For the millions who love “The Good Doctor,” good news has already come from Freddie Highmore regarding the early renewal for the medical drama’s third season. The future for his beloved, besieged, and complex character of Dr. Shaun Murphy, however, is anything but certain. This week's March 4 Episode 17 breakdown, delivers a contest of wills and poignant emotion that could not be conveyed by any lesser cast than the ones who comprise this ensemble, and Freddie Highmore is worthy of Emmy recognition for his reach to the depths of his dreams and despair as “The Good Doctor.” Whether one is a connoisseur who has felt the journey of the resident from Casper, Wyoming from the first episode, or just now compelled by the climax of this story arc, now is a marvelous time to watch.

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Pulling strings and plotting a strategy

Dr. Han (Daniel Dae Kim) displays his propensity for pulling strings the right way when he feels the situation demands it, letting the medical review board know that he has hired a private investigator to look into each of their member’s lives, just to ensure a fair ruling. He is quite willing to do whatever it takes to save his dedicated and gifted doctors from this professional rebuke, which would leave a blemish for him, but remains unmoved by any advocacy or personal appeal from Dr.

Murphy. Kim does create a delicious kind of medical villain, both intellectual and viciously calculating. The dialogue in the scene surges with a cool vengeance.

Shaun hasn’t been to bed when Lea (Paige Spara) comes home in the morning after a night with Jake. When she laments that it’s “still that,” referring to her roommate’s forced move from surgery to pathology, that is disturbing his life in all aspects, he asserts “You don't understand!” His inflection cannot be misunderstood. He opts to walk to work, hoping that he will gather some creative inspiration to change his supervisor’s mind.

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Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) continue to carry on like high school kids with their clandestine romance. Dr. Lim becomes leery when she sees the observant Shaun standing on the corner of a sidewalk, fearing that he has seen their make-out session. Funny how a pesky little peek-in seems so problematic for these brilliant surgeons. They slink away in the car and start to debate whether they should “come out of the closet” with their relationship.

On the surgical front, San Jose St.

Bonaventure Hospital has assembled its best and brightest to take on the case of Kenny (James Immekus). The young man has a gigantic neurofibroma tumor weighing hundreds of pounds growing from the base of his spine. The team at the hospital believes they have the procedure to help the patient regain his life, but it comes with great risk. Dr. Murphy desperately wants to be part of the team in the operating room.

A mother and a pivotal moment

Dr. Lim gets to deliver wonderful news to her longtime friend, Laura (Joy Osmanski) when she tells her that the surgery to remove a subdural hematoma is successful.

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Things turn dark when Dr. Lever (Jasika Nicole) discovers signs of an injury that generally only occurs when an infant is severely shaken. Dr. Lim pleads to talk to her friend first, and have another doctor run further examination. Laura could not be more convincing when she defends that she never harmed her daughter, and never even left her for a moment to be injured. Osmanski’s portrayal reeks with realness, and things get real with the friends, as Laura accuses the doctor of not comprehending real love because she has never allowed herself to be vulnerable. “You see the worst in people because that's what you see in yourself,” she says in one exchange.

The devoted mother is arrested, but Dr. Murphy's investigation proves that trauma from the infant's vacuum delivery provoked the damage. Dr. Lim apologizes, but the admission of guilt likely will never put this close relationship back to its original state.

Dr. Glassman is done with treatment, but still in the state of near breakdown as he waits for the final medical report on his cancer. Understandably, he takes his tensions out on the most unlikely subjects, such as Chinese takeout employees. He is also blessed by Dr. Blaize (Lisa Edelstein) and her complete honesty and awareness. When it receives the official “all clear” report, he begs his doctor to allow him to offer a token of gratitude, but she retorts by saying she has “pepper spray in my purse” and an expletive.

Only “The Good Doctor” creates this level of humanness in characters and moments to remember. Aaron Glassman delivers a gift to his doctor-- a prized baseball snagged off third base on his 13th birthday, signed by every beloved player of the day. Richard Schiff’s incredible delivery in the line “I wanted you to have something that mattered to me” is richer than any hundred hours of most dramas. Dr. Blaize leaves her difficult patient with the thought that he could never have given such a gift before his cancer.

Speaking of powerful deliveries, Dr. Murphy delivers on very short notice in the operating room with Kenny. Dr. Melendez overrides Han, declaring that he needs Shaun’s “special talent” when the patient becomes at risk of death and a failed procedure. Shaun is delighted by the request and hopes to contribute in a meaningful way. He suggests clamping and releasing the flow from the aortic valve at intervals-- enough to keep Kenny alive. Dr. Han thanks him for his “consult,” but there is no hint of gratitude in the eruption that follows.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Brown (Antonia Thomas) suggested a protest en masse on Shaun’s behalf. Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) completely defended her new boss’ leadership of “no feelings, no charity, no loyalty” and Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee) contended that Shaun would get no help if all of them lost their jobs.

Just as Melendez and Lim were on their way to come clean with Dr. Andrews, Shaun Murphy was in Dr. Han’s office, fighting for the purpose that had propelled him since seeing his brother die. He refutes the possibility of “building to greater responsibility” proposed by the supervisor. Again and again, he declares “I am a surgeon!” The words become louder each time until Shaun says that he will not leave until he is reinstated in surgery. Han tells his resident that if security is called, that will mean that he has to fire the prodigy who saved two lives that day. The rage and response are expected and understandable. Nuance is not something grasped on the ASD spectrum, and settling is not an option when it comes to all he has ever wanted to become. The supervisor sees only a waiting liability. He is no Mr. Rogers.

The final scene depicts Shaun in a desperate state, rifling through his locker, before dumping his backpack, and holding onto the scalpel from his brother for dear life. He strokes the blade so feverishly that it breaks off the toy. Claire sees the zone of frenzy encircling her friend and packs up the essentials before sitting with Shaun, tears down his face. She never comes intolerably close, only staying near enough to be a friend.

The Good Doctor” walks out into the rain, turning with a long parting glance to the hospital, and to his dream.

Dr. Murphy has his greatest challenges, and perhaps deepest rewards, to come. This standoff has to reach its resolution, while the protagonist prevails to discover that pain always has a purpose.

Stay tuned for next week's season finale and the most eventful journey ever for "The Good Doctor" next season.