The Good Doctor Season 4 kicked off with the kind of drama the medical series is known for and tackled the coronavirus pandemic head-on. Although the episode was a fictional story, it was similar to a PSA on why the virus needs to be taken seriously. Dr. Shaun Murphy and the rest of the team at St. Bonaventure Hospital in San Jose had their lives upended by the virus in Monday night's premiere, just like the doctors and healthcare workers' lives in real life.
Throughout "Frontline Part 1," the severity of the virus became clearer for the doctors as they learned more symptoms and just how contagious it is. Each member of the team had their own storyline. Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) accidentally put everyone on one floor in danger when she thought an older man had a non-COVID ailment, but a later lung scan revealed he did have the coronavirus. Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) clashed with his wife Debbie Wexler (Sheila Kelley) because he pushed her away while he was working at home. Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) continued struggling with the death of Dr. Neil Melendez at the end of Season 3.
The night's main story focused on Shaun (Freddie Highmore) and how the coronavirus is changing his life. Although he is now in a relationship with Lea Dilallo (Paige Spara) finally, they are no longer living together. Instead, Dr. Alex Park (Will Yun Lee) is rooming with him. Shaun struggled to help a patient whose wife was constantly trying to be involved with his case over the phone, while also coming to terms with not being able to see Lea due to the coronavirus. He couldn't risk exposing her after a full day at the hospital.
At one point, Shaun and Lea tried to recreate intimacy over video conferencing, but it did not quite work for Shaun. In the end, she delivered a special mask to Shaun that will not hurt his ears, and the two spoke through the door. We have to wait until next week to see how the virus continues to change the lives at St. Bonaventure in "Frontline Part 2" on ABC Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Good Doctor, like fellow ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy, could not avoid the coronavirus pandemic this season. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner David Shore said the writers were "just trying to be honest" in handling the situation. "We always feel a responsibility to be honest with all of our stories and to not just play into melodrama [and depict] just real people with people problems in real situations and to embrace that and embrace the story that’s in that week after week," Shore explained. "We felt an added obligation here in terms of getting the medicine right — and the medicine was changing constantly — and to accurately portray what so many people are going through right now."