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How The Good Doctor's Fall Finale Tragedy Could Change Everything For Shaun And St. Bonaventure

Spoilers ahead for the fall finale of The Good Doctor Season 5 on ABC, called “Expired.”

The last new episode of The Good Doctor in 2021 was a doozy as, in true midseason finale fashion, it delivered some big new twists for the hospital as well as served up some reveals that have arguably been a long time coming in Season 5. After a preventable tragedy happened despite the best efforts of some of the best doctors at St. Bonaventure (including Shaun), everything fell apart. It was heartbreaking for the characters, and could result in some very big changes by the time Season 5 returns in 2022.

“Expired” actually got off to a pretty sweet start, which perhaps should have been the first clue that a lot was going to go sour by the time the final credits rolled. After a trip to check out a potential wedding venue turned into Shaun performing a miracle rescue on a pregnant woman by the name of Alma (with Lea lending a hand), he was invested in her care throughout the hour. Sadly, complications with an eventual C-section meant that even though they could save Alma’s life, the drugs they needed to save the baby were expired.

The episode ended with Shaun having a meltdown in the pharmacy out of his grief and frustration over the death of the baby, and he wasn’t even the only one pushed to the breaking point in the fall finale. The show won’t be back for a while to reveal what happens next, so let’s break down what happened leading up to the scene in the pharmacy and what the tragedy aftermath means for the show moving forward. 

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(Image credit: ABC)

The Wedding Is Off

Shaun was already in a heightened emotional state even before the baby died due to the fact that Lea confessed that she went to visit Glassman in Montana, and – more damningly – fixed Shaun's results from the patient reviews after the algorithm made him look like he was failing. Shaun seemed to not particularly care that she lied about the trip to Montana, but changing the results was too much for him. He demanded that she change back the results; when she said that she couldn’t, he suggested that she come clean to Salen, even saying that maybe she deserved to be fired for breaking the rules. 

It’s possible that the conflict might have blown over if not for the tragedy during the C-section. He shouted that he couldn’t marry her because he couldn’t trust her when she approached him during his pharmacy meltdown, not before. The episode ended with him sobbing into Glassman’s arms, while Lea could only watch. It’s hard to believe that the saga of Lea and Shaun that has been running for so long is really done for good after the Season 5 fall finale, but Lea crossed what was clearly a very big line for Shaun, and it seems unlikely that he’ll change his stance any time soon short of a time jump. 

the good doctor season 5 glassman abc

(Image credit: ABC)

Glassman Is Staying At St. Bonaventure

By the end of the episode, it was clear enough that Glassman was giving up on his plan to move to Montana, although he seemed to come to that conclusion before he found out about the death of the baby. His ex-wife, of all people, gave him the speech he needed to hear about how he needed Shaun, and it wasn’t just the other way around. And honestly, even if he still fully intended on leaving before walking in on Shaun breaking down in the pharmacy, I think Shaun emotionally shouting about Glassman failing as a best man and then breaking down in sobs would have convinced him to stay. Still, their relationship will need some mending in 2022. 

Notably, one of Shaun’s accusations against Glassman was that if he was still in charge of the hospital instead of Salen, then the baby wouldn’t have died. Could this mean that Glassman will feel motivated to try and take back some control at St. Bonaventure, if such a thing would be possible? He goes back far enough at the hospital that he likely has the kind of friends that Salen hasn’t made yet, and the death of the baby probably won’t endear her to any other doctors. After all, Shaun seemed to discover plenty of expired meds in the pharmacy, so Salen’s cost-saving may have affected more patients in more departments throughout the hospital.

christina chang audrey lim the good doctor abc season 5

(Image credit: ABC)

Dr. Lim Has Had Enough

Dr. Lim isn’t the most hot-headed doctor at St. Bonaventure, but she cares deeply about her patients, and seemed just about as upset as Shaun after the tragedy, even though they expressed their sorrow and anger in very different ways. While Shaun dealt with his feelings in the pharmacy, Lim confronted Salen and told her up front that a baby died because the hospital didn’t have meds due to Salen cutting costs. She told the hospital owner to call her lawyers for when Alma woke up and found out what happened, prompting Salen to advise “discretion” so that this tragedy wouldn’t “derail everything we do here.”

Now, Salen was clearly emotionally affected by the death, so The Good Doctor didn’t paint her as a cackling villain. And Lim seemed to acknowledge that they all had exposure from what happened, including Lim herself and the residents. It was a very loaded scene between the two women, and while it looks like Lim isn’t about to go to the press or spell everything out for Alma, it also seems safe to say that she’s not going to give Salen the benefit of the doubt moving forward. If anything, she’d probably be on board with Glassman if he wanted to stage an administrative coup! 

the good doctor season 5 shaun murphy freddie highmore

(Image credit: ABC)

Shaun Could Face Consequences

Shaun was doing more than just raging at Glassman and Lea down in the pharmacy; he was also destroying all of the expired meds that he found and quite literally making a big mess. He did stop before causing too much chaos, but it’s possible that his outburst could cause some trouble. The pharmacist was present, so it’s not like the situation could just go away with Lea and Glassman keeping it quiet. Could Shaun face some consequences for his reaction? 

Well, the top person who could punish Shaun for destroying the expired meds is Salen, and Salen seemed pretty shaken by what happened to the baby, so maybe she'd be lenient. Lim of course outranks him as well, but I think Lim would definitely be on his side when it comes to venting frustrations about everything that happened. Hopefully he won’t have to deal with any professional repercussions, considering all of the personal and emotional complications he has to deal with moving forward. 

Only time will tell on that front, and there are even more variables to consider. Dr. Andrews is all-in on his relationship with Salen, and Morgan has gone the extra mile to form an alliance with the new hospital owner. For his part, Park is committed to his relationship with Morgan. It would be interesting to see where the lines would be drawn if it comes down to taking sides for or against Salen in the aftermath of the tragedy. 

Unfortunately, fans are in for a bit of a wait before The Good Doctor returns. The show was not on the list of series that have received midseason premiere dates from ABC, and isn’t expected to return with new episodes until the spring. It should be interesting to see whether or not The Good Doctor includes a time jump between the November midseason finale and when it picks up again in several months. For now, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more of the latest in entertainment news as the 2021 fall TV season winds down. 

Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.