Spoiler alert! The following article contains spoilers from season 2 of The Good Doctor. Read on only if you are caught up with the episode titled Tough Titmouse.
When I first learned about the concept for a show called The Good Doctor, the fact that it was a David Shore project piqued my interest. When I heard that one of my favorite actors, Richard Schiff, had joined the cast, the show solidified a spot for itself on my weekly television calendar. After this week’s episode, it’s clear to see why I was so excited by these two working together on this series. Richard Schiff delivered an extraordinary and Emmy-worthy performance during Monday’s The Good Doctor, and he wasn’t the only stand-out superstar to shine through in this episode. Let’s break down some of the key points from last night’s episode:
Dr. Browne, Dr. Reznick, and Dr. Lim
During the episode, each character was faced with confronting their past in some way. Dr. Claire Browne, Dr. Morgan Reznick, and Dr. Audrey Lim storyline, while still enjoyable, took a bit of a backseat in tonight’s episode. We see them trying to work with a patient who may be self-destructive and who is going against the wishes of her parents for a less risky surgery at the expense of still being able to mountain climb free solo. Her parents are very much against a risky surgery that would have their daughter, once again, scaling mountains without ropes.
Ultimately, the daughter is an adult and decides that she wants to take that risk and that she doesn’t want her parents around when she wakes up from surgery. The case forces Claire to recall her toxic relationship with her mother which causes a bias in the medical advice she is giving to the family. Claire realizes that she’s pushing the parents to intervene in their daughter’s life because of her own life choices. She sometimes questions the fact that she didn’t push harder for her mother to get help and treatment but realizes this would have resulted in a shattered relationship. Her patient’s parents are pushing their way towards destroying their relationship with their daughter if they continue to push back against her wishes. Ultimately, the parents win, but at what cost? The daughter has the procedure which could jeopardize her future climbing. However, she realizes that her parents did it because they love her.
Dr. Melendez, Dr. Park, and Dr. Murphy
Dr. Neil Melendez, Dr. Alex Park, and Dr. Shaun Murphy also have a challenge on their hands with their newest patient, an intellectually disabled teenager and his mother who is struggling with the decision to put her son in a group home. Clearly an incredibly difficult decision, the mother feels that her son will hate her and resent her if she gives him up, however, the choice to do so may also give him a more fulfilling life.
This all reminds Shaun of his past and his time spent being bounced around from foster home to foster home. He remembers one particular home and one specific caregiver who appeared to have a strong and icy exterior but also took a liking to Shaun. If Shaun was ever scared or possibly on the verge of a meltdown, her response of, “tough titmouse,” seemed to help toughen him up. Ultimately, we learn that he had to move from that foster home because his caregiver was diagnosed with a fatal illness, something which perhaps further drove Shaun to want to become a doctor. Shaun drew upon his past personal experience to help ease the mind of the distraught mother, telling her that her son would be scared, but he definitely wouldn’t hate her.
In a surprising (and heartwarming or maybe heartbreaking) turn of events, we see Dr. Melendez step in for a discussion with the mother over her choices for her son. At first, it appears that Melendez is heeding Dr. Park’s advice, to speak with her and give her a medical opinion on whether or not her son would thrive in a group home, but we’re about to learn much more about Dr. Melendez. Their discussion truly was a heart-to-heart with Melendez pulling from his own experiences. That’s right! We got a glimpse into Dr. Melendez’s past!
In one of the most shocking reveal moments of the night, we meet a member of Dr. Melendez’s family – his sister Gabby. Gabby is living happily in a group home, though we get the impression that she doesn’t see her family often. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the episode, she asks Dr. Melendez if mom and dad would be coming to get her that day. As Dr. Melendez answers with a no, we see him almost completely break down before he pulls it together and begins to help Gabby with the puzzle she was building. Cue the ugly crying tears! We need to give a huge shoutout to our friend Nicholas Gonzalez on this episode. He elevated his character to a whole new level with just that one look. Melendez transformed from a tough, and unwavering surgeon to having actual depth to his character, and we love him even more for it! His reaction to Gabby’s question is telling, and we can gather from his conversation with his patient’s mother that he wasn’t fully onboard with his own parent’s decision for his sister.
Dr. Glassman and Maddie
The main focus of the episode, of course, was on Dr. Aaron Glassman who is struggling to recover after a successful surgical procedure to help eradicate his cancer. He needs to sleep and rest, however, his struggles are causing him to hallucinate, and he begins to have conversations with his dead daughter Maddie. At first, Dr. Glassman and his daughter are remembering all the good times the two shared before things take a dark and emotional turn. Maddie wants to talk about that night – the night that she died.
Before Maddie’s death, her relationship with her father became frayed. Dr. Glassman was frequently working, so he wasn’t around as much as his daughter would have liked. Maddie, on the other hand, was rebelling and was frequently out getting high, particularly on the night she died. That night, Dr. Glassman found her high once again. They fought, and he kicked her out of the house and locked the door not knowing that would be the last time he would see her. That night, it’s implied that she overdosed after having nowhere else to go, something for which Dr. Glassman has never forgiven himself. Maddie blames him and screams at him in anger, “I hate you, and I died hating you!”
Though he says he also died that night along with her, Dr. Glassman continues to live on with the guilt that he never sent her to rehab. He thought he could fix it on his own. In a moment that made tears stream down from my face, Dr. Glassman exclaims, “I wanted to be the hero! I wanted to earn you back. I wanted you to love me again like you did once upon a time.” He then says to her that he’s sorry. These are perhaps words that Dr. Glassman has never spoken out loud but seemed to be all his subconscious needed to be at peace finally. Maddie finally tells her father that she knows he loved her and that she loved him too. Dr. Glassman can finally rest (and he does, for 13 hours) and focus on his recovery.
What a powerful scene and what a powerful performance by both Richard Schiff and Holly Taylor who guest starred as Maddie Glassman! The moments between Dr. Glassman and his daughter are television at its optimal best! Bravo!
Shaun and Lea
If that wasn’t enough emotional drama for you, we also had the side story of Lea and Shaun’s big fight and Shaun’s failing attempts to make things right. He bought her a donut. He tried to go big. He tried to be nice to her. He tried to help her find a new apartment, but nothing seemed to repair the damage on their relationship. We still don’t know what happened to Lea in Hershey. It’s something that has devastated her, and when she came back to San Jose expecting comfort from her friend, she was further scorned by Shaun’s hurtful reaction to her return. Shaun hadn’t even cared to ask her what happened and why she felt she had to come back. Eventually, he says to her, “I don’t care what happened in Hershey, but I care that you care.” This seems to smooth things over with Lea, and the two reach an understanding which they celebrate over a round of Karaoke. It’s then that Shaun reveals he rented one of the two bedroom apartments that Lea liked but couldn’t afford. His plan is for them to share that apartment. What?
There was a lot that happened in the episode Tough Titmouse, but we got to learn some more about the characters that we’ve grown to love. The award for best performance of the night definitely goes to Richard Schiff for his heartbreaking portrayal of Dr. Glassman. Nicholas Gonzalez was a surprising second with that unexpected look into Dr. Melendez’s family and past.
What was your favorite part of last night’s The Good Doctor? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.