How The Good Doctor Set the Stage for a Potentially Tragic Series Finale

The Good Doctor‘s penultimate hour pulls the ultimate bait and switch. Or, at least it seems like the ultimate bait and switch until the episode draws to a distressing close.

Claire is a sight for sore eyes when she arrives at Shaun’s doorstep. Seriously, Antonia Thomas has been sincerely missed since she left the show. But not a minute into holding Baby Steve, Shaun reveals the reason why Dr. Browne has returned from Guatemala: She has a lump in her breast, which was first thought to be benign, but is later found to be cancer.

After back-to-back surgeries, Claire is given good news: The tumor has been removed, and she’ll only require hormone therapy. What’s more, she’s rekindled her Season 1 romance with Dr. Jared Kalu. But after Morgan and Park’s impromptu wedding, Claire runs a fever and passes out. Jared picks her up, gets her in an Uber, and tells the driver to get to St. Bonaventure as quickly as possible. There’s something seriously wrong with Dr. Browne.

That said, we can’t imagine The Good Doctor will kill Claire. Not when Dr. Glassman is living on borrowed time….

Shaun is ready to tell Dr. Lim that Glassy has been letting Hannah live with him while he provides her with opioids — that is, until the two most important women in Dr. Murphy’s life helps him see the mistakes of his ways. First is his wife Lea, who helps him see that Glassman is breaking the law for Hannah because he still lives with the guilt of kicking his daughter Maddie out of his home all those years ago, at which point she overdosed. Second is his best friend Claire, who still can’t help but wonder if her bi-polar, drug-addicted mother would still be alive if she’d just told Mom that she loved her unconditionally.

Shaun, in turn, returns home and sits with Glassman. He wraps his arm around him and listens — just listens — as a tearful Glassman cries and confesses that he doesn’t know what else he can do to help Hannah, who is still going out and buying drugs while crashing on his couch.

When Glassman goes for a walk, Shaun heads in and confronts Hannah. He told her that Glassman never tried to fix him all those years ago; he just loved him unconditionally. Because of that love, Shaun flourished and exceeded all expectations.

“I am still different,” he told Hannah. “I will always have autism. But now I am proud of that.

“You will always be an addict, even if you stop using drugs,” he continued. “But Dr. Glassman sees you can be more. Why can’t you?”

Shaun ultimately helps Hannah see the mistakes of her ways, and helps her realize that Glassman is ready to love her unconditionally, as if she were his own daughter. She agrees to get help so long as she knows her new friend will always be there for her (gulp). Glassman, in turn, helps Hannah’s parents check her into rehab.

It is clear just how much this means to Glassman. After years of grieving Maddie, he is finally, to some extent, at peace. He also knows that Shaun will be OK without him. “You have grown a lot,” he told him. “As a doctor, as a father, as a man.” Glassman then confides in Shaun what we’ve been fearing since he received that ominous phone call in Episode 7:

“My cancer is back,” he confirmed. “It has progressed to a glioblastoma.”

Shaun tells Glassman that there are new and experimental treatments, but they’ll be of no use. “It’s terminal,” Glassman reveals. “I’m dying.”

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