We’ll never hear “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys the same way again.
Monday’s mostly joyous Good Doctor finale took a last-minute turn when Nurse Villanueva’s violent ex-boyfriend Owen snuck into St. Bonaventure, posing as a flower delivery man. Chief of surgery Dr. Audrey Lim (played since Season 1 by Christina Chang) found Villanueva, who’d been stabbed and left for dead. Seconds later, Lim turned around and was confronted by Owen, who stabbed her twice in the abdomen before fleeing the scene.
The jam-packed episode also saw Shaun and Lea (finally!) tie the knot in a rooftop ceremony; Asher reunited with his parents after his father was admitted with terminal lung cancer; and Morgan seriously considering an attending position in New York, which (maybe) spells doom for her relationship with Park.
Grade the finale below, then keep scrolling for our extensive post mortem with executive producer David Shore…
TVLINE | So we almost got a happy ending — Shaun and Lea finally tied the knot! — then you went and stuck a knife in Lim. Not once, but twice. How worried should viewers be, heading into this summer hiatus, about the fate of Christina Chang’s fan-favorite character?
Well, I hope they’re worried. That’s the whole point! [Laughs] We don’t do anything that’s not meaningful. As writers, we want to make sure that each story is significant. That’s not saying that we’re going to lose her. We love her. But there are challenges up ahead.
TVLINE | First Claire’s mom died, then Melendez died… If you kill Lim, you’re giving Claire one less reason to return to San Jose for another visit!
[Laughs] We’re aware of that, too.
TVLINE | Did you discuss the twist with Chang well ahead of time?
Yes, we discussed it. I think she’s excited about it. Look, I think actors are worried about their jobs at some level, but they also want juicy stuff to deal with, and she’s excellent, so any opportunity we have to give her something with some meat to it, it’s a lot of fun to watch her [perform].
TVLINE | Lim has been something of a warrior all season. She went up against Salen (with the help of her “Magnificent Seven,” of course) and came out on top. But this feels like a storyline that is going to challenge her in new ways, assuming she survives the attack. Would you say that’s accurate?
She is such a strong character, and challenging her physically seems very interesting. That is part of the appeal of most of our stories in a sense: Challenging our characters and giving them obstacles that they’re not sure they can rise above. We’re all confronted with various challenges in life. How we respond to them is the true test of our character.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about the wedding. There have been plenty of teases this season about when Shaun and Lea would get married, how Shaun and Lea would get married…. Why did a low-key ceremony ultimately feel like the right way to go?
It was very funny on set [dealing with all those teases]. So many of our department heads were like, “Please! This one has to be real!” They bought so many wedding dresses and found so many potential locations, so it was nice to actually have them get married. Shaun is a very specific character, and Lea is a very specific character, too. It’s a very specific relationship, and it was important to us that the wedding be just right. And I think we got it right. The writers did a great job of getting us to that. It felt very appropriate for [this couple] that it was beautiful but intimate.
TVLINE | After so much teasing, was there added pressure to nail every one of those emotional beats?
Very much so. As writers, we felt pressure… As director, I felt pressure… I know Richard [Schiff] felt pressure to get that toast right. He has that big toast, and it’s a very straight moment. As he talked about it, he said, “This is the culmination of my relationship with them, and it has to live up to that,” so I think he felt that throughout…. Aside from the Lim aspect of it, the finale feels very much like the culmination of five years of what Shaun has been working toward. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more challenges for him. The wedding is not the end of the challenges, but it’s the beginning of something wonderful at the same time.
TVLINE | There’s been some question this year about what role Glassman will continue to play in Shaun’s life now that he’s married and about to become an attending. Did that make it all the more important to have a moment where Shaun refers to Glassman not as his mentor, but as his father?
Yes, very much. This is the classic father/son, parent/child thing. Your job as a parent is to bring them to a point where they don’t need you anymore. It’s not an original thought, but it’s an emotional thought and it’s an important thought that every parent and every child deals with, and as storytellers it was something we were grappling with. To the extent that Shaun is more and more independent, Glassman is proud of him, but on a certain level it reduces his involvement and makes it more challenging because there are times where Shaun isn’t listening to him as much as he did before. He has another person that he listens to [in Lea], and he listens to himself perhaps more than he once did. Of course, as Glassman says in his toast, Shaun was never lost; he always knew what he wanted. He is still a bedrock that Shaun can hold on to, even if he’s not giving counsel. Just knowing that he is there and that he loves him is really important.
TVLINE | Asher is reunited with his estranged parents, including his terminally ill father. Would you say being forced to confront his past has given him some sense of closure?
Things are better, he knows his father loves him, but it’s still not perfect. He is still going to be a product of his upbringing. Personally, I think closure is an illusion. We like to use that term, and it’s helpful, but closure implies that things have been solved, and things are never solved. Damage is damage, and we can and should be working to rise above that damage.
TVLINE | Why did now feel like the right time to stage this particular reunion?
I will tell you what felt really good: When you’re a showrunner, it’s about matching up storylines, and the father-son element in this episode was a really interesting thing to play — the parallels between two non-traditional father-son relationships. At their core, there is a commonality, and there’s a scene in the middle of the episode — where Shaun and Asher discuss their fathers — that we almost cut it out for time, but Freddie made us keep it and he was right [to speak up].
TVLINE | Morgan is seriously considering a job offer in New York. How will this effect her relationship with Park? I assume Fiona Gubelmann isn’t going anywhere in Season 6?
We are not going to lose her, but that [decision] will have ramifications on their relationship, as you will see in the fall.
TVLINE | You’ve already shot the first two episodes for next season. What can you tease about the premiere and the overarching theme of Season 6?
The first episode has a huge amount of intensity and fun, but it’s difficult because it’s the immediate fallout [from the finale]… Lim’s journey is going to be a big part of it, we have some nice things planned for Glassman, and, of course, nothing but wedded bliss for Shaun and Lea.
TVLINE | Is it safe to assume there’s a time jump after the premiere? Once you deal with the fallout of the finale, do we jump ahead to Shaun and Park’s first year as surgical attendings?
Yeah. I don’t think that’s spoiling anything.
TVLINE | What sort of challenges will newly minted attending Dr. Shaun Murphy face in Season 6?
You will see very early into Season 6 the responsibility [he takes on now]. He has shown that he can lead a surgery, but that’s a technical thing. There are emotional things that go with that, and interpersonal things that go with that, that are more challenging when there’s not somebody standing behind him [to make] the ultimate decision. Being an attending is different than being a senior resident in ways that Shaun didn’t necessarily anticipate. His role as a supervisor will challenge him right away. And, of course, he’s married. That’s different, too.
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