Throughout Season 3 of ABC’s The Good Doctor, Shaun Murphy’s (Freddie Highmore) once lonely and protected life has been subjected to significant upheaval.
Following his confrontation with his terminally abusive father, the autistic surgeon, in a move that was completely out of character, accepted a consoling cuddle from then-roommate Lea Dilallo, who had been his roommate for some months at the time (Paige Spara). In addition, the twentysomething doctor lost his virginity to his first love, pathologist Carly Lever (Jasika Nicole), and genuinely enjoyed the experience! In addition, after singing karaoke in a bar with both Carly and Lea, his affections for the latter were impossible to deny, and he eventually worked up the bravery to confess his thoughts to her in front of everyone. (Things did not proceed as planned.)
Is it possible that all of Shaun’s tribulations will help him prepare for the moment when the earth begins to truly tremble, harming not just himself but also the people he cares about the most? When an earthquake strikes San Jose, California, in the season’s penultimate episode, which will premiere on March 23, the question becomes clear (the finale airs March 30).
According to executive producer Erin Gunn, Shaun is hindered by “the stress of a calamity” during his search and rescue mission through the ruins, but the two-parter offers “some of Shaun’s largest [experiences] learning about himself.”
The earthquake is hitting a brewpub near a fundraiser hosted by a former St. Bonaventure cancer patient, so you may expect to see a lot of familiar faces in danger. It included Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez), and Lea, Glassman’s assistant who newly joined the team. The nearest hospital, St. Bonaventure, is overflowing with casualties and wounds.
According to Gunn, “we instantly find our plot split between sequences that play out in the hospital and at the [severely damaged] brewery.
It’s a team effort: Audrey Lim, Claire Browne, and Alex Park (Will Yun Lee), along with firefighters and rescue crews, work together to save the wounded, including Shaun (Christina Chang).
However, for Shaun in particular, the emotional tremors on the job site are tremendous. Those who watched Season 2 will recall his public meltdown during the emergency quarantine, which was triggered by a buzzing light. This, according to Highmore, is even worse. According to him, “[these instances] elevate the situation to a completely different level.”
Gunn concurs with this statement. As she puts it: “His mentor, attending physician, and the lady he loves are all at this spot, so where does he go first?” she wonders. “Shaun is in a physical and emotional state that he has never experienced before.” And she believes that going through this difficulty will transform him, saying, “He’ll be in a very different position at the start of Season 4.“
Shaun deduces that Lea is stranded during the chaos and, despite the fear of aftershocks, goes rogue to help her. Shaun believes he still has a chance with her, despite her recent romantic proclamation that she loved him but was too much of a mess for a relationship to succeed. (“At what point do you stop believing in the possibility of two individuals being together?”) (Highmore ponders.)
Shaun is trapped in an unstable basement while searching for a way to save a life, and things aren’t looking good. “We get to see Shaun at his finest, coming up with unique answers and thinking in ways that most people wouldn’t,” Highmore says of the circumstance, which he describes as “difficult.” Whether or not the talented surgeon can MacGyver his way out, he will have to make difficult decisions as the situation worsens.
Shaun isn’t the only doctor who has been put to the test. Claire and Melendez (who is injured by the earthquake) will finally “get to an understanding about how they feel about one other,” according to Gunn. Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann), who has been hiding her severe rheumatoid arthritis, takes on an unexpected duty at the overburdened hospital, forcing her to make a major decision concerning her surgical career.
“[These episodes] allowed us to push each character into a new emotional space and see how they rose or fell,” Gunn explains. “There will be a tragedy as well as surprises.”
Spara even suggests that the quake might benefit Lea and Shaun: “I think with any calamity, it makes two people reassess what really important to them.”
Here’s one thing you can count on: these two episodes will have “major ramifications” for the rest of Season 4, according to Highmore. “The earthquake allows us to better comprehend the genuine personalities of the doctors,” the actor explains in his statement. “That will have an impact on the show itself as well as the path it takes.” It sounds like a serious shake-up is in store!