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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Good Doctor" Episode 9

2013/09/02 | Permalink

The last cliffhanger was solved about the way I was expecting. Shi-on, a man who I keep reminding myself is supposed to be autistic, resolves the problem by using his words. Not only that, his words succeed where everyone else's words fail. Autistic people are not good at using words. They are not good at guessing how other people react emotionally, and normally tend to avoid trying.

I'm not trying to bring real-world expertise into this review when I write that. These are rules that "Good Doctor" itself brought up in the very first episode, as it helpfully reminds us in a flashback that Shi-on's main character conflict used to be his inability to communicate effectively with people, before that was inexplicably solved and I guess his main issue now is just that mean administrative doctors don't like him because they're jerks or something.

The wacky patient subplots have gotten so bad that my brain is actively resisting trying to understand what's happening. Even looking at the screen is painful. Have you seen "A Werewolf Boy"? It's a really great movie that has this wonderful empathetic perspective on what it would actually be like for a feral child to try to adapt to normal human society, and the growth the title character goes through is tremendously emotionally effective right up until the final beautitful shot, that illustrates just what a struggle it was for him to adapt and how much he appreciates that someone went through that effort.

I spent a lot of time this episode thinking about "A Werewolf Boy", if only to distract myself from how horrifically poorly handled the feral child is in this drama. "Good Doctor" seems to be confusing the fact that it touches on complex societal issues with having something actually meaningful to say about those issues. It doesn't. From autism to feral children to over demanding parents these are all just idiotic efforts to humanize Shi-on that make no sense because he's supposed to be trying to empathize with normal people, not outrageous ones.

The most frustrating part of all this is that even now, there are some decent ideas in "Good Doctor" that could be explored but aren't. We get to see more of Yoon-seo's conflict about dealing with her own mortality and failure. We're reminded of the existence of more traditional patients. Heck, we even get a cute scene of Shi-on actually acting like an autistic person as he tries to make friends with someone using ice cream. Why can't we have more of this stuff? If "Good Doctor" would just make that little pivot it would become a lot more tolerable.

Review by William Schwartz

"Good Doctor" is directed by Ki Min-soo, written by Park Jae-beom-I and features Joo Won, Moon Chae-won, Joo Sang-wook and Kim Min-seo.

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