That was different.
The Good Doctor Season 4 Episode 19 kicked off a two-part season finale in which the medical team — and Lea — go to Guatemala to help with an effort to get people to trust doctors there.
Although the premise was somewhat gimmicky and non-Spanish speakers might have been frustrated by the lack of subtitles, this story was a lot closer to The Good Doctor’s original premise than most of the rest of the season.
The main idea behind the project was heartbreaking.
12 patients, one alternate. Everyone else gets sent home, no matter how sick they are or how sad their story is.
From the beginning, it was obvious that the doctors were going to have to make impossible choices and send many patients away that they couldn’t help.
It almost seemed like they were running a cruel lottery rather than a clinic, as patients came there in the hopes that their condition met the criteria to be one of the few to get treatment.
And many of the patients had severe symptoms. Kudos to the makeup department for making all of the tumors and swollen body parts look so realistic I had to turn my head away more than once!
Anyway, these people were all in bad shape, and it could be directly connected to their poverty and lack of ability to see a doctor.
Although the program director suggested that the patients needed to be able to trust doctors more, it seemed like the issue was more that they couldn’t afford to take time off work or seek health care.
Of course, there are a ton of Americans facing similar situations, though that’s an issue that’s explored more often on New Amsterdam than The Good Doctor.
Although American hospitals usually have more equipment and resources, people who are working minimum wage jobs and/or have substandard health insurance plans can’t afford to take time off or see a doctor before it’s too late either.
Anyway, most of the patients were in dire straits, and the solutions that the American doctors proposed were generally unworkable because of a lack of resources or equipment.
It was lucky that nobody died while waiting to be seen and that only Miguel had a serious problem that interfered with him getting promised treatment!
The Good Doctor also did its best to depict an authentic version of Guatemala.
That meant in addition to showing the effects of crippling poverty and our heroes struggling with the question of who they could realistically treat, there was a ton of spoken Spanish.
Most of the Spanish was just a translation of what the doctors had said in English, but it still might not have been a bad idea to include subtitles so that non-Spanish speakers weren’t distracted worrying if they’d missed something.
I understood a little bit of the Spanish and could guess the rest from contextual clues, but it’s always a smart idea when producing a series for an audience that primarily speaks one language to provide some sort of translation for other languages used.
But I’m glad that The Good Doctor went for realism anyway. There are too many shows that make the entire world magically fluent in English to try to ensure audiences understand everything!
This was also the first time in a while that The Good Doctor focused mainly on medicine, with the relationship stories taking a back seat rather than the other way around.
That made the hour fly by and felt a lot more like what made me fall in love with this series in the first place: the idea of an Autistic person being great at medicine but always having to prove himself.
Shaun’s Autism wasn’t much of a factor this time, but the whole team had to prove themselves, and there were a ton of interesting medical conundrums to explore.
Doctor: No personal details. They’re not relevant.
Lim: He’s the sole provider for two children. I’d say that’s relevant.
Doctor: We don’t want this to be a contest about whose story is the most tragic. There would be too many winners.
I loved Andrews fighting so hard for his patient and the cultural clash between the American doctors who thought personal history should be taken into account and the Guatemalan director who wanted them to consider only who was the best surgical risk.
Morgan even displayed a rare human side when she was upset about having to turn down surgery on a little boy with a benign liver tumor because of his heart condition.
She was confused and touched by the father’s thanking her for trying and seemed close to tears afterward. But then she had to ruin it by yelling at Park for daring to care about her.
Morgan/Park are not an interesting couple, and now she gets more obnoxious every time she sees him. Ugh.
I’m also not sure why Lea was along for the ride unless it was to assist Shaun.
She said that she thought getting away would help her deal with the loss of her baby, but this wasn’t a vacation and everyone else was working.
Glassman: You okay?
Lea: It’s not that heavy.
Glassman: That’s not what I meant.
Lea: I know. I think this trip will be good. It’ll help to get away.
Glassman: Look, if you ever want to talk, I’m here.
Lea: I won’t.
Glassman: I know.
No one else brought a significant other with them, though maybe everyone was worried about Lea being alone and encouraged her to come with Shaun.
It was predictable that her attempt to outrun her feelings would lead to more grief, though I’m glad Claire talked her into being honest with Shaun.
Not wanting to bother her significant other after they just lost their child is a huge problem, not just for Lea, but for the relationship. Thank goodness she decided to say something!
Claire: You know, it’s okay not to be okay.
Lea: It’s just, every time I think it’s getting better, there it is again.
Claire: I know. It comes in waves.
Lea: It’s a process. A terrible process.
Claire: I know. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Shaun doesn’t know, does he?
Lea: No. He’s doing great and important work and I don’t want to interfere with that. And he can’t fix that.
And what was that weird thing that happened with Lim and the program director?
I knew that cab was going to be a problem as soon as Lim got in it, but this didn’t seem to be a kidnapping as much as it was the cabbie deciding he wanted medical help for his family and forgetting to ask the doctors first.
Lim and the other doctor were happy to help and Lim was thrilled to have assisted with delivering a healthy baby.
The whole thing seemed like a vehicle to get the pair to kiss. I don’t mind that, but what’s going to happen when Lim goes back to America?
Or is she going to end up staying behind to be with her new love, leaving another hole to be filled on The Good Doctor Season 5?
Your turn, The Good Doctor fanatics.
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The Good Doctor airs on ABC on Mondays at 10 PM EST/PST. The Season 4 finale airs on June 7, 2021.