We get a pretty decent first half before this episode really lays on the WTFery, with rapid changes happening everywhere. In what other show can both leads make faces while looking at someone’s genitalia? Not a good one, I tell you. Hyuk is now an OB/GYN and midwife all in one, and as usual, the fate of Joseon rests on the success of one emergency surgery. Remember that time Hyuk was supposed to be punished for messing with history? That’s okay, no one else does either.
Side note: Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement in the extension article. You don’t know how much I appreciate them.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
Hyuk gets repeatedly brain zapped by the Jar Fetus until he finally passes out.
Chun-hong and Joo Pal congratulate Ha-eung, since his son is set to become king the next day. Joo Pal fondly remembers the days when he used to beat Ha-eung up for overdue debts, and Ha-eung decides to reward him by upgrading his rank to pachong, a level four class rank in the military academy, so that Joo Pal can help him in the palace. Needless to say, Joo Pal is practically falling over himself in excitement.
As for Chun-hong, Ha-eung wants to repay her and half-jokingly offers her a position as his mistress. She asks if she can do it without giving him his heart, and he catches on that this means someone else is already in her heart. Who could it be?
Cue an unsubtle cut back to Hyuk, who jars himself awake after he dreams of the bandaged man on the hospital roof saying, “I must go back.” Young-rae is at his bedside with tears in her eyes, worried about him even though he insists that he’s fine. She asks him if he has to go back to the future someday, and once he replies that he doesn’t have a choice, she asks what he would do if he did have one.
Bad news for her, because Hyuk says that he would go back if given the choice. She runs off to get him water and probably cry.
Young-hwi updates Ha-eung on the state of affairs – he’s sure Minister Kim has found out about Kim Byung-ok being an unwilling double agent, and suggests that Ha-eung stop using him. They need more people on their side for the coronation and Young-hwi suggests Kyung-tak, even if he just tried to kill Ha-eung. He agrees, but now the question is: Can they sway Kyung-tak away from Daddy Dearest?
The Council of Evil has one more member in the form of Kyung-tak, who’s looking pretty pristine compared to the last time we saw him. They’re plotting to steal the Royal Seal from right under the Queen Dowager’s nose before the coronation, since without it Myeong-bok could become King but would not be recognized as one without that very necessary seal.
Just like old times, Kyung-tak offers sound advice that no one takes seriously, this time suggesting that such a rash and dangerous move could be detrimental to their clan. Dae-gyun is predictably terrible and heaps the usual insults on his little brother, claiming that he can’t be trusted when he was friends with the traitor Young-hwi and had plans to marry his sister.
So Minister Kim proposes a way to free Kyung-tak of any suspicion, by ordering him to personally steal the Royal Seal from the Queen Dowager’s quarters. Kyung-tak obediently agrees and calls Minister Kim “Father”, which leaves Dae-gyun huffing and puffing.
However, Kyung-tak ends up eavesdropping on a conversation with Dae-gyun and his father, with Dae-gyun asking how his father could entrust Kyung-tak with something so important. His father likens Kyung-tak to a starving stray dog he gave food to, thus earning his undying devotion, and adds: “Also, if something goes wrong, it’s better that it’s done by him and not you, who is my legitimate son.”
It’s good that Kyung-tak can hear how his father truly thinks of him, but sad because the look of devastation on his face is heartbreaking. After all that he’s done, Daddy still doesn’t love him.
Young-hwi follows Kyung-tak as he goes to drown his sorrows in liquor, noting that Kyung-tak always turned to alcohol when he was having daddy issues. Now Young-hwi has a goal to become a government official and make a Joseon free of discrimination, something he knows Kyung-tak wants too, and asks for his help, reminding him that he’s being used by his father.
Kyung-tak: “You were one of the three people I loved. However, I have lost everyone. All I have left is only him.” Orrr your living friend right next to you. Where has all the love gone, Kyung-tak?
Chun-hong tells Hyuk that the horrifying headaches and cold sweat are a good sign – that means his brain fetus will be taking him back to the future soon, probably even tomorrow, when Myeong-bok takes the throne and history returns to its rightful place. He’s not too excited about it.
He asks her if there’s really no connection between Mina and Young-rae, considering that, you know, they’re the same person. Chun-hong gives him the Joseon equivalent of a Bitch, please, because it’s way easier to get him to believe that two people having the exact same face is just some craaazy coincidence.
Later that night, Kyung-tak gets his right-hand man to help him sneak into the Queen Dowager’s quarters, where he steals the Royal Seal. He’s caught by a solitary palace guard outside which his accomplice kills, and they both hide the body.
Coronation day. Myeong-bok is carried into the palace courtyard with style, fully attired in the ceremonial myeonbok used for coronations and weddings. Hyuk and Ha-eung think their hopes for him aloud.
The tiny King sits on the throne and is given the box containing the Royal Seal. He opens it, and for a moment we’re expecting that the box is empty… until he pulls out the golden seal, perfectly in tact. The Council of Evil makes some very obvious shocked faces and Minister Kim meets Ha-eung’s glance, with Ha-eung giving him a knowing smile. Awesome.
Minister Kim then realizes that Ha-eung outsmarted them, and the Royal Seal Kyung-tak stole was a fake. Ha. You just got taken to school, Minister Kim.
Hyuk again graces us with his Historical Facts via voiceover, which are just becoming redundant at this point. O rly, Myeong-bok becomes King? Thanks, Hyuk. I totally wouldn’t have guessed that otherwise.
Joo Pal puffs up his chest and enters the palace with his minion in his new military official robes, while Young-hwi shows up at home in his new government official robes. Mom and Young-rae are predictably shocked to see him alive and well, and usher him into the house soon after. Good times for all.
We get even more of Hyuk’s Stating The Obvious Voiceovers, as the Queen Dowager addresses the ministers on Ha-eung’s new entitlement as Heungseon Daewongun, the ‘Daewongun’ literally translating to ‘prince of the great court’, given to fathers of reigning monarchs when they were never kings themselves.
She basically lays down the law that Ha-eung is now above all three state ministers (how do you like them apples, Minister Kim?) and does not even have to bend over in front of the King, nor will he have to address himself as “subject” to the King. Hyuk’s voiceovers are nine kinds of unnecessary here.
Outside, Ha-eung is in high spirits as he thanks Hyuk for all he’s done to help him, even though Hyuk claims that if it weren’t for him, history would have been on Ha-eung’s side. Ha-eung: “Who made history? You and I, together, made history.”
Cue montage reel of their time in prison together, and Ha-eung claims he’s not worried for the future as long as he has Hyuk, who already knows everything set to happen. Huh – that’s a pretty smart strategy, actually. Having a fortune teller on hand could certainly be of help, but Hyuk declines, saying, “I am just a doctor. The person who will lead this country is not me, but you.” We know Hyuk will come around on this, because Lord knows he can’t pass up a chance to screw with history.
Ha-eung and Young-hwi enter the empty throne room to meet… Kyung-tak? Wha? We enter a flashback to see Kyung-tak handing his right-hand man the Royal Steal he stole… only he handed over a dud, and kept the real seal, which he then delivered to Young-hwi. In flashback Kyung-tak asks, “Didn’t you say ‘Let’s make a new Joseon?'” This legitimate twist is brought to you by Scenes Without Hyuk, because scenes are always better when he’s not in them.
Back in the present/past, Ha-eung acknowledges that if it weren’t for Kyung-tak, they wouldn’t have had the Royal Seal for the coronation. Kyung-tak claims that he didn’t do it for Ha-eung or Young-hwi, but because he was curious. Kyung-tak: “I was curious as to what the new Joseon will be able to do for me.” Pinch me, since I must be imagining this character growth.
Ha-eung notes that they’re standing where court officials stand to discuss matters of country, and asks Kyung-tak, “Do you think they are better than you?” Kyung-tak replies that they’re born with better bloodlines and status, to which Ha-eung replies, “Then, how would you like to stand here in this grand court as the son of a concubine? The Joseon I will make will be a nation where that will be possible.” Aww. It’s like Kyung-tak never shot him in the chest and tried to kill him.
Meanwhile, Hyuk uses pig skin to teach Young-rae how to make incisions, and she’s terrible at it. I love that when she messes up he’s like, Yeah, you just killed a patient. Try telling them you’re sorry. He’s unusually stern since he’s running out of time, or something. Who knows.
She goes outside for some thinking time and spots Kyung-tak, who congratulates her on working at the Royal Clinic. He tells her to become the best doctor in Joseon so that it will be less unfair for him, and leaves her looking after him sadly. She then goes back in to cut some more pig skin and sucks a little less at it.
All is not well just because Myeong-bok is King, and we get to see some actual subtext going on with Ha-eung and the Queen Dowager. Even though Myeong-bok is King the Queen Dowager handles most of the governmental affairs because he’s still a child. But Ha-eung lets it slip that Myeong-bok should learn how to be a good king because the Queen Dowager won’t be around forever, thus implying that she’s old and dying.
So then when she acknowledges that she is aging, Ha-eung is all, But, you’re still strong! in the next breath. He’s playing this one very close to the chest, but it’s clear that there is a growing rift between them now, especially when the Queen Dowager hands him a list of court subjects she’d like appointed.
Now we’re seeing the political scheming side to Ha-eung as he vents his frustration at the Queen Dowager and her Pungyang Jo clan for trying to wield power over him. Young-hwi wisely notes that the Queen Dowager wouldn’t have helped Ha-eung along if she didn’t think it would benefit her agenda, and that Ha-eung shouldn’t make an enemy out of her so lightly.
But Ha-eung wants her gone, because he believes only people who share the same cause can work together, and he’s had a different cause than the Queen Dowager from the beginning. Likewise, the Queen Dowager knows that the honeymoon phase with Ha-eung has ended, and wants to get her people into court positions before he takes over with people of his own. “I didn’t put his son on the throne just to make things good only for him. With this opportunity, I should show him how strong the Pungyang Jo clan still is.”
Meanwhile, Hyuk tells Young-rae that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be around to teach her medical skills, because his head fetus is causing trouble. He warns her against going to church for a while so that way he won’t have to worry about her once he returns to the future, because Mina is already sick there. She promises not to go.
Hyuk finds himself in an awkward position when Officer Lee asks him to help his wife during delivery. Huh, when did nine months pass? Anyway, Hyuk checks on wife and baby using his bamboo stethoscope, and then is able to intuit that the baby is upside down in the womb by lightly pressing on her stomach. (…We’re being prepared for a Joseon C-section, aren’t we.)
Young-rae practices cutting more pig skin while she thinks back to Hyuk’s words about Mina being sick, and then she begins to pray. Hyuk attempts to write a letter but keeps getting brain zapped, which probably means he shouldn’t be writing it. But of course, he just keeps at it, because I’m pretty sure – and this is just a shot in the dark – that Hyuk is an idiot.
There’s a meeting of the Royal Court, where the Queen Dowager expects Ha-eung to appoint the people of her clan and Minister Kim expects the same. Thus, everyone is surprised when Ha-eung doesn’t, with the Queen Dowager hopping mad that Ha-eung would blindside her like this when she helped his son sit on the throne.
Ha-eung comes rushing to her quarters to explain himself, claiming that he chose people only from their merit, and is sure that the Queen Dowager did the same. ‘Cause if she didn’t, that’d mean she was appointing people for personal gain, and of course she wouldn’t do that, right?
She seems to be playing Ha-eung when she has a sudden change of heart, declaring that what Ha-eung did in the end was right. Meanwhile the Council of Evil has a good laugh that the Queen Dowager is getting her comeuppance in the form of a disobedient Ha-eung.
Kyung-tak remains segregated in the other room while they discuss their future options, with Minister Kim feeling secure that the Queen Dowager will appeal to him soon for help. All he has to do is sit and wait.
Hyuk goes to Ha-eung with a letter, and explains that he knew Ha-eung was curious about the history he knew, so he wrote it down. What. Hyuk, are you seriously joking right now? WILL YOU EVER LEARN? You get told not to mess with history because there is a frickin’ tumor in your brain, yet you write Ha-eung a magnum opus of history as you know it? I know I’m done with you, but why do you have to make me angry when this episode was doing relatively well without you? *Charlie Brown AAUGH!*
The best part? He tells Ha-eung not to read it until after he’s gone, and makes Ha-eung keep his promise about not killing all those Catholics later, thus he’s responsible for curing cancer and saving thousands of lives. What can’t he do?
And wouldn’t you know it, Kyung-tak seems to have overheard their conversation and spies on Ha-eung hiding the letter away suspiciously. Uh oh.
And just as Minister Kim predicted, the Queen Dowager has a meeting with him to broker a deal so that Ha-eung and his son can be gotten rid of. Hasn’t it been like one whole day since he took the throne? Anyway, Minister Kim comments that there have been many kings with short reigns, it won’t hurt to add Myeong-bok to the list.
The deal is for the Andong Kim clan to decide the heir, while the Queen Dowager gets to pick the queen, with an even splitting of Royal Court members between the Andong Kim clan and the Pungyang Jo clan. They put this promise into writing.
Kyung-tak brings the news of his father’s secret meeting to Ha-eung, who’s less than pleased. Ha-eung declares their meeting as treason but Kyung-tak sees it as an opportunity if they plan well and counterattack. Is Kyung-tak finally going to be part of a group where his advice is actually taken? Has hell frozen over?
However, Young-hwi suggests that they tread carefully, and advises Ha-eung to try and change the Queen Dowager’s mind first. Dae-gyun happens to see his little brother with Ha-eung and Young-hwi as he’s leaving, and puts the pieces together. Great. More reasons for Dae-gyun to be awful.
Meanwhile, at the Royal Clinic, Heo Gwang assigns Young-rae to tend to Officer Lee’s wife, since she’s gone into labor. Oh, and Young-rae is now an official Royal Doctor, so… I guess she’s achieved most of her goals then?
Ha-eung tries to get an audience with the Queen Dowager and is rejected at the door. Joo Pal arrives with the grim news that appeals are flooding the palace now that the rumor has spread that Ha-eung discussed the heir issue before Cheoljong’s death, which would make him a traitor. And of course, everything then boils down to Officer Lee, which means Hyuk will again save the day through a conveniently timed surgery.
However, it’s just Young-rae and Heo Gwang to help Officer Lee’s wife during her labor, with Young-rae taking up the helm of looking under the sheet while the baby is being born. And then she sees something strange and makes the best shocked face ever. Oh my god, I’m still laughing. She is staring at this woman’s vajayjay like there is an alien coming out of it, when really she’s probably looking at a foot or something, since Hyuk could magically tell that this was going to be a breech birth.
Taking a cue from Hyuk on amazing bedside manner, Young-rae panics and tells Heo Gwang, “Doctor Jin… We should call Doctor Jin!” Young-rae, you are at a seven right now, and this pregnant lady probably needs you at about a three, let’s tone this down a bit.
Dae-gyun is happy to tell his father the news of Kyung-tak’s betrayal, and gets sent away by Minister Kim before Kyung-tak arrives. Daddy pulls a sword on his most un-favorite child: “You are working as a spy for Prince Heungseon!” But then, he adds, “It seems as if he has caught onto our plan.” NO. NO! Come on, guys! You tease us with Kyung-tak’s independence only to take it away?! He was working for his dad the whole time?! AAUGH!
As it turns out, Daddy Dearest is omnipresent and planned his son’s manipulation down to that starving dog conversation from earlier. So if I have the story straight, Dad staged that conversation to turn Kyung-tak against him to then test if Kyung-tak would side with Young-hwi, and when he didn’t, Dad was assured that Kyung-tak was trustworthy and set up this whole triple agent plan, even down to the Royal Seal, so that Kyung-tak could earn Ha-eung’s trust and report everything back to him.
He even acknowledges that he’s using Kyung-tak for his own political means, but soothes(?) him with the knowledge that he’s not alone – Dae-gyun is being used too. Yay? And the plan is to take down the Queen Dowager first, before going after Ha-eung.
Hyuk rushes into the delivery room with no explanation on where he’s been all this time, because now he’s Doctor Jin, OB/GYN. And just in case we weren’t sure of the situation going on with this birth, trust this show to literally give us a peek we never wanted, as we see a bloody infant’s leg coming out down there. Wow. Dr. Jin, you have officially outdone yourself on this one. I’m honestly impressed. I didn’t think you’d go there, but boy, you proved me wrong.
He just tells the woman to push harder, and then makes a face like Young-rae’s when he notices the umbilical cord coming out. To top it all off, they want to make sure we know exactly what’s happening, so as Hyuk explains how this umbilical cord will cut off oxygen to the baby, we see it in an animated painting, Joseon-style. They actually animate the baby losing oxygen, dying, and going limp in the womb. *Golf clap*.
So Hyuk breaks the news to Officer Lee that he should give up on the baby to save the mother, with the only alternative being a C-section. Of course. But here’s the hiccup – he can’t use anesthesia, because it would be harmful to the baby, so they’d have to do the surgery without. Young-rae comes out to tell Hyuk that the wife has agreed to go through with the surgery.
Let me get this straight. Hyuk is going to have to cut this woman open with NO way to dull her pain, and we’re going to have to watch? Wife says as much, asserting that she’s good to go without anesthetic and wants to save the baby. Hyuk prepares for surgery.
Ha-eung arrives nearby, while everyone cheers Hyuk on, even though he has to complete this surgery within ten minutes or the baby will die. Ha-eung mentions to Officer Lee that he hopes the baby will survive, even though its family is about to be charged for high treason. Ha-eung then makes a dangerous wager with Officer Lee: “How about this: What if Doctor Jin saves the baby’s life with his medical skills, and I save your baby from high treason?”
And Hyuk, inside, prepares to make the incision.
The first half of this episode was actually pretty decent, until I realized that it was because Hyuk and Young-rae were in so little of it. Then, it was even better. I’ve pretty much always preferred the political ascendency storyline to Hyuk’s personal story, mostly because Ha-eung’s storyline actually has some forward momentum while Hyuk just does the same thing, over and over and over again.
Now he’s an OB/GYN capable of performing an incredibly complicated C-section after getting a look at this woman’s private parts, when before the idea of him taking a knife to her neck tumor was unheard of. Way to go, Hyuk. You’ve single-handedly changed Joseon’s outlook on emergency medical procedures, and maybe you’ll get a wittle headache because of it, but who really cares when you don’t, right?
It’s no new story that power is capable of corrupting people, but I’m a little sad to see Ha-eung sink to Minister Kim’s level of maniacal scheming. This is the kind of thing I would have expected of Ha-eung just from history books, but this show put so much effort into changing our minds about him and painting him as this super nice, super giving, super progressive person that history had just misrepresented. I was fine with that, since taking a fresh perspective on Ha-eung seemed fun. Why not.
So after sixteen episodes with that kind of personality, Ha-eung’s change seems like an overnight one. Either that, or he’s been usurped by his evil identical twin. Each time he was up against a wall before he’d always choose the right and moral path (and when he could, one that politically benefitted him), which then makes it a little weird that Ha-eung spells out this latest wager to Officer Lee, basically holding his child’s safety in the balance. Where did the real Ha-eung go?
Kyung-tak’s story remains compelling, even if I was let down that he hadn’t finally grown a spine after all and is still his father’s puppet, version 2.0. I honestly let this show trick me into believing that he was a real boy, finally escaping the victimhood that’s plagued him this whole series while making his own choices based on his own beliefs. It would have been dramatically more interesting if he chose to fight against his father, but for now I’ll stick with the spy stuff, because at least he’s got something to do. Maybe he’ll turn out to be a quadruple agent later and surprise us all… Who am I kidding, that won’t happen. (No, I’m totally not hoping that reverse psychology will work. Pssh.)
I’m really, really not looking forward to this upcoming surgery. Based on this show’s track record of surgical accuracy and sheer excellence I can only expect the best in gummi-baby technology to grace the screen, but I’m not going to lie – I’m kind of hoping they just show us how the surgery goes via animation, because A) That was priceless, and B) It was a new level of weird, even for Dr. Jin.
- Dr. Jin: Episode 16
- Dr. Jin: Episode 15
- Dr. Jin: Episode 14
- Dr. Jin: Episode 13
- Dr. Jin: Episode 12
- Dr. Jin: Episode 11
- Dr. Jin: Episode 10
- Dr. Jin: Episode 9
- Dr. Jin: Episode 8
- Dr. Jin: Episode 7
- Dr. Jin: Episode 6
- Dr. Jin: Episode 5
- Dr. Jin: Episode 4
- Dr. Jin: Episode 3
- Dr. Jin: Episode 2
- Dr. Jin: Episode 1