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Home 'The Good Doctor' Season 1, Episode 11 'Islands' Part One Recap: Road Trips, Life Lessons and Another Complicated Surgery [SPOILERS]

'The Good Doctor' Season 1, Episode 11 'Islands' Part One Recap: Road Trips, Life Lessons and Another Complicated Surgery [SPOILERS]

BY David Riley

Published 7 years ago

'The Good Doctor' Season 1, Episode 11 'Islands' Part One Recap: Road Trips, Life Lessons and Another Complicated Surgery [SPOILERS]

“The Good Doctor” is back on ABC for the winter premiere with Season 1, Episode 11 titled “Islands Part One.” It’s the first time that the show is adopting a two-parts for an episode, seeing how the fall finale ended on a massive cliffhanger. But tonight’s episode did more than answer where Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is; it went as far as giving his character a new experience and impressive milestones. Following his breakdown at the St. Bonaventure hospital, Shaun needs some time off from his stressful time at his job. His neighbor Lea (Paige Spara) takes it upon herself to take him out on a road trip. Meanwhile, Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper) enlists the help of Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Dr. Claire Brown (Antonia Thomas) on a high-risk operation between conjoined twins, Katie and Jenny Kunkler (portrayed by real-life twins Elizabeth and Emily Hinkler respectively).

Shaun and Lea go on a life-changing road trip

“The Good Doctor” starts with Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) knocking on Lea’s door and asking if he could speak to Shaun. He knows that Shaun is hiding in her place, and as much as Lea tries to deflect all his questions, Glassman forcefully comes in and does a search of Lea’s apartment. She threatens to call the police if he doesn’t leave, which he does after failing to locate Shaun. Glassman asks Lea to call him if she ever hears anything about Shaun and leaves. As soon as he’s gone, Lea pulls out the bed that Shaun is hiding under (Glassman did the same thing but failed to spot him) and asks him what his plan was after successfully hiding from Glassman.
Shaun goes on a rant to Lea on how he hates San Jose, his desire to go back to Casper, and how Shaun doesn’t want a therapist. Lea tells him not to make hasty decisions based on his feelings and decides to take him on a random road trip. Shaun refuses because he’d have to call in sick. Lea then tells him to lie about him, to which Shaun reluctantly agrees. As he’s about to call Dr. Melendez, he puts his phone down and says to Lea that he’s ready to go. They head over to the garage where Shaun is curious as to how Lea could afford to have two cars. Lea explains that it was an inheritance from her dead grandfather. As soon as they ride the vehicle, Lea asks Shaun if he’s really in on what they’re about to do, to which Shaun uncomfortably says yes. Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Dr. Andrews confronts Dr. Glassman about his approval of Shaun’s “sick leave.” He reminds Glassman of his promise that if Shaun fails to deliver anything less than excellent, Glassman will resign as Shaun gets terminated. Dr. Andrews strongly believes that Shaun needs to succeed on his own.

Freddie Highmore and Paige Spara in The Good Doctor (2017)

Ed Araquel/ABC

On the road, Shaun tells Lea that he likes her. She takes this very lightly but warms up to the idea as Shaun slowly opens up to her as well. Lea tells him that it’s hard to compete in San Jose if you don’t get rich by the age of 30, which is one of the reasons why Lea hates the city too. She then asks Shaun if he likes music, but he says no. Instead, he tells Lea that he remembers things easier by scent, as compared to others who associate a memory with a song. Shaun also mentions about his dead brother, and how it smelled like burnt food when his accident happened. Lea then asks Shaun what he smells during their drive, and he says pine trees. Lea perks up, and despite Shaun telling her that he doesn’t like music, she turns on the radio, shuffles for a good song and settles for 14 Faces by Lewis Del Mar. Shaun is freaked out at first, but eventually softens up and smiles as Lea sings along to the track. Lea tells Shaun never to forget the song.
Later, during a stopover, Shaun receives a voicemail from Dr. Glassman. Lea then tells him that if he turns off his phone, she’ll let Shaun drive. He tries to reason out of it but evidently wants to do it. She gives him the keys, and they go for a driving lesson. After a couple of circles around the stopover, Shaun learns fast and drives like a pro. Lea then tells him to go and turn along the highway. During their drive, Shaun opens up more to Lea and shares how Dr. Glassman thinks he is unfit to drive. Lea feels otherwise and tells him to stop the car so that they could have some fun. She teaches Shaun how to burn rubber, which he enjoys excessively. When Lea tells him to stop, Shaun accidentally floors the pedal, and they swerve, almost hitting a lamp post. Luckily, Shaun hits the breaks on time. Shaun gets out of the car in a panic and blames himself for the near-collision, but Lea calms him down and tells Shaun that’s he didn’t do anything wrong, and that it’s his fault.
Freddie Highmore and Paige Spara in The Good Doctor (2017)

Eike Schroter/ABC

That night, they stop at a Motel bar to get some drinks. Lea asks Shaun how he has never had any drinking experience in his entire college life. Shaun changes the topic by asking her what her job is. Lea tells him that she is an automotive engineer for a startup company—a job she hates because there’s not much building and creating involved, only endless meetings and drawing plans. Lea then gives Shaun his first tequila shot, which for some reason, Shaun likes. After a couple of shots, a visibly drunk Lea and Shaun goes up on stage to sing karaoke together. Later, they walk home to their Motel room, and Lea teaches Shaun the basics of how to end the first date. Shaun follows all of them, and ultimately he kisses her. But the romance is cut short when Shaun runs into the bathroom to throw up.
Freddie Highmore and Paige Spara in The Good Doctor (2017)

Eike Schroter/ABC

The next day, Lea wakes up and finds Shaun pacing outside. He’s ashamed of throwing up last night, but Lea tells him that it’s okay and he can kiss her again now if Shaun wanted. She then advises him to stop being so hard on himself because he’s never going to be happy if he always lives in fear. Back inside their room, Shaun finally listens to Dr. Glassman’s voice mail. Glassman tells him that the hospital needs him and that he’s worried. During breakfast, Shaun finally tells Lea that he’s ready to go back and talk to Glassman. Lea also says that she learned a lot of things about her life during the road trip. Lea decided to quit her job and follow her dream of restoring old cars. Shaun perks up as well, but Lea drops the bomb—she would have to move far from San Jose (and Shaun) to do it. Shaun is visibly upset, and storms out of the diner. Lea tries to look for him, but he’s already sitting at the bus stop. There, Shaun plugs in his earphones and listens to their song as he waits for the bus to Bonaventure.

A complicated surgery

Elsewhere in the episode, Dr. Andrews informs Dr. Melendez about his newest case and would like for Melendez to accompany him. Melendez tells Andrews that he’s packed, but eventually agrees when he finds out that they’re about to perform a kidney transplant and a separation surgery on conjoined twins, Katie and Jenny Kunkler. Melendez then asks Dr. Claire Brown to come on board as Andrews preps the twins. Later, Claire and Melendez meet the twins, and they find that they’re pretty confident, hopeful and fun to be around. Melendez assures them that kidney transplant will go smoothly, in time for the separation. Later, the procedure turns out a success. But just as Claire closes them up, Jenny’s blood pressure drops. Melendez proceeds to open her back up to stabilize the possible internal bleeding.

Emily Hinkler and Elizabeth Hinkler in The Good Doctor (2017)

Eike Schroter/ABC

Meanwhile, Dr. Jared Kalu goes back to the hospital to ask Dr. Coyle (guest star Eric Winter) to help him convince Dr. Andrews to reconsider Jared’s termination. In the fall finale, Jared got fired for physically assaulting Dr. Coyle after he made inappropriate sexual advances towards Claire. Despite Jared’s guilt, Coyle—being the asshole that he is—refuses to help him.
Later, Jenny’s pressure drops again as they recover from the transplant. Claire comes in to check and finds that Jenny’s heart is failing, and her pulse is gone. Melendez stabilizes her, and they go to Andrews to discuss their options. For Claire and Melendez, the only way for Jenny to return to normal is for the separation surgery done right away. Andrews thinks it’s risky, given how Jenny just had a kidney transplant, but there’s no other way. They go to Jenny and Katie’s mom to ask for their permission to perform the separation surgery. Their mom, however, says that it’s for the twins to decide. When asked, both Jenny and Katie agree albeit the latter evidently having second thoughts.
Hill Harper, Antonia Thomas, Emily Hinkler, and Elizabeth Hinkler in The Good Doctor (2017)

Eike Schroter/ABC

That night, Claire check up on the twins. Katie then admits to Claire that she doesn’t want to push through with the operation. It’s another dilemma for Melendez, Andrews, Claire, and Legal Counsel Jessica Preston (Beau Garrett). They convene to figure out a way to have the twins back on board with the surgery. After much bickering, they settle for having Claire talk to the twins because she’s more relatable and convincing. Later, Claire and Melendez do overtime to study on some ways on how they could perform the separation without severing an essential part of the twins’ brains. Melendez blanks out, and Claire notices. He calls it a night, and just as Claire is about to leave, he asks her if she wants kids. Melendez shares about how Jessica, his wife, doesn’t want to have kids. Claire, on the other hand, advises him that it’s hard to let go of someone you love, but it’s harder to find someone you love that deep. Melendez then goes to Jessica and tells him that he’s okay with both of them adopting or being foster parents instead of having kids of their own.
The next day, Claire goes to Jenny and Katie to talk them into agreeing with the separation. She shares personal experiences with her abusive mother, and how she thinks she was destined for something more purposeful. The same is true for the twins. Katie thinks that maybe they’re meant to be conjoined, but Claire tells them they can accomplish so much more separately. Eventually, both the twins agree to have the surgery done. Meanwhile, Claire comes up to Dr. Coyle and tells him to back Jared’s request for reconsideration or else she will find every woman whom Coyle made inappropriate sexual advances to and take him down with a massive lawsuit. The separation surgery goes smoothly without complications. Andrews, Melendez, and Claire each take turn in operating and finally cuts the cord on the twins.
“Islands Part One” ends with Jared receiving a call from Dr. Andrews saying that he is willing to back his reconsideration request and recommend Jared to any hospital he wishes to transfer. Andrews just cannot let anyone cross the line of physical assault, and he can’t have Jared back in the team with it lingering in the air. Meanwhile, the twins still haven’t woken up after the separation surgery—given the process and time, they should have by now.

‘The Good Doctor: Islands Part One’ Overall Verdict

“Islands” is another great episode of “The Good Doctor.” With 11 episodes in the series, director Bill D’Elia delivers an essential part of the show’s entire narrative that establishes a significant milestone for all the characters involved. But the most impressive part of tonight’s episode is, of course, Shaun slowly learning how to fit in and his capability to love Lea. The emotions that he felt tonight are new to him, and you could almost feel how alien it feels to Shaun. I was kind of disappointed that Freddie Highmore didn’t win the Golden Globe for best TV actor, but it still pays off to see him perform a near-perfect portrayal of a person with autism and giving it a whole new perspective, apart from the usual stereotypes that we all encounter. On the other hand, the team is beginning to show deep solidarity despite their underlying desire to one-up each other. It’s a welcome idea for me because I think that the Bonaventure’s surgical team works well when they’re both clashing and agreeing with each other.
“The Good Doctor” continues next Monday with “Islands Part Two,” at 10/9c on ABC.

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