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Many spoilers ahead for the Season 3 premiere of The Good Doctor, called "Disaster."
The Good Doctor is back after more than six months of hiatus, and the Season 3 premiere could have been a feel-good episode telling the story of Shaun's big date with Carly, which has been the focus of a lot of ABC's promotion for the third season of the hit series. Unfortunately, the title of the Season 3 premiere referred to Shaun's "disaster" of a date with Carly, and his experience on their night on the town may mean some sad things for the rest of the season. Here's what happened.
The Season 3 premiere actually teased out what happened on the big date for most of the hour, with Shaun simply repeating to his friends and coworkers that it was a disaster. Still, in the early flashbacks to the date, it seemed like Shaun successfully averted disaster more than once.
Although he knocked a bottle of wine out of a waiter's hands after he was upset that there were pickles on his plate despite explicitly asking for no pickles, he caught it before it could smash on the ground. He attempted to tell a joke, and it didn't flop so badly that Carly wouldn't give a polite chuckle. Even when he accidentally hit a woman with the door when attempting to open it for Carly, he and Carly were able to diagnose and fix her dislocation. Carly had a good enough time that she kissed Shaun goodnight.
Basically, it seemed more like a near-disaster that turned out just fine than an actual disaster! Shaun's coworkers certainly thought so, with Morgan actually disappointed that something hadn't gone horribly wrong after being promised a disaster. Finally, Shaun admitted why the date qualifies as a disaster, and the reveal was heartbreaking:
It was exhausting. Everything was always out of control. Anything could happen at any time. Anything did. There was too much to remember to do, too much to remember not to do, and none of it made sense. It was hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant. I spent the whole evening doing unnatural things to make her happy, and I have no idea if she was happy and I know I wasn’t happy. It was all a disaster.
Shaun was too stressed by trying to do everything right that he couldn't have fun, and he couldn't even be confident that Carly had fun, although she did plant the kiss on him. Through nobody's fault, Shaun wasn't happy on what was supposed to be a happy dinner with somebody he clearly liked, and it points toward the end of a romance with Carly before it even really had the chance to begin.
Of course, that's far from a guarantee at this point. Carly has been patient with Shaun's struggles so far, and she may want to stick with him if she can find a way to make him more comfortable. That said, it might not be fair to either of them for them to try when Shaun spent the episode so miserable about the date.
If the disastrous date is proof that a relationship between Shaun and Carly won't work, does that meant romance altogether is out for Shaun, for now at least? His relationship with Lea is a lot more comfortable, although arguably platonic now despite the flirtatious beginning. He may feel so burned by the loss of a sense of control and his unhappiness during the date that he'd rather just go on without romance in his life.
That said, he did find some success with communicating with patients in the Season 3 premiere, even if Claire -- who made have a very rough ride ahead of her this season -- wasn't certain about some of his methods. He's made and continues to make a lot of progress from where he was back in the beginning of the series; he deserves to do what makes him happy and doesn't leave him uncomfortable and uncertain.
Find out how Shaun does or does not continue exploring romance when new episodes of The Good Doctor air on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC this fall. Claire did encourage him and seemingly give him some hope, as he did go down to look at Carly from afar. Still, he did state that "It's not worth it." Season 3 should be an emotional ride, if the premiere is any indication!