In the season finale of The Good Doctor, we, along with Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), learn that Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) has been diagnosed with brain cancer and has an inoperable tumor. Needless to say, Shaun doesn’t take the news of Glassman’s impending death well.
“Shaun’s journey is coming to terms with personal trauma and it’s that idea of not accepting [it] immediately,” Freddie Highmore told EW on the red carpet for the medical drama’s PaleyFest panel Thursday night.
As you can see in the exclusive clip above, Shaun’s refusal to accept the diagnosis frustrates Glassman to the point that his typically gentle mentor finally loses it.
“I don’t need theories. I don’t need whiteboards. I don’t need doctors! I don’t want to think about the tumor! I don’t want to think about dying!” says an emotionally exhausted Glassman in the clip.
Watch the sneak peek above.
While his character seems visibly spent, these intense scenes didn’t completely drain Schiff when he shot it. “It wasn’t exhausting,” said Schiff on the red carpet. “In the old days when I had this kind of a challenging episode, it would take an enormous effort to maintain where I wanted to be. It might be because I have just been doing this a while now that I don’t feel the need to do that. So, I can actually be a normal human and then go in there and work. I think I’m just a lot faster at doing the work than I used to be and I trust it a little bit more. So it’s not as debilitating to the body.”
However, that doesn’t mean the scene was particularly easy either. “It’s still very hard work and very challenging. But I had a clear idea of my options, like what I wanted to accomplish in that [scene] and still be able to play. When you’re able to play, that’s what makes it more fun even though the nature of the work is very tough.”
Highmore added: “You kind of live through the experience the character is living through emotionally. But the challenge is always exciting and to get to do those scenes with someone like Richard, who is so full of nuances and able to bring so many different layers to every scene, makes it really great. The sort of focus on Shaun and Glassman, those scenes are always special to me.”
You can definitely expect many more heart-rending scenes like this one in the season finale, according to Antonia Thomas, who plays Dr. Claire Browne. “It’s going to be a tearjerker,” said Thomas, adding that the residents will also be “thrust into a position where they think one of their positions could be compromised because of something that happens in an operation.”
Said Thomas: “It’s all a big dramatic thing.” We don’t doubt that at all.
The Good Doctor season 1 finale airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.