The Good Doctor: Season 2, Episode 17 “Breakdown” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Shaun standing outside in the rain.

Shaun tries to assert himself with Dr. Han as he feels largely unsupported. As that happens, Dr. Lim and Melendez contemplate coming out.

Shaun tries to assert himself with Dr. Han as he feels largely unsupported. As that happens, Dr. Lim and Melendez contemplate coming out.

Episode Information: Episode 17 “Breakdown”

Director(s) Mike Listo
Writer(s) Thomas L. Moran, Lloyd Gilyard, Jr.
Air Date 3/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Laura Joy Osmanski


Brown Noser: Claire, Morgan, Dr. Park

With there being three years left in Shaun’s residency, and it being clear he is struggling in pathology, Claire wants to do something. However, Dr. Park is iffy about that and Morgan? She is back to her old ways. She figures the strongest will survive and Shaun’s downfall is good for them. Leading to whatever she and Claire built previously seemingly going to the wayside a bit.

When You Really Love Someone: Laura, Dr. Lin, Dr. Melendez, Shaun

Laura (Joy Osmanski) noting Dr. Lim doesn't know love for she doesn't allow herself to be vulnerable enough to experience it.
Laura (Joy Osmanski)

Dr. Lin’s friend Laura comes in with her baby who exhibits symptoms of being shaken. Now, of course, Dr. Lin dares not think her friend is capable. However, with no one helping Laura raise her child, there seems to be no other thing to explain the trauma the baby went through. However, Shaun finds an alternative which keeps Laura from losing her baby, if not going to jail.

Leading to Dr. Lin and Laura having an honest conversation. One which deals with the fact Dr. Lin doesn’t like being vulnerable and is unable to be optimistic about people – at least in her personal life. So, taking note of her friend’s critique, she decides to, with Dr. Melendez, reveal to Dr. Andrews that they are dating rather than sneak around.

Why Does No One Understand Me?: Shaun, Lea, Claire, Dr. Han

Shaun is at the end of his rope. While there are those around him who passively support him, no one is really going to bat for him and Lea? She tries to present the silver lining, and that just frustrates Shaun. So, he instead presents his case to Dr. Han after saving two patients, one being Laura’s baby and the other a major surgery for the hospital.

Dr. Han rejecting Shaun's request to go back to Surgery.

Yet, despite the accomplishments, Dr. Han maintains his decision and Shaun flips out. He does so to the point Dr. Han threatens to not only call security but fire Shaun. An action we aren’t 100% sure he does or not, firing Shaun that is, but we do see him have a breakdown in the locker room. One Claire walks in on and seems to want to help, but she doesn’t know how. While she is able to connect with Shaun unlike many others, she doesn’t know how to help when he is at a tipping point like this. So she just gathers his stuff and sits next to him. Hoping that would be good enough.

Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments

  • Glassman seems to be cancer free and without a tumor after 11 months of treatment.
  • Shaun, Dr. Lim, and Dr. Melendez are cleared by the medical board thanks to Dr. Han.

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

You always expect the worse in people, for that’s all you see in yourself.
– Lara



Shaun’s Breakdown

Shaun having a breakdown.

Highlighting Shaun’s breakdown is complicated. Part of the reason it is a highlight is because Shaun is dealing with an obstacle an impassioned speech can’t change. He is dealing with someone who isn’t going to bend just because he has autism and perhaps can’t be won over by his talents. In a way, it feels important for Shaun since it pushes him to grow out of his comfort zone.

Also, it means that, for once, he has to adapt rather than people adapt to him. Which is hard to watch, Shaun’s dreams and promise to Steve getting broken, but it is also necessary. This whole pathology course is necessary for it coerces Shaun out of the bubble Dr. Glassman likely has had him in for years. It preps him for what may happen after the hospital for even though there are three years left of residency, who knows where Shaun could end up after? There isn’t a guarantee he’ll get hired or that another hospital would quickly snatch him up. Especially if he has a “My way or the highway” type of mindset. So, one can only hope that alongside working on his communication skills, this pushes Shaun’s adaptability. Otherwise, all of Dr. Glassman’s sacrifices and years of medical school for Shaun might be for naught.

On The Fence

Dr. Han Blackmailing the Board

It’s not the act of Dr. Han blackmailing the board which is the issue for me, it is that he got away with it and it effectively shut down that storyline in a snap. Thus making the events of the “Quarantine” episodes seem neutered and simply to feign the stakes being raised but no real consequences coming out of the two-part episode.

Why Do We Not See Most Of These Friends More Than Once?

Claire has friends we never see, Morgan has friends we never see, Dr. Melendez has a sister we never see, and now Dr. Lim joins this group. I get there is only but so much time each episode, but it would be nice for these characters to not pop in for one episode and then their names never mentioned again.

Dr. Melendez and Lim Coming Out

Dr. Lim and Melendez making out.

I’m starting to believe writing compelling and butterfly inducing relationships is just not a strong point of The Good Doctor’s writing staff. When it comes to Dr. Melendez and Lim, their relationship remains one half giving them both something to do besides mentor and the other half pushing for some kind of growth for each character. But, while you get the purpose of these two being together, it doesn’t compensate for how dry their relationship is no matter how many times they kiss or spend quality time together.

To put it simply, their relationship, in terms of writing and interaction, seems to be out of convenience more so than passion.

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User Review
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  1. The question to ask ourselves, I believe, is why would Dr. Han, whom you believe is only acting in the best interest of the hospital, be willing to so easily sacrifice the possible success of a difficult operation (the 100 pound tumor) and the well-being of a patient all to prevent Shaun from consulting on the operation. How in the world would just listening to what he had to say put the hospital in jeopardy? It makes no sense. There are several other instances after Dr. Han arrived where Shaun was instrumental in a positive outcome, but was further restricted by Dr. Han. Claire even provided the evidence of cases in which Shaun was responsible for the successful outcomes before Dr. Han arrived. None of which sways Dr. Han’s opinions of Shaun in any way whatsoever.
    One has to ask is it simple prejudice that motivates Dr. Han or something else? No one was calling for Morgan to be removed from the surgical team when she delayed tests on the violinist with the flesh eating bacteria. Rather than a finger, the violinist’s entire arm had to be removed thus ending her career. The patient would have been well within her rights to sue. Morgan was not even reprimanded, but spoken to with empathy. Shaun, who could not properly read the mother’s distress, answers in the affirmative when she asks if her taking antidepressants could have anything to do with her baby’s medical problems. Han did not even see what happened between Shaun and the patient’s parents but only hears of it and reprimands Shaun in front of Lim and Claire. Dr. Han never even tried to find out any details about the encounter from Shaun. Dr. Lim tells Dr. Han that she does not appreciate his shame-based learning tactics and he responds by telling her that the real problem is her willingness to defend Shaun. He further adds: “No matter how hard [Shaun] works, no matter how hard you try and help him, his limitations aren’t going to change,” Han says. “He’s going to continue to inflict them on our patients, all in the name of diversity and inclusion.”
    That was it. Later, he moves Shaun to pathology, not in a proper conference, but while Shaun is waiting for the bus home and in a patronizing tone.
    I find Dr. Han’s reaction and subsequent actions taken because of Shaun’s communications error most puzzling since there are classes and instruction people on the spectrum can take to improve their skills in this area. And, I agree with Claire that Shaun is being punished for what he could possibly do in the future.
    Much of what Dr. Han does seems reasonable, and he appears to be a dedicated and gifted doctor, but he seems unreasoning when it comes to Shaun.
    I believe that there is more to Dr. Han than we are aware of. My guess is that he is on the spectrum – very high functioning. Not everyone with autism has difficulty communicating or even physical limitations we usually associate with autism. Actors, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah and Sir Antony Hopkins, Professor Temple Grandin and the late Scientist Barbara McClintock among others have been identified as being on the spectrum. Many of the challenges high functioning people on the spectrum experience are not always apparent. Problems with crowds is one of them. The showrunners shot a scene for Dr. Han’s welcome party where he didn’t show up. I’m speculating that this was something they wanted viewers to remember or else they could have just as easily had the actors mention it while passing each other in the hallway. Does Dr. Han have an aversion to crowds? Does he play music in the OR to keep from having to engage with the other doctors apart from the mechanics of the operation? We already know that he has made some particularly tone deaf remarks that can be passed off as crisp efficiency. I think it might be possible that Dr. Han has removed Shaun from surgery not because of his concern for the hospital but because he is afraid that Shaun might perceive and reveal that Dr. Han is also autistic. This is something that I find compelling.

    1. Welcome to the discussion! You make such interesting comments, and your conclusion, that Dr. Han is on the spectrum, is one I would have never, ever thought of yet is so possible, and like you wrote, definitely “compelling”! Also, I like how you bring up Morgan and how she caused that violinist to lose her arm. Between that, Claire killing a woman by inserting a tube down her throat incorrectly, and Park killing that father who was donating his bone marrow by somehow getting the iv needle into the patient’s arm, Shaun seems like the most competent of the bunch. Yet Shaun is the one Dr. Han is punishing. I wonder if they will give a deeper reason for Dr. Han’s decision-making or just go with what I believe is the boring way out of what’s been used so far, which is what you pointed out – simple prejudice.

      1. Hi Emily,
        I too am hoping that they explore Dr. Han’s psyche. If he turns out to be autistic, it would help bring the viewing audience a much deeper understanding of ASD.
        I think the show is also attempting to address the issue of how we incorporate people on the spectrum into wider society so that they are able to make significant contributions with whatever talents they have been blessed. We have made efforts to accommodate people with certain physical limitations, but behavioral limitations are a much trickier area. It is quite apparent, however, from Shaun’s reaction, that the showrunners believe that hiding people out of sight is not the solution.

        1. I am not holding out much hope that the show will delve in deeper behind Dr. Han’s motives. That’s because from what I’ve read on other websites, Daniel Dae Lewis, the actor playing Dr. Han, signed on for only 4 episodes, which ends Monday.

          I think the show is primarily concerned with how Shaun feels about and reacts to losing his surgical position instead. The show’s main theme has always been how a man with autism does in the position of a doctor. Also, I agree with you how the show does not want to put someone with Shaun’s behavioral limitations closed up in a Pathology lab, and I appreciate that! I look forward to seeing how they resolve this issue on Monday’s show. At least I hope they resolve it – I hate cliffhangers!!

    2. As Emily said, that is quite the thought and would explain so much. The only issue is, as Emily also noted, he is only scheduled for 4 episodes currently so I don’t know if they’ll go that deep with Dr. Han. Yet, with Morgan only scheduled for a few episodes at the end of the last season, and now a regular I believe, anything could happen.

      Speaking of Morgan, I don’t think we can use the violinist situation if only because that was under Dr. Andrews. Someone who, while covering the position of President and Head of Surgery, seemingly let a lot fall through the cracks. Hence one of the reasons he was pushed to hire someone vs. continuing to do two jobs.

  2. I’ll start with Dr. Han blackmailing the board. Calling that an anti-climatic ending is a huge understatement! What should have been an interesting story line taking up a few episodes was reduced to Dr. Han acting flippant and getting away with something that should have gotten him in trouble as well! Dr. Lim was right when she called it a “stupid board review”. Not to mention what was up with Dr. Han insulting the hospital lawyer?? How rude and uncalled for!

    But that was nothing compared to how he treated Shaun. We are not in agreement on this because I think Dr. Han is completely in the wrong. In the previous episode, when Shaun advocated for himself, Dr. Han complemented Shaun on that, but wouldn’t reinstate him. When Shaun figured out how to remove the giant tumor when no one else could, that wasn’t good enough for Dr. Han. Dr. Han is being just as stubborn as Shaun because no matter how brilliant a surgeon Shaun is or no matter what Shaun does, it is not good enough for Dr. Han. And maybe I am influenced by having an autistic child, but I feel that some sort of concession should be made for Shaun’s lack of communication skills.

    I understand why you think getting Shaun out of his comfort zone is good for him, but Shaun moved halfway across the U.S., moved into a new apartment, started at a new hospital, with new co-workers (2 of which, Andrews and Melendez, didn’t want him there) when he started his residency. That put him way out of his comfort zone! So I don’t think that’s necessary to try to accomplish with Shaun. What’s important is that Dr. Han is keeping a brilliant surgical resident out of the operating room. Maybe Shaun should hire a private investigator and try to blackmail Dr. Han into giving him his surgical residency back!

    1. My thing is when it comes to Shaun getting out of his comfort zone is that Dr. Han isn’t looking at Shaun’s total story. He probably doesn’t care about Shaun’s story and is squared in solely on the doctor he can be and what he can offer the hospital or the medical community. So when you take that personal stuff out, I can understand why Dr. Han is doing what he is. For within pathology, there are no excuses to be made for Shaun being someone with autism so you have to forgive him being curt or anything like that. He’d work with the same people day in and day out who’d know his ways and won’t take offense. Also, he could still help, as he did in this episode, and be a valued asset.

      However, working as a surgeon, if the lead surgeon is like Dr. Han and needs music and that throws Shaun off, now that surgeon has to adapt to him or a mistake could be made. If Shaun has a patient, or an advocate, who gets aggressive, does something which throws him off, or anything like that, it could lead him to attracting the medical board’s attention again. And I don’t mean to sound callous, recognizing you have an autistic child, but I think the big issue Dr. Han is facing is that the medical field isn’t necessarily geared to accommodate someone like Shaun and while others might be willing to make it so, he doesn’t feel obligated and realizes he might not be alone.

      Which perhaps speaks to the issue I mentioned earlier which could come up of Shaun feeling he is being discriminated against and maybe creating a lawsuit. Granted, it didn’t do much good for Jared, but there are laws on the book which are supposed to protect Shaun and with Claire, Dr. Lim, and Melendez able to testify on his behalf, it could make for a good arc. One which could compensate for how the medical board review thing went, which could get revisited as a means to get Dr. Han fired in season 3.

      1. I agree with everything you wrote in the first paragraph. Objectively, Shaun is much better suited for Pathology for all of the reasons you listed. And you are not being callous when you point out how the medical field won’t necessarily accommodate Shaun because I unfortunately know that real life will not accommodate my autistic child. But remember in Season 1 when Dr. Glassman suggested Shaun get a therapist to spend each day with him? It would be nice if everyone were like that, but that is just wishful thinking on my part. Dr. Han, of course, is not like that. And since Shaun refuses to work in Pathology, him filing a lawsuit against the hospital and Dr. Han in particular would be a very interesting story line for season 3.

        I was too tired to comment on the following Tuesday night:
        Speaking of Shaun, the scene of his breakdown in the locker room broke my heart! And then when Claire came in and saw Shaun and wanted to help but didn’t know what to do, it broke my heart again! I am so glad Claire didn’t just leave him, but instead sat down next to him in case he wanted to talk.

        I am disappointed in the Melendez/Lim relationship story line. You are right that the show’s writers can’t make two sexy people have a relationship with any romance or passion. I thought “dry” was a very good description of those two together, and it’s a shame because I was really looking forward to this story line!

        1. Claire is so important to Shaun’s mental health at this point. No one seems able or willing to understand what he is going through and perhaps knowing she doesn’t have the right verbiage either, she just lets him know he isn’t alone. Which makes me wonder more and more why neither seek out the other outside of work. Especially Shaun for with Lea seeing someone you’d think he’d want out of the apartment more so he wouldn’t have to deal with feelings of jealousy, envy, or something else. Plus, Claire is the only consistent person who hasn’t yelled, been curt, or said something mean to Shaun.

          1. I have a guess as to why neither one tries to hang out with the other after work. With Claire, she likes Shaun, and would probably rate Shaun as her favorite “work friend”. But I’m guessing that when compared to her friends outside of work, Shaun ranks really low. With Shaun, the only thing I can think of is to compare it to when I was in college and I was hopelessly infatuated with this guy who did not treat me very well. But because I liked him sooo much for reasons to this day make no sense, I wanted to be around him and only him 24/7 because there was nobody I liked more, and in hopes that eventually he would see how awesome I was. Maybe that’s how Shaun feels about Lea. Btw, it took him graduating from college and leaving town for me to move on. With Lea coming back, if it’s the same thing, I don’t know how Shaun will move on. 🙁

            1. And that’s why the friend thing with this show is strange to me. We see and hear about them one episode and after that it is like they don’t exist. But, like you said, and seen when Claire, Jared, and Shaun went drinking that one time, he probably isn’t high up on her list of people to be around when she wants to de-stress from work.

              1. You’re right about how friends and family of the people on this show come on for one episode and then we never see them again (Lea being the ONLY exception!) Remember when Claire had a friend who was dying of cancer and Dr. Melendez bought her more time? But then when they showed Claire with a day off, she was at home, alone, playing guitar instead of visiting her dying friend. Also, I would like to see Dr. Melendez’s sister again. That one visit did more to humanize Dr. Melendez then a whole episode with him and Dr. Lim (and the visit was really sweet, too).

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