The Good Doctor featured a major death in its Season 3 fall finale, after Dr. Shaun Murphy finally faced his parents following years distance. The ABC medical drama's last episode of the year saw as Shaun (Freddie Highmore), Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) and Lea (Paige Spara) traveled to his hometown to visit his ailing father. The heartbreaking reunion followed as Shaun faced his abusive dad, and neglectful mother before an emotional ending that could change many relationships on the show.
Spoilers ahead for The Good Doctor Season 3, Episode 10: "Friends and Family"
The emotional hour saw as Shaun reunited with his estranged father Ethan (Michael Trucco) and snuggled with forgiving him for his past actions and abuse. In their last interactions before his death, the man revealed his true self when he yelled at the doctor and blamed him for his other son Steve's death in an accident.
Shaun also reunited with his mother Marcie (Joanna Going), which was less upsetting. The woman did not defend her decision to stand by her abusive husband and let her sons leave the house on there own. However, she was not able to explain the reasons behind her choices and after a heartwarming conversation at a diner, the pair shared a hug.
The episode ended in heartbreak after Shaun found out his father passed away from his disease shortly after their difficult conversation. After telling Glassman to leave, Shaun unraveled in his room and could only be comforted by Lea. The hour came to an end with the two friends and roommates lying in bed together as Lea embraced her distraught friend.
Back at the hospital, a difficult case led Claire (Antonia Thomas) to finally decide to address her mental health following her mother's death. She ended the episode scheduling a therapist appointment to start dealing with her choices and her emotions following the sudden loss.
After the episode, series showrunner David Shore revealed plans to reunite Shaun with his parents had been in the works from the beginning of the series. He also revealed the flashbacks showing Ethan attempting to understand Shaun painted a reality of their relationship.
"It would be easy to just portray Ethan as a monster, but we didn't want to do that," he told TVLine. "We wanted to portray a real human being who was in way over his head. That doesn't mean that we sympathize with him. He is a bad guy. He has done bad things. He has made horrible mistakes with his son, and he has been a terrible father, but he is still a human being who may regret what he has done… That's more interesting, and more realistic, and more of a challenge for Shaun to deal with."
He also revealed that while his bonding moment with his mother could serve as closure, there is room for the show to explore the relationship further in the future.
The final moment with Lea led many fans to believe the show might explore their friendship turning romantic again int he future, and Shore said that bond will be explored in future episodes.
"We see Shaun in a very vulnerable moment, a very different moment, and in a very nonsexual situation, but we see him achieve a level of physical intimacy with Lea that he wasn't able to achieve with Carly, so as we go forward, we explore the significance of that," he said.
The Good Doctor will return with new episodes Monday, Jan. 13 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.