‘The Good Doctor’ Recap and Review: “Middle Ground”
Last night on The Good Doctor, Shaun tried to treat a janitor at St. Bonaventure, while Dr. Lim risked her career to help a young patient. Shaun also had to deal with Lea being back in town. Here’s a recap for last night’s episode, “Middle Ground”.
The episode kicked off with Lea waking up alone in Shaun’s apartment with just a note from him that said he’s gone to work. At the hospital, Dr. Melendez was surprised to see Shaun there so early. The young doctor told him that he just wanted to get out of his apartment, not mentioning that he had a guest. While they’re talking, Shaun notices that Paul, one of the janitors at the hospital, was presenting with symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
Melendez was hesitant to believe him until they walked pass Paul and got a chance to look up close. He ordered Shaun to get Claire and do tests, but not to tell Paul what’s going on. That didn’t last long when Shaun couldn’t find a way to explain the need for testing and blurted out the truth. After Shaun’s diagnosis was confirmed, Paul called in his family to receive the news with him. With his only options being certain death or a possible survival after a dangerous procedure, his wife and children beg him to get surgery.
Elsewhere in St. Bonaventure, Dr. Lim risked her career by agreeing to do a reconstruction surgery on a teenager named Asha, who had undergone the cruel practice of female genital mutilation as an infant. Lim knew her ID was fake, but did the surgery anyway, while Dr. Reznick and Park suggested they call Child Protective Services. After the procedure, Asha woke up in severe pain. Lim was forced to put her under and report the situation to Andrews.
He was frustrated and pointed out that if she had been thinking like Melendez and aiming for Chief of Surgery, she wouldn’t have made such a reckless decision. He directed her to call Asha’s parents while he handled the legal procedures. When her parents arrived, they were furious and revealed that Asha’s real name was Mara. A representative from CPS arrived and sat Dr. Lim and Mara’s parents down to discuss next steps. Mara’s mother revealed that Mara was “cut” by her grandmother and aunt who were visiting from Kenya while they were away on vacation. All the women in their family are “cut” as a way to connect them with their ancestors.
Mara’s options are to have her clitoris reconstructed, giving her the option to feel pleasure or to have the rest of the nerve tissue removed completely. They decide to wake her up and get her answer. With her parents hovering and championing the decision to have all of the tissue removed, Mara’s sides with them, much to Dr. Lim’s disappointment. Dr. Andrews threatened to fire her if she didn’t complete the procedure, so she took one more chance to talk to Mara without her parent’s around. Lim told her of her broken relationship with her father, but Mara was too afraid to turn her back on her family and their traditions.
Despite this, Lim repaired Mara’s genitals. When Mara awoke and realized she still had feeling, she gave Dr. Lim a smile and said thank you, while her parents believed she no longer had nerves. Elsewhere, Shaun convinced Dr. Glassman to pick a doctor just before rushing back to the hospital when Paul suffered post-surgery complications. They tried and failed to save him. When Shaun offered to deliver the news to his family, Melendez told Claire to do it, doubting Shaun’s social skills. When Paul’s family began to place blame on each other, Shaun stepped in and successfully lied, telling them that Paul wanted the surgery.
In the final scenes of “Middle Ground,” Shaun told Lea to go back to Hershey with tears in his eyes because it hurt him when she left and he didn’t want to experience that pain again. Elsewhere, Dr. Glassman was put underneath anesthesia, finally undergoing brain surgery.
Final thoughts on this week’s episode of The Good Doctor
While I enjoyed the progress in the subplot of Shaun and Lea’s relationship and Dr. Glassman’s treatment, this episode’s main storyline of Paul and Mara fell a little flat this week. As someone who’s been watching The Good Doctor since episode one, I didn’t recognize Paul as a janitor at the hospital, let alone someone Shaun recognized as a friend. The sudden declaration of friendship, spotlight on him, and his death felt like a lazy way to demonstrate Shaun’s work on lying. It was emotional, yes, but they could have tied in the lying concept better. Freddie’s performance was amazing as usual.
Mara’s storyline took a very surface level look at female genital mutilation and the culture behind it. Of course, Dr. Reznick made a quick comment about religion and Dr. Lim technically went against her patient’s verbal request and made a decision about her body for her, but its made to look okay in the end because Mara was ultimately happy but couldn’t express it in front of her parents. Also, not to be picky, but Alimi Ballard’s African accent was not good. There are African actors out there. Hire them. Alimi is a great actor, but the role could have been cast better.
I’m looking forward to the continued subplot storylines and hope next week’s weekly cases are better than this week’s. I’m giving this week’s episode a 7 out of 10.
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 PM EST.
Kira McCall covers entertainment for MFST. She’s a freelance writer and alum of Towson University where she studied advertising, public relations, and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter at cocovanilla45 (GirlsofManyFandoms) and kiramira_.
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