Healer: Episode 8
It’s a good thing I write these recaps as I watch the episode and not after already watching it through, because otherwise today’s recap would just be pictures and unintelligible vowel sounds. Like urrrrrrr and eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’m sure that would’ve been entertaining for all of two seconds before you needed to know exactly what happened to asplode my lingual skills. So without further ado…
SONG OF THE DAY
Bernard Park – “솔직히 말해서” (Honestly speaking) [ Download ]
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Myung-hee’s unexpected run-in with Jung-hoo occupies her thoughts afterward, and we see the encounter play out from her perspective. This time when the Healer steps out of the study, he actually bears her friend Joon-seok’s face and she calls out his name in surprise. But her vision of Joon-seok’s face is replaced with Jung-hoo’s actual one, and she drops his sleeve at the realization. Similar, but different.
Still, she tries to follow when he hurries away, although Moon-shik holds her back. As her knee-jerk reaction fades, she remembers that her friend has been dead twenty years and can’t be the person she saw, assuming that her mind was playing tricks on her. Moon-shik, however, carefully files away this information about the uncanny resemblance.
Moon-shik calls the Healer a burglar and Myung-hee decides that her confusion was her mistake, since she didn’t get a good look at the face after all. But the reminder of Joon-seok spurs the desire to get in touch with his widow, and she asks her husband to look into it. Moon-shik cautions that she might not want the reminder, but Myung-hee persists.
Moon-shik casually-but-not-casually mentions their son, and Myung-hee supplies him with the name and age (28, a month older than Ji-an), and another piece seems to click into place in his brain. It is a scary-smart brain.
The grounds crawl with security guards who completely miss the shadowy Healer perched up in a tree. I know the Healer’s the best in the industry, but the SS goons hardly make that look like an accomplishment. Jung-hoo is too intrigued to leave, watching Myung-hee at her window as he puts in a call to Min-ja.
Jung-hoo guesses that the reason Min-ja and Teacher wanted him out of the country was because of this connection between Myung-hee and his father. He gives Min-ja a long moment to explain why, and when the line remains silent, he says that he’ll have to find out for himself then.
But just as he’s about to head back, his Teacher’s voice comes over the line, stopping him short. He provides just enough information about Myung-hee’s identity to prevent him from going off like a hothead, and directs Jung-hoo to a meeting spot.
Jung-hoo drives furiously and arrives at the riverbank, where he thinks back to being eight: “After my mother left, I’ve never cried because of a person. I didn’t hope for anything from another person either. What I hate most in this world is a person’s understanding and interest.”
This flashes him back to his schoolboy years, when he’s punished at school for fighting with other boys. His teacher clucks over his constant troublemaking but asks the counselor for her understanding and interest, since Jung-hoo has no parents. He sits there enduring his teacher’s pity and his classmates’ ridicule as it’s explained that his father killed himself and his mother left.
When Jung-hoo returns to class, word has spread. Worse than ridicule is pity, and when a classmate tells the others to go easy on Jung-hoo, it only sparks more rage.
His phone rings with a call from Young-shin, who pelts him with questions and concern: Was he tracking down bars all night? Did he sleep? Why isn’t he picking up his calls? She picks up on his down mood, then asks him to pick either east or west. She received information yesterday that she ought to report to Moon-ho, but isn’t sure how much to reveal, so she’ll decide randomly. Hence: east or west?
She doesn’t leave room for Jung-hoo to protest, so he arbitrarily picks east and tries to get in a few words—difficult, when he’s not supposed to know what her info’s about. But she just tells him to eat breakfast and come in late if he needs to.
He thinks again, “What I hate most in the world is understanding and interest. Or, I used to.”
While Young-shin waits for Moon-ho to arrive at work, she mulls over her dilemma. She remembers advice she’d once been told about trusting other people, and how you shouldn’t automatically mistrust the 49 people out of 50 who are trustworthy, just because one isn’t. And yet… there’s the Healer’s warning to be wary of people who approach her with nice gestures.
She’s there when Moon-ho’s broadcast hoobae, Jong-soo, arrives to play out his role of spy. He presents himself as a close associate of Moon-ho’s, so Young-shin asks what kind of person Moon-ho is. Jong-soo agrees to tell her, if she’ll tell him all about this Chae Young-shin person, who may be the reason for Moon-ho’s move to Someday.
Young-shin’s face goes through a hilarious series of reactions to Jong-soo’s questions, which have less to do with her character and much more to do with whether she’s fresh-faced or sweet or stacked. Just then Moon-ho arrives and calls her name (Jong-soo starts in embarrassment), steering her aside for a report on her latest findings.
Young-shin plays President Hwang’s room-salon footage for Moon-ho and Editor Jang, which contains over 200 hours of video of various important men being drunk and sleazy with Hwang’s stable of actresses. But naturally they want to know where she got her hands on this evidence, and she fumbles for an answer before settling on the truth.
She reveals that her informant is someone she’s been researching for a very long time, and that it took a lot of effort to manage a rendezvous. However, she’s frank about her misgivings in trusting Moon-ho with this, since she’s not sure he won’t claim her work. Therefore, she asks that he entrust her with handling contact with the source.
Moon-ho promises readily, and asks who it is. She asks if he knows what a night courier is, and names one such messenger called the Healer. Moon-ho confirms that he’s heard of the guy.
Jung-hoo comes rushing into the office to report to the boss, but Jong-soo blocks him and insists there’s a meeting going on. Jung-hoo pulls a feint—again, mixing Bong-soo-like clumsiness with Healer’s slick moves to whirl around Jong-soo and barge in anyway.
He announces that he’s found Hwang’s favorite room salon, Luna Moon, acting like he spent all night pounding the pavement instead of just beating the info out of Hwang.
As he’s talking, Young-shin sees the pop-up notification on Moon-ho’s computer: email from the Healer. She looks at him in shock, and Moon-ho asks the others to leave them to some privacy. Jung-hoo purposely drops papers that give him an excuse to plant a bug underneath the table, then is ushered out by the editor.
Young-shin eyes Moon-shin with a fresh wave of distrust: Why would Healer be emailing Moon-ho? Via the bug, Jung-hoo listens in on the conversation as Young-shin asks Moon-ho whether he hired the Healer, and what he requested. He’s got Min-ja on the other line, who sent the email at his instructions, since he wanted clarification about why Moon-ho wanted Young-shin protected.
Moon-ho admits that he hired the Healer but declines to answer why, turning the conversation into an interviewing critique—she’s approaching him all wrong. She asks if he asked the Healer to save her from gangsters, and to take her DNA sample. She can’t understand his reasons, neither can she just drop it and accept non-answers.
Despite picking at her interviewing flaws, Moon-ho decides to answer her initial question about why he came to Someday. He says he wanted to set up his own outlet and ran background checks on every employee, not just her. After all, she’ll be a journalistic “human shield” for him, so he has to make sure she’s in good shape.
Stated like that it sounds so simple, and it gets him off the hook for every question minus the one he can’t answer about her DNA, which he baldly denies. Young-shin is hit with a wave of disappointment and embarrassment, and says that her exchange with the Healer yesterday now “makes me want to die.”
At that, we split-screen to show Jung-hoo’s face reacting to her mortification (agh, so good) as she thinks of his warning not to trust too readily. She cuts herself off before admitting that much to Moon-ho, though he’s more interested in the tidbit about her meeting the Healer yesterday. Did she see his face?
She replies, “If I’d seen it, I would know just how pitifully he regarded me.”
Moon-shik receives confirmation that Young-shin was found at the age of five and bounced from family to family for a while, and was finally adopted at eight. She was found behind a trash can in a Seoul alleyway, and was thought to have a speech disability because she refused to talk.
The report badly shakes Moon-shik’s composure, and he thinks back to the aftermath of that accident. Badly injured and lying in a hospital bed, Myung-hee begs him to find Ji-an for her. He inquires at the police station, where a report confirms that a child was found hiding behind a trash can, and that takes him to the orphanage.
Sobbing Ji-an runs to hug him, and Moon-shik comforts her wearing a heavy expression. You can see the wheels already turning in his head….
As Moon-shik recalls this, he starts breathing heavily and then hears a voice asking, “Why did you do it?” He sees his old friend Joon-seok in the room, chiding him: “If you were gonna be torn up about it forever, you should’ve just brought her home.” Ooh, is he turning all Macbeth on us now?
He tries to ignore his conscience-specter, but Joon-seok persists, asking if he thought Ji-an’s survival would keep Myung-hee bound to her dead husband. He looks like he wants to defend himself, but every time he tries to speak up, Joon-seok disappears.
And then another voice asks, “Why did you do it?” This time it’s Gil-han, Myung-hee’s first husband, reminding him, “We were friends.” He advances on Moon-shik with that look of betrayal on his face, and Moon-shik shrinks back in fear. “Friends shouldn’t do that,” Gil-han says.
And upping the creep factor even more, we see the secretary watching intently from the doorway, noting Moon-shik’s erratic behavior and reporting it straightaway to the Elder. He explains about the brothers being interested in the child lost in 1992, and that Moon-ho appears to have already approached her.
The Elder calls Moon-shik “top class” among all the people he’s developed, knowing his place without being servile, and when to advance and when to retreat. “But you see,” he adds, “Moon-shik has exactly one weakness. That daughter.” She has the capability to turn him into a balloon doll—one of those dancing balloons you put in front of stores. One needle is all it takes to pop it: “And we can’t let that happen to Moon-shik.”
The secretary understands what he means, and agrees to send Moon-ho a clear warning without Moon-shik knowing.
Moon-ho replies to the Healer’s request for information, advising him to be particularly wary of Secretary Oh. He also adds the order for the Healer to not contact Young-shin personally.
Then he assigns Young-shin and Jung-hoo (dude, couple sweaters!) to interview Yeon-hee and asks for a detective to whom they can submit the evidence, so as to prevent the other side from obstructing the case. Young-shin knows of one such character, having run into Investigator Yoon while staking out Hwang.
Then Moon-ho introduces his buddy to the team, and Editor Jang is still unable to understand why these elites would choose to come here. Moon-ho prods Jong-soo to tell them what he’d confessed earlier: that he came to spy for Moon-shik. Aw, so he couldn’t backstab his sunbae after all! I wanted to be able to keep liking him, and now I’m glad I can.
Young-shin gripes about Moon-ho on the car ride over to the interview, asking if it’s so hard for him to praise her a little for staying up all night researching. All that work catches up to her and she nods off in her seat, and as her head starts to fall, Jung-hoo carefully reaches over to prop it up with his hand.
He drives like that all the way to Young-shin’s house, where he finds weird gangster-looking ajusshis hanging about. He’s just about to back away before they’re seen, but Young-shin awakes and lights up, darting out to greet her ex-con ajusshi uncles. The mood is adorably energetic as they fawn over her, until grumpy Dad shoos them away for scaring off his customers. Jung-hoo watches this all with bemusement that gradually turns to amusement.
Over at the SS office, Sang-soo assures Secretary Oh that he and his team are up to the task. Then he gives his guys an hour to accomplish their goal, and they get to work manipulating a voice clip taken from Moon-ho’s news broadcast.
Dad again asks Yeon-hee if she’s okay to go through with the interview, even if her face will be pixelated onscreen. He knows how the other side’s attorney will attack, and giving an interview could have adverse effects on her. But Yeon-hee remains firm, reminding him that she isn’t concerned with preserving her reputation; all she wants is to take them down.
Dad asks for some time to discuss things with Yeon-hee before giving the interview, and they step aside. Young-shin asks Jung-hoo if he can handle the camera equipment, and he meekly just says he’s sure it’ll work out. Ha. He surreptitiously links in to Min-ja, who adds that his father was reportedly a whiz with machines too.
She reads him Moon-ho’s reply email, including that addendum about not making personal contact with Young-shin. I think we all know Healer well enough by now to see that this is exactly the kind of thing to spur his rebellious streak, and he just scoffs.
Young-shin leans over to examine the camera setup, and as she looks at the equipment, he looks over at her. He reaches out with a finger, and she looks at him in puzzlement as he lightly touches her forehead. “What are you doing?” she asks. “Contact,” he replies. “Personal contact.” LOL. He is such a teenager sometimes.
Min-ja practically rolls her eyes, then mentions the Teacher asking a strange question earlier about whether he preferred fruit or chocolate. Is it some kind of a code? But Jung-hoo has no clue.
Young-shin puts on a record and starts mugging for the camera, which confuses Jung-hoo. She tells him to let it go because she’s in a heavy mood, all while sending funny faces at the camera. Then she assumes a serious journalist’s mien as she runs through a mic test, mock-reporting: “Hello everyone. You are looking at a woman who has been rejected by her Crushes 1 and 2 simultaneously, who is here with clear mind to report all the same.”
Jung-hoo’s expression sharpens as he registers this. She continues: “Number 1 called this woman a human shield, and Number 2 thinks of her as a delusional attention seeker. However, let us forget this readily. Like a sad dream conjured in the middle of the night, which goes like darkness at the light of dawn. Let us forget. Let us pretend it never happen—”
She stumbles before finishing. Jung-hoo looks up at her with those eyes (those eyes), and she blinks back tears and chatters quickly about the weather.
The interview begins, and Yeon-hee names names and tells her story frankly. Young-shin starts light and increases the pressure, asking if she went along to entertain the assemblyman because she thought she’d be rewarded with favors later. It’s a little strong, so she backs off and moves on, but Yeon-hee answers anyway, saying that Young-shin doesn’t know the fear so she can talk about it so easily. She says that those people are capable of doing anything to protect their interests.
Secretary Oh confirms that whatever scheme he’s put the SS team on, it’s ready to go.
Meanwhile, Jung-hoo finally gets a call from his Teacher, who asks if he prefers chocolate or sweet potatoes. He tells him to go home immediately if he wants to meet, because Teacher’s only waiting five minutes. Jung-hoo’s exit is stopped by ajusshi, who tells him to take lunch with him, and a glimpse at the pastry case jars Jung-hoo’s memory—it’s his birthday. So that’s what Old Fogey Teacher was rattling on about?
Moon-ho calls Young-shin to the office, because an informant has surfaced. She heads out immediately, following his directions to a particular location… and we see that this is the SS tech team’s doing. Gack, they’ve doctored Moon-ho’s voice using his broadcasts, and she’s none the wiser. Fake Moon-ho directs her to turn off her phone as well, to evade potential tracking, and she complies.
Then the real Moon-ho gets a call from an unknown number. It’s a random schoolboy, who reads a note provided by Secretary Oh warning him not to forget that he owes the family who raised him, and that he cannot throw it away over one bad woman, and that his family is awaiting his return.
Alarmed, Moon-ho tries calling Young-shin and gets no reply. So he sends Healer an email outlining the details, and Jung-hoo screeches the car to a halt and orders ajumma to locate Young-shin via the tracker in her bag. He hears the direction and zooms off in a hurry. So does Moon-ho.
Secretary Oh prepares the next phase of his eeeevil plan by entering a building dressed as a construction worker, and starts to tamper with some kind of machinery. That’s the building Young-shin arrives at, although the front doors are locked. That forces her to go around to find an open door, and she enters cautiously, looking for Moon-ho.
She finds the one elevator that will work—the one that Secretary Oh has just messed with. She steps inside, and the elevator begins its ascent. Once it’s in motion, Secretary Oh opens the cable box and snips a wire.
Suddenly, the elevator jolts and clangs to a stop, while the lights flicker off. Then, it starts to free-fall—with nine stories between her and death. The elevator stops after a short drop, but it doesn’t look like it’ll hold for long.
Driving like a maniac, Jung-hoo arrives at the building and heads inside the same way. He hears the elevator gears as it begins a second fall, running in that direction as it catches a second time. He bangs on the doors at the bottom and she hears it, screaming out for help.
Jung-hoo starts running up the staircase, and Secretary Oh, who’s heading down, hears the approach with enough time to duck aside.
Young-shin fights to tamp down her mounting panic, but she can feel the precarious hold on the elevator and starts to hyperventilate. Jung-hoo arrives on the rooftop and quickly clips emergency cords in place, wearing one end as a harness, and runs to the elevator shaft.
Opening the doors manually, he sees the car stuck halfway down and leaps into the shaft, guided by the cables, and lands atop the car with a thud that makes Young-shin scream.
He opens the door and drops into the elevator next to her, just as the last of the cables give way and start snapping. He quickly pulls her cap down over her eyes and belts her into the harness, then grabs hold of her with one arm and the cable with the other.
The elevator begins its final plummet, literally falling away around them as they are pulled upward.
Jung-hoo assists Young-shin onto the rooftop, but once they’re there she flings off his arm angrily. Aw, she’s still embarrassed.
She yells at him for risking his life, and then says in a wavering voice that she’s grateful for his help, “But if we fell together, we would have both died!” More to the point, he would have died, and just because of her.
Her eyes still covered, she asks if he’s still here and reaches out a hand just as she did the other day. He steps back before she makes contact but she figures he’s still around and says that even though Moon-ho paid him for his work, she doesn’t have the money to pay him back for saving her life. “I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “Thank you.”
Without saying anything, he drops her bag at her feet and starts walking away. But he stops after a few steps, registering the snow that’s started to fall.
His voiceover repeats earlier sentiments: “After becoming alone, up till now, I haven’t wished for anything from another person. And so, I was fine.”
Below, Moon-ho arrives outside the building and heads inside. Jung-hoo continues: “I didn’t care at all whether anyone understood or misunderstood me. I was like that.”
But past tense is past tense, and he suddenly whirls around, walking purposely toward Young-shin. He pulls off his gloves and folds up her hat, just enough to see the bottom half of her face. He stops short of her eyes… and leans in… and kisses her.
I’m sorry, am I supposed to write comments and make sense after that? Surely you don’t expect me to be useful at this point, do you? Not when all I want to do is rewind the last ten minutes and watch it fifty times?
Okay, fine, let’s be professional and all that. Pull it together, ‘beans.
Let’s start with the older generation, whose layers continue to be peeled back one by one—yet again, deft handling by the writing here. It’s difficult to maintain mystery without being too cryptic on one hand, or revealing too much and flattening out the tension on the other. So I’m content to see each character introduced in stages, so that we get to see how they fit into the larger picture by degrees. Obviously Jung-hoo’s father was a victim and not the aggressor, but I’m still curious to know exactly how the betrayal went, and in what order.
Despite Moon-shik being a pretty clear villain, I like that he doesn’t seem to be a black-and-white sort of guy. Yes, he’s guilty as sin: If he didn’t outright kill his friends, he still bore responsibility for their demises, not to mention the present-day hits he’s ordering as a part of his clean-up job. His hands are unclean and bloodstained, and he doesn’t seem all too torn up about killing Go Sung-chul, for instance. But I don’t want him to be this flat mastermind whose life was consumed by an obsessive love for a woman he had to have. That’s too simple and I don’t buy it, and I don’t think the show means to take that route either.
I’d rather see Moon-shik as a tragic figure—the guy who had every capacity to be a hero, but made every bad choice. I don’t think redemption has to be in his cards, but his complexity is what I find fascinating about him—I don’t care when he’s smug and in perfect control, but I do feel sucked in when he hallucinates his friends and actually seems afraid. I want to see him come to an understanding that he was completely wrong, and I want to have him wish for his soul, only to realize he’s already sold it.
As for the romance, I’m trying to pinpoint what about Jung-hoo and Young-shin make it so exciting and giddy-making, because its parts alone don’t explain it—we’ve seen these elements time and time again, and in some dramas I find them trite and unmoving, while in others I’m squealing at my screen and hugging myself.
I always love when the romantic journey plays off other elements of the story, and Healer gives us that. This isn’t to say a pure romantic storyline wouldn’t work well, but things are always more fun when you add layers and faces and dimension. (A single light may shine, but there’s something extra satisfying about holding up a gem to the light and finding unexpected glints coming through from other facets.)
Both Jung-hoo and Young-shin have some growing up to do on their own, and their connection is more like a collective group of smaller connections. They’re friends, colleagues, fellow survivors of abandonment—and then there’s the extra connection they don’t even know about, with regard to their childhoods. Jung-hoo has voiced the same sentiment a few times now, that he used to feel a certain way, and is starting to change his mind about them.
I don’t get the sense that it’s as simple as “I like her so I feel differently,” but that the things he can’t abide in other people don’t apply to her, because she’s a kindred spirit. When somebody comes at him from a certain perspective, he has a tendency to dig in his heels and rebel, as we see with Min-ja and Teacher. But when that person is seeing things through your own eyes, whether you mean for them to see that or not, you can’t have the same response, because now their view is your view. Sometimes that’s all it takes.