Healer: Episode 2
In a compelling opening week, we get the first clues that the three central characters are all caught in the middle of a much bigger web. The hints of grand power-plays don’t matter today, though, as Young-shin and Moon-ho find. What matters is connecting with loved ones, and saving whomever you can, whatever it costs — although nobody’s told the Healer that yet. But a spark of something has been kindled inside him. It’s not change yet…but it’s the possibility of change.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Young-shin narrates her father’s advice to make her job the thing she likes second-most, and her hobby the thing she likes foremost. This, she explains, is why her dad’s job is as a lawyer specializing in police cases, while he owns a café on the side, patronized by his “fans”: police and ex-convicts. She calls them her friends, and a flashback shows a younger Young-shin surrounded by proud and doting ajusshis as she masters how to pick locks and pockets, and doctor open a safe.
Late for work, Young-shin just makes the bus. We catch up to the previous episode as Jung-hoo boards right behind her. When the bus takes off and she loses her balance, he catches her but dodges out of sight as soon as she’s set herself to rights.
He takes a seat right behind her, and Young-shin narrates that from her felonious friends, she most importantly picked up a sense of intuition — so she knows when she’s being watched. Every time she snaps around to catch the spy, Jung-hoo ducks so she doesn’t see his face.
While he watches the back of her head, Ajumma Min-ja (knitting in her hacker’s den, lol) barks in his earpiece not to mess up — just a few strands of hair will do. Each time he tries to reach for them, though, Young-shin unintentionally foils him. His expression when she finally pulls on a hat is priceless. Ha!
He follows her off the bus, disgruntled that she isn’t easy pickings. Suspecting she might be on to him, Min-ja advises him to target her bag instead, which may contain a hairbrush or toothbrush from which he can get his samples.
He trails her, and quickly clocks the busy market street — fruit vendor, cyclist, empty can — and engineers a three-way collision with a kick to the last. That was kind of awesome. As fruit, cyclist and Young-shin go down, he takes her bag and scrams.
She’s quick to notice, and spots him in time to give chase. Meanwhile, he empties her bag out in a restroom but is increasingly frustrated that there’s nothing he’s after. At this moment, Young-shin bursts in and accuses him of thievery. She calls police to report the thief, barring the door from the outside with a pole.
Cap pulled down and hood up, Jung-hoo snaps the door open and drags her inside. Young-shin is tough, scrappy, and fights back — it’s not her fault he’s a professional. She glimpses his reflection in the mirror and, intent on protecting his identity, Jung-hoo covers her eyes and slams a fist into it.
Pinned against him, she sobs with terror when he goes for a knife, but he picks up nail-clippers instead… which terrifies her just as much. He tells her she’ll get hurt if she moves, and is it bad that I am laughing? I know he just wants a nail clipping, although she thinks she’s about to die horribly, or worse.
Having collected his samples, he tells her, “From now on, don’t just follow anyone fearlessly, or you’ll end up dead,” and vanishes.
By the river, Jung-hoo slips his nail samples into an envelope and is met by the third member of their operation, KANG DAE-YOUNG (Tae-mi). She rides up on her motorbike and calls him “hyung,” and amid her chatter, he tucks the envelope into her pocket and walks off.
She follows, urging him to recommend her to the boss for bigger jobs than deliveries. Only when she gives up does he march back to her. Strapping on her helmet, he tells her to drive safely — the only words he’s said to her all this time.
Dae-young deposits the envelope in a station locker, texting over the number and PIN code. It’s later collected by an unseen black-clad person. But that sleeve looks like what Moon-ho’s wearing today…
At ABS headquarters, Moon-ho assiduously avoids news chief Min-jae, but she catches him anyway. She confronts him about his delving around SooSun Company, their channel’s major advertiser, and he’s all, “Who, me?” He tells her he’s been chasing the story for three months, but she counters that it’s pointless, since it won’t be broadcast.
Min-jae accuses him of letting his popularity as “The Honest Reporter” get to his head, and warns him that his fans will throw him away sooner or later. But he’s well aware: They won’t simply throw him away, they’ll rip him apart and obliterate him, but he vows to keep going until then. And then we find out they are exes. I seeeee.
In the newsroom, Moon-ho asks his assistant to drop off DNA samples to the lab. The latter presses him for information about all these DNA tests, but Moon-ho doesn’t give anything away. Jong-soo warns his sunbae to watch out for the administrative storm heading his way, due to his off-the-script broadcast.
In response to her call, Moon-ho pays Myung-hee a visit, and she chides him for not showing his face these days, being so busy and famous. He starts to help with the cooking, which is all “veal mushroom porcini” and “steak with white wine sauce” and now you’re just showing off, lady!
It’s a comfortable atmosphere and Moon-ho, moved by warmth and affection, kneels at her feet and proposes they leave his hyung and run away to Seoul. He strengthens his jesting entreaty with a “Noona-ya~!” just as hyung Moon-shik arrives home.
Hyung points out it’s been twenty years and he still calls her “noona” instead of properly addressing her as sister-in-law. Myung-hee chimes in that it’s just as well, otherwise she’d have to call him “young master” and all speak jondae, which gets everyone chuckling.
Moon-ho follows hyung out and they chat about his latest mishap, which hyung seems to know a lot about. Although Moon-ho jokes that he must have had dinner with his boss, there’s a taut undercurrent of doublespeak. Moon-shik tells his errant brother to pack up at ABS and he’ll set him up with a team of his own, since being the head of a cable outlet isn’t worse than being the tail of a large broadcaster.
Watching his brother go, the good humor slides from Moon-ho’s face.
Moon-ho helps Myung-hee into bed and gives her her medication. She asks him about any girlfriends, but he doesn’t have one: “They’re annoying.” She settles in, but falling asleep is the hardest part, she tells him.
Moon-ho offers to distract her with a story: There are people in a steel-walled room, and they’re all asleep. Eventually, all of them will die — but one of them wakes up. He presents the dilemma: Should the awake one wake everyone else, and try to find an escape together? Or, Myung-hee finishes, should he leave them to sleep and die in peace?
She recalls that that’s actually a study, not a story, and asks him why he thought of that, and he just laughs it off.
While she drowses, Moon-ho looks at her tenderly. He picks up the group photo on her nightstand, and remembers in flashback how a younger Myung-hee took care of him. Young Moon-shik was pretty forbidding, and he didn’t dare cry in front of him. But when Myung-hee tells him it’s okay to cry in front her, he breaks into loud sobs and she cuddles him.
Moon-ho lets himself into his brother’s study, which he notes is monitored by CCTV. Pretending to browse, he uses his body to block its line of view. He plucks a hollowed-out book fitted with a spycam he must have planted earlier, and changes memory cards, taking the old one with him.
Away from the estate, Moon-ho skims the video in his car, until he gets to the snippet of conversation between hyung and his secretary about the Healer. He replays it, listening to the two men scheme to get rid of both the errand boy and the gopher, and is troubled to see they successfully received the item he had tried to intercept.
He’s interrupted by a call from his DNA-lab friend, who congratulates him for getting lucky on his fourth try: The results are 99.999% positive, and since they are both female, they must be mother and daughter. Moon-ho is too overwhelmed by the news to speak.
We catch up to Jung-hoo on a job. He relates in voiceover that he’s been doing this for eight years — since he was twenty — and modestly admits he’s the best. That’s why he ain’t cheap. As long as there’s no killing involved, he’ll do anything, without probing for information or letting morality interfere.
While we hear this, he navigates his way through a company building, executing an impressive series of disguises through sheer on-the-spot ingenuity. As office worker, janitor, and lab-coated technician, he works his way into the (not so) secure core of the building.
Slipping into what appears to be a control room, he hides behind banks of computers and connects his jacking wires while Min-ja remotely downloads everything. There’s a hairy moment where he might be discovered… lol how can you be on top of the unit without the other guy seeing you?
He sets off an alarm when he finishes, but gets away without being seen, helped by his latest (dorky college student) outfit.
Taking a moment now the job’s done, he tells us he doesn’t see the need for friends. He only has three numbers on his phone: Ajumma (Min-ja), Minion (Dae-young), and his favorite chicken place.
Back in his lair, Min-ja interrupts yet again while long-suffering Jung-hoo tries to eat (“Ajumma, is there a camera in my house?”). She tells him Young-shin must’ve been the right girl, since the client wants another job. He’s already paid for the completed one (Min-ja: “I like this client!”), and each further item will result in a fat little paycheck.
Jung-hoo is impressed, but the list surprises him: to find out the girl’s family and background, and whether she was abused as a child.
In the guise of neighborhood nerd, complete with matching info-glasses, he scopes out Young-shin’s café the next morning. This disguise is a perfect cover, because it allows him to be gawky, clueless and nosy, without raising any undue suspicion.
While he scans the employees (literally — that’s what the glasses do), Min-ja feeds him intel about the family: Young-shin was adopted when she was eight. Her adoptive mom died in 2001 and she now lives alone with Dad, Chae Chi-soo. She tells him about Dad’s jobs and notes that his law office is right in the café (ha! Ingenious!), while he stammers out a breakfast order and settles into a corner.
Min-ja says Dad’s famous for taking care of his clients even after their cases are filed, such as the ajusshi who served him, a former pickpocket and burglar.
Young-shin clatters down and tells dad she had nightmares all night because of “that psycho thief.” She argues with him to play upbeat music, and he sticks in — oh my lols — a blaring record of Han Dae-su’s “Please give me some water,” while father and daughter dance hilariously along together (no, really!).
Both Min-ja and Jung-hoo are flummoxed by this display, and the Healer’s report reads that there’s absolutely no evidence of childhood abuse. Hahaha.
Young-shin sets out for the day, with Jung-hoo in Healer get-up on her tail. He deliberately bumps into her and slips a tracking device into her bag. Min-ja instructs him to find out about her job, how competent she is at it, and what her style is.
To that end, Jung-hoo watches her scramble around a car park and wonders aloud if she’s really a reporter — she looks more like a car thief.
Young-shin passes a car, attention grabbed at a thug knocking around a woman in the backseat. She’s shooed away by henchmen, but detours back. The woman limps out of the car while the bully inside continues his diatribe, telling her to pretty herself up. From the dull dread on her face, it comes off like a pimp forcing her into jobs.
Young-shin turns away when the guards mouth more warnings at her — and in a stroke of luck, she immediately spots the celebrity she’s been chasing for her scoop. She runs after him, but gets locked out of the building while he vanishes into an elevator.
As she tries keycodes, the door is unlocked by someone else. She rushes in in time to confirm her man disembarked on the ninth floor, and suddenly notices the person who opened the door was the beaten woman.
They ride the elevator together, but the woman makes no move to get off at her floor. Young-shin gets off at 9, with a look back at her stricken companion, but shakes it off and sets about getting her scoop. Changing into a police-uniform disguise, she notices the elevator keeps on going right to the top floor. Oh no…
Jung-hoo tracks her and tells Min-ja she must be some kind of stalker, skiving off work to chase a man: “I find that kind of woman more frightening than a serial killer.” Ignoring his gripes, she tells him he has to get video of her.
Meanwhile, Young-shin tries to get access to the celeb apartment parading as a police officer. Jung-hoo catches the same elevator, and when he reaches her floor, Young-shin sees the woman’s discarded bag and asks Jung-hoo about its owner. He doesn’t know anything.
After a brief struggle with her conscience, she curses her luck and gets in. Jung-hoo gives her sidelong looks as they head to the top floor together. Seeing no sign of the woman there, Young-shin runs for the rooftop, where she finds her about to jump.
Panicking, she begs the woman to stop, and calling her “unni”, urges her to listen to her. But the woman only takes a step closer to the edge. Scrambling for the right words, Young-shin tells her she’s been there, too: “When I was seven years old, I stood there in your position.”
She describes a painful childhood: Discarded by her parents and found next to a garbage can at the age of five, she was shuttled from orphanage to orphanage. When she was eventually adopted, she was beaten. “It hurt so much, I wanted to die. When I was seven, I though it wouldn’t hurt if I could die,” she says, choked up.
The camera pans out to show Jung-hoo out of sight, recording via his glasses, an unreadable expression on his face.
Young-shin continues, “If you just endure it a little, it all passes.” She holds out her hand, and asks unni to trust her. Haltingly, the woman reaches back, and stumbles down into her arms, and both of them cry. Jung-hoo stops the camera, and tells Min-ja that’s enough. Taking off earpiece and glasses, he leaves.
That footage gets sent to Moon-ho, who watches it alone, taking in Young-shin’s story of her childhood. Grief fills his face, and he can’t bear to watch any more. Closing the laptop, he thinks back to another childhood memory.
A younger Moon-ho plays in a scrapyard while his brother works. Calling him to him, Moon-shik asks if Myung-hee gave him the flowered handkerchief in his hand. He offers to wash it for his little brother, who happily hands it over. Later, we see hyung clutching the handkerchief, gazing at Myung-hee with a sad expression as she laughs with her boyfriend.
Elsewhere, police tape cordons off the scene of a death, and blood stains the rocks. A cyber police investigator, YOON DONG-WON, arrives and hears that the body was thrown off a passing train from the bridge overhead, but nobody knows if the victim was dead or alive at the time.
Investigator Yoon is handed a note found in the victim’s pocket. It contains one line: Healer’s email address. Despite the detective’s protests, he snaps a photo of it, explaining that he’s been after the guy for five years.
Min-ja tells Jung-hoo that their client was very satisfied with what they’d sent, and has new instructions: Find out what Young-shin’s dreams and aspirations are. Jung-hoo, staking out Young-shin’s café, snorts derisively and tells Ajumma to do it. After all, girls do that social media bloggy stuff, don’t they? The problem is, Young-shin doesn’t.
Min-ja reckons he should have a blind date with her — then he could ask all that stuff freely — and follows up with an aegyo-tastic impression of how he should do it. He tells her to get a grip, and goes to work.
Healer gets his Spiderman on and scales the café building. Young-shin is still inside with Dad and Unni, whom she brought home, so he lets himself in through her window. In the dark, he riffles through her things, hoping to find a diary or something.
Min-ja’s computer flags up a warning, and she sees the police report for the earlier death. She alerts him that he’s now a wanted man, and he is all, “So what’s new?” But scrolling through security footage of him with the gopher, Go Sung-chul (the client he’d met on the subway), she tells him this time, he’s a murder suspect — because Go Sung-chul is dead.
Meanwhile, Young-shin brings Unni up, and heads to her bedroom for spare clothes. Switching on the lights, she collects them and leaves…and then the camera pans up, where Jung-hoo has hidden himself. He really is Spiderman.
He drops down, and looks around the now-lit room. His eyes land on the most recent additions to her personal gallery: the poster of Kim Moon-ho, flanked on one side by a picture of herself, and on the other, her stolen picture of the Healer.
Min-ja tells him to get out and lie low for a while, but eyes fixed on the unsettling tableau, he cuts her short: “You asked for her dreams… Then I’ll have to stay right beside her, to really find out.”
Healer’s visual and tonal resemblance to City Hunter is strong enough that there’s a little thrill beginning in my toes. If I say it, does it jinx it? A good action thriller is exactly what I want right now (read: all the time), and man, I hope this show brings it. Moderate my optimism? Why?! (Don’t make me eat my words, Show, I’m warning you: A sad fangirl is a bad fangirl.)
I really like Park Min-young as a sort of everygirl, and she’s playing Young-shin with wholehearted panache. She’s someone who works for everything. She doesn’t have genius or resources to fall back on, but it doesn’t stop her from thinking fast or being resourceful — surprisingly, her predominant traits aren’t dissimilar to Jung-hoo’s. She seems to have built her inner character around persevering, and I love that she has such great backup/surrogate family in the form of her dad and the ajusshis. She’s driven and conflicted (cf. how she reluctantly abandons her big scoop), and although her life and upbringing are as atypical as it gets, she’s still completely relatable and her tears don’t feel cheap.
Although I think I hit the screencap button on Ji Chang-wook (i.e., breathlessly badass Healer) about 508,953 times (the last time I did that: City Hunter), what I find most compelling are how textured all the relationships are, feeling fully fleshed out with interwoven backstories and mixed motivations. The layered storytelling, with just the right amount of tension, really brings out the dimensions in both the characters and the plotline, and it feels like the setup is in place to launch the central story.
In the first episode, Moon-ho mentions two key times: 1980 and 1992. We have some idea of what things looked like in 1980, but the second event has yet to be revealed. He obviously has some reason to mistrust hyung, rooted in more than his shady boss activities (although that’s reason aplenty): Both of them constantly try to outmaneuver each other, but neither shows it on the surface. Since we don’t know how Myung-hee ended up in a wheelchair, I wonder if 1992 was some kind of accident that resulted in her disability and her erstwhile family’s death…except her daughter didn’t die, and maybe it wasn’t an accident. DNA test aside, the maths certainly adds up: If Young-shin (present age 27) was abandoned when she was 5, that was 1992.
I’m speculating somewhat here, but it seems like Moon-shik’s point of departure from good guy starts at his crush on Myung-hee. But there’s no obvious tension in their present-day relationship, so it will be interesting to find out what his story is, and why Moon-ho is so determined to catch him. What he ultimately wants out of his brother is unknown and difficult to guess, but because it’s family — maybe his only family — it won’t be as straightforward as just wanting to bring him to justice. Maybe this is why he’s so desperately searching for Young-shin, the daughter presumed dead. If hyung was responsible for her abandonment (and it seems likelier by the second), then what lengths would he go to to stop it coming to light, and shattering the life he’s built with Myung-hee since?
How Jung-hoo factors into the mix is another big question. His connection to the 1980 Five is in here somewhere (their photograph is in his lair), but I wonder if he’s aware of anything himself, since the events of 1980 are several years before he was born. He’s the only one of the central trio whose past remains a mystery. All we know is that he runs almost solo, and if he buys his island, he also needs a yacht to run cargo. How did he come to be “The Healer”? What was he before that? Who are his parents?
I’ll admit right now, I’m a sucker for (fictional) damaged badass characters, so that’s why that lit spark excites me. For the first time, Jung-hoo has a personal stake which is going to lead him down the road of throwing away his “ethics” (which we all know is a euphemism for not giving a crap, as long as he gets paid), and he’s going to have to make choices whose consequences matter — he’s already made the first one. That jaded devil-may-care attitude is going to crack, and I hope it does so splendidly — petulantly, kicking and screaming (because isn’t he most fun when he’s most whiny?).
Now a murder suspect via his role in the opening job, I’m wondering about what kind of Pandora’s box the gopher had to die over. What is it and why does everyone want it, and what do they want to do with it? Does it have a connection to the past, or is it some new villainy?
- Healer: Episode 1
- High-speed thrills for hire in action drama Healer
- No mission too impossible for the Healer
- Reporters and buried secrets drive action thriller Healer
- Ji Chang-wook leaps across skyscraper rooftops for Healer
- Healer’s cast lineup and first script reading
- Healer secures cast, KBS reshuffles fall/winter lineup
- Ji Chang-wook, Park Min-young in the mix to join Healer
- Yoo Ji-tae signs on to new Song Ji-nah drama Healer