Spoilers ahead for the Season 6 premiere of The Good Doctor on ABC, called “Afterparty” and Season 6 of Grey’s Anatomy.
As expected after how the fifth season finale of The Good Doctor ended, Shaun and Lea’s wedding reception was interrupted in the worst way shortly after the Season 6 premiere began. Fans will remember that the spring finale ended with Dr. Lim and Nurse Villaneuva brutally stabbed by the nurse’s abusive ex, while music blasting at the reception meant none of the other doctors heard what happened. It seemed like the major storyline to start Season 6 would be all about whether they'd survive, but The Good Doctor instead went full Grey’s Anatomy with a storyline that called back to one of the drama’s most iconic arcs. But is a reminder of another medical drama a good way to start Season 6?
Well, considering that The Good Doctor ended Season 5 with a scene that completely reminded me of NBC’s long-running medical drama ER and I certainly came back for more, any Grey’s similarities probably won’t do its fellow ABC series any harm! Last season ended with Owen stabbing Villaneuva off-screen, then stabbing Lim when she stumbled onto the scene. I honestly thought that was more or less the end of the violent part of the story – with Owen as a stabber who would of course be captured while most of the next episode centered on trying to save Lim. How wrong I was!
So it came as a surprise when Owen got his hands on a gun and turned the stabbing situation into an active shooter situation, and I for one was immediately reminded of the Grey’s Anatomy two-parter that ended Season 6 with a shooter killing his way through what was then known as Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. Even now, with Season 19 just days away from premiering, the shooter arc of Grey’s Anatomy stands out as one of the most frightening, tragic, and game-changing of the series. If any hospital drama includes a shooter and a lockdown with major characters separated at key moments, comparisons to Grey's are inevitable.
And I would say that The Good Doctor stands up pretty well to those comparisons. The two shows certainly aren’t identical, for all that they both primarily focus on surgeons. Back in Season 6, Grey’s had a much larger ensemble than The Good Doctor does, which meant it could (and did) actually kill off some notable characters to raise the stakes without actually taking out any of the top-billed players. (R.I.P. Percy and Reed, though.) Not even the shooter or Nurse Villanueva – who I admittedly thought was a goner back in the Season 5 finale, which you can revisit streaming with a Hulu subscription – died in “Afterparty.”
The death toll was considerably lower with the shooter on The Good Doctor compared to Grey’s Anatomy, but “Afterparty” did end in a way that guaranteed the effects would continue to be felt, like they were on Grey’s. Although Lim lived through some extremely dicey moments during her surgeries, she woke up to find herself paralyzed, seemingly from the waist down. That precise twist didn’t happen on Grey’s, but the doctors of Seattle Grace Mercy West definitely didn’t just shake off their traumatic situation either.
So, was The Good Doctor’s “Afterparty” a carbon copy of Grey’s Anatomy’s shooter two-parter back in 2009? Definitely not. This was a one-hour premiere that ended with everybody in the much smaller ensemble still alive, while Grey’s was a two-hour event with sky-high stakes as soon as one of the doctors was killed. Still, the shooter and hospital lockdown meant that my mind immediately went to Grey’s, and it was a good thing that The Good Doctor’s premiere was largely so solid that the comparisons don’t do any harm. (Not sure what I think about Lea as a nurse, though.)
See what happens next on The Good Doctor with new episodes on ABC on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV premiere schedule. Shaun seems to have avoided any professional consequences for his breakdown in the OR thanks to how he ultimately saved the day, and the writing seems to be on the wall for Morgan and Park as a couple. I’m just hoping that Asher catches a break one of these days!
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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