Season 4 Rewatch: 4×09 Irresponsible Salad Bar Practices

The Good Doctor Argentina on Twitter (@TheGoodDoctorAr) is currently running a ’20 Days Countdown to The Good Doctor Season 5’, and on Day 9 we’re lookin at episode 4×09 Irresponsible Salad Bar Practices.

Patient Stories

Patient #1 is Rio Gutierrez. Rio is a transgender man who comes into the Clinic with a pituitary tumour, and when they examine him, it turns out he’s pregnant. Rio is in the middle of transitioning, physically looks male, and he has a supportive fiancé by his side. Rio’s pregnancy could still be aborted if he wanted, but he could also keep the baby at the cost of having to halt his gender transitioning treatment.

So what do they do with that? Rio and his fiancé do want kids, but do they want one now? Do they want one that Rio carries to term? Is Rio ready for all the psychological trauma of pausing his gender transitioning, including the gender dysphoria? It’s a difficult decision to make, and the relationship with his fiancé nearly breaks over all this.

I think it’s also a great opportunity to go back to how much Shaun has learned and grown. Remember in season 1, when he refused to call the trans girl ‘she’, insisting that her XY chromosomes clearly determine that she’s male? With Rio, Shaun is nowhere near questioning that he wants to identify as he/him, though he does address the question again in this episode when they operate on Rio. “What makes someone a man? I thought it was just the chromosomes, but that must not be it.” He doesn’t get a satisfactory answer, because Rio starts crashing, but he’s clearly accepted that your genetic makeup doesn’t necessarily define what gender you identify with. Shaun has come such a long way, and there needs to be more of the Glassy father pride inserted here.

Patient #2 is Zara Norton. Zara comes into the hospital with high blood pressure and in a somewhat delirious state. Claire suspects she’s on drugs, and when they try to find out what’s going on and why her blood pressure is so high, Zara tells them that she’s been taking her blood pressure lowering medication as prescribed. Claire, however, concludes that she hasn’t taken them, seeing how statistics say that African American patients are often less compliant with their medication intake and seeking medical care overall.

Zara is understandably upset when she learns about this and insists on changing to another hospital. It’s Dr. Glassman who comes to apologise to her. He’s pulled data on patient satisfaction aggregated by race, and St. Bonaventure actually scores pretty high on that list. Zara takes a good look at him. “Your argument is that your hospital may be racially biased, but it’s less racially biased than these other hospitals?” Yep, pretty much. It actually convinces Zara to stay, but only under the condition that Claire is off the team.

This patient story tackles the topic of racial bias, and how it can negatively affect ethnic or other minority groups. It also sheds light on conscious versus subconscious bias, and if we could all learn a lesson from this one, it would be to try and be more cognizant of the subconscious bias we all have at one point or another, and to try and actively work against it or overcome it.

Both these patient stories put a spotlight on minority groups and the real life issues and bias they often face. I find it pretty sad that I regularly see criticism on social media that the show is too “woke” and too preachy. Sure, some of these stories may be a bit exaggerated or overly dramatic, but I love that they’re tackling these big and sometimes tricky subjects. We need more of that. And I want to keep learning more from them, too.

Shaun & Lea

Okay, this is also a weird one, and one of the episodes that I thought were weakest in season 4. It’s all about crushes, and how do you handle when you’re attracted to someone, even when you’re in a committed relationship?

So Shaun has a thing for Dr. Cintia D’Souza. She’s a second year radiology resident, and apparently Shaun is into dark-haired, brown-eyed women? And she’s flirting with him — hard. Which doesn’t slip by Morgan and Alex. Shaun is convinced they must be wrong. She’s just a colleague, right?

This becomes more of a problem than Shaun realised when he has a dream about being attracted and drawn to Cintia. And as if that isn’t enough, they end up consentually kissing in his dream. She’s everything he’s ever dreamed off – she loves the Weather Channel, she loves muted light and volume, she knows all the things he likes and doesn’t like.

In real life, things get awkward when Shaun runs into Dr. D’Souza on a case he’s working on, and he tries his usual avoidance tactics. He’s confused. He loves Lea, and he wants to be with her, how can he be physically attracted to someone else? It doesn’t help that Dr. D’Souza also seems to find him interesting and actively flirts with him. “My brain isn’t behaving the way I want it to, how do I make it stop?” He doesn’t know what to do with that.

Advice from colleagues is, as usual, variegated. He’s conflicted whether to tell Lea about it or not, but does it anyway because he’s Shaun, even though people have advised him against it. Lea is a bit disconcerted, but not overly worried. After all, she finds the one physical therapist kinda hot, right?

Shaun gets all flustered, and it’s kinda cute. “N-no. No. What? Who?” Lea assures him that there’s nothing wrong with their relationship, because he’s not planning to kiss Dr. D’Souza in real life, is he?

The theme here seems to be: Having a crush is fine if you know it’s just physical attraction and you’re not acting on it. Still, deep down Lea isn’t as chill with the whole idea of Shaun being attracted to someone else and tries to find out a bit more about this woman who is now competition. Detective Dilallo to the rescue!

Lea stalks D’Souza in the cafeteria, and finds out a number of things that she thinks Shaun won’t like about her. She smells of cinnamon (according to Shaun, not a problem). She tucks her hair behind her ear in a weirdly lascivious way (according to Shaun, not a problem either). But the thing that gets Shaun is that she uses the cucumber tongs to reach for the tomatoes and the olives at the salad bar. And pickles. She likes pickles. Ughch. That’s a huge no-go.

Quick side note here, at one time I made a screenshot of what Lea and Shaun keep in their canned goods cupboard (back when they were still roommate-buddies), and there’s a jar with pickles there. Since we know Shaun can’t stand them (and will throw away whole sandwiches that have them even when he’s hungry as hell), we can only assume that Lea actually likes them. (Gotta say, though: Screw pickles, I’m a 100% with Shaun on this one. Nope. Can’t stand the things.)

We wrap up the infatuation storyline when Lea and Shaun run into Dr. D’Souza as they are leaving the hospital to go home, and it’s all awkward and weird. D’Souza keeps flirting with Shaun, even though he’s clearly with Lea. Shaun politely declines her invite to share her pickles. Lea is watching the whole thing with an amused smile. “It does help to focus on her irresponsible salad bar practices and dietary preferences,” he says relieved after Cintia leaves. Lea lovingly takes his arm. “I’ve got a ton of strategies to manage discomfort.” And so does Shaun.

And was it just me, or was the whole crush topic a bit weird and awkward? Sure, a lot of us adore Shaun and Lea together, and we get our backs up if we hear about potential trouble in paradise. I just felt the topic of jealousy or outside physical attraction wasn’t executed well in this episode. Not sure how I would have approached it better, but possibly I wouldn’t have approached it at all, so maybe I shouldn’t be the one to judge.

The First Year Residents

Jordan works on Rio’s case, Enrique and Asher are assigned to Zara’s case. Nothing really notable about the First Years in this episode, except a conversation at the end between Claire and Enrique. Picking up on the topic of racial prejudice, they stand up on the balcony overlooking the hospital foyer. Claire admits, “I spent med school, trying to make white people comfortable. But [Zara]’s right. It wasn’t just med school.” Enrique agrees. “It’s exhausting, isn’t it?” They look at each other and Claire adds, “We had to do it, right? To be here…?”

The Others

Following up on Claire’s concerns from the previous episode, Aaron seeks out Audrey to “see how she’s doing” because he’s worried about her. The conversation goes exactly where it’s supposed to go, and Audrey and is hesitant to act on Aaron’s advice to see a therapist. “And the damage to the reputation, who takes care of that?” She’s worried that her diagnosis will affect her career. She sends Aaron away.

Audrey has another brief PTSD blackout during the operation on Rio, the incessant beeping of the heart monitor and all the voices are rushing back in. She recovers, but it’s disconcerting, and now it’s impeding on her ability to function as a surgeon. This finally pushes her to fill her prescription of Sertraline that she’s been given. And she finally has the courage to admit it to both Claire and Marcus.

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