The Good Doctor” is already scoring high ratings, in Season 3, and this week's September 30, episode titled, “Debts,” is another example of how marvelous characters, through gifted writing within a complex storyline, create unforgettable television. Dr. Murphy’s (Freddie Highmore) dating life is still consuming massive amounts of attention, but not for the surgical resident himself. He espouses to Lea (Paige Spara) that he has her and he has Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff), and that is fine without “that special someone.” Viewers are seeing another dimension of Spara’s portrayal, this season, without the customary whining or romantic entanglements, and it is particularly delightful.

One of the most wrenching and challenging medical cases comes to the team in the form of a young man, Josh (Mik Byskov), who rushes in to protect a young woman from sexual assault on a subway, and, in turn, is ruthlessly injured by the attacker. The noble patient faces mountains of reconstructive surgery, and still will never eat or speak normally again due to the loss of his jaw, mouth, and surrounding cheek tissue. He faces his prognosis in a stoic manner, and Dr. Murphy inquires as to whether the woman he rescued was a friend. In surgery, Shaun marvels that people still manage to “do good” despite being wired to live only for themselves. When the damage is deemed too extensive, Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper), now attending surgeon, challenges the residents to create a better alternative over the standard procedure.

On a personal and professional front, Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) must mollify her residents vying to be chosen for the first surgery, and some literally going to any extreme to grovel. She also must contend with the parents of a tiny infant (Ben Cotton and Christina Sicoli) who ask that Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez), her lover and her best surgeon, not be the person to perform a follow-up procedure to save their child's life.

No escape

The Good Doctor” Murphy literally cannot escape questions or comments regarding his dating Glassman decisions. Debbie insists that Aaron Glassman has to be the person to “push” Shaun into dating again, while the mentor feels that Murphy will know when he is ready. Even during the stress of strategizing over the best options for Josh, suggestions and reminiscing on dating experiences take over.

Dr. Andrews declares that his hospital is consumed by an episode of “The Bachelor.” “Don't give up on love,” is the mentor’s ultimate message to “The Good Doctor” in this realm. Other concrete counsel takes hold.

The call from her mother that Dr. Brown (Antonia Thomas) finally took at the close of the Season 3 premiere last week has led to mom (Sharon Leal) staying with her daughter after being kicked out of her apartment after a lapse in her treatment and medication. If a similar situation came to the empathetic resident from a stranger or a patient, Dr. Brown would be the first to offer understanding and sympathy. When the addict is one’s own parent or dear one, the understanding can be more difficult to muster due to all the hurtful water under the bridge.

Claire gives her mother one week.

Shaun has neither time nor tolerance for any dating prompts while he pushes himself to find the right procedure for Josh. He does take time to take a walk with Carly (Jasika Nicole), who lets him know that she doesn't think that he never wants to see her again and that if he has any feelings at all for her, they should talk. She reveals that her sister, Andy, also has autism, and while that gives her some grounding in understanding Shaun, she didn't date him because of that personal situation. She relates that the “why” and the “what” of what anyone needs in a relationship cannot be determined in “just one dinner.”

Dr. Murphy doesn't have time to ponder on Carly's words now.

He rushes to Dr. Andrews’ fancy glass door to declare “I've got it!” Dr. Andrews goes to Dr. Lim with the first of its kind procedure, and she presents all the reasons “why not,” as the Chief of Surgery. He contends that the decision should be with the patient, who of course writes his affirmative consent. The performance from Byskov with only his eyes is masterful and vivid.

Rising to the moment

During the daring surgery, the subject of sacrifice arises, and “The Good Doctor” directly commends Andrews for his sacrifice in standing up to save the job of the young resident. When a life-threatening blood clot further complicates the delicate operation, Dr. Murphy and Dr. Brown step up in every sense, and Dr.

Brown removes the clot.

When Claire gets home, her mother has another meal prepared, telling her daughter she can “take it to your room,” and that she may be three days over her limit for finding an apartment. Claire offers to let mom “stay a while” until “you're a bit better.” A motherly embrace of gratitude follows. This is the biggest step toward true forgiveness that Claire has made, and more bumps in the road are sure to come. It’s a start.

Dr. Lim discovers that Dr. Melendez did everything right in her review of his first surgery on the Cantrell baby, and proposes that they do the procedure together. “We have to learn to do this better,” she tells him at one point,” meaning personally and professionally.

She relates how she feels like “we both failed,” but there's always a future.

Shaun takes another cue from Dr. Brown during surgery. Claire suggested that some of the best dates are “hanging out on a couch with a bag of chips.” Carly Lever has no couch in her pathology lab, but Shaun comes ready with the bag of chips, and they sit side-by-side on the floor, the bag in between them.

Dr. Lim decides that Dr. Brown will be the first to lead a surgery, and she puts a disdainful quash on the all-out bribery by Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) and Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee), no matter the dedication behind it. Dr. Andrews tells Shaun that “Today, you made me proud of my sacrifice,” relating how anger had initially invaded his consciousness.

Andrews reminds Murphy that nothing worth anything comes “without a cost.”

Josh, too, gets company by the end of the episode. The woman he rescued, Olivia, wants to pay thanks in person for his nobility. When she asks why he did what he did to save her, he answers simply: “You needed help.”

This will be an episode of “The Good Doctor” to revisit because forgiveness in the truest sense cannot be earned-- it can only be granted. Doing good is an action of choice more than one of obligation, and choosing to “be there” in life and in love, is its own reward. Millions of debts of gratitude, known and unknown, are owed by everyone living because life will always be a miracle.