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Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of The Good Doctor Season 3, called "Claire."
The Good Doctor delivered an episode that was both heartwarming and heartbreaking with "Claire," which -- as you would expect -- centered on Claire Browne. Heading into performing a surgery by herself for the first time, Claire was upbeat and incredibly nervous as she dealt with everything from her patient's difficult mother, a House alum with a marlin (no, not that Marlin) named Franklin stuck in his cancerous leg, and her own mom who would be staying with her. While three of those stories came to happy endings, one did not, and actress Antonia Thomas has revealed Claire is going to blame herself.
Claire started out the episode preparing for her day ahead from home, including practicing her speech to her patient, even as she emptied all her bottles of alcohol down the drain so that her mother wouldn't be able to drink. Well, Claire emptied almost all of her bottles down the drain. She decided to save a bottle of champagne to celebrate her first surgery later, and this would be the key that leads to Claire faulting herself for a tragedy.
After she managed to get through to her patient's mom about the importance of therapy, text her mom a cute picture of the screen announcing her as the head surgeon, pull off a successful surgery despite a complication, and assist with the diagnosis of cancer in the leg of the guy with the marlin, she was looking forward to celebrating... until she got a call from her mom's number, but it wasn't from her mom.
As it turned out, her mom was so excited that she wanted to cook for Claire to celebrate, but unfortunately she got in the car to drive after getting into the bottle of champagne Claire hadn't dumped. Her mom died in the car crash, and Claire was left looking shocked in the road. Antonia Thomas, who has played Claire from the very beginning of The Good Doctor, told TV Guide her thoughts about Claire's reaction:
The one bottle of champagne that [Claire] leaves for herself because she was thinking of herself, is the one thing that she feels like killed her mother. It's sort of bound up in all of this crazy guilt, which is of course not really her fault, but she's felt this guilt all her life about her mom. She's finally decided to take a step forward to sort of [mend] the relationship, and as soon as she does that, her mother dies.
Claire really seemed to have overcome some of the hurdles that still stood in the way of a functional relationship with her mom. Understandably, Claire had a lot of emotional baggage from spending her childhood looking after her mom, who suffered from her mental illness and tendency to fall back into drugs and alcohol.
By allowing her mom to stay with her, agreeing to attend therapy with her, and communicating with her, Claire came across as ready for the next stage in a relationship with her mom in which she didn't have to take care of her or blame her. Poor Claire! Just when everything was going well, she's going to blame herself for not draining the one bottle of champagne, which she did actually hide from her mom. It's not Claire's fault, but it's also not surprising that she won't see things so clearly.
A big question now is whether this huge personal loss will affect her personally, as the afterglow of her first successful solo surgery was definitely ruined by her mom's death. When asked if this event would shake Claire's newfound confidence as a surgeon, Antonia Thomas said this:
The two things are separate. There's a tremendous amount of guilt because she felt like she was so focused on wanting to be brilliant as a surgeon and she kind of dropped the ball in terms of her mother. It's less about her ability, kind of, in terms of skill, and more about her attitude. I think we'll see a slight change in Claire's attitude in terms of the way she goes about her day as a way of dealing with her grief.
Hopefully the people around Claire will be able to help her -- or at least not hold her back -- as she grieves in her own way. Her relationship with Morgan has been less antagonistic in Season 3, and they even encouraged each other in the latest episode.
If Morgan were to use Claire's grief to gain an edge on her, it would be truly disappointing and wouldn't really track with where they are in their relationship, unless The Good Doctor was able to spin it as Morgan showing her ambition while trying to take some things off of Claire's plate.
Shaun has been preoccupied with his relationship with Carly, which wasn't quite as hopeless as it seemed after the "disaster" of a first date in the third season premiere. Still, surely he'll have time to be there for Claire however he can manage. She was his first real friend at St. Bonaventure other than Dr. Glassman, after all!
New episodes of The Good Doctor air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. If you're still in the market for some alternate viewing options, swing by our 2019 fall TV premiere schedule.