The Good Doctor boss breaks down Claire's 'hopeful' exit, Shaun and Lea's [SPOILER]
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season 4 finale of The Good Doctor.
While The Good Doctor's season 4 finale featured the departure of a major character, it was still one of the medical drama's happier enders.
Picking up where part 1 of the finale left off, the hour found the doctors still working in Guatemala. Their time there inspired Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) to quit her job at St. Bonaventure so she could stay and work at the clinic, a move that Lim (Christina Chang) fully supported and thus marked Thomas' departure from the show. Meanwhile, Morgan (Fiona Gubelmann) and Park (Will Yun Lee) mended their friendship and declared their love for each other, Lim's fling Mateo (Osvaldo Benavides) decided to follow her back to the States, and most importantly, Lea (Paige Spara) asked Shaun (Freddie Highmore) to marry her — and he said yes.
Below, The Good Doctor showrunner David Shore breaks down Thomas' goodbye, Shaun and Lea's new relationship status, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, how hard was it to find a location in Vancouver that could stand in for Guatemala?
DAVID SHORE: We owe a great debt to our crew in Vancouver. [They] did a great job of finding places in British Columbia. We were very worried about it. We wanted to be as accurate as we could. If it was any other year, there's a good chance we could've actually gone [to Guatemala], but that just wasn't feasible. They found great locations for us.
How did you settle on this being the way you'd write Claire off the show? What made it this feel like a satisfying conclusion to her journey?
The thing that I kept talking about was [that] we put that character through so much over the previous years. We've had our share of sad endings on this show, and it's an ending so there's a sadness to it, but I also wanted this to be more of a beginning at the same time. I wanted this to be hopeful and positive. So the phrase that we kept using was, "I didn't want her to be running away from anything. I wanted her to be running to something." So it was really important that this was a good place for her and we all felt good about it.
Did Antonia have any input on Claire's ending?
I spoke to her about it and I explained what I just said to you. I spoke to her quite a while ago and I was really excited about it. I wasn't excited about her leaving. It's very sad that she's leaving, but I respect her choice. I don't want anybody on the show who doesn't want to be on the show — I mean, if they want other opportunities. If she was going to do another TV show, then I might be a little less happy [laughs], but if she's looking for other opportunities, then great. She's done great work for us for four years. She's given us everything we could've asked for. So I wanted to give her a good sendoff and I wanted to make sure she was happy with it. We talked about it and had a good talk.
Over the past four seasons, Claire's empathetic perspective has been an integral part of the show. Do you have any idea of how you'll deal with that void?
We've got a lot of characters on it. I think there are some characters that fill that aspect to some extent. We're not looking for a new Claire, but you're absolutely right that we want to make sure somebody represents that point of view. And that might change from episode to episode. I also believe that Claire has impacted the rest of them. I think they're all carrying a little bit of Claire as they go forward.
How early did you decide you wanted to end the season with Shaun and Lea getting engaged?
About halfway through the year we started thinking in those terms. We've had a lot of downer things, and we decided to go with some more positives this year. They're still just as, I hope, compelling as to what questions this raises and opportunities for storytelling; I'm hoping it opens those doors for us. But it's been a rough year [for everyone], we wanted to give everybody a break. [Laughs]
Why did this feel like the right move after they went through the hardship of the miscarriage?
That was exactly it. Coming out of that, we didn't want to break them up — at least not yet. We like them together and want to keep exploring [them]. Every year we want to take things to a new level and explore something new with Shaun and the rest of the characters. They went through a hardship and they came through. He proved himself as a good boyfriend and worthy of her love. I think she's sensing it at this point as he stayed with her.
Having Lea propose to him was cool because Shaun was the one who was pushing for this relationship last season.
I think that was really important. You hit the nail on the head to some extent. Last year, he was pursuing her. I mean, they're still very much in love, but he's not pushing her. I think given what she's been through — they both went through it, but particularly her — it was important that she be the one who signaled she was on a more positive track. I think if he had asked her, no matter what her answer might've been, it wouldn't have felt the same.
Park and Morgan also got together in the finale. From your point of view, what makes them such an interesting and right pairing?
They joined the show together, and we just had lot of fun with them. You can't write a story, see how it plays, and then write the next story. You have to be ahead and anticipating. But from season to season, you certainly see how things are playing, and you make choices about putting the two of them together and have them teasing each other and make each other miserable in a fun way. You see how that works and go, "Okay, they're clearly flirting." So you take it to the next level, you pull it back, and you take it to the next level. I hope this is satisfying but makes sense. Those are the surprises that you strive for on TV. I think we got a lot of that going on.
Morgan admitted she hoped physical therapy would help her do surgery again, but that turned out not to be the case. Has she made peace with the fact that she can't do surgery anymore?
The short answer is yes. That's been a year long arc in the background at times, but she hadn't made peace. That doesn't mean it's not going to continue to be painful, but she's such a rational person, such a strong person that she's going to force herself, and she's got Park to help her through it.
Can you talk about the decision to introduce Mateo and promote Osvaldo Benavides to series regular for season 5?
He was great! We've been talking about bringing in a new doctor, a different point of view. When we started talking about going to Guatemala and leaving Claire behind, it seemed natural to [think], "If we're leaving her behind, maybe we should take one with us," and to set Lim up. It all came together very nicely. Lim had a little fling [and] gets her groove back is kind of what it is, but then the thing she thought was a fling is going to come back with her. I think that feels nice.
What new point of view does Mateo bring to the show, and presumably the hospital?
The writers' room just started up, and we're just starting to explore that. We really enjoyed watching him, and we really enjoyed what he did in those final two episodes. So that question you just asked me, we're all asking ourselves at this point.
Now that Shaun is engaged, what's in store for him both on that front and the professional front in season 5?
We had him dating a couple years ago, and then we had him in a mature relationship, and now we have him in a committed relationship. Or we're on the way to that. Every year we try to challenge him. It's not just about challenging him, but it's also about getting his insights. As I've said many times, the show is at its best not when Shaun learns but when we learn from Shaun. So what I'm looking forward to is watching his growth and also his insights. Professionally, the same thing. Last year was a certain amount of him supervising and the challenges of supervising, which are brand-new to him. He's even further up now and competing for work at this point. They're reaching the end of their residency. What does that mean to them all?
Is the end of their residency and what they do next driving the next season?
Room just started up. We're asking these questions ourselves.
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