The Good Doctor star Freddie Highmore breaks down Shaun and Lea's 'heartbreaking' chat
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Monday’s The Good Doctor, titled “Autopsy.”
Dr. Shaun Murphy just had his heart broken on The Good Doctor.
In Monday’s episode, Shaun listened to Carly’s advice and told Lea he loved her and wanted to be her boyfriend. While Lea did say she loved him, too, she also added that she didn’t think their relationship would work out. From her perspective, Shaun wouldn’t be able to handle her selfishness, neediness, and messiness (her words), and she would have trouble with some of his habits, too.
“You don’t want to be my girlfriend because I have autism?” Shaun asked Lea, who couldn’t bring herself to respond and walked out of the room in tears, leaving Shaun there by himself.
“That last moment, that’s so lovely [because] there isn’t anything to say,” Freddie Highmore, who portrays Shaun and also directed the episode, tells EW. “It’s so heartbreaking because it’s this horrible truth and what I think that Paige [Spara] did such a wonderful job at in playing that moment is that we feel for Lea just as much as we feel for Shaun. I think Lea realizes just how there’s almost a sense of self-hatred there like, ‘I know that I shouldn’t be feeling this, and this is a horrible thing to admit, but if I’m completely honest with myself maybe it is partly because of that.’ That seems to make that moment so powerful because it’s this genuine, horrible thing that she has to admit.”
Although Highmore understands just how hurt Shaun feels in this moment, he also understands where Lea is coming from to an extent.
“I don’t think Lea is an inherently prejudice person. Even though the words will suggest the opposite, I don’t think it’s as simple as her saying, ‘The fact that you have autism means I can never love you, or I can’t be with you,'” he says. “I think the fact that Shaun has autism, he has certain traits that she finds difficult to be attracted to or finds herself imagining that she couldn’t be in a relationship because, as there are with all of us, certain things about Shaun she just would not be able to put behind her. But that doesn’t mean she’s a horrible person, I don’t think, in the same way that the majority of the people in the world we don’t go around falling in love with. We’re not horrible people for not falling in love with everyone we come across. There are always reasons why one person or another isn’t the person you end up falling for.”
Highmore, however, doesn’t believe the situation is completely hopeless. “I also think there’s a real sense of confusion that Lea is left with at the end of the episode. I don’t think it’s as clear cut as, ‘This is it. It’s all said and done.’ I think she doesn’t respond because she doesn’t know what to say. There is a horrible truth behind Shaun’s question that she’s left with and she doesn’t know how to respond to it, because I don’t think it’s as simple as yes and no. By not responding, it does leave the door open a little bit. I’d like to think so anyway,” he says. “Certainly from Shaun’s perspective, I don’t think he takes away from episode 16 the idea that this in any way is over or that there’s no hope left.”
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
The Good Doctor