Season 5 Recap: 5×02 Piece of Cake

I will start this off with the first thing I did after I watched the episode, which was message Natty from The Good Doctor Argentina on Twitter.

Piece of cake my arse! I wanna throw cake at the television right now!! I’d hurl Shaun and Lea’s whole wedding cake if I had it here right now. Argh! I’m so angry!! gdafaskfdfdslj Because…

Beware. This recap will contain ranting. Plenty of it.

The Technicalities

Written by Tracy Taylor & David Hoselton
Directed by Tim Southam
Original airdate Oct 04, 2021

Patient Stories

Patient #1 is Abby Clemmis. She’s pregnant and close to the due date. She was brought to the hospital from prison, where she’s serving a life sentence for having murdered her first baby by poisoning it with antifreeze. (Okay, so why is a state prisoner brought to a private hospital? Wouldn’t they try to take her to a public hospital?) Abby starts haemorrhaging and needs an immediate C-section.

Abby got pregnant a second time before the trial, but her boyfriend left her when she got convicted. Alex, Shaun and Morgan are involved in this case, and while Shaun is neutral about the whole guilt vs. innocence issue, Morgan is immediately convinced that Abby must be guilty, with Alex erring on the side of innocence.

The C-section goes well, her baby Maggie is delivered without complications. Salen wants the team to discharge her as soon as they can, but Alex gets crafty with trying to keep her there a bit longer. He has a feeling Abby is suffering from post-partum depression and wants to help. But it’s not that. Abby was really happy with both her pregnancies. “So that means I’m either a victim or a monster. Pick a side,” she tells Alex and Morgan.

The baby isn’t developing well, and they suspect it’s not getting enough nutrition. Alex’s solution for this is to let the mother breastfeed, because the mother’s milk may be better than formula. Of course he has to do it clandestinely, because Abby is not supposed to even see her baby, seeing how she’s a prisoner and can’t take her baby with her back to prison.

After the breastfeeding, the baby starts going into some kind of crisis. O2 saturation is falling, Maggie has to be intubated, something’s going on. Alex orders a tox screen on the mother and grudgingly tells Morgan that he let her breastfeed. Morgan is convinced that Abby has a pattern and is trying to poison her new baby with antifreeze as well.

This is soon corroborated when they find traces of antifreeze in the baby’s blood. Looks like Morgan was right. Abby is shocked when they tell her about it. It truly looks like she didn’t know about this, or else she’s a really good liar.

Turns out she’s not a liar. Morgan administers some kind of truth serum drug cocktail to get Abby to tell the truth, and this whole thing makes me cringe. How is that ethical and allowed? Wouldn’t she have had to ask Abby for permission? And in which hospital is it allowed to even do this? Sounds more like some illicit military operation shit. Thumbs down for this terrible idea. But yeah, Abby says she could never hurt her children.

It’s Shaun who helps Morgan figure out what’s going on with Abby. Shaun’s gas chromatography test on the baby reveal a very minor discrepancy that has Morgan deduce that the baby isn’t suffering from antifreeze poisoning but actually has a rare metabolic disorder called methylmalonic acidemia where the body can’t break down certain proteins, leading to accumulation of toxic substances in the body that are incredibly similar to antifreeze.

Abby’s breastmilk triggered production of the acid causing the toxicity. Abby is innocent, and Morgan and Alex alert the authorities about it. Hopefully that can get Abby exonerated and she can be the good mother she always dreamed she’d be.

Interestingly, this is actually based on a real case that was written up and published as a case review in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1992, and there’s a Wikipedia article about it as well. Apparently the case has lent inspiration to other TV shows and movies in the past.

Patient #2 is Madeline, a young athlete who presents with dizziness and severe nausea. She’s a track runner, Marcus, Mateo and Jordan are trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. When she starts coughing up blood, they run more tests.

Esther is actually Madeline’s biological mother from Cameroon who was deported and gave her up as a small child so Madeline could grow up in America and have a better life. Madeline was adopted and considers her adoptive parents her real parents. Her biological mother is a stranger to her. (It’s interesting that Shaun isn’t involved in this case.)

Further tests reveal that Madeline has stage 4 cancer that has started to metastasize. Her outlook is pretty terrible, Andrews gives her about a year to live, even with surgery and chemo. Madeline can’t believe it. She’s an athlete and she’s so far been healthy and strong. How can she only have 12 months to live?

Esther wants to support her through the treatment journey, but Madeline won’t have it. Esther is nothing more than a random person to her. She’s not her mother. And she’s overbearing and has completely different cultural values.

The surgical team tries to figure out the best approach to treat Madeline. Conventional methods won’t cut it. It’s Shaun who mentions in passing that they should look at engineered T-cell therapy (which is experimental and not yet approved for public use). And I really hate that in front of Lim, Mateo is claiming that the idea was his without giving Shaun credit for it.

Of course Madeline is all for the T-cell therapy, seeing how Mateo presented it like some kind of magic cure. They start administering it, and it seems to work pretty well. Here comes another gripe of mine, though. From what I could gather, the therapy is only available in clinical trials as experimental treatment.

So here’s my soap box rant of the day. You can’t just enrol any random patient in a clinical trial. There are in- and exclusion criteria that the patient has to meet, and the patient needs to be treated at a clinic or hospital that actually conducts the trial. There are trained individuals who run and manage trials at hospitals, with a principal investigator who oversees it locally, and study nurses and study coordinators who do all the tests and data collection. The patient needs to undergo an informed consent process and sign a consent form.

There are so many rules and regulations, there is a study protocol and data that needs to be gathered and entered into special data collection systems. You need to report adverse events on an ongoing basis, and there are people who come and check the data on a regular basis to ensure there are no errors or falsifying. The study medication is dispensed through an interactive response system and is meticulously tracked, and there are a million things that are very regulated and restricted by certain processes.

You cannot just give patients an experimental treatment willy nilly. So unless St. Bonaventure is an actual trial site for the study, and the surgical team are approved investigators in the trial, it’s unlikely that Madeline would have received this treatment. I know it would have made for less exciting storytelling, but the realistic way to get her treated would have been to find the nearest study site that was running the trial and then have Madeline referred there to be screened whether she would fit into the trial.

Okay, soap box rant end. Not sure this would make for an interesting story, but one of my nerdy wishes is to somehow weave a realistic story around a clinical trial into an episode, with Shaun being appointed sub-investigator, and trying to deal with all the administrative crap that comes with a clinical trial. Getting into fights with the clinical research associate because the data collection system is set up badly, because he has to enter non-sensical data, because the forms are badly designed… Could be fun. I dunno. Or maybe that’s just me projecting.

To wrap up the Madeline story, there’s some closure when Esther comes to see Madeline and they talk about how and why Esther gave her up as a child. Esther has many regrets, and Madeline is willing to reconcile and build a friendship. “Maybe we can be friends, work our way up to ‘famille’.” That’s a wonderful notion for the two of them.

Salen and Ethicure

Okay, let’s give this one its own section for now. Cause I think I’m gonna be talking about it for a while.

So… Ethicure is the new company name that’s taking over St. Bonaventure. Devoted to an improved, accessible, for-profit, state of the art healthcare experience.

Yo. Sounds like the kind of bullshit that every private hospital show north of this decade has tried to sell us at one time or another. And St. Bonaventure is no exception. I knew this was coming as soon as they introduced the true Salen at the end of the last episode. Yep. Classic company acquisition ‘Let’s leave a major footprint all over this place’ process improvement hoopla right there.

Profit is the new north star. Who cares about patient welfare, right? As long as they bring in da monies. I mean, it’s not like I don’t get it. A hospital has to be profitable in order to keep running. But there’s that really fine line to walk between keeping your profit margins healthy and your patients well taken care of. And it’s usually a recipe for disaster when money comes first and patient care second.

Time to play bullshit bingo during Salen’s speech she gives to the hospital staff. She uses all the corporate lingo right there that I’m sadly all too familiar with. Pillars. Mission. Curate. Experience. Innovations. Incentives. Teamwork. Respect. Clients. There, one bingo row already completed. Bullshit!

I hate Salen — in the way that they want us to hate her. She’s obnoxious and nosy and she seems to be literally everywhere. And she has an opinion on everything that she’s not shy to divulge. She’s on the surgery gallery, offering advice. She’s in Glassman’s office, offering him a dodgy deal. She’s in the surgeon’s lounge sampling Shaun’s wedding cake. She’s in Audrey’s office, doling out vague threats towards Mateo. Ugh. She’s a regular nuisance. I hate her.

But that’s the point, right? We’re supposed to hate her. And, thank you, thank you, thank you, she’s not another Han. Because she’s not outright antagonistic, at least not aggressively so. She’s driven and doing her job — albeit a little too pushily. She’s actually a complex character, a strong woman, and it’s not like you can even really blame her. She’s just kinda unlikeable, like that boss who’s trying to go places, even if it means reaching their goal at the expense of ignoring others’ sensitivities.

We learn in this episode that Salen has two doctorates: one in neurotech and one in data science. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

The scene where Morgan, Alex and Shaun get their photos taken for the new Ethicure badges is comedy gold. The photographer instructs them, “Badges are gonna have bigger photos, so we need bigger smiles.” We know how great Shaun is with smiles. And if you can imagine the most awkward Shaun smile, I promise you, it’s a hundred times more awkward than that. Shaun’s face here still makes me laugh out loud.

Question: If Salen boasts about a new colour palette for the hospital, why is everything that terrible drab grey? Shaun also complains that the new scrubs have very rough seams. Shaunie, I get you. So much. I’m the person who cuts out tags from new clothes the minute I unbag them at home. Rough seams and scratchy tags are the worst. Guess it’s time for Shaun to start wearing t-shirts underneath the scrubs, huh?

Gotta say, I hate the new scrubs as much as Shaun does. The narrow cut trouser legs are weird. The fabric looks like it’s 100% synthetic and you probably sweat buckets in them. And what’s the point of scrub caps when most of your hair peeks out from under it anyway? Couldn’t Salen’s company buy the right size or type?

Shaun & Lea

With Salen having effectively introduced Ethicure’s new paradigm, Lea is concerned about how Shaun is handling the shift of the same. “You’re fine with all of this? I mean, it’s great if you are, but change is sometimes tricky for you.” Shaun is surprisingly chill. “I was concerned, but Ethicure’s changes seem reasonable… and data-driven.”

What’s further up on Shaun’s priority list is the wedding cake. Apparently that’s more important than the date of the wedding, the venue or the catering. Fun things first. He likes cake. Lea thinks there’s no such thing as bad cake (you know nothing, girl, because yes, there is!), and she’s fine with whatever Shaun will pick.

Salen has instructed Lea to “improve” their hospital software. And she tells Shaun that he better take a good look at her while he still can, because she will be working day and night to rewrite good code into bad one because Salen said so. And Shaun looks. And looks. And looks. It’s cute. Stop being cute, Shaun. I can’t take it.

Shaun then starts asking everyone for their cake preferences. And I mean everyone. Even Salen gives her (unsolicited) advice. “Anything with cream cheese frosting. I’d eat dog poop with that on it.” Ew. Gross. Shaun has a sampling of five different cake options ready for everyone to test in the surgeon’s lounge. And he has the statistical analysis questionnaire all meticulously planned out. (Basic ranked choice vote won over the Kemeny–Young method.)

If I were to take a wild guess at the different cake options he has on the shortlist, I’d say it’s Angel Food, lemon cake with lemon frosting, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, red velvet with white frosting and Devil’s Food. Asher thinks red velvet cake is dumb. I’m with Jordan on this. I’ll take the carrot cake, please.

Fun moment when Salen barges in uninvited and wants to get a vote on the cake selection, but Shaun doesn’t quite agree. “Since you won’t be invited to my wedding, you don’t get a vote. Or cake.” He takes the tray from Salen.

And then we arrive at Awkward Central™ again, because Salen remarks Shaun has an “interesting affect” and asks if he’s on the autism spectrum. Suddenly you can hear a pin drop in the room. Curious glances are being exchanged by everyone. Shaun refuses to answer. (Wise choice, Shaunie! So proud of you.) Salen pushes on. “I’m neuro-atypical myself. ADHD.” Shaun just nods. “Okay.” And then he packs up his cake and makes a less than graceful exit.

Side note: Melissa Reiner, the show’s autism consultant, talked about this scene in her Episode Insights on YouTube. Take a look (or rather listen) if you’re interested.

This is kinda weird, though, right? Salen seems to know everything about everyone. Why did she not know Shaun had ASD? That’s more or less common knowledge around the hospital and is probably somewhere in Shaun’s files. Or was she just feigning ignorance to see Shaun’s reaction?

Shaun’s next stop is Glassman’s office, and I both anticipated and dreaded that scene, because I had a feeling we were not going to get out of it what I hoped. And we didn’t, and that makes me sad, but I think the overall direction is still on par with what I was thinking. More on that later, though.

Love the scene where Shaun bursts into Lea’s office. “I’m here for another look. You came home after I went to sleep and left before I woke up.” Interesting role reversal, because I’m sure Shaun has had plenty of days like that where Lea never saw much of him.

Lea is still stressed with Salen’s programming. “It’s so frustrating, I may start punching things.” Shaun immediately raises his shoulders in discomfort, and I love it. I may start punching things soon, too. This episode was somewhat frustrating for us viewers, but mostly in a good way.

Shaun immediately goes into fixing mode for Lea, but that’s not what she’s after. “I don’t want a solution. I don’t need a solution. I just want to vent.” This dialogue here is great. Cause Shaun is still stuck on the cakes. “It is very difficult to find a cake that everyone likes.” Lea distractedly responds, “I get it.” Shaun waits for advice, but she doesn’t offer any. “No,” he protests, “I don’t want to vent. I just want a solution.” Lea’s solution well is dry, however.

And Shaun is so loveable, because he tries really hard. “You always tell me to use my words and explain how I’m feeling, but I did that, and I think it only made you more upset.” Aw, Shaun, you’re rocking this. And he just inadvertently solved Lea’s problem, apparently.

So what Lea does is tell Salen about her feelings. Her feelings about how much she hates the new programming, and how much better she could do if Salen would let her design her own thing. And finally we learn more about Lea’s professional history.

She’s been programming for four years (…ish). She went to U-Pitt (University of Pittsburgh), got her degree in three years, designed and built cars, desktops and entire coding systems from the ground up. And Salen is aware of her epic ransomware save, too (episode 4×10 Decrypt callback). Thank you for finally giving us canon history of Lea’s IT and coding background, so we can whack some of the Lea hating trolls on Reddit with this info in the future. Seriously, thank you!

Salen is pretty chuffed with Lea’s suggestion, even though the sales pitch left much to be desired. She wants to grab a kombucha with Lea to talk more. Well done, Lea! And let’s raise a glass to Shaun for helping, too!

And can I just say, I see a lot of love from fans for Lea’s new wardrobe choices this season, but I kinda hate them. Not a fan. I want the quirky, casual Lea back.

Morgan and Alex finally help Shaun solve his cake problem. Because why pick one cake, when you can have them all? They’ll serve all five flavours in a quadruple tiered cake, getting rid of either chocolate or red velvet because taste-wise, they’re basically the same. Brilliant solution!

Shaun presents the idea to Lea later. Not sure where they are for this scene. It’s not the surgeon’s lounge or the usual break room, unless this is a weird angle of the break room we haven’t seen before (or I have not paid enough attention). At any rate, Shaun is quite proud of himself for having solved their cake problem. I love his self-satisfied little strut here.

While Lea happily shares how she also solved her programming conundrum with Salen, Shaun goes to wash his hands. He doesn’t like the new soap because it doesn’t wash off. Lea tells him how proud she is that Shaun is handling all the change so well, and she thinks he looks super cute in the new scrubs. (No. Nuh-uh.) We already know Shaun isn’t a fan. They’re itchy.

The new soap irritates Shaun. They also got rid of paper towels, and instead there’s one of those motion sensor activated automatic air dryers. It has blue lights and is loud and galling, and it sends Shaun right into sensory overload. Everything comes crashing down — all the changes, the uncomfortable new clothes, the new restrictions, the Glassman situation. “No. No. Stop it. No. Okay. No,” he stammers. Lea tries to placate him and talk him down, but he’s way past that. He clasps his hands over his ears. “Stop it, no, please stop it!

The episode fades to black on his distraught expression and agitated words reverberating hollowly. Ugh. I hate it. I want to throw things at the television. That’s such a cruel edit, and I hate, hate, hate that we have to wait a week to see the resolution of this.

And I swear I will be going into super rant mode if they gloss over the aftermath. I wanna see what happens next. This is what I come to this show for. It makes me angry when they tease like this and then deprive me of the good, deeply emotional stuff. Don’t you dare skip the resolution of this scene next week!

That said, from an acting standpoint, I can only imagine this episode must have been a lot of fun to shoot. We saw a great deal of range, especially for Shaun. There was comic relief, there was serious conversation, there was humour, and there was epic emotional upheaval. And I think that’s what mollified me somewhat in the end, because the divide between my love for this episode overall and hate for the editing at the end is sizeable.

And to expand a little bit on the overall Shaun and Lea dynamic these two episodes into the season, so far I’m loving it. They still have an epic love fore each other, and a wonderful understanding and support system. Lea is still very much in tune with what Shaun needs, and Shaun is always listening, always trying to do his part and put in the work. The “you always tell me to communicate how I’m feeling, and I’m really trying” part was hugely important, and it gives me more warm Shea fuzzies. I’m over here, proudly hissing my #Shea flag.

Glassman’s Journey

So Glassman is into fly fishing now? Or not? This confuses me. He makes fishing flies in his office. But later says to Shaun he doesn’t even like fishing. I don’t understand.

But anyway, Salen sees him in his office while he makes fishing flies from scratch. He says it’s harder than brain surgery. I dunno, maybe he likes it for the dexterity practice? He gets a reprimand for not having attended her introduction speech. “Your absence at the presentation this morning could be interpreted as a lack of support.” Duh, Salen. That’s exactly what it was.

“When we first met, you were a fake patient. And now you’re a hostile corporate raider.” Yep, Aaron also hates her with a passion. Can we blame him? He resigns his position as Hospital President. And he hates the new logo. Salen won’t take no for an answer, though. She gets that Glassman is an important figure in the hospital and has a lot of sway. If he goes, others will follow. That could be very bad for Ethicure, so she does what hostile corporate raiders do. She bribes him to stay.

Her bribe isn’t the usual stock options or salary increase or larger office. It’s keeping his clinic open, despite it being a money hole. And that gets Aaron’s attention.

Aaron gets to sample Shaun’s cakes, but he is indifferent. “They’re all good.” Shaun tells him that’s unhelpful. So far he has twelve votes, and the cakes that got the most likes were also the ones that got the most hates, and the only cake that no one hated is the one no one loved. Yeah, sounds like every food sampling in the book. “Shaun, it’s your wedding. Pick the cake that you like!” is Aaron’s sage advice.

Aaron is sipping whiskey. He has a whole flask there for the taking. Shaun remarks why he’s not working. Aaron tells Shaun he’s thinking about taking a break, about moving on. “Onto fishing?” Shaun asks. No, Aaron doesn’t even like fishing. “Are you sad about Debbie?” Shaun inquires. “Yeah. Yeah, I am. But you know what? She wasn’t happy, so it’s probably for the best, and right now I just think I want to take some time for myself.”

This confuses Shaun. “You want to be alone?” Aaron likes people, he just thinks he needs to be around different people. “Different from me?” Shaun counters. Aw, Shaun. That kinda hurts me right here. Aaron, why are you being so callous to your surrogate son?

When Aaron asks Shaun about how he’s coping with all the Ethicure change, Shaun a 100% deflects. Interesting. He’s not normally so evasive with Aaron. Speaks to how confused he is with Aaron’s behaviour, and I’d like to think that’s an interesting subtle hint at where they’re currently at.

And then Aaron says something I want to slap him in the face for. “I’ve got no wife, I’ve got no kid, I’m soon to have no job…” We’ve all been wanting so much for him to acknowledge that Shaun is a son to him. And now he does the exact opposite? Man, that hurts me. I’m so mad. Nineteen minutes in, and it’s the first time I want to hurl something at the television.

So Aaron wants to embrace his newfound freedom. “And for once in my life, I’m not gonna care about anything else.” You can see that Shaun is both confused and hurt by that, too. “I’m glad you have such a positive outlook.” No, Shaun, you’re really not, are you? That’s a white lie right there. I think Shaun can already feel Glassman slipping away, and I think we all hate that as much as Shaun does. I know I do.

I’ll also sing praise again to Richard Schiff and Freddie Highmore. I really love the dynamic between these two, and any scene between them is always such a delight. The nuances are always on point, and the emotion and subtext is always tangible. This is what I live for every week when I tune in.

Really hate that the wedding speech was very much glossed over. Are we to assume that they had an off-screen conversation about that before this scene? Or are we to assume that they’re drawing a veil of silence until the matter fades off of everyone’s radar? Goddammit, I wanted to see that. Sigh. Fan fiction it is, then, I guess. (shakes fist)

Glassman’s further role in season 5 is somewhat unclear, because he seeks out Salen and tells her he’s happy to play her puppet if she doubles the clinic budget. But that’s all that he’ll do — be a puppet. He has no intention to do actual work as the president of the hospital. “I plan on smiling and nodding through this transition, and nary a negative word will cross my lips.” That wasn’t exactly what Salen was counting on, though. “That’s a much more passive interpretation of support than I had in mind.” Both are good poker players, and it seems both are getting out of it what they want. “Welcome to the Ethicure family,” Salen welcomes him. Aaron gives her his best fake smile.

The Second Year Residents

I stan Jordan and Asher so much! They have such a lot of friendly competition sass in this episode, and I love it.

Of course they also get caught in the new Ethicure revolving door. The new fitness trackers that Salen gave every employee have the two of them preoccupied at first. Jordan loves it, because it’s versatile, and she would marry it if it could also vibrate. Asher thinks it’s a convenient way to track employee activity. I think Asher has the right idea.

Little side note: Jordan admits to Madeline she has “some ink too” but not in places you can easily see. So what’s the tattoo and where is it? Will we ever get to see it?

Asher, you sly little bugger. He strapped his activity tracker to a dialysis pump, so that it counted 22,378 steps for him, while he was assisting on several surgeries. Jordan is impressed. “That’s clever. It’s also cheating.” Asher doesn’t see it that way. “It’s only cheating if the rules have merit.” Jordan then shakes her fist in the air to activate the step counting, exclaiming, “Viva la revolución!” And off they go, cheating the trackers. Hehe!

The Others

Mateo’s first day as an Attending isn’t going great. Where’s his name on the surgery schedule? He isn’t exactly thrilled with being eased rather than thrown into the new position. He suggests to shadow Marcus for his morning rounds to get a feel for the place.

His endearing nickname for Audrey is guapa (which apparently translates to “pretty one”). She tells him to please not call her guapa at work.

When Mateo gets a little ahead of himself and offers an experimental treatment to the girl with cancer without checking with Andrews first, Andrews is livid. He brings the matter up to Lim, asks her to reprimand Mateo for taking over his case when he was only there to observe. Andrews thinks the T-cell therapy is too risky and success is unproven. And then Lim and Mateo basically take the case from Andrews. Which of course he’s even less thrilled with. Bold move, Audrey.

Salen confronts Andrews about it on the gallery later, and it looks like she wants to gauge where he stands. Is he going to admit that he’s salty that Lim sided with Mateo because he’s her boyfriend? Andrews shows true integrity, though. “Audrey is a highly principled professional and a great boss.” Good on you, Marcus. Salen likes it, too.

Salen confronts Audrey and Mateo in Audrey’s office again later. She berates them for not treating their “clients” appropriately. Their productivity isn’t as Salen expects it to be. She gives Mateo a scrutinizing look. “I understand your license is provisional.” Oooh, shots fired!

Mateo and Audrey have a conversation about it in bed that night. He says, “Regrets are for when you make a mistake, not for when you do the right thing. I can handle Dr. Andrews.” Audrey is sure Andrews will now supervise the hell out of Mateo, but he’s not worried, because he can still see his guapa every day. They kiss, and I still love them together so much. Yesss.

I keep coming back to my season 5 wishlist, but it’s always great when I see more tickboxes being ticked. We had another lovely moment of Alex being an awesome Shaun supporter. Alex thinks that Shaun is getting disconcerted at their surgeries now being timed to measure productivity. Shaun isn’t always great with holding up to external pressure. Alex tries to diffuse, but it’s actually not necessary in this case. “I like knowing how long it takes,” Shaun tells Alex. Data-driven, remember? Shaun is all for that. But extra brownie points to Alex for trying to offer assistance.

Speculation Corner

Ethicure

Yep, looks like this is going pretty much where I thought it was gonna go. Lots of hostile takeover changes, lots of bullshit to deal with for everyone. Lots of challenges, especially for Shaun. I’m totally here for it, even though it’s painful to watch.

Gonna take a wild guess that it’s either going to end in epic failure and things going back to “normal” by the end of the season, or them trying to find a compromise that works for everyone without half the staff quitting and people getting frustrated with the loss of integrity and medical ethics. But let’s see how this plays out, and how many meltdowns Shaun will have to endure throughout.

Last week I said I’m totally game, and I still am. Bring it on, but please don’t break our dear Shaun in the process.

Glassman’s Downfall?

I’m honestly not sure what to make of that scene with Aaron and Shaun in his office. I may not have been completely off-base with the whole alcohol addiction speculation last week. He was drinking whiskey again, very openly. I’m sure Shaun took note of that.

Then the low blow with Glassman saying he has no kid, no responsibility, no people he cares very much about. Ouch. He didn’t seem particularly depressed during the episode, but was that just him putting up a brave front? Or was that more like a manic episode or pretence or deflection?

Even though they made it look like Shaun was taking the conversation with Glassman pretty well, I have a feeling it affected Shaun a lot more than he let on. I’d like to believe Shaun’s breakdown at the end of the episode wasn’t just sensory overload from the soap-towel-dryer situation. It was a combination of things crashing down — the Ethicure changes, the physical sensations, and the undoubtedly unsettling news that Glassman gave him that he had to process.

Aaron has always been a pillar to lean on for support for Shaun. He may feel like he’s losing that, with Glassman having basically said Shaun isn’t an important figure in his life. Not important enough for him to stay, at any rate.

I think we’re all wondering where the Glassman journey will be going. Is Glassman going to step back and we’ll see him less for the rest of the season? God, I really don’t hope so. Shaun and his relationship is one of the big things that I tune in for. I really pray that they’re not gonna go that route.

I still think there could be more coming that spirals Glassman towards some kind of depressive downfall. But maybe it’s more gonna go the midlife crisis ‘I will completely turn my life around’ route. I dunno. That could also be an interesting direction, and a way to estrange Shaun and create friction. I’m open towards either, or whatever else they have planned, as long as we don’t see much less of Aaron.

Please don’t disappoint, okay?

Also, I love comments. If you ever have anything you wanna mention, discuss, throw in the ring, challenge, or just say hello, my comments box below is open. 🙂

State of the Shea

If you wish to read more episode insights from fans, I would recommend you check out Kelli Lawrence’s State of the Shea Pt. 42 post that has a lot of really good analysis and her own views of the episode and our favourite couple.


2 thoughts on “Season 5 Recap: 5×02 Piece of Cake

  1. You got it right about Salen’s CorporateSpeak. She left out a few of my unfaves: synergy, initiatives, core competencies, but she still managed the hated corporate empty word salad. Her speech brought back bad memories. However, other than that, I kinda liked her; at least I didn’t hate her. (I’m sure that’ll change given the promos we saw!)
    She definitely knew about Shaun’s autism. How do I know that? Because she did the same thing to Lea: asked her, challengingly, how long she’s been coding. When Lea answered 4 “ish” years, Salen rattled off a list of Lea’s (impressive) professional accomplishments. With Shaun, she noted his “interesting affect” and asked if he was on the spectrum. When he refused to answer (well done, Shaun!), she offered that she too was neuroatypical because of her ADHD. She obviously didn’t object to his presence as a doctor because of his autism ala Han (yet?).
    I’m angry at Glassy all over again; is he going to do something icky every episode? Shaun looked like he was punched in the gut. I too wish they hadn’t skipped the aftermath of his party speech. I do agree with you about the great dynamic between Richard Schiff and Freddie Highmore. I can’t wait to see the grape crushing scene! I think Glassy is going through a midlife crisis as well as depression about his second failed marriage. After the elevator scene with Andrews in New Beginnings where Andrews bragged about two dieticians, he muttered that maybe he should go on a diet. Another new thing to add to the list of fishing, grape-crushing, and gardening? (Yeah, I know it’s not about dieting!)
    Gotta disagree about Lea’s wardrobe. She looks like a professional woman in a management job, but without the boring black or navy suits. She’s stylish and colorful. She’s still casual out of the workplace.
    I’m loving Jordon and Asher!! We knew about Jordon’s sassiness, but Asher’s surprises me, in a good way. LOVED his smirk at Salen’s empty bed in New Beginnings:
    Jordon: I’m doing a biopsy! Are you doing a biopsy?
    Asher: Are you? (followed by that smirk)
    And:
    Jordon: How cooperative are you feeling now?
    Asher: I’m…really…sorry. (walks away, smirking)
    Okay so Shaun had a meltdown; we haven’t seen one in quite awhile. We haven’t seen the toy scalpel either, except when he gave it to Lea in Dr. Ted. I agree that the meltdown was probably more than just sensory overload; surely Shaun has seen those dryers before; presumably he didn’t fall apart every time. I think it was everything you said piling up, but I have a feeling it may be even more.
    Going back to New Beginnings, in the wheelchair scene with Sarah, she said her brother drank, just like their father. Shaun flinched a little, then quietly said, “That’s a good answer”. Memories of his own family? His abusive father is dead, but his mother, Marcie, still lives. I think he’s ambivalent about her; she failed to protect him, but he wistfully asked Steve if she would come for them. Steve assured him that she loved them, but “she knows it’s better this way”. He freaked out when he first saw her, but later allowed her to hug him, after initially refusing.
    He has unresolved issues there, and now he’s about to get married. I’d love to see some discussion about whether or not Marcie will be invited to the wedding; possibly Glassman might suggest that? Lea will accept whatever Shaun decides, but she really doesn’t like Marcie. Some conflict between Lea and Glassman yet again?

    • Haha, have you changed your mind about Salen yet, now that we’ve seen 5×03? Honestly, I can’t even really hate her. I get where she’s coming from, though of course her motivations and the execution of her ideas are misguided. But she’s not a malicious person. I love that they made her more complex and not a black & white antagonist. And I like her as this season’s villain and friction-causer.

      You’re right that she knew about Shaun’s autism in the cake scene and just wanted to test him. Not sure why didn’t initially see that. She’s very cunning and sly. And she likes to draw people out of their comfort zones to see how they react under pressure. She’s manipulative, for sure.

      Glassman’s behaviour is just puzzling. More and more so from episode to episode. He’s surely going through something, and estranging all his collegaues and friends in the process. I’ll elaborate more on this in the coming recap for 5×03 that will hopefully go up later tonight, once I’ve finished up all the screencaps. The grape crushing scene was both so awkward and also so confusing. And more love to Freddie and Richard, they always knock these scenes out of the park.

      Jordan and Asher also got more love in the next episode, and I’m a 100% here for it. I really hope we get more of it as the season goes on. I also love that they’re both supportive of Shaun and are getting a really good grip on how to work with him.

      I think Shaun isn’t keeping the toy scalpel on him anymore, actually. He had it in some kind of wooden box at home when he and Lea decide to abort the baby. I also wonder if him giving it to her as a symbol of his love and support in 4×16 was a way of him to “give it up” and say he doesn’t need it anymore — it has run its course.

      The jet air dryers are definitely a trigger for him. We’ve now seen him pretty much melt down twice near them when they go off. Something about them really set him off, it seems, but may also have to do with his overall stress level in the workplace.

      I don’t really know where the alcohol storyline is gonna go, or if it’s even gonna go anywhere. I thought it would have been an interesting oppotunity to introduce that as another huge stressor for Shaun, but after 5×03, I’m not so sure anymore that they’re really gonna go there. Which is also fine with me. But then why the whole alcoholic brother in 5×01?

      And I guess the topic of Marcie being invited to the wedding has now also been covered. I’ll mention that in the next recap as well.

      Thanks for your comment!

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