Healer: Episode 13
Big movements ahead! As fun as it was to watch Bong-sookie being jealous of himself, it’s time for life to step it up and throw bigger frustrations in his path, which are equal parts entertaining and angst-inducing. Plus, with the outing of some truths come new unanswered questions, throwing our characters off-balance as they try to figure out how to juggle what they want to know with what they can stand to know.
SONG OF THE DAY
Nemesis – “슬픈 사랑의 왈츠” (Sad love’s waltz) [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Backing up a few moments, we rejoin Jung-hoo’s mother as she is approached by Secretary Oh at the restaurant. She lies that she’s been out of contact with her son for a decade, and says she’s here to meet a friend. Secretary Oh offers to wait with her, and when Mom nervously excuses herself to visit the restroom, he swipes her cell phone.
Aha, so Mom’s not in danger after all, and she slips out the back. But Jung-hoo doesn’t know that, since her phone is tracked to Secretary Oh’s car, and he charges into the trap willingly. He fights the SS thugs in the parking garage until he’s hit with a tranq dart, then goes on the run, making it up the stairs to the roof.
That’s where he gets shoved aside, his Healer trappings stripped from him in a flash: It’s Teacher, and he dons Jung-hoo’s cap, glasses, and bloodied jacket, even cutting his arm to make the impersonation credible.
So when Yo-Yo and his posse order Healer to show himself, Teacher meets their incredulous faces with a sheepish grin. He says, “Whoops, I’ve been caught.”
Min-ja calls Young-shin and asks her to search the premises for Bong-soo, who is likely injured. Young-shin scours the area and heads down to the parking garage just in time to see the SS gang screeching out.
Young-shin overhears Detective Yoon reporting over the phone that somebody’s been caught, then spots the drops of blood on the floor. So when Min-ja calls back, she tells her frantically that Bong-soo must have been taken away by the goons.
But Ajumma tells her firmly that Bong-soo isn’t moving, so he’s hidden somewhere on the premises. Young-shin asks suspiciously how Min-ja knows, but time is of the essence and Ajumma entreats her to hurry. So Young-shin continues the search, and when she recalls Bong-soo saying he likes high places, she heads upward.
She makes it to the rooftop, where traces of blood lead her to Jung-hoo, slumped in a corner. She hurries to cradle him in her lap, covering him in her coat. In tears, she calls emergency services for help, begging them to hurry.
Jung-hoo is taken to the emergency room, where the doctors are more concerned with his unconsciousness than his bleeding, wondering if he took drugs. While he’s treated, Young-shin calls ajumma’s number, only to get a recording that it doesn’t exist.
Sitting at his bedside, Young-shin asks Jung-hoo to wake up, since she’s bursting with questions she wants to ask. Jokingly, she hovers in front of his face and sing-songs, “Bong-sook-ah, wake up~”
His eyes start to flutter open, and she sits up excitedly. He sees her blurrily and murmurs her name, holding his hand out to her. She takes it, and immediately he appears to sink back into sleep, although his hand keeps a tight grip on hers—and once again she’s reminded of her handhold with the Healer.
Last time she shook away the thought, but today’s circumstances have her brain whirling differently… and she thinks of the little details that now fall into place… like Healer asking how many pills she took, and Bong-soo handing her those pills.
She drops his hand in shock and rears back, seeing him through new eyes. She runs to his car and starts searching for clues, and comes upon a little case. Inside, she finds a tiny folded paper star—it’s the star she made while chatting on the phone with Bong-soo, sighing about the Healer not coming to her. Jung-hoo, you hopeless romantic.
She recalls his confession on the rooftop, when he’d told her he could live “in the appearance you want, for a long time, being very careful, next to you.” It sounds different in the context of knowing, doesn’t it?
When she returns to the hospital, Jung-hoo’s awake and changing into clothing brought by Dae-yong, who takes the first opportunity to excuse herself from this awkward scenario. Jung-hoo freezes at the sight of Young-shin, knowing he’ll have to make a convincing explanation, and also that he doesn’t have one.
So Jung-hoo says lamely that he took some sleeping pills that kicked in late. His arm injury, then, “is because I fell asleep… and… tripped.” It’s super unconvincing, and they both know it.
Young-shin asks how Dae-yong knew he’d be here. He doesn’t have an answer, and after a moment Young-shin offers him the excuse, saying that she got a call from someone who might be his mother, and that she was so preoccupied she forgot to call back. His mother must’ve searched all the hospitals in the area.
Jung-hoo asks if this gave her a scare, and apologizes when she says it did.
It certainly feels like they both know that they’re lying to each other, playacting this scene because they don’t know how else to handle it. As he starts to leave, she stops him to ask that he’ll be back in the office tomorrow, like she’s scared he won’t be. He signals yes.
She holds it together until he leaves, and then her tears spill over.
In the car ride, Jung-hoo hears from Min-ja that his mother is safe at home. That’s a relief, but he’s upset that Teacher got taken in. A sudden thought makes him check that the paper star is still in its case, and he’s relieved to find it there.
Jung-hoo ignores ajumma’s directive to rest and orders the car to Moon-shik’s home. The bastard messed with his mother and Young-shin: “So I have to make sure he can’t.” Ajumma asks if he means to give him a beating like he did to Hwang, but Jung-hoo growls, “I’ll kill him.”
Ajumma and Dae-yong both refuse to take him there, so Jung-hoo forces Dae-yong out of the car. She’s pretty tough and fights back, but he gets the upper hand and is ready to charge after the baddie.
It’s a good thing Dae-yong isn’t afraid to challenge him, and she has the keys. She shoves the phone in his face so Min-ja can yell some sense into him, about how he can go ahead and kill whomever he likes—but does that mean he’s ready to give up ever seeing Young-shin again? They need to find out why Young-shin was targeted, and don’t forget that Young-shin’s mother lives in that house.
Frustrated, Jung-hoo beats the steering wheel. But at least he’s been stopped.
At home, Young-shin’s strange behavior has her father and ajusshi worried. She stares vacantly for a while, and then the tears have them really alarmed.
“Dad,” she says brokenly, “that jerk deceived me all this time. Everything single thing he said in front of me was a lie. And I didn’t know and told him everything.” But she couldn’t confront him, “Because if I told him I knew, he might just leave. Because I might not see him again, I couldn’t say anything. And I can’t not see him again—I can’t handle that.”
Dad doesn’t press for an explanation, but he and ajusshi are both curious about the source of her heartbreak. Ajusshi knows she has two crushes, but doesn’t think this is about either one. Instead, his mind fixes on Bong-soo—Young-shin doesn’t confide her feelings even to them, “but she does to that dummy.” So he’s the one.
Dad brings her a warm drink later, and Young-shin asks why he chose her, pointing out, “I’m difficult to love.” There were lots of more lovable kids at the orphanage, but she was a difficult child.
Dad laughs as he recounts her difficult traits, but says he didn’t take her: “I just waited, and you came.” He explains sitting there quietly until she took his hand first, and so he brought her home. He says he was prepared to wait longer, but she came to him faster than he thought, reminding her that she’s not very stubborn.
She leans her head against Dad’s shoulder and assures him that she’s very nearly done crying.
Watching the CCTV feed, Min-ja sees Moon-shik and his guards arriving at SS headquarters… and then moments later, a couple more cars pull up. She chuckles upon recognizing Detective Yoon and reaches for a cell phone…
Moon-shik is ushered inside to confront the Healer, who has been insisting he’s a good old friend. Moon-shik confirms this and asks for privacy, extending a hand that Teacher cheerfully rejects. He sticks to the explanation that he’s been the Healer all along, laughing that it was quite fun taking Moon-shik’s money. Then he asks pointedly, “Is Myung-hee still sleeping? How many hours does she sleep a day?” What an ominous thing to say.
That sends us into a flashback to the hospital in the aftermath of Myung-hee’s accident. Teacher arrives out of the blue, a few months out of prison. Moon-shik greets him warmly, but Teacher’s full of hostility and says openly that Moon-shik’s actions are suspect. He outlines the odd sequence of events: Three bears go out “hunting” for a story and two die. The survivor quits his junkyard and suddenly gains a high position at a newspaper. Moon-shik asks his friend to hear him out, but Teacher’s not having it.
In the present, Moon-shik explains that Jung-hoo came asking about his father, and that kids don’t know “what sacrifices we made” to build up their world. Teacher laughs in his face, but Moon-shik warns, “I will not tolerate the destroying of the peace we’ve preserved in this world. We call those people outlaws. Why do you live as an outlaw?” Teacher makes a claw gesture and retorts, “Because I’m a bear.”
Moon-shik asks if Teacher has teamed up with Moon-ho to dig up the past. Teacher replies that two papa bears have died, leaving behind two mama bears and two bear cubs: “There have to be three bears for the song to work.” Then he sings the childhood ditty about a family of three bears, with Mama, Papa, and Baby.
Moon-shik warns that he’s very angry, and not to make him angrier. Teacher asks, “Were Gil-han and Joon-seok the last people you killed? There are more, aren’t there? But don’t think about messing with the two bear cubs. I’m going to protect them. Because I’m Papa Bear’s friend.”
Detective Yoon and his partners are surprised when patrol cars join them in front of the building. Hearing that they received a report that a kidnapping victim is inside, Detective Yoon is thrilled at the excuse to charge in.
Moon-shik is ushered out the back exit to avoid being seen, and Teacher sings the Three Bears song at his departing back. Moments later, the detectives arrive.
Jung-hoo’s mother is secretly photographed as she meets Jung-hoo in front of her apartment. He’s aware that they’re being watched and tells his mother quietly of the situation. He asks her to act like she’s seeing him for the first time in ten years, and she answers that it’ll be easy to act happy to see him.
They relocate to a cafe, and he apologizes for never giving her his number and only calling when he wanted to see her. But he won’t be able to do that for the time being, he says, to keep Mom safe. She doesn’t protest or ask questions, and they both notice when their stalker enters the cafe and sits nearby. He sets out his cell phone casually, recording their conversation.
So when Jung-hoo’s voice gets hard and he says that today is the last time he’ll be seeing his mother, she goes along with it. He tells her to be happy in her new life and forget him, and that she did him a favor in abandoning him so he could find his own path.
Even though the words are for show, Mom still gets emotional as she apologizes. Jung-hoo issues a cold goodbye, saying that he’ll wrap up his business here and never come back to Korea, but mouths at her not to cry. Then after he leaves, Mom bursts into heaving sobs.
Flashback. Mom watches her (other) son playing on a playground, shocked when a young Jung-hoo arrives and declares, “Found you.” He eyes her with bitterness but she’s only concerned for his health and tries to give him her coat, which he shoves away. Mom falls to her knees sobbing, and then his little half-brother charges up to him and bites his leg, telling him not to make his mother cry.
Only now does he know that Mom has a new family, and that hurts. Jung-hoo says accusingly, “Why can you live with him, but not with me?” Mom just sobs, “I’m sorry,” and Jung-hoo yells at her not to cry, because then he can’t say anything.
As he leaves, a man chases after him to say that it was all his fault, and that he begged Mom to marry him, and that Mom always speaks of Jung-hoo while crying. Jung-hoo looks back to see his mother watching and asks if cries every day. The husband admits that Mom cries easily, and Jung-hoo tells him to make sure she doesn’t anymore.
He knows that the coat the man is carrying is for him, so he just says gruffly that he’ll take it, and walks off having done what little he could to make Mom feel better. Agh, such a little big man, grown up before his time.
Next Jung-hoo goes to Moon-ho, who assures him that nobody will mess with his mother anymore—Moon-shik was only testing whether Jung-hoo was the Healer. He says that his hyung isn’t so low that he’d keep going, which seems like it could be true in this case, but also seems naive of Moon-ho. I hope for his sake he’s right.
Jung-hoo reminds him that his brother used Mom as bait and tried to kill Young-shin. His impatience is at odds with Moon-ho’s infuriating calm, and he demands to know why Young-shin was targeted, intent on ensuring that she’ll never be in danger again. Moon-ho tells him a man named the Elder is the real one pulling the strings, and that’s who they’ll need to go after next.
Jung-hoo asks who this “we” refers to, and Moon-ho replies, “You and me, and probably Young-shin.” Jung-hoo’s not very interested, guessing correctly that Moon-ho’s tactic will be to expose the Elder using the media. Jung-hoo is just interested in finding his father’s police files and getting rid of the evil, to which Moon-ho chuckles that killing one Elder will just lead another to take his place.
Just then, the doorbell rings, and Moon-ho sends Jung-hoo to answer it, saying merely that it’s “the woman I like.” In irritation, Jung-hoo opens the door… and finds Young-shin there. Wait, did Moon-ho just confess his intentions?
They freeze to see each other standing there, the air strained between them. Then Jong-soo joins them, completing the team, though he remains the one leg that’s hopelessly out of the loop.
Moon-shik urges Myung-hee to take her pills and go to sleep, but she decides she wants to spend more time awake. She says it’s fine if she’s in pain, but she wants to do some thinking, since it’s been ages since she’s done any. She starts with twenty years ago, asking about her hospital bills—she was laid up for a year in a VIP room. How did he manage to pay for it all?
He has a ready answer—he sold his junkyard—but Myung-hee says with a cold smile that she’s going over the math. And when he takes her hand, she pulls free again.
Moon-shik doesn’t understand the sudden change, and it unnerves him. The sight of his water glass grabs his attention, and he inches it closer to the edge of the counter, almost in a trance, until he pushes it over the edge. It shatters. Foreshadowing?
Young-shin gets to work on their new story—digging into the background of the next mayoral candidate, aka Moon-shik—and interviews Moon-ho as a part of it. She traces Moon-shik’s trajectory from 1992 till now, finding his sharp rise to media executive quite unusual.
Moon-ho recalls how in those days, a lot of visitors had come by daily—but they weren’t from the media. Jeil Newspaper was on the brink of bankruptcy, but an investment company named Omega bought up shares, and immediately afterward, Moon-shik became president. “Isn’t that interesting?” he asks.
Jung-hoo snatches a moment to connect with Min-ja, worrying about Teacher being held at the police station. He’s ready to charge in to free the old man himself, but Min-ja orders him to stay put, feeling assured that Teacher will take care of himself.
It’s bad enough that Young-shin is distant with him, but now Jung-hoo has to watch her chatting cheerily with the boss and sidekick. Moon-ho assigns them each a stack of research to get through by tomorrow, and ignores Jung-hoo’s protest that he’s busy tonight. Jong-soo, on the other hand, is happy to go home with Young-shin to work together, and Jung-hoo simmers in the background.
So the three reporters head over to the cafe, and Dad welcomes the newcomer. Jong-soo’s eager to impress Dad, to Jung-hoo’s disgruntlement, and Dad and ajusshi try to figure out which guy made Young-shin cry. They’d thought it was Bong-sookie, but seeing her being so friendly to the other guy, they’re no longer sure.
Jung-hoo shoots daggers at Jong-soo (seriously, if looks could kill) as he reads over documents with Young-shin. Finally he heads out in agitation, looking for a drink, and Young-shin finds him there to offer him a choice: east or west. He picks east, and she tells him the result: They’ll stand next to each other for a minute and talk.
He asks what west would’ve gotten him, and when she says a ten-second hug, he immediately turns to her with outstretched arms and says, “I want to switch.”
At least that makes her laugh, and he says he’s relieved, because he thought she was angry with him. She replies, “I’m not angry, I’m holding back.”
“Holding back?” he asks. “Yeah,” she replies, “from wanting to hold hands.”
He stares down at her, surprised. “I want to hug, and talk all night,” she says. “And kiss too.” Omg. He’s stunned speechless, and then Young-shin clarifies, “I want to do that with him, but I’m holding back.”
Ah, boo. Note that in Korean, it totally sounded like she meant she wanted to do those things with Bong-soo, until that last part. I’m sure that ambiguity was intentional, too—it’s her small way of expressing her feelings while preserving his facade.
When she moves away, Jung-hoo stops her and comes around to face her, like he’s going to say something… do something… But then he shakes his head, unable to take it any further.
“He still hasn’t come,” Young-shin says. Jung-hoo says, “He’ll have a reason.” She agrees, but says the guy is still a jerk. And thus, even though she’ll wait for him, “Still, it makes me furious.”
He acknowledges that, and for a brief second, Young-shin rests her forehead on his shoulder. He reaches up to touch her, but she pulls away and moves past, their hands barely brushing. And then Jung-hoo reaches back wildly to grab for her, but only gets empty air. He looks crushed.
In the morning, Min-ja catches a glimpse of suspicious activity on her security monitor: Secretary Oh meeting someone. We don’t see him clearly, but she seems to recognize him.
Teacher eats breakfast in custody, and Detective Yoon arrives to interrogate him, starting with the name Jo Min-ja. Teacher feigns ignorance but Detective Yoon isn’t fooled, since Min-ja, his former sunbae, is listed as visiting Teacher in prison five times. She taught him all about hacking, and yesterday he encountered a familiar pattern.
Teacher smiles and says he’ll have to surrender himself: “I am the Healer.”
Outside the station, a police officer drops something in to a trash can, and the camera lingers on a small glass vial. Hmm.
Min-ja calls Jung-hoo once she’s recognized the man who met Secretary Oh—one of Detective Yoon’s minions. Crap, so an insider at the station is in cahoots with the baddies. At that, Jung-hoo starts running.
Teacher gives his statement, giving the basics of his Healer activities, and volunteers to start with the most recent and work backward. He fidgets with his collar and adds, “I don’t have much time.” Shit, what was in that vial? Shit, what was in his breakfast?
Young-shin continues her research and comes upon a happy photo of Moon-shik and his wife. She lingers on Myung-hee’s face, though she doesn’t quite know why yet.
Teacher offers up information readily about his latest work being for Moon-shik, confirming that he’s acquainted with the cases of Go Sung-chul and President Hwang.
But suddenly, he begins foaming at the mouth, even though it doesn’t wipe the smile from his face. “I told you,” Teacher gurgles. “I don’t have much time.”
His head drops onto his chest. Detective Yoon tears out of the room to get help.
Jung-hoo hurries to the police station and sees the ambulance out front. A body is wheeled out on a gurney, a sheet pulled over its head. An arm falls limply from under the sheet, revealing the telltale wound on Teacher’s arm.
Noooooo, not you, OG Healer! At first I wondered if he’d poisoned himself, but upon consideration I think it’s likelier that Teacher recognized the symptoms kicking in and decided he would confess before he died. I was angry with him for the way he abandoned Jung-hoo, but I’ve grown really fond of him, and found his combination of smiling facade and seething undertone to be really compelling. This drama has done a fantastic job casting everybody’s past counterparts and Teacher is one of the highlights, where you can really see how one grew into the other. His constant grin can be aggravating sometimes, particularly when Jung-hoo’s dying for him to be serious, but it’s completely in line with his character—and as an added bonus, it’s gratifying to see how much it pisses Moon-shik off.
That scene with the old friends was one of my favorites, and it’s because Teacher is so glib that it’s powerful when he lets that steeliness show through, as he did when he vowed to protect the bear cubs. He may not have foreseen that he was walking into his death when he took Jung-hoo’s place, but it was still moving to see how he took on his fate anyway. Maybe it even satisfied him to think he died via poison that might’ve taken Jung-hoo instead. In that way, Jung-hoo’s two closest loved ones have both shoved him away to protect him, and it’s extra poignant (and yes, frustrating too) that they would willingly accept the smaller pain to spare him a greater one. The fact that he’ll learn this far after the fact feels like one of those great sorrows of growing up—you don’t appreciate things until it’s too late to take back your reaction. But that’s life.
It seems likely that Moon-shik gave the order to kill Teacher after their face-to-face, which adds another to his body count tally. Sigh. It’s interesting to see that in the flashback scene, Moon-shik may even have had an explanation that made some kind of sense—it doesn’t absolve him of his decision to sell his soul, but I do believe that at one time, his heart was in the right place. And funny enough, I feel like if the five friends had remained alive, Moon-shik wouldn’t have been tempted away to the dark side, because even if he didn’t have everything he wanted and his thirst for greater things in life remained unfulfilled, the friendships would have been enough. But once that cracked, Moon-shik lost the shield of their influence, and then it’s just been bad choice after bad choice.
I find Moon-shik a nicely shaded character who doesn’t strike me as being a one-note villain, but admittedly he’s getting eviller and eviller, enough that I have little sympathy for his actions. I got chills at the suggestion that he might be doping Myung-hee on purpose, to keep her insensate and caged at his side. Prior to this episode I thought he was taking advantage of her condition to keep her housebound, selfishly but with good intentions. It didn’t strike me that he would medicate her so heavily that she would spend most of her time asleep—and that’s particularly creepy, because it suggests that he wants her as a possession, not a partner. If he’s truly just trying to keep her pain-free, then maybe he’s not quite the devil incarnate. But now I can’t shake the idea that he’s keeping her on needless drugs so that she doesn’t think for herself, and that makes me shudder.
Moving on: Young-shin knows!!!! I wasn’t sure what I wanted of her reaction to the discovery, but it was interesting to me that she was more betrayed by Bong-soo than she was excited to know who her Healer was. Granted that could just be that shock is the first reaction, and she’ll come around to gladness next. But it makes sense that she was hurt by Bong-soo, because she’d poured out her heart to him in a way that was much more intimate than the moments she’d spent with the Healer.
I loved that Young-shin told Jung-hoo that she was angry with him, because while we all know (and are waiting for the day when) she’ll forgive him eventually, the ends don’t justify the means—that’s not a good enough excuse. It matters how you do things, and it matters that she’s hurt in the process, and even though she recognizes that she won’t stop having faith in him, she won’t postpone her feelings just because he isn’t ready to explain himself yet.
So I loved that little moment when they brushed by each other, wanting to touch but not emotionally ready yet. I appreciate that as much as we want them to just shove aside the logic and take everything out into the open, there are credible reasons for why they haven’t gotten to that point. In the meantime, they’ll speak in veiled comments about some mythical third person, and I’m excited to see more of that because those double-entendre conversations can be so revealing—where they’re speaking about one person but meaning another (…although okay, Healer and Bong-soo are still the same guy). Ironically enough, the false front can allow them the freedom to be honest about their feelings in a way they can’t be in a plainspoken way, and that is never a bad thing.
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