So far Dr. Jin is in that interesting echelon of shows that aren’t the greatest thing that ever happened, but are entertaining, unintentionally or otherwise. This episode is an improvement on the one that came before (for what that’s worth), and we do get some comedy with a dash of heart as Hyuk proves that he’s a fish out of water joke just waiting to happen. Damn it man, he’s a doctor, not a scholar!
[Watch the series at DramaFever]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Minister Kim and other high ranking officials enjoy a fan dance by Chun-hong, the best gisaeng in Joseon (because subpar gisaeng aren’t allowed in dramas), while his son, Kyung-tak, engages in a firefight with the bandits known as Anonymous.
Ha-eung comes to crash the party, and it’s clear that the animosity between him and the other officials runs both ways – though his animosity is shrouded in a veneer of good cheer. Chun-hong smiles at his antics, as though she’s pleased Ha-eung is ruining Minister Kim’s fun.
Minister Kim refers to him by his official royal clan title, Heungseon, with an air of forced cordiality. One of the other ministers pipes up that he’s prepared a separate table for Ha-eung, and begins to chuck food into the pond nearby.
In a jarring quick cut, we see Hyuk running into Young-hwi, who’s suffering from a head injury.
Back at the party, Ha-eung subverts the minister’s tactics to embarrass him by jumping into the pond to happily eat the snacks. He even asks for more, which sours the mood and ends their party. In his haste to leave, Minister Kim trips over his feet and bumps his head. I’d wager a bet that it will cause some sort of problem later. If only there were a competent doctor in Joseon…
Chun-hong stays behind to care for Ha-eung, urging him to change his clothes before he catches a cold.
Hyuk carries Young-hwi to his home, having already come to the conclusion that he’s suffering from a subdural hematoma. Mom frets and faints while Hyuk stares wide-eyed at the girl who bears the same face as Mina. She’s quick on her feet to order hot water and fermented bean paste to treat her brother’s head wound, though Hyuk tells her it’s of no use, because the bleeding is internal. Young-rae: “Are you a doctor?”
As luck would have it, he is, though he claims that neurosurgery is the only thing that can save Young-hwi. He mentally kicks himself afterward – this is Joseon, how could he think of performing brain surgery here?
Young-rae follows him out, demanding to know why he won’t save her brother when he claimed he had a way. (“How can you call yourself a doctor?”) Hyuk telling her to give up on a hopeless cause is reminiscent of him telling Mina the same thing last episode. At least trucks don’t exist in Joseon (but horses do!).
She drops to her knees to beg him tearfully, because her and her mother would have to commit suicide if her brother (the only one to carry on the family lineage) were to die. Cue the flashback to the similar conversation with Mina.
It’s enough to change his mind, but they have to hurry. He scrounges up some primitive supplies while reassuring himself that possibly successful neurosurgery can be dated back to the Inca civilization, and orders a bewildered Yong-rae to boil some water and bring clean cloth.
Later that night, Kyung-tak thinks back to the fight with Anonymous. He almost managed to shoot what seemed to be their leader, but another minion took the bullet instead and they escaped.
Mom finds Yong-rae boiling the medical equipment in the kitchen, growing more concerned by the minute since she’s never seen a doctor save a life with a mallet and alcohol. The maidservant thinks she’s seen his face before (presumably from the wanted posters) but can’t quite place it. Yet.
In the bedroom-cum-operating room, Hyuk hangs his travel flashlight from a string over the patient and sets out his Joseon tools, along with all the modern tools he brought along with him. Luckily, along with needles, scalpels, gloves, and other necessities he finds a vial of anesthesia.
We’re treated to another flashback of the fight with Anonymous, as the leader figure cuts down three policemen until one manages to slash through his hat… revealing Young-hwi as the leader (or at least a member), and how he sustained his head injury.
Young-rae comes into the room just as Hyuk is about to administer the anesthetic, her eyes growing wide as she takes in all the strange equipment. She fights back when Hyuk orders her to wait outside, taking offense when he tells her the environment must be clean as possible (“So what you’re saying is, I’m dirty?”), but he doesn’t have time to explain. If she wants to save her brother, she has to do what he says.
Left alone, Hyuk thinks to himself, “Right now, I am about to perform the Joseon era’s first neurosurgery.” He begins.
A man comes running to the Hong household with some bad news: no doctors will be arriving since they’ve all been called to the site of the Anonymous fight. That’s when the maidservant finally recalls that she’d seen Hyuk’s face on a wanted poster.
Young-rae bursts into the operating room just as Hyuk is about to chisel into her brother’s skull. She orders him to stop even though he tells her that this is the only way to save him – and soon everyone and their mothers come into the room, all of them horrified at what they see. Another unintentional comedy capers moment.
Mom faints again and is taken away while Hyuk begins hammering into Young-hwi’s skull, the sound of which can be heard from outside. After telling a servant to alert the authorities that there’s a murderer in the house, Young-rae confronts Jin once more. Assuming he’s trying to murder her brother she brandishes her eunjangdo (the silver dagger noblewomen carried for self defense) as a weapon, and slices him on the arm before he restrains her.
She accuses him of trying to kill her brother by putting a hole in his skull, and the ensuing scuffle lands them both on the floor, with her on top. Just in case we don’t get the similarity, a flashback of the birthday cake scene with Mina is shown. (Nice use of romantic piano music while they’re a foot away from exposed brains.)
Hyuk manages to pin her under him and tries for the umpteenth time to explain that he’s trying to save her brother – but if she keeps interfering, she’ll be responsible for his death. She calls him a liar and a murderer, so he forces her up to look closely at the blood clot in Young-hwi’s skull, explaining the procedure in more detail. Hyuk: “If I don’t get it out, pressure will build up and your brother will die. Do you understand? So please, believe what I’m saying.”
Young-rae seems to believe him, because she brings the candle closer to give him more light to work with.
Kyung-tak is on the hunt for the Anonymous leader, a man which one of the police officers who fought him recognized – though he died right before he could tell Kyung-tak his name. Young-rae’s servant arrives just then to convey the murderer-in-the-house news, and based on Kyung-tak calling Young-rae his fiancée, he’ll want to take this case personally.
It’s morning by the time the surgery is finished. Young-rae apologizes for the cut she caused him, to which he asks, “Is it normal for you not to take a situation into consideration?” Ha. He’s totally serious, too – mostly because she reminds him of someone he knows. (O rly?)
Hopefully Young-rae cleared things up with her mom sometime during the night, since Mom is just happy to find her son alive by the next morning.
But the police are there to apprehend Hyuk the second he steps outside. Does Young-rae have the memory of a goldfish? Why does she look so shocked?
She tries to clear up the misunderstanding and gets cut off by Kyung-tak, who praises her for sending someone to get him. Kyung-tak: “Be grateful that he did nothing horrible to you.” Yeah, because it took you how long to get there?
In the end, she can only watch Hyuk get carted away. Ha-eung happens to see him too, and muses that “100 Nyang” finally got caught.
At the station, Kyung-tak confronts Hyuk with his list of crimes… which include being the leader of the bandits? All right then. Hyuk has no idea what he’s talking about, nor can he answer when Kyung-tak asks him who he is and where he’s from (the future!). Kyung-tak orders his men to torture the answers out of him.
Ha-eung is having a grand old time with a group of gisaeng painting orchids on their underskirts for 5 nyang a pop. Chun-hong arrives to shoo them away, reproaching him (in a friendly, familiar way) for trying to scrounge up money to feed his gambling addiction.
He’s quick to defend himself – he needs money to help support his son’s studies. (Historical tidbit: the son he names, Myeong-bok, might be better known as the future King Gojong/Emperor Gwangmu.) “Who would lie about his son to get money?!” he exclaims… though it seems like he’s lying about his son to get money.
With a knowing sigh, Chun-hong asks him how much he needs. I love that he turns to her like, Monks are wasting their lives, Buddha is right here! Hee. She knows she might get conned again, but their relationship is cute.
At home, Young-rae goes through Hyuk’s things, finding his name on his doctor’s coat along with the engagement ring he bought for Mina. Her maidservant comes with the order to deliver Hyuk’s belongings, and Young-rae hands over the bag.
With the contents now in his hands, Kyung-tak brandishes the different modern instruments and calls them weapons. Hyuk’s attempts to defend himself are useless, especially when he’s asked again about who he is and where he lives. Hyuk: “Even if I tell you, you won’t believe me.” Dude, you are about to be tortured: try lying. Just say you live in a mountain hut or something.
Just as he’s ready to start the torture, a visitor arrives – it’s Young-rae, and Kyung-tak’s face softens to see her. He’s crestfallen when he realizes she came just to ask about Hyuk: “You came… because you were curious about that?” Aww.
She defends Hyuk by saying that there are things about him that don’t make sense, but he doesn’t seem like a thief. Kyung-tak: “Are you going to make me an unfortunate husband?” He counters that all he thought about was her when he ran to her house earlier to save the day.
Before she leaves, she tells him that above all else, he saved her brother’s life – a robber wouldn’t bother with such a thing.
Kyung-tak returns to Hyuk and asks him why he would stay up all night to treat Young-hwi. “Does a doctor need any other reason to do so except to save a person’s life?” Hyuk counters. And Kyung-tak… reads his palm? These are some sophisticated investigation methods.
But because he’s been best friends with Young-hwi since childhood (which explains his familiarity with Young-rae), he’ll spare Hyuk from torture until Young-hwi wakes up. And if he doesn’t, it’s bad news for Hyuk. He’s put in prison to wait it out.
We find Ha-eung in a gambling den, doing exactly what he’d sworn he couldn’t do with Chun-hong’s money. They’re busted by the police, who don’t believe Ha-eung’s desperate claims that he’s a nobleman and lock him up all the same.
Ha-eung is outraged to be treated this way, even though one of his cellmates informs him that he still owes a hefty sum. His mood lifts when he recognizes Hyuk sitting in the same cell, and chides him for ending up in prison like this when he could have at least let Ha-eung take him in for the 100 nyang reward. Ha.
Hyuk isn’t in the mood for conversation, nor does he have any money for Ha-eung to swindle out of him. This causes Ha-eung to cry out from his cell: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m a relative of the king, Lee Ha-eung!”
His name rings a few historical bells for Hyuk, who asks him if he’s the Heungseon Daewongun, known in history as the father of King Gojong. He’s jumping the gun since they’re still in the reign of King Cheoljong, and Ha-eung is quick to warn Hyuk against using the title “Daewongun”, since that’s the title for the father of a living king. For now, he’s just Prince Heungseon.
We spend about one second with Young-rae as she cares for her brother before it’s back to Hyuk and Ha-eung, where he hears with a friendly ear that Hyuk’s freedom is riding on Young-hwi waking up. All of the mysterious medical methods Hyuk’s been using has Ha-eung curious, and Hyuk wonders briefly whether or not he should tell Ha-eung the truth.
He decides against it, and tells Ha-eung that he can’t remember anything before Ha-eung saved him on the mountainside.
Kyung-tak receives praise from his father for setting a trap to lure the bandits, though he’s dismayed to hear that Hyuk might be innocent. The palm-reading moment makes more sense now, since Kyung-tak was checking for a warrior’s hands.
Minister Kim has a different agenda to fulfill because of his grudge against Catholicism and its teachings of equality and non-discrimination – an idea that’s (secretly) appealing to Kyung-tak, born a bastard. Since Hyuk wore Western clothes, Minister Kim believes that beheading him publicly will help convey an anti-Western, anti-Catholic message.
Ha-eung is released from prison first, and promises his new friend Hyuk that he’ll save him. “In Hanyang, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished with my name, Lee Ha-eung.”
He goes straight to Young-rae’s house, wondering all the while how much he should ask for to help Hyuk. Mom isn’t keen on helping because they don’t have the money, but Young-rae insists on handing over her hard-earned coin for the man who saved her brother’s life.
It’s hard to tell when Ha-eung is swindling, though he seems serious as he asks about Young-hwi’s brain surgery. It’s intriguing to him, that’s for sure.
Hyuk can’t stomach prison food, and thinks of how he misses Mina. Cue Young-rae who gave away all Hyuk’s things except for one – the engagement ring.
Kyung-tak pays an evening visit to Young-rae’s house to check on her brother, which has Mom swooning. Young-rae couldn’t look unhappier to see him if she tried, and shies away from any contact when they’re alone. Her discomfort is obvious, which only causes Kyung-tak discomfort, and the whole situation is awkward nation.
She makes things worse by asking about Hyuk’s fate, which has Kyung-tak coldly replying that he’ll be beheaded tomorrow morning. He leaves without another word.
The next morning, Hyuk finds himself gifted with a lavish breakfast, only to be hit with the sobering knowledge that it’s his last meal. Talk about a bad morning.
Ha-eung tracks down the royal doctor, YOO HONG-PIL (Kim Il-woo – it’s a History of the Salaryman reunion!), in order to mention that skilled doctor rotting in jail…
Doctor Yoo: “Are you talking about the man who put a hole in someone’s skull?” Ha. He knows all about Hyuk already, though he claims that the brain surgery isn’t the reason why he’s about to be beheaded.
Ha-eung heads back to the prison just as Young-rae is denied entry. Recognizing that they’re both there for the same cause he pulls some strings to let her go in and see Hyuk, who’s hoping to himself that this will all have been a dream and he’ll wake up the moment he dies.
Young-rae is feeling pretty terrible since she’s the reason he’s in prison. He’s relatively calm, all things considered, and even asks about her brother’s health. She replies that she’s been using that thing he calls ‘disinfectant’ just as he ordered, and he nods his approval.
She heard from Ha-eung that Hyuk can’t even remember his name, so in an effort to be helpful she tells him the name she read off his coat: Hyuk Jin. He gently corrects her that it’s actually Jin Hyuk, and asks for her name in return.
Thinking he’s about to die she hands him the ring she kept, which sends Hyuk into a flashback of Mina. On the heels of her strange dream she started talking about parallel universes, and “In that place lives someone with my face, but a different life.” To which Hyuk had replied: “I prefer this world where I get to spend time with you.” Well it’s certainly not subtle, but it’s an explanation? I guess?
He entrusts the ring to her, explaining to Young-rae all the parallel universe stuff we just saw/heard.
We soon find Hyuk being carted through the streets for his execution while Ha-eung watches from the crowd. Chun-hong comes up behind him: “Is this the son of a bitch?” HA. (In order to swindle money from her earlier, he’d claimed that he’d be a son of a bitch to gamble again.)
I really like her. She’s not even mad because she knows him too well, and is here to see the beheading that has the whole town buzzing. Ha-eung scoffs at the injustice of it all – beheading Hyuk for anything less than high treason is nonsense. He knows Hyuk is just being made an example of.
Young-rae arrives in time to see Kyung-tak and Hyuk pass by, and the Sad Violin that starts here makes for the best unintentional comedy. Luckily she doesn’t have to be sad for long, because the news arrives that her brother has finally woken.
She makes it home to find Young-hwi weak but coherent, while Mom is relieved that their bloodline won’t die now. It’s a good thing, because Young-rae seems to have a plan for him.
It’s only on the execution platform that Hyuk starts to panic as the reality of his impending death settles in. Ha-eung and Chun-hong watch passively from the sidelines as the executioner levels his sword at Hyuk’s throat.
And then, defying all customs and shocking the audience, Hyuk stands defiantly and proclaims, “I am not a murderer! I am not a murderer, or a thief! I didn’t commit any sins!” Kyung-tak: “If you’re really innocent, then tell me your name and where you live.”
Out of options, Hyuk begins to explain that he’s from a far away place… until Young-rae and Young-hwi emerge from the crowd. He announces that Hyuk is a doctor and not a thief, and unwraps the bandage on his head to show everyone the suture from the wound that saved his life.
Ha-eung takes the opportunity to try and persuade the crowd in Hyuk’s favor, which is funny, cute, and helpful all at once.
However, Minister Kim is having none of it. He claims that Young-hwi’s survival was a lucky coincidence not based on Hyuk’s medical skills, and that it’s all a delusion. He orders him beheaded immediately… but his blood pressure skyrockets, and he collapses suddenly onto the floor. (LOL.)
Looks like another job for Dr. Jin!
Okay, that last scene was way funnier than it was ever meant to be. How did anyone keep a straight face on this drama set? It seems so preposterous that the writers wouldn’t know when they’re writing jokes that I’m beginning to wonder if they’re secretly self-aware and just pulling one on everyone.
Up until the cliffhanger(?) this episode had some good things going for it: Lee Beom-soo’s sheer awesomeness aside, I was pleasantly surprised by all the scenes between Ha-eung and Chun-hong and their easygoing chemistry. Since they can’t very well unlearn how to act I have the feeling that they’ll continue to steal the show, which I’m fine with. Give them all the screen time they can get.
One of this episode’s pitfalls was its tendency to shoot itself in the foot, marring some potentially good scenes with parody-like music cuts. It’s the same problem that plagued Equator Man’s first few episodes, only this time we have what literally sounds like the world’s smallest violin chiming in to let us know we should be sad (example: during Hyuk’s execution ride). It was a decent scene until that violin showed up, which was surprising in and of itself, because I realized I’d actually started caring for Hyuk. Letting him show fear, vulnerability, and then outright panic went a long way for his character – suddenly he wasn’t a flawless genius, and his vulnerability was relatable.
I’m interested to see if/how Young-rae’s relationship with Kyung-tak is explained. It seems strange for her to have such an abject distaste for him right out of the starting gate when we aren’t being told or shown whether she just hates him specifically, hates the institution of marriage, hates policemen, etc. He’s a bit blockheaded but hasn’t shown any major personality flaws (thus far), and while not every Joseon female need accept an arranged marriage, if she’s fighting against the system I’d like to know it. Or if she knows something we don’t about him, it’d be nice to see, because inevitably my pity meter swings his way when he’s trying his earnest best and hits a brick wall every time.
Dr. Jin has proven nothing if not entertaining (whether for the right reasons or not), with some interesting history as its background. It’s not offensively bad, and it does have a story to tell that I’m interested in, despite all the odds. I blame that mostly on wondering whether Lee Ha-eung’s intricate political history will come to the fore, because while I’d normally doubt the inclusion of a character like him without a grand plan, you just can’t tell with this show. Someone better call a doctor just in case.
- Dr. Jin: Episode 1
- Stills from Dr. Jin’s Joseon-era shoots
- Time Slip Dr. Jin starts shooting
- Casting update for Time Slip Dr. Jin
- Time Slip Dr. Jin mired in lawsuits, moves up premiere
- Dr. Jin beats Faith to the punch with summer premiere
- Song Seung-heon’s Dr. Jin gets picked up by MBC
- Kim Jaejoong joins Time Slip Dr. Jin
- Song Seung-heon becomes time-traveling Dr. Jin