Spoilers ahead for The Good Doctor Season 3 finale, called “I Love You.”
The first installment of The Good Doctor’s two-part season finale saw San Jose struck with a deadly earthquake, and Dr. Neil Melendez seemed to be doing fine enough before he collapsed at the end of the episode from internal bleeding. The promo for the Season 3 finale had teased a looming death, preparing viewers for the worst, and unfortunately, the tragic turn of events saw Melendez succumb to his injuries. In saying goodbye to his character, star Nicholas Gonzalez revealed that he thought The Good Doctor’s big death came too “early.”
It’s hard to make it to the other side of a catastrophic event on a medical show without any major repercussions befalling a series regular character. Even The Good Doctor showrunner David Shore believed that “horrible decisions” were made on the road to kill off Melendez. Asked what his own reaction was when reading the Season 3 finale script, Nicholas Gonzalez revealed that it wasn’t easy coming to terms with Melendez’s death. Here’s what he told TVLine:
It was tough because I felt like nothing was good enough. It wasn’t going to be a good enough goodbye because, you know, I think it’s a little early… so I think that nothing was ever going to really feel appropriate. But it was very important to me that the relationship with Dr. Lim be honored. I knew what was happening with Melendez and Claire, but I had to make sure that [his relationship with Lim] was not something that in any way seemed like second fiddle… You needed to feel the veracity of it and the present nature of it. And I hope that’s what came across.
That’s incredibly thoughtful. On a slightly brighter note, Melendez at least found out he was dying early enough that he got some heartfelt conversations with Claire and Lim before passing away, with Claire finally declaring her love for him. Unlike what other shows may have done, The Good Doctor’s Season 3 finale didn’t end on a massive cliffhanger that would’ve left fans up in arms wondering whether Melendez was actually dead or not. It's the little things that count, I suppose.
That said, Nicholas Gonzalez believed that there was still a lot more story left for Melendez. The actor didn’t think he’d done everything he’d set out to do with the character. In his words:
Probably not… It’s tough, because we’re not a Grey’s Anatomy. We’re primarily a procedural that has a lot of smatterings of heart and character around it. As much as we’re an ensemble, the subject matter isn’t so much [about us], you know? Things are parceled out little by little, which can be tough for an actor in many ways, and lot of times I’m serving medicine and getting other jobs done when other parts of the character were kind of neglected. But that’s part and parcel of what makes this show a little different, and I think that also is maybe what keeps audiences coming back, because they want that taste of something, but we never dole it out cheaply. So to answer your question, I feel like there was still a lot on the table for Neil, and I was really enjoying watching him learn his lessons and his, you know, constant pursuit of perfection that of course we’re all going to fall short of.
That’s it for Season 3 of The Good Doctor. The medical drama has already been renewed for Season 4, but stay tuned to CinemaBlend to see whether the coronavirus pandemic will heavily impact the show next season. In the meantime, stay updated with our updated TV list regarding series delays and shortened seasons.