Doctor Stranger: Episode 15
In the midst of the truth-telling that happens in this episode, get ready for an hour full of medical incompetency, questionable ethical judgment, and callous administrators, all thanks to the one competition that keeps being revived by a narrative defibrillator. You’ve got families yelling at doctors, doctors yelling at other doctors, and even doctors yelling at patients. And you wonder why Myungwoo Hospital’s been in trouble a number of times already.
Still, while all that’s going on, Soo-hyun finds herself caught at the crossroads of her own heart. Her growing feelings eventually take precedence over doing her job, but that’s where a bit of grounded reality comes in. Stranger ticked upward in ratings and remained in first place on Monday with 11.9% while Triangle clocked 7.5% and Trot Lovers brought up the rear with 5.8%
SONG OF THE DAY
2PM – “Heartbeat (remix)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
As Hoon begins the risky SAVER procedure, the president watches the competition from the Blue House, where he’s told that the winner will probably be the doc who succeeds in getting the heart to beat again. Oh good, I’m so glad we’ve sort-of-not-really defined the winner criterion in this match.
Chi-gyu invites Chang-yi to watch Hoon work, but his attempt to get frisky gets literally crushed under her heel.
Back in the operating theater, Nurse Min hesitates before handing over the saw-drill, remembering that Doctor Yang had handled it earlier. Her attempt to try to warn Hoon gets dismissed, and it’s frankly perturbing to watch Hoon use the tool until the inevitable happens and the saw blade shoots out and cuts his hand. Acck!
Despite his injury, Hoon gets a clean glove (and blade) to finish the job, and then asks Doctor Yang to switch places. But Nurse Min orders Yang out of the operating room, addressing him as their baby’s father when he doesn’t move right away. Go Nurse Min!
Down one surgeon, Hoon calls Jae-joon’s team to request a substitute. Having been kept updated on Hoon’s surgery, Jae-joon complies… by handing over Chi-gyu, the first-year surgical resident. That decision is surprising (and likely incompetent), since everyone knows a rookie lacks the surgical expertise to be first mate, but Jae-joon ignores Soo-hyun’s protests.
Once the donor heart arrives, Soo-hyun volunteers herself as a better set of helping hands to Hoon, though Jae-joon questions her motives. Instead of yunno, worrying about the open-heart surgery, he tells her not to go, tapping into his metaphor vocabulary bank about her feelings for Hoon.
And Soo-hyun takes a long moment before giving into what Jae-joon calls “temporary curiosity,” and tells Chi-gyu to remain with Jae-joon’s team while she marches into Hoon’s surgery.
She’s all business from this point forward, but is legitimately surprised when Hoon tells her to switch places. It turns out Hoon intends to proceed to operate with his non-dominant (and only working) hand, which amps up the difficulty level exponentially. Or so we’re led to believe, anyway.
But Hoon manages to operate just fine, while in the other room, Jae-joon successfully completes the heart transplant operation. Once the VAD is installed, all Hoon has to do now is to revive the patient’s heartbeat, which turns out to be harder than they expected. Everyone watches with bated breath as Hoon tries the defibrillator again and again…
… And then, finally, a heartbeat. Oh phew. News of both teams’ successful surgeries is a surprisingly quiet affair, and I’m sure it goes without saying that Chairman Oh looks disappointed by Hoon’s achievement. Prime Minister Jang seems pleased, but who knows why he’s ever happy anymore.
As Jae-joon leaves, he furrows his eyebrows at seeing Soo-hyun in the other operating room. Hoon finally breathes a relieved sigh when they’re done, happy as a clam again. He praises everyone on his team with a hug, though Soo-hyun latches onto him instantly, which Seung-hee sees.
Hoon relays the good news to the family and adds that the patient will remain in an induced coma for a few days. He assures them that it’s for recovery purposes for the weakened heart and not because something went wrong, but I’m pretty sure the baddies are going to try to turn his success into a surgical error.
He brushes past Soo-hyun’s attempts to pull him aside for a chat, praising her on a good job today instead.
Nurse Min attends to her unfinished business with Doctor Yang, who readily admits to tampering with the medical equipment earlier. His reasoning for doing so was because that patient was initially turned away because he couldn’t afford surgery, but there won’t always be a Park Hoon to step in for patients who can’t afford treatment, like themselves
But Nurse Min can’t believe that Doctor Yang would forsake his medical integrity for nobly idiotic intentions: “What our family needs isn’t money, but an honorable husband and father!”
Putting aside her frustrations, she urges her husband to apologize to Hoon. However Doctor Yang refuses on the grounds that he hates Hoon ’cause he’s such a show-off.
Nurse Min takes off after him when he stalks off, only to see Hoon waiting ’round the corner. He’s overheard their conversation, but he’s a good sport about it, and Nurse Min gives him a playful scolding about eavesdropping like any mother would. Cute.
Seung-hee keeps watch over the patient’s condition in the ICU, telling the anxious nurse to remain calm because the family’s watching. And as expected, Chairman Oh is displeased to hear that Hoon’s patient is generally doing fine, saying that they’ll find a way to undermine him.
So douchey Sang-jin is sent in to do what he does best: discrediting Hoon with half-truths like how a different procedure than what the family was told would be done in Hoon’s attempt to redeem himself for “killing” a patient once, and shocks her even further with the truth that Hoon was medically trained in Pyongyang.
Chairman Oh informs a sheepishly happy Doctor Moon that the competition isn’t over (ugh). Although he acknowledges that Hoon performed the more difficult operation, the winner will be determined when the patients wake up.
Hoon assures Doctor Moon that everything will be fine, but they’re interrupted by the patient’s wife’s agitated screams outside. She tears into Hoon and questions his medical judgment, citing that her husband is still unconscious, all because of that risky SAVER procedure she wasn’t informed of, let alone had given her permission to do.
Convinced that something went wrong, she demands that Hoon wake her husband immediately to prove that the surgery was successful. Lady, your husband just had his chest torn open a few hours ago, but whatever.
But while Hoon stands his ground against the wife’s hysterical cries, it’s Seung-hee who gives in and wonders if they should momentarily wake the patient up. And… you were supposed to be a better anesthesiologist than Min-se.
But Hoon says they have to do what’s best for the patient and that means waiting until their patient improves. He isn’t worried about the repercussions because their patient will wake up just fine and they’ll win this competition, so Seung-hee mustn’t wake their patient up until he makes the call.
Jae-joon stops Soo-hyun on her way out to ask if she has something to say to him. He isn’t concerned with getting an apology for leaving his surgical team for Hoon’s earlier—rather, he remarks that she and Hoon aren’t suited for one another.
Offended, she asks why, and he tells Soo-hyun that she’ll be the one who ends up hurt because Hoon loves someone else. And maybe for the first time ever, Jae-joon’s metaphors prove useful, stomping out Soo-hyun’s sliver of hope that Jae-hee may never be found: “Jae-hee might not physically be in front of him, but she’s alive in Hoon’s heart!”
Soo-hyun knows this, but she can’t help her feelings: “I know Hoon loves her, but I like him, so what am I to do?” She tried to forget about Hoon, trying to fool herself into thinking that her affections for him was a crush, but that didn’t work. “The more I try to forget about him, the more I think about him… and the tears keep coming.”
Crying now, Soo-hyun sincerely tells Jae-joon that she doesn’t want to hurt him anymore. She takes a step, but Jae-joon grabs her arm and softly begs, “Don’t go.” She asks that he let her go because she’ll get over her feelings soon. And with great reluctance, Jae-joon does.
After Chi-gyu’s explanation on what a bispectral index monitor does (in brief, it measures levels of consciousness via brain waves activity), Jae-joon’s patient stirs awake.
Unfortunately witnessing that event only makes Hoon’s patient’s wife even more impatient to see her husband awake. She doesn’t like the whole “We deal with patients on a case-by-case scenario” explanation and thinks Hoon is deliberately keeping her husband comatose to avoid a medical malpractice suit.
She wants a definite answer, which is something no doctor (the actual ones, anyway) can reasonably offer. Hoon can only ask for her patience while she rips into him in front of his colleagues.
So Hoon presents his case from start to finish to the entire cardiothoracic department and hospital administration. He answers the obvious questions from Jae-joon’s team (who are prompted by Jae-joon it seems) easily—just because the SAVER procedure has a low success rate doesn’t mean it isn’t done anymore.
When asked how Hoon can be so certain, he answers, “Because I’ve done it numerous times before.” As to where, Hoon’s silence says it all—in North Korea.
Then Jae-joon finally speaks up and asks if all those patients survived. Hoon honestly answers no, which Jae-joon uses to argue that there’s a possibility this patient could die, too. And to that, Hoon asks him the same question—did all of his patients survive?
At everyone’s silence, Hoon shares a saying that a cardiothoracic surgeon’s skills are measured by how many patients have died on their operating tables. So it’s their jobs to constantly reflect and improve so that their deaths weren’t in vain: “Because we can’t let them die next time. Because we must save the patient this time. Because that’s the only way to receive forgiveness from that patient I killed.”
“Let’s succeed in this patient’s surgery and the patients I killed will certainly forgive me,” Hoon says, then adds that he could never seek forgiveness from his patients if he didn’t take the risk to try.
Jae-joon acknowledges that those are touching words, but points out the reality that Hoon’s patients must wake to ask for forgiveness. At Hoon’s decision to keep the patient in an induced coma, Jae-joon asks, “Are you not waking him because you won’t or you can’t?”
Hoon is offended by Jae-joon’s insinuation that he’s trying to cover something up, but he bites his tongue and asserts that he’ll wake his patient in two days’ time. Jae-joon counters: “You’ll have to, or being eliminated as the prime minister’s surgical team won’t be the issue, but you’ll become a murderer.”
They move on to how Hoon performed the SAVER procedure without the family’s permission, of which Hoon fully acknowledges that he was in the wrong for that decision. Hoon doesn’t elaborate on his thought processes, but merely answers that it was an executive decision made in an emergency situation.
And Jae-joon uses that answer to ask about the patient’s pre-existing bleeding problem. He uses Yang’s statement that Hoon was informed about it prior to the first incision to cement his argument, and then he and Hoon go back and forth on the matter until Jae-joon slams his hand down on the table.
Jae-joon tells Hoon to stop with the excuses, but Hoon sticks to his answer that he was trying to save the patient. Jae-joon scoffs at that noble statement, because everyone in this room holds that idea: “Stop pretending that you’re the only doctor who acts on behalf of his patient’s interests.”
Apologizing to the patient’s family is out of the question given the circumstances, and Jae-joon orders Hoon to wake the patient immediately and prove to the family that their loved one is fine. Argh, not you too, Jae-joon! Will no one listen to the least doctor-y one in the room, aka Doctor Moon, who said the only doctor-y thing so far?!
Afterward, Soo-hyun berates a group of docs criticizing Hoon, and then mulls over Jae-joon’s harsh words about Hoon’s patient. Then she rises, having made a decision. Oh no, don’t you dare do what I think you’re going to do!
Meanwhile, Hoon pleads with Jae-joon for more time, pointing out that the only criterion was that their patient had to wake—there was no mention of when. But Jae-joon dully replies that that’s it’s not his decision to make… even though he ordered Hoon to wake the patient.
They both know that Hoon isn’t trying to cover up a surgical blunder, but Jae-joon remains infuriatingly frustrating. Exasperated, Hoon says he even entertained the thought that they could be friends once this competition was over, but Jae-joon disagrees.
Suddenly a code blue is called, and Hoon rushes over to the ICU to see Soo-hyun trying to revive the patient’s heart. Damn it Soo-hyun, did you try to wake the patient on your own?
Even though she gets the heartbeat, her actions only add fuel to the fire as the patient’s wife uses the recent cardiac arrest as more kindling for her threats.
Hoon is NOT pleased, and he pulls Soo-hyun outside to berate her for nearly killing the patient. He doesn’t buy her words that she did it because she trusted him, since she would have waited if she did.
He demands to know why she made such an incompetent decision. “Or else you’d be kicked out of the hospital!” Soo-hyun cries defensively.
But that isn’t a good enough answer for Hoon, since he couldn’t care less about being employed here or not. So who is she to interfere? Near tears, Soo-hyun answers haltingly, “Because I… I like you. I tried to stop you getting kicked out because I like you. Happy?”
Hoon doesn’t seem surprised to hear it, and when he doesn’t respond right away, she asks if it’s because of Jae-hee. But Hoon has a different answer for her: “Your father, Chairman Oh. He conspired with Prime Minister Jang and sent my father to the North.”
Soo-hyun can hardly believe what she’s hearing as Hoon elaborates that his father was sent away to prevent a medical malpractice suit made against Myungwoo years ago. Still reeling at this information, she heads straight to her father to confront him about it.
“Is it true?” she asks desperately. “Did you send Hoon’s father to North Korea?” Chairman Oh confirms it and she falls to her knees, horrified at the extent to which her father would go to protect Myungwoo.
Sobbing, Soo-hyun asks how she’ll be able to face Hoon now, to which she’s told that she just won’t. “How can I do that?” she cries, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I don’t think I can endure it if I don’t.”
Prime Minister Jang swings by the hospital, concerned that a winner hasn’t been declared yet. He becomes the third person this episode to suggest that they should wake up Hoon’s patient and give Hoon the loss if it doesn’t work out. Chairman Oh agrees. Both of you are wretched and horrible people.
Hoon still thinks that they need more time to wait, but then Seung-hee suddenly says that she thinks it’ll be okay because she’s logged the patient’s vitals which remained stable overnight. Please don’t tell me that this is going to change Hoon’s mind.
It changes Hoon’s mind. Or at least it changes Doctor Moon’s, and Seung-hee assures Hoon that her decision is sound. He asks if it’s because of the competition, and she answers it’s because she trusts him. Wait a minute—didn’t Soo-hyun use that same argument?
So everyone stands around the patient’s bed as Seung-hee turns off the machine and bites her lip. They wait for what seems like forever and a day, and Chairman Oh smirks that he thinks there’s a clear winner here.
Getting more desperate with each passing moment, Seung-hee yells at the patient to wake up. At that moment, the man’s eyes open ever so slightly and Hoon leans in to ask if he’s conscious. His patient nods.
The patient’s wife leans in, hopeful… and her husband recognizes her. She cries, relief washing over her. Hoon and Seung-hee exchange smiles, and Chairman Oh grimaces.
Neither Prime Minister Jang nor Chairman Oh are ready to call this competition a draw (nooooo), opting for a tie-breaker instead. After Hoon and Jae-joon are filled in, Hoon wonders if his rival suffers from multiple personalities, given his sudden 180 pre- and post-surgery.
Jae-joon finds Soo-hyun moping in her apartment after hearing that she’s called in sick today. She refuses to go to the hospital and asks to be left alone. He asks if Hoon gave her a hard time about waking the patient last night and she shakes her head.
He asks what this is about then, and Soo-hyun says he once likened her feelings for Hoon like a new bag. “But what’s going on with me?” she asks out loud. And now the tears she’s been holding back finally break through, as she cries over her broken heart.
Jae-joon looks on, helpless, then his voice turns sincere as he genuinely asks what’s wrong. He’s taken aback to hear that Soo-hyun confessed to Hoon about her feelings for him, and it takes all of his willpower to hold back his tears and step away at the sight of hers.
But then he turns back, sits down next to her, and draws her close to him. Letting himself be a literal shoulder to cry on, he encourages her to let the tears come.
Jae-joon returns to stare at his Metaphor Castle dejectedly and tells Chi-gyu that the princess loves another knight. But instead of being angry to see that princess cry over her broken heart, it pains him.
“That’s… real love,” Chi-gyu notes, adding insightfully that the knight can’t take over the castle now. The corner of Jae-joon’s mouth twitches.
Seung-hee offers to hear her roomie’s woes, though she retracts her hand when she hears about Soo-hyun’s confession. All Seung-hee can muster is an apology and a comforting hug, and Soo-hyun says it’s okay.
Both Hoon’s disclosure about her father’s actions and her father’s intentions to protect Myungwoo still weighing on her mind, Soo-hyun musters up the courage to go to Hoon’s clinic.
Seung-hee goes to see Hoon, who says he didn’t intend to hurt Soo-hyun but ended up blabbing about Chairman Oh anyway. Seung-hee gives him a silent hug. He asks about Mom, agreeing to wait for one month. She gives him a reassuring nod.
She finds it empty, with the image of ragged Jae-hee still on his laptop. She clicks the screensaver away to see a happy picture of Hoon and Seung-hee together on the screen, along with a whole collection of photos taken from that happy date we saw in Episode 10.
Shell-shocked, Soo-hyun scrambles around Hoon’s desk and discovers Seung-hee’s CD medical results (the ones taken at Myungwoo) in the drawer.
Recalling at how Hoon had once mentioned that Jae-hee required a kidney transplant about two years ago (am I going crazy or have we never seen this part of Hoon and Soo-hyun conversation before?) Soo-hyun inserts the CD and checks the scans.
She reels in shock at the image, struggling to catch her breath. And at that moment, the door opens, and Hoon and Seung-hee enter the clinic, hand-in hand.
It’s times like these when I really wish I had the expertise in reading medical scans because on the one hand, I could assume that Soo-hyun has taken Hoon’s information to conclude that Seung-hee = Jae-hee, using the logic (remember that?) that those results were from Myung-woo and we were told that they were two kidneys. But on the other hand, if this show has taught me anything, it’s that I cannot believe what I see but believe what I’m explicitly told. Which is why I’m here waiting for Soo-hyun to just say it, anything, out loud. Guess that’s why it’s a cliffhanger.
But what drives me even more batty is that I honestly cannot remember that flashback moment from this final scene when Hoon told Soo-hyun about Jae-hee’s kidney transplant. Somehow it would make sense, since such key information would need to be previously known to Soo-hyun for her to be so shocked, so if any of you remember, please, please jog my memory. I even tried scanning previous episodes to see if I was just going crazy and missed it, but I honestly don’t know anymore, and I’m content to leave my confusion at the door until someone in this show just says it. Clearly.
What I can speak to for now is Soo-hyun’s feelings for Hoon, which took its own rollercoaster ride in this hour. Ever since Hoon has been aware of them, he’s kept a distance to Soo-hyun and her feelings, sometimes to a harsh degree. Still, in those times, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since he was drawing boundaries and everyone knew that his heart belonged to Jae-hee. But what had me raise an eyebrow was when both Seung-hee and Soo-hyun had the same (stupid) idea, Hoon was persuaded by Seung-hee but not Soo-hyun even after they literally spoke the same words about trusting Hoon. Granted, the execution between the two women were different, but with the way the narrative has played out, it does seem like the lollipop Seung-hee offers is the one that Hoon generally accepts.
So I want to empathize with Soo-hyun’s lovesickness, with her inner turmoil of trying to figure out what her feelings mean, leading up to her verbal confession of her heart to herself and to Hoon, and then finally to get the double-whammy that her father was a key figure in Hoon’s past and that Hoon does, in fact, currently love someone else. Even though giving her that empathy requires seriously questioning her medical judgment and doctoring behavior (because c’mon Soo-hyun, how does nearly killing a patient by waking them up early show Hoon that you trust him? Also, just because your crush isn’t at the workplace doesn’t mean that you can’t ever see him), I still want to cry with her because we’ve all suffered a broken heart before. Maybe our fathers aren’t always directly involved with sending our crushes’ dads to another county, but it’s understandable that the realization could leave any of us emotionally crushed.
Stranger yet, it’s Jae-joon’s icy-hot behavior that I just don’t seem to get, even after Hoon hung a lantern on it this episode. It seems best to take his constantly changing behavior on a week-by-week basis because it seems like that’s how the show wants to handle his character as well. Once Jae-joon Bot was back last week, it felt like we were in yet another round of jealousy and the Tin Man yet again realized that what he feels for Soo-hyun might actually be love. Which would be going against his Metaphor Castle and revenge plans, apparently.
And yet again, the standout point in this hour remains is the persistent suggestion/demand/omg-why-can’t-you-do-it-already idea to wake the patient up early and thus bringing down the medical competency of practically this entire hospital with it. We’ve seen how callousness and persuasion leads to some honestly stupid decisions and actions for the sake of dramatic conflict so many times in this show that it makes you wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to be treated at Myungwoo Hospital. Not everyone can be a sometimes-genius-doctor like Hoon but apparently all it takes to be one in this dramaverse is to wear (or steal) a white coat.
- Doctor Stranger: Episode 14
- 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