The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 6 “Lim” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

A dizzy Dr. Lim trying to walk the hallways

In The Good Doctor’s return, we focus on Dr. Lim as she juggles the eccentric doctors under her employment, the patients under her care, and an eroding mental/emotional state.

In The Good Doctor’s return, we focus on Dr. Lim as she juggles the eccentric doctors under her employment, the patients under her care, and an eroding mental/emotional state.

Director(s) Mike Listo
Writer(s) Jessica Grasl, Tracy Taylor
Aired (ABC) 1/11/2021
Introduced This Episode
Rose Sheila McCarthy
Ben David Del Rio
Zoe Kim Shaw

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Something Strange Is Going On – Morgan, Alex, Dr. Lim

Alex and Morgan living with each other is strange enough, but what takes things to the next level is them having petty bets and games, and it spilling over to work. Dr. Lim initially peeps something is up with them wearing crocs to work but she draws the line at them putting grills in their teeth. And why are they doing this? Because neither one wants to deal with a mouse and so they are coming up with ways to make the other person tap out. That nonsense leads Dr. Lim to send them both home for being foolish, inappropriate and wasting everyone’s time.

Everyone’s An Expert – Claire, Ben, Rose, Zoe, Dr. Lim

But the stress doesn’t end there. On her way to work, with her speeding in an effort to drown out her thoughts, she comes across a veteran named Ben who has vivid flashbacks due to his time in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was hit by a car and Dr. Lim takes responsibility for him at the hospital, with Claire’s assistance.

As this happens, Dr. Lim encounters a woman named Rose who claims to be such an empath she can feel Dr. Lim’s stress to the point of her blood pressure rising. Rose’s mumbo jumbo makes Dr. Lim very uncomfortable so she tries to avoid her at all cost. Yet, with the warning about her stress, and the ringing in her ears, maybe Rose is right?

Rose (Sheila McCarthy) in her hospital bed
Rose (Sheila McCarthy)

However, Dr. Lim doesn’t have time to question her mental and emotional state with so many patients and nowhere near enough time to treat them all. This is why she tries her best to leave them in the hands of her employees but when some like Claire want to try procedures that go beyond their scope of care – Lim pushes back. After all, it was only a few months ago elective surgeries were on a case by case basis. So while Claire has found one which could treat Ben’s PTSD, maybe give him a normal life with his partner, Zoe, Lim isn’t originally down for it.

That is until Ben seems on the verge of suicide because of the guilt from missing an IED and countless lives dying in the process. With that in mind, Lim allows the surgery and it seems to help.

Though with Ben experiencing PTSD, and Dr. Lim seeming off, it leads to Claire to try to open up to Dr. Lim about her own PTSD. For as we saw early on in the series, Claire was trying to push through like Dr. Lim but was forced by Dr. Glassman since she was clearly struggling to do so. And while Claire didn’t keep going to therapy, she at least had Dr. Melendez to aide her in her struggle. So, Claire is hoping Dr. Lim will tap into the kindness Claire was given so that she may ease her burden and struggle.

Authority And Delegation Isn’t A Cure-All For Stress – Jordan, Olivia, Rose, Dr. Lim, Claire, Shaun

While Claire means well, Dr. Lim is of a different generation and it seems for her, the idea of wallowing in the stress of her job doesn’t make sense. She knows what she has signed up for and it seems she’d rather blast music, speed down roads, then talk about hearing people’s time of deaths over and over in her head. But, if her stress was just affecting her that would be one thing, but it’s starting to affect her relationship with people.

For example, when it comes to Jordan, she snaps at her. Why? Well, because she abandoned an abortion procedure, in the middle of it, because of her religious beliefs. Mind you, Jordan did originally say she didn’t want to and Olivia was to do so. However, after Claire reminded Jordan of who not to disappoint, or potentially upset, Jordan tried to push through but just couldn’t. Leading to Dr. Lim going off on her.

Dr. Lim snapping at someone
Dr. Lim: You need to grow up and accept some responsibility.

But Jordan wasn’t the only one. Shaun also gets told off for his search to find Lea the perfect birthday present, combined with him thinking he could tell Dr. Lim what he is or isn’t going to do, in regards to teaching students, leads to her snapping. Though, let’s be honest, as much as Shaun deserves some grace due to his autism, surely asking women, at work, what sex toys they like and think your girlfriend might like, that can’t be something he thought would be appropriate?

Either way, while upset with Shaun’s continued defiance and him really testing how much patience he deserves for social faux pas, Dr. Lim presses on and continues to push Shaun to teach. Even when he has a strong desire to just take over the situation because it is easier.

Yet, even with getting a win in having Shaun do what she asked him to, this doesn’t ease Dr. Lim’s stress and Rose, the empath, she nearly dies of a heart attack from trying to take on Lim’s stress. Which, of course, Lim refuses to accept the responsibility of for she didn’t ask Rose to, just like she isn’t likely to ask Claire to do so.

However, with her getting into a motorcycle accident on the way home, and having dizzy spells, it seems she may not be able to hold all she is feeling inside for too much longer.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Remember, perhaps last season, when Dr. Lim saw a ghost of a little girl? Did anyone else think they would maybe pick up on that with this episode? Especially with the abortion storyline and maybe play out that, like Jordan, Dr. Lim made a sacrifice so that she could stay on her career trajectory? If not that little girl being her and maybe the show touch on Dr. Lim’s upbringing and maybe use that to further why she didn’t want to talk and just considered the stress she is under as part of the job?
  2. Why was this the first episode we got to hear how much of a potential legend Dr. Lim and her residency program is?

Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs

The basis of empathy is curiosity.
— Shaun

Your job is to teach, not take over.
— Dr. Lim

You need to stop seeking out other people’s pain. It’s literally killing you.
— Dr. Lim



A Non-Shaun Focused Episode

While we enjoy Shaun, we also feel it is very easy to get Shaun fatigue. Especially as he asks about various social situations that, between high school, college, and medical school, you’d think he would have experienced and understood. Never mind, with Dr. Glassman being a former helicopter parent, thinking he would have explained things to Shaun, or around him, to smooth out a situation. Yet, with The Good Doctor having this huge chasm between the time period after Shaun’s brother died to when he got hired at the hospital, it’s often hard to say what should or shouldn’t be expected.

But I digress, while there is more to explore with Shaun, I’m glad we did focus on someone else for the series’ return. Heck, I hope, as much as The Good Doctor is a show about Shaun, and how his autism makes him a special part of the hospital, that the supporting characters get to be seen as actual people more often. Because one issue we sometimes have is feeling that they are all only as fleshed out as Shaun is privy to their lives. Which if The Good Doctor only focused on Shaun, that would make sense. However, with us learning bits and pieces and being enticed by developments that often are put on pause, it does become frustrating at times.

The Difficulties Of Making Life & Death Decisions, And Managing The Eccentric Employees Lim Has

Dr. Lim probably has one of the most stressful jobs in the hospital. As she noted in the episode, during COVID-19’s height, she had to choose what surgeries, the ones which usually don’t need approval, were necessary and it led to someone dying. And when you add in all the deaths, one after another, then negotiating for supplies, dealing with Zoom meetings, and then her staff? It was probably a lot.

Alex showing off his grill

I mean, look at what we got on an average day when COVID wasn’t involved. You got Morgan continuing to make her presence known, and with her living with Alex, her roping him into her madness. On top of that, you got residents who, because Shaun doesn’t like to do something he isn’t good at, now Dr. Lim has to get involved and handhold. Never mind him treat the staff as if every decision he comes across that isn’t medical, he must have their opinion on it and it cannot wait.

Add in patients that have PTSD, are strange, or dealing with a traumatic moment they’ll never forget and Dr. Lim not having an outlet besides thrill chasing? It helps me understand why people like Grey’s Anatomy because this is the kind of drama you can understand being spread out over multiple seasons.

Ben’s Story

Perhaps like the doctors, we have become a bit emotionally numb to a lot of the patients’ storylines but every now and then one hits us and Ben was one. Maybe it was because his story wasn’t made to just be a trigger for Dr. Lim’s own? It could also be the performance? Either way, it was one of the first in a while that affected us and brought us to where we were in season 1 when it felt like we were crying damn near every episode.

On The Fence

Wondering If They Should Have Brought Cultural Context To Dr. Lim’s Stress Management

Until recently, Black American culture, Asian American culture, and some immigrant cultures didn’t take well to the idea of therapy. Between praying or sucking it up, you were expected to just deal with whatever was bothering you in silence, through a hobby, or a vice. Now, being that there aren’t a huge amount of Asian characters on television, especially in Dr. Lim’s position, not going into her past, her culture, and bring in the “Why?” when it comes to her holding everything inside seemed like a missed opportunity.

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  1. Hi Andreas! Hi Amari! First, I echo Andreas’ opinion on how excellent your review is, Amari! Week after week you write such in-depth and interesting reviews, and this week was no exception!!

    Andreas, I find it very interesting that you are o.k. with TGD having a lead who is not on the spectrum. I forget which season it was, but right after the episode where Shaun treated a male patient with autism, who I believe was played by an actor who was on the spectrum, many people on social media complained about how Shaun was not being portrayed by someone with autism. I thought they were idiots because in an interview with Daniel Dae Kim, one of the executive producers of TGD, he said it took him years to get ABC (the American network that pays for all of the episodes of TGD so it can be aired on ABC) to agree to finance the show even though it was such a big hit in South Korea. And although he did not say this, I personally am not sure ABC would have approved to pay for the show if Shaun was being played by an actor on the spectrum. I think they would have found it to be too risky. So for a show built around a character on the spectrum to be airing on a major network was a great risk and those on social media should have been happy with what TGD has achieved instead of complaining.

    Also, great job remembering Lim gave Shaun advice on sex with Carly! I had forgotten that, and that makes Shaun asking Lim about sex toys make sense.

  2. P.S.: While Freddie Highmore is not on the spectrum himself, he said once in an interview that the has someone near to him who is. Richard Schiff has a son with ASD. And besides an autism consultant checking every script, staff writer Mark Rozeman is on the spectrum himself while his colleague David Renaud does use a wheelchair. There’s quite some experience with ASD and disabilities in general accumulated in the team of TGD and I think this is more important than focusing on the lead performer’s mental condition solely.

  3. Funny, you asked me a very similar question already last year, Amari. 🙂 First, I don’t mind the lead actor not being on the spectrum. The actor’s job is to deliver an act, not to “be”. The writers do a good job to write Shaun, and Freddie Highmore does a good job at delivering it. That’s all that matters to me.

    Of course, the show is somewhat between a rock and a hard place with the need to deliver a compelling and well-paced drama and communicating how autism expresses itself in an individual in contrast to neurotypicals, especially since there isn’t such a thing as a typical individual with ASD – it is called a spectrum now for a reason. If you come to know one Aspie, you only know one Aspie…

    Yet, I don’t hold the show responsible to explain more, since in our days all the needed extra information is only some keystrokes away. Those who whish to know more, can do so – and in a way we both do that here! 😉

    The Good Doctor is a Prime-Time drama series (which equals great reach!), not an educational program, when it motivates only parts of its audience to educate themselves on their own terms, it is a invaluable service to spectrum.

  4. Out of curiosity Andreas, do you feel the show does enough to educate or socialize people in terms of what can be expected when interacting with someone who has autism? I say that due to often feeling more educated by your perspective than the show at times. Or do you believe such a burden, to present and be a voice for those who are autistic, is too much to place on The Good Doctor? Especially considering the lead isn’t even autistic but simply playing a role? Granted, in a way that is done well but still someone who is an ally of the community and not part of it.

  5. It’s a pleasure to read a review rich on insight and looking behind the obvious. I enjoyed it very much again, Amari.

    After the emotionally challenging season opening, this was the next highlight episode that showed what TGD can accomplish when it uses all resources of its trade, such as actor’s skills, camera and narrative style. “Lim” consequently told the story from Chief Lim’s point of view and often a scene opened by us literally looking over her shoulder at the events unfolding. In consequence, we only got privy to other (usually well known characters), in the short periods they directly interacted with Lim. Even the culmination of Shaun’s birthday quest was just a blurry sidenote in the distance, because Lim had a breakdown at that moment. Christina Chang really can carry a whole episode on her own.

    4.06 “Lim” was very much structured (although executed better technically) like 3.03 “Claire” before, and by an interview of Ms. Chang we already know that this again was the kick-start for a character arc that will be carried on this season (albeit not in the subsequent episode):

    So, we still have to wait and see if and how Lim’s cultural background (she was born in Taipei, Taiwan) might influence her coping mechanisms.

    Interestingly, this set-up will likely put Claire in the role Morgan held in season 3 – being the one pushed away. A new experience for a character that is used to do the pushing (Jared, therapy, her mother, Morgan, Dash). In fact, there are some indications that season 4 will see a lot of the well-known characters being put in reversed roles: Shaun has to teach now and he might get a taste of the jealousy and rivalry Carly had to endure in episode 407.

    Claire will not only be pushed away by Lim but also find herself to be the romantic interest of a subordinate – doesn’t that ring a bell? 😉 The start of season 4 sometimes felt a little confusing with the Covid-centered two-parter and the introduction of so many new characters at once, but now it becomes more likely that this season is up to confront many characters with their mirror image – and they might not like what they see.
    Oh, and it might have slipped your memory, that girl Lim chased in 316 “Autopsy” was a real girl named Trinity left a the ER on Trinity Sunday eight years before. Lim had to resist the urge to adopt her back then. The story was a puzzle pice that again underscored what Lim has sacrificed as a woman of color to become Chief of Surgery in a male-dominated profession. It also fits her current PTSD arc, because Lim is divorced, obviously not keeping much in touch with her mother (see “Autopsy” as well as her regrets in “Quarantine”); and her best friend Laura accusing her of not knowing the love of a mother and lacking vulnerability and commitment in 217 “Breakdown”. Lim is alone (by choice), there is no one left she could reach out to naturally.

    As for some minor details… you often ask why Shaun hasn’t picked up before entering work life – well I can assure you that it is quite normal for autistic individuals to dive deeper into this process only in their twenties of thirties – which in turn makes their childhood and adolescence even more very difficult, because they are so wrapped up in their own autistic perception that they don’t have a clue what’s wrong. That is a burden for them as well as their peers who usually react either with ignorance or bullying – which we witnessed in season one’s flashbacks. The show’s portrait of that is quite accurate concerning time and pace.

    As for the sex toys… Actually, it was reasonable of Shaun to assume that Lim would offer good advice on that because – without being asked – Lim offered her advice on how to give Carly a Great Parade in 313 “Sex and Death” after Shaun already had asked his co-residents about it and even studied a guide “How to Please Your Woman” together with Claire in the residents’ lounge. But ultimately, it was Chief Lim’s advice which led to the much desired result.

    So, Shaun just followed up on what he had come to know to be a socially acceptable and successful behavior with his colleagues and boss. Here, his peers bear some blame themselves for not teaching Shaun more about professional and personal boundaries (only Morgan tried in 312/313 but has given up since and simply walked away when he presented the singing bears) and it now comes back to haunt them…

    In Shaun’s perception it was totally reasonable for him to go to Lim again with that – and we may assume that under normal circumstances Lim would have been helpful again because of her soft spot for him – it was just that Lim was not receptive to such petty things in her situation and she called Shaun out mainly because he is still heavily relying on the people around him while he easily retreats from situations he does not like – such as teaching. Perhaps she was even a little mad at herself in that moment because she knew deep down to herself that she was hypocrite here, running away from her own problems at the same time…

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