The cast of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” has a lot to live up to after the medical drama’s stunning success as a debut series last year. The impact of creator David Shore’s project is evident all over primetime television, with followers like “The Resident” and NBC's new medical offering, “New Amsterdam,” coming to its lineup. Freddie Highmore and his castmates may take the complement of imitation, and inspiration, as the sincerest forms of flattery, but “The Good Doctor” brings a prescribed dose of optimism amidst very real challenges for Dr. Shaun Murphy and the fellow residents and staff of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Its reflection is unique and apart from following the life of the surgical resident with autism.

More than simply adopting themes of serving the “greater good,” hope and restoration ring in every episode of “The Good Doctor,” and Freddie Highmore wove fear and loss into the threads of his writing in the first story of Season 2 [VIDEO].

Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper) is at the helm of the hospital now, as Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) confronts the battle for his life with brain cancer. Expectations are set high in the opening episode, “Hello,” as the new surgeon in charge spells out the truth he sees and his demands for success. Everyone on staff at St. Bonaventure will need to hold onto hope through new challenges and relationships, and Dr. Murphy has a very heartfelt goodbye and an unexpected hello to start the season on September 24.

Inhabiting the good

“I think he's a lovely person to get to inhabit,” said Freddie Highmore of his character in a September 24 interview with Canada's Hamilton Spectator.

The 26-year-old leading man embraces the full scope of portraying his character, from being a producer on “The Good Doctor” to writing and directing, as he also did on his former stint on “Bates Motel. Highmore inked an exclusive deal with Sony for more creative control over the summer, and that should allow for more personal depth to develop for the character of Dr. Murphy and the other cast. Highmore especially praises the “faith in humanity” that Shaun Murphy strives to find, no matter the situation.

That faith is stretched as Shaun and Jared (Chuku Modu) run a community outreach clinic that is not highly regarded by Dr. Andrews. When a homeless man attempts to steal drugs designated for Chlamydia, Shaun surmises that schizophrenia and drug addiction are the issues beyond a severe oral abscess.

Under further deduction, Dr. Murphy determines that “Harry” has a brain tumor, and he relates to his situation of living in a tent community from personal experience. He asks Jared’s help in finding Harry, and becomes overwhelmed by triggers from noise, screams, and attacking dogs.

Jared calms him by having him close his eyes, and take comfort in his ever-present toy scalpel. Despite the dangers, they persist and locate their patient, who is very uncooperative. Shaun discovers that his identity is Edward Austen Thomas, who had a full life and a family until the intrusion to his mental health.

Once again, Jared comes to Shaun’s defense with Dr. Andrews for the intervention, and Dr. Andrews vows to ruin Jared’s future career prospects in Denver. Shaun cannot summon the social grace to embrace his friend as they part, but he does convey complete gratitude in his own way, and confidence that Jared will be “very happy one day,” offering a brush against Jared’s shoulder in a later scene.

Fear and finding grace

Jared encourages Shaun to be with Dr. Glassman through the long spans in waiting rooms, and it remains to be seen whether Dr. Glassman was right to reinstate a preferred oncologist who has a history of drug problems to be his physician. In a memorable scene, Shaun finally shows up to wait with his mentor, scolding him for shooting paper wads at a wastebasket. Finally, both tear pages from Murphy’s book and take shots. Fear subsides in a moment of abandon.

Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) is urged to take on very risky surgery involving Teflon grafts to cope with a heart aneurysm, and the usually confident surgeon experiences the feeling of being caught between praise for his skill and his boss’ need for the hospital's acclaim under his leadership. David Shore relates in a September 24 TV Guide interview per MSN that the medical stories are “cool ones” in the new season, but most satisfying and complex are the unfolding relationships of the characters.

Some of that complexity is played out in the final scenes of “Hello.” Claire (Antonia Thomas) finally brings herself to say that she regrets how things ended with Jared and she asks him to stay. He declines, no longer willing to be a non-factor in any partner’s future. He does leave her with a kiss on the head. In a completely uncharacteristic move, the self-absorbed Dr. Morgan Reznick played to a T by Fiona Gubelmann, attributes the idea for the heart procedure to Dr. Brown, so there is hope for change in anyone.

After surgery restores Harry to his former self, welcoming his family to his bedside, Shaun sits with Dr. Glassman, assuring him “I'm going with you” through his battle with illness. What Dr. Murphy could never predict who was waiting at his apartment door after the long day. Long-lost Lea (Paige Spara) excitedly greets him straight off his elevator. With a quizzical look of confusion, he says “Hello” as the credits roll.

Fans need to prepare for a roller coaster of emotions, through many relationships, in the new season of “The Good Doctor.”