Healer continues to shine in its penultimate episode, where there is no shortage of exciting plot developments, solid character interactions and deep exploration of issues of identity. This is a longer entry than usual, but do indulge me as I’d like to give full credit to all the great work that’s being done in this episode. To make it easier to follow, I’ll break up this entry into sections.
The war with Elder
The war between Elder and our good guys continues to fascinate me and it was delightful to watch how the ball kept shifting from the baddie’s court to the good guy’s court throughout. This kept the tension, suspense and excitement at a high!
We start off with the victory clearly in Elder’s team, as they’ve captured both Moon-Ho and Young Shin in order to get what they want through a very well-coordinated plan. I continue to be impressed with how the writer makes both our good guys and bad guys very credible opponents for each other. Manager Ahn, who has only been introduced recently, is certainly intelligent, scheming and quick-thinking. While I’m on the side of our good guys, I did enjoy watching him gradually corner Jung Hoo through many different tactics.
In order to save Young Shin, Jung Hoo finally confesses and agrees to be hired by Elder. However, he quickly regains the advantage by going into hiding and working with Min-ja to expose the four who were involved in Dong Chul’s killing. He manages to break into their hide-out to obtain all their finger-prints, which Min-ja sends to Detective Yoon. In addition, he also gains entry into the Double S security headquarters. Just as things are looking good for our good guys, we see that Manager Ahn’s team has identified Min-ja’s hiding location and sent a team to take her out, which Jung-Hoo only realises at the last minute. He runs to her rescue and they manage to escape in the nick of time and all of this leads Jung Hoo to realise he needs to up his offensive and really take out Elder. This continually shifting power is fun and engaging to watch and keeps the energy level high till the end, when we finally see the four good guys walking together, ready for war – which was such an amazing scene by the way!
In the midst of the ongoing war, there’s still plenty of very solid interactions between our characters and it’s great that all the key characters have an important role to play in this war.
Underlying the ongoing war between Elder and the good guys is the tension between Moon-ho and Moon-shik, which has always been well handled. Here, we see Moon-Shik’s attempt to protect his brother from further harm by Elder by making him the head of Jaeil Newspaper. We know that Elder had plans to eradicate Moon Ho, hence I was actually convinced that Moon-Shik had intervened to save his brother. When they retire into the study, we once again see Moon-Shik’s delusion as he genuinely believes that Jung-hoo’s hiring by Elder will be good for him. However, Moon-Shik’s confident demeanour shatters when Moon-ho talks about how he has been tormented by the lies he had to tell and eventually exposes the truth about Ji-Ahn. Yoo Ji-tae is always excellent and he really conveys Moon-ho’s state of tormented guilt very powerfully. This revelation that Ji-Ahn is still alive leads Moon-Shik to become anxious – a rare sight, indeed – and he immediately rips away the bug that Myung Hee has planted behind the photo frame. But it’s too late as Myung Hee finally realises the truth!
Realising that Moon-Shik has been hiding the truth from her all this while leads her to finally take decisive actions to leave him and I found that scene so brutal and powerful. We often see Moon-Shik and Myung Hee at the dining table, with Moon-Shik enjoying the spread prepared by her, hence the dining table was the perfect location for their parting to happen. The whole moment just sneaks upon Moon-Shik as Myung Hee thanks him for eating her food and for taking care of her all these years. The tone of what she says immediately causes Moon-Shik’s expression to change and he expresses such a tenderness and vulnerability that almost made me sympathise with him. We learn that Moon-Shik agreed to marry Myung Hee even after she told him that she couldn’t be his woman and also that she had struggled to love him all these years. It’s so sad to hear this as it shows how starved of affection and love Moon-Shik has been all this while, but he did bring all this upon himself. Moon-ho then steps in and Myung Hee decides to go off immediately, not giving Moon-Shik a chance to explain further as she goes to find her daughter. While the scene was certainly sad, there was also some satisfaction gained to see Moon-Shik finally get his comeuppance for all his deception.
I honestly felt genuinely happy for Myung-Hee when she entered the Someday office and was smiling all the way when the Someday team received her and especially when Young Shin started talking to her. We still don’t get the mother-daughter reunion, but that’s alright because their interactions are so delightful and charming to watch. Loved it when Young Shin snuck over to close the office door, then started to talk about her boyfriend with Myung-Hee. Park Min-Young once again nails it, putting in such a hilarious and adorable performance. Do Ji-won really plays Myung-Hee so perfectly, with such a radiant and nurturing presence. Myung-Hee also contributes to the ongoing war with Elder through an interview with Moon-Ho, where she exposes the truth about Omega Holdings which Moon-ho then links to Elder. Myung Hee has really been through such a hard time for most of this series, with little opportunity for happiness and I was really glad to see her finally experience joy and victory in this episode.
While things are going well for Young Shin in office and with her mum, things are less happy and cheery between her and Jung Hoo. While I did enjoy seeing them interact over the past few episodes, it was also good to have them apart for most of this episode, so that there’s space for both characters, particularly Jung Hoo, to pursue their own part in this battle with Elder. As Young Shin learns that she was used to manipulate Jung Hoo into partnering with Elder, she too knows that their temporary parting is for her own safety, but she can’t let go and asks to fight together with him. When she asks Jung Hoo when she will next see him, he has no answer for her, but can only hold her in his arms tightly. It’s such a moving scene, with so much emotions conveyed through both what is said and unsaid. While she is unable to be there by his side, Young Shin continues to play her part to support him, telling Moon-Ho that she wants to complete the 1992 story and will cover Jung Hoo’s part too. When asked if she’s afraid after being targeted by Elder, she uses a very cute analogy of zombies, where staying put is worse than fighting, because staying put means you’ll become a zombie too. She’s courageous not because she’s by nature fearless, but because that’s the only right response at this moment, in order to defend the truth and the man that she loves. Even while she’s apart from Jung Hoo, he still remains her confidante and she talks to him in her thoughts, asking him whether she should tell Myung Hee that she’s her daughter. The connection between both her and Jung Hoo remains strong, even as they are physically apart.
It was great to also see Min-ja being thrown into the battlefield this time as she becomes a target and the meeting between her and Jung-Hoo is truly humourous and fun. When he sees her running away, his first response is not that of anxiety, but to ask her, “You’re ajumma?” and even ask whether she wears that attire to meet people. It’s such a tense moment, but played so well for humour. Her subsequent interactions with Jung-hoo in the car are also such a delight to watch as she keeps looking away from him, but he keeps looking at her teasingly. I also loved that we got cute moments between her and Detective Yoon, whose crush on her is so evident in this episode and so charming. In the bigger scheme of things, the storyline of her leaving the police force and their investigations into the Omega holdings also becomes part of this war with Elder and it’s great to see all the different storylines just being pulled together. There’s a happy ending in sight for ajumma, not just in terms of her mission with Healer, but for her own personal journey and it’s really to the show’s credit that her journey was steadily developed over the series.
Jung Hoo & his search for identity
I’ve saved the best for last in this review and that would certainly be Jung Hoo’s journey. In the previous episode, we watched him struggle with adapting to the “normal” life. As he decides to take on the Bong Soo identity full-time, he becomes meek, socially awkward and continually tired. However, as he switches back to Healer mode in this episode, we see him sharp, energised and at ease with himself. The scenes of him trying different means to obtain the fingerprints were a nice reminder of how fun it was to watch Healer at work. I also loved seeing him breeze through the corridors of the headquarters of Double S security and finally just sit comfortably beside the guy monitoring what happened. It’s clear the normal life is not for him, or rather, that he can only fully be himself when doing what Healer does.
After passing the evidence to Dae Young at the river, he reflects on what’s going on and expresses his confusion. Even as he has learnt how to win, he does not know who he’s fighting against. Witnessing Min-ja being attacked makes him realise that he can no longer be reactive and simply take instructions from those who commission him. He realises that he needs to take ownership and leadership in this war. Following Teacher’s death, Moon-ho had told Jung-hoo to let him take action, because the issues with Moon-Shik and Elder were too complex for him. However, at this point, when Elder has threatened the lives of Moon-Ho, Young Shin and Min-Ja, Jung-Hoo realises that he can no longer just take instructions anymore. When he tells Min-ja at the end “I’m the Healer. Try trusting me”, it’s a great moment of victory and confidence for him as he is now giving direction to her, after having taken instructions from her all his life. I just read an interview with Song Ji-na and she responds to the question of what Jung-Hoo discovers with a quotation that she liked: “I can’t be free if the people around me aren’t free. Therefore, I fight for their freedom so that I may be free.”
The episode ends with our four good guys, walking resolutely ahead ready for battle and we know that whatever the plan that unfolds has been developed by Jung Hoo. What an exciting and rewarding journey it has been to watch our hero grow through both the trials and the victories in his life! Compared to other shows where we enter the finale uncertain of whether we’ll get a happy or sad ending, I’m 100% sure that the ending of Healer will be a happy one. Our characters certainly deserve that happy ending after all they’ve been through. Can’t wait to watch the finale!