The Good Doctor – Burnt Food
By: Jessica Wolff
Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) meticulously prepares for his day. He leaves the house and walks in a perfectly straight line. As he walks on a field, a soccer ball lands near him and he flashes back to his younger self (Graham Verchere) getting attacked by bullies on a field. His brother, Steve Murphy (Dylan Kingwell) rescues him. In the present, a young kid (Chance Moore) interrupts his thoughts and asks for the ball back. Shaun kicks it back to him and continues his walk before taking a plane to San Jose.
In the airport, construction workers dismantle a sign, causing it to fall down. The glass shards hit Adam (Orlando Lucas), and his parents, Bonnie (Miranda Edwards) and Carl (Matthew Mandzij) yell for help as a crowd gathers. A Doctor (Sam Vincent) steps forward and tries to help Adam. He asks for a cloth and presses it to Adam’s wound. Shaun tells the Doctor that he’s killing him, and the Doctor argues that he knows his anatomy. Shaun tells him the the pressure spot is different on a child and that Adam can’t breathe. Shaun steps forward and moves the cloth, allowing Adam to breathe again. Shaun lifts up Adam’s shirt to reveal glass stuck in his abdomen, and declares that he’s going to be fine. The Doctor asks Shaun who he is and he introduces himself, telling him that he is a resident at a San Jose hospital.
In a boardroom, Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper) argues that Shaun’s autism will hinder his ability to be a surgeon. Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) vouches for Shaun, explaining that he is high-functioning and expresses his annoyance that the meeting was called to question his hire for the hospital. Andrews believes that he is right to question him and Allegra Aoki (Tamlyn Tomita) reminds Andrews that he’s been after Glassman’s job for years. She then tells Glassman that her foundation pays for the hospital and tells him not to be surprised that his decision is being questioned. After being asked to justify his decision, Glassman explains that he met Shaun when he was fourteen and calls him an extraordinary man. He goes on to explain that though Shaun is autistic, he is also a brilliant savant.
Dr. Elle McLean (Irene King) asks Dr. Jared Kalu (Chuku Modu) if he’s seen Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) as he sits up in his bed. He tells her that he hasn’t seen her and asks her to leave. Once she is gone, Claire sits up next to him and puts her pants on before climbing out of the bunk bed. Jared asks about going public with their relationship, but Claire tells him that their relationship is just sex. Shaun uses his memory of textbook anatomy diagrams to assess Adam’s condition and determines that he is having trouble breathing. Though the Doctor is skeptical, Shaun asks for a sharp knife. When nobody in the airport has one, Shaun goes to find one.
Claire talks to one of her patients, Callum Reilly (Roman Podhora) and tells him that she needs his consent to perform a necessary surgery. He refuses, and she assumes that he is scared. Though he tries to deny it, Claire assesses the situation and tells him that lying won’t help him. He admits that he is scared. Shaun asks a TSA Officer (Gavin Cooke) where they keep the knives that they confiscate. The officer refuses to help, and Shaun explains that it’s for a medical emergency. Despite the officer’s refusal, Shaun spies a bin of knives and grabs one before running away. The officer yells after him and two TSA agents tackle him to the ground. Bonnie runs over and explains to the officers that Shaun is attempting to save her son’s life.
After Claire informs him of her progress with Reilly, Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) tells her to hurry on getting the consent for the surgery. Melendez reminds her that he is her superior, and Claire asks to give Reilly time. Unimpressed, Melendez asks Jared to get the consent form signed instead. The crowd watches with baited breath as Shaun uses items from around the airport to create a one-way valve to help Adam breathe. The operation is a success and the crowd cheers for him.
Glassman frantically calls Shaun, but can’t reach him. Jessica Preston (Beau Garrett) warns him that Andrews and the other board members are baiting him into making a mistake. He reminds her that she’s only on the board because her grandfather founded the hospital. She focuses his attention back to the meeting and advises him not to make things personal. In the ambulence, Shaun flashes back to his younger self holding a pet rabbit in his arms as his parents, Ethan (Kirby Morrow) and Marcie (Rebecca Husain) argue over him. Steve tries to defend him from his father, but he pushes him out of the way, slaps Shaun, and throws his rabbit against the wall. In the present, Shaun notices a change on the monitor, but the EMT (Tim Zhang) is uable to see it.
As they prepare for surgery, Melendez congratulates Jared on getting Riley to consent. Claire notices something off as they begin the surgery, and Melendez sees pus. Before they can do anything about it, the pus explodes and they frantically try to help him. A Nurse (Mike Li) informs Melendez that Adam has arrived to the ER, and Melendez sends Claire to take care of him. Claire greets the EMT and Shaun insists to her that Adam needs an echocardiogram. She asks who Shaun is and he tells her he is a doctor but can’t prove it. She assures him that Adam will be fine as she sends him away. He tries to run after her but the Security Guard (Dalias Blake) forces him out of the hospital.
In surgery, Melendez is impressed by the makeshift valve and Claire asks him if they should do an echocardiogram. He doesn’t believe that it’s necessary, and asks what he’s missing. Shaun tries to get back into the hospital but the security guard blocks every attempt. As he watches the rain, he flashes back to Glassman telling his younger self that his rabbit is dead. He is distraught and asks what they should do. When Glassman tells him to bury him, Shaun asks if he’s going to heaven. Glassman answers that he is, and Shaun sobs that he wants his rabbit here instead. Steve declares that nothing like this is going to happen to them again since they are not going home.
In the present, Glassman listens to Andrews’ arguments that Shaun wouldn’t be able to display the empathy necessary for a surgeon. Andrews asks if there were any qualified candidates that didn’t have issues, but Glassman insists that they should hire Shaun because he is qualified and different. He argues that black and female doctors previously faced similar issues of prejudice despite their qualifications. Andrews is offended that he’s comparing being black or a woman to being autistic. Glassman continues and argues that hiring Shaun will give hope to those with similar limitations and make the hospital better.
During surgery, Melendez notices something off about the monitor, but Jared is unable to see it. He asks Claire why she asked for an echocardiogram, and she tells him about Shaun’s insistence. Adam’s blood pressure starts dropping and Melendez orders an echocardiogram. He asks Claire to go with him to find Shaun. They find him sitting outside the hospital and Melendez asks why he asked for the echocardiogram. Shaun has trouble articulating and Claire demands that he talk. He tells them that he noticed the change on the monitor, and Melendez tells him he noticed it as well. Melendez gets a call and tells Shaun that the echocardiogram came back normal. Shaun insists that there’s no other explanation, and Melendez accuses him of wasting their time. Claire decides to bring Shaun back with them as they return to the surgery.
Melendez shows Shaun the echocardiogram and he stares at it until he determines that there’s a subtle concave in the right atrium. Jared doesn’t see anything, but Shaun insists that there is. Claire figures out that a piece of glass entered his bloodstream and caused the concave. Allegra orders a vote to confirm Shaun’s hiring, but more people vote against than in favor of. An Assistant (Arielle Tuliao) interrupts the meeting and shows them that a video of Shaun’s airport operation is getting attention on social media. The assistant then tells the room that Shaun is in the operating room where Adam is fighting for his life.
Glassman and Preston watch the surgery, and Preston asks if his concerns mean that he believe he’s going to lose. Glassman tells her that everyone loses eventually and Preston notices Shaun watching the operation. Shaun flashes back to he and Steve moving into an abandoned bus. Shaun asks if they can get a TV, but Steve tells him that they can’t afford it. He asks if their mom is looking for them, but Steve tells him that she believes that them leaving home is for the best. Steve gives him a kid’s play doctor kit as a present and he pulls out the play scalpel that he carries with him in the present. Shaun watches as Melendez pulls out a piece of glass out of the bloodstream confirming that Claire’s theory was correct.
In the cafeteria, Glassman gives Shaun a sandwich and informs him that he saved Adam’s life. He asks Shaun to wait for him to come back. Melendez expresses concerns to Glassman that Shaun is not capable of being a surgeon, but Glassman reminds him that he once took a chance on him. Melendez asks why he cares about Shaun so much, since letting things get personal is dangerous. Glassman argues that letting things get personal makes things matter. Melendez and Preston kiss after Glassman walks away.
Claire approaches Shaun and offers him help in finding his way around the hospital. Shaun refuses her help, telling her that Glassman gave him a map of the hospital. As she is about to leave, Shaun tells her that he has one question and asks why she’s nice to him now when she was rude earlier. Glassman interrupts the conversation and brings Shaun into the board meeting. Though Andrews insists that they already voted, Preston reminds him that Shaun just saved someone’s life. Glassman insists that they give Shaun six months to prove himself, but Andrews believes the prospect is dnagerous. Though Glassman reminds him that other doctors make mistakes as well, Andrews is unconvinced. Glassman declares that he will step down as head of hospital if Shaun doesn’t work out.
Allegra requests to hear from Shaun and he stands in front of the board. She asks Shaun why he wants to be a surgeon, and he freezes. He flashes back to playing with Steve and his friends on some abandoned trains. Shaun and Steve climb on top of a train, but Steve slips and falls to his death. In the present, Shaun explains that he watched his rabbit and his brother go to heaven. Shaun tells them that he couldn’t save them and that they didn’t get the opportunity to become adults. He declares that he wants to make sure others have that opportunity and that he wants money to buy a television. Allegra welcomes him to the hospital and shakes his hand.
Shaun suits up for surgery and joins Melendez and the other surgeons. He flashes back to Steve telling him to never forget that he is the smart one and that he is proud of him. In the present, Melendez tells him that he doesn’t belong there no matter how smart and nice he is. Shaun tells him that he hopes to learn a lot from him. He then calls Melendez arrogant and asks him if his arrogance is worth it.