The Good Doctor concluded its first season by giving Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) hope of beating his brain cancer, but he and Shaun (Freddie Highmore) may be out of a job when the show returns for Season 2.
The finale was an emotional rollercoaster for Glassman and his mentee/surrogate son. Shaun became obsessed with finding a treatment or an alternate explanation for Glassman's condition the moment he found out that his mentor was given a terminal diagnosis. His inability to accept the truth drove Glassman to the brink, but inevitably pulled the two closer together than ever after spending the back half of the season avoiding each other. When Shaun was finally able to find a way for Glassman to have his brain tumor biopsied, the president of the hospital was given a fighting chance at living. The relief led to Shaun's first-ever initiated hug and an, "I love you more," confession that showed just how close these two have really become.
The season-ending episode was not all sunshine and rainbows though. Shaun's distraction over Glassman's initial diagnosis lead him to make a near-fatal mistake during surgery. His resident team and coworkers spent the finale trying to find a way to explain their patient's worsening condition that didn't condemn Shaun, but in the end the savant surgeon diagnosed his own mistake.
Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Shaun were able to correct the issue, which should have meant that Shaun was off the hook but Shaun isn't a liar. He decided to report his mistake to Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper), who hadn't forgotten Glassman's deal that if Shaun was ever less than excellent that Andrews could fire him and Glassman would resign, leaving the presidency of the hospital up for Andrews' taking. The final scene of the finale showed Shaun and Glassman going to see Andrews together, with the results of their meeting up in the air until Season 2.
TV Guide talked to The Good Doctor executive producer and showrunner David Shore about their potential fates, earning the episode's huge emotional beats and what to expect next season.
There is a big moment where Shaun finally hugs Glassman in this episode, and that's one of the moments that got me. How gratifying was it for you to have finally earned that moment between the two of them?
David Shore: Look, I'm a viewer too. I experience it slightly differently, but I think I experience the same emotions as you do. When we thought about putting that in the story, it was like I think we've earned it. I think this is different. Lea hugged him, but Lea asked to hug him, and Lea hugged him, and he accepted that hug. This is the first hug he's initiated, and I think it's a beautiful moment. Shaun's going on the same journey we all are. He's just doing it in his own way. Little things with this character, I think, mean the world. Yeah, I loved it.
Another key moment in the finale was Shaun's "I love you," saying "I love you more." What exactly does that mean to Glassman, who has sort of been holding Shaun at arm's length just until this episode?
Shore: I think it means the world to Glassman. We don't want to over-hit that, but it does cause Glassman pause. There's not a lot of stuff that causes him pause, and it does obviously touch him. Look, in Shaun, nobody can replace his daughter and that's clear, but I think in some ways, not in some ways, in many ways, this is a father-son relationship between the two of them. To hear that from a son who isn't prone to saying those things, it doesn't come naturally to him, I think Glassman's aware of all that.
This episode started on a really dark note, and then it got darker. Let's say we have some hope at the end, but at any point did you consider not giving Glassman a way out of this terminal diagnosis?
Shore: Look, it's not over yet. It's not as simple as that. I wanted to end the episode with hope. I didn't want to end the episode with, "It's definitely going to be good." I wanted to end the episode with hope. I think very much this show is about that. I'll tell you what, when the outline for the episode before this came in and we see that Glassman's sick, the network was, like, panic-stricken. I'm not ready to lose Richard. I'm not ready to lose Glassman, but I want to explore this. I want to explore his illness. That's, I think, going to be a big chunk of next season and how it affects his relationship with Shaun.
Well, not only does he have a cancer battle ahead of him, there's also a battle for his job. What can you say about how much that's going to shape Season 2?
Shore: That is definitely going to be part of it. We're just at the early stages, so I'm not entirely sure how it's going to play out, but yes, that is what we wanted to end the season with is that physically he's into trouble and professionally he's in trouble. What will that mean for Dr. Murphy as well?
Andrews has become a lot more likable the course of the season than he was at the beginning. Will the audience still be able to like him in Season 2, considering what his ambitions are?
Shore: I hope so. I mean, I never want to just have bad guys, in quotation marks. He is a different approach and is an antagonist against the people we care about, but I think he will always be coming at us with a point of view that is defensible, and we may disagree with ultimately, but it is a point of view he believes in. As I said, he's not just a bad guy. He wants good things. He's just going about it differently. I think that will continue. I also like the fact that we send him home to a loving wife every week. Normally, we don't see her every week, but we know that she's there. I hope so. I hope so. I never want him to just be twirling his mustache. That should never be the case with him.
On the other side of the coin, we saw the team really come together in this episode to sort of rally around Shaun, except for Morgan. Is there any potential for Morgan to sort of really want to be part of the team, or how much do we have to do to get her defensive walls to come down?
Shore: I think Morgan wants a job. She's not a bad person. She wants to save lives. But she isn't what I would call a team player. That is not her approach. I think I want to continue to explore that, because it is good to have forces against you and attitudes against you. Voices that challenge our people is important.
They've formed this cohesive unit, but Shaun isn't the only one in danger of leaving. We also know that Jared might leave. How devastating would it be for these guys if any of their four decided to leave St. Bonaventure?
Shore: Yes. They have formed a lovely unit, the three we started with and Dr. Melendez. There's a closeness there. We'll have to see.
This season's been quite an achievement. Is there any one thing that you were the most proud of?
Shore: There's a lot I'm proud of. I'm proud of the way people reacted to this, and I'm proud that we have put a character on TV that isn't normally on TV and certainly not at the center of a show. I'm proud to be part of what is happening here, which I think is this acceptance you're seeing towards people who are superficially a little different from us. It's a process that society, I think, has been going through for a long time and will continue to go through. The fact that people are not just watching Dr. Murphy, but relating to Dr. Murphy and feeling empathy for him and not just sympathy, and we're actually, I think, walking in his shoes, I think that's the thing I'm most proud of.
The Good Doctor will return this fall on ABC.