Healer: Episode 9
And we’re back! Did you all manage that weeklong wait without too much angst? Judging from the hoppin’ recap thread, I’m guessing this episode couldn’t come a moment too soon. Thankfully Healer follows up that last episode with one that’s on par with what we’ve come to expect of this show: cute relationship developments, some heart-tugging glances, a dash of intrigue, and strong character moments on multiple fronts.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tei – “눈이 하는 말” (What the eyes say) from the Healer OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
So, that kiss. It’s not like we haven’t all rewound and rewatched it a dozen (…hundred) times already, but it’s a nice place to resume, out on the rooftop after Healer saves Young-shin from a grisly elevator death. He pulls away gently, looking at her with this… intensity. Agh.
She reaches out a hand toward him, but he steps back out of range now, because superhero identities must be preserved. He keeps looking at her as he steps away, and she holds out her hand and feels only snowflakes. At least it’s a first snow of the season, which has a nice romantic connotation to it.
Moon-ho comes bursting out onto the roof, so frantic with worry that he shouts her other name, “Ji-an-ah!” She’s utterly dazed (…cause that kiss blew her mind) and takes a while to gather her thoughts. Verging on tears, she stammers out a disjointed explanation of coming here at Moon-ho’s request, nearly dying in an elevator, and being saved by the Healer.
She starts to hyperventilate as the shock sets in, and Moon-ho grabs her in a hug, patting her comfortingly. She adds, “And that person… almost died because of me…”
He starts to lead her away, calling her Young-shin this time, but she stops to look around for her cell phone—it was her mother’s, and she can’t lose it. She thinks it’s in the elevator, but Moon-ho suggests they find it later and helps her away.
Around the corner, Jung-hoo watches them leave. He tells Min-ja that the elevator was tampered with deliberately, and that the culprit must have been in the vicinity as it broke down. He puts Min-ja to the task of securing CCTV footage, as well as tracking Moon-ho. When ajumma asks what he’ll be doing, he looks a bit fidgety as he says he’s gotta go find something. A cell phone, perhaps?
But as he’s walking, his leg suddenly gives out from under him and he stumbles. The misstep has him looking spooked, and Min-ja can’t believe her ears when he admits he tripped. Then she notices his abnormal vital signs with concern, while he feels his thumping chest and then his lips. Aw, you’re adorable. Also you had me worried for a second there.
Young-shin is equally as out of it, and as Moon-ho only knows about half the reason, he pulls over the car and checks her pulse in concern. She assures him she’s unharmed and doesn’t need the hospital, regaining some of her composure, now remembering the (falsified) reason she went to the building in the first place. Don’t they have to meet their informant?
Moon-ho asks what he supposedly told her in that phone call, and apologizes for her getting caught up in a warning meant for him. Deciding that her house is open and therefore dangerous, he heads for his own. He makes her a warming drink and smiles at her upbeat mood, while she admits to holding back the urge to burst into song (though we know that singing is her coping mechanism).
She adds that she’s also holding back the urge to ask him something (although I guess by saying so, she’s no longer holding back) and wonders what it means to use her to send Moon-ho a warning. Furthermore, now she recalls that he called her a different name.
He first feigns ignorance (“Did I?”), then explains that Oh Ji-an was a girl he knew, and it was just a mistake spurred in his panic. He tries to gloss over the rest of the conversation, but if he’s not going to give her answers, Young-shin would rather go home. At warnings of danger, she replies, “I’ll be fine. The Healer will protect me.”
Moon-ho informs her that the Healer takes money to perform jobs, and that he isn’t motivated by goodwill or righteousness: “Don’t trust him.” He asks her to stay because he feels uneasy otherwise, and I find it interesting that when he’s being glib she’s really not having any of it, but when he gets earnest, that comes through. So she stays.
Moon-ho steps out of his apartment, and the sight of the slightly open stairwell door has his suspicions firing. The stairwell is empty, but operating on a hunch, he speaks into the open: “For protecting her today, thank you. Either as a danger bonus or an expression of gratitude, I intend to pay you generously. And I’ll make one request. If you receive a job request from the other side, opposite me, I ask that you give me a word of warning. Since I was a regular client, you can do that for me, can’t you?”
He leaves, and Jung-hoo watches from several flights above.
Young-shin still has misgivings about Moon-ho, but recalls words her father once told her, back when he’d first adopted her: “To try trusting just once, which would lead to gradually trusting more.”
In a flashback, we see Dad peering in on a scared Ji-an, who huddles in a playground structure at the orphanage. The director tells him of the difficulties they’ve had in connecting with her, because she hides herself at every opportunity and won’t sleep inside, eating food that they leave outside her hidey-hole.
Undeterred by her lack of response, Dad makes goofy faces and sits outside her hiding space for hours, telling her stories and singing songs. Ji-an doesn’t react, but we can see that she’s intrigued, and eventually she emerges and sits by him as he sings.
As Young-shin writes a note for Moon-ho, she tells us that it wasn’t like the entire world became more trustworthy after meeting her father, since there were times when she’d find herself hurt by people she’d opened up to.
She leaves the apartment, only to be stopped at the sight of the open elevator. She tries to shake off the fear, and thinks, “But it was okay. If you have even just one person who’s truly trustworthy, even when you’re let down, it doesn’t hurt as much.”
So off to the stairwell she goes, and thinks, “Now, rather than mistrusting people, trusting is a bit easier.” She starts the long climb downstairs, singing to herself. Remaining several flights above, Healer starts heading down after her.
Rightly guessing at the source of the elevator sabotage, Moon-ho grabs Secretary Oh and shoves him into his brother’s office, asking if Moon-shik has decided to no longer be human. Moon-shik is genuinely in the dark since he tells his underlings to take care of things without specifying the methods, and Moon-ho supposes this time was no different: “But you shouldn’t have touched Ji-an.”
That name has Moon-shik looking up in alarm. Moon-ho shoves Secretary Oh aside and looms over his brother, saying that he could at least understand saying that a living child was dead, if only to push Myung-hee to continue living. He sneers when hyung acts surprised at the idea of Ji-an being alive and found, warning him to cut the act.
Moon-shik swears that he didn’t know. So Moon-ho asks if it was the Elder, then, who sent this “message.” He issues the gravelly warning, “Whoever he is, if he so much as touches a fingertip on Ji-an again, Myung-hee noona will be the first to hear of it. That’s what you’re most afraid of, isn’t it?”
Moon-shik warns that Moon-ho’s crossing a line. Which seems rich, coming from him, really. Moon-ho says that he loves Myung-hee too, and that he can’t just stand by and watch as the noona he loves remains under the same roof with the man who hurt her daughter. Moon-ho’s face twists in pain as he says, “I can’t do that.”
As he steps outside, Myung-hee greets him with her usual warmth, tsk-tsking about the brotherly fighting and doting on him as usual. Moon-ho looks at her with all that extra emotion in his eyes today and tells her that he’s sorry. She tells him it’s okay, but he lays his head in her lap, shedding tears.
Moon-shik watches at a distance as she soothes him, then faces his secretary to demand the exact details of the Elder’s orders. What exactly was he meant to do to the child, and what exactly was meant to be hidden from him?
Just then, the hidden paneling slides open in the office and the TV screens display a countdown clock. Ajumma’s hacker voice crows the warning that this is how much time they have until the Healer turns over Go Sung-chul’s murderer to the police, as well as letting out crucial footage on broadcast television, on all the highest-rated programs.
Next, Min-ja calls Dae-yong, who’s in the middle of a stakeout of Young-shin’s home. Jung-hoo declined to enlighten her as to his own activities, so Min-ja calls him next, though he’s turned off his line.
To her surprise, Teacher’s voice cuts in—he’s made himself quite at home at the Healer pad, eating the birthday cake he’d brought over. He wants confirmation of some facts, because his mind is connecting the dots: Moon-ho wants DNA of an orphan woman, and he’s pretty sure it’s gotta be Ji-an.
That night, Young-shin walks along with her stalker antenna up, casting looks around her as though trying to catch the Healer unawares, and deflating when she doesn’t see anyone. She misses seeing that Jung-hoo’s watching from the other side, keeping apace with her from a distance.
An idea strikes and Young-shin ducks into a phone booth and calls Bong-soo (from memory, since her cell phone’s still lost). He answers while watching her from a building nearby, and she lies that she’s testing her memory for phone numbers, and that he’s number 19, which makes him smile.
She asks why his voice sounds funny so he half-teases that it’s past his bedtime, only to have her apologize and start to sign off. His flustered response is adorable as he hurriedly says he’s already awake, forgetting again to use the polite jondae with her. She grumpily tells him to just cut down to banmal already, since his constant back-and-forth is confusing her.
To commemorate his banmal approval, Jung-hoo offers to listen to her talking allllll night long—ha, like it’s a big favor he’s granting. He guesses she called because she wanted to talk, and she admits it. So she sits down to settle in for a chat, and he does the same.
She sighs over the loss of her mother’s phone, which she calls a hot pack for her soul, which would keep her warm on days her heart was cold. Jung-hoo pulls the cell phone from his pocket as she talks—it’s broken, but he has it.
He wonders why she doesn’t head home, but she says she’s not in the mood for her father’s third degree… although her real reason is that she’s waiting for somebody. Heart in his throat, Jung-hoo asks, “You’re waiting?”
She says she’d thought that the person might show up if she waited, swooping in from behind. But he isn’t coming, she says with disappointment. “He’s certain to have something to say to me,” she tells him. “He can’t just say nothing like this.”
She heaves a sigh and tears start to fall as she says, “I’m… ready to hear. I have things to say too. But he’s not coming. I don’t think he’s coming anymore.”
Jung-hoo looks torn, listening to her sniffle over the line but unable to do anything about it.
Based on Teacher’s suspicions, Min-ja looks at the DNA report, and seeing the numbers support the hunch has her bolting up in agitation. She’s putting together some pieces of her own: The man Jung-hoo’s father is said to have killed is Young-shin’s father. Both adults take in the awfulness of fate to have the first person Jung-hoo start to care about be linked to him in this way.
Young-shin’s arrival home is greeted by an irate father who demands to be given a reasonable explanation for her absence and ignoring of calls. She uses some of her charm to slip by him into the house while Dad blusters at her.
Moon-ho arrives home to find the note she left behind, saying that he’d ordered her to go to sleep. Since she can’t sleep in a bed that’s not hers, she is heading home in order to follow his command.
Next Moon-ho calls Detective Yoon—they need a contact at the police station to whom they can safely hand over the footage taken from President Hwang’s safe. Detective Yoon is flattered to be contacted but says that he’s not quite their guy—he works in the cyber crimes department and doesn’t have much power. But Moon-ho adds that the footage was obtained via the Healer, and suddenly Detective Yoon is all ears.
Moon-ho explains his hunch that Hwang and his backer may soon engage the Healer’s services, and his aim is to uncover the backer. He wants Detective Yoon to share his investigation findings with him, and to put Young-shin under police watch, since the Healer will be sure to be in her vicinity. It’s the ultimate bait: “Don’t you want to catch the Healer?”
Jung-hoo heads home and immediately clues in on to signs of somebody’s presence. He makes his way inside carefully, though one look at the (mostly eaten) cake is enough to identify his visitor.
Teacher’s tea is still steaming, so Jung-hoo knows Teacher’s still around somewhere. He yells at the old fart to show himself and runs through the compound looking for him. “I have something to say to you, you damned old man!” he shouts. “I need to ask something, so show yourself, will you!”
Oof, his hurt rage is heart-pinching, and he screams in frustration before falling on his knees. He asks his teacher what he ought to do, saying, “You’re my teacher… you should teach me.”
In the morning, Young-shin races in to work and finds Moon-ho waiting in the lobby, wearing a hard face. She apologizes for leaving the night before, but his expression softens as he says he ought to apologize, and that he can breathe now that he’s seen her face. She blinks at him in confusion.
Dae-yong parks outside the building to begin her day of keeping watch over Young-shin, and notices a couple of strange men pulling up and taking photos. She calls Jung-hoo, but he ignores the phone, watching his leopard documentary for the umpteenth time.
Moon-ho informs Young-shin that no cell phone was found in the elevator and offers her a replacement phone, which she declines until he calls it a company expense. He says he spent the night trying to figure out how to keep her safe, like sending her to study in Europe, which he was sure she’d laugh at.
The other option: making her famous. Her conspicuousness would draw attention to anybody going after her, but fame could also bring its own set of risks, so he leaves the decision to her.
She asks for the reason for her life being in danger in the first place, and Moon-ho replies, “Because you’re with me. Will you believe that at least for now?” Clearly not the whole of it, but it’s as much as she’s going to get for the time being. Young-shin opts for the famous reporter choice.
Detective Yoon’s investigation takes him to President Hwang, who remains vague and unhelpful about his mysterious attacker. But when the detective plays the video taken from his safe, Hwang’s eyes widen in alarm. He feigns surprise and ignorance, and Detective Yoon doesn’t press—but his request to see Hwang at the station for some additional questioning gets his message across.
Moon-shik sees the Elder, who readily apologizes for dealing with Young-shin without conferring with him first. It’s an answer that pre-emptively defuses the tension, though the Elder points out that it was still a necessary move, because Moon-ho has been digging into his background for the past decade. Anytime he or his enterprises did anything, Moon-ho was there, ready to poke his nose into things.
For what it’s worth, Moon-shik tries to downplay his brother’s activities, as though he’s nosy but ultimately powerless. The Elder sees differently, saying that while he’d wanted to recruit him to their side, Moon-ho has set up his own newspaper and nearly got his hands on “the LA video” (which they diverted, thanks to the Healer). The Elder names Moon-shik’s “two very significant weaknesses”: his wife and brother. He can’t have a girl becoming a third one.
Moon-shik answers calmly that he’s well aware of the weaknesses, but calls
them “mortal wounds.” If they are injured, he wouldn’t be able to recover. And the Elder has no need for dead soldiers.
“I will take care of my own problems,” Moon-shik states firmly. “And I will be the one to decide the manner in which I handle them.”
Just then, a call comes in. President Hwang’s harried voice booms in over the speakerphone, demanding to speak with the Elder. He’s definitely committing a faux pas here, skipping steps in the proper hierarchy to go right to the top, not realizing that the guy he’s ordering to hand over the phone to the Elder IS in fact the esteemed Elder.
Hwang says he’s in a spot of trouble and won’t die alone, threatening to spill everything he knows about the Elder. Ha, okay dude, dig that grave deeper. Hwang is loud and crass and going about this entirely the wrong way for our genteel Elder, but for now the old man doesn’t set him straight. He’s got more elegant ways of dealing with problems, and he confirms with Moon-shik that they still need a fall guy for the Go Sung-chul murder. Looks like a suitable patsy just showed up.
Today’s the day of Assemblyman Kim’s press conference regarding his mayoral candidacy, and Moon-ho briefs his Someday team in preparation for their first internet broadcast. They’ll report all the basic stuff, but he also intends to include their own exclusive tidbits, which are enough to get Editor Jang gulping that it’s too hard-hitting.
Moon-ho’s not scared, though, and directs his team to get into place. Sure, their first broadcast is bound to be full of errors and bad edits, but he reasons that there’s no way to know until they try.
Jung-hoo arrives just as Young-shin is hurrying out, and she just grabs him and orders him to drive. “Let’s go,” she says. “Let’s get famous.”
Annnnd from a distance, somebody snaps photos of them and sends them to Detective Yoon. He sets his partner on the job of investigating everyone around Young-shin—and not just their work experience, but also their height and body size. Ah, he’s thinking the Healer might be hidden in plain sight. Maybe the clumsy detective isn’t so hapless after all.
The Someday team hits a roadblock right off the bat, because they aren’t even being admitted to the hall. They’re only putting on the show of a press conference, accepting preapproved questions from preapproved reporters, to shut down any mention of the Yeon-hee scandal.
But Moon-ho’s eagle eyes spot a sign posted in the lobby—a commitment ceremony is being held in the hall right next door. And it’ll be tough for the press conference folks to prevent entry into an event that’s not theirs.
He calls Young-shin while she’s on her way over, and Jung-hoo sees her new phone and mutters under his breath. Moon-ho gives her the revised mission to assume a disguise, and sends them to a salon friend to help make that happen. While Jung-hoo fidgets nervously (and Young-shin holds him firmly so he can’t ditch her), a flock of stylists descends upon them.
While they’re separated for measuring and dressing, Jung-hoo and Young-shin talk over the phone, with her assuring him that this is all part of a reporter’s work. Jung-hoo jumps and fidgets the whole time, looking miserable and embarrassed and completely flustered.
They chat lightly back and forth throughout it all, with him sighing that he’s not in the mood for jokes because he was up late thinking, and her teasing about him thinking at all. She asks what he was thinking about, and he answers, “I guess you could say I was looking for an excuse.”
What kind of excuse, she wonders. “An excuse so I could meet again,” he answers.
Transformation complete, a newly dashing Jung-hoo is brought out, looking fan-freaking-tastic but also like he’s about to crawl out of his own uncomfortable skin.
Next is Young-shin’s turn, and despite tottering in her heels, she looks completely different in her sophisticated new style. Jung-hoo stares, not that he needed a makeover to be more in love with her, and she takes in his change and tries to wolf-whistle her appreciation (which comes out as a squeak instead).
She holds out a hand for a hi-five, but he gallantly offers her an arm instead, and she takes it.
What a gorgeous pair. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the makeovers, shall we? Not that these scenes are ever a surprise to us viewers who are already familiar with stars looking like shining, polished stars… but it’s still gratifying all the same to experience the transformation in the context of their characters.
I hardly think we need the shiny new looks to make Jung-hoo go gaga for Young-shin, but I suppose it’s an icing-on-the-cake situation to have him see her as extra-beautiful. I was glad of Young-shin’s reaction as well, because I was worried she might see her gawky companion through new eyes and suddenly be into him—I hate that trite moment in all those makeover movies where it’s the ugly-duckling transformation that spurs a character to open their eyes. I won’t be naive and say that looks don’t affect a person’s attraction to another, but in narrative moments, it’s pretty dissatisfying to have that be the catalyst, like the final stamp of approval: Oh, he kinda liked her before but now it’s really real! So when Young-shin teases him about his new look, I was glad to have her being as dorky as ever with the hi-five and the failed whistle, which I found utterly adorable.
If we must move on to less shallow notes (…and I suppose we must), I enjoyed how despite the very Bong-sook-ish squirming that happened during the prep, it’s actually Jung-hoo who adopts his new fake identity (on top of the one or two he’s already working) with aplomb. I’m anticipating some slip-ups and goofy moments from Young-shin, who may look chic but keeps her tomboyish mannerisms, but Jung-hoo has the excuse now to drop the Bong-soo facade and be a little more controlled and commanding. Not that he really needs to be any more dashing to win us over. Let’s just call it fanservice and drink it in.
Getting a bit heavier for a moment, I have to take a moment to appreciate Moon-ho and his emotional turmoil, because Yoo Ji-tae plays him so thoroughly. I can feel just how twisted up he feels inside, and after his previous attempt to drop hints to Myung-hee went horribly awry, I can understand the fix he feels caught up in. It makes legitimate sense now that he would choose to keep the truth quiet until the situation comes to a resolution, because it’s too delicate a matter—and emotionally traumatic—to risk setting off without a happy result assured.
I don’t see him as a part of a romantic love triangle, but he functions narratively in many of the same ways as a conventional rival, both for Myung-hee and for Young-shin. It’s a testament to the writing, I think, that I feel that his character’s motivations are well-drawn and credible despite the fact that on paper it all sounds quite convoluted—loving someone as your sister-mother-first-love, feeling tormented by conscience, being beholden to her and her child, and being someone who both helps and hurts, righteous and guilty.
The drama also meets its one-squeeworthy-scene-per-episode minimum with the phone call scene, which was sweet on more than one level. It’s always enjoyable to watch Jung-hoo’s reactions when Young-shin talks about the Healer; it’s like my narrative crack for this drama. I live to see those little moments, whether they be excited or dumbfounded or gratified. But it’s also nice to have Young-shin reaching for Bong-soo again, even if she lies about the reasons for calling him. (The lie is totally okay because Jung-hoo knows she’s really after a confidante, and he finds her fib amusing.)
This is a case where I don’t actually know how I want Young-shin’s love triangle to go, because right now her understanding of both Bong-soo and Healer are limited. With her current knowledge of both men, choosing one would be giving up the other, and you could argue for either one. I mean, of course they’re both the same man, and the awesome part is that we know she’ll get to have her cake and eat it too—but that part comes much later. Anticipation of that moment keeps my heart fluttery about the developments, and it’s also why I get to enjoy the angst leading up to it. It won’t be till she can reconcile all the parts in the same identity that the tension will resolve, and until that happens I intend to enjoy every drop of that conflict. Yum.