Review – The Good Doctor: Episode 4 “Pipes”

Shaun is relegated to “lesser work” as punishment by Doctor Melendez, accompanied by fellow resident Claire who is also being “punished” for standing up for Shaun during his mistreatment. It’s all a bit uncomfortable as the ongoing politics of the hospital simmer away in the background.

The opening scene in this episode was so uncomfortably familiar that I paused the episode and realised just how other people see me sometimes. Shaun’s sink has a dripping tap which eventually drives him to action. He then starts hunting for something. When Aaron Glassman (the hospital’s president and Shaun’s champion so far) turns up to help him (in the middle of the night), we discover he is struggling to locate his screwdriver. Shaun’s distress at not being able to locate it is pushing him closer and closer to meltdown and when Aaron suggests he buys another one, Shaun’s response is to shout, “I don’t want a new screwdriver, I want my screwdriver!” and Aaron loses his temper – telling him to stop it before apologising for doing so.

Scenes almost identical to this have played out for me throughout my life – my partner could name many where I have reacted exactly the same way as Shaun to a change or problem that seems so minor to her that even though she tries her best to understand, she can’t always get it. Shaun’s difficulties become more and more apparent throughout the episode as he struggles to cope with juggling his work and personal life. There’s an underlying story to be told when he vehemently shuts down the suggestion of a support worker, but there’s no doubt that Shaun is struggling.

Neil Melendez behaves like an even bigger prick than usual towards Shaun in this episode by talking about him as if he’s not there and “punishing” him and Claire for Shaun being late and for Claire defending Shaun whenever Neil insults him. He is quickly becoming such an unpleasant character that I find myself hoping that he does not get a redemption arc and instead screws up and gets fired. He plays the residents off against each other, then consistently favours Jared over Claire and Shaun. It hardly creates a morale inducing work environment.

After the less positive episode last week, we are back to complex medical situations which are solved by creative thinking and surgical mastery – it does make for good television even though I’m not too sure exactly how realistic the whole thing is.

As a minor annoyance: the inconsistency I mentioned as being a possibility in last weeks episode appears in this weeks when Shaun answers questions people ask him – meaning that the whole thing with Claire last week was a redundant exercise in demonstrating a quirk of autism that they didn’t even bother to commit to for the entire season.

That aside – this was a pretty good episode, if striking a little close to home at times.

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