The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9 Review: Unconditional

Spoilers

Asher’s death was bad enough. We don’t need any more tragic endings for our favorite Good Doctor characters.

The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9 should have ended happily, with Morgan and Park getting married and Claire learning she was cancer-free. 

Instead, Glassman told Shaun that his cancer is back and that he’s dying, while Claire collapsed right as she was about to get romantic with Jared. We only have one more episode left to turn all this around!

Penultimate episodes are a good place for tragic events — if the finale is about moving past them so that the series goes out on a high note.

There’s no reason to make the end of a beloved series so depressing that viewers walk away with nothing other than relief that the pain is finally over.

Except for those final scenes, this episode was quintessential Good Doctor.

Claire’s return was perfect, and Lim’s story only missed Shaun visualizing the solution the way he often does.

Clare and Lea Catch Up - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Glassman’s News Wasn’t Entirely Surprising

Glassman was desperate to get some test results on The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 7, and it was clear they weren’t for a patient, so the chances were that his cancer had returned.

I’d think if he had terminal brain cancer, he’d have some symptoms.

It also seems strange that he JUST had all those scans come back clear when Shaun was convinced his cancer was back last year.

Of course, Claire’s negative biopsy turned out to be wrong, too, but a biopsy missing Stage 1 breast cancer is far more plausible than fMRIs missing terminal-stage brain cancer.

Glassman is Defensive - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

In any case, we’ve been down this road with Glassman before.

During The Good Doctor Season 1, he tried to convince Shaun nothing could be done and that he had to accept that his cancer was terminal — only for Shaun to find an experimental treatment that worked.

That makes it hard to believe that Glassman is terminal this time.

Could this be set up so Shaun can perform one last medical miracle before the series ends?

I hope so. It would truly suck if the finale involved Glassman’s death, especially after all the sadness we’ve already had this season.

Glassman’s Promise to Hannah

Hannah finally came around and agreed to go to rehab, and Glassman promised to be there for her as long as he was alive.

What was the point of that if he was not going to survive long enough to see her again?

Glassman Tries to Help Hannah - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

The Hannah story is too focused on Glassman wanting to make amends for Maddie’s death — presumably because he wants to get things right before he passes away.

Glassman was practicing harm reduction, which is a scientifically backed and legitimate way of treating substance use disorder, but nobody acknowledged that’s what he was doing.

Instead, the episode fell back on tired TV tropes about addiction, with Hannah’s father going as far as accusing Glassman of enabling her by giving her Oxy in a controlled manner. 

Her father was right about one thing: Hannah won’t sober up until she’s ready.

That’s why Glassman’s approach was the right one. Hannah was going to use either way — isn’t it better for her to use in a controlled fashion that is less likely to result in an overdose?

Role Reversal - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

I have a love-hate relationship with most addiction storylines because they are very rarely realistic.

Addiction is a complex issue that is also fertile ground for moving mental health stories if done correctly. 

Unfortunately, most stories are about how the only way to beat addiction is to go to rehab or AA/NA meetings when that’s only one of many pathways and doesn’t work for everyone.

Like Glassman, I had the heartbreaking experience of someone close to me dying of a drug overdose.

Unlike him, afterward, I trained to be an addictions counselor.

That’s why I support harm reduction, which is the idea that if someone is going to use, they should be helped to do so in the safest manner possible so that they are more likely to survive.

Not everyone is in a place where they’re ready to stop using, and forcing abstinence before someone is ready does more harm than good.

Glassman Plays Pool - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Somehow, Hannah’s father understood that Glassman couldn’t force Hannah to get sober, but didn’t understand that refusing to give her a roof over her head if she wasn’t sober wasn’t going to magically make her sober up either.

That doesn’t mean Glassman shouldn’t set boundaries, but his boundaries should be to protect himself, not to punish Hannah for addictive behavior, or to make her decide not to use anymore.

It’s a fine line and one that’s difficult to define.

Hannah’s reaction to Shaun’s introduction was interesting.

Hannah: Who are you?
Shaun: I am Dr. Shaun Murphy. Dr. Glassman’s son. Not biologically. But he did for me what he is trying to do for you.
Hannah: So we’re both broken toys that he tries to fix because he couldn’t fix his daughter.
Shaun: He did not fix me. He loved me. I am different from other people. Other kids thought I was weird. My parents didn’t want me, so I thought it too. But Dr. Glassman loved me. I will always have autism, but now I am proud of it. You will always be an addict even if you stop using drugs. But Dr. Glassman can see you are so much more than that. Why can’t you?

Hannah resented Glassman trying to make amends for his daughter’s death by helping her, which is part of the problem.

It’s hard for someone to feel like you care about them when reacting to something that happened to someone else.

Hannah Is Unresponsive - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Shaun’s speech was perfect because he emphasized that Glassman couldn’t fix Hannah — he could only love her unconditionally.

Hannah decided to go to rehab after that, but what will make this experience different than the other times she tried rehab but failed to stay sober?

She has to do something different if she’s serious about sobriety — going through the same program that failed before won’t work unless she approaches it differently. 

With one episode to go, it’s unclear if we’ll ever find out how rehab is working for her.

This might have been the end of her story.

The shortened final season has rushed several storylines because of lack of time — we still don’t know if Steve is autistic, either, and that story didn’t have enough time to develop.

Claire's Scan - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

There’s also not enough time to find out whether Glassman’s prognosis is correct or develop Claire’s renewed relationship with Jared (assuming she survives whatever made her collapse.)

Claire’s Visit to The Good Doctor Was Brilliant, Not Counting That Ending

I’d forgotten Jared and Claire had dated before and only vaguely recall some sort of split for the sake of drama.

The way Claire’s illness brought them back together was well done.

It was typical of this show that Claire’s non-cancerous breast lump turned into breast cancer that had possibly metastasized, but it seemed like it had a purpose.

After her cancer scare, Claire realized she didn’t have all the time in the world and decided to try to rekindle things with Jared.

Let’s hope she wasn’t too late!

Lea Takes Steve For a Walk - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Her visit also underscored how much has been missing since she left.

She immediately fell back into supporting Shaun and gave Charlie a much-needed morale boost. She added energy and heart to The Good Doctor, which I didn’t realize was missing until her return.

We didn’t need her to collapse at the end.

Why can’t The Good Doctor have a wedding without life-threatening drama?

Two Themes Dominated the Penultimate Episode

The idea of carpe diem (seizing the day) was a big part of this episode.

Audrey Lim’s patient realized, after a near-death experience, that he had wasted his life when he wanted to be a musician.

Lim’s determination to operate without hurting his ability to play made her come more alive, too, as Glassman noticed.

You were raised in a trailer park by a bipolar mother and you got a full scholarship to med school, then you went to a country where you didn’t even speak the language and two years later you’re Chief of Surgery. Cancer? Pfft. You’re an unstoppable force, Claire Brown, and on top of that you are overwhelmingly beautiful.

Jared

Claire Returns - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Claire had that sense of needing to live fully, too, after her cancer scare, which is why she was about to make a move with Jared when she passed out.

While taking chances and living for today were significant parts of the episode, so was the idea of growth and change.

Glassman and Claire both told Shaun how much he’d grown since the beginning of the series, and Jared told Claire the same thing about herself.

That’s why this series is ending: Shaun has grown into a mature, intelligent, compassionate husband, father, and doctor, so there’s nowhere else to take his character storywise.

Claire is Seriously Ill - The Good Doctor Season 7 Episode 9

Your turn, Good Doctor fanatics! What did you think of this penultimate episode?

Are you looking forward to the series finale?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.

The Good Doctor airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 10/9c. The series finale will air on May 21, 2024.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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