Beautiful Mind: Episode 13
Tears help us heal. Once shed, we feel the burden of our grief lifting and the possibility of happiness making itself felt. Our hero has been fascinated by tears for a very long time, but has never experienced the relief they bring. When an agonizing truth from the past is revealed just as he is struggling with a painful decision in the present, Young-oh finds out just how much misery his cold heart can bear.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Years ago, just after Dr. Lee adopted little Young-oh, Oh Young-bae noticed that something was off about the CT scan he had read earlier. In shock, he realizes that Young-oh’s report had accidentally been switched with another child’s, and that Dr. Lee had completed the boy’s surgery without any damage to his frontal lobe.
Young-bae hurries down to an event held at the hospital to speak to his colleague and correct his mistake. Unfortunately, he arrives to find Dr. Lee fêted by the other doctors for his selflessness in curing and adopting an orphaned child. This comes too soon on the heels of having lost a professorship to Dr. Lee, and in bitterness, Young-bae hides the report and spends the evening drinking.
In the haze of alcohol, Young-bae tries to shame Dr. Lee in front of their colleagues by insinuating that he had a darker reason for adopting the child. But Dr. Lee’s high credibility only makes Young-bae look like a jealous competitor attempting a smear campaign.
Later, in the hospital’s residential building, Young-bae follows Dr. Lee to an empty balcony and confronts him about trying to hide his malpractice with false generosity.
Dr. Lee insists that he did the best he could inside the OR, and will continue to do his best for Young-oh. He even smiles a little and points out that no one believed Young-bae when he tried to tell the truth. In anger and frustration, Young-bae charges at Dr. Lee, who steps out of the way, resulting in Oh Young-bae toppling over the balcony and falling several floors to the ground below.
Dr. Lee immediately runs down the steps to the garden, but stops in shock when he sees Young-oh standing on the pathway, watching Young-bae drawing ragged breaths on the ground. He drives Young-oh to the nearest phone booth to put in a call to the hospital about the fall. When he comes out of the booth, Young-oh looks up at his new father and asks: “Father, you’re a doctor too. Why didn’t you help him?” Dr. Lee stares silently at him, unable to answer.
In the present, Young-oh asks Dr. Lee what emotion he should express after discovering that he is his father’s greatest mistake. Dr. Lee, looking utterly tortured, can only say that he tried his best to create a perfect world for Young-oh. Young-oh counters that he created that perfect world to prove that he tried his best for his son. He points at the ruined wall of emotions and says, “Your perfect world has now collapsed.”
Young-oh goes back to the hospital and calls for a mortality conference regarding the death of his patient, who had a sarcoma on his spine. All the doctors are stumped as to why he would do so. They huddle together to speculate, and start wondering if Young-oh is perhaps targeting one of them. Their tense mood is finally broken by Dr. Hwang’s untimely sneeze.
When the conference starts and Young-oh begins to speak, Dr. Lee walks in and asks to moderate the discussion. He asks Young-oh why he chose to perform such a dangerous surgery on the patient, and Young-oh answers that it was his only chance for survival. Then Dr. Lee asks him why he stopped the CPR, and Young-oh thinks back to the moment his patient pleaded with him to stop.
Observing his son’s silence, Dr. Lee tells him that everyone in the hospital is aware that Young-oh tried his best to save the man. While doctors always look for answers, he says, sometimes the only answer is that they tried their best. Dr. Lee ends the conference there, and when everyone leaves, Young-oh asks his father if he knows why he really stopped the CPR that day.
Young-oh explains that he stopped because he couldn’t feel what his patient felt, and was afraid that he would force the man to live on life support out of a selfish desire to save his life. Young-oh says he did this because he isn’t normal, that Dr. Lee’s “best efforts” stripped normality from him. With deep anger in his eyes, he tells his father that he cannot forgive his “efforts.” “There is no such exoneration in this world,” he says. “Especially in a hospital.”
When Young-oh walks out of the conference, he meets his patient’s wife, now a young widow. She tells him that they didn’t want surgery, and that Young-oh’s stubbornness caused her husband to suffer in pain till he died. She hands him her husband’s phone and tells him that it holds her husband’s final message about how he really felt.
In his office, Young-oh looks at the phone for a long time, recalling the man’s final moments, but doesn’t play the recording. When he heads out, he finds Min-jae waiting. She asks if they can start over again. She says that if it wasn’t an injury, but instead damage caused by childhood trauma, then it can be worked with and eventually cured.
Min-jae tells Young-oh that he has her to help him. Young-oh sees the earnest plea in her eyes and tells her kindly that no matter the cause, the result will be the same. Too many patients will be put in danger, he says, because this is who he is.
That night, as Young-oh drives home, his patient’s final moments haunt him. He struggles with his feelings until he can’t take it anymore and parks the car to listen to the man’s message. Recorded in his last days, the patient fights to draw breath as he tells Young-oh that he was the first person to listen to what was in his heart.
Young-oh feels an unfamiliar lump in his throat as he watches the man tell him that he was not alone, because Young-oh was beside him. Seemingly at peace with his death, the husband assures him that Young-oh kept his promise to him. As the man thanks him for everything, Young-oh tries to clear the sudden dryness in his throat and abruptly ends the video.
But when he puts away the phone and looks up, his eyes brim over and tears pour down his face. He sits behind the wheel of his car and grapples with his emotions, crying openly.
Young-oh ends up on Jin-sung’s street as she’s taking out the trash. Jin-sung sees him and turns away, but Young-oh walks up to her and turns her to face him. If it weren’t for her, he says, he wouldn’t have tried to save that patient. If it wasn’t for her, he tells her, he would have lived in peace as he had all these years, grateful that he was alone. If it weren’t for her, he yells, he wouldn’t feel hope just because of a few tears.
He takes a stunned Jin-sung by the shoulders and tells her that he despises her more than anyone in this world, and wants her to disappear from his life. He turns and starts to walk away, but Jin-sung runs up and hugs him. Pressing her face into his back, she confesses that no matter what he says, she only hears “I love you.” She apologizes that she can’t leave him alone like he wants, and tightens her hold on him. Slowly, his hopelessness lifting, Young-oh clasps her hands and Jin-sung smiles into his back.
The next day, Young-oh opens a gift box like he’s expecting a bomb. He freezes as he studies the contents, but then remembers the rest of the husband’s message. In it, the patient expressed his hope that Young-oh would like his gift and hug his son for him. Young-oh sighs in defeat. The next thing we know, Young-oh is holding the baby during his baptism ceremony while rocking a fedora, huge shades, and a cheerful green shirt with a smiley face on it. Haha. Well played, husband.
Jin-sung leans in from the pew behind and points out that the outfit is a bit out of place. But with the smiling young mother beside him, Young-oh says that he’s not embarrassed at all, since he’s a psychopath and has no emotions.
Later that day, they walk along together on a date. Young-oh tries to surreptitiously capture her hand but keeps missing, as Jin-sung animatedly discusses their many lunch options. Jin-sung assumes that he won’t want to walk around in his uncharacteristic outfit for long, so she changes her mind again and suggests a fast food joint.
Finally frustrated with her cluelessness, he tells her that he isn’t embarrassed of his shirt at all, and asks her why she doesn’t just say that she wants to go to a hotel. Jin-sung sputters in embarrassment, but quickly realizes that Young-oh means a hotel’s lunch buffet, where she can eat everything she wants. This time Jin-sung takes his hand as they walk, and she tells him again that everything he says sounds like “I love you” to her.
When Young-oh turns up at the hospital in his happy green shirt, he causes quite a stir. Resident Yang trips over himself and asks a stunned Nurse Jang why they are the ones feeling embarrassed instead of Young-oh. The doctors freeze when they pass him in the hallway, and conclude that Young-oh’s traumatized.
Young-bae meets with Assistant Manager Chae and Director Kang and asks that lung disease patients be included in the trials. When Suk-joo finds out that Young-bae’s priority is to take over their research, he questions the assistant manager, who piously responds that since lung transplants cannot be done from live owners, it’s imperative that they be included in the trials.
Suk-joo is skeptical about his motives and points out that money and power are his motivators, and that greed had driven the assistant manager to kill Chief Director Shin. Assistant Manager Chae admits it with a smile, and tells Suk-joo that he would get rid of anyone who gets in his way.
Suk-joo pulls out his phone, which was recording their conversation, and says that this should be enough proof in court. As the assistant manager leaps to his feet in anger, Suk-joo reminds him that when he decided to be a good doctor, he gave up being a good person.
Young-bae meets Dr. Lee and tells him that he had several chances to prevent what happened: Dr. Lee should have taken Young-oh to another doctor, he should not have mocked Young-bae when he was trying to rectify his mistake, and he should never have left Young-bae after he fell.
Dr. Lee retorts that he had just lost everything, and if he had not operated on Young-oh, he could have been there for his son’s last moments. He tells Young-bae that if he hadn’t made that mistake, then he wouldn’t have lived with guilt and abused his adopted son. He tells him that he devoted his life to regenerative medicine so no surgeon would have to live with the burden he bore. Refusing to give Young-bae any apology for the past, Dr. Lee walks away.
Dr. Lee Shi-hyun sets a challenge for Resident Yang and promises to eat with him if he solves her riddle. She gives him three cases and asks him to find out what they have in common. Thinking it’s a medical license exam question, Resident Yang goes to the five doctors, a.k.a the “power rangers,” and begs for their help to solve it.
They decide to start their own bet and form two teams to see who can solve the problem first. Unfortunately, neither team can puzzle it out, and they’re all pretty surprised that a medical license question is this hard. They call in Young-oh, who studies the scans carefully.
The power rangers and Resident Yang wait with keen anticipation, but Young-oh just turns around and says he doesn’t know. Hah. Furthermore, since the cases aren’t patients in their hospital, Young-oh says, he doesn’t see why he has to solve the riddle. Resident Yang begs Young-oh, explaining how much he wants to go out with Shi-hyun, and this hits a chord with him. Young-oh tells Yang that he must win the bet, and focuses on the scans with renewed interest.
Jin-sung visits Suk-joo at the hospital to discuss her test results. Suk-joo tells her that while her heart is fine, her lung has developed pulmonary fibrosis. Jin-sung walks out in a daze and meets Young-oh on the way.
She hides her troubles and tells him she just wanted to see him. He smiles happily at that and asks her to call him something other than “Dr. Lee Young-oh” or “ajushhi.” He walks her to the main entrance, but as he says goodbye and turns around, Jin-sung collapses behind him.
Young-oh rushes her into the emergency room, where Suk-joo arrives and takes over her treatment. Young-oh finds out about her condition from Suk-joo, who says that if the antibiotics and antiviral agents fail to cure her, she will have to be put on the lung transplant waiting list.
Suk-joo’s research colleague Gi-ho explains these options to Jin-sung later, who acutely observes that the waiting list isn’t a treatment, but a way to tell her to wait till her luck finds her. Gi-ho offers her the option of participating in the regenerative medicine clinical trials, but we don’t see how she responds.
When Suk-joo hears about it, his concern is obvious to Gi-ho, who realizes that Suk-joo still has doubts about their medicine. He is mostly shocked that Suk-joo went ahead and administered the treatment to all their trial patients despite being unsure.
Young-oh searches through library shelves for books on lung transplants. The power rangers find him there, and thinking that he’s on the wrong track with their puzzle, they tell him that they’ve found the connection between the three patients. All of them have had heart valve surgery in the past. Young-oh’s eyes widen with realization and he pushes them aside to go hunt down Resident Yang, who sends him to Shi-hyun.
Shi-hyun agrees to talk privately about the cases and tells him that they were all patients at this hospital. When she noticed that they had all developed a rare lesion after the surgery and questioned it, she was taken off the case and their details were removed from the hospital’s records.
She was uncertain about who was involved in this, but wanted everyone in the hospital to know so an inquiry could be started. That’s why she posed the cases as a riddle. Young-oh asks her if the three cases also had endocarditis and cerebral aneurysms. It’s clear by this point that Young-oh is having flashbacks to his very first surgery in Hyunsung with the motorcyclist.
Jin-sung asks Suk-joo if he can assure her that regenerative medicine would be safe for her. She tells him that she has doubted him and hated him, but Suk-joo is the only one who can answer her. She tells him that she wants to live.
As Young-oh figures out that the mystery cases were all participants in stage three of Hyunsung’s regenerative medicine trials, Suk-joo calls Gi-ho to confirm that they’ll be starting Jin-sung on their treatment. Jin-sung has a bad turn, and needs to be put on ECMO. The doctors discuss that because of her weak heart, she wouldn’t last long on it.
Young-oh studies through the night about lung transplants as he waits for Jin-sung to wake up. When Jin-sung regains consciousness, she tells him that she decided to receive the treatment. She wonders why Young-oh isn’t asking her if she trusts or doubts Suk-joo, but Young-oh tells her that so long as she keeps her promise to never leave him alone, it’s all he needs.
Young-oh meets Suk-joo in the storage room and utters his name with contempt. He looks at Suk-joo’s name tag like he wants to tear it off, and punches him in the face. He grabs Suk-joo by the collar and tells him that he will never allow Jin-sung to be treated with their experimental medicine.
Suk-joo shouts back at him that he’s the reason Jin-sung is taking the risk so she can live. Young-oh tells Suk-joo about the three cases that prove that the third stage of the clinical trials was a failure, and asks him if he still thinks the regenerative medicine is safe for Jin-sung.
Suk-joo goes to Assistant Manager Chae and asks him if he deliberately removed the patient records of those who developed infections due to their medicine from the trials so they could get approved faster. Assistant Manager Chae asks if he is going to record him again, and points out that Suk-joo was the one to declare to the world that the third stage was a success.
He reminds Suk-joo that if he tries to expose the truth, he’ll only end up with his license revoked. Suk-joo listens with his fists clenched as Assistant Manager Chae decides that Jin-sung will be their first candidate for lung disease treatment.
Young-oh asks the power rangers to do something dangerous. When they protest that they were just trying to solve the puzzle for some beer and chicken, he calls each of them by their first name, establishing a personal connection. When he gets to Dr. Yoo, the man has to helpfully insert his own name. Hehe. Young-oh tells them to finish what they started, and they all straighten visibly as his words unite them in a greater purpose.
An unconscious Jin-sung is taken in to surgery, and Suk-joo stands over her. A moment later, Young-oh is wheeled in and laid out beside her. In a flashback, we see that Young-oh had proposed an alternative to Suk-joo: lung transplant from a live patient. In the present, Suk-joo asks him if he is sure he wants to go through with it.
Young-oh says that it’s a procedure that is illegal and dangerous for the donor, but has a high success rate of saving the patient. He says that makes it his favorite kind of surgery. Looking over at Jin-sung with his heart in his eyes, Young-oh tells Suk-joo to begin the surgery.
I have wholeheartedly loved this show, willingly suspending disbelief and shushing away my ethical scruples. I was willing to go any direction the currents of the show took me, because under all that shifting sand were characters that were rock solid. Needless to say, the episode cuts gutted me. And with the choppy editing of the last episode, I was deathly afraid that the powers-that-be had managed to ruin one of the best shows on TV right now. But Beautiful Mind recovered with Episode 13. So many plot lines got sewn up tightly, while giving every essential character just enough screen time to tell us how they end up. With one more episode to go, and the old resilient pace re-established, I have no qualms about the finale any more.
Suk-joo’s absence from the story recently had made me fear that his would be the plot line to be sacrificed at the altar of expediency. But however abrupt his re-entry, I’m happy with the direction they decided to take with him. It was not unexpected that Suk-joo would still be looking for proof of Chief Director Shin’s murder. He had given up on exposing the failures of the regenerative medicine, but not on finding out the truth about his mentor’s death. Suk-joo wasn’t magically turned back into a saint, but he was redeemed just enough to retain his tarnished wings and functional halo. I appreciate that the story never made him into a traditional second lead. His angst was never that Jin-sung didn’t love him. If he ever gave it a thought, Suk-joo would know perfectly well that he lost her affection and respect because of his choices. Instead the show wisely used him as a counterpoint to Young-oh. When Young-oh made decisions from the head, Suk-joo’s choices came from the heart. When Young-oh began to understand his own heart, Suk-joo shut off his empathy in service of the “greater good.”
Because of this, Suk-joo remains a poignant and crucial character I’ve enjoyed watching. Now, here’s hoping he uses that evidence against Assistant Manager Chae before that devil’s minion thinks up a way to hurt him first.
I’ve been a little disappointed at Jin-sung’s firm relegation to love-interest category. She is amazing as the one who brings Young-oh to life, but I wish her career as a newbie detective hadn’t been dismissed quite so summarily after spending half the show establishing her character through her work. However, as the heart of the story, Jin-sung has brought me immense joy. Their age gap could have easily cast Young-oh’s treatment of her in a paternal light, but instead, Jin-sung’s innate calm and good sense often made her seem like the more mature one.
From the very beginning, Jin-sung hasn’t taken Young-oh’s blustering seriously, so it was hardly surprising that when Young-oh rages at her, she sees the pain behind his words and gives him the comfort he needs. I don’t remember the last time I saw such a well-balanced relationship in a drama. When Jin-sung was taking on more than she could handle, Young-oh was the one to steady her. He brought her back to sense with his clear, unemotional thinking. But now, Jin-sung returns the favor by being the one who sees more clearly. I never expected their chemistry to be quite this charming. They made me smile whenever they were onscreen together, and I’m going to miss taking screenshots of them grinning at each other.
Young-oh’s guilt over the death of his patient was proportional to the depths of his emotional investment in the husband’s recovery. His painful uncertainty over his decision to stop the CPR was the most human Young-oh has been on this show. He asked the same questions that any other doctor would ask: Did he do the right thing? Was this what his patient really wanted? The promise he made his patient was not something he would have ever done in his previous life. This was the new, more self-aware Young-oh, dealing with his own emotional awakening. And when he failed to keep his word, for the first time, the defeat affected his heart more than his pride.
Over many episodes, we have watched Young-oh slowly unlock his emotions and let the pain of empathy into his world. And so finally, today, his tears feel like they have been truly earned. I understand that Young-oh is likely scared. His hopes have been dashed too many times. He doesn’t want to take the tears as evidence that he can feel for others. But we — who have watched him grow from a cold, remote man who put himself above all others to this slightly less cold and remote man, a man who is learning to put the need of others before his — know that the greatest proof of his empathy lies in his deep desire to feel not just the happiness, but also the pain that lives in every “normal” person.
- Beautiful Mind: Episode 12
- 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