Doctor Stranger: Episode 5
Feelings are manipulated left and right now that Maybe First Love has reappeared in Hoon’s orbit, throwing his perspective (and a few others) into chaos. Little does he know that there’s more to the sweetheart-he-might-have-seen than meets the eye, but at least he can debate medical ethics to pass the time until he figures that out. I never thought that’d there be so many people in this dramaverse whose main concern is whether Hoon is employed or not, but hey, I get it—more people get to live when the doctor is in.
On our ratings o’ meter, the numbers keep climbing for Doctor Stranger as Episode 5 hit 14.0%.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Sung-gyu – “41일 (41 Days)” [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Jae-joon tenses to see Soo-hyun sobbing in Hoon’s arms, but rather than intervene, he walks out of the operating room unnoticed. Having been let off the bribery hook, Nightshade puts in a call to Prime Minister Jang and reports that he’s on his way to the hospital to check on “that woman.”
He’s here to see Seung-hee, whose face he immediately recognizes from Budapest. Unable to deny the resemblence, he whispers, “She really looks like her.”
In flashback, we rewind to when Hoon had first seen Seung-hee, now replayed in her perspective. Ah, so she’d seen his reflection and knew that he’d been following her through the hospital. Curious, indeed.
Things only get even stranger from there because we see Seung-hee drive up to Patient Kim’s home. Seeing Soo-hyun waiting outside, Seung-hee recalls being given a file (from Agent Cha, it seems) on her and her mother. Hm, these meetings do seem to support the theory Seung-hee might be a spy; judging from her clothes, was this a recentish assignment?
She introduces herself to Soo-hyun, expressing sympathy for her loss. Handing her the keys, she explains that she’d been living here with the patient at her request because of her treatment. Hearing that her mother was lonely only bothers Soo-hyun, since she remembers differently.
But as she walks through the courtyard, memories of happier times with her mother come flooding back to her: painting together, marking her growth on a wooden pillar.
Seung-hee brings out a box containing presents Soo-hyun’s mother had bought for her daughter every year. Soo-hyun takes out a sketchbook filled with drawings of her, smiling at both the mundane and important moments of her life.
Seeing those only confuses her more, as she’s unable to believe that her aloof mother kept watch over her, even at a distance. She’s told that they were her mother’s attempts to relieve her self-resentment, believing that her daughter would be happier with her father.
Soo-hyun refuses to believe it, even though her tears betray her words. After seeing another drawing illustrating when she was sent away, Soo-hyun look up to see her mother before her with tears in her eyes as well. “I thought that it’d be enough to make you happy,” she says.
Now Soo-hyun gets to hear the words she’d always longed for: “I cried every day because I wanted to see you. I always missed you, my daughter.” She breaks down in her mother’s bosom as both women shed tears… but then the camera reveals that it’s actually Seung-hee who’s comforting her.
Back at the hospital, Hoon is questioned by his colleagues on his judgment to proceed with Patient Kim’s surgery despite the low success rate. Jae-joon gives him the most, if not all the heat about it, dismissing Hoon’s reasoning by pointing out that the patient died on the table.
When Soo-hyun arrives late to the meeting, Hoon apologizes to her again with a deep bow. At the mention that they’re here to discuss the case rather than hear apologies, Soo-hyun speaks up to say that Hoon did everything they could and suggests that they move on.
But Jae-joon isn’t willing to let go that easily and inquires why Hoon performed the operation. Hoon starts to defend himself, but then stops himself mid-sentence, recalling Soo-hyun’s earnest request. So he switches gears and turns on his cavalier attitude, saying that he believes it’s a doctor’s duty to perform surgery even with one percent chance of success.
Jae-joon challenges that statement—didn’t Hoon want to show off his surgical skills? “You did this. Understand?” he grits out. Oh snap, things just got personal.
He demands to hear an answer, so Hoon plays at his game with the truth: “I did it for money.” We know that it was a 500 won coin, but the room interprets that to mean that he was paid off and takes issue with the ethical decision. Jae-joon scolds him as much, and then Hoon walks over with determined eyes…
… and then jokes that he isn’t proud of it since he’s already worried that he’ll be fired as it is. He’s ready to call an end to this meeting, but Jae-joon pulls him back, ordering him back on the stand. When Hoon doesn’t move, Jae-joon says he can go but gives him one more insult: “You’re not even a doctor.”
Hoon momentarily tenses before laughing the moment off. He concurs with Jae-joon’s words, though he points out that nobody here performs surgery for free, much to the room’s grumbling. He turns serious again to answer Jae-joon’s question as to why he went through with the operation: “Because I wanted to become a doctor. A doctor is supposed to treat the sick!”
Hoon then challenges Jae-joon’s intentions for not doing so—because it would risk his surgical success rate? “Is a doctor only supposed to operate on patients with a high rate of success? There are people who want and ask us to save those patients! Is a doctor someone who gives up on surgery and leaves the patient to die?”
With that, Hoon storms out of the room, where his bravado fades into regret. He agrees with Doctor Moon that he momentarily lost his mind, then smiles, “It’s not like I said anything wrong anyway.”
Soo-hyun stays behind to voice her disappointment in Jae-joon for taking his anger out on Hoon. She argues that her mother’s surgery was beyond his skills and that one family member (herself) requested it, but Jae-joon reminds her that the other didn’t. Hearing about her gratefulness towards Hoon for doing everything he could clearly bothers Jae-joon, who fumes silently.
Hoon apologizes to Chairman Oh in person for losing the patient, though, he’s told that if anything, he should be begging for forgiveness for disobeying orders. Hoon is fired from this moment on, to which Hoon gets on his knees (and Doctor Moon hilariously follows suit. Everything that man does is oddly comedic).
Despite Hoon’s vow that it won’t happen again, Chairman Oh sticks to his decision. Once the chairman leaves, Hoon rises and sees Soo-hyun standing at the staircase, having overheard everything. He tells her that he heard Chairman Oh is her father and asks if she can’t pull some strings for him so that he can stay.
Given Hoon’s frustrated reaction, I’m going to guess that’s a no. But then he takes a call from Smuggler Im, who has good but panicked news: he’s found Jae-hee. He tells Hoon to meet him at the clinic with payment in hand. We see Smuggler Im drive off, but his getaway doesn’t go unnoticed by a nine-fingered shadow.
However, Smuggler Im isn’t at the clinic, and Hoon is re-directed to a busy intersection nearby. Just then, someone emerges from the shadows—it’s Agent Cha, who raises his gun to shoot.
Hoon and Chang-yi try to maneuveur through the oncoming traffic as Agent Cha readies his gun. And just as Hoon approaches, he shoots at a truck of doom which slams into Smuggler Im’s car, then returns to the shadows whence he came.
Unharmed, Hoon rushes over to get to Smuggler Im, who manages to utter a few words before slipping into unconsciousness. They carry the smuggler back to the clinic (where Doctor Moon’s nose-breaking gag continues) and Hoon uses his genius to examine Smuggler Im’s condition and spots a shard embedded in the man’s heart.
Doctor Moon says they should wait until emergency help arrives, but Hoon barks that it’ll be too late then—they have to operate immediately. Hoon goes in and removes the shard, and Doctor Moon is amazed that Hoon can see anything in that pool of blood.
Hoon dismisses the question, saying that he doesn’t see but just knows, and the two work together to complete the operation. Smuggler Im is taken away by an ambulance… as Agent Cha watches the events unfold from his car.
Once they’re at the hospital, Hoon insists on doing the surgery, to which Soo-hyun reminds him that he can’t. Noting his protests that they must save this man, she tells him that they’ll take it from here. There’s no further action needed on the patient, however, since Hoon did all the work.
Hoon reassures Chang-yi that the smuggler ajusshi will be fine. He pulls his friend into a hug, relieved at the idea that they’ll be able to find Jae-hee soon. Chang-yi balls her fist at the physical gesture. Does someone have a crush on their buddy?
At a fancy bar, Chi-gyu flirts with a girl before joining Jae-joon, who’s busy stacking shotglasses into what he calls an impenetrable castle. He places a shotglass on top to represent the princess and says there’s a knight who desires this castle. His metaphorical scenarios really do say a lot about his character, don’t they?
Slurring his words, he agrees with how the knight must be a good fighter and also capture the princess’s heart to appease the lord of the castle. Yet the issue is that the knight feels uneasy whenever he sees the princess.
“He fell in love,” Chi-gyu concludes. “A knight can’t do that if he wants the castle—that’d be fraud.” Jae-joon actually seems troubled by those words. Huh, were his feelings and intentions towards Soo-hyun disingenuous? How much did you know about her beforehand?
Jae-joon heads back to the hospital to confront Soo-hyun on her way out, and apologizes for not going against Chairman Oh’s orders. He admits that he did take it out on Hoon—at first he thought it was a matter of pride, but he couldn’t stand how Soo-hyun took Hoon’s side over his. “I really hated it.”
A tear falls as Jae-joon says he knows she was doing the right thing, but he couldn’t control his emotions. She thanks him for his honesty and he pulls her into a tighter hug. “I’m sorry.”
And then there’s a notable change in both Jae-joon’s eyes and the music as he looks up at the hospital. Ah, the castle.
Soo-hyun returns home in a better mood, though, that quickly fades when her father Chairman Oh tells her that there’s no need to sit. Is it odd that an enormous table only has three chairs? That’s because douchey half-bro Sang-jin will take her place in hospital administration, and though that decision upsets her, she accepts without complaint.
While the cardiothoracic surgical team reviews Smuggler Im’s case the next day, they’re interrupted when the police show up. Ha, I love how Chi-gyu immediately hides and whispers that he didn’t know the woman he flirted with was married.
But the cops are here to see Hoon, who rolls awake behind them, looking disheveled. HA, did no one know he was there? It turns out the police are trying to find the shooter who instigated the traffic accident, and Hoon leads them upstairs, unaware that Agent Cha is wheeling Smuggler Im out of the hospital.
So you can imagine his shock to be told that Smuggler Im is in fact, gone, and astounded that no one knows why. He receives a text from the smuggler claiming that he’s left for China, but when Hoon tries calling back, we see Agent Cha dispose of the phone.
At the Blue House, the president worries over Prime Minister Jang’s health and says that he put the charges of bribery to rest… for now. Prime Minister Jang sneers at the president’s belittlement of him and is furious to hear that Hoon has been fired from the hospital.
Soo-hyun explains to Chairman Oh that Hoon performed her mother’s surgery at her request, so she’s willing to accept the consequences. She was always an obedient daughter, he reminds her, and he gave her a chance to explain herself, but she chose to say nothing then.
She asks her father to forgive Hoon, but Chairman Oh asks what this is really about.
Chang-yi wonders if the smuggler ajusshi was just scamming them about seeing Jae-hee, but Hoon believes that he was being truthful then. Noting the security cameras throughout the building, Hoon asks if Chang-yi actually saw Jae-hee here.
Actually getting to see those tapes is another problem altogether since Hoon is promptly ushered out despite his persistent efforts. Chang-yi comes running to inform him that her mother saw Jae-hee in the North two years ago.
We hear the story from Chang-yi’s mother herself, as she recounts how she and Jae-hee were at the same prison camp. Already wounded, Jae-hee would mumble Hoon’s name over and over for days in her feverish state. When the doctor came to see her, it was already too late—Jae-hee was dead.
Hoon storms out, convinced that Jae-hee is still alive. Chang-yi tells him to snap out of it, but Hoon clings onto the hope that Jae-hee’s image was captured on video. He walks past Soo-hyun, who just happened to be present for this exchange.
A senior nurse wonders why an exceptionally skilled doctor like Hoon was fired. Doctor Yang puts that curiosity to rest and asks how she’s doing. She says she isn’t alone anymore (omo, is she pregnant?) and turns to see him gone, leaving an energy drink behind. Aw, that’s sweet.
We turn back to Soo-hyun and Chang-yi’s conversation, as the latter explains that Hoon took this job to pay for the money to smuggle his sweetheart into the South. She even tells her that Jae-hee almost escaped once before being taken back to North Korea, but now Jae-hee is presumed dead.
Next thing you know, Soo-hyun pulls Hoon aside to ask if he can confirm Jae-hee’s face on camera. Hoon refuses to believe the claims that Jae-hee is dead, and when she mentions that he could have been mistaken because it’s been years now, he retorts, “Could you mistake someone you love for somebody else?”
She agrees to help him and leads him away… which is something douchey Sang-jin sees.
Soo-hyun and Hoon sneak into the security room later that night, and um, is anyone else concerned that no one’s on the night shift? Anyhow, they review the tapes but the image is too blurry to confirm her identity.
The lights suddenly turn on and they find themselves caught by Sang-jin and the police. Sang-jin is practically giddy at the thought his sister and the recently fired doc will take a trip downtown. He makes sure to rub her slip-up into her face like the jackass he is.
Soo-hyun and Hoon are locked up in adjacent cells. She apologizes and asks if the woman captured on camera was the Jae-hee he’s looking for. Hoon says he isn’t sure.
Hoon does his best to bottle his tears, the conflicting reports on Jae-hee’s status flashing in his head. When asked if Jae-hee was a doctor, he replies that they went to medical school together.
Soo-hyun asks what kind of person Jae-hee was. A tear streams down his cheek as Hoon answers, “She laughed a lot… laughed a lot… a lot.”
The memories prove to be too much and Hoon breaks down sobbing then and there. Seeing Hoon cry like that breaks my heart every time.
And who should we see back at the hospital but Seung-hee, who takes a call from Agent Cha. She rolls her eyes since she already knows Hoon was dismissed, but they’ve apparently got bigger things to worry about because a defector told him that Jae-hee was dead. Word really gets ’round, doesn’t it?
At this rate, their secret mission is sure to fail, and Agent Cha says that they already did —they’re returning to the North. He hangs up before Seung-hee can get a word in.
Back in jail, Soo-hyun suggests the doppelganger theory, and perhaps Hoon is too exhausted now to argue, wondering if he really was mistaken. “Could it really have been someone else?”
Soo-hyun is bailed out by her father, but she refuses to leave alone. Once they’re outside the police station, Chairman Oh gives his inept son an earful, then tells Hoon that he never wants to see him again. It sure is gratifying to see Sang-jin thwarted, and Soo-hyun is honored to be considered a thorn in her half-brother’s side.
He pettily asks if she snuck in to see if he was the one who brought her mother into the hospital. Ah, so that means the day Hoon first saw Seung-hee is also when Soo-hyun’s mother arrived at the hospital. Putting the pieces together, Soo-hyun remembers Seung-hee.
Speaking of, we see Seung-hee drive up to Hoon’s tiny clinic. Huh, how did you know about this place? Was it a part of your research to look into all things Hoon?
She explores the place and notices Jae-hee’s ragged image on Hoon’s laptop. She plays the video, perplexed at how the woman calls out Hoon’s name repeatedly. She finds herself echoing his name and raises her hand towards the screen…
A noise alerts her of someone approaching right then, and we see Hoon and Soo-hyun enter the clinic. Soo-hyun had asked to see Jae-hee’s picture and is alarmed to see the resemblence with her own eyes. Hoon asks if she’s seen her, and Soo-hyun nods.
Seung-hee is long gone because she’s been dragged away by an angry Agent Cha, who slaps her for looking for hoon. Showing Hoon that Jae-hee is alive is key to get him working at the hospital again, she bites back.
Arguing that Hoon should have seen Jae-hee’s face (meaning, hers) first, she asks if Agent Cha has lost sight of their mission because of his own revenge. He retorts that it’s no use because Chairman Oh isn’t one to be trifled with, and blames Hoon for creating this mess. Sure, blame the guy you may or may not be out to kill.
Taking out his gun, Agent Cha says all isn’t lost—he can still exact his revenge. To that, Seung-hee points the gun at her forehead, her eyes daring him to shoot. Damn, Seung-hee’s a badass.
She tells him to go ahead and kill her, since a failed mission means death anyway. She isn’t the least bit afraid of laying down her life for her country, but Agent Cha spits back that he fears failing a mission. She closes her eyes as he slowly presses on the trigger…
Soo-hyun and Hoon race to the hospital to find Seung-hee, only they’re told that she’s been unreachable for hours. They try calling anyway, and then decide to head to her mother’s house next. But then someone calls out to them.
It’s Seung-hee, who approaches with a smile. Stunned, Hoon walks towards her and utters Jae-hee’s name.
Now that Maybe Jae-hee/Seung-hee is back in the picture for good (at least, I hope. Why else would Agent Cha let her go?) we can take a closer look at the doppelganger/new identity element and its execution. Granted this show isn’t without its plot holes, so we’ll try to make do with what we have, shall we? We know that Seung-hee is in leagues with Agent Cha, whose motivation to keep tabs on Hoon (and Soo-hyun and Chairman Oh, for that matter) is still unclear. To that extent, I wish we knew a few more details about this Ultimate Mission of theirs instead of dancing around it because right now I can’t figure out who or what they want, yunno, besides Hoon’s employment status, which makes the task seemingly arbitrary. And is it just me or has Agent Cha seen better days?
As for Seung-hee herself, there are clues that point to the idea that she is the Jae-hee we’re looking for. If we follow that theory, then sure I don’t know how Jae-hee might have been transported from Budapest back to the DPRK, still injured and then left to die. Again. Neither do I know what the North might gain from reviving Jae-hee and then employing her as a spy with a whole new identity, but Seung-hee’s confusion at seeing her own face on Hoon’s laptop screen suggests that she doesn’t know either. Or remember. It’s never too early to rule out amnesia in dramaland.
My mind is juggling all kinds of possibilities right now, but in the event that Seung-hee =/= Jae-hee, I’m at least hoping for the farfetched explanation that involves some kind of extensive plastic surgery and political conspiracy that for some reason has personal beef against Hoon. Does that sound crazy? Sure, but this show has also pulled the wool over our eyes on even crazier things.
Don’t get me wrong because for an even stranger reason despite the crazy, I still find this show both compelling and intriguing. I love that Soo-hyun got her emotional closure with her mother, who thought that she’d be giving her daughter a brighter future. Her character’s emotional arc is such an enjoyable watch, especially as she makes an unlikely friend in Hoon, sharing in the mutual loss of a loved one. I thought it was a great beat to see Soo-hyun team up with him to find Jae-hee, and then offer the painful rational explanation that he could have been mistaken. Hoon keeps challenging her perspective on what it means to love someone and what that desperate determination looks like, something I wonder Soo-hyun ever thought to question in her own relationship.
Now that we’ve brought it up, I do enjoy watching the show continuously peel back character layers to show Jae-joon’s malicious underbelly. It’s apparent that he wants a castle, I mean hospital for himself, and it makes me sad that he’s using Soo-hyun to do it. We saw that it disturbed him to see Soo-hyun so disappointed in him, and then further troubled that he might actually have real feelings for her. I almost felt bad for him when he came to see Soo-hyun in tears since he strikes me as someone who almost never talks about his feelings—and in tears, no less. That ambitious glint in his eye suggests otherwise, but I can hope his plans of conquest doesn’t include coming after Hoon because there’s plenty of people running around worrying themselves about that as it is.
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