The Good Doctor” is again surging in the ratings with its second season, per numbers reported in Variety, the series is keeping to its trademark for creating episodes with something to say with October 1’s “Middle Ground.” Fans of the medical drama have definitely been waiting for Lea (Paige Spara) to return, but Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is not welcoming her back with open arms, or anything beyond “Hello [VIDEO]” since her decision to move to Hershey, PA.

The good doctor is devoting himself to honing his communication skills and the usefulness of kind deception in this storyline, as he still assures Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) of his steadfast friendship.

Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) crosses every line for the right reasons to help a teenage patient who became victim to feminine mutilation as a family tradition when she was a toddler, putting her whole career on the line.

No one at home

Lea is waking up in a bed right next to Shaun’s, but he is long gone by the time she rises, and she is asleep after his long shifts at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. At the outset of this storyline, is consumed by a hospital janitor’s ( Faustino Di Baudo) jaundiced appearance and burping. Shaun immediately diagnoses pancreatic cancer in Paul, the janitor, while Dr. Melendez suggests less drastic measures along the lines of acid reflux. He recommends that Shaun goes home and gets some sleep.

Dr. Lim is perplexed when a teen under the name of Asha (Camille Hyde) asks for plastic surgery repair as a critical issue in the ER until she sees the horrifically altered private areas of the young woman, who was forced to undergo mutilation, known globally as FGM, as a toddler.

She has only the nightmarish memories of the pain and being held down to endure the practice, which had been part of her family heritage. David Shore’s story writing highlights that this disfigurement happens to 200 million females.

Dr. Lim is normally one for the following protocol and dotting every “I,” but in this instance, she devises a way to perform corrective surgery, and have the young woman return home the same day, so her parents will suspect nothing. When the surgical outcome still yields immense pain and suffering, it's clear that the procedure is no longer a “day surgery,” and child protective services must become involved.

Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper) is out to fire Dr. Lim when he learns of her clandestine plan and discovers that Asha signed in under a fake ID, claiming she was 18, and her parents reveal that her name is actually Mara. The family is loving and protective but is now under investigation for abuse of their child. They, on the other hand, see that the agony that their daughter is suffering as the fault of the hospital.

Mara’s mother discloses that the aunt and the grandmother performed the ritualistic procedure on the daughter, just as was done on them and her.

Two options are available: one that will remove the clitoris, and deprive Mara of any sexual satisfaction within a healthy relationship in her future and one that will allow preservation. Both will still be painful, and it is up to Mara to make the choice. Not wanting to deface her family, and in tremendous pain, she tells Dr. Lim to “take it out.”

Dr. Lim pleads for the opportunity to ask Mara about the surgery without her parents being present. She tells her own personal story about being slapped by her father after being found with a boy. Mara makes the same decision.

In surgery, Dr. Lim tells the team to prepare the expected surgical area “and the cheek” for the graft to preserve the clitoris, and this time, Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee) approves, leading the team in this life-altering agreement.

Hard choices

Paul is faced with a similar surgical dilemma. Shaun breaks the news to his family that he has stage III pancreatic cancer [VIDEO], and approximately a year to live. There is a surgery, known as a whiffle, that has great risks and a difficult recovery but cannot offer the father years of health and life ahead. In a moving scene in the hospital chapel, Shaun apologizes that he never knows the right time to lie, or when it is not suitable, to tell the truth.

Paul tells him not to be ashamed, and that he was never offended by Shaun's bluntness. He tells Dr. Murphy that “when the truth can't help people,” it's sometimes better to lie. The humble janitor also shares with the doctor that prayer helps him to find peace with his decisions, more than what decision to make.

Lea comes to the hospital, hoping to have lunch with Shaun, but he coldly rebuffs her. When Claire (Antonia Thomas) pursues him, insisting that he has to talk with Lea and be honest with her, Shaun is obviously tormented, yelling “I don't know how I feel,” and that he cannot be honest with Lea because he doesn't understand his own feelings.

These few minutes of Freddie Highmore's performance are Emmy-worthy in themselves. Not only does this viewer sense the full emotional conflict of the character most comfortable in his own kind of isolation, but every sinew in the actor’s being is reflected in the red flush of his neck, breathing with the power of his character’s dilemma.

Dr. Melendez suggests that Shaun take Claire’s help in breaking the initial news of “getting it all,” meaning cancer, to Paul’s family. He begins to describe all the difficulties and risks still involved, while she cautions the doctor to “let them have their moment.” There are difficulties with Paul, and cardiac failure comes after a bleed-out.

Claire tells the family the devastating news, and they each begin finger-pointing to each other for the decision to have the surgery. Dr. Murphy steps in with an appropriate untruth, telling them that Paul wanted the surgery, giving them solace.

Shaun tries to assist Dr. Glassman in selecting his surgeon. Satisfaction is impossible because Glassman would prefer to be his own surgeon. He declares that he doesn't want the “middle ground” that is often considered success with brain surgeries, where being able to breathe, even if one is unable to walk or keep a hand from shaking, is a surgical success. “You'll still be my friend,” Shaun assures, therefore following with “That's not enough, is it?” His mentor’s response is a predictable no. Schiff’s final scene is counting down under anesthesia in surgery.

The next morning, Shaun makes breakfast for Lea, and then tells her to go back to Hershey, Pennsylvania, or “go back anywhere other than here” because it “hurts too much” to think of her, and the pain of loss he was consumed with after her impetuous departure.

Love has been a difficult concept for Shaun Murphy. Those who were supposed to love and protect him either brutalized or dismissed him, apart from his brother, Steve, who is still his inspiring light.

The memories of their taking the wheel and tequila shots will not be enough to bridge this gulf. Lea will need to become selfless as never before to bring Sean into the light of potential love. “The Good Doctor” is often running with delicious storytelling for Season 2, with many more weeks to come. Whether by decision or necessity, Shaun Murphy is maturing in every way.