In my entry on Episode 6, I highlighted two concerns I had – the first was the direction the show was taking with Master Kim and the second was with the introduction of the Geodae team into Doldam Hospital.
For the first concern, I’m thankful for the perspectives shared on both soompi forums and on my blog regarding how his desire for the latest technology does not detract from his focus on saving lives as it is his attempt to help Doldam Hospital become more effective as an organisation in treating its patients. I was initially uncomfortable with how he kept adding new conditions in order to do the surgery for Chairman Shin, but thinking more deeply, that’s not beyond him as well given that it’s an opportunity for him to get back at President Do. It’s also aligned with the characterisation of Master Kim as a more edgy, grungy character, not your gentle, nurturing, refined doctor, but one who’s rough and pushes his way through to get his way.
As for my second concern, it was largely assuaged by this episode because I quite enjoyed the interactions with the new mix of characters in our midst. The character I’m loving the most is In-soo whose trapped in this struggle between hospitals, having had to leave his family behind after being told at the last minute to come to Doldam Hospital. Unlike most characters who are caught up in the race for success or excellence, In-soo is more down to earth, concerned more about his family. His interactions with Dong-joo and Seo-jung are thus very straightforward, without any hidden agenda and he plays the role of a friendly and brotherly figure. At the other end of the spectrum, we have In-Bum who has been sent here with an agenda to prove himself. While his surly and curt personality is not immediately endearing, he presents the other side of the coin, that the sons of those in power are also not always in an enviable position. I would argue that In-Bum is even more trapped than Dong-joo as he becomes a pawn between his dad and Master Kim, even while he’s genuinely trying to do good.
Higher up in the scheme of things there’s Dr. Song who immediately lays bare his agenda to Manager Kang (who continues to be hilarious, by the way) and promises promotion to Manager Kang if he digs some dirt out of Master Kim. He was unfortunately sidelined for most of this episode, with his decision to take the patient to a bigger hospital shot down by Seo-jung so quickly. Nonetheless, I do believe there are bigger things in store for him as the show builds up the storyline of how he devises a way to prevent Master Kim from operating on Chairman Shin.
As for our main protagonists, Dong-Joo is not doing too well this week and I’m starting to appreciate more how flawed he is as a protagonists. You think he’s making some progress, then he backtracks again once new obstacles come his way. At the end of the previous episode, he’s made some progress in Master Kim’s eyes, who now recognises his status as a fellow surgeon in the hospital. However, with In-Bum in the mix, that’s no longer the case and now the competition gets stiffer and the challenge then is really for Dong-joo to be able to put aside his pride to focus on patients. That’s immediately put to the test when Master Kim chooses Im-Bum to lead the surgery, with Dong-joo assisting. Dong-joo is still unable to put aside his pride and requires nudging from Seo-jung before he re-enters the operating room. On a side-note, there certainly is a lot of quarrelling and shouting going on in the operating rooms in this show, which certainly cannot be good for doctor’s concentration and morale!
Seo-Jung, on the other hand, really, really shines in this episode. She’s always been the bright spark of the series, but Seo Hyun-Jin really takes the character to a new level in this episode. The scene with her joking with Dong-joo about their special bond has to be my favourite scene between the two of them thus far. When Dong-joo says that he has a special connection with her, she teases him and asks him playfully, “Is there anything special? What is that”. Dong-joo starts to stammer, saying they have a special bond. She then looks at him with the most cheeky smile, asking “A special bond?”. It’s so funny to see her tease him and she eventually calls him “adorable”, which he finds insulting. She takes such delight in bantering with him and the scene is such a joy to watch.
“You act just like a teenager”, she tells Dong-joo.
On the medical front, it was endearing to see her embrace all the medical equipment and even talk to them. She really embraces her work as a doctor with such a childlike joy and excitement that even Master Kim can’t help but smile as he sees her. I do think that’s the first time we’ve ever seen him smile! Later on, when handling the daughter and wife of a patient who needs targeted temperature treatment, she does so with a gentle and compassionate professionalism. At the back end, she pleads with Master Kim to make an exception for them and even when he refuses, she once again makes her own professional judgement to go ahead with the treatment. In terms of medical issues, I liked that the show introduced the social dimension regarding subsidies, as well as an interesting perspective offered by Seo-jung that “We treat patients, and people of high offices fix the world”.
In terms of plotting, the show is starting to extend the patients’ storylines across more than one episode, unlike previous episodes where patients’ treatment or death was confined just within an episode or a segment of it. I’ve never personally felt that there was a need for us to know the patients, because as it is, there’s already enough drama going in for our doctors. Nonetheless, this is an effective way to loosen up the narrative yet still maintain our engagement. It also allows for more depth in exploring certain medical issues, hence it’s a welcome move.
My only complaint in this episode was that we didn’t learn much more about Master Kim, but I’m sure that will be addressed subsequently. This episode was really about re-establishing the dynamics of the new team at Doldam and in that sense, I think it did pretty well even though I did feel the episode was less engaging than last week’s offerings.
The episode ends with a cliffhanger ending as our key players are trapped in the operating room, with a gun to Seo-jung’s head. What’s going to happen next will ultimately reveal the mettle and values of our characters and it’d be interesting to watch. I’m glad to also see that the show’s ratings have steadily increased, doing even better than the largely publicised “Legend of the Blue Sea”. The show’s gaining confidence and stability and here’s hoping things continue to improve from here.