The day begins much like any other for Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) as he prepares for his day at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, even down to the tussle he always gives to his hair in memory of his late brother, Steve, who truly believed in him. By the time he gets to the breakfast table, however, in this February 25 16th episode of Season 2 of “The Good Doctor,” it becomes devastatingly apparent that this day is anything but normal. Lea (Paige Spara) does her best to be a friend and a caring roommate, cooking “first-day pancakes” for Shaun, but the last thing he wants is to be reminded that he is starting fresh rather than continuing as a surgical resident.

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He leaves without touching the plate.

This will be a day that tests the inner fortitude of the brilliant but challenged resident as never before, and at the same time, another group of doctors deals with a case that defies medical reasoning.

Welcome but not at home

Shaun receives a very warm welcome at the pathology lab from Dr. Carly Lever (Jasika Nicole), who not only builds him up but rallies for her entire realm of medicine, praising that “We are the detectives, they are just the beat cops,” meaning the surgeons.

Dr. Murphy confronts Dr. Han over the reassignment of his surgical residency on The Good Doctor. [Image source: TVPromos-YouTube]
Dr. Murphy confronts Dr. Han over the reassignment of his surgical residency on The Good Doctor. [Image source: TVPromos-YouTube]

“The Good Doctor” is captivated by the “D300E Pathogen Antibacterial BioPrinter” that is brand-new in his new workspace, and Dr. Lever insists that he is more than welcome to “play with it,” but even that temptation doesn't assuage his sense of longing for his surgical duties.

Longtime fans have to chuckle as Shaun soon learns that his new freedom to take a break and “go for a walk” is his perfect excuse to consult with Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) and his former partners in training.

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When he is reminded that “we work the case, then we move on,” instead of plotting the full course of treatment, he tells Dr. Lever that he “will try very hard to remember—next time,” giving a perfect glint of a smile, before rushing to consult with the doctor.

Dr. Lim, Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee), and Dr. Brown (Antonia Thomas) make separate appeals, on Shaun's behalf, to Dr. Jackson Han (Daniel Dae Kim). Their approaches range from “just tell him you're not happy” to Dr.

Brown's catalog of cases which were crucially impacted by Dr. Murphy's skills. The new chief of surgery remains characteristically unmoved, noting “mixed feelings” about loyalty, and comparing autism to the flu in one scene. He humble-brags that instead of telling Shaun to stay home, he found him a place to keep making a difference, unyielding in the face of support.

Unseen power

It’s nice to see the extended family of more of “The Good Doctor” cast doing fine work in this episode.

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Kelsey Crane, who is married to Nicholas Gonzalez, portrays patient Sadie Barnes, who has a premonition of death that almost comes to fruition, except for Dr. Murphy's intervention.

Dr. Melendez (Gonzalez), Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) and Dr. Brown are devoting themselves to the case of Pastor Clarence (Spencer Garrett). He has a treatable carcinoma tumor near his spine that can be removed, and his excruciating pain relieved, with a spinal fusion.

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The man of God insists that he deserves his pain, however, because of his heinous act of “killing” a parishioner, who took his life by suicide. The pastor was “having a drink” when the troubled man made a call to Clarence.

Dr. Brown doesn't hesitate to call this sense of blame “stupid” and her feelings open up a discussion of faith while in surgery. Dr. Reznick describes herself as a believer, without any hesitation, and Dr. Melendez describes his youth in Catholicism and how his parents briefly converted to the Lutheran church but, feeling a lack of excitement, they switched back. The pastor chooses to have the tumor removed, but stop short of the fusion. When that proves impossible, he relents, and the team discovers that his cancer is shrinking on its own.

Dr. Melendez struggles with “the M word,” as Claire Brown refers to “miracle,” but he does fully condone continuing whatever the pastor's body is doing to kill cancer, down to taking Tylenol at eight o'clock every night.

Dr. Murphy reveals that Sadie Barnes’ meningioma is actually a parasitic worm encased in her brain. When Dr. Han confirms that Shaun’s findings are correct, he asks “The Good Doctor” to walk with him to the patient's room with the news. Shaun predictably declines her request to give him a hug, but he does think his stellar diagnostics deserve the transfer back to surgery, where he belongs. He declares “You need to keep me as a surgical resident,” to his new boss, in a voice everyone hears. Dr. Han responds that Shaun’s skills displayed in this case only confirm that the move to pathology was right. “Think of all the ‘Sadie’s’ waiting to be saved,” he contends. Even through the visage of ASD, the heartbreak of defeat shows in Freddie Highmore's deft portrayal of his character.

There are more beautifully human, and wrenchingly honest, moments to remember in this one. Dr. Glassman gets to savor the moment of ringing the bell that every cancer patient dreams to experience. He drops by to celebrate with a chocolate muffin at the snack bar and asks Debbie (Sheila Kelley), who viewers last saw in “Two-Ply,” to go out with him to dinner, on any night that she is free. She declines, saying that she is “seeing someone.” Later, she comes to Aaron Glassman's door, admitting the untruth of her excuse, and questioning what he really wants. What she is really getting at is her hurt of being pushed away. Any real relationship is deep, tough, and messy, while a date is just quick, simple, and often a very “surface” experience. She wants him to decide what he wants, apart from momentary satisfaction.

In another beautifully crafted scene, Shaun questions whether Dr. Lim would have told Claire not to talk to Dr. Han directly if she had a concern over a case. She admits the truth, and Shaun further confirms that his communication deficits are a crucial drawback. When the stress of his new situation triggers a night of alphabetizing can goods and documenting expiration dates, Dr. Glassman tells Shaun “You have to show him” his surgical worthiness.

Every person living has flaws and imperfections that will never change, and every person living makes mistakes and a few selfish choices every day. Still, every person deserves another chance, and the freedom of forgiveness, the hardest gift to give to oneself.

“To err is human; to forgive, divine,” wrote poet Alexander Pope.

Shaun may have his shot at proving himself indispensable in surgery next week, and Dr. Han just might be the one needing forgiveness.

For now, he can only look on and observe from above, holding his toy scalpel. Soon, he will again hold a real 10-blade.

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