Good Doctor: Episode 9
As our favorite doc does his best to keep his developing feelings under wraps, he’s got his hands full saving lives and trying to fight for a spot on the surgical team. Keeping your dream alive is no easy work and when there are so many people telling you that you can’t make it, it’s nice to know that there’s one person on your side telling you that you can. Especially when those words come from someone whom you never expected.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Up on the roof, the doctors try to talk Opera Boy down from the ledge. But the boy isn’t convinced—he’s overheard the adults talking about how he could lose his singing voice.
The boy declares he’s not afraid of dying, though I’d say the way he teeters to keep his balance says otherwise. Shi-on steps forward warily and says that he’s afraid: “Because I’ll be alone if you die.”
Shi-on says he hates being alone, and thinks he won’t be able to join his hyung and bunny up in heaven because he’s hurt so many people here. He wants to continue living in this world despite there being so many people who hate him and think him stupid. “At least that way, I can still be with people.”
The boy is lucky to be adored by so many who would miss him if he died. Plus, he still has his parents whereas Shi-on lost his a long time ago. With that, Shi-on ushers the boy to come down from the ledge and extends a hand… and Opera Boy takes it.
Now safe from imminent danger, the boy’s mother runs over to tearfully embrace her son.
We cut away to Doctor Pomade, who’s currently being questioned on the unethical medication order. He denies making the call, much to Doctor Choi and Do-han’s surprise. ‘Cause who needs a medical license when you can become a board member, right? Ugh.
The question is then turned over to Doctor Choi, but before he can answer, Assistant Chief Kang comes to crash the party, ordering the investigators to bring evidence first or the hospital will take action.
Afterward, Doctor Choi trudges out of the meeting room, filled with a guilty conscience about what it took to keep Shi-on on staff. He leaves Do-han with the advice to not betray his conscience like he did.
While the boy receives treatment, Shi-on speaks with the mother outside. He informs her that Opera Boy wasn’t listening to anything through his earbuds—they were merely a way for him to block out the constant noise around him, including music.
The mother finds that hard to believe, but Shi-on says he used to plug his fingers in his ears to block out the other kids’ teasing. He grows anxious when the mother tells him she’s still against the surgery.
The nurses are upset about that as well, and Nurse Jo remarks that it’s not as bad as the father who offered up his child for 300 sacks of rice (a reference to the Korean folktale The Blind Man’s Daughter). Shi-on begs to differ, and he rattles off a series of calculations about the current market price of rice… only to be told that it’s about half that amount. Heh.
(Basically, what I think we can gather here is that Shi-on took the words at face value again, and Nurse Jo humored him. Which is still pretty adorable.)
Yoon-seo asks her boss to reconsider Shi-on’s transfer, citing that Shi-on is becoming more aware of his actions. But Do-han isn’t willing to give credence to a solitary incident when Shi-on will likely face countless high-stress situations in the future.
He asks how long he should wait for Shi-on’s clinical judgment to develop. Yoon-seo argues that there’s still hope, but Do-han isn’t going to wait around for that.
Wouldn’t you know, Doctor Pomade actually looks… troubled after his questioning. It’s pretty funny how his moody background music when Shi-on plops down next to him with ice cream (the kind you can break in half).
Doctor Pomade raises a hand, which is when Shi-on notes the callouses on his superior’s hand. Shi-on talks about them in admiration like they’re battle scars; he hopes to become a surgeon soon so that he can have the same.
When Doctor Pomade raises another hand, Shi-on scuttles away, leaving half of the ice cream. And Doctor Pomade eats it.
Assistant Chief Kang gives his latest report to Creepy Chairman, and then goes to see Doctor Choi not to resign as chief of staff. But Doctor Choi isn’t easily dissuaded—he’ll step down after the assistant chief takes his leave.
Do-han follows through with his intention to send Shi-on to the clinical pathology department. He grows increasingly frustrated at Shi-on’s stubborn refusal until he finally yells at Shi-on to listen when what he’s saying is for his benefit.
Yoon-seo pulls a frightened Shi-on away to help him understand Do-han’s intentions, but Shi-on fixates on the idea that he’s being sent away because Do-han hates him.
Shi-on stops in the middle of the hospital when classical music starts to play over the speakers. He sees a few patients with their families, but then sees a young pregnant woman crying by herself.
Doctor Choi sits down with Shi-on and asks if he’ll be able to manage at the hospital on his own. He phrases it as a hypothetical, but Shi-on seems to catch on that something is off.
Shi-on says that he’d be sad if Doctor Choi left and shakes his head at the idea that he can take care of himself now (“No, I’m still young”). But Doctor Choi answers that that’s not true—Shi-on has a heart for his patients.
Shi-on picks at his fingernail nervously. Doctor Choi swallows hard before he gives Shi-on the heartfelt reminder to be there for his patients like a good friend in the same way Doctor Choi was to him. Shi-on promises to do so.
Shi-on finally gets through to Opera Boy, who tearfully confesses that he still wants to die. He explains how he’s been singing even before he could talk and how it restricted him from doing anything an ordinary kid does like attend school or make friends. He won’t have anything left if he can’t sing anymore.
Shi-on says he thinks he understands because people keep telling him not to become a doctor. The boy asks why, and Shi-on says it’s because he’s different—he doesn’t understand other people and frequently cause trouble.
The boy says there’s still hope for Shi-on because he can still keep trying to become a doctor despite what other people say. But for him, he won’t get that chance if he has the surgery.
It doesn’t help that Opera Mom is resolutely stubborn, ignoring Do-han and Yoon-seo’s warning that her son’s condition is worse than it appears. Given his recent suicide attempt, the boy needs stability right now, but the mother declares that she’ll be the one to see to that. Riiight, ’cause we know how well that worked out the first time.
Yoon-seo tails down Opera Mom to challenge her on the grounds that she’s not placing her son’s health as a priority. The mother figures that Yoon-seo is unmarried, and basically tells her that mothers love their children differently. She doesn’t blink an eye at the statement that the doctors won’t allow her son to be discharged since she knows her word can override them.
Just then, Yoon-seo is called into an emergency surgery. The little boy is in hypovolemic shock, and the team works quickly to stop the bleeding.
But then Yoon-seo’s vision blurs and the traumatic memories of the little girl who died on the operating table come flooding back to her. Her hands start to shake as a result, something Do-han doesn’t miss.
Shi-on finds Opera Boy sitting outside of the playroom watching the other children. The boy confides in Shi-on, saying his mother doesn’t know what his true dream is. Just like how Shi-on treats sick people, he wants to use his singing to treat people’s hearts. “I want to sing for those who truly need it.”
So Shi-on takes him to see Eun-ok, who brightens to see the face of the young singer. Gently placing Eun-ok’s hand in the boy’s, Shi-on encourages her to call the boy an affectionate “Oppa.” She utters a few sounds that come pretty close.
But it’s bad news bears for Eun-ok, whose aunt has renounced her legal guardianship. That makes Eun-ok an orphan now, news which leaves Shi-on troubled.
Yoon-seo insists that she’s fine after surgery, but Do-han knows better and confronts her about it outside, saying there are three things he hates most: mistakes, excuses, and lies.
Aggravated, Yoon-seo asks that he overlooks her almost slip-up just this once, but he asks what she plans to do if the other residents catch on next time. He has her guess how he felt when he first lost a patient, and she answers that he was probably his cold and rational self.
Do-han humors her, but then corrects her—he couldn’t eat anything for an entire week afterwards. It’s the first time he’s told her this, and then says she’s better off than he was since she’s still eating well nowadays, which gets her to laugh.
Do-han tells her that he’s not asking her to conquer her fear, but to deal with those emotions and come back to work prepared for the next surgery.
He then puts her in charge of her first official surgery next week. When she gripes about how he was being nice up to now, Do-han walks away, saying, “Then you become a professor if you don’t like it.” Heh.
Yoon-seo catches up to Shi-on standing outside of Eun-ok’s room. He worries that the other kids will ridicule Eun-ok if she ends up in the orphanage and will eventually come to hate her, like how the people hate him here.
That prompts Yoon-seo to ask if Shi-on truly thinks that people here hate him. He does, and though it angers him, he can’t bring himself to become angry like a dummy. Yoon-seo takes issue with that and adds, “People don’t hate you because you’re dumb, but you become dumb for thinking that people will hate you.” Shi-on nods in understanding.
As they eat, Yoon-seo promises to do her best to keep Shi-on from being transferred. Shi-on sweetly suggests that she eats the beef kimbap while he eats the veggie ones, and she asks if he doesn’t get sick of eating the same thing every day. He admits that he does, but he’s made a game out of it, and Yoon-seo teases him for it.
That night, Do-han meets with Assistant Chief Kang again, who brings up the topic of keeping Shi-on on staff. Interestingly, the assistant chief supports Do-han’s recommendation to transfer Shi-on to a different department where he could tap into his exceptional diagnostic skills.
Assistant Chief Kang comes off a bit too keen on the idea, which makes me think this is a reverse psychology tactic. Why, the press would have a field day covering an exceptional doctor with savant syndrome!
Perhaps Do-han seems to suspect as much and asks if that means the assistant chief intends to promote Shi-on as a media ploy. Assistant Chief Kang comes in at a different angle: shining a spotlight on a doctor doesn’t detract from the fact that they heal patients.
Do-han later broods by the Han River, recalling how Shi-on made the right diagnostic call time and time again.
Yoon-seo confides in Shi-on about her fears about her first official surgery (the other two were test-runs), and Shi-on thinks in his head that she’ll do just fine because he believes in her.
She thanks him out loud, and he blusters that he didn’t actually say anything. But she smiles and tells him that she can read his thoughts. His mouth drops, amazed.
Yoon-seo then rests her head on his shoulder and says that she hopes it goes well. She tells him that he has to be in the operating room with her and does her best Shi-on voice to imitate his catchphrases. He hiccups in response.
Yoon-seo calls him out on it again, saying he should really get that checked out. Then she playfully offers to examine him, trying to lift up his shirt while he shrinks away until she ends up tickling him instead. Cute.
Some time later, Yoon-seo sits down with Opera Boy after she finds him singing by Eun-ok’s bedside. The boy admits that Eun-ok is cute, but he also finds her pitiful because she can’t talk and is all by herself.
But he’s strangely happy whenever he sees her because she’s always smiling at the sight of him. It’s different with his mother, the boy tells her, because she only smiles when he wins something—he doesn’t remember the last time she smiled at him.
Yoon-seo looks into his eyes and says that she wants to hear his beautiful singing voice, but more than that, she wants to hear him laugh. Aw. She isn’t sure what would make him happy, but she’s certain that one needs to be healthy in order to laugh.
A tear streams down the boy’s face as Yoon-seo tells him that his mother would be so happy to hear him laugh one day. “Perhaps even more than hearing you sing.” She draws him close to her as he cries.
After a call from Creepy Chairman, Chae-kyung accuses the evil board administrator for reporting his brother-in-law Doctor Pomade about the medication order scandal. She has solid evidence to her claim, and adds that he should have used a different fallout guy.
The evil board administrator defensive, but Chae-kyung slices through his excuses easily enough. He agrees to step down and delivers the classic dramaland warning that they’ll come to regret this one day.
He gives Doctor Pomade an earful over the phone, and all I’m thinking is, Couldn’t you have at least waited until you got outside the hospital? There be eyes and ears everywhere.
Opera Mom is aghast at her son’s decision to stay at the hospital and go ahead with the surgery. He says he wants to enjoy his life, but she refuses to hear a word of it, telling Shi-on to stay out of it.
Shi-on grows increasingly anxious, saying over and over that she should listen to her son until he finally declares, “We’ll make sure he’ll be able to sing even if he has the surgery!” Ack, that’s something you can’t promise!
Realizing his mistake, Shi-on runs outside and recalls Do-han’s words that a doctor cannot provide false hope. He lectures himself, gasping: “No, no, no. You can’t say that.”
He does, however, approach the mother, who’s plenty annoyed by now. She barely listens to Shi-on’s story about a puppy he once had that loved playing in the snow. At one point, he had realized the puppy wasn’t jumping around because it was playing but because its paws were cold.
Her son is like that puppy, Shi-on tells her, and he sings because he’s cold, not because he enjoys it. “Children are kind, so no matter what is asked of them, they force themselves to do it. But they hate doing things forced upon them. I hate it, too.”
But for Shi-on, he wishes that his mother was next to him, no matter what she would force him to do.
That compels Opera Mom to talk with her son, who says he wants to be able to laugh like he once did when they went to the amusement park together. He doesn’t hate her; he was only upset that she didn’t understand how he felt. He says sorry, and the mother embraces him.
Shi-on and Yoon-seo observe this heartfelt exchange from the door. After they leave, Shi-on asks if Yoon-seo can perform Opera Boy’s surgery. He knows Do-han is the more experienced surgeon, but he’d feel better knowing that Yoon-seo was holding the scalpel.
To that, Yoon-seo literally crosses her arms and asks what would be better. Ha, she’s clearly enjoying this. He answers that he feels she’s the best person to maintain the boy’s dream, but he adds one more thing to his request: he wants to help her with the surgery.
Thus Yoon-seo nominates herself to perform the surgery. She’s unfazed at the fact that no one else has ever performed the procedure since it means it’ll be a first for anyone. She stakes her claim on the grounds to try and preserve the boy’s dream.
At Do-han’s hesitation, she says that she knows that he believes in her as much as he worries for her. He grants it, but he opposes the idea to have Shi-on as her assistant in surgery.
Shi-on seeks Do-han out in his office, and declares that this surgery is his last chance at his own dream. He doesn’t just want to be present in the operating room, but actively participate in the procedure.
He offers to immediately drop out of surgery if something goes wrong, but Do-han counters that Shi-on might as well not even go in then. Shi-on asks why Do-han doesn’t trust him. “You don’t hate me because I make mistakes, but you hate me because you’re afraid I’ll make a mistake.”
Shi-on promises not to make a mistake, to which Do-han tells him to keep his word or he’s out. Outside, Yoon-seo pumps her fists in victory.
As Shi-on sits on his bench, he thinks to his hyung, admitting that he’s really nervous and asks for Hyung to help him.
As they prepare for surgery, Yoon-seo asks if Shi-on will be able to think of a way to preserve the boy’s vocal chords. Shi-on says yes at first, but then says he’s not sure because it’s not guaranteed.
She notes that he used to be so certain about these things, but Shi-on repeats Do-han’s words about not instilling false hope within the patient. She smiles, saying she’s enjoying watching him grow up these days.
Surgery Day. Shi-on brings Eun-ok in to visit Opera Boy, and encourages her to say what she learned. She utters: “S-stay…strong… O-oppa.” Aww. She makes another sound, presumably asking him to sing, but Shi-on says he can’t right now.
Then Opera Boy whispers something in Shi-on’s ear and we cut to the hospital’s radio program. The boy sings into the mic, filling the halls with his beautiful voice possibly for the last time. I’m not crying; I’ve just been cutting onions.
As he sings, we hear in voiceover that he asks his mother to grant him a wish if his surgery is successful. Then we see Shi-on and Yoon-seo walk towards the operating room and fist-bump each other. Yep, that just happened. Daebak.
Showtime. Do-han joins the team, here to merely observe. They nearly encounter a hiccup as soon as they begin when Shi-on’s hand starts to shake, but Yoon-seo silently steadies it in reassurance.
As they operate, Shi-on makes a silent vow to preserve the boy’s dream. Shi-on envisions the problem area in his head just as Yoon-seo completes the first part of the procedure.
She readies herself for the more difficult portion, and then Shi-on says the boy will be able to sing. “We can make his dream come true.”
What a moving episode. This is the kind of feel-good drama that warms my heart with an uplifting ending, where the doctors are joined together as one team to do their best to preserve one child’s dream. I can still hear the young boy’s beautiful voice ring in my imagination, and just thinking about it still sends chills down my spine in the heartfelt way.
One of the things I appreciated about this episode was how it didn’t skirt the boy’s suicide attempt that opened this episode. Instead, it was something our little patient struggled with throughout the episode, and our doctors stressed the importance of providing a safe space for the patient. It saddens me to think that I’ve seen other dramas which often brushes the matter under the rug, but as a viewer, I was able to connect with the pain and loneliness to understand what drove him to that point. Moreover, even in his darkest hour, he was still able to provide insight and hope to Shi-on’s future. I love that both Shi-on and Yoon-seo were able to get through to the boy and even his stubborn mother. I’m not fully onboard with how her character’s redemption was so easily dealt with, but it’s the mother-son reconciliation that we long for at the end of the day.
The more I watch Shi-on and Yoon-seo’s interactions in this series, the more I’m leaning to root for a sunbae-hoobae/noona-dongsaeng relationship between them. I rather like Yoon-seo acting as his pseudo-guardian, how she looks after him both in and out of the workplace. Their supportive teamwork is something I can watch all day long, and I find it rewarding to see them continue to grow in their own ways with each episode. Drama laws dictate towards a relationship that may develop into a romance, but for now, I simply enjoy watching them learn from one another.
At this point, I see more of a shadowy outline of romance between Do-han and Yoon-seo. They’ve got that classic bickering-teasing dynamics down to a pat, we’ve seen on more than one occasion that they care for one another more than they dare let on. It’s fair to say that things aren’t peachy in Do-han’s engagement to Chae-kyung (I still wonder why they’re betrothed; I mean, I don’t see any chaebol parents pushing for their marriage), and Do-han has yet to realize that maybe he perhaps has feelings towards his hoobae. What I wouldn’t give for a nervous tic in our Super Doc to give us a hint. Maybe a hiccup or two. Or a smile. I’ll take what I can get.