D-Day: Episode 20 (Final)
After all these episodes of Director Park attempting to get Hye-sung fired and kicked out of the hospital, never to be allowed to use a scalpel again, he’s now the only doctor who can save Director Park’s life. Well, the other doctor is Woo-jin, who Director Park also tried to destroy. Ahhhhh, karma — has it ever tasted quite so sweet?
Also sweet is the fact the final episode wraps up some loose ends, and it’s nice to know that everyone is working on a good response plan in case of future earthquakes and other disasters. There may have been pain and suffering these past nineteen episodes, but finally there’s some hope and happiness for our stalwart crew at Mirae Hospital.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
The phone call Director Park had been reaching for when he veered off the cliff was his sister, calling to see why isn’t home yet. Sighing, she wonders what they’ll do now, since her husband has decided to make the hospital public instead of private. Director Park’s sister is even ready to divorce him over it, but Ji-na wisely tells her to accept the decision and reunite with her husband.
Captain Choi and his crew haul the unconscious Director Park out of his car and up the cliff, calling ahead to Mirae Hospital to warn them they’re bringing him in. Chief Kang orders everyone to get ready, but the newly working CT and MRI machines are in such high demand they’ll have to use the familiar ultrasound machine to check on any internal injuries right away.
It looks like a blood clot, but the other two chief surgeons refuse to operate until the CT scanner is available, following Director Park’s rule that they can only provide treatment after an accurate diagnosis. Chief Kang insists that it’s urgent, but the surgeon refuses to act until they get a proper diagnosis — they don’t want to end up like Hye-sung.
Speaking of whom, he’s been quietly following behind, watching everything, and when Ji-na begs him to operate on her father (since they don’t have time to wait for a CT scan), he hesitates, staring down at the man who’d tried so hard to fire him and prevent him from ever doing surgery again.
With tears in her eyes, Ji-na pleads with Hye-sung to save her father. Both Hye-sung and Ddol-mi are surprised to discover that she’s Director Park’s daughter, but she continues to beg. Even though she knows that Hye-sung hates the director, and she hates him too, if he dies, then she can’t hate him any more.
Hye-sung turns away, reminding her that Director Park was the one who tried to kick him out of the hospital for his carelessness in the operating room, but just then a barely conscious Director Park grabs Hye-sung’s hand, his eyes asking for help. Hye-sung’s doctor pride can’t refuse that request, and so to the OR they go.
They’ve managed to take care of the ruptured intestines, but it’s the heart that causing the surgical team issues. Director Park’s vitals continue to drop as they try to figure out if there’s a rupture. Ddol-mi sadly points out that it seems just like Ji-won’s fateful surgery, and Hye-sung’s hands recoil as he remembers the director accusing him of trying to do a surgery that he wasn’t qualified to do.
He orders Dae-gil to hurry and find the cardiac surgeon, but Woo-jin says he’ll do it. He understands now what Hye-sung meant by saying that only focusing on a specific area of the body was just to feel safe and comfortable, but as doctors, there isn’t anything they shouldn’t try to save a patient’s life.
If it is what they suspect — that the blood is pooling in the heart — there may be no time to wait for another surgeon. He asks Ddol-mi to be his hands as he’ll instruct her what to do. With Ji-na’s approval as the guardian, they set to work.
Standing behind her, Woo-jin tells Ddol-mi exactly what to do as on the other side of the table until the cardiac surgeon arrives. Five-and-a-half hours later, they wheel Director Park out of the OR. Ji-na calls her mother, telling her that the surgery went well, and breaking down in tears as she admits she’s relieved despite how much she had hated him.
They get Director Park settled in the VIP ICU room, and Chief Kang is surprised to discover that Ddol-mi was the one who performed the surgery until the cardiac surgeon finally arrived. Ddol-mi tries to down-play it, explaining she just did what Woo-jin told her to do, but Chief Kang points out that not everyone could do what she did. Aw, Ddol-mi looks so adorably proud.
Ji-na follows Hye-sung out of the room and humbly thanks him, apologizing for not telling him who her father was. He forgives her, since a father is a father, even if you hate him. He also admits he wasn’t confident he could perform the surgery without bias on his end, since he hated Director Park just as much as Director Park hated him. But because Director Park asked for help, he was, in that moment, a patient who entrusts everything to the doctor. So how could he refuse?
In the break room, Hye-sung collapses in a chair, exhausted. Ddol-mi follows him in and awkwardly starts to give him a shoulder massage, explaining that it’s because he worked hard today. He quickly swaps places with her, giving her the massage instead.
He leans down, telling her that he takes back all the cruel things he said to her before, like her medical degree is just a piece of paper or that she can’t even do what an intern can do. He apologizes for all the times his words have made her cry.
The sweet moment is broken when Ddol-mi’s phone rings and she shoves him to the ground in her eagerness to answer it. It’s her boss at her Busan hospital, letting her know that they’ve sent an ambulance to transfer her father to their hospital — and for her to return home. The ambulance is already at Mirae Hospital, and Ddol-mi and Hye-sung stare at each other for a long moment before he tells her to hurry up and pack her things.
Down at the ambulance, everyone says goodbye to Ddol-mi and her father — everyone except for Hye-sung, that is. Aw, it’s sad that this will be the last time the little DMAT crew will be together, as Woo-jin, Ji-na, and Dae-gil give their good-byes.
The ambulance drives off, and Ddol-mi sadly realizes that Hye-sung still hasn’t asked for her phone number. Out-of-sight, Hye-sung watches the ambulance disappear into the dark night.
His reverie is interrupted by Captain Choi, who asks if Hye-sung would like to see his brother’s final moments. It’s the video from the camera that was attached to Woo-sung’s helmet, and even though he says something on film, because it’s underwater, you can’t hear what he says.
But someone who is deaf can read lips, and they bring in Na-ri, the little deaf girl, to help. Captain Choi plays the video, and while Ji-na reads Woo-sung’s lips, her father translates: “Mom, brother — I’ll go first. Instead, you live a long and happy life. I love you. Good-bye.” Everyone’s crying, and they leave Hye-sung to have this moment alone as he continues to watch the video.
Director Park’s regained consciousness, and Ji-na tells him that the surgery went well, although his leg is still damaged. He asks Hye-sung why he saved him — was it just a joke? But Hye-sung asks why Director Park asked to be saved — isn’t it because he’s a doctor? A doctor saves his patients. There’s nothing more to it than that.
It’s true that Hye-sung hates Director Park, but because his friend and colleague asked him to save her father, he realized he can only continue his fight with the “almighty hospital director” if Director Park lived. He refuses to give up that fight — he’ll prove until the very end that he was right. He’ll made Director Park admit Hye-sung won.
When Director Park’s phone rings, Ji-na answers it. It’s the Blue House, no doubt calling about his recent nomination as minister of the Health and Safety Department. But the beaten down Director Park orders her to hang up.
Hey-Sung’s mother is back in her hospital room, and Hye-sung shares the video with her, explaining to her unconscious body that her son is a national hero. But just as he’s about to leave, her eyes open, and overcome with emotion, he thanks her for returning to him, even though the first thing she sees is Woo-sung’s memorial photo.
Ja-hyuk’s interview is airing on TV, but it’s not the carefully scripted interview from the caring and benevolent politician — it’s actually the hidden camera that shows him explaining that it’s better to let the older homes burn down and rebuild from scratch. Or, to use his analogy, before you can put in a new implant, you have to rip out the rotten tooth.
Implying that your constituents’ homes and businesses are “rotten” is a sure-fire way to ruin a political career, and soon Ja-hyuk is in the middle of hearing. He defends his decision, pointing out that the firefighter’s resources were better used to save people than put out fires. He accuses the hearing board of making assumptions just based on the fact he’s also a successful businessman.
But they also have testimony from the Yeouido pipe engineer that accuses Ja-hyuk of knowingly sending someone to his death in order to restore power. He tries to deny it, explaining he only found out about it afterwards, but then he stops and admits that although a life is precious, it was needed for the nation.
He’ll accept any punishment the board decides to give him, but he also reminds him that the power in this room, the fact that their phones are working, and that the nation isn’t bankrupt right now, is due to that brave young firefighter. Still, someone has to take responsibility, and he surprises everyone by announcing that he’ll quit. His only request is that they institute a new law to make all new buildings able to withstand at least a 7.0 earthquake and people have enough emergency rations, since they don’t know when a disaster like this will happen again.
Chief Kang waits outside after the hearing, and Ja-hyuk grumps at her that if she’s going to yell at him, it’s too late — he’s had enough of that inside. Instead, she’s there to tell him to marry her. He’s the best man she knows, and she doesn’t care if he’s stepped down from politics or may soon lose his company. She can earn enough for the both of them.
Two months later, Hye-sung wheels his mother to Woo-sung’s grave. She says that just like she was sleeping in her coma for so long, so, too, it feels like Woo-sung is just asleep and he’ll soon wake and run to her, calling for her. Sniffle.
At Mirae Hospital (which is now a public hospital), Director Park sits in his wheelchair, staring out the window. Except he’s no longer the director, and Ji-na’s brought his belongings from his old office since the new director needs the space. In his belongings, Ji-na found a ring box — it’s her mother’s old wedding ring. Ex-Director Park brings up the time when he separated from his wife after her suicide attempt, his greed for power overtaking him.
Ji-na slowly wheels him out of the hospital to go to the rehab center for his damaged legs, but as soon as they near the doors, the staff of Mirae Hospital gather to give their final good-byes. Ex-Director Park wishes Chief Kang all the best in her new role as the hospital director. Yay!
He also turns his attention to Hye-sung, warning him that they still hate each other, and that he won’t acknowledge that Hye-sung has won without a fight. Hye-sung acknowledges it, pointing out that an enemy who would give up so easily without a fight wouldn’t be worth it, anyway.
As for Woo-jin, Ex-Director Park points out that he’s a “good swimmer,” able to survive no matter what. Woo-jin says that with his eyes closed (becoming blind), he’s able to see what he couldn’t before, and has become a “real” doctor. All the nurses and doctors respectfully stand aside as Ji-na wheels her father out, and despite how evil he’s been, it’s a sweet moment of respect to the man who built up this hospital.
At a construction site, Ja-hyuk instructs his men to remember that safety is their primary concern as they rebuild Seoul. On the phone with Chief Kang, as he congratulates her on her new job, he tells her that he hates politics. Pffft.
On their way to the rehab center, Ji-na stops at a cafe. There’s someone that her father needs to meet, and she sets her mother’s ring box down in front of him. Even though they can’t go back in time, he can still choose how to handle the rest of the time he has. As Ji-na leaves, a woman walks in and sits at the table. Ex-Director Park tells her it’s been a long time, but she looks the same. Aw.
The firefighters are packing up their tents from outside the hospital. Captain Choi lingers a moment on the shirt he’s folding — it’s Woo-sung’s.
But there’s no time to dwell on lost comrades, because a call comes in from the construction site — two men have fallen through the floor. Is that Myung-hyun I see leading the DMAT charge? Aw, and there’s Sister, too, who teases Myung-hyun for now being a man of action as he quickly orders everyone to take the injured men to the hospital.
At Mirae Hospital, Woo-jin is using his fingers to gently probe a patient’s abdomen. By listening to the patient and not just relying on technology, he’s able to better diagnose and treat his patients (much to Ji-na’s delight, and the new intern’s awe).
Myung-hyun wheels in the new emergency patients, beaming with delight after Hye-sung confirms that his diagnosis was correct. Captain Choi is also pleased at how well the new DMAT is working, and Hye-sung says he thinks that all the hospitals’ DMATs should get together for training so everyone is on the same page.
By the seaside, Ex-Director Park sits in a chair as he flips through an old family photo album. There’s a cane at his side, so the rehabilitation is apparently still in progress. Ji-na sits down next to him, asking what he’s thinking about as he stares out at the sea. He says he thinks about jumping into a large boat in the sea, but mostly he feels empty, regretful, and like an idiot.
She encourages him to remember his past, but he admits that his life is mostly just his useless, stubborn attitude. He wonders why was there no sense of thankfulness or contentment.
When the subject of her mother comes up, he says that she didn’t change at all — he’s the only one who aged. Ji-na says that she tried to become happy and protect her daughter. Oh, and she’s not remarried — she wanted to become happy on her own. Ex-Director Park sighs as he admits he’s only done spiteful things in his life.
Settled in the director’s office. Chief Kang yells at Hye-sung (the new ER Chief!) for not finding enough volunteers for DMAT. They’re dangerously close to having return the government funding if he can’t find anyone, and he tells her to give him a couple of days off — he promises he’ll get someone. If not, what is she going to do, fire him? Ha, we’ve heard that before!
At her Busan hospital, Ddol-mi is cranky at a second-year med student for calling her in on her day off to help him with a patient. She yells at him, but then stops when she realizes that all her words are ones that Hye-sung previous said to chide both her and Dae-gil. Frustrated, she tells him to prep the surgery room as she calls another doctor to help him out.
But there’s no chance for her to leave for her day off just yet, because they’ve got an emergency patient coming in and she’s the only free doctor. She hurries down to the ambulance, immediately beginning to check him out, but stops short when she realizes that someone else has started procedures on the patient.
She’s about to ask the nurse who did it, when she turns and gazes straight into the chest of Hye-sung. When she realizes who it is, she lets out a startled yelp.
They sit down on a bench together (and she sits as far down as she can, with her back to him). She cooly asks if he came to the hospital because someone sent him, and he readily agrees: “Doctor Jung Ddol-mi.” Isn’t she happy to see him, after he came all the way to Busan?
No, she’s angry. After all they went through — eating together, starving together, doing surgery together, even sharing a bed together — he didn’t even try to contact her these past couple of months. How did he expect her to greet him? Like a dog wagging its tail?
Fine, then. He’ll go back to Seoul and contact her later. But as he walks away, he shoves the present he gave her in her lap — an expensive designer handbag. Even if he has to leave, at least let him hear her answer if she’ll come with him.
What does she think of Seoul. “I hate it.” What about him? “I hate you more.” Why? “Because I just do.” Uh-huh. Suuuuuuure.
Her phone rings, and she answers it — the patient that just came in doesn’t have an orthopedic surgeon available, so she’s been tagged to do the surgery. Hye-sung grins and says it’s the perfect chance to show off their teamwork, and with big smiles on their faces, they grab each other’s hands and run back to the hospital.
There are some things this show has done very well, and that has largely been in the cinematography and the cast. I really appreciated the way everyone made their roles as believable as possible, and I especially loved the chemistry that came from the different characters (although, to be honest, it seems like Jung So-min could have chemistry with a garbage can). As frustrating as so much as the writing as been, I have enjoyed the occasional glimpses of richness within the script.
For example, the poetic symbolism of both Ji-na and Hye-sung having their parents return to them. Those scenes by the bedside or pushing the wheelchair are mirrors of each other, and there is a sense of peace, sadness, regret, and returning in each of them. Director Park may have had to be broken (literally and figuratively) to discern the error of his greedy ways, but now he has a family again. Hye-sung, who for so long was without his family, may have his brother but regained his mother. It’s bittersweet, but he still has a family, and one that is no longer a burden to him. Their respective parents have broken free from their respective curses (greed and ambition for Director Park, and a coma for Hye-sung’s mother) and are able to help rebuild their family, just as the city is being rebuilt. Even if the building may have toppled, the foundation is still there.
What is unfortunate is that these types of storylines could have been executed so much better throughout the run of the show. There was a humanness to everyone that could have been explored much deeper and for a longer period of time, considering we had twenty episodes to play with, and yet it was swept away to promote the repetitive and frustrating cycle of Director Park attempting to sabotage everything, close the hospital, and fire Hye-sung any chance he got. I can understand why that was needed to make this climax of Hye-sung deciding to save the man who attempted to destroy his career and life so much more powerful, but did it really need to take up so much time and attention away from other plot threads? We understood who Director Park was episodes ago, and to keep hammering that conceit over and over was more frustrating than anything else.
Perhaps that’s really the most frustrating part — there was so much potential here. There could have been an amazing chance to explore what a city does in the times of national disaster: how people rise up to help each other and push through their own fears and weaknesses (or how they fail because of their fears and weaknesses), how the first responders we automatically rely on every day struggle with their own personal lives as they try to stay strong for others, and the difficult strain such a disaster puts on resources that are, perhaps, inadequate to begin with. But instead, so much of the show was wrapped up in the political and administrative side of running a hospital that the emotional and psychological impact of the earthquake often felt lost in the sleek hallways of Mirae Hospital (or maybe it wasn’t lost — it was just kicked to the curb by Director Park because he decided it had no chance of survival).
Over all, the show felt like it lacked a certain cohesiveness with uneven episodes that would pick up on a plot thread just to quickly abandon it later. Interesting characters were set aside as soon as the writers decided to move on to something new and shiny, or not even new, due to the repetition of the theme of closing the hospital and firing Hye-sung. Any reason to the suck everyone back into the black hole that is Mirae Hospital was eagerly jumped on, no matter how illogical it seemed. With so many compelling (or potentially compelling) characters on this show, especially ones that could have had a powerful journey of growth and redemption, the ending is like a weak salve. It feels good in the moment because it soothes the pain, but it can’t heal a broken leg.
At least the show knows what was most important in the end, and I’m just going to assume that our “coffee couple” spends their lives together being adorable and awesome as they perform many miraculous surgeries forever and ever (without any fear of being fired).
- D-Day: Episode 19
- D-Day: Episode 18
- D-Day: Episode 17
- D-Day: Episode 16
- D-Day: Episode 15
- D-Day: Episode 14
- D-Day: Episode 13
- D-Day: Episode 12
- D-Day: Episode 11
- D-Day: Episode 10
- D-Day: Episode 9
- D-Day: Episode 8
- D-Day: Episode 7
- D-Day: Episode 6
- D-Day: Episode 5
- D-Day: Episode 4
- D-Day: Episode 3
- D-Day: Episode 2
- D-Day: Episode 1