Poong the Joseon Psychiatrist: Episodes 3-4
As our new entrants settle into the clinic, we welcome an old member of the family and get a peek into their mentor’s backstory. Danger also lurks around our hero, because even though he has left his past behind, the people in his past are not willing to let go of him.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Rejoining our clinic family this week is their cook, NAM-HEE (Yeon Bora) whose presence adds another spark to the dynamics of the family. With her arrival also comes a murder, and an enthusiastic Eun-woo goes with Poong (who’s scared of corpses, lol) to inspect the body. The suspect is a killer dubbed Gumiho by the villagers, but Gumiho was supposedly arrested a year ago. Eun-woo notices the cutting on the body is different from Gumiho’s signature cut, and discusses her findings with her father, the district governor. But they’re interrupted by the arrival of Shin-woo, the royal inspector from Hanyang (and her father’s old student).
Unlike what you’d expect from an old student, Shin-woo is pretty formal, and slightly condescending towards the district governor for arresting the wrong man. And if that’s not enough to roll our eyes at him, we also learn he’s the adopted son of the second state councilor and was sent by his father in search of Poong. Shin-woo entrusts this task to the high and mighty COMMANDER IM (Kim Hyung-mook), but at the clinic, Commander Im cannot find an acupuncturist Yoo Se-yeob — just a Poong who can’t perform acupuncture. Lol.
One of the clinic’s patients sleepwalks to the scene of a second murder, and with all the evidence pointing to her, she is arrested as Gumiho. To prove she just has a sleepwalking condition and is not a murderer, Poong and Ji-han take Shin-woo to trail after the girl, who sleepwalks out of her cell into the mountains. She collapses beside a grave and has to be taken back into detention, but Ji-han manages to persuade Shin-woo to allow him to visit her daily for some treatment.
On one of such visits, the girl tells them she saw a goblin shoot a star down from a tree and her words don’t make any sense until Eun-woo and Poong go back to the crime scene, and Eun-woo deduces that the victims were shot by an arrow from the tree. True to her suspicion, Eun-woo digs out a broken piece of arrow from one of the bodies, proving that an arrow was the main cause of death and the Gumiho-like cut was just a cover up.
To successfully frame the sleepwalking girl, the killer would need to have known her condition. Hence Jang-goon – thanks to his incredibly retentive memory – digs out the records of the patients who visited the clinic the day the sleepwalking girl was loudly diagnosed, and all roads lead to… Eun-woo’s brother-in-law! Wow! Apparently, he’s working in cahoots with Commander Im to illegally hunt rare animals in the mountains, and had to silence the victims who were looking into the matter.
With her husband’s memorial coming up, Eun-woo returns to her in-laws, but her motive is to search for evidence to prove her brother-in-law’s guilt. He catches her snooping around and tries to strangle her, unconsciously revealing where the murder weapon is, and Shin-woo enters to arrest him. His mother blames Eun-woo for ruining both her sons, but Poong says that based on the clinic’s records, Eun-woo’s husband had stomach cancer and died because his mother relied on talismans rather than getting him proper treatment. Eun-woo then pays her last respects to her husband and cuts off a piece of her hanbok, signifying the ties she has cut with his family. Yes!!
Eun-woo’s desire to help people like Poong does, makes him encourage her to join them in the clinic and study medicine. Poong also drops the formal address of “my lady” and calls her by her first name: Eun-woo. Almost like a rebirth from living under societal dictates to living for herself. Awww. I find it really sweet how Poong always tries his best to bring solace to people. First to the sleepwalking girl, for whom he made a doll as a replacement for the one made by her mother (whose grave she sleepwalks to), and now to Eun-woo. As Eun-woo said, he might not have been able to use acupuncture to cure the girl, but he was able to use the needle (from stitching the doll) to help her. Indeed, what makes a doctor is not his tools, but his heart towards his patients.
Back in Hanyang, one of the king’s court ladies dies, noticeably from the same ailment as the late king. But before her death, she tells the king about a court lady involved in the late king’s death. The court lady in question is the witness to Poong’s father’s assassination, and is currently on the run from the second state councilor. The assassin, who now appears to be Shin-woo, asks Commander Im if the new doctor (Poong) could be Se-yeob, and Commander Im says no. But Im has already pieced Poong’s identity together, and knows he is Se-yeob. He reveals this to Poong and tries to recruit him to his side, but Poong turns him down.
While Poong has found satisfaction in treating the common people, Man-bok bemoans his master’s fate and believes that if Poong didn’t have hand tremors and could still perform acupuncture, he might have had a shot at being called back to the medical office. The clinic then gets a patient who suffers from hand tremors — a noble lady, brought in by her fiancé who appears to be the most caring man in the world. But on a closer look, he’s borderline obsessive – not allowing Poong to take the lady’s pulse because he’s a man, and doing all the talking on her behalf.
Man-bok overhears Poong’s prescription for the tremors (meat and some herbs) and complains that his master isn’t cured because the clinic doesn’t give them any meat. Heh. A frustrated Ib-bun tells him to go catch some meat himself and Man-bok goes to catch a rabbit. Poong refuses to eat the cute rabbit, lol, so Man-bok returns to the mountains to search for herbs instead. There, he sees the noble lady and her manservant on the run, but he assumes the servant is a threat to the lady and confronts him. He’s knocked out and when he comes to, he is beside the now-dead servant and arrested for the murder. Yikes!
To clear Man-bok’s name, Poong visits the noble lady with Eun-woo – who now dons colorful outfits and wears her hair down like a single lady as opposed to the widow’s whites and hair in a bun style of married women – but her fiancé insists that she was at home the whole day. Hearing his sarcastic remarks about how he’d pay a fortune if there was a female doctor to check the lady’s pulse, Eun-woo decides to do just that. But first, she has to actually learn the location of all the pulse points. Thankfully, Poong is a good teacher and she’s a quick learner.
With a three-day day countdown to Man-bok’s execution, Poong and Eun-woo sneak back into the lady’s house and Eun-woo is finally able to take her pulse. They convince the lady to accompany them to the servant’s grave (dug by Poong, as the poor man was just left to rot away, unburied), and we learn the servant and the lady became friends as they grew up together. She promises to confess to his murder the following day. But our clinic family doesn’t believe she did it and tries to figure out who the killer is on their own.
Poong and Eun-woo realize that the fiancé is the only person who mentioned that the servant was strangled (information they know, but was kept from the people who think he died from being stabbed), and they’re able to deduce that the fiancé is the killer. Unfortunately, he kidnaps the lady, and takes her with him on the run.
After searching for hours, they hear that the fiancé is headed to the docks in the hopes of getting on a ship, but it’s almost time for Man-bok’s execution. Poong begs Shin-woo for a horse and constables to accompany him to the docks in order to bring back the killer, and Shin-woo puts his foot down at using the government’s resources for personal reasons. But with Poong on his knees and Shin-woo’s flashback to how Poong buried the servant, Shin-woo relents and provides the horse. He tells them the execution will proceed as planned if they don’t return before then with the killer.
As Poong and Eun-woo ride to the docks, Man-bok is led to the execution ground, where Shin-woo stands with a letter in his hands. We don’t know the full content of the letter, but there is a name written on it: Yoo Se-yeob! Eek! Does he know now? If so, that didn’t take as much time as I thought. But I suppose I should be glad that the drama is not dragging out this plotline. I expected to flat out dislike Shin-woo, but surprisingly, I don’t. He’s firm with his ruling as an official, but he’s also willing to give the accused the benefit of doubt as we saw in the sleepwalking case and with Man-bok. Yes, there’s the matter of him being the assassin, and there’s no justification for that, but his crush on Eun-woo aside, I’d like to believe that there are more layers to his character under the cold exterior.
Another layered character is Ji-han, whom we learn more about this week. Underneath his brash and money-loving exterior is a Robin Hood committed to charging the rich a premium for his services in order to treat the common people for next to nothing as fees. And just like Poong, he was once a respected doctor at the medical office until he was fired. He also lost his wife while attempting to treat her, and I’m sure that must have crushed him. It now makes sense as to why he understands Poong so well, and is determined to help him.
It was really touching to see our clinic family pool their skills to save Man-bok — from Nam-hee distracting the servants in the noble lady’s house with her cooking, to Ib-bun coming up with a sketch of the fiancé (her only talent, lol) thanks to Jang-goon’s memory. There’s also Ji-han giving Poong and Eun-woo pointers in their Operation Save Man-bok plans, and even if it was just chasing Commander Im out of the clinic with her broom, Grandmother also contributed to the cause.
The clinic proves that it’s a place of healing not just for others, but also for its occupants who despite being of different social classes, have come together to become a unique family of their own. And I know that regardless of whatever situation might come their way, as long as they stick together, they can pull through.
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