A young African American resident learns a necessary lesson in the November 20 episode of ABC’s The Good Doctor, "Apple." She learns she must treat even the most difficult of patients because it is her job. Meanwhile, ABC wants you to learn the benefits of affirmative action through the evils of Nazism.
When a man is brought into the emergency room with a tracheal tear – the result of a shop owner stopping the guy from robbing his store - Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) sees a swastika tattoo on his chest during his examination. The victim of the robbery is a young white woman with a gunshot wound and Claire makes a decision to send the young woman up to surgery before the Nazi. Her attending doctor, Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang) overrules Claire’s decision and sends the Nazi the operating room. She tells Claire to assist in the surgery.
Dr. Lim is an Asian American doctor and tells Claire that it is sometimes difficult to not allow emotions to get in the way when making crucial decisions about patients. Claire denies any wrongdoing and begins to talk back to Dr. Lim. This behavior gets Claire kicked out of the O.R. and as punishment, Lim has her monitor the Nazi overnight.
As the night wears on, the Nazi patient is in a lot of pain because the painkillers aren’t working very well on him. Claire discovers the track marks on his arm and explains that he must have built up a tolerance to pain medicine. He claims she's punishing him for his tattoo and wants him to hurt.
When Claire has to change his IV after the Nazi pulls it out as he struggles against the handcuffs on his bed rail, he begins to taunt her with racist comments.
Patient: About time.
Claire: All your struggling, you've pulled out your IV.
Patient: Aren't nurses usually supposed to do this kind of crap? They let you go to med school, but they don't trust you with any real responsibility. There must be a competent doctor tucked around here somewhere who can tell someone I need more than aspirin.
Patient: Yeah. You know what I mean.
Claire: Imhotep was the father of modern medicine. An Egyptian.
Patient: Yeah. Good for your people. I'm willing to bet there's even been a couple others over the last 3,000 years, but guess what? On average, you look at most great technological advancements, you'll find a proud Northern European holding the patent.
Claire: That’s what you were trying to do? Get the patent for stealing $30 at the corner store for a drug fix?
Patient: You don't like drug addicts, do you?
Claire: MM, a lot of people I don't like. Thieves, racists, violent punks, but I'll treat 'em.
Patient: Was your mama a drug addict? Wow. That's the beauty of clichés, is they're true so often, huh?
Claire: You don't know anything about me.
Patient: I didn't go to college. I didn't have no affirmative action to get me in, but you did. All because some bleeding-heart liberal in the Dean's office teared up reading your essay about your crack-whore mama. Aah! What the hell? I guess we're all violent punks.
It should also be noted, because apparently lefty Hollywood writers don’t know, that most Americans have a problem with affirmative action and value the contributions of Western Civilization. The left is trying to discredit anyone who holds these common beliefs by twisting them in the mouth of an evil Nazi who doesn't think black people can be competent doctors.
Claire’s turning point happens when the Nazi is unable to breathe due to post-op swelling. She finds the strength to do what needs to be done and calls for Dr. Yim to get him back to the operating room. Claire saves his life as he begins to show improvement while waiting for Dr. Lim to get to his room.
In other words, Claire grew up and accepted the ethical responsibilities of her chosen profession, even if it meant saving the life of a Nazi. Dr. Lim told her as much, too, as she told Claire that she did a good job saving a life. Even if that life was the one of a Nazi. Claire even gets the last word as she tells the Nazi that she was able to save his life because of her own hard work, even if she did benefit from affirmative action.
You know what? You were right. My mother had problems. So, I couldn't afford to just go around expecting everything to be handed to me or whatever else it is that's holding you back. And yeah, I got some breaks, but I worked my ass off. Two jobs, two roommates every step of the way. And that is what got me to the place where I could save your life.
Well, I'm certainly glad Claire is a hard worker who was able to overcome difficulties in her life, but what if those "breaks" she received stopped a better doctor from getting to the place where they could save lives?
This show can be preachy in the lessons it tries to deliver so, naturally, the most extreme example of racism – a Nazi – is used in this episode as a foil to make affirmative action look good.
Overall, though, it’s been a good show. I hope it isn’t ruined with more extreme examples in the future.