The Good Doctor season 1, episode 3 recap: Dr. Shaun Murphy goes on a field trip


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

The Good Doctor, Episode 3, “Oliver,” sees Dr. Shaun Murphy leave the confines of the hospital.

After another successful week for everyone involved in The Good Doctor, the unmissable ABC medical drama starring Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), the show returned this week at its usual slot but was a little bit different from previous episodes we had watched.

Last week we watched Shaun complete his very first day as a surgical resident at St Bonaventure Hospital, which in a nutshell involved lots and lots of scut work. In this week’s episode, Shaun is still doing the scut but outside of the hospital, as he brought back a freshly donated liver for transplant.

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This week’s episode was also structured slightly differently. In the previous weeks you could have broken down the episode into three structures, Shaun himself, Shaun’s past, and everyone else.  But this time there were very few flashbacks to Shaun’s past and we got to see a lot of the ‘everyone else’ section. It is fair to say that this week could only really be broken into two sections, what was happening outside of the hospital and what was going on inside.


Our episode first opens to Shaun sitting at his dining table late at night looking out of his apartment window at a stray cat that is on his balcony. A knock at the door and Shaun opens it to be greeted by his neighbour from number 34. His neighbour explains that she was playing a video game and her batteries have died and she wanted to know if she could borrow some triple-As.

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

Shaun politely talks with her and gives her some batteries. As she is about to go she tells him not to feed the cat that is outside otherwise it will never go away.

Morning arrives and Shaun is now at work at San Jose St Bonaventure hospital to find Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) discussing with Dr Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) and Dr Jared Kalu (Chuku Modu) that they have a viable liver for their patient Chuck.

Melendez asks if they know the viability time of a harvested liver for Shaun to brilliant ask; “do you not know?” Melendez responds that he is fully aware and that it is a teaching hospital and he is the teacher, which is why he was asking; not because he doesn’t know.

Melendez then splits the team up to their varied assignments. Kalu is staying to prep the patient for surgery, while Shaun and Claire are heading out to collect and bring back the liver; a decision that Claire is not happy with.

Getting to the other hospital to retrieve the donated liver is pretty easy as they go via helicopter. Claire believes that Shaun might not like the experience due to all the noise only for Shaun to tell her that he, in fact, likes helicopters although he has never been in one.

During the trip, Claire tries to instigate conversation by asking Shaun some questions but it’s to no avail. Shaun remains fairly quiet during the journey.

Once they reach the hospital they learn that they have already lost some of their valuable viability time, as the liver had been harvested too early. Claire argues with the doctor who did this, while Shaun checks the scans and the liver. Shaun does appear to have noticed something at first but scans are clear and they sign for this new liver and leave.

As they both wait for the helicopter to get ready to leave, Claire contacts the hospital where she speaks to Dr Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) about how to communicate with Shaun. Glassman informs her that there is no way a specific way and that she will have to find her own way to form a bond with him to communicate effectively. If she wants to bond with him she needs to find her own way in.

They both arrive on the helipad to leave, at which point Shaun starts telling Claire that they are not leaving. She asks him how he knows this, to which Shaun just repeats the fact that they are not leaving. She asks is it his superpower; again no response. The helicopter pilot then arrives and tells them they are not leaving as the fog is rolling in too quick.

It’s another minor setback, which spurs Claire to desperately seek another form of transport to learn that no ambulances are available. She has the bright idea to call for police escort, which is arranged and things look good to go again.

However, when the police escort arrives Shaun is very reluctant to get into the car. Shaun then has a flashback to when he was a child and in the backseat a police car. In this flashback, we see Shaun being taken back to his parents after his brother’s accidental death. When they try to return Shaun to his parents, he starts kicking off in the back of the car about how “he promised he wouldn’t.”

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

Of course, the police officers had no idea what was going on but we certainly had a good idea from past episodes. It was a reaction to how Shaun’s brother promised him they would never go back to that abusive home.

The flashback ends and Claire is still trying to get him into the car. She asks if the officer could turn off the flashing lights, which when off acts like a trigger for Shaun and he happily gets into the car. Just before he does, Shaun wants to know who the patient is; not the one to receive the liver but who the liver came from. Claire replies, ‘Oliver’.

As they make their way back, Shaun is rattled and repeatedly checks the liver. Claire asks him what he is looking for but is met with a wall of silence. This starts to frustrate Claire on how she is unable to communicate with him.

But this is all out to aside pretty quick as the temperature of the liver starts to increase to a very dangerous level. They have to turn their attention to finding ice, fast. The officer takes them to a store but sadly they are out of any ice, so Claire starts stuffing frozen peas and vegetables into the organ box.

It isn’t doing much and Claire is getting more frustrated with Shaun, who is not answering her questions and is just staring at the slushy machine. This is when we get flashback number two, Shaun is back at the police station after they have come to the conclusion that they cannot leave him with his parents. The officer gives him a blue slushy, as the officers discuss what to do.

Back to present day and Claire is panicking because the frozen veg is not doing anything, and she wonders/shouts out loud that it is not working, Shaun then tells Claire that what she is doing won’t work and how they need to submerge it in order to cool it. This prompts the two surgeons to empty almost the entire slushy machine into the organ box.

While they do this Claire suddenly realises that Shaun was responding to her and she wonders why. She asks why he spoke to her then but not before. Shaun says nothing. That is when everything finally clicks for Claire as she realizes that it is because she asked him a question;

“You answer when I don’t. You don’t like questions.” – Claire

“I don’t.” – Shaun

The slushy has worked in bringing down the livers temperature and they continue their journey back to the hospital.

Despite all that has happened Shaun still has the feeling something is not quite right with their liver. He inspects it again by hand to learn that what he thought was true; a mass due to a clot has formed in the liver, possibly making it non-viable if left untreated. Claire realizes this was never spotted in the scan, because the scan was taken before the liver was harvested and that the removal of the liver had caused the clot to happen.

Shaun and Claire take some pretty drastic measures at this point by stopping the car in the middle of the freeway and with the little equipment they have (combat knife, saline, protective covers etc) perform an emergency operation to save Oliver the liver.

After a dramatic adventure, the two finally arrive back at the hospital with only an hour to spare to learn that a change in the plan has happened.


While Shaun and Claire were out on their adventure it was all go back in St Bonaventure hospital. Melendez and Kalu had to deal with the getting their transplant patient ready, while Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper) had some pretty big decisions to make regarding a very wealthy patient.

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Kalu was tasked with prepping Chuck the transplant patient. That stops when lab work suggests that Chuck is not being very upfront and truthful with the young surgeon. Test results show that Chuck has consumed alcohol, which is a big problem. If this turns out to be true then he will be put straight to the bottom of the transplant list, as anyone waiting for a liver has to remain alcohol-free for at least six months.

Chuck eventually comes clean and reveals that he had one glass of champagne during his daughter’s college graduation, but swears that this was the only time. Kalu takes the news back to Melendez. They are now left in a very difficult position.

Melendez and Kalu debate on what to do as the rules clearly state that Chuck should be struck off the transplant list, but Melendez wants to give his patient the benefit of the doubt. With some fancy maths skills Melendez actually proves that Chuck is telling the truth; he has only had one drink and has not fallen off the rails.

He decides to set up a meeting to advocate on Chuck’s behalf in an attempt to overlook this minor infraction and get that liver. However, while this happens Chuck takes a sudden turn for the worse. Once saved, Chuck is informed this is due to his condition worsening he will only have a few months to live. Melendez needs to get that liver transplant approved or Chuck will die.

The meeting takes place and some tough questions are debated; should he be given the liver after only one glass of champagne? Melendez points out that you can take a dose of ecstasy or get hepatitis and none of these are infractions, but a glass of champagne is. Andrews argues that the rules are not to be bent or argued with and they are there for reasons. If they went ahead with this they could be penalised, which would affect their ability to perform surgeries and therefore could impact the lives of hundreds more. Glassman points out that an argument can be made for both sides and that they should just put it simply down to they have a patient now and a liver now, never mind the future.

In the end it is decided that Chuck cannot have the liver. He is placed at the bottom of the list and sent home to effectively die. Shaun and Claire, upon their arrival to the hospital, remain outside and wait for another team to come and collect their liver.

As the episode draws to a close it finishes with Shaun returning home to knock on his neighbour’s door in order to ask for his batteries back and to introduce himself before feeding the stray cat.

Next: The Good Doctor season 1, episode 2 recap: Dr. Shaun Murphy’s first day

The Good Doctor returns next Monday, Oct. 16 at 10/9c on ABC