Good Physician Premiere: EP David Shore collapses [Spoiler]Surprising Return in Pandemic-Themed Opener

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At the start of the fourth season of Good Doctor, not just one, but two former regulars of the series returned.

In addition to Beau Garrett’s previously reported (and all too recent) comeback as St. Bonaventure’s in-house attorney Jessica Preston, the pandemic-focused premiere welcomed Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez back – but how exactly?

Melendez was killed at the end of season three after succumbing to internal injuries sustained in a partial collapse of the building. Following Monday’s episode, a grieving Claire was ready to rummage through piles of belongings belonging to COVID patients when she suddenly heard a soothing voice in the distance.

“Things will be fine,” said the man. Then the fourth year resident turned around and saw that she was dead – and yes, he is still very much dead -. The love interest stood before her and set the stage for episode 2.

Below, executive producer David Shore, who confirmed that Melendez is just an invention of Claire’s imagination, breaks down the first half of the two-part premiere.

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end. Why did you choose to bring Melendez back?
A part of it [pandemic] The episodes are about the stress – the real stress the last one has [several months] attracted real doctors out there. We tried [incorporate] All aspects of it, from dealing with the frustration of not knowing what the answer was, or how to help people from the start, to the frustration of being apart from loved ones.

Claire’s story is very much about comforting people who have lost someone [and] do what you can. Melendez is one of those people [for Claire]more than anyone in our hospital right now, given the way we ended last season. Of course, by the end of season three, we didn’t expect any of this. Liz Friedman, who wrote the episode with me, called me one day and said, “I think we should see Melendez,” and I said, “That’s a good idea.” We’ve had this with Shaun and his, of course Brother made, and it seemed like an interesting way of doing it [grief] to manifest.

I’ll also add that when I spoke to Nick late last year I said, “This is the kind of show where even death doesn’t stop you from being here.” I always thought it would be nice to have a moment to bring him back and bring Melendez’s spirit back in some way.

TVLINE | Was Nicholas Gonzalez on board when you presented the idea to him?
He was on board immediately. He may have been surprised it was so soon, but he didn’t hesitate. It was wonderful.

TVLINE | Speaking of returning cast members, you’ve got Beau Garrett back for a zoom cameo – her first appearance since she left the show as a regular series at the end of season one. Is that all we’ll see of Jessica or will she be back? this season?
I don’t want to promise too much on this front. She’s still technically the hospital’s in-house attorney. We don’t have any plans on this, but it felt natural to have them there.

TVLINE | Your first episode focuses on the gradual severity of the virus over time. Was there ever a point where you thought about jumping into the present instead of reliving the early days of the COVID-19 crisis?
Yes. We had a number of discussions in the writer’s room at the beginning. Were [also] with the serious disadvantage that we don’t know how this will end. When we first talked about it in April and May and we knew we’d be on the air in October or November, we assumed that – not the assumption, but we all certainly hoped this would all be behind us then or until then largely behind us.

It was tricky … you don’t want to be stuck in this situation forever, but there’s real drama here, and there are real heroes here, and it affects each and every one of us. It just felt dishonest not to tell this story.

TVLINE | Not only did we see the doctors handling the uncertainty at the front, but we followed some of them home, including Dr. Lim and Andrews. Was it important to you to show how your personal life worked?
We wanted to represent as much as possible. I mean we have two episodes [focused on COVID]. We thought we were going to do one, but it quickly seemed to me that it wasn’t going to be enough. But yes, we wanted to see [the doctors] At home. We wanted to see people in the hospital. We wanted to see patients. We wanted to see patients and their families. We wanted to see patients who were better off and we wanted it to arrive close to home the way it was.

TVLINE | The premiere features a handful of guest stars, including popular veterinarian Carly Pope as a patient’s wife, who appears on FaceTime. How were these scenes filmed? Were they filmed on a remote set or was she filming her scenes from home to limit the number of people on the set?
Carly shot on one of our sets, it just got separated [from everybody else].

TVLINE | The episode also shows how the new couple Shaun and Lea overcome this real obstacle to being together – at least in a physical sense. Do you think this final hurdle actually makes this relationship and the story you want to tell with this relationship is a good thing?
Look, I don’t sit back and go, “Gosh, I wish COVID hadn’t happened so I could start Shaun and Lea on better feet.” [Laughs] There are many bigger reasons to wish COVID hadn’t happened. I am proud of these two episodes. [Being separated from loved ones] is a reality that we all face and I’ve made it a reality that Shaun and Lea face.

TVLine will find out more about our conversation with David Shore after Part 2 (broadcast next Monday, November 9th). Meanwhile, Hit the comments (and weigh yourself using the poll below) to let us know what you thought of the season 4 premiere – and of Melendez’s shocking return.

Claire’s head still mourns the past, but the present becomes more urgent. #TheGoodDoctor continues next Monday on ABC. pic.twitter.com/Aq1phBN97h

– The Good Doctor (@GoodDoctorABC) November 3, 2020

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