Doctor Stranger: Episode 10
Poor Hoon gets taken for one hell of an emotional ride this hour, as his hopes and dreams collide with reality’s inbred cousin. The cat’s no more out of the bag than it was a week ago, though we do get some glimpses into just how gullible our good doctor can be when it comes to love and unrealistic expectations. But if he’s all heart and no brains, then his rival’s just the opposite, with a heart made of building blocks and a mind much more suited to villainy than our resident pajama-wearing Big Bad. Then again, literally anyone would be a better candidate for that job.
And yikes, the ratings race is getting closer each week: Big Man took home second with 11.4%, while Doctor Stranger barely edged into first with 11.7%.
SONG OF THE DAY
MBLAQ’s G.O. – “내일이 안 올 것처럼 (Like Tomorrow Won’t Come)” from the OST. [ Download ]
EPISODE 10 RECAP
We rewind a bit to the night before, and how Agent Cha and Nightshade met outside the clinic where our two lovebirds were having an intimate reunion.
During their not-so-clandestine meeting, Nightshade had reminded Agent Cha that it was time to move onto the next stage of their plan. Agent Cha had reassured him that the DPRK has already begun to move, and that South Koreans would find a reason to be afraid come morning.
Sure enough, Prime Minister Jang is assaulted by press on his way into a state meeting, all of them asking questions about the North suddenly conducting large-scale nuclear tests.
The nation’s officials watch the one DPRK station with that perpetually-angry newscaster revealing that the North will conduct a nuclear test the likes of which have never been seen before, in order to regain their nation’s freedom and [insert propaganda here].
During the car ride over to the Blue House, Nightshade reveals his concerns over the North’s nuclear activities while Prime Minister Jang brushes them off like he does all things. He’s sure this is just a temporary thing that’ll blow over.
As Hoon dreams of sharing a cozy morning with Jae-hee(?), we see Seung-hee watching the newscast about the South’s reaction to the recent aggression with her honed stone-faced expression.
When Hoon wakes up alone, he rushes out calling Jae-hee’s name… only for Seung-hee/Jae-hee to drive up. He embraces her, relieved, before picking her up and swinging her around. They both smile and laugh. (I have no idea what’s real anymore.)
She asks him when he knew that she was really Jae-hee (so… for now we’ll just go back to calling her that pending further info), and he says, “From the moment I first saw you.” She smiles, but urges him to go into work—because if he doesn’t, they’ll have reason to suspect she’s really Jae-hee.
So he skirts the rules by calling Doctor Moon to say that he’ll be late, with the latter doctor so happy they won the competition that he’d let Hoon get away with murder.
Hoon takes Jae-hee out for a dreamy day date, which includes bicycles, playing on an art piece/organ with spoons for keys (it actually looks pretty fun), writing “Hoon ♥ Jae-hee” on a communal wall, and more. It’s all adorable, but in that too-good-to-last-long kind of way. The kind that makes you nervous.
Later, Jae-hee asks if Hoon has anything to ask her, like why she went by Han Seung-hee instead of Jae-hee, or why she came. “Do you want to tell me?” he asks, to which she replies, “I think I should.”
But then Hoon totally blows it (and my mind) by claiming that he’s not interested in knowing why, because all that’s important to him is that she’s here with him.
Jae-joon is upset to find Doctor Moon hanging out in his office like he already owns it, which Doctor Moon thinks is so now that Jae-joon might be sent off to the branch hospital now—because why have two genius cardiothoracic surgeons in a hospital lacking surgeons when you can just have one? That’d just make too much sense.
He then forcefully pushes aside Chairman Oh’s secretary in order to lock himself in Oh’s office, in an effort to force the old man to speak with him.
However, Chairman Oh isn’t having it and calls his guards to the door, causing Jae-joon’s expression to darken as he remembers how utterly dismissive Chairman Oh had been when his father was wheeled out of surgery (with Director Choi at the helm) unexpectedly dead—something he nor his mother could understand, since his father had been healthy enough to walk to the hospital pre-surgery.
In desperation, a young Jae-joon had clung to Chairman Oh’s pant leg, crying, “Bring my dad back! Bring my dad back!” But Chairman Oh wrestled out of his grasp as if he were no more than a nuisance.
Back in the present, Jae-joon tries to negotiate with Chairman Oh for one more chance to prove himself, arguing that without him, Oh would have only Hoon to be the future of Myungwoo Hospital. “I’m not planning on letting it be either of you,” Chairman Oh barks back, before telling Jae-joon that he can take a job at the branch hospital or leave Myungwoo for good. It’s his choice.
Director Moon cheers as Chairman Oh’s guards (oh, now there’s security) escort Jae-joon from his office, only to be chastised by Director Choi, who tells him that they should convince Chairman Oh to keep Jae-joon since their hospital needs surgeons like him. Doth my ears deceive me? Is someone speaking sense?
Soo-hyun tries to make Jae-joon feel better by claiming that a stint at the branch hospital would give her father time to think. “I’m not going anywhere,” Jae-joon says resolutely. “I belong here. Do you know why? I have something I need to accomplish here.”
She thinks his goal is to make the hospital the best, but Jae-joon sends an ominous look toward his Metaphor Castle as he remembers his promise to destroy it. He admits that everything changed when Hoon came, and pins the blame on her for taking Hoon’s side and throwing his feelings out of whack.
“You wanted to move to hospital administration,” Jae-joon reminds her. “Why are you trying to act like a doctor now?” Ouch. Soo-hyun’s face reflects her own surprise at his harsh words, but Jae-joon’s anger only rises as he continues to blame her for his loss, like her siding with Hoon and messing with his psyche was the only reason.
With Jae-joon shooting daggers at her and breathing down her neck, Soo-hyun works up the courage to tell him that she knows the reason why he really lost is because he tried too hard to win, and treated a surgery like a game.
Soo-hyun: “You’re the one who’s just acting like a doctor, not me. That’s why you lost to a real doctor. A fake doctor like you lost to a real doctor like Park Hoon.”
After that ultimate burn, Soo-hyun flashes back to some of the better memories with Jae-joon as someone nicknamed “Garbage” calls her. She just lets it ring, until Garbage himself (aka scummy brother Sang-jin) enters and grabs her wrist—an action that nets him a swift kick to the family jewels.
She takes off in the car Sang-jin stole from her and controls her tears as she heads to Hoon’s clinic/home, only to find him gone. She decides to wait, but when she does she can no longer control her emotions and begins to cry. Poor thing.
Chang-yi gets a text from Hoon thanking her for everything and telling her goodbye—oh, so that’s why he took Jae-hee for a ride and didn’t tell her where they were going. She tries looking for him at the clinic, but Soo-hyun’s the only one there.
Hoon takes Jae-hee to a shipyard, where he’s already planned to escape to China with her by stowing away on a ship. “I don’t need to know why you came here,” he says, “but I know it puts you in danger.” He knows she won’t be able to avoid it while in the country, which is why he wants to smuggle them out.
Jae-hee protests, but Hoon is adamant as he promises to protect her. “We can’t escape,” she pleads, but he forces her to look at him as he repeats his promise.
When Doctor Moon can’t get ahold of Hoon, nor Min-se with Seung-hee, we can assume that Doctor Yang is the spy who reports it to Nightshade, who subsequently reports it to the ever-disinterested Prime Minister Jang. He’s not too worried, since he doubts they’ll be able to escape safely.
Sure enough, Hoon and Jae-hee find themselves surrounded by thugs wielding lead pipes. Agent Cha finally reveals himself to Hoon, right before one of the thugs bashes Hoon over the head. The Jae-hee who was fearless as she looked down the barrel of a gun just looks on helplessly.
Chang-yi can’t find Hoon anywhere, and cries her worries into her mother’s bosom. Aww, she deserved more than a goodbye text, Hoon. That’s like breaking up via a post-it note.
Hoon comes to in a room decorated in North Korean propaganda and torture devices, replete with guards in DPRK uniforms. Has he really been returned to the North via the open freeway everyone must be using? I want to say it’s just a room made to look that way.
Agent Cha tells him he’s in his “homeland” as he brings in a blindfolded Jae-hee and punches her right in front of Hoon. Hoon starts screaming “Stop it, you bastard! I’ll kill you!” as Agent Cha sets to beating Jae-hee. Jesus.
Then Agent Cha holds her up as he looks Hoon straight in the eye so he watches exactly what he does next. He grins as he starts ripping off Jae-hee’s clothes in front of a maddeningly helpless Hoon, who changes his angry threats to desperate pleas that he’ll do anything Agent Cha wants. Anything to just make him stop.
Agent Cha stops the rape tactics and has Jae-hee taken away. Hoon watches her go as he thinks, “Don’t worry, Jae-hee. I’ll… I’ll…” But he doesn’t know what he’ll do. Or what he even can do.
So, Agent Cha tells him what he has to do to keep Jae-hee safe: operate on Prime Minister Jang’s heart, and tell no one that Seung-hee is Jae-hee. “Remember that I’m always watching you,” Agent Cha sneers, before pulling Hoon’s head back by the hair and ordering him to say “Yes sir.”
After chemically knocking Hoon out, Agent Cha goes out to take Jae-hee’s blindfold off and rearrange her clothes… but the woman who coldly stares back at him is Seung-hee.
“Good job,” he tells her. Man, I was worried that this was all an elaborate scheme to get Hoon’s blind obedience, but damn. So even though it’s still up for grabs whether she is Jae-hee, since we know now she was only acting the part of Jae-hee AS Seung-hee, we’ll go back to calling her Seung-hee for now. (Pending further intel. As always.)
Unsurprisingly, Agent Cha didn’t take Hoon to the DPRK, he just made it look like he did. Nightshade meets him with his concerns that people will start catching on now that Hoon and Seung-hee have been missing for a while, but Agent Cha is unfazed.
In fact, the evil agent thinks this was all worth it, since now they know just how much Jae-hee means to Hoon. “That means that we have full control over the heart he’ll be operating on.” Ah, so Nightshade and Agent Cha are working against Prime Minister Jang together. Or not. I honestly have no idea.
Prime Minister Jang tries convincing the president that the DPRK will halt their nuclear test if he agrees to hold a summit with them—the catch being that they want two billion dollars/two trillion won.
It’s clear that the president is a better leader than Prime Minister Jang, since he’s against giving so much money to the North when it could hurt their own economy. Especially since Prime Minister Jang would have him give them what they want just to win points with the people, an idea the president finds appalling: “You want me to feed the North with our taxpayers’ valuable dollars to boost my popularity?”
Prime Minister Jang clucks his tongue at what he deems is the president’s cheapness later. Nightshade cuts into wisely say that peace bought with money never lasts, only for Jang to chuckle, “Anything can be bought with money.”
We find Jae-joon waiting somewhere that looks like the outside of Prime Minister Jang’s office, while Chang-yi finds Hoon asleep in Seung-hee’s car. He immediately starts looking for Jae-hee as he comes to, and not only ignores Chang-yi but actually pushes her away.
“Do you know how worried I was?!” she screams, but Hoon is in another world entirely. He answers the phone when Soo-hyun calls to tell him that everyone’s gathered for his congratulatory party… including a dour-looking Seung-hee.
Hoon drives like he’s possessed to the party, but Chang-yi won’t let him off on this one. Even though he tells her to shut up, she keeps going on about how Jae-hee’s a spy, and Hoon’s only reply is to yell that she isn’t.
“If she’s not a spy, then how is she here right now? And why did she change her name?” Chang-yi fires back, which is the kind of rational thinking that gets her kicked out of the car unceremoniously. Hoon’s eyes are dead pools of water as he tells Chang-yi that he never wants to see her again as he leaves her there on the side of the road, just like that.
So Jae-joon was outside Prime Minister Jang’s office, since we see him meeting with him to ask for a second chance at being his surgeon.
But when Prime Minister Jang claims he doesn’t want to get that involved in Myungwoo Hospital’s affairs, Jae-joon mentions how he knows the prime minister interfered in order to get Hoon hired back after he was fired—a dangerous piece of intel.
“I won’t ask why you did that,” Jae-joon adds coolly. “I’m only asking you to give me the same chance that you gave Doctor Park.”
Everyone except Seung-hee is pretty well toasted by the time Hoon makes it to the party, and he ignores all of them (including Soo-hyun, aww) in order to drag her out.
No matter what she says, Hoon still thinks they have a chance if they escape. He even suggests turning themselves into the police, to which Seung-hee (acting as Jae-hee, y’all get it by now) says they won’t be safe there—not as long as the prime minister controls everything.
When Hoon won’t listen as he babbles on and on about how he can protect her, Seung-hee slaps him. “You’ll be putting yourself in danger!” she cries, and Hoon seems shell-shocked and broken as he replies, “I never asked you to worry about me.”
“Do you know how much I missed you?” Seung-hee sobs. “Do you know how long I waited to see you? We’re finally together. Please listen to me. I never want to be separated from you again. I don’t want you to be in danger. So just listen to me, you idiot!”
Hoon can’t take her pitiful tears and relents as he pulls her into an embrace. He agrees to do whatever she tells him to, and attempts to lighten the mood by inviting her into the party. But Seung-hee can’t stop crying, so Hoon just holds her to help ride it out.
Jae-joon, god of thunder, calls forth a lightning strike with his anger as he stands outside Soo-hyun’s house. Meanwhile, Nightshade shows Prime Minister Jang proof that Jae-joon isn’t who he says he is—he’s Lee Seung-hoon, son of the man who died from medical malpractice at Myungwoo Hospital twenty years ago. The same malpractice suit Hoon’s father was caught up in, even though he didn’t do anything wrong.
Chairman Oh stands outside the house to refuse Jae-joon entry, leaving the man standing out in the pouring rain. Jae-joon even falls to his knees to beg for forgiveness, but Chairman Oh isn’t moved, since he finds the move gutless.
Flashback to Mini Jae-joon standing on the lawn of Chairman Oh’s house in the rain to demand an answer: “Why did you kill my father? Why did you kill him?!” To which Chairman Oh had coldly replied that he was a doctor who saved lives, causing Mini Jae-joon to call him a liar and a killer.
Back in the present, Chairman Oh retreats inside the house to leave Jae-joon outside, much like he did to him when he was a child. Jae-joon continues to kneel in the rain while Chairman Oh receives a call from Prime Minister Jang to tell him that Jae-joon just came to see him.
He asks Chairman Oh to give Jae-joon another chance, but this time, Chairman Oh refuses to change a decision he’s made and let the prime minister meddle in his hospital’s affairs. Prime Minister Jang smugly threatens to give him a good reason to change his mind by helping him to save his reputation and keep his loyal dog. Whatever that means.
Chairman Oh finds out belatedly that Hoon and Doctor Moon got an illegal look at Seung-hee’s medical records by bulldozing their way past the mall cops of hospital security. I’m guessing this was orchestrated by Prime Minister Jang.
Sang-jin hears the same news, and suddenly cares about Hoon’s job status as he tells his father that they should let Jae-joon in now that they have grounds to fire Doctor Moon and Hoon over the medical records scandal.
Chairman Oh still says no, but only because he intends to tame Jae-joon now that he saw the side of him that acted like a wild dog ready to bite his own master. At least Sang-jin finally says something useful by asking his father how exactly the prime minister would know about Hoon and the medical records. Ah ha.
Cut to: Doctor Yang, Prime Minister Jang’s spy within the hospital, as he finds his wife(?), Nurse Min, ready to leave the party because everyone except for Doctor Moon looks depressed. Never mind Hoon and Soo-hyun having a blast on stage as they sing “Tell Me” by the Wonder Girls, aka the only song Hoon’s ever heard.
Nightshade asks Prime Minister Jang whether Chairman Oh will change his mind, to which his boss says, “He has to.” When he asks what this means for Hoon and Jae-joon, Jang only says that their score is 1:0 right now. Great, the competition is still on?
Chairman Oh goes outside to shoo Jae-joon away, but Jae-joon stays kneeling: “Everything is my fault. Please give me another chance.” When Oh asks why he’s being so stubborn, Jae-joon flashes back to when he confronted him as a child.
“I have unfinished business at Myungwoo,” Jae-joon says, like a cryptic answer right now is going to get him somewhere. His conversation is intercut with what he said as a child: “I want to make Myungwoo the best hospital in the world.”/”Bring my father back to life!”/“I don’t want to lose Soo-hyun.”/”I’ll get my revenge at all costs!”/“Please give me a chance. If you do, I’ll give everything I have to serve you.”/”I’ll have my revenge!”/“So please give me another chance. I beg you.”/”Don’t forget…”/“I, Han Jae-joon…”/”My father was Lee Do-sun, and I’m Lee Seung-hoon. Never forget our names.”
Jae-joon crawls on his knees with tears in his eyes to touch Chairman Oh’s boots. “At Myungwoo…”/”Remember who’ll come for you!”/“I have business to finish. Please give me another chance. Please. Please, just one more chance! Please! Please…” he begs and begs.
No one can accuse PD Jin Hyuk of plain or uninteresting directing, even if his modus operandi seems to heavily favor style over substance. And while he doesn’t seem at war with what’s on the page, unless the intended effect is extremely blunt, it’s rare to see him making choices that work to enhance our understanding of the story rather than just making the presentation well-lit and pretty. It could be because he’s not sure of the story himself, an excuse I’d totally buy at this point—but most of his overt, in-your-face moments seem to revolve around Jae-joon, which is as interesting as it is inexplicable.
Case in point would be when we first caught onto Jae-joon’s true intentions for Soo-hyun the moment camera panned out from his hug with her to include Myungwoo Hospital behind them. Then there’s every single shot that includes him and his Metaphor Castle. And while I can say I liked the intercutting in this final scene, the point could not have been any clearer had the show flashed Jae-joon’s hidden agenda via intertitles paired with dramatic music right out of a silent film.
That being said, I realized that this was maybe the only way to make the revenge point clear, because Jae-joon’s poker face is so stone-cold, his facade so impenetrable, that there would be no other way for us to read what these scenes were trying to convey just from him as a character. For whatever reason, outside methods have to be used to beat that point into us so hard we’re seeing stars. But that’s okay, because you know what? Jae-joon’s revenge is the only crystal clear motive in a show full of murky, constantly changing objectives and characters. That alone automatically makes his cause worth something.
I don’t know if clinging to a point the show has relentlessly pushed onto us is necessarily the best thing to be doing, but at this juncture it’s a survival instinct—Jae-joon’s revenge, no matter how overt, is the only thing making sense right now. I wish I could say that Hoon’s unending love for Jae-hee has the same effect, but it doesn’t when it literally turns him crazy, with a wild-eyed yet vulnerable quality actor Lee Jong-seok has mastered. It puts into question all the growth he’s experienced while working at the hospital and whether he cares about saving lives at the end of the day when it all boils down to Jae-hee.
What’s worse is that there’s still a very good chance Seung-hee is a completely different person just playing the role of Jae-hee to manipulate Hoon, and while that might make you ask, “So why would she pretend to be someone else?” I’d only be able to tell you that it’s a very good question. Seriously, I have no idea why nine episodes were spent having Seung-hee adamantly deny that she’s Jae-hee, only to turn around and pretend to be her—even if it is her, which is anyone’s guess for now.
All I want to know, if I only had to pick one thing out of dozens in this show, is what Prime Minister Jang actually wants. Does he actually give two cat slippers about who operates on his heart? Because it seems like he’s taking a pretty laissez-faire approach to the whole ordeal by going back and forth between the two wildest of wild cards who could end up opening his chest. Will it be Hoon, the North Korean refugee who wants to kill him? Or Jae-joon, a man operating under a falsified existence to get revenge on the people who killed his father? Are there any other doctors in the house?