The Good Doctor 2×15 Review: “Risk and Reward”

The Good Doctor is back and so am I! Pardon my absence the last few episodes but to be entirely honest I’ve struggled to put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) about this show the last few weeks as I’m at a loss at where these writers are going. ‘Risk and Reward’ seems like an appropriate title for both the surgery landscape, and the personal character stories.

If there’s one thing I’ll give this show though it’s even when I’m confused at the long term stories going on for our characters, they aren’t short on actors who can embrace their characters wholeheartedly. I say that for our regulars and every guest that’s come through the hospital.


The big turning point is the introduction of the new Chief of Surgery Dr. Han, played by Daniel Dae Kim whose ego rivals even our own Dr. Melendez. Clearly this is a man used to getting his own way, and the shake up is felt through our entire surgical team.

I’m all for making an impression, but good lord, man! Quizzing residents in the middle of a surgery on a baby is coming on way too strong.


The surgeries of the hour focused around a rich client of the new chief looking for the best, and ended up with a tumor and a baby struggling to survive with a heart defect and bowel issues. The doctor turned patient put Dr Glass under the proverbial spotlight with a fellow cancer patient named Larry.

The self contained stories within each episode continue to be the strongest part of the show, providing a vehicle to challenge our favorites to new heights in their careers, and how it affects their lives.

The rich patient put Morgan, Park and primarily Melendez into the orbit of someone who is as utterly straight forward as he is, and wasn’t afraid to hear the truth. At the end of the day, though, our perspective is what matters, so frankly I’d have thrown out that final pathology report too.

The more compelling story centered around the teams fight to save this baby’s life and put Shaun in a predicament we’ve seen before. I get that people who come in and are new to Shaun, how he operates would be disconcerting but it just feels we’ve seen this story already last season. I don’t quite see the point of forcing him out of surgery because the new Chief made a judgment after one encounter with a patient. Is there likely a point? Probably yes, but I hope we don’t get this type of story redone dressed up differently in the future because Shaun will always have challenges, but putting it back on doubting his ability as a surgeon just is frustrating if it’s repeated.

The other residents, Claire, Morgan and Park in turn had little time to react to Dr. Han aside from a few minutes of shameless sucking up, compassion with patients and just being damn impressive with a field change.

Last, but certainly not least, was Glassman’s experience in the cancer ward. It was a relief to see him interacting with people besides Shaun and Lea — if only it grounds him into the world outside. It might be a cancer ward, but as Shaun pointed out, there’s no harm in banding together with people who understand exactly what you’re struggling with. Especially when it’s a terrifying disease.

All of this, however, couldn’t overcome the final heartbreaking drop of the hour — Han moving Shaun to Pathology. Dr Han may be doing what he thinks is best for Shaun and patients in Surgery, but if there’s one thing everyone else there has learned — and now defends him on — it doesn’t do to underestimate what he’s capable of, regardless of his ASD. I look forward to Shaun proving this guy wrong…hopefully without losing his job.

Final thoughts

  • As much as I appreciate all my favs, I admit when they hone in on one setting for the story, this week the hospital only, it grants a focus on what’s going on. This week it meant no Lea, and really a lack of personal life stories, but hopefully we’ll get more of those mixed in with hospital focused ones in season 3 (!).
  • Morgan, I’ve really grown to like you. Please do not throw that away by going back to competing with everyone again.
  • Claire’s compassion with patients never fail to make me tear up at how good she is at looking at patients as more than the people they’re treating for diseases.
  • Shaun, I know it’s hard, but I got a feeling you won’t be in Pathology forever. You know where you are meant to be. Just don’t give up.
  • Side note to Dr. Han: you’re going to learn the hard way I suspect, and if Lim & Claire defend Shaun the way they did in this episode, I’ll be cheering them on the other side of the TV screen.

The Good Doctor airs on Mondays at 10/9C on ABC.

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