Beautiful Mind: Episode 12
The mysterious man in the wheelchair finally makes his move, and what he reveals pushes a few of our characters to the brink. It’s time for father and son to take center stage, but right when it seems like they are beginning to see eye-to-eye, a dark truth comes to light with some devastating consequences.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
As a child, Young-oh draws a picture of himself and his father, and in voiceover he says how much he loves his father; and how, like an angel, he came down to save him. We flash briefly through the events that led to Young-oh’s adoption, and the fateful surgery that at once healed him and disabled him.
Back in the present, we pick up from where we left off with Dr. Lee and Director Kang. Dr. Lee demands to know if they are accepting foreign investments, and whether they have relinquished ownership of their research to those investors who only care about money. He begs Director Kang to reconsider his position, going so far as to get on his knees.
Director Kang uses this moment to bring Dr. Lee’s attention to the other man in the room: his old colleague, DR. OH YOUNG-BAE, an investor from a company called Green Pharmacy. Young-bae turns in his wheelchair and meaningfully comments on how well Dr. Lee’s son has grown up.
In his office, Young-oh makes some tea as Min-jae opines on how Young-oh must have been expecting some kind of development in his frontal lobe, which is why he requested the MRI. Young-oh denies it immediately and claims to be pleased with the results. Now he has confirmed that emotions can confuse people, but they have nothing to do with his condition.
With a tiny smirk, she throws his words back at him, saying, “Your lips may lie, but your body cannot.” She then removes the teapot from his hand to stop him from overfilling his teacup.
He seems stunned to be betrayed by his body, and swiftly moves off topic to avoid further discussion. Then he inquiries about the patient she needs help with.
Young-oh and Min-jae meet with the patient, who describes a mysterious and excruciating ghost pain on her face. Min-jae colors in the patient’s medical history and explains that she had a brain tumor removed a year ago. The patient begs Young-oh to cut out all the nerves on her face, willing to do anything to stop the pain.
Solemnly, he tells her that unfortunately, her nerves were already removed during her previous surgery. He explains that she has a chronic condition known as neuropathic pain, which occurs when nerve fibers are damaged (or in her case removed), and causes the body to send incorrect signals to other pain centers. Sadly, there is nothing that can be done to eliminate the pain. The patient storms out angrily, as Min-jae watches with tears in her eyes.
When they are alone, Min-jae gets a little philosophical as she wonders if the woman is meant to suffer because life without suffering is not real. She then uses it as an opportunity to explain her side of things, and says that Young-oh was the only one who was nice to her without having a reason, but when she discovered that his kindness was fake, her life suddenly seemed fake as well. She became angry with him, but over time she came to understand that what she really felt was pain.
Having expressed interest in her use of the word “pain,” Young-oh asks what she means. She hopes that Young-oh can accept suffering as a part of life one day, because perhaps that is what normal people do, though she isn’t really sure herself. Then, as if she had been waiting for the right moment, she asks if they can start over from the beginning.
Dr. Lee and Young-bae meet privately, and Dr. Lee wastes no time asking what Young-bae wants. Young-bae simply wants him to join his company and invest in their stem cell research. Dr. Lee rejects his proposal, stating that he’s committed his life to this research in the hopes that one day surgeons will no longer be needed. Big pharmaceutical companies like Young-bae’s are only interested in making money and driving up the prices of medicine, while sick people in need serve as collateral to their greed. He refuses to ever give up his research so that they can line their pockets.
Sensing that he isn’t getting anywhere, Young-bae tries to attack Dr. Lee’s weak spot by bringing up his son. Young-bae reminds his former colleague that he promised to devote his life to raising Young-oh into a normal person, but that doesn’t seem to be his real focus. Provoked, Dr. Lee grips the fabric of Young-bae’s jacket and tells him that he has no right to ridicule his life. Unfazed, Young-bae replies back bitterly, “Don’t I?” and points out the fact that he is in a wheelchair.
He pushes Dr. Lee’s hand away, and contemplates paying Young-oh a visit for a consultation to fix his legs. Young-bae then asks if Dr. Lee’s son knows that his father’s mistake made him the way he is. Dr. Lee tenses up at the implied threat, and Young-bae concludes that his son must not know. He threatens to tell Young-oh the truth if Dr. Lee continues to refuse his offer.
Jin-sung arrives at the hospital and repeatedly calls Young-oh, who refuses to answer. She slips into a crowded elevator and tries again. The elevator empties on the next floor until she is left alone with Young-oh, who was standing in the back.
She gathers her courage to face him; after hesitating at first, she then bursts out indignantly, demanding to know why he isn’t picking up the phone. He tries to leave without answering, but she stops him and says that because he’s much smarter and more eloquent than her, she knows she can’t win by arguing. So instead, she asks if it is possible not to complicate their relationship; all she wants is time to spend time with him.
He doesn’t answer, and after she’s done talking, he coldly leaves her alone in the elevator.
In another part of the hospital, Dr. Hwang meets with a patient’s very pregnant wife to discuss the her husband’s condition. He is terminally ill with cancer. He needs a very dangerous surgery but the likelihood of survival is low, and moreover, should he survive he will likely be paralyzed and need to rely on a respirator for the rest of his life.
The wife is surprisingly very knowledgeable on the potential outcomes of her husband’s condition, and seems levelheaded about the entire situation. She tells Dr. Hwang that her husband has been rejected by twelve other hospitals that have refused to operate because of the hopelessness of his case.
She articulately explains to Dr. Hwang, while holding her husband’s hand, that she doesn’t expect him to cure her husband or extend his life by years. She just wants him to give them a little more time so that her husband may see the birth of their child. It’s then that her voice breaks and her eyes well with tears as she explains their very modest hopes.
Young-oh, who overhears the entire thing, steps in and offers to do the surgery.
Later, Dr. Lee meets with Young-oh to express his surprise that Young-oh agreed to do the surgery since he’s always selected patients based on the probability of success. He wonders aloud if Young-oh is desperate to prove his superiority by taking on such a risky case. Young-oh’s response is vague as he replies that he is also curious to see why he’s doing this.
Young-oh hands the operation consent form to the patient, but reiterates how difficult the surgery will be and the life-altering consequences it may have. The husband smiles softly and puts on a brave face, having heard all the risks many times before. He then asks Young-oh what kind of person he is, since accepting such a dangerous surgery with so many potential complications could harm his medical career should things go wrong.
His wife offers her take, and says that she doesn’t care what his motives are so long as he helps her husband. With that in mind, she signs the consent form.
After her second rejection by Young-oh, Jin-sung pays Suk-joo a visit to tell him of her job transfer to the Violent Crimes Division and requests a check-up to make sure everything is alright.
The air becomes strained when she brings up the regenerative research and its recent transition to commercialization. With the mood ruined, she quickly gets up to leave. He tells her that he’ll call her when he gets her test results back, making her pause.
She turns around to ask why thinking with your head causes pain in the heart instead, especially when she thinks of a certain someone.
The surgical team wheels the husband down the hall for the operation, but his wife blocks their path. Young-oh asks the couple if they want to do the surgery again, and the husband speaks up to overrule his wife’s interruption. The wife protests that she’s scared, and urges him to reconsider. He’s not having it, and tells Young-oh to proceed, because he’s going to make it through the surgery.
On the operating table, the husband asks Young-oh to be understanding of his wife’s behavior; neither of them have any other family members, so they need each other. However, it is precisely for that reason that he cannot give up on the surgery. He is determined to see his son and confirm that he will be strong enough to take care of his wife. He asks Young-oh to promise to do his best for their family.
The surgery goes well without any complications. Having successfully removed all the detected tumors, Young-oh relays the news to the wife. When he begins to explain in more technical language, the wife cuts him short and asks if that means he’s okay. Young-oh pauses and nods, but adds, “He is for now.”
Young-oh meets with the couple as they prepare for the husband’s discharge. They talk of their plans to go shopping for their baby, and Young-oh reminds them not to miss their follow-up appointment. The wife lingers behind to give Young-oh her sincerest gratitude, and Young-oh watches them leave with a worried look on his face.
Dr. Lee swings by to comment on Young-oh’s successful surgery, but Young-oh corrects him; the tumors not detected in the scans taken prior to surgery have already spread to the spinal nerves. Young-oh plans to switch to radiation therapy to address them.
When Dr. Lee asks why Young-oh allowed the patient to leave when he still needs care, his son replies:
“Doctors don’t save people’s lives, they only extend their lives. Arguing, laughing, talking, and eating with their loved ones. Those daily, meaningless things, people on average tend to find happiness in those things; a happiness that I have not yet felt… No, those are feelings I have never learned or experienced.”
Stirred by Young-oh’s words, Dr. Lee asks if the patient’s desperate desire to live was the reason he took on the surgery.
Alone in his office, Young-oh looks over the keepsake collection in his drawer. He remembers Jin-sung’s words in the elevator about wanting only to spend time with him, and connects them with the words of the wife who wanted the same with her husband. He muses over the similar language wistfully.
The couple’s shopping date is cut short, and they return to the hospital worse off than when they left. Young-oh rushes to the husband’s side, who gasps out an apology between labored breaths. He apologizes for pestering Young-oh into permitting their excursion against his advice.
The husband begins to fade, wanting only to be able to hold his child just once. Young-oh orders him to stop talking, and reminds him that he promised to help him meet his child. The husband chuckles weakly and says, “You say nice things in such a mean way, just like my wife.” Young-oh asks the husband to promise that he won’t give up.
Young-oh commences the radiation treatment. The wife accuses Young-oh of looking down on them because they don’t have parents. Despairingly, she says that she asked Young-oh for more time with her husband, but not while he’s in pain and barely alive.
Young-oh holds her by the shoulders and tells her that he promised her husband that he was going to do anything he could to give him time, but in order to do that, he needs her to also be strong—there isn’t a miracle treatment to prolong his life without pain.
Director Kang and Assistant Manager Chae meet with Young-bae to discuss Dr. Lee’s resistance to accepting the financial investment from Green Pharmacy. Young-bae promises that Dr. Lee will yield in a matter of time, but instead, Director Kang wants to know what Young-bae is using to blackmail Dr. Lee with.
Director Kang correctly guesses that it has something to do with Young-oh, but then asks if it has something to do with his birth. Assistant Manager Chae steps in to wisely say, “Secrets only have power if they remain secrets.” He asks Director Kang if he wants to satisfy his curiosity or make a deal, forcing Director Kang to back off.
Speaking of Dr. Lee, he gets the rundown from Suk-joo on the status of the first clinical trials for the regenerative treatment. Suk-joo expresses his faith that Dr. Lee will never relinquish the patent, but Dr. Lee responds evasively that their priority right now is to make sure the treatment is as successful as possible.
Once Dr. Lee leaves, Suk-joo asks Gi-ho to prepare an ECMO, which is basically a form of life support that imitates the natural functions of the heart and lungs in the event of cardiac arrest or lung failure. Understanding that the safety and success of these patients will determine the fate of their research, Suk-joo warns his colleague to prepare for the worst.
That night, Young-oh sits besides the husband to monitor his progress as his father observes from the outside. Dr. Lee asks for the patient’s status, and Nurse Jang informs him that the man has developed an infection, but Young-oh is attending to him personally and giving him meticulous care.
As fate would have it, the husband’s heart begins to fail the next morning, and Young-oh needs an ECMO to buy some time. Unfortunately, there are only three in the hospital, and Suk-joo has one of them.
Young-oh goes immediately to see his fellow surgeon, but Suk-joo denies the request. He needs the machine to be on standby should anything go wrong with his more important patients. Young-oh shoots back that while he’s waiting for the unknown, another patient is dying as they argue. Suk-joo doesn’t back down, stating that his patient’s lives are also on the line. Moreover, this isn’t just a vanity war for Suk-joo, the entire media is watching the progress of the regenerative cell treatment and the lives of his patients. If anything happens to them, then all their research will have been for naught.
Desperate, Young-oh bows his head to Suk-joo and begs for usage of the ECMO, but Suk-joo isn’t persuaded by the humbling gesture—he knows that Young-oh’s patient isn’t going to survive anyway. He refuses to relinquish the ECMO just to save a patient with such a small chance of survival.
Young-oh then reaches up and holds Suk-joo by the throat while he orders one of his surgical aides to transfer the ECMO. After safely securing the machine for himself, Young-oh sharply asks if Suk-joo still considers himself a good doctor after what he just said.
Having lost the machine, Suk-joo goes to tattle on Young-oh to Dr. Lee, stating that Young-oh is acting unlike himself and has become far too attached to his patients to make pragmatic decisions. Dr. Lee just smiles.
Dr. Lee meets with Young-bae again to tell him that he’s decided to accept his terms and work with Green Pharmacy. Young-bae replies that must mean he has chosen his son over his noble interests.
Elated, Dr. Lee says that his son is finally “becoming complete;” that he’s becoming closer to “a normal person,” and all his labor is finally bearing fruit.
Things go from bad to worse for Young-oh. He desperately tries to resuscitate the husband from cardiac arrest while one of the doctors implores him to call the wife. However, she has gone into labor. Young-oh doesn’t give up as the patient flatlines. But shockingly, the patient’s eyes then open, and he seems to be coherent.
The husband reaches a limp hand up to tell Young-oh to stop, but Young-oh persists, promising not to give up. The husband weakly begs him to stop once more, and only then does Young-oh finally give up and leave the room as the husband passes.
Young-oh staggers through the halls of the hospital as his father’s words flash through his mind, asking him from a time before if his goal was to keep a patient alive so long as they are breathing. Or from another time, when he asked if Young-oh understood why he opposed a “monster” like him becoming a doctor. He slumps down to the ground in the stairwell, looking dazed.
Meanwhile, back with Dr. Lee and Young-bae, instead of being pleased with Dr. Lee’s surrender, Young-bae is visibly annoyed. He tells Dr. Lee that once again he’s chosen to protect his self-interest, just as he did twenty-five years ago. Dr. Lee asks what he means, and Young-bae replies that the one who made Young-oh into a monster was Dr. Lee himself. He tells him that the surgery on Young-oh wasn’t actually a failure like Dr. Lee thought. OMG, what?
Young-bae says cryptically, “If there was anything that went wrong [with the surgery], it was me.” He doesn’t explain himself and instead leaves Dr. Lee with this thought: “Your surgery wasn’t a failure, but you created a monster after all.” Don’t just let him leave! He’s in a wheelchair for God’s sake.
Dr. Lee hurries over to see Min-jae and ask about Young-oh’s old CT scans, which she saw when she was at a smaller hospital where Dr. Lee used to work. He unleashes a flurry of questions, wanting to know where the records are, what they looked like, and whether the scans looked normal after the surgery.
However, Min-jae is too taken aback to answer, and Dr. Lee leaves. Once he is gone she realizes something and goes through her memories of her research on Young-oh, but we don’t find out what her realization is.
At the same time, Young-bae meets with Assistant Manager Chae to debrief him about his meeting with Dr. Lee. Young-bae says he previously thought that had medical practices been as advanced then as now, what happened to Dr. Lee would have never occurred. But he realizes now after meeting with Dr. Lee that he was wrong, because Dr. Lee stayed the same all these years.
“Since that day, everything that has happened to Young-oh cannot be attributed to medicine. It’s the human condition: ambition, selflessness, humiliation, and fear.” To that, Assistant Manager Chae wonders what will happen to Dr. Lee and Young-oh, but Young-bae brushes it off and says they got what they wanted—control of the regenerative cell research.
Devastated by the loss of his patient, Young-oh sits alone in his office brooding, which is where Min-jae finds him. He asks her if he’s a monster, because no matter how hard he tries, nothing changes. Guilt-ridden, she corrects him and says he isn’t a monster, but rather a victim of medical malpractice. Under the pretense of a perfect education, he endured years of discreet and persistent abuse at the hands of his father in order to maintain his reputation: “You’re his failure.”
Dumbfounded, he seeks out his father until he finally finds him at home, nursing a drink and staring at their wall of social cues. Young-oh tells his father that he has thought long and hard about what he would say when he finally found him, but came up empty. He begs his father to teach him the correct expression to make right now.
Young-oh: “You saved my life. You are my only family. You taught me everything about life. When I found out you were the true monster, and raised me to be a monster, what expression should I make? You never taught me how to deal with this kind of difficult emotion.”
Young-oh begins ripping down the sheets on the wall and declares, “I no longer want to live as your failure.”
This was definitely Heo Jun-ho’s episode. His portrayal of Dr. Lee is so nuanced; even when he is furious there’s a kind of restraint, as if he is fighting against his own nature, his own ideals. Without Heo Jun-ho, the revelation of what Dr. Lee did to Young-oh would not be fraught with so many complexities. When Young-oh starting ripping down the papers from the wall, it felt liberating, but at the same time utterly devastating. Perhaps Min-jae is serving as a mouthpiece for the writer when she says that Dr. Lee was trying to hide Young-oh to protect his reputation, but because of Heo Jun-ho’s portrayal, I always felt like he was doing it to give his son a shot at a normal life. I think, based on the way Young-bae was describing Dr. Lee’s unchanging nature, both could be true.
Now it makes sense to me why the show was so evasive about Young-oh and his condition in the beginning. Although the characters acted like they knew exactly what was up with him, Young-oh often behaved in very contradictory ways. How terribly tragic that a man who’s driven by high morals and who always tries to do the right thing has been unknowingly and relentlessly psychologically abusing a child that he was committed to helping. In his arrogance, instead of accepting Young-oh for his perceived flaws and allowing him to grow naturally, he tried to mold him into the shape of a human being. All while withholding the one thing he truly needed: the love of a parent.
I’m absolutely not trying to defend Dr. Lee’s actions, but I hope that, like the abusive mother in Episode 10, underneath Dr. Lee’s behavior there is some kind of love. And those wounds inflicted in the past, despite a parent’s deepest intentions, can only begin to heal with relentless, unwavering love. Just tell him you love him! Come on! Please?
What I find disappointing is that Jin-sung’s professional life has basically dropped off a cliff ever since it stopped having any medical relevance. I get it, this is a medical drama, but would it kill anyone to show her kicking butt as an improved (and competent) detective? Is it too much to ask? With the episode cut down I guess it must be. It can’t be denied that Young-oh is the center of this show, but it bothers me that Jin-sung’s just been casually pulled into his orbit. Oh, well.
I stated before that in consideration for the show’s episode reduction perhaps the patient of the episode stuff could be cut down, but this episode proved just how wrong I was. It’s the lives of these patients that shape our story and characters, moving the pieces along and pushing our characters forward. The pain and suffering of these very vulnerable and desperate people reflects a bit of themselves into the hearts of our doctors. This show was advertised as a story of how Young-oh would find his humanity by falling in love, and while that has been true, it’s also the love his patients have for their loved ones that has just as much impact, or arguably more, on his understanding of the human heart. What could be more fitting than that?
There were a lot of great lines in this episode, but my favorite was when the husband said, “You say nice things in such a mean way.” I love how Young-oh’s sincerity reached him. We’ve seen a progression in the last few episodes of how Young-oh’s relationship with his patients is changing, and with the couple, we watched their desires become his. We witness him truly adopt their desperation to live, even exceeding theirs. A couple of episodes ago, Jin-sung mistakenly believed that Young-oh was starting to love his patients, he corrected her and said he was talking about her. But after this episode, I think he was the one who was mistaken.
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 11
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 10
- KBS cuts medical mystery Beautiful Mind by 2 episodes
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 9
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 8
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 7
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 6
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 5
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 4
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 3
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 2
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 1