Monday, October 1, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Doctor' - Shaun Learns More About Lying While Lim Pushes a Surgery for a Young Patient in 'Middle Ground'

ABC's The Good Doctor - Episode 2.02 "Middle Ground"

Shaun pushes back against Dr. Melendez in order to treat a gravely ill hospital janitor and deal with the return of Lea. Dr. Lim risks a lawsuit and her career to help a teenage girl repair the damage caused by an archaic custom. Dr. Glassman exercises demanding oversight with Dr. Blaize in choosing a doctor for his brain surgery.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of ABC's The Good Doctor.

"Middle Ground" was written by David Shore and directed by Steve Robin

This hour explores the morality of lying in the medical profession. Is it ever okay to deceive a patient or their family? Shaun is just wrestling with the concept of lying as a grand idea. He just wants to know when it's acceptable and when it isn't. He is getting the advice of several people in the hospital. But he's mostly just using this as a way to avoid Lea. She is staying at his apartment until she finds a new place in the city. And yet, he doesn't know how he feels about her return. So, he's distracting himself with work and the idea of lying. He can be quite good at it. However, he cracks under the pressure of having to follow up the lies with more lies. It's not a skill that comes naturally to him. However, he is able to provide comfort at the end of the hour by lying to the family. Shaun noticed that the janitor at the hospital likely had a worsening medical condition. He correctly saw the worrying signs of pancreatic cancer. He was able to sit down and listen to how the patient saw his condition and what he wanted to do. He could have a year of happy living with his family. Or he could risk dying during surgery to have a lifetime of more memories. He chose surgery because it's what his family wanted him to do. He had to find comfort in that. He died from complications following the procedure. There was nothing the doctors could do. Throughout this process, Shaun has been trying to figure out the best way to inform the family of every detail. In the end, Melendez still trusts Claire to break the bad news. But Shaun is the one who provides comfort. He knows that he is lying. It's the right thing to do because it's the way this guy saw the world. He believed lying was acceptable in this situation because it would make the lives of his family better. Meanwhile, things are much more complicated with Dr. Lim's subplot. This is a major storyline for her. She is really stepping up as a significant character as well. The show trusts that she can carry this story and have the audience completely engaged by it too. It helps that it is tackling a controversial issue in female circumcision. It's such an arduous journey because Lim believes completely in helping this young girl actually experience pleasure in her sex life. It's miraculous that she has feeling at all after the initial surgery. But it's also such a murky and morally complicated story because of what Lim is willing to do to push her outcome. She believes she's fighting for what's best for her patient. Time and time again though, the teenager is woken up to experience pain and tells her that she just wants it to be removed. That seems like the simpler solution given the current situation. It's better to feel nothing than the immense plan that is currently there. This is the opposite of what she wanted. In fact, it may make her even more understanding of her culture's traditions even though it could still be viewed as child abuse. And then, Lim risks her entire career by performing a surgery that no one consented to. She performed the surgery she wanted and not the approved one. Everything works out too. It's just being played as a little secret kept between doctor and patient. But this situation could have become so horrifying if the outcome was different. Lim believes she was working in the best interest of her patient. Her breaking the rules in this way gives her a new sense of depth. A personality that makes her very passionate and fierce even if that is bound to come back to hurt her in some way too.