Post Mortems

The Good Doctor's Freddie Highmore Weighs In On Shaun's First Date — Plus, Grade the Season 3 Premiere

The Good Doctor Season 3, Episode 1

The Good Doctor‘s Shaun Murphy has never met a Case of the Week he couldn’t solve — but matters of the heart are a whole different ballgame.

Monday’s Season 3 premiere saw Shaun embark on his first date with Carly. “One of the things I love about [this episode is that it presents] the idea of a first date as a universal experience,” star Freddie Highmore tells TVLine. “It’s not just someone who has autism experiencing their first date.”

Shaun was fraught with nerves, just like anyone else would be. “More than anything, he just wants to do the right thing,” Highmore says. “Everyone goes [into a first date] and thinks, ‘I don’t quite know how I should behave. What am I going to talk about? What do I come prepared with?’ We see to what extent he’s gone through that preparation,” and to what extent it actually helps.

Over the course of the evening, Shaun managed to avoid three potential catastrophes: First, he jumped out of his seat and accidentally sent a bottle of wine flying… but miraculously caught it. Later, he interrupted Carly as she was discussing her tense relationship with her father to tell a joke… but managed to get a laugh. Finally, he bumped into a fellow patron on his way out, knocked her to the ground and dislocated her shoulder… but popped that sucker back in and earned himself a round of applause.

At the end of the night, Shaun walked Carly home and got a goodnight kiss — so why did he think the date was such a “disaster”? He revealed to Melendez, Claire, Morgan and Park that he found the whole experience “exhausting.” Everything was out of his control and none of it made sense.

Moving forward, Shaun “won’t see things as disastrously” as the title of the episode, or his third-act breakdown, would suggest, Highmore says. In fact, the actor considers the date a “win” for his alter-ego.

“The first date is a good example — and [executive producer] David Shore has spoken about this as well — of these small little victories for Shaun,” he explains, “like with Shaun asking [Carly] out and her saying yes. It felt momentous and joyous enough to serve as the end of the entire second season.” He says Season 3 will “continue in that vein of enjoying the smaller moments” as Shaun and Carly’s romance evolves. “In other shows, you’d probably go out and sleep with someone in the first episode and that would be that, whereas we have, like, an entire season to possibly get to that point.” In the meantime, “we can dwell in and enjoy… the moment of a first date, or the moment of a first kiss.”

In addition to Shaun’s love life, Monday’s opener also dealt with staff changes at St. Bonaventure. Aoki convinced Glassman to return as hospital president, and fired former president Andrews was rehired as a surgical attending. Meanwhile, as her first official act as chief of surgery, Lim announced that third-year residents will be permitted to lead on routine procedures. “That’s a big first step for all the residents,” Highmore teases. In subsequent episodes, Season 3 will explore the policy change from two perspectives: the residents who feel “that they’re ready enough and having the confidence to take it on and do it,” and the attending surgeons who grapple with the “responsibility of knowing when is the right time to give someone their first shot.” — With reporting by Kim Roots

What did you think of The Good Doctor‘s Season 3 premiere? Grade it via the following poll, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.