The Good Doctor premiere recap: Introducing Dr. Shaun Murphy


Photo Credit: The Good Doctor/ABC Image Acquired from Disney ABC Media

The Good Doctor aired its premiere episode of the young and bright surgeon, who has had a difficult upbringing and looks set to have an even more difficult future.

The premiere of the newest ABC medical drama The Good Doctor got underway with its premiere episode last night.

The opening episode focused on introducing us to Dr. Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, as he makes his way to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.

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While the episode introduced Shaun, we were also introduced to other key characters within the show and are given an insight into how the hospital’s administrations feels towards Shaun. This new doctor is no ordinary doctor. If you do not know already, he has Savant syndrome (which basically means he is a genius) and also Autism (which means he finds it difficult to communicate and interact with others).

Shaun’s past

Throughout the episode, we were given a glimpse into what Shaun’s childhood was like. This would be through flashbacks triggered by a certain present-day event.

In the very first few moments of the show, Shaun could be seen leaving home to make his way to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. He crosses a soccer field where some children are playing, triggering a memory/flashback for him showing him as a child curled up in the fetal position trying to protect himself from the many blows raining down on his head. His brother comes to his aid toward his attackers off. This first initial glimpse into Shaun’s childhood sets the tone that he did not have a happy childhood.

Later on, we are given another glimpse of his past while he is riding in the back of an ambulance with a child patient that he has treated in an airport accident. The trigger this time appears to be the parents of the young boy holding hands together.

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However, we sadly don’t get to see Shaun’s parents lovingly hold each other’s hands but in fact having a very large and almost abusive fight. This is clearly affecting the young Shaun, as he is fully aware that they are arguing about him and he does his best to stay calm by stroking his rabbit. His father, however, takes his own frustration out on the rabbit by ripping it out of his hands and throwing it against the wall, killing it instantly.

This is pretty much the end of this memory, as we are left with nothing more than a frightened and scared young kid. Our next glimpse is the aftermath of this fight as we witness the meeting when Shaun meets Dr. Aaron Glassman, played by Richard Schiff, for the first time.

Shaun and his brother go to see Glassman to see if he can help their rabbit in any way. Glassman clearly has sympathy but is unable to do anything, as the poor rabbit is already dead and he is also not a veterinarian.

Upon them leaving, his brother swears to Shaun that this would never happen again, prompting them both to leave home and live in an old yellow school bus. As the episode winds up we get more scenes of the two brothers alone in the world together. It is clear that Shaun’s only real support is his brother, who helps him and reminds him that he is the smart one and that he can do anything.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for his brother either. In a tragic incident while playing, Shaun’s brother fell from atop a train cart to his death leaving Shaun helpless and completely alone, and leaving the viewer with no doubt that this was nowhere near a happy childhood.

The administration

The hospital’s administration board was another focus point for the premiere episode.

Dr. Glassman has come a long way since when he first met Shaun. He is now the president of the board and is the one who hired Shaun. Once the board heard of this unique hiring position they call for a meeting to discuss their concerns over the matter and want Glassman to justify his decision.

Glassman has no trouble in arguing for Shaun. He delivered both powerful and emotional speeches to them but that very clear personal emotion is also his slight undoing.

We are introduced to Dr. Horace Andrews, played by Hill Harper, who is the very clear leader of the anti-Shaun movement and he argues his case well for not hiring him. In fact, he wins the vote and Glassman’s decision to hire him is overturned, until they learn what Shaun had been up to on his way to the hospital that morning.

In the end, the entire board meet Shaun, where he asked why he wanted to become a surgeon. It was at this point we glimpsed the final memory of his past for this episode which showcased his brother’s death.

After this, he gives a very moving meaningful reason;

"“The day that the rain smelled like ice cream, my bunny went to heaven in front of my eyes.”“The day that the copper pipes in the old building smelled like burnt food, my brother went to heaven in front of my eyes.”“I couldn’t save them. It’s sad. Neither one had the chance to become an adult. They should have become adults.”"

This, along with his actions earlier in the day, convince the board to allow him to stay on as a resident at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.

Oh, and he also wants to make a lot of money to buy a TV.

Dr. Shaun Murphy

Introducing Dr. Shaun Murphy and what he can do was done from the start to the end.

If you watched the trailers or read up on the show beforehand then you were probably already aware that Shaun has Savant Syndrome and Autism. He is in a very simplistic form a genius with autism. This was portrayed from the get-go.

The show wasted no time showing this with a medical emergency at the airport. A doctor is already trying to treat this injured young boy and Shaun kindly points out he is doing it wrong, why he is doing it wrong and how to correct it properly.

He carries on by attending to the young boy, whose condition is worsening and requires more drastic treatment. Shaun goes off to find a knife (remember he is in an airport) and unsurprisingly security wrestles him to the floor despite Shaun trying to explain what is happening. Thankfully the injured child’s mother shows up to back up his story and the security guards allow Shaun to treat the boy.

This moved onto Shaun’s diagnosis and treating the boy by making a one-way valve to enable the child to breathe with nothing more than a few empty bottles of whisky, plastic tubing and gaffer tape.

All while this is going on we are being shown how he sees things in his mind; how his mind is processing the facts and working out the solutions; that the way he thinks is far superior to ours.

And it just carried on with this form all the way to the ambulance ride to being at the hospital to the child having the surgery successfully and surviving. Throughout this entire journey, we see what it is like for Shaun, how he can process and evaluate all of this better than anyone, but struggles to communicate the information effectively.

Next: The Good Doctor: Everything we know about the show so far


The Good Doctor premiere successfully introduced and set the backstory up for Dr. Shaun Murphy. It also successfully set up what barriers he will face in the form of the administration staff and other doctors and co-workers but also who his supporters are as well.

Other smaller storylines were set up as well, with brief love story connections being created with other characters etc., but this entire episode was fixed on introducing Dr. Shaun Murphy himself.

The Good Doctor returns next Monday, Oct. 2 10/9c on ABC.