Doctor Stranger: Episode 6
Our doctoring stranger is set adrift in a convoluted power play as the mystery aspect of this show starts taking precedent, which means an hour filled with spies, politicians, and surgeons (oh, my). When faced with the actual face of his first and only love, poor Hoon seems to be no exception to the adage that love makes fools of us all, since he’s only capable of stitching up just about everything but his own broken heart.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Ki-chan – “Meet You Now (지금만나러가요)” from the OST. [ Download ]
EPISODE 6 RECAP
As Agent Cha watches Seung-hee approach Hoon from the security-less hospital interior, we flash back to the moment where he held a gun to her head, afraid that they might fail their mission.
But Seung-hee, unafraid, convinced Agent Cha to let her meet Hoon. “I’m Han Seung-hee,” she affirmed, to which Agent Cha replied, “Yes, Han Seung-hee! The Han Seung-hee that I created!”
Seung-hee didn’t argue that point, and instead reminded Agent Cha of their mission: “I’ll remain Han Seung-hee until the prime minister’s surgery team is created. After that, I’ll live as Song Jae-hee. That was our plan from the start. If you don’t believe me, shoot me.”
He didn’t, which brings us to another flashback of Agent Cha undergoing brutal torture in the DPRK as a result of Hoon’s escape. That’s how he lost his finger, which explains why he’s got a (missing) bone to pick with Hoon.
Agent Cha loads his gun and, unable to control himself, mutters “Long live the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” before he shoots Hoon twice.
Only, that scenario is revealed to have been a figment of Agent Cha’s imagination, since Hoon’s quasi-reunion with Seung-hee goes on uninterrupted.
Hoon is sure that Seung-hee is Jae-hee, and seems lost in his own mind as he compliments her new hairstyle. But when she merely blinks confusingly, Hoon asks desperately, “Can’t you recognize me?”
Seung-hee looks to Soo-hyun for help as she pulls her wrist out of Hoon’s grasp, and at least Soo-hyun tries to diffuse the situation by asking Seung-hee whether she knows anyone named Song Jae-hee.
“Song Jae-hee? Who’s that?” Seung-hee replies, causing Hoon to pull out the red bracelet he took from Patient Kim. He asks her if she recognizes it, since it’s the same one he made for her when they first met—but his questions are answered with outrage, as Seung-hee accuses him of stealing what she gave to the patient.
She tries to take the bracelet back, but only ends up ripping it into two halves. Poor Hoon is so bewildered that his Jae-hee doesn’t recognize him, and Seung-hee ends up giving both halves of the bracelet to Soo-hyun before she heads into the hospital for work.
When Hoon tries to follow her, Soo-hyun has to physically hold him back. She tries to get him to listen to reason, since Seung-hee said she wasn’t Jae-hee, but he won’t, can’t, accept it. “She’s Jae-hee!” he says, tears welling in his eyes. “She’s Jae-hee.”
While Soo-hyun tries and fails to stop Hoon, Seung-hee tells Agent Cha that he made the right choice in letting her show herself. He’s not happy with the decision, and grudgingly claims he did it for the mission. “I hope you never forget that,” Seung-hee replies.
Hoon won’t listen when Soo-hyun says that Seung-hee is ignoring him because she doesn’t know him, and asks Soo-hyun how she can believe that when she saw the video of Jae-hee.
For a moment even Soo-hyun looks lost, as she remembers the uncanny resemblance between the two but can’t find a logical explanation as to what on earth is going on.
So Hoon pulls Seung-hee aside again, trying everything he can go get her to acknowledge him. It’s sad because he thinks that she’s only acting this way because he didn’t look for her, and he does everything but get on his knees to apologize.
But Seung-hee’s patience reaches its breaking point when Hoon tries to keep her with him at the expense of one of her patients, causing her to slap him back to reality—nothing should be as important to a doctor as their patient, she barks, which is something he should understand if he claims to be a doctor.
Soo-hyun is left with a devastated Hoon after Seung-hee leaves, and she gently coaxes him away as she promises to help him arrange another meeting with his maybe-love.
Meanwhile, a stone-faced Seung-hee tells Agent Cha that the whole act was devised so that Hoon would believe that Jae-hee is alive. And in that way she’ll get him back to Myungwoo Hospital, because if she goes, he’ll want to follow.
Agent Cha’s main concern is whether the stubborn Chairman Oh will let Hoon back into the fold, but Seung-hee is unconcerned—all they need to do is enlist the help of someone who can change the old man’s mind.
Prime Minister Jang runs into some issues in creating a committee without strict presidential oversight, with a fair number of assemblymen on his side. One of them even remarks on how asinine it is for the president to trouble the man (Prime Minister Jang) who put him in office with the inquiry about his campaign funds, in a clear show of support for Jang.
But the prime minister gets a visitor in the bathroom, and one he seems quite familiar with: Agent Cha. The conspiracy thickens.
The two of them have some sort of arrangement going on, and it involves getting Hoon to remain employed at Myungwoo Hospital. Because of that, Agent Cha asks Prime Minister Jang to use a little muscle to get Chairman Oh to accept Hoon back, otherwise their “plan” is over.
But Prime Minister Jang is being closely watched by the president’s spies, and knows that arranging a covert meeting with Chairman Oh will be risky. Luckily Nightshade knows what’s up, and has a plan to take care of business.
Soo-hyun accompanies Hoon for a drink, and tries to get him to see that Seung-hee isn’t the person he thinks she is by showing him her online profile.
There, Seung-hee poses for pictures with Not Jae-hee’s Parents, since Hoon distinctly remembers Jae-hee’s father as he asked him to save his daughter’s life. It’s cute how Soo-hyun tries to cheer him up by asking him about his life, only Hoon’s memories of his parents are unhappy ones—like his father getting shot, and his mother never caring.
Jae-joon’s calls to Soo-hyun go unanswered, as we find her and Hoon thoroughly trashed from one (or five) too many bottles of soju. Soo-hyun slurs that Hoon should just forget about Jae-hee, but Hoon just breaks outa silly smile as he slurs back, “I’m going to hold onto her until I die.”
Soo-hyun claims she’s jealous, and gets this faraway look in her eyes as she wonders how nice it must be for Jae-hee to have someone who cares about her so much. Hoon tries making her feel better by mentioning that she has Jae-joon (with a big nose, ha) to do the same for her.
However, Soo-hyun’s not so sure: “Do you think he’s thinking of me all the time?” Hoon thinks for a moment before replying that he’d be surprised if Jae-joon did, considering his prickly personality—not to mention hers. Soo-hyun agrees, but then makes the misstep of trying to toast to “Jae-hee, who’s in heaven.”
Hoon slams his glass down. “Why is Jae-hee in heaven? Why? Jae-hee is alive. She’s alive, damn it!” He stumbles to his feet, and Soo-hyun has to grab him before he falls. The close contact unsettles her, and while Hoon’s eyes are closed she reaches out to brush her fingers against his cheek.
Unbeknownst to her, Jae-joon is watching from a distance. (If a romantic moment happens and a second lead isn’t there to see it, does it make a sound?) He calls her to ask where she is like he doesn’t know, and she lies that she’s at her mother’s house and needs some time to think.
She seems disappointed in herself after hanging up, but doesn’t return to her seat by the time Hoon comes to. Instead he sees (imagines?) Jae-hee sitting across from, and muses that this must be why people drink: so they can see the people they miss.
He tells her how much he misses her as he reaches out to hold her hand. Only, when he nods off again, we see that Seung-hee really was sitting there, having been called by Soo-hyun.
Of course, Soo-hyun called her over so that he could apologize to her, only now he’s too drunk to do much of anything. Seung-hee ends up offering her home for Hoon to crash in, but while leading him to the bed, Soo-hyun trips and ends up wrapped in his arms. Hoon doesn’t realize, and keeps murmuring Jae-hee’s name.
Soo-hyun tells her father that she’s staying at Mom’s house tonight—which isn’t untrue, since Seung-hee’s house is Mom’s house. After offering Soo-hyun her mother’s old room, Seung-hee comments about how close Soo-hyun and Hoon seem to be, implying that their relationship is romantic.
Laughing awkwardly, Soo-hyun denies the claim, and explains that Hoon acted so strangely around Seung-hee because the dead woman he truly loves does look uncannily like her.
Seung-hee acts surprised to hear it, and expresses her desire to learn more about Hoon’s old flame while he continues to sleep it off.
In order to ask Chairman Oh to give Hoon another chance, Prime Minister Jang manages to sneak away from the president’s spy during the aftermath of a breakfast hosted for family members separated by the 38th parallel.
Speaking of, Hoon wakes up to find framed pictures of Seung-hee hanging on the walls, and immediately thinks of Jae-hee. He tears through the house looking for her, and ends up opening the door to the bathroom…
…Where Soo-hyun is wearing only a towel. Whoops. She throws things at him in response, and manages to knock him out cold with a flimsy plastic bowl.
When he comes to, Doctor Moon is there to take him to meet Chairman Oh. But Hoon isn’t interested in getting his job back and only wants to see Seung-hee, who started working at the main hospital as of today.
Soo-hyun stays behind while Doctor Moon takes him, looking disappointed to see him go. That’s where Chairman Oh finds her to tell her that he’s given Hoon another chance, even though he claims it was her who changed his mind and not the prime minister.
Chairman Oh reminisces about Soo-hyun’s mother fondly, claiming that, despite everything, his feelings for her mother were genuine. Soo-hyun calls him “Father” for the first time in a long time, and tells him that she’s sorry while thanking him for loving her mom.
Father and daughter share a moment as she sheds a few tears in his arms, and he’s sweet enough to even wipe away her tears. Aww.
After Prime Minister Jang has a good laugh at the president’s penchant for punctuality (this guy needs to get out more), he asks Nightshade about Seung-hee—he wants to see her skills firsthand.
While Doctor Moon likens Hoon’s Jae-hee Sightings to people who think they’ve seen aliens, Hoon calls Chang-yi’s mother to enlist her help in confirming whether Seung-hee is Jae-hee. Chang-yi all but pouts when she hears this, wishing more than anything that Hoon would just forget about Jae-hee.
Because Myungwoo Hospital’s just a thoroughfare for anyone wearing a white lab coat, Agent Cha sneaks in to deal with the loose end that is Chang-yi’s mother—only he’s just there to start things, since Prime Minister Jang wants to see Seung-hee’s doctoring skills.
Security is so lax that Agent Cha gets to just stand by in clear view and watch as Seung-hee accompanies Chang-yi’s suddenly-unconscious mother to the operating room. And since there’s a convenient shortage of anesthesiologists, Seung-hee steps up to the plate to help(?) Jae-joon in surgery.
After a successful surgery, Jae-joon updates Hoon and Chang-yi on her mother’s status only to be met with skepticism from Hoon, since he didn’t think her condition was serious enough to warrant a sudden heart surgery.
This gives Jae-joon another chance to butt heads with Hoon as he claims that anything could happen when a patient is as old as Chang-yi’s mother, though he credits the surgical success to the anesthesiologist’s excellent preparation. He’s impressed by Seung-hee.
Hoon’s eyes grow wide the second Seung-hee unmasks in front of him, but he manages to contain himself this time. Even though he’s flooded with memories of Jae-hee, he finally treats Seung-hee like a separate person in order to apologize for his drunkenness the night before.
However, as he later reveals to Chang-yi, he’s still not sure about who Seung-hee is. He hopes that he’ll be able to ask her mother when she wakes up.
Jae-joon pulls Hoon aside in order to tell him to get lost, making it a point to threaten him away from Soo-hyun. Hoon brushes him off with his usual cavalier attitude, and asks if Jae-joon means he has to steer clear of the “quack.”
That’s when Jae-joon grabs him by the lapels, all but growling into his face that he can’t call Soo-hyun a quack. “In my eyes, she is,” Hoon replies. Then he looks over Jae-joon’s shoulder: “What do you think, Quack?”
And there Soo-hyun is, staring at the two of them like the crazy men they are. I love how Jae-joon instantly tries to play it cool by smoothing out Hoon’s clothes, all, Sorry, I went overboard, while Hoon is just happy to leave the two of them to sort things out.
Jae-joon claims he was just protecting Soo-hyun’s doctorly honor against Hoon’s quack allegations, an excuse which has Soo-hyun raising her eyebrows: “That’s not like you.”
Regardless of Jae-joon’s defense, Soo-hyun asks him to take it easy on Hoon—after all, they work together now. Jae-joon was unaware that Chairman Oh changed his mind, and seems to switch gears from Jealous Boyfriend to Perfect Boyfriend as he asks Soo-hyun out for dinner. Unfortunately for him, she’s got other plans.
Doctor Moon intends to drag Hoon to the chairman to ask for forgiveness, only to be met by Hospital Director Choi, who Hoon instantly recognizes as the ajusshi who sent him to the DPRK as a child.
Director Choi tells the two that Chairman Oh has forgiven Hoon, but Hoon is less than enthused until Choi brings up his father—and that if Hoon wants to be as good a surgeon as his father was, he still has much to learn.
However, he only gets Hoon’s attention when he shows him a picture of Jae-hee and that sympathetic Hungarian doctor. He explains that his only way of apologizing for what he did to Hoon was to make him a doctor at the hospital, and that he plans to help him find Jae-hee.
Hoon slams his fist down and storms out, refusing to hear more. He further confuses Doctor Moon when he tells him that Jae-hee isn’t in the North—she’s here.
While Seung-hee sneaks something Kevorkian into Chang-yi’s mom’s IV, Agent Cha reports to Nightshade that Seung-hee was successful in the surgery. But Nightshade wants to see her “other” skills.
None of the doctors can figure out why Chang-yi’s mom keeps fading in and out of consciousness, and for once Hoon chooses to leave his Genius on the back burner so he can look just as confused as everyone else.
With Seung-hee standing right there, Hoon asks Chang-yi’s mom if she could still recognize Jae-hee if she saw her. But before she can even turn her head, she focuses instead on Director Choi as he enters, recognizing him as the man who got her out of the prison camp. Somehow.
Director Choi is confused by her condition, since he remembered her health to be fine when she came into the country. She falls unconscious again before she can answer, and Seung-hee takes over her care.
Hoon and Chang-yi ask Director Choi for some clarification, and we see in flashback how he was the contact in North Korea that made the deal to get Chang-yi’s mom out.
He claims he used Smuggler Im as a cover, since he didn’t want his involvement to be known until he found Jae-hee. And that he’d wanted to instill hope in Hoon by smuggling Chang-yi’s mom out—hope that, one day, he’d reunite with Jae-hee.
Chang-yi’s mom regains consciousness again, and notes that Seung-hee really does look like Jae-hee. But when they’re (mostly) alone, she tells Hoon that despite the similarities, Seung-hee isn’t Jae-hee, because she saw Jae-hee die with her own eyes.
That’s when Director Choi cuts in to say that it isn’t true—Jae-hee is alive, and he knows so from a reliable source. After giving Hoon his doctor’s coat, Choi tells him that he’ll be going back to the North after taking care of business here, but refuses to allow Hoon to risk going with him.
He leaves after telling Hoon that there’s something he has to give him before he leaves for the DPRK, which leaves just enough time for something bad to happen to him first. Especially since Seung-hee overhears the entire exchange.
When Agent Cha asks why she didn’t just kill Chang-yi’s mom, Seung-hee says it’s because her death wasn’t what Prime Minister Jang wanted.
But now that Hoon is back in the hospital and Chairman Oh is under Prime Minister Jang’s thumb, Seung-hee claims that everything is going to plan. Agent Cha hands Nightshade records of Chang-yi’s mom going in and out of a coma as proof of Seung-hee’s “skills.”
Doctor Moon wonders whether Seung-hee could be a North Korean spy, and asks Hoon if she had any other identifying markers. Hoon remembers her kidney transplant (that he performed), which would leave the real Jae-hee with only one kidney.
So Doctor Moon tries pulling some strings to get her medical records, but when he finds out just how illegal it is, he backs off. Hoon doesn’t, and forgoes the law to take a look…
…Only to see that Seung-hee does have two kidneys. Doctor Moon rejoices, since this means she can’t be a spy, while Hoon starts to accept what seems to be the truth: that Seung-hee isn’t Jae-hee.
“It’s fate,” Hoon thinks to himself. Each person has a different heartbeat. Just like how no two people have the same face.” He thinks back to when he held Jae-hee to his heart and said that their heartbeats were the same.
After Seung-hee officially introduces herself to the rest of the Cardiothoracic Crew, Hoon asks for a minute of her time—only he calls her formally as “Seung-hee” now.
She thinks he’s there to apologize and tells him he doesn’t need to, since she heard the story from Soo-hyun and understands what he’s going through. Hoon replies as if she said nothing, and tells her what he’d just been thinking about how everyone’s heartbeats are different.
So he asks for a favor, but doesn’t tell her what it is ahead of time. Instead he walks right up to her, wraps his arms around her, and listens. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.
Seung-hee balls her fist as Hoon listens to the steady sound of their hearts beating in perfect unison. When the realization hits, his eyes open wide.
Three cheers for Hoon being proactive! I was really starting to worry watching Hoon spend most of the episode in a permanent state of reaction, which is understandable for someone like him but still not that fun to sit through. Watching Hoon wander through his scenes in a constant state of mental breakdown felt like watching someone go through a bad breakup—and in that way, those closest to Hoon treated him like he just hadn’t come to accept The Truth yet.
So the ending was actually more gratifying than it would’ve been just one episode ago, though I’m not big on admitting that after an hour that was sluggishly grounded at best and frustratingly convoluted at worst. On the one hand, I’m glad the show is presenting its mystery through Hoon’s point of view, since we literally only know as much as he does at any given moment. It beats the alternative of the audience knowing all the secrets way ahead of time—because spending episode after episode waiting for the hero to figure out what we already know is a formula that undoubtedly works, but one that’s also a lot like knowing who the winner is before the race even starts.
On the other hand, this show’s forte is not in dropping helpful hints, which means we got to be just as bewildered as Hoon was, too. Entire scenes were spent kind-of-maybe-not-really trying to paint a picture of the Big Conspiracy going on, and if the point was merely to show us that there is a conspiracy without revealing anything about said conspiracy, then mission accomplished: we’re still confused. Why, though? Why go through all this shadow puppetry with a political storyline that has absolutely zero likable characters in it?
As the world grew smaller and every man over the age of forty was revealed to be part of some nefarious plan involving Hoon, I was at least glad for the inclusion of Director Choi. Sure, he doesn’t make much sense—a hospital director who perfected his hand at smuggling refugees because he’s sorry—but since he’s literally the one guy who seems to have Hoon’s back, that instantly makes him better than most. If we can’t connect to any of the people in power who are out to get Hoon (because everyone is out to get Hoon), we need at least one person with higher knowledge who can act as Hoon’s guide to the world of political-turned-medical tomfoolery. That being said, if Director Choi turns out to be yet another bad guy in the next episode, just pretend like I never said anything.
Whether Hoon now has a definitive answer as to whether Seung-hee is Jae-hee is up for grabs, but for his sake and ours I hope that he’s made a decision. There are a lot of fun dramatic possibilities if Hoon starts operating on the basis that Seung-hee and Jae-hee are the same person, since he could start putting his brilliant mind to work in figuring out what happened to her and why—especially if he has to do his investigating while pretending to buy her disguise. Of course, that’s if the Seung-hee persona is a disguise.
Either way, Hoon just has to be himself and start taking decisive action about Seung-hee/Jae-hee/Who’s-she one way or the other. All I can hope for are more moments with Soo-hyun, because she’s one princess who’s going to need a white knight in her corner, Jae-joon’s Dungeons and Dragons metaphors be damned.
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