Doctors: Episode 20 (Final)
The end has arrived, and Hye-jung reconciles with her past in order to live in the present and look towards the future. While the show might not leave with a bang, the final episode was as stress-free as the rest of the show. All in all, it’s a fitting good-bye to our lead couple who will march on ahead, hand in hand.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
The scene starts with a flashback from Hye-jung and Ji-hong’s first separation after Grandma’s funeral, then it cuts to their reunion on the hospital rooftop thirteen years later, and finally, ends with a flashback from their first interaction outside the music store. Hye-jung narrates, “I met him again. I didn’t know I would meet him again like this. If I think about it, it was like this when we first met. It started as a coincidence, and it became something inevitable. Then it turned into fate.”
Hye-jung and Seo-woo check on Myung-hoon who’s been admitted to the ER, and once Ji-hong arrives, Seo-woo’s mother finally recognizes the familiar faces. She addresses Hye-jung informally and asks why she’s here. Seo-woo interrupts and says that Hye-jung is her friend which immediately silences her mother.
Seo-woo suggests relocating her father, and Ji-hong orders that Myung-hoon be moved to a VIP room. Kyung-joon enters to wheel Myung-hoon away, but he insists that he walk there. In the back, Seo-woo looks away with a pained expression.
Tae-ho examines Myung-hoon’s scans with Ji-hong and Hye-jung, coming to the same conclusion that Myung-hoon lost consciousness due to sleeping pills rather than his tumor. Ji-hong asks why he was called since Yoon-do would be better, and Tae-ho tells him that he’s been reinstated to the neurosurgery department.
In the VIP room, Seo-woo’s mother argues that Myung-hoon get treated by Yoon-do or go to the US for treatment. Seo-woo tells her that Ji-hong is a capable surgeon, and even Myung-hoon says that he’ll be treated by Ji-hong.
Tae-ho enters and lets Myung-hoon know that nothing has changed concerning his condition. Myung-hoon, on the other hand, is more curious as to why Tae-ho is here. Surprised, Tae-ho asks if Myung-hoon wants Ji-hong as his doctor.
In the hallway, Ji-hong asks why Hye-jung called him, and she matter-of-factly states that he’s the best. She asks why he doesn’t want to operate on Myung-hoon, and Ji-hong explains that their relationship has strained recently. Therefore, Myung-hoon probably won’t trust him, and Ji-hong considers trust an important element in a doctor-patient relationship.
A call from Tae-ho interrupts their conversation, and soon, Ji-hong finds his way to Myung-hoon’s VIP room. Tae-ho excuses himself, and though Myung-hoon attempts to stop him from leaving, Tae-ho bluntly tells him to settle matters between themselves.
Seo-woo enters the fellows’ office, and pauses for a moment before thanking Hye-jung for calling Ji-hong. She knows that Hye-jung hates her father, and while Hye-jung admits that she doesn’t like him, Myung-hoon is still her patient. Hye-jung’s objective stance spurs Seo-woo to admit that she can’t objectively look at her father because he’s still special to her.
Ji-hong informs Myung-hoon about the dangerous location of his tumor. Thus, even if the surgery succeeds, Myung-hoon will suffer motor loss, and if the surgery fails, he could be paralyzed. Though clearly unsettled, Myung-hoon tells Ji-hong to operate because he trusts his skills as a surgeon. Ji-hong agrees but only if Hye-jung is his assistant. Instantly, Myung-hoon shouts his disapproval, asking if Ji-hong just wants to annoy him. Ji-hong explains that he works best with Hye-jung, so he won’t perform this surgery without her.
Hye-jung visits her father getting a checkup at the hospital, but merely watches him from a distance. In a café, Hye-jung’s father meets her, and is happy that she called him first. On the other hand, Hye-jung refuses to share in his enthusiasm, and asks straightforwardly why he settled on Grandma’s case.
Her father explains that he asked for the medical records back then, but he could neither understand the forms nor financially afford to drag the case out in court. As a result, he had no other option than to settle since he needed the money to live.
While his logic isn’t unreasonable, Hye-jung still feels betrayed that he settled, and confesses to her father that she has no good memories with him. Despite that, she still felt worried after hearing about his illness since he’s her father. While Hye-jung says that she’s willing to take care of him if he’s sick, if that’s not the case, then she never wants to see him again.
She tells him that she wants to make a family, but needed to resolve her issues with her father before taking that step. Her father asks if she’s getting married, and she replies, “Eventually, but I won’t be contacting you.”
She tells her father to live a long and healthy life, and he apologies for being absent and making her life difficult. A mix of emotions flood Hye-jung, and she thanks her father for apologizing. As his parting words, her father says that he’ll not be sick and tells her to be happy—his way of accepting her reconciliation and parting.
In his room, Myung-hoon nags at his wife to leave because he needs to talk with someone, but when that someone turns out to be Hye-jung, Seo-woo’s mother harrumphs. Derisively, she comments on Hye-jung’s success, and Myung-hoon whines at her to stop.
Once they’re alone, Myung-hoon asks Hye-jung if she heard from Ji-hong about being his assistant during the surgery. This is the first she’s heard of it, and declines the offer. Myung-hoon agrees that she shouldn’t do it, but after Hye-jung leaves, he can’t even lift his teacup.
Seo-woo researches her father’s condition, and misses a call from Yoon-do. Thus, he visits her in the fellows’ office; here to give her some comfort. Seo-woo confesses her worries about her father, and Yoon-do places a hand on her shoulder. Just then, Young-kook arrives, and disappointment washes over his face. He plasters on his usual smile and quickly excuses himself from the room.
However, Young-kook is waiting outside for Yoon-do, and confronts him about his feelings towards Seo-woo. Yoon-do tells him that he’s like a brother to her, and asks if Young-kook likes Seo-woo. Young-kook admits that he’s recently developed feelings, but to his surprise, Yoon-do gives him his support. At that, the hostility is dispelled, and they start exchanging compliments to one another.
Kang-soo checks on his webtoon with Kyung-joon watching over his shoulder, and Kang-soo complains of a recurring troll named “KJ.” It suddenly dawns on Kang-soo that Kyung-joon is “KJ,” and though he attempts to deny all accusations, Kyung-joon ends up slipping and confesses.
Joong-dae arrives to check on Kang-soo, but ends up bickering with Kyung-joon as usual. Talk turns to Myung-hoon and his probable dismissal when Seo-woo enters the interns’ office looking for Young-kook. She notices how they all turned quiet when she entered, and calls them out for gossiping about her again.
She visits Young-kook who’s in his bunk bed, and tells him she’s hungry. They end up at Subway (again), and Young-kook casually wipes away a crumb on Seo-woo’s face which flusters her. She asks why he left the fellows’ office like that, and Young-kook takes her outside, knowing full well why she came to him.
They walk outside holding hands, and Young-kook comments about how he’s always been by her side. She acknowledges his constant presence, but Young-kook confesses that he’s changed ever since the day he did something “bad” to her (when he hugged her). Seo-woo admits that she doesn’t when she’s changed, but when she learned of her father’s illness, she wanted his comfort he most. Aw, they’re so cute!
Hye-jung visits Ji-hong who’s settling into his office, and welcomes him back by giving him
PPL presents. She informs him of her new plan to become a multi-tasker, and tells him that she won’t be assisting him in Myung-hoon’s surgery. Ji-hong reads between the lines and correctly interprets her words to mean that she’s concerned with the operation and is trying to cope by dividing her attention.
She’s amazed that he understood her, and Ji-hong brags that it’s because he’s her man. He tries to convince her to assist because he’s not confident without her given the patient and the risk associated with the surgery, but Hye-jung still can’t forgive Myung-hoon.
Hye-jung checks on her patient (the pregnant wife from before) and Kyung-joon informs her about the high levels of stress hormones. Hye-jung orders him to continue monitoring, and clasps the wife’s hand in her own.
Ji-hong delivers the bad news to Myung-hoon that he can’t operate on him, and in his typical fashion, Myung-hoon whines and slumps into his bed. Afterwards, Ji-hong visits Tae-ho who’s busy searching for a replacement surgeon. However, everyone is either busy or has a bad relationship with Myung-hoon. Ji-hong asks if Tae-ho could do it, but Tae-ho admits that he’s lost a lot of his precision.
In Myung-hoon’s room, Seo-woo’s mother complains about Ji-hong, but Seo-woo defends his decision. She believes Ji-hong and Hye-jung have the highest rate of success, but Myung-hoon argues that Tae-ho is looking for a replacement.
With impeccable timing, Tae-ho arrives, but with bad news: the operation will have to be moved back. Myung-hoon accuses him of not trying his best, and Tae-ho reminds him to respect their boundaries. However, Myung-hoon continues to whine, much to Seo-woo’s chagrin.
Seo-woo calls Hye-jung late in the evening, and visits Hye-jung at her house. She asks Hye-jung to assist Ji-hong in her father’s surgery, but Hye-jung apologizes for refusing her request. Undeterred, Seo-woo pleads with Hye-jung again, and Hye-jung appears genuinely conflicted.
Director Jin visits Myung-hoon for the first time, and Myung-hoon allows himself to cry and express all his pent-up worries to his father. Between sobs, Myung-hoon cries that he doesn’t want to die, and Director Jin yells at his son for thinking negative thoughts. Though they’re both awful humans, I can’t deny that they have a strong father-son relationship.
Hye-jung stares at a photo of her with Grandma, and flashes back to her last moment with Grandma when she praised her doctor before her surgery. In the present, Hye-jung replaces her smile with a determined look.
Ji-hong receives a call from Kyung-joon, notifying him of Myung-hoon’s headache. Ji-hong rushes to his room, and orders for additional CT scans. Still vexed, Myung-hoon requests for Yoon-do to be his new doctor, but Ji-hong reminds him that it’s against hospital policy to switch doctors.
Kang-soo runs into Hye-jung at the elevators, and learns that she’s heading to the VIP floor. Before meeting Myung-hoon, Hye-jung runs into Ji-hong, and she informs him about her change of heart because she’s a doctor. Ji-hong is pleased to hear her decision, though Hye-jung adds that it’s possible that Myung-hoon might still reject her.
Hye-jung tells Myung-hoon that she’ll try her best and assist Ji-hong, but Myung-hoon doesn’t believe her, thinking that she’ll use this chance to exact revenge. Hye-jung tells him that she’ll do her best to minimalize nerve damage, and Myung-hoon grumpily acknowledges that she’s skilled.
Hye-jung asks him if he knows what her grandma’s last words are, and tells him that she trusted him until the very end. She figures that Grandma’s last moments were at least peaceful, and thanks Myung-hoon for instilling trust in his patients. She firmly states that he’s now her patient, and therefore, she’ll save him and hear his thanks afterwards. As Hye-jung turns to leave, Myung-hoon tells her to inform Ji-hong to pick the earliest surgery date.
Ji-hong and Hye-jung get ready for the surgery, and Hye-jung stares at a picture of her and Grandma taped inside her locker. Before Hye-jung enters the operation room, Ji-hong gives her a silent nod, and once inside, Hye-jung begins the surgery. Tae-ho, Young-kook, and Joong-dae watch from the balcony, while Seo-woo waits outside with her mother. Yoon-do stops by the waiting room and places a hand on Seo-woo’s shoulder.
Ji-hong enters the operation room while Yoon-do joins the spectators in the balcony. Tae-ho and Yoon-do note that the surgery is going well, but just as Ji-hong enters the final stages of removing the tumor, Myung-hoon starts to bleed.
Though Ji-hong remains calm, Joong-dae and Young-kook fret in the balcony. Ji-hong manages to remove the tumor successfully, but the bleeding continues. They’re forced to damage a nerve in their attempt to staunch the bleeding, and fortunately, the bleeding stops. The surgery is a success, and Ji-hong congratulates Hye-jung for her hard work.
They inform Seo-woo and her mother of the good results, but also tell them that they’ll have to wait until Myung-hoon wakes up to see the possible side-effects since there was nerve damage during the surgery. Afterwards, Hye-jung and Ji-hong walk down the hallway, and she grabs his hand—both unafraid to display their affection for one another.
Kang-soo brings coffee for the department, and Ji-hong joins them at the front desk. They decide to celebrate Ji-hong’s return tonight, but Kang-soo reminds Kyung-joon that he’s on call this evening. Hye-jung joins the group soon after, and Ji-hong hands her a coffee in front of everyone. She smiles at his gesture, neither of them trying too hard to keep their well-known relationship a secret.
Yoon-do drinks by himself in his apartment, and thinks back to when Hye-jung taught him some fighting techniques. Pa-ran’s arrival interrupts his alone time, and he immediately teases Yoon-do for being an outcast in his department. Yoon-do says that he chose not to attend Ji-hong’s welcome back party which prompts Pa-ran to ask why Yoon-do likes Hye-jung. He says that he likes everything about her, and though Pa-ran shakes his head at Yoon-do’s one-sided love, Yoon-do thinks any type of love is worth experiencing.
A nurse checks on the wife patient, and frantically makes a phone call after noticing the wet sheets. Meanwhile, the small group from earlier are celebrating at Soon-hee’s café, and Kang-soo asks Ji-hong how long his relationship with Hye-jung has been. Ji-hong dodges the question, but the playfully mood is disrupted when Hye-jung receives a call about the wife’s water breaking.
She and Ji-hong quickly leave for the hospital, and the rest of the crew realize what’s happening and follow suit. Soon-hee yells after Joong-dae, and he turns around to blow kisses before heading off. Well, their relationship escalated quickly off-screen.
Hye-jung notifies the husband about his wife’s condition, and he rushes over to the hospital. The baby is safely delivered, and Hye-jung sheds a few tears. The husband arrives and sees his newborn child, but his wife’s vital signs are plummeting. He and Hye-jung hurry to her bedside, and the husband makes it in time to see her before she parts.
Holding her hand, he finally tells her that he loves her, and seconds later, the wife passes away. Through tears, Hye-jung declares the time of death, and in voiceover, expresses her belief that the wife saw her husband’s last moment, and though she could be dreaming, she saw the wife smile at the end.
It’s a new beginning for the hospital as Tae-ho is appointed the director of the hospital. In his speech, he says that the hospital needs a time for reflection and reevaluate its purpose, and in the audience, Ji-hong applauds enthusiastically.
Myung-hoon remains unconscious much to his family’s worry. Ji-hong comes to check up on him, but is surprised when Myung-hoon suddenly coughs and wakes up. Ji-hong and Hye-jung happily notice his fingers moving, and Seo-woo gives a silent look of thanks to Hye-jung.
As they leave, Ji-hong complains about the long day, and Hye-jung asks if he’s been taking his vitamins. He teases her for nagging, and invites her to go fishing with him. Hye-jung mentions how “Father” would be disappointed to see Ji-hong wanting to go fishing now when he complained so much in the past, and Ji-hong beams at her for addressing Director Jin as “Father.”
Sporting a white jacket, Ji-hong packs his fishing gear, and heads out. Meanwhile, Hye-jung prepares for their date, but receives a call from Myung-hoon. She calls Ji-hong to head out first because she’s meeting Myung-hoon, but he says that he’ll wait for her.
Hye-jung visits Myung-hoon in his room, and though shaking, Myung-hoon is able to lift his cup and drink this time. Hye-jung asks if he’s undergoing rehabilitation, and Myung-hoon says that he’s receiving treatment. After a moment of silence, Myung-hoon, in the most formal tense, thanks Hye-jung properly. She thanks him, too, for recovering, and they exchange bows to one another.
Hye-jung strolls down a path under a canopy of trees, and the ground changes— now covered in white petals. A few feet ahead, Ji-hong tosses the petals into the air, and Hye-jung smiles at the goof. He brandishes his hand: a ring on his ring finger and a matching one on his pinky.
He asks her to marry him, and Hye-jung takes her ring and places it on her finger. Ji-hong complains that he was supposed to do that, but Hye-jung states that she’ll wear hers on her own. He thinks that’s unromantic especially given how she wanted this moment to be romantic, and then for the first time, Hye-jung tells Ji-hong, “I love you.”
She asks him to call her right now, and she displays her phone screen with his name saved as “Hong Hong Hong.” She explains that this expresses how she feels about him, but Ji-hong doesn’t understand. Hye-jung mimics laughing by saying “Hong Hong Hong,” and Ji-hong laughs at her cheesiness.
They kiss one another, no-holds-barred, and once they break away, Ji-hong adorably blurts, “So embarrassed!” He twirls her around as the camera pans away, and in her final narration, Hye-jung says, “I don’t know when I started to love. I don’t know when I started to love, but I was continuously falling in love. This once in a lifetime love, I don’t know when it started.”
It’s over! *throws flower petals*
Hye-jung and Ji-hong continue to be charming until the end, and the final scene was a satisfactory send-off to our adorable couple. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that they’ll lead happy lives, and while they might bicker and nag one another, their love and mutual respect for each other will help them overcome any obstacle that may come their way. It was interesting to watch them grow both together and individually over the course of the show because there really was no other source of tension for the drama. I don’t think the show ever wanted to pose the question of Hye-jung and Ji-hong possibly breaking up as a couple (no noble idiocy for our couple), but merely wanted to display their growth and the stages of a relationship beyond the initial courtship. Romantic dramas usually only portray the beginning, and then skips to the “happily ever after” part. However, I enjoyed how the show focused more about them learning from each other as they dated. While their character growth may have been unequal, that’s what happens in life. Ji-hong is older and wiser than Hye-jung because of his life experiences, but he’s still able to reflect on himself thanks to her words and actions. While, the show clearly had many weaknesses, its undeniable strength was in its main characters and their relationship.
I appreciated the conclusion to Hye-jung and her father’s relationship this episode. She found her own conclusion concerning her past and her father, that didn’t necessarily reflect a “traditional” reconciliation. While she accepts him as her father, she rejects their informal relationship because being a parent isn’t a guaranteed title. Due to his absence during her formative years, he’s lost the chance to reap the benefits of having a daughter, and finally, this truth has dawned on him. He assumed that he could return to her side simply because he supposedly longed for her and is her biological father. However, a father is a complicated figure that encompasses more than sharing DNA. Seo-woo’s relationship with Myung-hoon contrasted this very nicely, and revealed the other side of that coin. Even when Seo-woo wanted to examine her father objectively, she couldn’t because of their relationship. Just as Hye-jung couldn’t see her father as a parental figure in her life, Seo-woo couldn’t dismiss years of admiration and love she held for her father. The show raised interesting questions about family ties and relationship through conventional and unconventional families. Ji-hong’s father was Director Hong, Hye-jung’s only family was Grandma, and Seo-woo had a nuclear, close-knit family. The show tries to portray that a family requires presence, support, and mutual love regardless of blood-ties or relationships, and as a result, it can come in a plethora of different fashions. However, just as family can you support, they can also be a source of heartache and sorrow. Despite that, as Yoon-do aptly stated about his one-sided love, I also think it can be applied with families, too. It’s better to have experienced familial love and the sadness that accompanies it, rather than to have never experienced it at all.
I almost wish there were more episodes, but purely in a “sitcom” format with shorter episode lengths. On the other hand, I don’t understand why Doctors was twenty episodes long when sixteen would have sufficed. My contradictory position results from one of the fundamental problems I had with the show: Its weak plot. While I enjoyed the side characters and mini-arcs, I felt that the show lacked a cohesive plot which sometimes made it feel boring or tedious. The whole overarching narrative of Grandma’s case and Hye-jung’s revenge was meandering and fizzled out towards the end. The show spent episodes on Hye-jung convincing Chief Kim, who was a weak and inconsequential character, and in the end, it didn’t even matter that she had the record because she couldn’t do anything with it. A lot of that plot could have been condensed, and though I still think the ending worked well in terms of Hye-jung’s resolution with Myung-hoon, the journey there could have been tighter.
Besides the slow-paced arc of Grandma’s case, the show also included too many unnecessary side stories that either never developed or was left underdeveloped. The most obvious example is Yoon-do and his character story. To be honest, besides being a cute, bumbling, and loyal Siberian Husky, we don’t know a lot about Yoon-do and what makes him tick. We know him almost as much as Kyung-joon or Kang-soo, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I liked the interns, but it did leave me asking for more. I was actually more disappointed with how they handled random side stories and characters because I couldn’t help but wonder why the creators include little hints like the other nurse’s crush on Young-kook or Hye-jung half-sister. It’s these cases that make me think the show would have worked as a sitcom because I get the impression that the writer wanted to develop the side characters and stories, but either didn’t have the time or abilities to actually flesh it out. Hence, I’m left feeling cold and wondering why time was even wasted introducing these now meaningless foreshadowing.
While I have many complaints concerning the writing and execution, the actors did their part, and at least, the main couple was given some nuance. I will admit that I enjoyed the first four episodes more than the latter half since I didn’t come in with high expectations. Nevertheless, Doctors was still an easy and breezy watch. There isn’t much conflict, the comedic bits are funny, and the main leads are charismatic. I may not remember much about Doctors in the future (or even next week), but despite its ups and downs, it was a serviceable romantic and slice-of-life drama fueled by engaging performances and an awesome heroine (for the most part). If nothing else, at least we can all still chuckle at the blatant PPL this show was so good at not hiding.
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