A lot has happened to The Good Doctor‘s Claire Browne in the three-and-a-half seasons since we first met the surgical resident. She reconnected with her mentally ill mother Breeze, then lost her in a drunk-driving accident. Then she fell in love with her boss, Dr. Neil Melendez, who died of internal injuries suffered in a building collapse.
Suffice it to say, Dr. Browne has been through it, and she deserves to be happy. And even though reconnecting with her estranged father is a promising first step, his return comes with a pretty big asterisk.
Miles Browne (The Crossing‘s Marcuis Harris) hadn’t seen his daughter since she was just a little girl. Immediately upon reintroducing himself, Mr. Browne suffered a medical emergency on Claire’s doorsteps. He was rushed to St. Bonaventure, where he revealed he was previously diagnosed with terminal cancer. His doctors had already started him on chemo and managed to shrink the tumor, but the location of the metastasis likely left it inoperable — or so they thought.
When Claire refused to have anything to do with Miles’ case, he decided to throw in the towel. Lim offered a surgical solution to attack the tumor and spare his liver, but he wasn’t interested. That’s when Jordan tried to level with Claire in hopes that she’d talk to her father and convince him to do the surgery: “I know a lot of girls who didn’t have their fathers,” Dr. Allen said. “But yours did something theirs’ didn’t: He came back… Forgiveness isn’t for the one you’re forgiving; it’s for you.”
Later on, Lim called Claire into her office. She told her that if they discharged Miles, he was going to die. “I don’t expect you to feel anything but contempt for Miles,” Lim said. “He was supposed to take care of you and he didn’t. Now I’m asking you to do for him what he never did for you.”
“No, he did take care of me. He just quit,” Claire answered. “He used to pick me up every day after school, and then one day he just stopped showing up. And for years after that, I would come home, make sure the curtains were open, and I’d wait. If a car was slowing down in front of the house, I’d imagine it was him trying to grab me up and rescue me. And I thought if I wanted it enough, he’d come back, so I just had to want it more, you know? And finally I gave up and stopped looking out the window.
“I grieved and buried my father a long time ago,” she explained. “I’m just not interested in getting to know him, just to grieve him all over again.” But Lim knew that if Marcus walked out of the hospital and died soon after, Claire would come to hate herself for her decision to do nothing.
In the following scene, Claire went to confront Miles in his hospital room. That’s when he finally had the chance to lay all his cards out on the table.
“I know you deserved better than me,” he said. “You deserved a father and I failed you, and I can’t make up for that. Breeze and I were high-school sweethearts. We thought we were going to take over the world together. We were young, and naive, and stupid. And we got pregnant before graduation. I had a scholarship to Howard that didn’t cover family housing, so I gave it up because I wanted to be there. We got married, and we gave it a go for a while. But I could not handle Breeze’s mental illness. When we broke up, she made it hard to see you.” Despite this, he swore he was not blaming his faults on Breeze. He was immature and he knows that now. “I ran away,” he said. “I was a coward. And I stayed away because I was running from my own guilt.”
“Whether I’m in your life or not, you should get the surgery,” Claire told him. “Because if you don’t, then you’re still a coward.”
Miles ultimately went through with the procedure, which was a success. But afterwards, Lim called Claire into her office to deliver life-changing news: Miles had significant polyp burden that went undetected by CT and biopsies. His cancer was caused by Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), an inherited disorder that is passed down genetically. Claire has a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene. With regular colonoscopies, doctors would be able to detect it, but it was still upsetting news.
To determine whether she had inherited the gene, Claire needed bloodwork. As Shaun drew blood, Claire asked Shaun if he was glad he confronted his father before he died. “No,” Shaun answered. “He hurt me. He did bad things. I already knew that.” But how could Claire be sure that Miles didn’t try to be a good father? “Maybe he did try, but couldn’t,” Shaun said.
Claire eventually made her way to Miles’ recovery room and sat at her father’s bedside. While he was still unconscious, Claire said everything she needed to say out loud: “I’ve been mad at you for so long that I couldn’t feel any other emotion. Just anger. Angry at you, angry at myself for secretly wishing you’d turn up at my doorstep my entire life. I thought I would have outgrown it, but when you went into surgery today, I didn’t feel anger. I felt fear.”
Just then, Miles woke up. Claire told him to rest up, and when he felt better, he could take her out for some rocky road ice cream, which was still her favorite after all these years. She took his hand, and he told her he loved her. Claire didn’t reciprocate, but she didn’t have to. The look on her face spoke volumes.
It still wasn’t clear at the end of the hour whether Miles was in the clear. We also didn’t find out the results of Claire’s bloodwork. More on that to come, I suppose, once Season 4 resumes on April 19.
As for this week’s other developments…
* Shaun felt emotionally disconnected from Lea. He struggled to think of the fetus as an actual baby, and Lea’s attempts to form a connection between father and fetus (such as talking to her belly) proved ineffectual. Lea insisted that Shaun not accompany her to her first ultrasound, but Glassman — who knows a thing or two about regretting not being there for his family — encouraged his surrogate son to show up. At the end of the hour, Shaun joined Lea at her ultrasound and finally felt a connection upon hearing the fetus’ heartbeat.
* After Morgan embarrassed Park in front of Andrews, Park accused of his friend-with-benefits of being an emotionally stunted person. “Anything that resembles intimacy freaks you out, and you start throwing blows — low ones,” he said. “If hooking up causes you to cross boundaries like that, it’s better to go back to the way things were: barely friends, no benefits.” To make up for her behavior and prove that she’s capable of being a halfway decent human being, Morgan threw Park a surgical case: a chess prodigy who could help him step up his game and bond with Kellan. All was forgiven.
* Asher bonded with Maya, a patient who required total femoral replacement or below-the-knee amputation. The amputation presented fewer risks, but would put a premature end to her dance career — and her relationship with dance partner Leo. Despite the fact that Leo was gay, and could never love her the way that she needed, Maya was deeply in love with Leo and didn’t want to lose him. Asher opened up to Maya and told her that he was in a similar situation: Before he left the Hasidic community, he had convinced himself he could one day marry his best friend Rachel, who was the total package. But once he dated a man, he realized he would never love Rachel that way and set her free.
As Maya’s medical proxy, Leo told the doctors to go ahead and amputate when TFR presented unforeseen complications in the operating room. When Maya woke up, Leo promised her that he’d always be there for her, but her previous conversation with Asher convinced her to let him go.
What did you think of The Good Doctor Season 4, Episode 13: “Spilled Milk”? Do you have all your fingers and toes crossed that Claire’s bloodwork comes back negative for FAP? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.