Partings and pieces of life

Part 2 of the November 9 “Frontline” premiere on “The Good Doctor” Season 4 start finds the dedicated doctors of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital discovering more about the signals of the deadly virus in week eight of the crisis, but still desperately grappling with how to treat all the ways it ravages the body. Some faithful fans of the medical drama are also fatigued by the storyline, while others are appreciating “The Good Doctor” in its treatment of the worldwide pandemic more in playback, according to November 9’s Broadway World feature.

No matter how some voices try to politicize this unparalleled public health issue, and no matter how some may try to ignore the science, nothing diminishes the devastating human toll that is surging beyond what was first imagined.

This week, “The Good Doctor” (Freddie Highmore) is still working to save his patient Marty (Lochlyn Munro) while communicating by phone to his distraught wife Lily (Carly Pope), who likely gave him the virus. Meanwhile, Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) proclaims the dreaded word, “gone,” over countless meaningful and much-loved lives, internalizing her grief.

One of the lives, mercilessly consumed, is that of Nurse Petringa, so marvelously captured by Karin Konoval through three seasons of “The Good Doctor.” Never, for one second, did her character ever seem contrived. It seemed as though she could have been plucked from any hospital emergency room and know exactly what to do. Her easy, blatantly honest manner was purely authentic.

The actress is one of the heroes in this medical drama, and her work credits the real-life heroes in this fight.

No one is managing well on ‘The Good Doctor’

Shaun gets very short with Lea (Paige Spara) when she tries to explain that she’s tested clear after having a sore throat. “I have to go to work,” he abruptly states, hanging up.

He admits his fear that she has the virus to Dr. Park (Will Yun Lee). Park is struggling with his own decision to stay at the hospital to care for a young mother using experimental chill therapy. He is missing the milestones of his son’s (Ricky He) high school graduation and questioning his decision to return to Phoenix with his ex-wife, Mia (Jennifer Birmingham Lee).

To make matters worse, his patient (Arlen Aguayo-Stewart) is thus far not responding. Shaun poses some questions that put this back and forth relationship on “The Good Doctor” in focus. The love that bonds the parents is for their son, not each other.

On the relationship front, Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) is having his own share of difficulties. He’s taking advice from 15-year-old video game players when it comes to him and his wife, Debbie (Sheila Kelley), who are sleeping separately. “Hey, I’m 15, but at least I have a girlfriend,” the compadre replies. Glassman only makes a 15-year-old attempt at contrition, too, offering a blanket “sorry for everything,” insisting that Debbie was the one “mean to me.” That got “The Good Doctor” mentor nowhere.

The brilliant surgeon who can always see a solution within the body to aid his patients is at his wit’s end when he throws rocks against Glassman’s glass windows. Like everyone else, he doesn’t know what to do with the frustration of “I don’t know what to do,” either personally or professionally. His father figure and mentor can only offer that kindness to himself and everybody around him is the only balm of healing in this trauma, even for “The Good Doctor.”

Dr. Claire Brown (Antonia Thomas) is working through the stages of grief that she never allowed herself to have after her mother’s death. The spirit of Dr. Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) pokes her with barbs about pasta carbonara being able to make everything better, until she gets to “the worst part is, you’re not here.” She finds the dog tags of Donald Sulkin (Robert Leaf) on the floor of the property room, where the stories of so many lives are left frozen and incomplete.

She becomes obsessed with tracing them back to the owner as her mission on this installment of “The Good Doctor.”

Every heart and hand in PPE rallies for Nurse Petringa on ‘The Good Doctor’

Even as she was being exposed to the virus from a patient, Nurse Deena Petringa was on the job, on top of every task, and talking baseball. By the time she was brought in with high fever and breathing troubles, Dr. Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) and Dr. Lim had learned that the oxygen levels were the critical signals, and hers were critically low. Her son was incredulous that his mom, who had saved so many lives through her skill and dedication, was so ill so quickly. She instructed him to tell his daughter that she would be back to play with her soon.

This soldier on “The Good Doctor” was in her last battle.

Dr. Lim and the nurse joked about altering the slogan to “give me liberty and give me death,” and shared memories of a supervisor named Pitcairn (a.k.a. “Pit Stains”), who got dressed down by the nurse just long enough for Lim not to lose it. The good nurse was summoning her strength to give wisdom to Morgan Reznick, too. The resident is now finding her way as an internist, a new role that requires the most self-driven doctor on “The Good Doctor” to “be nice.” Petringa understands that the new dimension is the most difficult, and assures her attending physician that he’ll find his way and that there are 41 ways to “nice.” In return, Reznick proves that the nurse is not alone, opening every window to reveal the army of love covered in blue PPE looking into the room.

“Not today,” Morgan pleads with Dr. Lim when the valiant nurse is no longer able to fight. “Today,” the chief of surgery counters. The buttons are pushed to stop machine ventilation, as Petringa’s son sends a final earthly “I love you, mom,” from the phone Reznick is holding. This parting scene is worthy of acclaim as one of the most authentic and moving portrayed on “The Good Doctor.” Karin Konoval should take a bow, along with her castmates.

A new day holds hope for ‘The Good Doctor’

The land of TV Shows is very different from real life, where it seems like the pandemic has endless power over even the best medicine. “The Good Doctor” has a surprising response when he delivers the news that Marty has lost an ankle and a foot from the impact of the raging disease.

His wife now understands that having a life, no matter how physically altered, is truly precious. Millions around the world will be coping with the impact of their illness for years to come, but a valid vaccine and a valiant spirit will propel them in wellness. Lily gives a special nod to Dr. Murphy as he applauds Marty’s exit from the hospital. The humanity of “The Good Doctor” is transparent beyond the impediments. It would be a different world if that were true of everyone.

Dr. Andrews gets to return to his home and climb up the stairs to his wife, leaving behind the garage. Dr. Park has touching talks with both his son and his ex-wife. As he holds his patient’s baby, he clarifies to Kellen that the bond they share these deeper than any the father will ever have in life.

In contrast, he expresses to Mia that they don’t need to be together, in the same place, to both love their son. The next morning, the new mother is awake and ready with the name, “Aria’’ on “The Good Doctor.”

Claire does trek wide and far to return the dog tags rightfully belonging to Donald Sulkin. He says only that they were “friends” in a broken voice, but the power is palpable in the emotion. Claire has finally come to closure in one way, and Melendez declares “That was beautiful…” He also assures that, unlike their own story, will be “amazing”– and one that he can’t wait to see. Claire and Audrey Lim decide that they can stop meeting at the bench to mourn Dr. Melendez. “He’s always with us,” she says, knowing that “He changed me.”

When Morgan gives a special memento cherished by his mother from a baseball game back to Nurse Petringo’s son, he shares with her how his mother used to say that any patient who had the “tough Reznick” was lucky, regardless of the more colorful language at the time.

Dr. Glassman finally relents and reveals all his feelings of fear, cowardice, failure, and yet relief in being home. That true openness was what his wife wanted all along.

“The Good Doctor” gets a welcome knock at the door. Lea stands waiting with three negative tests. Shaun opens his arms wide and welcomes her with a genuine hug before they both sit down for a night of TV. She rests her head on his shoulder. Now that the two are “roomies” again, Paige Spara disclosed to Hollywood Life via MSN in a November 9 exclusive that Lea’s back story would be a focus for the drama in Season 4.

At one point in this episode of “The Good Doctor,” Claire makes an impassioned speech about wanting to feel anything but sad, overpowered, and helpless.

All any person has are pieces of life that present opportunities for doing good– in both big and small ways. The key is to notice those pieces and put the very best effort into them. No one ever sees the scope of an entire life before the last breath. What the heart holds are the memories of a needed hug, a smile never to be forgotten, a dog cuddled on a lap, and “I love you.” Those treasures can never be overdone.

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