'The Good Doctor' Star Says Fans 'Should Be Nervous' About Character's Fate After Cliffhanger (Exclusive)
Warning: Spoiler ahead from Monday’s fall finale of The Good Doctor.
Things aren’t looking good for the patients and staff on The Good Doctor.
The ABC medical drama wrapped up the first half of its sophomore season with a mother of a cliffhanger. In Monday’s fall finale, titled “Quarantine,” the entire San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital goes on lockdown after several patients from an overseas flight from Malaysia come in with an airborne viral respiratory disease and the very high chance that anyone who came into contact with them may be susceptible to the disease. Unlike other medical cases, this one hits home the hardest, as Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang) and Dr. Alex Park’s son (Ricky He) are just some of the potentially infected patients.
“I did not see it coming,” Chang told ET of Dr. Lim collapsing at the end of the fall finale, leaving her status unclear. “Outside of it being a page-turner story-wise, I couldn’t believe it. I’d turn the page and Lim does this and Lim does this. It was a cool [episode].” In the aftermath, ET spoke with Chang about Dr. Lim’s up-in-the-air fate, how the quarantine affects the hospital moving forward, Dr. Aaron Glassman’s (Richard Schiff) cancer returning and what to expect in the second half of the season.
ET: Before we get into the meat of the cliffhanger, we have to talk about Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez going to the next level with their... “relationship” by sleeping together. Did you see that coming?
Christina Chang: What do you mean? They were just sleeping together. (Laughs.) I wasn’t too surprised, and not because they told me it was coming, it’s just that the way that the [David] Shore world works, they plant seeds and they can be subtle but he’s not very expository or effusive as a showrunner, in terms of the worlds he creates. When you see back in season one that Lim and Melendez are laughing and giggling over a drink at a gala fundraiser, that means something. It’s a premeditated seed that is planted versus something that’s happening in the background. They’ve kept dropping these hints that this was building up. It was coming to something like this happening. Of course, how it evolves from here remains to be seen. Both Nick [Gonzalez] and I don’t know how far they’ll take the relationship, how deep it’ll go or how long it’ll run. It wasn’t too much of a surprise.
Do you think they’re a good match in terms of where they are in their lives?
I think they’re a good match in that they have known each other a long time. They know each other very well. They have a solid friendship as a foundation and they have a mutual respect for each other’s work. In that way, they’re very well-matched. Whether it’s a good idea to have a relationship when you’re working side by side as attendings at the same hospital, that’s what they both are concerned about. Maybe in that way, it’s not such a good idea. But again, we’ll see. These worlds are so mysterious to even us sometimes. If you’re going to have a relationship in the relationship, that’s the proper one to have. You start getting into tricky territory when an attending starts a relationship with a resident. That’s not kosher.
This was a huge episode for you and your character. Was there a specific scene you were excited to dig into?
Yes! The obvious standout is when Lim discovers that she too is infected. I was really surprised to read that. I did not know that was coming, obviously. When I turned the page and read that, I worried about my own fate on the show. (Laughs.) I was like, Oh my god, what’s happening?! The opening was something that stood out to me — Lim needing to be calm in the midst of this growing epidemic. I loved the way we shot it because we shot everything at the same time — the cameras went back and forth — and I thought it was so cool that Lim gets to work on trying to save a life while she talks Shaun on the other side of the curtain through another procedure to try to save somebody else’s life.
It was amazing to see Lim in that mindset of “I’ve got to save lives,” “I’ve got to help everybody do their jobs,” “I’ve got to help guide everyone,” even though she was infected herself. What does that say about who she is as a person?
First of all, it’s been established that she’s an adrenaline junkie. At the top of the episode, she says it in a scene with Melendez, “I’m going to be in the ER all day,” and he’s like, “That’s kind of tough.” That’s her jam. She’s in her element when she’s there and when there’s something going on, she’s very comfortable and very capable. As the episode progresses, we see her get infected and she’s getting sicker, but it speaks to her absolute dedication to her job and her dedication to being a teacher. And also, her focus. Dr. Andrews (Hill Harper) brings that up when he’s trying to weigh the who should be Chief of Surgery and he says “Lim has the type of focus that it took me years to get.” That’s what they’re establishing here; despite her own illness, she is still giving advice and she’s mentoring and she’s teaching and she’s repairing and she’s saving lives.
When Lim collapsed at the end of the episode, I was caught by surprise. What can you say about what awaits?
Tune in Jan. 14 to find out the fate! (Laughs.) I will say viewers should be worried because she is infected. It’s not like she passed out because she didn’t have a snack. She’s infected with the very same virus that has killed three people already. They’re all huddled together in the quarantine, so you also have to wonder, does anybody get it? Does anybody get it in the next episode? People should be nervous.
Well, I’m just going to assume that Lim survives this…
If she does come out of this experience, what are the hypothetical long-term effects for Lim?
If she makes it out of this, one would have to say that there are some physical symptoms to recover from. This is a SARS-like illness, so it depends on how infected someone gets. There are different levels of infection and it depends on your immunity. Literally health-wise, if she makes it out, she could be compromised in that way — if not compromised by that, then what kinds of choices might she make in the future in terms of personal relationships, not just romantic, but friendships outside of the hospital. Does it dictate how she leads her life given that she might have died? I’m not saying she doesn’t die either. I’m imagining if I were writing for a character that ends up surviving something like this, it might compromise [her] — not work ethic, but it might foster different choices. Like, “I might go on that trip to Portugal that I’ve always wanted to do.”
This episode really heightened the stakes to a new level for The Good Doctor because it affects everybody at the hospital; it’s affecting doctors, family members and it’s getting incredibly personal. I don’t think we’ve seen something all-encompassing like this.
You’re right. It’s exciting because most times the stakes are high for the patients; outside of Dr. Glassman, who is battling his own illness, the stakes are usually not that high for any of the doctors on the show. It’s exciting to see how they all deal with that professionally and personally.
We learn that Glassman’s cancer has returned. What can you tease about his arc?
He’s not out of the woods. We’re going to have to deal with that.
Looking ahead to the return next year, how would you describe that first episode back and the second half of the season?
If this is even possible, it is even more of a page-turner, so to speak. Because it’s a two-parter, what you’ve seen is the set-up so when we’re listening to the beautiful Annie Lennox version of “Silent Night” at the end, everyone has fallen apart. It is all wrong. In the next episode, it’s all about how does it get fixed, if it gets fixed, who else gets infected, if anybody at all. You have to remember we left off with a waiting room full of people who are worried that they’ve been infected because they got thrown up on, Alex’s son is having breathing problems; does Lim make it? How do they help any other upcoming issues that might come up? It’s very exciting.