The Good Doctor Episode 2 – Mount Rushmore
After his exciting, Hollywood glam introduction in Episode 1, Dr Shaun Murphy does not have an easier time in his residency in the second episode.
It seems as though the flashbacks are going to be a constant theme throughout this series – which is both interesting because this episode’s portrays the relationship between Shaun and his brother (Steve), and quite sad because we saw his brother die in a flashback in the first episode. There is a part of me that wonders whether there is going to be some kind of twist around Steve’s death just because it’s the kind of melodramatic “shock reveal” that seems like it would fit in this type of drama.
Is this episode any more realistic than the last one? Not really – I assume after the somewhat dark tones of the first episode, this episode had some more positive outcomes to balance that out. Shaun is directly or indirectly involved in saving lives throughout the episode – from perseverance over a young girl’s symptoms leading him to attend the family home through to an offhand comment around how a tumour could be operated on that is quickly picked up by another resident and passed off as his idea. This idea saves a woman’s life. It’s all very dramatic and over-the-top, which I understand is quite common in US hospital dramas.
The characters are beginning to be fleshed out a little bit more – Shaun’s verbalisations and explanations of his thought processes at times feel a little like info-dumping for the sake of the viewer but his persistence and self-belief are both developed throughout this episode. Claire Browne, another attending, perhaps gets the most development in this episode as her attempts to find her place both socially and career-wise, in the surgical team and among the patients, are interesting to watch. The same effort has not yet been put into developing the other main resident, Jared Kalu, or attending surgeon, Neil Melendez, and this feels quite jarring at times – particularly with Melendez. The interpersonal dramas and politics are quite awkwardly written at times.
I continue to enjoy the way Shaun’s mind is portrayed visually in the show – where he visualizes medical procedures and ideas and how he sorts through all the information in his head. There have been debates online about Shaun and how his lack of social skills are unreasonable for a doctor, that he would have learnt x, y, and z by now, and even a few comments (from autistic people) about how he is “far too low-functioning to be a doctor”. I plan on exploring this further over on my partner blog, Life on Autism, rather than here – but I will say that these things didn’t even occur to me while watching the episode and even with consideration afterwards, they took me out of the immersion in the show far less than the inconsistent characterisation of the other characters.
I still like Shaun’s character and while some of the writing decisions are a bit shaky, it’s not so bad that I find myself turning the episode off. I do hope though that the writing does pick up in the future; especially as I predict there will be a future episode where Shaun misses something or does something and a patient dies. I would want the writing to be better for an episode like that.