‘The Good Doctor’ Boss on Shaun and Lea’s Emotional Journey, Claire’s Exit & Season 5

The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Shaun Lea
Spoiler Alert
ABC/Jeff Weddell

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Good Doctor Season 4 finale “Vamos.”]

The Good Doctor ends its fourth season on a joyful note after the doctors faced COVID, a miscarriage, and more over the 20 episodes.

Among the highlights: Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) and Lea Dilallo (Paige Spara) are engaged, Drs. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) and Alex Park (Will Yun Lee) are together, and Dr. Audrey Lim’s (Christina Chang) time with Dr. Mateo Rendón Osma (Osvaldo Benavides) is going to be more than just a fling. (Benavides has been promoted to series regular for Season 5.) Plus, as Antonia Thomas exits the series, her character, Dr. Claire Browne, finds a new home, taking a job in Guatemala.

“It’s pretty amazing we pulled it off at all,” showrunner David Shore tells TV Insider of Season 4. “For all the obvious reasons, it’s been a challenging year and if I had to wager money on whether we’d complete it, I’m not sure I would have a year ago. Our cast and crew have done a great job and I’m very proud of it.”

Shore teases what’s next.

Shaun and Lea are getting married! First of all, talk about the emotional journey you wanted to take them on as a couple this season, from the COVID separation to the pregnancy to the loss of their baby to this joy of the engagement?

David Shore: You said it so nicely. We wanted grown-up problems for Shaun and mature relationship problems for Shaun and him and Lea, and we threw it at them and the two of them came through it beautifully. I thought Paige’s performance through the miscarriage and afterwards was remarkable. I love the couple.

What can you say about plans for the engagement and wedding next season?

We’re just starting into that. The writers’ room has just started and we want to do that and have fun with it, but do it our way, The Good Doctor way, and take advantage of this unique character we’ve got at the center of the show to get his insights and his unique perspective on things.

The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Shaun Lea

ABC/Jeff Weddell

Talk about the professional journey you want to take Shaun on? Because he’s learning to mentor and I loved that moment of him passing on Dr. Aaron Glassman’s [Richard Schiff] advice to Claire.

It’s going to be a bit of what we did last year, but taking it to a new level because I don’t think he has completely mastered mentoring. It’s still going to be a challenge. Everything’s going to be a challenge. It’s not like he suddenly is perfect. Like all of us, you develop techniques and shortcuts, you start to learn where the potential mistakes are. You learn more about where you’re weak and try and emphasize where you’re strong and he’s getting better. But he’s Shaun, he is who he is and he’s got strengths and he’s got weaknesses like we all do. And so he’s going to continue to struggle at times and we want to get back to those struggles and we want to explore those struggles a little more. He’s reaching the end of his residency, he’s reaching a point of even greater responsibility and what that means and the challenges. He’s been in a relatively safe space, and so we want to find ways to make that space a little less safe and see him conquer that challenge in his own way.

Lea had that healing moment with the mother and her baby. Did she maybe need this trip more than almost anyone else?

Nicely put, I think that’s very true. I think she went not knowing how she was needed completely. She was there to support the others, but yes, she wound up being needed by that mother as much as any of our doctors were in some ways emotionally, and she took away from this trip as much as anybody did.

Antonia Thomas The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Claire

ABC/Jeff Weddell

With Antonia Thomas leaving, what did you want to do with Claire this season leading up to her exit? What really stood out to me was that conversation with Lim about her hurting too much with everything that Claire’s been through.

We have thrown a lot of crap at that character over the years, and Antonia has always been fantastic. Claire has always been a pleasure to write for and to watch. The important thing to me was I wanted to give Antonia and Claire the ending they deserved, which to me meant it was important that she not be running away from anything, that she’d be running to something, which interestingly enough is a sentiment that Lim express to Mateo and then he expressed it back to her in the finale. But I think it applies to Claire’s character even more so.

Yeah, it was just so good to see her happy at the end of the finale, where she felt she belonged.

Exactly. She’s home, in some ways.

After this trip, it looks like Morgan is leaving behind any dreams of returning to surgery. Does that change the doctor she’s going to be in Season 5 at all?

Not really. This is the role she played in Season 4. We kind of had fun with that. We learned a little bit of how to deal with that and you’re going to see more of that. Her relationship with Park’s going to change, but she’s accepted — but have any of us really accepted things? So we’ll see all that.

Fiona Gubelmann The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Morgan

ABC/Jeff Weddell

Yeah, I liked that moment where he notes she’s vulnerable.

She’s in a relationship now, she’s going to have to deal with that. Look, she’s got feelings like anybody else. There’s a parallel to Shaun. Certainly, people sometimes think that Shaun doesn’t have emotions or something. He completely has emotions. They don’t manifest in an obvious way, and he himself has trouble accessing them. Morgan doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but we saw it there. I think if you’re gonna be in a relationship, you have to take your heart out a little more often.

Morgan and Park’s relationship has been quite entertaining to watch this season, and then it seemed almost easy for them to actually get together in the finale. Which is more indicative of what we’ll see next season — that ease or the complications it took to get there?

You’ll have to watch. I love watching the two of them together. I think that’s a very unique kind of relationship because they’re constantly at each other, but in a way that they both seem to enjoy and that’s fun to write for and fun to watch.

The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Mateo Lim

ABC/Jeff Weddell

Watching Lim come to terms with her PTSD was one of the strongest storylines of the season. Where did you want to leave her in terms of that in the finale?

Hopeful. She opens up publicly, which she did once before with [Dr. Marcus] Andrews [Hill Harper] a little less publicly. It’s a bit Lim gets her groove back in the last two episodes.

Lim may have found love, though there are complications there with that warrant out for Mateo, though considering the news about Osvaldo’s promotion, it sounds like there’s hope and we’ll see more of them together?

Yes, we absolutely will in Season 5. He’s going to come join us. I had a nice conversation with Christina as they were filming it talking about this and they did such a good job of giving it to us. The words on the page were, “this is just a fling,” but the performance we wanted was “this is not a feeling at all,” and that so came through. These two had such great chemistry together.

Andrews gives up his wedding ring to make that surgery happen. Is he giving up on his marriage?

Yeah. To be honest, we hadn’t done that much with the storyline with his wife and we want to open up doors for more opportunities to explore personal stories for Dr. Andrews.

Hill Harper The Good Doctor Season 4 Finale Andrews

ABC/Jeff Weddell

Noah Galvin and Bria Samoné Henderson [who play Drs. Asher Wolke and Jordan Allen] were also promoted for next season. How are the dynamics going to change?

We’ll be doing a little bit more of Shaun supervising. We like both these characters. They’re really, really strong actors and really good characters. The show’s all about these characters and getting their perspectives on situations, and they will give Shaun more opportunities to be Shaun, and Shaun will give them more opportunities to explore who they are.

What’s coming up with Glassman?

The Glassman-Shaun relationship is such a vital part of this show. I think what we’re going to try and do a little more of, I hope, is that, and as Shaun grows up, he needs him less. To some extent, Glassman’s the father of the groom. But we also want to see a growing relationship between him and others of our doctors, which we did. He had wonderful moments with several of our other doctors this past season, and we want to want to do more of that next year.

The Good Doctor Season 4 Shaun Glassman

ABC/Jeff Weddell

The video call between Shaun and Glassman in the finale and how Glassman acknowledges that Shaun has needed him less and less was bittersweet.

Exactly. That’s the role of a parent, and it is bittersweet: making your child independent, but what independence means is they don’t need you as much. That’s painful.

What else can you tease about next season? Especially in tone after this season started heavy with COVID?

The end of this season was designed to be more hopeful and more upbeat. We felt like the world had been beaten up a little much. And so there’s a lot of relationships starting and a lot of opportunities to have fun.

The Good Doctor, Season 5, Fall 2021, ABC