Healer: Episode 4
Healer continues to hit all the right buttons for me—there’s fun, humor, style, cuteness, and a touch of longing. So far the show has done a great job balancing the parts we care about with the necessary evils—you know, the politicians, the media bigwigs, the news-related stuff—and being careful not to lose sight of entertainment in favor of dry exposition. This is not a thing every show knows how to do well, so it’s much appreciated when one does, because it’s one way to really streamline the slower/rougher edges of a show, allowing it to fly right through the fun parts. Never take that for granted!
SONG OF THE DAY
Monni – “하얀 어깨” (White shoulder) [ Download ]
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Jung-hoo gets a groggy start to his morning, settling down with more terrible instant food and leftovers (be still, my artery-clogged heart). He casts a suspicious look around before taking a bite, expecting ajumma to cut in—and of course, the instant he does finally take a bite, Min-ja hacks into his system with her trademark cackle. You’ll never beat her, Healer-ya!
She wonders what he’s doing up in daylight given that he lives his life nocturnally, and sniffs at the idea that he’s going to work at Someday News, the internet paper. She gives him a long lecture outlining all the ways in which it’s a bad idea to show himself in public, urging him to stay hidden until the murder case gets shelved.
Jung-hoo ignores her as he gets ready for his day, and says that Young-shin is definitely serious bait, and he’s taken note of the fish swimming around her. He means Moon-ho, having spotted him twice in Young-shin’s orbit, and the question now is whether he’s the guy who killed Go Sung-chul and framed him for it, or whether there’s someone even bigger backing him. He gives himself three days in which to come up with a lead.
Min-ja barrages him with instructions: Don’t let his true personality show, don’t cause ripples, just say yes to everything.
Of course, easier said than done, especially when Jung-hoo is given the instruction to write sixty news articles a day. Granted, there’s no expectation of quality, and it’s mostly a mindless keyword-driven process to create clickbait: Take the list of top ten search terms and write six posts per term (“Just take other articles and reuse their content”), using the most provocative terms possible.
Young-shin pesters her editor relentlessly about publishing her story about Yeon-hee’s forced prostitution, asking if he’s scared to print such a strong accusation. Jung-hoo sidles into the office fiddling with the copier to eavesdrop, while Editor Jang retorts that if anything the story is too weak. The victim isn’t a star, and she didn’t even commit suicide. Nobody’ll care.
Young-shin gets in a few licks about how Editor Jang should be ashamed of himself before he pulls rank, forcing her to pull back and try another tack. Angling for sympathy, she says that she hasn’t been able to sleep a wink with Yeon-hee crashing in her room, and if he could just print the story and give them a reason to take it to the police, it’ll kick things into motion and she could find a way to send Yeon-hee away.
Editor Jang tells her she can’t go around printing an assemblyman’s name and pulls her away by the ear like an errant child, telling her to focus on training the newbie. Brimming with indignation, Young-shin warns Jung-hoo to stand aside, then lets out her frustrations on the poor copy machine.
Moon-ho arrives at the secret meeting his brother organized with media bigwigs, and is divested of his phone because they’re taking precautions that the conversation won’t be recorded or leaked. Does this mean they’re gonna be extra-evil today?
Moon-ho is welcomed warmly into the fold, and while he responds in all the right ways, I dig the steely edge that’s visible just underneath the charm. He asks plainly why they wanted to see him, and they cut to the chase: They want him to act as “our” representative in politics. They’ve decided he’s the perfect choice, as he’s a star whose stalwart reputation appeals to the younger generation. (Of course, they don’t want him for his strong convictions; they just find it convenient as a tool to use for their purposes.)
Moon-ho asks them to clarify exactly who they mean by this general “us,” and they all have a hearty laugh like it’s a joke; they basically want one of their own representing the media elite’s interests in politics. While you could argue that the rich and powerful media controllers don’t need a lot more help, I suppose power breeds thirst for more power.
The first order of business: They instruct Moon-ho to help a politician campaign for the upcoming mayoral election. The man is Assemblyman Kim, otherwise known as Yeon-hee’s sponsor. One media honcho assures Moon-ho to trust in them, and in return they’ll propel him right to the top.
Moon-ho mostly keeps his mouth shut, but his eyes turn icy as he listens to them plan. He shoots his brother a hard look, but Moon-shik just raises a toast.
On to the police cyber crimes team, led by the sharp Investigator Yoon. Looking into the recent activity of the dead Go Sung-chul, he comes upon that subway stoppage, which coincides with gaps in CCTV footage—it must have been hacked. Investigator Yoon identifies the thugs who’d swarmed the station as Double S employees, and deduces that they and the Healer were there for the same thing.
Digging through cell phone footage shot by a bystander, Investigator Yoon spots the moment when Go Sung-chul and the Healer jump from the car, with the Double S guards in pursuit.
His sidekick asks whether the police station is safe from hacking, and Investigator Yoon replies with a smile that they’re safe from outside hack jobs… but inside jobs are another question.
Cut to: Ajumma Min-ja receiving the very same footage he’d just watched. Hm, interesting. What’s the inside connection?
But judging from how Min-ja curses Yoon for being a “damnably hard-working bastard” and wonders when he’ll retire already, perhaps he’s not exactly on her team. But he’s definitely acquainted with her and her ways.
We catch up to messenger Dae-yong at a kind of rave-type martial-arts obstacle course, which gives her a chance to show off some of her high-flying moves. (Actress Tae-mi is a taekwondo athlete, so the stunts must be all her.) She answers a call from Min-ja (whom she calls “Boss”), who instructs her to find the Healer, who’s turned off his tracking signal again.
Min-ja knows that he hates having anyone on his tail, but she’s nervous and wants Dae-yong to keep an eye on him. She directs Dae-yong to start by looking close to Young-shin, which is easy enough since Jung-hoo slipped a tracking bug onto her earlier.
Dae-yong finds her having dinner with the Someday News team, well into a bottle of soju and still trying to wear down her boss. She asks Editor Jang about that old newspaper job he got fired from, supposing it was for writing an article he was told not to write, and appealing to his dormant sense of righteousness. She calls his life a tragedy and lays it on thick, ignoring her co-workers’ attempts to keep the liquor out of her hands. She gets huffy heaing that Jung-hoo will be late joining them, as he’s off on an errand first.
We find Jung-hoo on the bus, looking at his framed photograph of the 1980 Five. His gaze lingers on the man on the far left—his father. His mother’s voice rings in his ears as she explains that Jung-hoo resembles his father, and that she struggled following his death.
A flashback takes us to Jung-hoo’s childhood: His mother cooks him a nice dinner and urges him to eat, but Jung-hoo can’t, given the packed bags by the door. He asks where she’s going and if he can go too, but Mom says she’s going far away and probably won’t be back. Obeying his mother’s instructions, Jung-hoo eats with tears running down his face.
Jung-hoo arrives outside an apartment building, and warmly greets a woman he calls Mom. Huh, well now I’m wildly curious to know how this relationship came back around after she left him. But he seems to harbor no ill will and asks after her family—her son, now a high schooler, and her new husband.
Jung-hoo pulls out the old photograph and asks Mom about his father and his friends. She never knew them very well, but she identifies the two in the center as reporters who were married (Young-shin’s parents). He asks if she still has anything of his father’s, and she says she’ll look.
It’s nice to see that Jung-hoo does have some relationships in this world, and he’s obviously got a warm heart. Mom asks why he orders this dessert all the time when he’s always scooping the best part (the sweet beans) to her, and he says it’s because she likes them.
Jung-hoo arrives at the restaurant as Young-shin is leaving dinner—or rather, being dragged out by her sunbae because she’s drunk. Immediately hunching over, he scurries to them and offers to take her home. She’s so drunk that Editor Jang has ordered that she be taken straight home—lest she cause trouble—and put to bed. Well now, you mean taking her to bed are his explicit orders? Aye-aye.
Spying Dae-yong keeps at a safe distance, watching as Jung-hoo hails a cab and Young-shin regales strangers with rambling talk about dinosaur brains.
She’s singing by the time Jung-hoo brings her home, and Dad eyes Jung-hoo mighty suspiciously. She blabbers on about those sad tiny dinosaur brains and has to be dragged up to her room by Yeon-hee.
That leaves Jung-hoo alone to face two disapproving fatherly types, with Dad and Pickpocket Ajusshi glaring at him sternly. Hee. He stammers an introduction and launches into a pity story about living far away and the buses not running and the expensive taxi fare he paid while listening to nonsense about dinosaurs, asking them to let him stay the night.
Dad and Ajusshi suppose that he spends every day closely with Young-shin, and as soon as he says yes, they each grab an arm. Taken aback, Jung-hoo yelps nervously as they proceed to drag him into Dad’s office.
Young-shin continues her dinosaur brain talk with Yeon-hee, insisting on going through the whole spiel about the three stages of human brain development. The dinosaur stage is the early development part that’s about survival, while the mammal stage in adolescence brings emotional development. It’s the third and last stage that sets humans apart from animals.
This all has a point, albeit a super roundabout one, and Young-shin marches (tipsily) to her computer and declares, “Let’s make trouble! Something only a human can make.” LOL, her editor should have known better than to think merely putting her to bed would save her from troublemaking—not in the age of wifi and web publishing.
Meanwhile, downstairs the two dads lock Jung-hoo inside the office and preface their talk by saying that it had better stay a secret from Young-shin. Gulp. They advance on him slowly and state that they have a three-part “favor” to ask of him: First, keep Young-shin from drinking, though that’ll be tricky because of her fast fingers. Dad: “When she starts with the dinosaur talk, that’s a warning sign.” She doesn’t get drunk often, but every time she does, she causes “large-scale trouble.”
Second, don’t let her open cans—she’s prone to cutting herself. And most of all, never, ever let her go to the scene of violence. Dad starts to fumble for words as he explains her having an “accident” when she was young, and the trauma can trigger fits of suffocation. The dads crowd him menacingly and emphasize their “favor” while Jung-hoo fidgets nervously.
Upstairs, Young-shin starts writing the story, warning Yeon-hee that she’ll be going after this hard. She goes so far as to identify the assemblyman by initial and party affiliation, but Yeon-hee balks, wanting him exposed fully. Young-shin says that naming the accused would force her to name the accuser, but Yeon-hee doesn’t care about her own privacy.
Young-shin resists, saying that her approach is a kamikaze one where both parties die. That’s not good enough for her—she wants the assemblyman to go down, and Yeon-hee to survive. That’s the right way to do it.
Still, there are plenty of details in there to point to the right guy (since he’s named as a Seoul mayoral candidate). When Young-shin finishes the story, she reminds herself of the difference between dinosaurs and humans, musters the nerve, hits publish.
From across the way, Dae-yong takes up a stakeout post to observe Jung-hoo. And seeing two young ladies in the house, she grumbles, “Why are there so many women?!” Just as she reaches for her phone to call Min-ja, it’s snatched out of her hand.
Dae-yong launches into reflexive attack mode, but her kicks get sidestepped easily by Jung-hoo, who’s caught on to her. Instead of tracking him, he orders her to watch Moon-ho and report to him. Ha, when she asks blankly who he is, Jung-hoo scoffs at her ignorance of the news star like a know-it-all, as though he hadn’t totally asked the same thing the other day.
She tries to protest but he leaves her midsentence, making a flashy exit by leaping off the ledge, down to the ground, and back up to Young-shin’s place in a deft series of acrobatic maneuvers.
A dream. This time it’s Young-shin’s, and she’s back in childhood to a time spent cowering in a closet as a man approaches ominously, dragging a metal pole. The door flings open, childhood Young-shin freezes in fear, and adult Young-shin bolts up in bed, waking from the nightmare.
Jung-hoo slips back inside just in time to feign sleep on the couch as Dad passes through. Then Young-shin staggers out of her bedroom half-asleep and claims his spot on the sofa, leaving him on the ground protesting ineffectually. He prods her, reminding her that she can’t sleep with anybody next to her (“Hello, I’m next to you…”), but she doesn’t stir. Instead she just grabs hold of his arm in her fitful sleep.
Jung-hoo’s mother goes through a box of old things and smiles at old photographs dating to her married days with Jung-hoo’s father. In a flashback, we drop in on a housewarming party for her family, with Young-shin’s parents in attendance, as well as Moon-shik and Teenage Moon-ho. The parents chuckle in amusement when they find young Ji-an and Jung-hoo asleep together, her holding firmly onto his arm.
In the morning when Dad steps into the living room, he makes a reflexive grab for the first piece of furniture with which to club Jung-hoo over the head. But he pauses at the sight of Young-shin sleeping peacefully next to Jung-hoo, still hanging onto his arm. Just like old times.
The phones are ringing off the hook at the Someday News office, thanks to Young-shin’s overnight scoop. Editor Jang frantically scrambles for a solution, wanting to take down the article, although his senior reporter points out that they’ve hit the top of the search results and have a tremendous amount of traffic.
HA, Young-shin cowers under the table in the conference room, now that sobriety has returned her sense of fear. Jung-hoo tries to urge her out but she hides herself, not wanting to step into the line of fire while her editor is raging.
Over at ABS, Min-jae rightly suspects that Moon-ho would be a bad person to have covering this Assemblyman sex scandal story and decides to put him on another story preemptively. She orders his hoobae, Jong-soo, to do whatever it takes to keep his attention distracted away from this item.
Min-jae finds Moon-ho to assign a story, but he’s awfully sharp to the irregularity of her particular request. Jong-soo cracks under the pressure and Moon-ho snatches his tablet, which is open to the Assemblyman Kim story.
Blood firing immediately, Moon-ho makes expert deductions and asks where the story originated. And when he looks for the byline, he recognizes that name.
Moon-shik fields an emergency meeting with Assemblyman Kim and President Hwang (the pimp), assuring him that he’ll take care of the source and that things will die down soon. He helps the assemblyman save face by calling it a clear case of politically motivated slander, and the assemblyman plays the part of the victim.
Moon-shik points out that President Hwang is the weaker link, and Hwang assures him that he’ll take this secret with him to the grave. For now, they have to find that problematic missing woman, and they suspect that the reporter is harboring her. Moon-shik orders the Double S leader to bring the woman in, and to “quiet the reporter—using whatever methods you need.”
Jung-hoo helps Young-shin slip out of the newsroom by distracting the others as she duck-walks her way out. She almost runs right into a stranger’s legs, and one look at his face has her stunned speechless.
It’s her hero, Moon-ho, and she stutters in awe and calls herself a fan. There’s a lovely, sad look on his face as he takes her hand and requests a chat.
She’s still in a state of shock later that evening as she walks home, recalling their conversation, but it’s not because of awe. Rather, Moon-ho had requested that she let him handle the story because it’s too big for her to take on alone—and while that’s true, she takes that the other way and scoffs that he became a star by ripping off stories from junior reporters.
Moon-ho had warned that she doesn’t know how much of a dangerous situation she set off, but Young-shin fixates more on the way he talked to her (in banmal) and huffs at his presumptuousness. What a traitor, she scoffs.
Just then, Jung-hoo notices the dark van parked across the way and the gangster-like fellows watching from inside. He gets on his in-ear comm to ajumma straightaway, and she hacks into the CCTV feed to recognize the SS folks. She orders Jung-hoo to make a break for it—especially with his bare faced exposed.
Jung-hoo takes stock of the situation, noting the gang that’s on their tail, and the one that’s cut off their path from the front. Young-shin doesn’t catch on until she’s literally surrounded, but one mention of Yeon-hee’s name is enough to apprise her of the situation.
Young-shin leans back to murmur a message to Jung-hoo: “I’ll grab onto them, so you run away. Go and get the police.”
He’s certainly surprised, and Young-shin steps forward to say she doesn’t know any Yeon-hee. The lead gangster slams her head into a wall, but Jung-hoo acts fast to cradle her head before impact.
That interference makes him a target, and gangsters grab him and start throwing punches. Hilarilously, Jung-hoo dodges the blows but yelps loudly, “Ow! That hurts!” and pretends to suffer the hits. Young-shin can’t bear to see him beaten and jumps in, agreeing to show them to Yeon-hee, and the guys grab her and leave Jung-hoo whimpering in fake-pain.
Jung-hoo dusts himself off and reconnects with Min-ja, who has called the police and instructs him to remove himself from the situation. Jung-hoo looks back at the way Young-shin was taken but begins walking in the other direction… yet words ring in his ears—about her childhood trauma, and how she can’t breathe when it strikes, and how she’d once contemplated killing herself to stop the pain.
Young-shin’s symptoms are already kicking in, and she falls to the ground gasping hard. Her vision starts to blur, and the last thing she sees is the arrival of an intruder, who jumps in to fight off the gangsters.
Jung-hoo leaps into the fray, easily knocking men down and keeping them at bay as he collects Young-shin, depositing her safely to the side with her head covered while he returns to the fight. He does literal gymnastics on the scaffolding and knocks down more baddies, while Young-shin looks up to catch a glimpse of his hidden face.
And the fun continues! I’m really digging the tone of this show, and the quick pacing that never lingers too long on the wrong things. This show knows what it is, and has struck a nicely brisk pace that balances its various facets in an entertaining, efficient way. I like that we’re given enough clues about the past to begin the speculation process, without being so dense as to be cryptic or so open as to be obvious. The flashbacks are well-done, and while there are a number of them, they’re well-crafted to show us exactly what we need to know without being confusing or overwhelming.
I do find the past ties connecting Young-shin, Jung-hoo, and Moon-ho to be a little neat, but I’m going to keep an open mind about it. If it were a pure romance drama that mirrored a childhood love triangle in the present, I’d be groaning pretty hard right about now. But I do have a lot of faith in this writer to do more with this than romance (in fact, I’m thinking that romance will be a secondary thread of the past timeline, not the primary one) and the trio’s childhood connection is part of the premise, rather than the resolution. As they say, a writer can get people into a fix using coincidence, but you’d better not solve a fix with coincidence. So in that way, I’m willing to go with the everyone-is-connected idea as a central issue.
I’m surprised at how much I’m liking this main pairing, because admittedly it does seem rather obvious, doesn’t it? I suppose it’s yet more proof that it’s more important to execute in a credible way than to come up with a new idea, because if I believe in these characters, then it doesn’t matter that other people in other stories have fallen in love in similar ways. Because what matters is that these people work—and they really do, for me.
What’s the best part of the Young-shin and Jung-hoo relationship is that it works for me on all of its levels, not just the primary one—I’m there with the curious Healer being drawn in to the bubbly weirdo heroine, and I’m also there with the goofy reporter Bong-soo tagging along with his cocky sunbae (and cowering before her father figures, which makes me laugh out loud), and I’m also there with the two damaged kids who hide their childhood traumas behind more polished adult facades. If all their sides continue to develop credibly, I’m going to be so all over this OTP like you don’t even know. Wheeee!
- Healer: Episode 3
- Healer: Episode 2
- Healer: Episode 1
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- Healer secures cast, KBS reshuffles fall/winter lineup
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- Yoo Ji-tae signs on to new Song Ji-nah drama Healer