Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 2 finale of The Good Doctor, which aired Monday on ABC. Read at your own risk!
Shaun had two victories in The Good Doctor’s season 2 finale!
In the concluding episode of the hit ABC drama’s sophomore season, Freddie Highmore’s titular M.D. — who was fired at the end of last week’s episode — was admitted to St. Bonaventure due to injuries he sustained from a bully, who also fell ill. Unfortunately for his fellow doctors, Shaun lost consciousness right as he figured out what was wrong with his attacker. Luckily, Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) was able to channel her inner Shaun (fancy medical graphics and all) and figured out exactly what Shaun saw before he passed out, the implication being that she has learned to see the world like Shaun in the past year.
In the wake of Claire’s success, Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper) pushed Dr. Jackson Han (Daniel Dae Kim) to rehire Shaun; however, the hospital’s chief of surgery refused. So Andrews did the next best thing and called a vote to let Han go. Although we didn’t see the vote go down, we know Han’s gone for two reasons: First, Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) became the hospital’s new chief of surgery, complicating her burgeoning her relationship with Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez). Second, Shaun got his job back.
Shaun’s big day didn’t end there. To celebrate his win, Shaun suited up and asked his former pathology co-worker Dr. Carly Lever (Jasika Nicole) out on a date. And she said yes! Of course, this is a huge milestone for Shaun, and executive producer and showrunner David Shore tells EW that you can expect his love life to play a big role in season 3.
“We put Shaun in the role of caretaker, which I thought was interesting and fun to explore,” says Shore, referring to Shau taking a care of a now cancer-free Glassman (Aaron Schiff). “Next year, we’re putting him in the role of suitor.”
Below, EW chats with Shore about Shaun’s big date, what Lim’s promotion means for her and Melendez, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why was it important to end the season on Shaun taking such a huge step and asking Carly out?
DAVID SHORE: One of the things I love about this show is that things that appear to be little moments to the rest of us are huge moments to Shaun. I love embracing that. He’s asking a girl out. That’s something people his age do all the time, but it is huge, it is momentous, and it is significant. In terms of what we were thinking, I want to explore all those landmarks that happen in all our lives as we grow up and just explore it through his eyes, which really aren’t that different, ultimately. So I think next season, that’s going to be a lot of what we’re looking at — his social life and him growing as a man who wants to be loved.
Do you already have an idea of what that’s going to look like?
We haven’t started the writers’ room, but that is what we want to embrace, and I want to take it slow and I want to fully explore all the aspects of that and all those landmarks along the way. Then, there’s the successes and the failures.
Glassman’s cancer journey spanned the entire length of the season. Did you find it difficult to pace that story across the whole season?
Not really. That’s what we wanted to do. I guess it was tricky at times, but it was the normal challenges of not repeating yourself and exploring. But in a sense, that’s part of what they’re going through, the repetition and the monotony (how do you make monotony entertaining?), and the setbacks and the roadblocks and just the different things that happen and how they impact him. We did what we intended to do at the beginning, and it was important that we not do it fast, that we explore what would be involved in that.
We’re guilty of this: People come in sick and, at the end of the episode, go away, either well or not well. The stories conclude themselves, and I think we do them well and I’m proud of the stories. The long arc of illness that so many patients face, we’re not equipped to deal with that on this show, but in this case we were. We made one of our characters sick, and it just felt like a natural different type of story for our show to tell.
After telling this long story about a main character being sick over a season, have you thought about trying to do that with a new patient next season, where you have an arc instead of just a one-off?
It certainly makes sense for us to sometimes have a patient whose story line lasts over more than one episode. I don’t think we would do what we did with Glassman, at least not that quickly, where we extend over the whole season. That was our regular character. We’d established that character. He had cancer and we wanted to be honest with it; it wasn’t something that you just do surgery and it’s over, so we felt that we had to deal with it. Bringing in a new patient and having it go that long? I don’t think we would. I think what we certainly want to explore this year is what we talked about earlier — Shaun’s love life. Obviously, against the backdrop of that, what we want to do [explore is], how does that reflect on other characters and what other characters reflect back on Shaun? We all live in a complicated world where we impact those around us, and that’s obviously essential.
Why was it important to give Claire her own Shaun-like epiphany in the finale?
God knows she deserved a moment like that. Superficially, it would appear to be a show about Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young man with autism, learning to navigate this world and learning from the people around him how to navigate this world, and how to be a better person, a better doctor. I think our show is not at its best when that’s what it’s about. Not that those stories can’t be compelling, but I think our show is at its best when the rest of us — I mean our characters and the rest of us, the viewers as well — learn to the look at the world through Shaun’s eyes, and that we learn something from Shaun rather Shaun learn something from us. So, this seemed like a golden opportunity [to ask], how do we function when we lose Shaun, and what have we learned from Shaun? In the finale, we lose Shaun for a little while.
Was this a one-off thing for Claire, or will we see her get those visions next season too?
I don’t think we’re going to be showing Claire visions on a regular basis, but hopefully all of our characters, to a little extent or a larger extent, have learned to see the world a little differently because of Shaun, and that will manifest in them as people and as doctors.
The other big move in this episode was that Dr. Lim becomes the new chief of surgery. Did you go back and forth between Lim and Melendez, or did you know from the beginning that you wanted it to be Dr. Lim?
No, we went back and forth all season. As you probably saw, first it was nobody. Then it was an outside person. But we’ve been asking “Melendez or Lim?” throughout the year, and we felt that you can’t just tease that forever. You have to answer it. I think they are both worthy candidates. After bringing the two of them together romantically, either choice would be great, but I think this opens the door to more interesting conflict and dynamics.
How do you expect this relationship to affect their dynamic going forward now that she’s chief?
I think it absolutely will affect it, and that’s what we’re going to have to explore. As they say in that scene, either one of them resigns or they break up. Or, the third choice, which they don’t mention in that scene, is that they go back to lying to everybody. Choices have to be made and certainly, certainly it’s going to affect their relationship. That’s where the fun happens.
Is the last we’ve seen of Dr. Han?
It’s very possible. I liked the character and had fun with it, and I thought Daniel did a great job. The arc that we were dealing with is now complete, but that doesn’t mean the character can’t come back, and I very much would be open to that.