What makes our lives worth living, and at what point do you elect to die rather than get medical treatment that could take away an important part of your identity?
The Good Doctor Season 3 Episode 13 asked these big questions, all while giving Morgan a compelling backstory that almost, but not quite, made her sympathetic.
The questions were deep, but the episode was entertaining, despite a Shaun/Carly subplot that tilted too much toward the silly side.
Oliver's decision not to take any more chemo and to make the most of the time he had left made complete sense.
Oliver's wife: Oliver. Skydiving doesn't bring happiness. Neither do monkey howls.
Oliver: You gonna tell a dying guy he can't do what he wants to do?
As far as he knew, he had limited time to live, and chemo just prolonged his misery, gave him intolerable side effects, and did nothing for the quality of his life.
It was understandable that his wife didn't like his refusal to get the recommended treatment or his sudden desire to go skydiving, go to Costa Rica, or engage in other adventures in the little time he had left.
But her reaction to it came off as self-centered.
She was hurt that Oliver would be happier in Costa Rica than at home with her, but she missed the fact that it wasn't about her.
It was about Oliver facing his own mortality and wanting to do new things before it was too late.
He wanted her on that adventure with her, but he couldn't put aside his desire to be adventurous for another day because he didn't have the luxury of time.
It was sad that they weren't able to talk that through and that she just left.
But the saddest moment came at the end of the hour, when Oliver was alone on the bus stop bench, trying to re-evaluate things now that his cancer had miraculously gone into remission.
He had become so invested in the belief that he had little time to live that he didn't know what to do with his good fortune. And on top of that, he no longer had a wife to share the good news with.
He had to have been asking himself, "Now what?"
Oliver: Can you do anything for the nausea?
Morgan: That's just a side effect of the chemo.
Oliver: What about the soreness? No? But you can stop me from getting a needle. I don't want your port. I'm done with chemo.
Oliver's wife: But you'll die.
Oliver: I'm miserable. That's not living.
It wasn't that Ella didn't love him, either. She wanted him to take the chemo and to stop jumping out of planes and the like because she wanted him to stay alive.
But she didn't understand the difference between quantity of life and quality of life, and that killed their marriage.
In many ways, Morgan and her mother faced a similar issue.
For Caroline, painting was her entire identity and she didn't want to live if she couldn't paint.
Caroline: The other doctor gave me two years.
Glassman: So you thought I'd give you three?
For Morgan, her mother's commitment to art had been a source of stress her entire life and she couldn't understand why her mother wouldn't want to live without it.
Caroline and Glassman's conversation about her need for surgery brought up the question of whether you can learn to live without something that was once your passion.
Glassman: A balanced life is not necessarily a lesser life. You could still have a good life.
Caroline: I don't agree.
Glassman thought you could, but his situation was different than Caroline's. There was no physical limitation that interfered with his ability to return to neurosurgery.
He simply preferred to retire from that after his brain cancer scare and practice general medicine in the clinic.
But the surgery he was recommending for Caroline would make it impossible for her to paint. Even if she got movement back in her hands, the procedure would remove the part of her brain that was responsible for her creativity.
She would literally be a different person, which is what often happens after major brain surgery like what Glassman proposed. It might have caused changes to her personality and interfered with her memories, too.
It was unsurprising that she didn't want that.
But it was equally surprising that she didn't want the procedure Morgan suggested.
She said she couldn't paint if she was dead, but it seemed like a procedure that might allow her to continue her work was better than doing nothing and continuing to have seizures.
After all, the seizures would make it difficult for her to paint, too.
I had to wonder if Caroline's reluctance to do the procedure was because Morgan suggested it.
She seemed as unwilling to admit that Morgan's life work had any value at all as Morgan was to admit that her mother's artistry did.
The two of them butted heads Morgan's entire life, and Morgan felt rejected because she was a scientist rather than an artist.
But their problems stemmed more from the two of them being too similar than from them being too different.
They were both stubborn as hell, thought their point of view was the only right one in the world and were trying to prove something to the other one.
Morgan wanted her mother to be as proud of her as she was of Ariel's art and Caroline wanted Morgan to accept her opinion that medicine was an uncreative field.
Neither one was ever going to get anywhere that way, and Caroline might have died without there being any resolution to their problems.
Thank goodness Morgan had Claire.
If anyone knows difficult mothers, it's Claire.
She called Morgan out on trying to manipulate the situation so that Caroline couldn't paint anymore and convinced her to give Shaun's proposed solution a chance.
Park's comments about Morgan's sibling rivalry carrying over to the workplace were interesting, too.
Morgan's still not my favorite character and probably never will be, but at least this whole story gave us some more insight into her character. Plus, she learned something (hopefully), so maybe she will stop being so annoying in future episodes.
Finally, Shaun dealt with problems in bed with Carly.
His attempts to use euphemisms so he could discuss this at work without offending anyone were probably meant to be a light-hearted distraction from the heavy stories, but I found the whole thing silly.
Fortunately, it wasn't a big part of the episode, so it was tolerable. But I could have done without it.
What about you, The Good Doctor fanatics?
Did you feel differently about Morgan after meeting her mother?
And did you feel bad for Oliver that his wife left while he was dealing with terminal illness?
Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.
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The Good Doctor continues to air on ABC on Mondays at 10 PM EST/PST. It returns on Feburary 10, 2020.