Lea clearly expressed that her new job is putting pressure on her and I predict that we will see this pressure rising. Shaun’s ability to be a supportive boyfriend will be tested.

    Same goes with the frequent mentions of Lea’s mother. I agree with you, part of being in relationship is dealing with the partner’s family. We did not see that with Carly because, according to Shore, this arc had been about “can he have a girlfriend?”, so the plot focused on Carly herself and the struggles they had with intimacy and emotions like jealousy.

    Now, the stakes have been raised, Shaun can deal with Lea, but can he handle the disaster that’s the Dilallo family (3.10 “Friends and Family”, 2.07 “Hubert”)? Since TGD likes to move in patterns, I like to think that we will meet either Mother Dilallo or more family members around mid-season, just as we were graced with Father Murphy in episode 10 last season. That leaves the professional challenge for either a spotlight on the character episode or it might be part of another disaster episode. Cyber-attacks on hospitals have happened in real-life and such an event might not only endanger Lea’s job but also her often low self-worth, that I believe was addressed in her ant on-line role play and her need to publicly express how “thrilled” men are by her “not so huge” breasts. That wasn’t just placed in the script for pure awkwardness – it says something about the character in general.

  2. I’m glad if I can broaden your view a little further, Amari, all while simultaneously I enjoy and welcome your neurotypical insights, since my hard-wired perception will always be limited for other (obvious) reasons. 😉

    We can’t stress enough that TGD is quite different, especially in the field of medical drama. While it is often compared to “House MD” due its producer David Shore, I would say the next of kin in TV is Bill Lawrence’s “Scrubs” on NBC. Both shows follow a main protagonist from the very first day of their residency through his medical career and private life. Both shows even have a similar type of cast and a system for episode titles that usually refer to the main protagonist in some way.

    In fact, TGD is less the typical medical show than a coming-of-age story of an autistic individual that happens to be a surgical resident – and with that comes a certain problem as in the large body of supporting characters rather than equally important second lead characters. All the characters serve a purpose for the advancement to the plot, but time restrictions limit how much screen time they can have to be on their own. Some characters fare better here because they were developed to be so versatile such as Morgan and Glassman, others are hard to keep in the spotlight such as Claire, who is an interesting character for herself but would eat away a lot of screen time if visited regularly.

    Concerning the frequent foreshadowing, I would say it is one of several carefully woven in intricacies the show utilizes, such as the talking lyrics and the medical cases that are always somewhat connected to the lives of the attending doctors, although it may benefit the supporting characters as in highlighting their importance even when they are not in the spotlight.

    If I may digress for a little, in hindsight episode 3.01 “Disaster” does illustrate how the writers master to foreshadow and intertwine a single episode with a whole season.

    – When Lim visits Andrews at home to learn how to be Chief from the former Chief just to hire him as attending, it already becomes clear that Andrew’s wounded but still big ego and Lim’s idealism will clash further down the road – and it does so more than once later this season.

    – Park and Morgan foster their good-natured rivalry 3.01 but while they battle with words, Morgan struggles to open a jar of pickles – the first sign that her RA is affecting her hands. And their cancer patient with dementia? Morgan demonstrates here that she can make tough ethical decisions against her own interests, an ability that will serve her well when the ER is overwhelmed by earthquake victims but also costs her the dream career.

    – Claire’s storyline with her mother starts harmlessly by her not answering her mother’s phone calls. Her conversation with Shaun reminds the audience of her complicated relationship with Breeze and sets the stage for the conciliation cut short by her mother’s death only two episodes later. Yet, in this conversation Shaun also points out that Claire fails to life up to her own moral standards – which is pretty much what happens to Claire from 3.04 onward, culminating in her treating her own one-night stand just an hour later, getting slapped publicly by the wife and falling in love with her boss.

    – Shaun finally gets the first foreshadowing with the first scene already by the lyrics of the song played during his date with Carly. Its barely audible, but if you look up the song “Ever Fallen In Love” by Nouvelle Vague, the wicked writer’s game becomes clear – again in hindsight – that this song is not about Shaun and Carly, but about Shaun’s feelings for Lea, who turn did not want him to think of them becoming a couple in season 2! When Shaun later asks his newlywed patient and her husband “Are you debating whether you should find somebody else to fall in love with, someone healthy?”, this is as much about Shaun’s internal debate if he should move on from Lea as it might be read as a first hint to Lea’s concern that her personality might work with Shaun’s autism in a romantic relationship.

    All of this is done so subtly that it is easy to miss, but it also seems to be so well crafted that it can’t be pure coincidence. It’s additional value that might fly over the head of most viewers, but can be appreciated by the more invested viewers.

  3. Might Shaun run into trouble because of openness concerning his private matters? Probably. Lundberg dropping out because of all the relationship drama (which in fact was only minor compared to late season 3) was a warning on the wall and we can’t ignore that Shaun’ habit of oversharing his sexual activity has reached a new level with Lea chiming in, disclosing all this to people they both have never met before…

    And while Claire, Morgan, Park and even Chief Lim long since know that this is the price they have to pay for Shaun’s medical genius, they can’t guard him forever. Neither can Glassman fill the role of mentor, father figure and emotional fail-safe. To be sure, Glassman’s presence has been reduced in season 4 for the safety of the actor during the pandemic, but his sole scene with Shaun in “Fault” also felt a little like he was passing on the torch while he gave his advice to go home and be with the people Shaun loves; underscoring that his primary support system now is his relationship with Lea (and Glassy the Grouch painstakingly avoiding her name might tell another story). A support system that has to step in where the aforementioned safety net at work could dissolve over time.

    And speaking of foreshadowing, there might have been some more of that: most obviously, Lim is eaten up by all the death around her lately. So, it came with no surprise for me when the writers’ Twitter account announced that the next episode will be called “Lim” – just as we got “Claire” last season.

    Also, there has been a lot of talk about Lea’s mother which might result in an episode similar to “Sex and Death” dealing with Morgan’s distanced mother.

    And while the show always used lyrics to communicate additional meaning, has anyone noticed that for the last two episodes, they picked up classic 1950’s movies for key scenes? When Park appeared on her doorstep, Morgan was watching the 1950 film “Born Yesterday”, a comedy-drama about a naïve, blond (!) woman which emancipates herself from a man using her. The dialogue being heard in the scene pretty much is a road map of what to expect from the pair: tons of bickering. But I wonder if the general outline of the movie plot is also relevant for Morgan and perhaps even Park, who need to leave parts of their old lives behind (thus them symbolically burning mementos).

    In “Fault” Shaun and Lea watch 1953’s “From Here to Eternity”. The movie is a character drama about men trying to make their way within military structures during the months leading up to the Pearl Harbor Attack.

    The earthquake of episode 3.19 was foreshadowed as early as in 3.04, when Morgan discovered an earthquake kit in Claire’s trunk along with her mother’s ashes. So, this movie choice makes me wonder if St. Bonaventure is in for another act of violence on a larger scale than we have seen before with the robbery in 1.08 “Apple” and the bar beating in 2.18 “Trampoline”. Take also note that Lea in her capacity as head of IT mentioned how busy she is fighting off hackers.

    While we are all busy with the fresh faces, there are multiple other directions the plot might move into.

    1. Amari, thanks for answering my question about Asher! I was hoping Olivia would lead to more of Dr. Andrews, but that hasn’t happened yet. And on her own, she’s kind of dull. So Asher is the only one who’s interesting.

      I agree that Shaun is waaaay too open about his personal life, especially his sex life. And making the 2 subordinates think up a date for him and Lea was funny but wrong. He’s lucky nobody has the backbone of Claire and goes to HR or Dr. Lim to complain.

      But I’m on the fence about whether Shaun being autistic should be kept in the back of their heads. On the one hand, supervising people when you can’t read them is very hard. But you make such good points about Shaun needing to do more on his own, especially if he loses his support system. I think the writers are doing a good job with this conflict going on with Shaun.

    2. Andreas, your knowledge of movies is impressive! I had no idea about either of them. And a whole episode where Lim gets a big story line?!? Yay! That hasn’t happened in a long time!

      I also like the idea of a hacker story line for Lea. That sounds like it could be interesting.

    3. I swear, though I don’t respond as much as I used to, I definitely read your insight for I have my blind spots and with watching so many shows, I sometimes forget how unique The Good Doctor is.

      Taking note of that, I feel that there is likely far more foreshadowing done on this show than many realize but, as you noted, with a lot of that done through characters who aren’t Shaun, it is easy to forget this or that due to the infrequency of them being front and center. But it does make me wonder if that is the intricacies of the show, or how it compensates for the lack of consistent attention Claire and others get? Similar to how many characters and storylines mirror one another, should we consider minor situations placed throughout an episode as a means just to check if we’re paying attention? If not a means so fans can believe that, despite Claire lacking focus, Alex, or whoever, they matter because this one moment with them in it could setup something down the line that’s massive?

      I especially ask that due to the movie reference you make, and the mention of Lea with the hackers. Could this mean, towards the end of the season, maybe even the spring premiere, Lea having a notable, non-Shaun or relationship, storyline? For as much as we know where she is from, and what she does for a living, I think there is a need to revisit some Carly, in terms of how she integrated and adapted to Shaun. We’re seeing this again with Lea, and if she gets developed as a character, I wonder if Shaun may find himself adapting to her family, maybe any friends she has, never mind having the opportunity to meet them? With Carly, he didn’t get much, if any, interaction with them. He was a completely separate part of her life. Which for Shaun, it makes things easier for him, but almost mirrors the safety net he gets at work. Mainly through you seeing him get a notable amount of grace, since he is in an isolated bubble. One made to be highly favorable to him.

  4. Psychology as Morgan’s true calling? As if there weren’t enough misconceptions and prejudices about shrinks out there… Ah, well – she might truly excel at psychological warfare… 😉

  5. What does Lim expect from an autistic surgeon? What can she expect? You pose hard yet important questions here, Emily and Amari. In fact, you both cut right to one of the two core questions of season 4, as David Shore has laid out in several interviews: can Shaun be in a mature relationship – and can he be a teacher?

    And you rightfully called back to Dr. Han, who asked this question already in season 2, episode 16 (“Believe”): “How do you think he’ll do in three years when no one’s looking over his shoulder? When he’s looking over someone else’s shoulder? Supervising new residents, leading grand rounds, advocating for vulnerable patients. Do you see him doing any of that without a safety net?”

    Dr. Han said that to Dr. Lim back then and this foreshadowing of sorts comes to full circle now with Chief Lim probably realizing that Shaun only has thrived in St. Bonaventure because of an extremely wide safety net, as Amari already pointed out: not only were both Hospital Presidents holding their protective hand over Shaun (Andrews even sacrificed his career for him) but also every other colleague went great lengths to guide and protect the autistic resident on occasions: Claire fostered his social awareness and stood up against a prejudiced Melendez, Jared taught him some office politics, ex-cop Park had to save him from legal prosecution and Morgan pulled strings with Claire and Carly when the need arose.

    Still, less than 1 and half year before the end of his residency, Shaun is still dependent on this safety net when his poor communication skills are challenged. And as Lim pointed out to Han in 2.15 “Risk and Reward”, “Shaun has hard-wired differences in the way he perceives things.” To which Han responded: “Exactly. No matter how hard he works, no matter how hard you try and help him, his limitations are not going to change.”

    The situation in both episodes was similar: Shaun had made a mistake but was unable to accept that – a trait that is very common with autistic individuals. I have this tendency myself and I often must fight against it in younger autistic individuals when I try to pass on my life experiences. Yet, those on the spectrum can be quite hard-headed… Thus, tough-loving them is my choice as well because anything less will probably not get through.

    Because, as the term hard-wired implies, being autistic means that Shaun has certain limits concerning his social perception and skills, and while this is a fact to accept, it is not the last word on it either. It is also true that autistic individuals can compensate for these limitations to a certain extend by exposure, experience and practice. This means that Shaun must go the extra mile. And his fantastic safety net at St. Bonaventure must encourage him to do so again and again.

  6. Yes, he definitely was implying Asher was gay and I think that is why Shaun got some flack for asking if he had a boyfriend. Yet, out of all the newbies, Asher is the only one who has that special something. Maybe it is because he is awkward like Shaun that I really enjoy him but it is hard to say.

    A part of me is starting to wonder if there is a dual issue here when it comes to Shaun’s supervisors. On the one hand, he does have autism, so certain things he is going to struggle with. Yet, with knowing what Shaun is capable of and what he has overcome, should him being autistic be kept in the back of their heads? It’s one of those things where, be it Dr. Andrews, Dr. Lim, and pretty much anyone who has been Shaun’s boss, it seems like the autism only comes into play when Shaun isn’t comfortable yet, be it on his own or thanks to others, he manages. So with him being a boss now, I think Dr. Lim wants him to figure out and understand things more on his own.

    After all, their hospital accommodating Shaun still largely is due to Dr. Glassman bringing him on and his continued influence. If Shaun goes elsewhere, a lot of what he has done would not be put up with. So with Dr. Lim, I think her tough love is part of a push to make it so Shaun is more adaptable to situations which aren’t favorable to him. Because, after a certain point, he won’t have people like Dr. Andrews or Dr. Glassman willing to sacrifice their position. Also, he may not have people like Dr. Lim or Dr. Andrews who will chastise him, or redirect him, rather than write him up.

    For lest we forget, he already has one, due to how he treated that one nurse. So Shaun has to learn how to manage and deal with people on a new scale if he wants to have longevity. And all things considered, him diving into his subordinates’ personal lives, or him keep talking about his, while that’s fine with peers, I do wonder if the guy who left, maybe he was foreshadowing something? Because I could see Shaun talking about sex or something else casually, that being taken the wrong way, and us seeing someone push for HR to be involved. Which, I think, is going to be something else Dr. Lim touches on, because it is getting to be a bit much that Shaun is so open about personal topics. Not as a viewer but imagine him being your boss and him bringing this up, or a co-worker who isn’t necessarily close to Shaun.

  7. I got a kick out of your comment about how psychology could have been a better fit for Morgan! The way she was into “helping” Alex was a little too invasive for me (going through his stuff?!). But I agree that having the 2 of them become a couple would just be gross!

    I was taken aback by Dr. Lim’s tough love because I was not used to her talking to Shaun that way. And Shaun is autistic, and thus unable to read people’s feelings, facial expressions, vocal cues, etc., so what does she expect? And then it seemed like Dr. Lim arbitrarily came up with the rule “If one of the newbies asks if you should check his work, you should immediately check his work!” How is Shaun supposed to know this? The patient’s anuyrism(sp) was really no one’s fault in my opinion. But you were so right – When the patient died, it hit hard! I kept waiting for him to come back to life like all of their patients do when they flat line, and I was surprised when this one didn’t.

    I am willing to cut the newbies some slack and wait and see what happens next with them. Yes, I can’t even remember the surfer dude’s name. Yes, Jordan is just a Black Morgan. Yes, Olivia is sweet like Claire. But I like Asher and I want to see what happens with him and his reaction to the death of his first(!) patient. Plus, was the patient implying he was gay, or did I totally misunderstand their conversation about codes and such? And I think their presence still breathes some fresh air into the show and they aren’t liabilities yet.

    Side Note: I tried to submit my rating and it wouldn’t let me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.