Part of the appeal that pulls fans of “The Good Doctor” into the lives of the surgical residents of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital is how their characters are crafted as real, flawed, and still wonderful people beyond the practice of medicine and healing. In this week's January 21 12th episode of Season 2, “Aftermath,” the doctors on the brink, saving lives during the quarantine are in need of some healing themselves, in both mind and body.

The writing, acting and directing in this episode all combine to bring any viewer to laughter, tears, and reflection in 42 minutes.

The day starts with Dr. Shaun Murphy's (Freddie Highmore) telephone alarm waking him up, as always, and he walks out to find Lea (Paige Spara) fully letting it loose, dancing to the Pretenders. He compliments her and being a good dancer. She insists that after the ordeal that he has been through, “The Good Doctor” has to get out and do something fun, no matter how tempted he is to fall into this medical books.

Routine and familiarity can provide daily salvation for someone on the autism spectrum, and unstructured downtime can be difficult. Lea steps in with something “out-of-the-box” for both Shaun and Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) but Shaun still ends his day conflicted.

As for the other doctors, the day holds new beginnings and discoveries, and three, in particular, face a rocky future for a while.

Camaraderie and coping

Dr.

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Park (Will Yun Lee) goes for kickboxing, Dr. Brown (Antonia Thomas) takes a run, and Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) does her best with yoga, but need something stronger to chase her blues away. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) checks in on Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) hoping to confirm to her that his feelings are completely genuine, while she announces to him that she is “exhausted, unshowered, and constipated,” and would prefer to resume their “competitive” relationship prior to intimacy.

She asks him to close the door when he leaves.

Morgan Reznick reaches out to Claire Brown in a first social overture that genuinely shocks the cautious Brown, who notes that “we really don't like each other.” Morgan invites her for mimosas at a high-end restaurant and nails Clare's activity for the morning as “playing your guitar and singing into your phone,” which she does quite beautifully. Claire agrees to meet her, and being ever watchful, she suggests “you might want to pace yourself” to her colleague downing drinks.

She makes an overture for Morgan to talk about losing Tyler, and predictably, Morgan brushes it aside with “we barely knew each other.” When Claire gets a call to help her mother, under threat of eviction, Morgan insists on helping, offering that “I'm great with moms.”

Dr. Park has had a breakthrough with his son (Ricky He) and is relishing just having him at home. When his ex-wife, Mia (Jennifer Birmingham Lee), drops by to say goodbye, Alex asks her to stay the weekend.

She defers, saying it would be best to move on, but with persuasion, she decides to postpone departure to a later flight. Love is still there, and these two have unfinished business.

Finding new truths

Dr. Glassman is again going against doctor’s orders, leaving the hospital after successful surgery for his meningitis, and not entertaining any thoughts of chemotherapy. Shaun implores him from all the medical angles to no avail. Lea calls with an invitation for lunch, and a playful back-and-forth ensues before both accept. Shaun asks Lea to intercede regarding his mentor continuing chemo, and Dr. Glassman admits “she gets you” to his savant friend.

Being the car nut, Lea takes the boys to an electric sprint car course for a race. Glassman senses that Shaun is holding back to protect him, so he says “I’m in!” The elder doctor definitely suffered some impact effects in the race but never revealed anything but zeal. In the evening, over beer, Dr. Glassman asks Shaun if he thinks “anything more” will come in his relationship with Lea. Shaun reiterates that Lea insists that they can be “just friends,” but that she goes out with many other people. One of those people is with Lea when Shaun gets home, and the introduction comes just as she is leaving to see Death Cab for Cutie, walking out the door. Dr. Glassman reminded that Shaun was a “good man” and that he deserved to be happy. He also said that he would continue with chemotherapy.

Claire is immediately suspicious of her mother‘s story of eviction when she arrives with Morgan. Mom ultimately says that she has to leave because her boyfriend beat her. Morgan goes straight into power girl mode, insisting that she and Claire go confront the assailant, and Morgan will pack heat, surprising Claire by revealing her gun and her concealed carry license. When they track him down at the warehouse where he works, Morgan gets right in his face about what he's done, and he immediately responds that he would never lay hands on a woman, much less one he's asked to marry him. His sincerity and understanding prompt a reconsideration, and Morgan thinks that most of the issue relates to the fact that “she can't help that she's bipolar,” as she matter-of-factly says to Claire, who often gets mired in the struggles of her youth. They revisit mom, confronting her with the truth, but also the true love that the man in her life displays. Claire urges her to tell him the truth that she's just not ready for making things permanent, and mother and daughter share a meaningful hug. Later, Morgan tells Claire how affected she was by Tyler's loss, and the two pledge to be there for one another. Morgan insists that next time, it's time to meet her mother.

Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper) deals with another big dilemma, as a medical board investigator (Cheryl White) proposes that Dr. Murphy, Dr. Melendez, and Dr. Lim all be suspended for infractions during the virus outbreak, and she freely shares the proof. Andrews tries to take full blame, saying he was responsible for the actions of his staff, but she counters that perhaps the biggest problem of all was that he was fulfilling two roles as hospital president and Chief of Surgery. She unsympathetically says that her evidence will go to the medical board for their determination. His ego-driven decision was sticky from the start, and now, it’s about to bite him right back.

Alex, Mia, and Kellen spend the day playing putt-putt and being at the batting cages. When they try to talk, Mia sees that Alex still has the problem of not really getting to the heart of communicating, still relating information as though it were from a police blotter. She remembers how he didn't even tell her about planning to be a doctor until the day before he started his program. “We were broken before then,” she admits. The interplay between these real-life partners is a delight on-screen, and their storyline has a lot to say about making amends. They both profess to love, but the path ahead will have some old bumps to get past.

When Alex puts Mia’s bags into the car, she again defers future plans as he thanks her for spending the weekend. The car pulls away but then backs up. She gets out and tells Alex that maybe she can come for a weekend every so often. They kiss and hug as Kellen watches from a window.

One of the sweetest moments comes when Dr. Lim comes to find Dr. Melendez, wearing her hospital gown and robe. She says she is afraid. She tells him she has feelings for him, calling him Neil, and he confirms the same. They both realized that the ongoing investigation will bear down hard on their new relationship. Dr. Lim proposes that so long as they are careful not to let Dr. Andrews know, they should proceed. In the final minutes, Dr. Lim walks out of the hospital doors, and Dr. Melendez drives up to take her home.

In the same minutes, Shaun Murphy, stares at the empty beer bottle on the table, wondering why he couldn't be the one sharing it with Lea.

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