The Day Claire Leads Surgery Ends Tragically on ‘The Good Doctor’ (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
ABC/David Bukach

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 3, Episode 3 of The Good Doctor, “Claire.”]

Claire (Antonia Thomas) has a lot to balance, both at work and at home as it comes time for her to lead her first surgery on The Good Doctor.

Her patient, Michelle, has too many responsibilities at home, and when Claire tries to help, Michelle’s mother, Patricia (Tracie Thoms), wants her off the case. But that’s not the only complication at work; at every turn, she runs into Morgan (Fiona Gubelmann), Alex (Will Yun Lee), their patient, Shamus O’Malley (Robert Sean Leonard), and his marlin.

Meanwhile on the home front, Claire deals with her mother, Breeze (Sharon Leal), living with her by almost clearing the place of alcohol (except for a bottle of champagne to hopefully celebrate a successful first surgery).

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Claire Focuses on What’s Best for Her Patient

Claire practices what she’ll tell her patient (about the surgery, after the surgery) as she goes about her morning routine. And it looks like it’ll be the day she’ll use that, since she and Shaun have a patient complaining of nausea and severe abdominal pain after eating. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy would be an ideal first surgery, Shaun says. Upon examining Michelle, it looks like they’re right.

However, Neil (Nicholas Gonzalez) points out it’s not a straightforward case. The thickness of the wall poses a challenge, but Shaun proposes an open procedure would give them a clear view of the anatomy. Claire then watches Marcus (Hill Harper) perform the same surgery, and the other doctor quizzes her on the procedure and risks.

(ABC/David Bukach)

Claire practices what she’ll tell Patricia on the way to see her, and Patricia’s surprised how long Michelle’s been sick. But then Michelle’s chest starts hurting, and the doctors find a pulmonary embolism, part of a larger clot in her leg caused by her birth control pill. The surgery is put off a day.

Claire notices scars on her leg, and she knows they were self-inflicted, not from climbing a fence like Michelle claims. Her patient eventually opens up and admits it falls onto her to take care of the three foster kids her mother took in. But when Claire and Neil try to talk to Patricia, the woman insists their home life is fine.

Claire admits to Audrey (Christina Chang) that she’s nervous about the surgery, but the chief advises her never to say that again. “We’re women, we’re not white, and we’re surgeons. Unicorns consider us a fabled species. We don’t get the luxury of public insecurity,” Audrey explains. “We don’t need to be insecure because every step of the way we’ve had to be twice as good as everybody else.”

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But when Patricia refuses to listen to Michelle about her self-harming behavior, Claire suggests to the teenager that she talk to a therapist like she did — it helped her realize that it wasn’t her fault her mother was sick. Patricia is upset and threatens to report her to the medical board, but Audrey defends Claire since she believed Michelle may be a danger to herself. However, not informing Patricia was inappropriate, so Claire’s off the surgery.

However, Michelle then refuses to have the surgery unless Claire does it and even says she doesn’t want to get better. Neil then goes to bat for Claire with Patricia, and Claire’s first surgery is back on because of her commitment to Michelle.

Once Claire sees more scarring than imaging suggested on the gallbladder, Neil has her talk through her approach. He also has her do the same thing when Michelle begins hemorrhaging later in the surgery. Both times, it works, and the surgery is a success. Patricia even asks for the psychiatrist’s card after.

(ABC/David Bukach)

Just as Things Are Getting Better …

With Breeze living with her, Claire dumps out almost all of her alcohol and gives her routine drug tests.

Mother and daughter even talk about Claire’s patient at the hospital a bit, which leads back to Claire’s own childhood. Breeze wanted her to be having sex at a younger age because she sees it as a way Claire would’ve been having fun since she was so restrained and serious. But as the doctor explains, she was that way because she didn’t know when her mother would fall apart.

Claire’s patient comes up during a session with Breeze’s therapist, Dr. Donovan, and Claire admits that she’s mad at Patricia for not taking care of her daughter. At that time, she’s also off the surgery, and she admits to feeling relieved to have the weight off of her. Breeze understands because “things that matter are scary.” It’s how she feels about coming to therapy and talking about her life and their relationship. She worries she can’t make up for all the times she let Claire down, but she thinks, “just be like Claire.” “You’re my inspiration,” she tells her daughter, and Claire hugs her.

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But sadly, as Claire leaves the hospital, she gets a call from her mother’s phone. She ends up at the scene of an accident, where her mother crashed into a telephone pole. And we hear the voicemail Breeze left as Claire stares at her mother’s dead body — she made dinner for them to celebrate and was going to get dessert. And the champagne bottle Claire was saving is open, on the floor of the car.

The Best Intentions …

Shaun and Carly’s relationship seems to be progressing; they went on another date, during which she answered all of his 83 questions. When Claire suggests some were a bit too personal this early on, Shaun worries since they didn’t set another date or kiss goodnight.

But when Claire talks to Carly about it, Carly didn’t mind the questions. She also knows it’s not something Shaun would have worried about on his own, and Claire admits she may have had something to do with it. Carly informs her that she and Shaun don’t need anyone to run interference in their relationship. And as Claire’s leaving the hospital, she sees Carly answering more of Shaun’s questions.

(ABC/David Bukach)

His Life’s Work Saved Him

Claire keeps getting sidetracked by a marlin (and the patient he’s attached to) throughout the episode. However, Shamus has been chasing it for over 40 years and refuses to let them decapitate it to remove its bill from his leg.

But when they bring them both in for an MRI, metal explodes out of the marlin, the fish falls off Shamus, and the man begins bleeding immediately. Claire puts her finger on his femoral artery and helps keep him alive until they can stop the bleeding in the OR.

And it’s Claire who realizes that the problems Morgan and Alex run into with Shamus are because he has cancer in his leg. They have to amputate his leg as a result, but Shamus is happy when his friends bring in his fish, mounted, because it saved his life.

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Did you think there was going to be a tragic ending for Claire and her mother from the beginning?

The Good Doctor, Mondays, 10/9c, ABC