Doctor Stranger: Episode 14
If you had a hope in your head and a song in your heart that things would get better if only we knew what the big overarching plan was—you know, the one governing the surgical competition of the ages, the very same one responsible for the running the minutiae of a hospital no sane person would ever admit themselves to—then this hour might come as a bit of a disappointment. It’s not all doom and gloom though, because we finally get an answer as to what The Plan is all about. And say what you will about it, it is a plan. If there is only one thing I can say with certainty, and there is, it’s that a plan is most definitely the thing that it is.
Big Man took the top spot for its finale this week with 12.6%, leaving Doctor Stranger with 10.8% while Triangle continued to struggle in the single digits.
SONG OF THE DAY
EXO – “중독 (Overdose)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Hoon calls Mom’s number in the States and speaks to a woman who knew his mother and was instructed specifically by her to keep this number in case he ever called. “What took you so long?” the woman asks despairingly.
As the woman tells Hoon that Mom went back to Korea twenty years ago to find him, he sinks to his knees as he remembers the ajumma from the hospital desperately clutching her teddy bear. Does he know she’s his mother?
The woman relays a message to Hoon that Mom instructed her to tell him should he ever call: “She said… that she’s sorry, that she was wrong.” He thinks back to the ajumma in the hospital, and the words she’d said which he’d initially brushed off: “I didn’t know what you were going through. But don’t forget, I love you more than anyone in this world. I’m sorry, my son. I promise, Mom will come and find you. Don’t be sick, and stay well until then.”
At the time, Hoon noted how jealous he was of her son. In the present, Hoon thinks of Mom in the hospital in complete shock as we cut to her murmuring, “I’m sorry, my son.”
No sooner does Hoon complete that call that another comes in, this time from Prime Minister Jang. Looking and sounding pleased with himself (as always), he croons, “Did you get to meet your mother?”
With tears in his eyes, Hoon demands to know what Prime Minister Jang did to Mom. “Oh… we didn’t do anything,” Jang replies evilly. “But keep this in mind: We’re capable of doing anything.” He urges Hoon to hurry and see Mom, because prime ministers can totally talk this way over unsecured lines—I mean, it’s not like they have to worry that they could be recorded, right?
As Hoon is followed by shady dudes en route to see Mom, Nightshade receives the news while keeping watch over Seung-hee in the hospital. Mom is moved to another area of the hospital with a bodyguard close by, working under Nightshade’s orders.
Miraculously, Mom manages to escape her bodyguard’s watch with the help of Seung-hee, even though she can only walk at a shuffle. Hoon is always a step too late in trying to find her, seeing as how the hospital can’t account for any of its patients ever.
All we know is that Prime Minister Jang wasn’t involved in Mom’s escape (though Nightshade could very well be), since Jang hollers over the phone to Nightshade that they needed Mom and Hoon to meet in order to better be able to control Hoon. Oh, okay. Way to make Seung-hee/Jae-hee’s existence even more moot, guys. I thought she was supposed to control him to do that thing no one cares to explain.
Seung-hee takes Mom to Chang-yi, who’s still residing in Hoon’s clinic. Though Chang-yi is initially reluctant to trust her, Seung-hee convinces her not to tell a soul, not even Hoon, that Mom is there because the bad guys will use her against him.
Wizard Cha magically appears in the hospital where Nightshade and his men are still searching in vain for Mom, and gets in a jab about how this wouldn’t have happened if Nightshade had left Mom in their (the North’s) care.
But when Nightshade asks if her disappearance was their doing, Agent Cha thinks back to Seung-hee’s erratic behavior and finds her leaving a surgery to ask if she’s the one behind it.
Seung-hee denies any involvement, claiming that she couldn’t have left in the middle of a surgery anyway—even though she did so by trading out with Min-se. Agent Cha offers the customary “Good, because then I’d have to kill you and Hoon” threats before slipping into some corner he’ll hide in until the next scene.
When Hoon can’t get a hold of the prime minister, he tries to take a cab to his mansion only to find that Seung-hee paid the driver to take him elsewhere. It’s there she tells him his mother is safe.
Hoon grabs her by the shoulders as he asks if she knew where Mom was all along. When she nods, he erupts in anger—why didn’t she tell him if she knew? He doesn’t seem to believe her when she claims that Prime Minister Jang wouldn’t tell her where Mom was because he didn’t trust her.
“He was only sure I wasn’t Song Jae-hee after I showed him that there wasn’t a surgery scar on my stomach,” she explains. She goes on to say that she underwent many surgeries before coming to the South, and that Prime Minister Jang only trusted her when he was convinced that she was someone just made to look like Jae-hee, in existence only to fool Hoon.
“Did you ever think that I would be suspicious of you?” Hoon asks, and Seung-hee replies that she never thought that for a second. Even if she had surgery to look like someone else, she was sure that he’d recognize her. She urges him to trust her, even when she won’t tell him where Mom is because she has a plan that will protect Hoon and Mom.
But Hoon is done with blind obedience, and questions why he should trust her when she has nothing to show for it. “I don’t know if you really know where my mother is, and I don’t even know what you’re planning. So how can I trust you? Truthfully… I can’t trust you. No, now I don’t even know if you’re really Jae-hee. I don’t care about the plan.” Amen, brother.
He threatens to go to the press if Prime Minister Jang doesn’t tell him where Mom is, but Seung-hee argues against that, claiming that Jang won’t ever leave him alone. “Then he can kill me,” Hoon says, but again, Seung-hee brings up his mother—what would happen to her if Hoon died? The very reason she lost her mind is because of the guilt she suffered for twenty years, after all.
“That’s why I need to see her,” Hoon says, holding back angry tears. “I need to tell her that I’m sorry, that I was also wrong.” Using that, Seung-hee begs him to just trust her this once. In one month, for whatever reason, everything will be over.
But he pulls his hand out of her grasp and wordlessly walks away, leaving her in tears.
Chairman Oh smirks to himself as he flashes back to the moment when Prime Minister Jang handed over the folder and CD as they talked about Myungwoo’s role in his surgery.
Only now we hear the rest of the conversation, as Jang explained to Oh that the president eliminated the first hospital he chose, which means he doesn’t trust him. So he’s using that against him in order to make him choose between Myungwoo Hospital and one other competitor that Chairman Oh needs to get rid of, using the files Jang just handed him, in order to clear the way for Myungwoo.
And in that case, Prime Minister Jang wants him to take Hoon back so that the competition can continue(!!). God of Dramas, why hast thou forsaken us?
Things go according to plan when Chairman Oh releases the damning information on Prime Minister Jang’s first-choice-but-not-really hospital, leaving the president to choose Myungwoo Hospital for Jang’s surgery.
As for Hoon’s missing mother, Nightshade believes Seung-hee is behind it because he also believes she’s Jae-hee. Prime Minister Jang isn’t so sure since he saw no surgery scars on her body, though Nightshade argues that Seung-hee saving Mom says everything about her true identity.
While Chairman Oh and Doctor Moon talk about carrying on with the competition (*sob*), Soo-hyun decides to use her day off to deliver last night’s leftover curry to Hoon. She preens nervously until Seung-hee notices and decides to send her off with a home-cooked breakfast so Hoon won’t be eating curry all day every day.
Soo-hyun finds Hoon asleep in his clinic, and claims that she’s there to hear his apology for their quibble last night after he jokingly asked her if she liked him. Hoon is way too exhausted to play games so this time he asks quite bluntly, “Hey Quack, do you really like me?”
She’s taken totally aback by his question and fumbles for an answer, at first trying to claim that she only came because Seung-hee made him food and definitely not because she likes him—though it couldn’t be any clearer that she does.
Hoon can be dense, but at least he realizes the truth as he gives Soo-hyun the apology she was looking for, along with advice for her to stop visiting him so Jae-joon won’t misunderstand. Ouch.
Soo-hyun knows it’s a rejection, and runs out before she can betray her own emotions to him. “Am I crazy to like you?!” she wonders to herself as she pulls off all the jewelry she’d put on to pretty herself up for him. Hoon can hear her call him a jerk, but says nothing.
Chang-yi is conflicted over whether to tell Hoon about his mother or not, at least until a man clutching his chest walks into their clinic. I love that the dramatic music playing as Hoon examines him abruptly stops when he offers to write the man a prescription. Hahaha. Is the show actually making fun of itself?
Just when you think the show is going to have its first case that doesn’t end in surgery, Hoon uses his Genius and concludes that the man needs surgery. But the patient runs out, claiming he could never afford it.
Doctor Moon drops by to try and bribe Hoon to come back to the hospital and re-enter the competition to no avail. Hoon would rather just let Jae-joon represent the hospital… until Chang-yi comes in dragging the patient who’d just left.
He’s collapsed, and Doctor Moon recognizes him as Doctor Yang’s patient—though he had to be discharged because he didn’t have enough money to pay for treatment. As usual, Doctor Moon sees sick people as opportunities, and grins from ear to ear as Hoon is forced to take the patient to Myungwoo Hospital.
While Chang-yi beats off Chi-gyu for asking her to a movie, Hoon pays Doctor Yang for the patient’s hospitalization fees with the money Doctor Moon tried to bribe him with, since Doctor Yang is insistent that the patient receive no medical care if he can’t pay for it.
By the time Hoon finally sees Seung-hee, he’s thought over her proposition and decides to give her the month she asked for to sort things out.
Now that Myungwoo has been chosen for Prime Minister Jang’s surgery (again), Chairman Oh seems shocked at Jae-joon’s pleasant reaction when Hoon is brought back to the hospital.
For reasons of respect on Hoon’s part toward Jae-joon, the score is now 1:1, which shows just how little any of these rules or mid-operation threats matter. Chairman Oh even asks, literally asks, “Then, is this the final round again?” I don’t know. Is it?
The patient Hoon picks is the same man that walked into his clinic, since it means the surgery he’ll receive is free. As it just so happens, Jae-joon has a female patient exactly like him who’s already found a donor for a heart transplant. But Hoon will have a much harder time trying to find a donor quick enough for his male patient.
So Hoon proposes the installation of a ventricular assist device, or VAD, which is extremely expensive but will assist the male patient’s failing heart either while he waits for a donor or permanently, since the device can replicate the human heart well enough to be used for years.
Doctor Moon throws a fit because of the cost, but that’s not Chairman Oh’s concern—he knows Hoon’s patient has an illness where his blood doesn’t coagulate (meaning he’ll just bleed out if cut open), so there’s no hope of installing a VAD. “Even if God himself performs the surgery, he’ll die.”
Jae-joon is taken aback, since this means that Hoon doesn’t even have a fighting chance, until Chairman Oh reminds him that he’s on thin ice: The man he forgave was the Jae-joon his daughter cares for, not the Jae-joon who defied him.
He reminds Jae-joon just how easy it is for him to lose everything, clearly upset that Jae-joon and Hoon are acting so friendly. He gives an entire monologue about how important winning this competition is for Jae-joon, how everything is on the line, how this is the last chance, etc. We’ve heard this all before one too many times.
After Jae-joon is filled in regarding where Hoon’s dad was when he was supposed to be testifying for them, he visits Hoon’s old house and flashes back to his mother’s heart attack as they waited in vain for Hoon’s father to help them.
“Park Chul, Park Hoon,” Jae-joon grits through clenched teeth. “Are you the son of that bastard Park Chul?” Aw, he’s disappointed that the Hoon he’s come to like is the son of the man he hates.
Soo-hyun is giddy as she gives Hoon his doctor’s gown back, and though he notices her controlled expression, he decides to treat her like he always does and bickers with her like a child.
Hoon introduces the device he’s going to implant in his patient’s chest after putting him at ease about the costs: not only will this surgery be covered, his future heart transplant will be as well. The patient and his family are beyond relieved.
Hoon then confronts Seung-hee over the mysterious plan she refuses to disclose to him, this time remaining firm as he demands that she tell him. He can’t wait another hour, much less an entire arbitrary month.
When she sticks to her guns and reminds him she can’t tell him, he asks, “What’s the reason? Why can’t you tell me?!” Seung-hee: “Because it’s not in the script!” Okay, maybe that last part is a mistranslation, but that’s pretty much her line of reasoning.
She all but begs Hoon to just sit quietly and be a good doctor so she can save him and his mother. “A good doctor? Is that what you want?” he throws back at her, as he grabs a brick with the intent to smash his hand. “Tell me, or else I won’t be able to hold a scalpel ever again.”
Just as Hoon is poised to follow through with his threat, Seung-hee breaks down and admits that the plan is to meet the president… because Prime Minister Jang isn’t the one who needs surgery. It’s all a coverup so the citizens wouldn’t find out about the president being ill.
Naturally, Hoon’s next question is why the prime minister would want him on the team. “Because he wants to kill the president,” Seung-hee replies. That’s why he wanted to control Hoon by using Hoon’s mom and Seung-hee/Jae-hee.
But he doesn’t want the president dead right away—rather, he wants him to stay in a comatose state while he runs the country. Seung-hee’s counter plan was to meet with the president secretly and promise to save him if he saves her and Hoon.
She knows it’s a foolhardy plan, but it’s the only one she has. She also plans on giving Prime Minister Jang an ultimatum, in that she won’t do as he says unless Jae-joon performs the surgery. When Hoon asks why it has to be her of all people, she fights back tears as she replies, “Because I love you! Because if they threaten to kill you, I must do as they command.” So… her ultimatum isn’t going to go very well, is it?
Seung-hee then urges Hoon to forget everything she just told him, claiming that it’s okay for him to lose the competition. She even wants him to lose, so that way he can become the good doctor he’s always wanted to be.
Leave it to Jae-joon to buy Soo-hyun a Metaphor Purse, as he compares the temporary act of her trying it on to her temporarily being drawn to Hoon. “I can’t take anything more than that,” he adds.
But at home, Soo-hyun clutches Hoon’s stethoscope instead of Jae-joon’s message-laden gift.
Hoon and Jae-joon’s patients are wheeled into the operating theater for surgery. Hoon catches Seung-hee outside to apologize for the night before and to tell her that he’s not going to do as she says and lose the competition: “No matter the operating room, I won’t let you go in alone.”
He reminds her with a smile that the competition is about saving the patient first and foremost, which is exactly what it isn’t about for Chairman Oh, since he’s decided to willfully withhold the vital and potentially life-saving information regarding the male patient’s bleeding problem.
So, in case anyone is confused, Chairman Oh doesn’t care whether the patient dies because all that matters is Hoon losing. And there’s no better way to make sure he does than by bribing Doctor Yang to keep mum about the patient’s bleeding problem, and also to make sure Hoon’s surgery is unsuccessful.
While Nurse Min is distrustful enough of her husband(?) Doctor Yang to ask Seung-hee to perform the necessary pre-surgery checks, Jae-joon confronts Hoon now that he knows who his father is. He doesn’t mention Dad’s tie to his own past, instead opting to talk around the issue by bringing up how Dad saving the DPRK’s supreme leader must’ve been the reason Hoon graduated from Pyongyang Medical School.
Hoon picks up on the weird vibe coming off Jae-joon, but can’t get anything more out of him other than a cold “good luck.” He’s especially taken aback when even Soo-hyun acts distant around him, wondering what got into everyone’s water.
The entire hospital staff watches as Hoon finds out that his patient has a very serious bleeding disorder, a test which Doctor Yang claims he just forgot to perform. Wamp wamp waaaamp. Oh well, it’s not like the hospital just escaped from a medical malpractice lawsu—… OH WAIT.
It’s sad that all the doctors Hoon claimed were the only “real” doctors in the hospital talk about this new development with literal shrugs, since the patient’s now unfixable ticking clock means that Jae-joon will win. Soo-hyun and Jae-joon are the only ones who manage to look even halfway human over in his operating room.
Doctor Yang tries to do his job in dissuading Hoon from performing the surgery, but Hoon ignores him as he comes up with a complicated plan that Chi-gyu explains using an orange. All we need to know is that it involves opening the heart, removing the dead, unworking tissue, and closing it back up again.
The only catch is that the procedure no longer exists in modern medicine, because the success rate is so low that no doctor would dare to try… until now.
As the president watches the proceedings from the Blue House, Doctor Moon throws his usual hissy fit. Doctor Yang argues that the procedure won’t be successful, and when that fails to convince Hoon, he reminds him that the patient’s guardians would have to sign off on that kind of deadly procedure. And they won’t.
But Hoon won’t listen, since the patient can’t wait until his family is consulted. Doctor Yang has no choice but to participate in the surgery as Hoon makes his first incision…
I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular from this show going into this week, but I was honestly taken aback when the competition was brought back from the dead again, like a brainless zombie someone forgot to double tap. Despite us knowing what The Plan is now, it doesn’t excuse the plot’s crippling reliance on doctoring in the vacuum of a competition that means everything at any given moment while meaning absolutely nothing. Ever.
There’s a funny thing about basic storytelling that’s both fantastic and awful all at once: You can make your universe as crazy or mundane as you want it to be, as long as you make sure not to negate the rules you create. The reason why it’s beyond difficult to buy the events in this universe is because nothing is static or dependable—everything is constantly changing, and never in a way that builds upon itself or makes a modicum of sense. What was initially a silly competition to determine the best cardiothoracic surgeon has now morphed into an unholy love child between politics and… well, more politics. Exciting stuff, right?
The whole there-are-no-rules-except-when-there-are bit is probably the worst thing about this competition and beleaguered plot point, even worse than the fact that the people running Myungwoo Hospital as well as the country of South Korea in this show are not only completely incompetent, they’re literally inhuman. You can’t spend a week harping on how Myungwoo would never survive a medical malpractice suit only to have Chairman Oh treat the possibility of Hoon’s patient dying from Doctor Yang’s medical malpractice as nothing but a bump in the road toward Jae-joon’s success—which Chairman Oh really, really cares about now, for realsies this time.
From a character perspective, it was a little sad to see Jae-joon undergo a factory reset back to his vengeance-y self, since I thought he’d left that behind when he literally left that behind by choosing to do his job last week. I can only guess that the branch hospital Chairman Oh keeps threatening to ship everyone off to doesn’t exist, because no one ever gets sent there. Come to think of it, no threats are ever followed through with, no matter how plentifully they’re doled out. And I’m not touching the Seung-hee/Jae-hee issue because if she can be Jae-hee even without a surgery scar, then there’s still nothing to go on. We’re still in Not Knowing Land, party of all of us.
Although I’m sure Seung-hee’s declaration that Hoon is now allowed to lose will come back to bite her in a big way, the fact that she made it at all seems to negate the seriousness with which Hoon’s involvement was treated for the entire show up until this point. Basically, we went from “The world will end if you lose!” to “It’s okay if you lose, really!” at yet another drop of a hat, which, again, makes it very difficult to care about any of the stakes thrown at us when they’re all so easily changed. There are only so many times Agent Cha can be stopped from killing Hoon and only so many last chances Chairman Oh can give Jae-joon before this all turns into a drinking game. For the sake of our collective livers and sanity though, let’s hope we never reach that point.
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 13
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 12
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 11
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 10
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 9
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 8
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 7
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 6
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 5
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 4
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 3
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 2
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 1