The millions who watch “The Good Doctor” have been left hanging through the shank of spring and the long summer to learn the outcome of Dr. Shaun Murphy's (Freddie Highmore) much-planned date with Dr. Carly Lever (Jasika Nicole), his former boss from the pathology lab. In the September 23 Season 3 premiere, “Disaster,” what has been months for fans is only a day for the surgical resident and his supervisors and cohorts, and every single one is dying for “The Good Doctor” to spill all the details of why he describes the first date in such grim terms.

In the meantime, the resident team is facing challenges of love, life, and death impacting two couples on opposite ends of their life-journeys. Some of the new people in charge discover that having their dream job isn't all about knowing what to do, but understanding how to do it.

Anything but smooth

Dr. Lever is trying to send all the right signals to Shaun. From her side, she is attentive, smiling, making great eye contact, and laughing at his joke about martinis, but, of course, Dr. Murphy is consumed with the details of following his notecard with proper protocol and checking off every item. When the dinner orders come, he is sent into a panic because a pickle is on his plate. Carly tries to assuage him, but he jumps up, bumping a waiter and another customer (Jill Morrison).

The chain reaction not only causes commotion with falling on the floor but also sends a wine bottle into the air, which “The Good Doctor” miraculously catches before it breaks.

Carly still assures Shaun that “I had a nice time,” even giving him a gentle kiss. The next morning, he is still sorting out whether dating and relationships are worthwhile pursuits.

Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) protests that she is shortchanged by Shaun’s promise of disaster, while Dr. Murphy stresses that the entire evening was “out of control,” despite his intervention to restore the jostled customer’s shoulder with no harm. There was so much “to do and not to do” he stresses, that the whole encounter was “hard, uncomfortable, and unpleasant.” He emphasizes that he definitely was “not happy” and he could never tell if his lovely companion was pleased or not.

Every relationship is rocky in phases, whether at the start or much further down the road. No one can plan life or know anything around the next corner, and the case of a very newlywed couple brings that reality into full focus.

The pair, portrayed by “When Calls the Heart’sAren Buchholz and Sophia Lauchlin Hirt, rush to the hospital straight out of their wedding limousine, with the bride bleeding profusely. At first, the team assumes that the issue is a simple hemorrhage, but the initial surgery is halted when cancer is discovered in numerous major organs. Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) tasks Dr. Murphy with displaying his communication skills in communicating with the couple. He tells them the realities of the metastasizing situation but proposes the option of removing each body part separately, clearing cancer, and replacing them.

He describes that dialysis, diabetes, and numerous other conditions may still be lifelong concerns. Nonetheless, death is a certainty in doing nothing, even if the year in hospice care would be “a good year.”

The bride cautions her groom that he should weigh his life after her passing, but he remains steadfastly supportive, assuring her that he intended to keep the vows he spoke that very morning. “Now, if it had been yesterday…” he interjects. They decide to try the radical procedure.

Being the boss isn’t always the best

Having beaten his cancer, Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) is finding new purpose in working at a charity clinic, per the urging of Dr. Aoki (Tamlyn Tomita). He is also happily newly married.

She realizes that Glassman feels constrained by the lack of qualified staff or equipment for adequate care, and she urges him to become president of the clinic knowing that his prestige would pull in greater funding.

The interplay of Aoki with Glassman and Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) with Marcus Anders (Hill Harper) is an engaging extra in this storyline. Lim turns to the former boss for expertise on how to manage her new personnel, and he prompts her to always let staff feel like solutions are their own idea, and that they are part of a win-win partnership, not simply compliant to a new supervisor. Dr. Lim ultimately persuades Anders to come back to his surgery position. The doorstep discussions between both professional pairs are added delights.

Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez go to their human resources officer, portending to be broken up, but of course, no one believes them. Dr. Lim opens her third-year residents to leading in surgery if they take the first action in cases. Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee) and Dr. Reznick act like school kids over who first touched the case of an elderly man with dementia (John Innes), whose kidney stones turn out to be kidney cancer. Park and Reznick come to terms over a jar of pickles, oddly enough, and both residents advise the dedicated wife about the mental, emotional, and health risks of cancer treatment for her husband, and the fact that he would never understand what he was experiencing day after day, or the reasons why.

“I need to take care of you,” he tells his wife. She, in return, tells him that nothing was found from the tests and that they are going home. What matters in the end, she reminds Dr. Reznick, is not the details of life, or even the memories. What matters is how the person with you makes you feel.

In powerful, closing vignettes that are the signature of “The Good Doctor,” the residents watch while the young couple and the elderly pair contemplate their future, as one leaves the hospital. Dr. Brown says that the difficulty of relationships is worth it to find the one person always willing to help you, who “loves you when you're not lovable” and is there “no matter what.” Dr. Brown, at last, takes a call from her mother, Dr.

Park leaves to pick up his son from the airport. Dr. Reznick drops by the nursing home, where viewers have never seen her before. “Hi Grandpa,” she says at one doorway. Dr. Murphy declares: “It’s not worth it!”

Dr. Murphy goes to the pathology lab, and catches Dr. Lever’s attention, with a content smile. When she looks up again, he has turned and is walking away. Only the weeks to come will prove if this pair can come to their own version of paradise from disaster. Freddie Highmore has already hinted that this relationship will unfold over an entire season, so faithful fans are in for a treat.

“The Good Doctor” leaves any heart just a little bit more open.