Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 18
This was an episode of two decided halves: One to say goodbye to the past, and the other to usher in the future (and anyone else who wants to come along for that ride…).
The last of the secrets are spilled, and Se-gi proves not only that he dresses better than Do-hyun, but that both Ri-jin and Do-hyun definitively need him to kickstart their reconciliation. And maybe a few others.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Ri-jin and Ri-on come home from walking their dog. Ri-jin’s impersonation of flirty Yo-na quickly persuades her brother to get the dog’s food.
While she waits, Ri-jin receives a visitor: Se-gi apologizes for being late.
He wants Ri-jin to run away with him, away from their terrible memories. Both of them remember their childhood promise to run away together somewhere far away, and deliberately echoing her past self, Ri-jin says she doesn’t have money. Se-gi acknowledges it with a smile and repeats his reply then — he has lots. She takes his outstretched hand.
Ri-on finds out by text from Ri-jin that she’s left with Se-gi. Another message tells him not to worry, she can handle Se-gi.
Aww it’s the return of the Segimobile (which is a Ford Mustang, not a Ferrari — apologies!). They drive, while in voiceover, we hear the rest of her message to Ri-on. She tells him how Se-gi is the most wounded piece of Do-hyun. She’s connected to him by a common wound, so examining his is the same as examining her own, and that’s what she means to do.
Se-gi asks Ri-jin where she wants to go — her wish is his command. She asks him why he acted like he didn’t know her when they first met. Se-gi didn’t want her painful memories to surface, and confesses that he hoped she would choose him with or without them. He asks if she already remembered everything, and she’s surprised that he knows about that.
Se-gi explains how he shared memories with Do-hyun. Ri-jin finds out Do-hyun discovered the truth about his/her name, and Se-gi says the shock was so deep it made him check out.
Ri-jin asks how he came to take the name Cha Do-hyun, and we go back to the day of the fire. Little Se-gi throws a lit match on the spilled kerosene. The fire catches immediately, whooshing under the locked door, into the basement room where his dad and Ri-jin are. Dad struggles out, and catching sight of his son, calls out, “Joon-young!”
One look at his face makes Dad realize Joon-young must have set the fire. But the boy faints, and choking on smoke, Dad brings him out. Joon-young comes around and cries for Dad to rescue Do-hyun.
Dad passes his son onto a firefighter and runs back inside. Joon-young is rushed to an ambulance, unconscious, while a paramedic tries to rouse him. She repeatedly asks him his name. Struggling, he replies, “Cha…Do-hyun. My name is Cha Do-hyun.” Oh. He cries inside that it’s his fault.
Dad returns to the inferno for Do-hyun, frantically calling her name. Grandma’s voice narrates the last thing Dad said before his coma: that when he went back for her, she was already gone. We see Ri-jin’s mom at the scene of the fire, hurrying away with a hidden bundle — the girl, Do-hyun.
Grandma’s voiceover continues: Some days later, she got a letter from a friend of Seo-yeon, asking her not to look for the girl. In the fiery basement, Dad collapses.
In the time following the incident, Joon-young doesn’t respond to his name, no matter how much his mom calls him. She tries, “Do-hyun?” and he turns around immediately. Oh my chills.
Mom gathers him up in an embrace. With tears in her eyes, she agrees that he should forget everything — the fire, his father, the girl and what happened in the basement, even his own name. He can just be Cha Do-hyun, the sole heir to Seungjin.
In the present, Se-gi tells Ri-jin that young Joon-young believed she had died in the fire that day, and out of his despair and guilt, his mind created an alter in the image of her seven-year-old self. Ri-jin finally understands the mystery of “Nana,” a personality who had been dormant until Do-hyun met Ri-jin again now.
Ri-jin asks if the fire happened because of her. Se-gi replies that it was to save her. She argues that he could have died, but he smiles that she lived. We cut back to when Do-hyun found out the truth about who set the fire. Grandma realizes that his mind must have broken back then. He stumbles out, head ringing.
Memories loop and mix. Little Ri-jin’s voice inviting him to play overlaps with mom’s telling him to stay as Do-hyun. His child-self pounds at the basement door and Dad punishes Ri-jin. Se-gi revisits the memory of the scene of the fire, the first time he appeared. Looking over his younger self with sad satisfaction, he thinks, “The one who saved that child was me.”
Ri-jin worries that Do-hyun’s DID happened because of her, but their conversation is cut short when Se-gi gets a phonecall from Alex, the U.S. friend Ki-joon was investigating. He tells Se-gi that he was offered half a million for his secrets. He needs the money, but he wants his friend to make a better offer, and they arrange to meet.
Ki-joon’s secretary reports to his boss about their offer to Alex, and also tells him about the man’s gambling debt. Alex claims to know explosive secrets about Do-hyun that will ruin Seungjin, and will go to the papers unless they buy it. Ki-joon is reluctant to go along with his terms.
Se-gi tells Ri-jin that Alex is a parasite who’s lived off threatening Do-hyun since high school. While he rants about killing him, Ri-jin thumbs off a secret text to Chief Ahn about Se-gi, Alex and where they’re going.
They arrive at the meeting place and Se-gi tells Ri-jin to stay in the car. She tells him to stay — she’ll deal with this. Even though her contract with Do-hyun was terminated, her deal with Se-gi stands, which means no violence and no ruining reputations. She reminds him that he said her word was law. Trapped by his own promises, he can only curse.
The darkness of the warehouse makes her nervous. She looks for Alex, who suddenly emerges from the shadows. She introduces herself as Do-hyun’s secretary, and he tells her to double Ki-joon’s offer. But giving her a once over, he leers that he could take Ki-joon’s money if she’ll get friendly with him.
Ri-jin backs away as Alex steps closer. She flails madly, and somehow (lol hooowww?) she ends up with her fingers rammed up Alex’s nose. He bleeds and swears and oh my god, help, I’m dying so hard here.
Outside, Se-gi paces and curses, but Ri-jin’s scream sends him inside. Alex has her backed up with his hand over her mouth when Se-gi flies at him. He pulls out a knife, and Se-gi blocks it with his bare hand. He’s so enraged Alex messed with his woman that he begins to choke him.
He’s deaf to Ri-jin’s entreaties to stop, and she screams, “Cha Do-hyun!” The effect is immediate — Do-hyun returns.
In the car, Ri-jin bandages his hand. While she chatters, he just stares at her. Finding his voice, he asks if she remembers about the name “Cha Do-hyun.” He apologizes taking over her name.
He tells her, smiling, how much he likes the way she calls his name. She asks him not to be sorry towards her. Among her painful memories were also good ones, she says, such as her mom rescuing her, and little Cha-gun who kept his promise to meet her every night. When she was scared and alone, he was there for her: “The reason why my mind wasn’t shattered into pieces was probably because of you, Cha Do-hyun.”
Crying, she apologizes. Because of her, his mind was shattered. She acknowledges how hard he struggled against his other personalities, in order to protect that name. “So I’ll give it you as a gift, the name ‘Cha Do-hyun,'” she tells him. He wells up.
She instructs him to answer confidently, “I’m Cha Do-hyun,” when anyone asks, just like he used to. He wipes her tears, and the background song is perfect: “Although I can’t say ‘I love you’…I love you.”
It’s late by the time Do-hyun drops Ri-jin home. He says goodbye (but why does it still sound so final?) by telling her to be well. But everything he wishes, she turns back on him: He shouldn’t be in pain anymore, or have nightmares, or worry about her.
After she leaves, Do-hyun clutches his ringing head. A moment later…oh lol, it’s Perry Park! Dad (who finally meets the real Perry) runs into him, and is so pleased that he keeps clapping him on the head with excitement, much to Perry’s disgruntlement. Perry perks up at the mention of fishing, and the two ajusshis fall into easy banter.
Dad takes him in for a drink, and they call the (very confused) kids to join them. Dad wants to adopt Perry as his little bro instead of Ri-on’s friend, and Perry immediately calls Dad ‘hyungnim’. Dad is so happy that he orders out the special liquor, which Ri-on objects to since Dad doesn’t even give it to him.
Perry compliments Dad, saying that his daughter grew up well because her dad was so great. She’s strong and has a loyal heart — but, he confides, she really can’t dance. Dad is suspicious that they’re dating, but Perry easily dismisses it, telling hyungnim to perish the thought.
Just as he’s about to drink the hallowed liquor, his consciousness interferes. He struggles to just take one sip, but ultimately fails. He spills the precious drink and knocks out. This is the twins’ cue to rush him away before he exposes himself.
They deposit him on Ri-on’s bed. He asks Ri-jin what’s going on. But she’s as confused as he is, and they leave to discuss it. On the bed, Se-gi twitches and comes around. But I’m thinking that ain’t Se-gi…
Over tea, the siblings try to figure it out. Ri-jin thinks that because Do-hyun has been going through so much lately, the instability of his core made the alters come out. Ri-on offers his writer’s point of view, that it’s his subconscious way of staying around Ri-jin, since he can’t do that when he’s himself. But he also thinks the alters are the right people to regulate him in his shaken condition.
Returning to his room, Ri-on is shocked to find it empty. Ri-jin, on the other hand — ohh it’s Yo-sub! Wearing Ri-on’s glasses, lol.
She’s happy to see him, and the way he calls her noona squeezes my heart. He’s been reading Omega, but he doesn’t like it — it’s too lightweight, “It feels like a gash on my soul.” He confides that he wants to write a beautiful poem, but worries that time isn’t on his side. Her face fills with sorrow.
She asks him why his name is Yo-sub. He tells her about the first time he attempted suicide in high school. It sent shockwaves through his mission school, where he was then baptized and given a Christian name (“Yo-sub” is the Korean version of “Joseph”). He also tells her that he always wished he could be his sister, Yo-na (who, like her namesake Jonah, thirsts to live).
Yo-sub thinks Do-hyun is done with thoughts of suicide now. Since he doesn’t know how much time he has until he disappears, Yo-sub wants to say his goodbyes. He comes over to Ri-jin and crouches until their eyes are level. He leans in and drops a chaste kiss on her cheek.
Ri-on bursts in at the wrongest moment. He bellows at “Perry Park” for hitting on his sister and flings poor Yo-sub to the floor. But when Ri-jin tells him it wasn’t Perry, it’s too late — Yo-sub is out, and…
“Oppa~!” squeals Yo-na. Ri-on covers his ears and tries to pretend her away, which obviously doesn’t work. She tacklehugs him to the floor, intent on showering him with kisses, while Ri-jin laughs at him.
Clad in her favorite bunny pyjamas, Yo-na presides over the twins’ argument about where she’ll sleep. Ri-jin says a man can’t sleep in her room, while Ri-on splutters that he certainly can’t have a girl in his. Yo-na tires of their squabbling and makes an executive decision — Oppa’s room it is! The siblings vehemently object, leaving only one way to resolve their impasse…
Rock, Paper, Scissors: Ri-jin loses.
Yo-na primps in front of Ri-jin’s mirror, which makes Ri-jin suspicious. What’s she getting pretty for in the middle of the night? She suggests they go out for ssambap, which Ri-jin doesn’t even need to shoot down.
Next, Yo-na oh-so-casually says she’s off to the bathroom, but Ri-jin’s got her number — she knows Yo-na is looking for any excuse to be with Oppa. Yo-na’s frustration at being foiled makes her claim the bed, but Ri-jin orders her to the floor. Ohmylols, Yo-na getting schooled is gold.
But this girl isn’t one to give up, and her next excuse for a trip is water, for her raging thirst. Thirst for Oppa’s blood, you mean. Ri-jin decides it’s time to take emergency measures, and uses some cord to tie Yo-na to her. Ri-jin warns her not to dream impossible dreams. Still pining for Ri-on, Yo-na eventually falls asleep.
But she does dream of Oppa, and a jerk of the cord lands Ri-jin on the floor. Still asleep, they inch closer together, and Ri-jin slips into a dream of the first time she and Do-hyun met as children. Laughing and playing, they tumble down beside each other, face to face, just like Ri-jin and Yo-na now.
Do-hyun wakes up, himself again. His eyes widen to see Ri-jin beside him. He tries to make sense of his bound wrist, but the bunny pyjamas answer his question. He settles down again, and watches Ri-jin’s sleeping face.
Her eyes open. “Yo-na?” she asks.
“I’m Cha Do-hyun,” he replies, and I’ve never been so happy to hear that line. She lets out a happy sigh. He tells her how the words he’s said and heard the most in his life are that name, Cha Do-hyun. He feels like the two of them have always been connected through it, even though they parted in their childhood.
He explains that he sent her away because he thought it would be too painful for him to see her in pain while being next to him. Instead he found it was worse when she was away from him. In other words, “Don’t go. Stay with me,” he asks her now. He folds her hand into his.
Suddenly, the lights come on and OMG RI-ON STOP INTERRUPTING THE MOMENT!!
Do-hyun and Ri-jin spring apart, struggling with their bonds while Ri-on looks on with interest. He asks what’s going on. Do-hyun tries, “Oppa?” but forgets his voice. In an adjusted falsetto, he makes an excuse to leave. Ri-on (totally on to him) blocks “her” and asks if she’s going out dressed like that.
It looks like the answer to that is “yes.” Bunny Do-hyun makes for his car and Ri-on wonders how a highschooler is going to handle driving it. Ri-jin cringes on the sidelines while Oppa has his fun.
The moment they’ve seen Do-hyun off, Ri-jin tries to escape, too. But Ri-on holds her back. That was Do-hyun right? He boasts that he knew it wasn’t Yo-na since there’s no way she’d have been able to leave him.
Alone later, Do-hyun and Ri-jin separately think about their moment with quiet elation.
Do-hyun shocks the board the next day by showing up to take charge of the Seungjin shareholder meeting. In his office, Ki-joon fumes at this turn of events. But his mood lifts when he receives a piece of mail from Alex, and finds a locker key inside.
Do-hyun tells Grandma he’ll do his best at the company, but she should temper her expectations. He says it’s not a show of modesty, but a warning. He plans to do everything his own way, and then leave on his own terms. Strangely, Grandma doesn’t look displeased at his fighting words.
Uncle tells Ki-joon that Do-hyun is a fake who took on the identity of the missing child 21 years ago. Ki-joon is floored by the revelation, but Uncle chuckles that with Seungjin, anything is possible. Ki-joon asks the important question: What happened to the real Cha Do-hyun?
Uncle must tell him, because once alone, Ki-joon ponders over Oh Ri-jin, “the real Cha Do-hyun,” and wonders what Alex’s key unlocks.
Do-hyun returns to his office, and is met by Chief Ahn — and Secretary Ri-jin. She greets him brightly and Chief Wingman explains that he took her on because of her proactivity, blah blah (riiight) but leaves it to Do-hyun to decide whether she’s hired or fired. He leaves the lovebirds alone.
Do-hyun walks right past her, and she catches his arm, reminding him he wanted them to stay together. But he didn’t mean resuming her doctor duties on a defunct contract, he points out. Playful Ri-jin urges him to just write a new one — one that omits the “thou shalt not fall in love” clause. Instead, it should say, “Parties A and B, no matter what trial they face, get through it together.”
Grinning, Do-hyun declares the reset with a snap of his fingers. Then he calls “Start!” and holds open his arms to her. Dying of cute. They’re both so happy but Ri-jin, still plays hard to get. She teases him for being desperate, but he just laughs and spins her around, into his arms.
If this show were to end right now, this is totally enough for me. Their resolution now is so much better for being hard-earned rather than an untested promise. On the other hand, it can’t end yet: Now they’re a team again, now that the battle lines have been drawn, now that Do-hyun has his sense of self back, now that Ri-on is their active ally…I’m stoked to see how the finale plays out.
This show has laid an intricate groundwork of motifs and counterpoints right from the beginning, and several of those elements came full circle this episode, characterizing exactly what this show does so well. I can’t talk about all of them, but let’s look at a few. The theme of inversion has run throughout, both literally (mirrors) and figuratively. But the poetry of it multiplied this episode. The best occasion was the reframing of Do-hyun — not as a failed protector, but a savior. The simple beauty of Ri-jin returning his name was highlighted in the words that came with it — that where he felt he had failed her, she told him he gave her hope. Where he saw himself as stealing her name, all she sees is how he guarded it. When he sees himself as hopelessly broken, she sees that he took the strike that saved her from his fate. So in every way that matters to her, he saved her.
Read this line with the weight of a thousand words: I LOVE RI-JIN. Both her gratitude and her distress over his pain are real. As we draw to a close, the second half of the show’s title matters more and more. That vote of confidence from her, that display of faith, it’s what he’s needed all this time to undo his burden of guilt. This is how they heal each other. Being someone with the capacity to protect and save his people is absolutely necessary to Do-hyun’s being. Failing her is what broke him in the first place, 21 years ago. Ri-jin is the only person who can restore him, because she is the root — the origin, if you will — of his fracture. For a moment, though, I was afraid that she would simply take on Do-hyun’s crushing guilt as her own burden. But this is Ri-jin. Like a bomb, she defuses it and puts it aside. And when they finally jettison the guilt, they are able to give strength to each other.
I loved everything about how she returned the name to him. It was so much more than just what he should be called. It was giving him back permission to exist, and to live — not like a shadow, but fully. It was giving him haven. The truth of how he took her name was even more tragic than anything I imagined. He had splintered once already, that first time, and in the aftermath of the fire Se-gi set, the horror of losing Ri-jin is so great that he splinters again. Because he thinks she’s dead, protecting her name is the only way left to him for protecting — how better to save her than to be her?
Erasing Ri-jin’s existence like we thought last week really was too terrible to be premeditated, and while I still don’t like Grandma and Do-hyun’s mom much, I’m glad that the revelation has returned shades of grey to them. It highlights again how people are rarely wholly bad, but bad choices lead to bad ends. To cite Harry Potter again, Do-hyun’s dad is basically Snape. A sincere person to start with, he becomes twisted by anger and resentment, and eventually crosses too many lines for forgiveness. When he went back for Ri-jin in the fire, he showed an unexpected nugget of humanity, but it isn’t enough for redemption. And so, for the most part, his fate is fitting. Just don’t wake up and complicate things, unless you’re going to repent, okay?
This show has done a killer job with the unreliable narrator aspect, which is one of my favorite devices (Megan Whalen Turner, anyone?). The flashbacks are integral part in constructing it throughout, so they haven’t felt pointless to me. Instead, I find them layered, iterative and changing, capturing effectively the confusing nature of both memory and mental disorder. For example, when Do-hyun has the devastating realization a few episodes ago that the memories he thought were his, were actually fabrications of his wounded psyche. His acute desire to have been the one who suffered in Ri-jin’s place drove his mind to create that version of the memory. But more profoundly, they weren’t even offered up willingly by his psyche (even the false memory was too painful), but shrouded in a thick layer of amnesia. It’s almost bizarre, when you think about the lengths the mind goes to — burying false memories, and even deeper inside the false memories, the truth.
The rewriting of memory is another central and repeated theme. Ri-on does it for Ri-jin, and has done for a long time, but for them, it’s a way of taking the teeth out of her fears. On the other hand, the Seungjin family create an illusory world that puts them on the right side of the moral divide. In fact, everything in this story starts with lies and deception, and everyone has a hand in it. Grandpa forces Seo-yeon back and presents Ri-jin as Dad’s daughter. Later, Dad hides her, and Mom and Grandma enter Do-hyun in the family register under a name that wasn’t his. And that brings us to the most important theme of all: truth.
While I think we finally have the truth this episode, it doesn’t end there. So let’s hope that the truth wins them justice and a happy ending.
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 17
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 16
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 15
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 14
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 13
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 12
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 11
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 10
- Kolorful Palette: Split [Kill Me, Heal Me]
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 9
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 8
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 7
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 6
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 5
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 4
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 3
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 2
- Kill Me, Heal Me: Episode 1