The Good Doctor's Shaun Had A Breakthrough After A Near-Death Experience Cast, And I Feel Called Out

Shaun and Asher in The Good Doctor Season 6
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of The Good Doctor Season 6, called “A Big Sign.”

The Good Doctor spent much of its latest episode on the case of a marital therapist who came in with an ankle injury, only to discover that she had a much more serious issue. She needed surgery for a tumor in her brain, which seemed to be going well, only for her heart to stop and require resuscitation. By the end of the case, Shaun had a breakthrough about his relationship with Lea, but I still felt called out by an earlier scene between him and his residents following the patient's near-death experience. 

When Shaun went to inform his patient about what happened in the surgery, she announced that she had died before anybody had the chance to tell her that her heart had indeed stopped and they’d had to bring her back. She gave a detailed description of what happened, as if she watched from above, and said that she saw her late husband as well. While Perez believed that she’d had a spiritual experience, Shaun had an alternative explanation: there was something else wrong with her brain. 

The doctors were all still debating it after a commercial break, with Asher sharing his perspective and totally calling me out in the process. He said:

She didn’t have an out-of-body experience. She described a code, which only proves that she watches medical shows on television. And the heaven that she told us about, it’s all recycled cliches. The peace, nice colors, loved ones waiting.

Now, I haven’t had an out-of-body experience in a hospital after a surgeon who looks oddly like the guy from Bates Motel operated on my brain, but I’m definitely guilty of watching enough medical shows on television that I too would probably describe a code like she did if asked. Considering that I ended Season 5 by comparing The Good Doctor’s cliffhanger to an iconic twist from ER, and then opened Season 6 by comparing the active shooter situation to Grey’s Anatomy, there’s no point in pretending that I don’t fall into the category of medical TV show viewers that Asher described. Go ahead and call me out, The Good Doctor!

Of course, anybody who has been watching The Good Doctor for six seasons and counting can probably also relate to how the marriage therapist could describe a code so easily, and it didn’t feel like the ABC show was poking fun at anybody. Asher’s comment was a stepping stone to Shaun realizing that their patient had a second tumor. Sadly, she wouldn’t survive the second surgery, and her death was especially tragic after she spent so many of her final hours trying to help the doctors with their relationship woes. 

And Shaun finally took her advice truly to heart, despite insisting for most of “A Big Sign” that his constant corrections of Lea were because he wanted her to know how to do things the right way… a.k.a. his way. She told him that it sometimes felt like he was watching her do things and “holding a big sign that says ‘you’re doing everything wrong.’” 

After a breakthrough about their relationship (helped by spending so much time with the marital therapist), Shaun more than made it up to Lea. When she went to do the dishes (which he had “corrected” her about early in the episode), he set up a pretty sweet gesture: 

Freddie HIghmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy holding up a sign for Lea in The Good Doctor

(Image credit: ABC)

If that was where the episode concluded, it would have been safe to say that “A Big Sign” had a happy ending, but The Good Doctor had a less upbeat scene left. In a payoff of last week’s indication that fans might have to choose a side between Dr. Lim and Shaun, Lim shot down his attempt at small talk and personal connection. She can’t get over the fact that his decisions in surgery left her in a wheelchair, and while she wasn’t cruel about it, she informed him that they could communicate only about work moving forward. 

Lim can set her anger aside as his boss and when it comes to medicine, but they won’t be friends. Find out whether either of them can stick with her decision with new episodes of The Good Doctor on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. You can catch up on any episodes you might have missed streaming with a Hulu subscription, and find some more viewing options on our 2022 TV premiere schedule

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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.