Wow – Christmas comes early this year as RDTK gives us its best episode ever. It’s such a beautifully crafted episode which is not only chock-full of fascinating medical details, but also many wonderful character moments which I’ve been yearning for from this show for the longest time and this episode delivered all that and more. Warning – very long post ahead!
As we’ve come to expect, Doldam Hospital is swamped with medical cases again. The good news is the MERS case turns out to be a false alarm and merely paragonimiasis caused by unfermented crabs. Once that case is closed, our doctors barely get a few minutes of respite before they have to tend to three patients coming in due to a traffic accident and the comic book artist returns and turns out to have respiratory acidosis, thus requiring an ECMO (Extracorporal Membrane Oxygenation) operation, which Master Kim gets In Beom to do and he fails badly at. We also find out more about Chairman Shin’s operation – firstly that he’s hiding something that has happened 20 years ago, but secondly that he will not just need to change the batteries, but replace the artificial heart altogether. I’m really wondering how doctors/surgeons will feel watching this show – this seems like the perfect show for them to geek out over and I really appreciate the show putting in that much effort to paint the medical scenarios accurately and not just milk them for emotional impact.
That being said, what I really loved about this episode was that every character had significant moments and I can only do this justice by going through our main characters one by one.
Master Kim – It’s been a while since we’ve seen him harshly scold someone, since Dong Joo has now come into his good books. In Beom gets it this time, and as always, Master Kim proves himself to be sharp in observing someone who just memorises facts and theories compared to someone who has done it before. He tells In Beom that his hands reveal everything and then tells him, “Don’t degrade yourself by acting as if you are expendable”. Master Kim made similar comments to Dong Joo previously about him degrading himself or feeling so low about himself and that’s his own style of “teaching”. A more nurturing teacher might have told In Beom that he was valuable in this hospital and should not just think of fulfilling his father’s purpose and then leaving. However, Master Kim likes to deliver comments that hit people hard, which ironically also affirm them at the same time. I’ve come to miss that spark in him and it’s great to see it coming back.
What we see also in this episode is what the surgery of Chairman Shin means to him. Initially it seemed like it was just a move to spite President Do and to prove that a hospital like Doldam could do a surgery as well as Geodae. However, from this episode’s exchanges, it goes deeper than that – especially when Chairman Shin tells him that both of them are similar because they are both men of great tenacity – he is a man who struggles to save lives, and Master Kim is a doctor who tries to save a person’s life. This brings us all the way back to the video he observed of Master Kim saving the chef’s men in the kitchen. Chairman Shin saw that Master Kim is not a doctor who merely administers a treatment, but really goes all out to save that person’s life. Master Kim, who is usually very assured and arrogant, seems intimidated by this operation and even asks Chairman Shin why he has so much confidence in him. At the end of the conversation, we see that what’s at stake here for Master Kim is his own personal beliefs in saving lives and how far he will go for that. It’s his whole status and conviction as a doctor that’s at stake, and the best part is he’s pulling a team along on that journey to discover what it truly means to save lives.
Dong Joo – As a character, Dong Joo is certainly softening up in recent episodes and we’ve even started to see him smile more and have awkward, bumbling moments. I really enjoyed his cute moments with Manager Kang choosing a Christmas present for Seo Jung and his reaction when Manager Kang brought it into the room.
One thing that’s good about Dong Joo is that he knows what he wants and does not back down easily, even after being repeatedly rejected or hurt. In his scenes with Seo Jung, we always see her turning away repeatedly, only to have him hold her again. I was never convinced by their first kiss in the premiere and did not find it meaningful at all; however, the kiss in this episode was really touching for me because both him and Seo Jung have grown so much through their time in Doldam. It was sweet to hear him tell Seo Jung that all he wanted to hear from her was that she likes him, and all other things can be worked out along the way. On a broader note, I once again appreciate how the show is not allowing the romance to sideline the main focus on medical storylines. Dong Joo and Seo Jung’s relationship has been well-developed in recent episodes and it’s certainly cute that everyone in the hospital is rooting for them. How funny was the scene between Master Kim and Nurse Oh when he winked at her and said there was no way he could have stopped Seo Jung from treating Dong Joo!
Separately, Dong Joo’s overworking and giving his all for his patients, sacrificing sleep and his own health is also a sign that he’s learning to do all he can for his patients, rather than focusing on becoming the best doctor. During the whole MERS situation, it was clear that what drove him on was not promotion, or recognition, but merely doing the best for his patients.
Seo Jung – Seo Jung has always been the focus of the previous episodes and once again she shines in this episode. I thought what Master Kim said about him not being able to stop her showed how she had grown from the meek, timid person who was so subservient to Master Kim’s wishes to the confident person now who’s willing to stand up to him. However, what was more meaningful for me was how the accident with her ex-boyfriend was not swept under the carpet and we are actually going to see the show tackle it. I’ve been rather disappointed with how her PTSD just conveniently disappeared, but deep down, I also saw Seo Jung’s repeated rejections of Dong Joo as being because of that accident or fear that it
might trigger the PTSD. I thought the scene of her dolling herself up in the mirror, putting on make-up then removing it all was a very meaningful one, because it shows how the accident has affected her sense of herself too. She’s afraid that moving on to love someone else would mean that she’s forgotten about the accident, which she still feels guilty about. Let’s hope this is explored further.
In Beom – He’s been sidelined for a while, but comes into focus again in this episode, especially after getting a scolding from Master Kim. He asks his dad in this episode how long he has to stay in Doldam, which is a sign too that he thinks of his time in Doldam as temporary and can’t wait to go back to Geodae. It has not hit him that he is not just a valuable member of the Doldam family, but that there’s so much potential for him to grow and so much to learn here. I sense that there’ll be a journey of greater realisation for him. Master Kim’s decision to still involve him in Chairman Shin’s operation as the assistant to Seo Jung is a sign that he does see potential in In Beom and wants to nurture him. Let’s hope he grows in the upcoming episodes beyond just being someone used by his dad, to someone with a stronger sense of will-power. I do miss seeing him interact with Dong Joo and Seo Jung, so let’s have more of that too!
Manager Jang and Nurse Oh – Are we going to have a romance storyline between the two of them? If so, I say that’s going to be great and so much fun. Manager Jang has mainly been used for comedic effect so far, so it’d be good to give him something more substantial to work with. Nonetheless, he’s been a great character that adds a lot of fun to the show. Really loved how he hinted at Dong Joo to get something for Seo Jung as a Christmas present. And how great was that epilogue! It just made an excellent episode even greater because both of them were so funny together.
Yoon Hwa – Yoon Hwa finally returns in this episode and decides to come back as a resident. We learn that she used to be a resident at Gangwon Hospital who fled because she felt that being a doctor was too exhausting. However, her time at Doldam has inspired her again and she now wants to become a “real doctor”. Her entry as an intern gives a good energy to our team, especially as we see the other doctors so keen to give her advice, especially Seo Jung who’s extremely excited. I foresee some fun moments ahead as we now see Seo Jung playing on a mentoring role and inspiring others too.
Wow, this entry was longer than expected, only because this episode was really solid and everything I had been looking for in the show. We’re certainly in for a great time as the show moves towards its final stretch!