Don’t expect me to try and explain what just happened in episode 9 of Dr. Stranger. Have some majorly hot kissing instead! DS may have jumped the shark, or it may simply have sunk under the weight of its own increased levels of crazy, I’m not quite sure which one yet. This was one episode that made my head spin and not in a good way, and was also exhausting to watch. It didn’t help that half the episode was literally a game of running around the hospital looking for people. Hoon looking for Seung Hee, Seung Hoo looking for Comrade Cha or Hoon, Soo Hyun looking for Hoon and giving Jae Joon the metaphorical hand, it was like someone shoved a bunch of ingredients into a cannister and gave it a vigorous shake and then yelled “RUN!” I thought it was clear in the last two episodes that Seung Hee is Jae Hee, especially with Hoon’s actions because she can fool anyone but she can’t fool him either way. If she’s not Jae Hee then he’s not going to fall for a same face, and if she is Jae Hee then none of her actions otherwise will sway him. He’s just that certain when it comes to the woman he’s loved pretty much his whole life.
It’s hurting the drama narrative by keeping Seung Hee’s mission and identity still mostly under wraps for the audience. I don’t enjoy the piecemeal reveals and it’s starting to irritate me because there is very little covert left about the mission. Comrade Cha has been operating rather boldly for episodes now and this episode allows him to saunter around the hospital with a big silencer gun and go bang-bang. Not to mention Chang Yi saw the super secret meeting between the in-fighting bad guys so she hopefully has the ability to process all that information and then tell Hoon. I wonder why Comrade Cha doesn’t just switch tactics and tell the truth to Park Hoon. Tell him that if he doesn’t operate on PM Jang (or whatever it is the big conspiracy wants him to do) then Seung Hee (and himself) will die. There is no way Park Hoon wouldn’t be a billion percent more compliant if he knew his beloved’s life was at stake. I’m going to temper my growing discontent with this spiraling out-of-control story line and see if the next episode might turn the ship around and head towards less bumpy waters.
Episode 9 recap:
Chang Yi follows Seung Hee and Comrade Cha to their super secret rendezvous with Secretary Kim. The fact that spy master military man Comrade Cha can be followed by Chang Yi in a giant truck amuses me to no end. Chang Yi secretly watches the meeting head south quickly as Secretary Kim pulls a gun on Seung Hee and declares that the plan has changed. Their side now wants Dr. Han Jae Joon to do the surgery.
Hoon hears Chang Yi freaking out that Seung Hee may be killed. The two surgery teams take the twins out of their incubators and place them on the operating table. Nurse Min notices something is wrong with Hoon and quickly alerts Soo Hyun. She runs after Hoon who is storming out of the OR and manages to pull/grab/tug him back inside.
Jae Joon and his team notice something is off with the other team as they see Soo Hyun dragging Park Hoon back to the OR. Hoon angrily tries to shake Soo Hyun off but calms down the moment he sees the helpless baby on the operating table. Good boy, Hoon. Soo Hyun tells him to save the baby and Hoon closes his eyes and wonders if he can do it. He hears Seung Hee’s voice saying “save the baby.”
Back at the super secret confrontation where the North and South teams appear to be splintering in their collaboration, whatever it is they are cooking up with respect to Hoon and the surgery for PM Jang. Seung Hee points out their side is following the plan and got on Park Hoon’s team, but Secretary Kim says again that the plan has changed. Seung Hee suddenly grabs the gun and sticks it right against her forehead and says “so be it.” Man she’s a cold one.
Seung Hee asks if the South’s change of plan was discussed with the North leaders already and Secretary Kim is all “nope, and it doesn’t matter because we’ll just do whatever we want.” Clearly no one will ever work with you guys again. Seung Hee spits out “do we look that laughable to you?” She then turns the tables and grabs Secretary Kim’s gun and sticks it in his face. Did she take spy lessons up North or what?
Hoon and Soo Hyun re-scrub in and she worries whether Seung Hee will arrive on time. Hoon assures her that Seung Hee will be here. The doctors in the viewing room discuss how this surgery is super time sensitive. To rebuild an artery for the twins, the procedure has to be done within 45 minutes because that is how long their hearts can withstand being stopped for the surgery. So whichever team does it fastest within that time frame wins. Man, this surgery as a dick-waving battle and racing against the clock for the win is soooo unethical I have no words.
Both teams get suited up with the operating doctors Jae Joon and Hoon walking up to their teams to make sure the final checks are in place. Dr. Moon can’t hold it any longer and calls Hoon to ask where the heck Dr. Han Seung Hee is? Hoon assures Dr. Moon that Seung Hee will be here.
The guns ablazing confrontation ends with the arrival of PM Jang all dastardly and clapping his hands like an uber-villain. PM Jang smirks as usual and tells everyone to put those guns away. Seung Hee asks “Dr. Han Jae Joon or Park Hoon”? PM Jang still wants Han Jae Joon but after seeing Seung Hee here he’s changed his mind. But he wants to know whether she’s Han Seung Hee or Song Jae Hee? If he finds out her true identity then he can trust her. Seung Hee pulls her gun back and disarms it and everyone else follows suit. The rest of the gang depart leaving Seung Hee and PM Jang behind.
Secretary Kim and Comrade Cha discuss surgical scars with Secretary Kim noting that a second kidney could be implanted but the surgery scar will always be there. Comrade Cha asks if Secretary Kim wants to know her real identity from him? Too bad Comrade Cha doesn’t know since he’s never seen Seung Hee’s body either. Secretary Kim smiles and offers Comrade Cha a lollipop and then pops one in his mouth for himself.
Seung Hee fastens her shirt and asks PM Jang if he got his answer. PM Jang chuckles and says “Park Hoon that bastard is so pathetically sad.” PM Jang is willing to change back to the Park Hoon card but reminds Seung Hee that he only ever needs one card. Seung Hee glares at him and leaves. Chang Yi catches this entire exchange and looks shocked.
Seung Hee gets into her sporty yellow sport car to rush back to the hospital. Comrade Cha holds her car door open to remind her that if Park Hoon loses this battle then she’s dead as well. Chang Yi is starting her truck to get the heck out of dodge when she can’t start it and the engine revving gets Comrade Cha’s attention.
Comrade Cha starts walking in her direction but luckily PM Jang’s car cuts him off to talk. PM Jang rolls down the window to point out that obvious which is the battle tonight will determine the victor. For Comrade Cha’s sake, Park Hoon has to win. PM Jang wants Park Hoon to win as well, not for Park Hoon, but because he feels back for that child Han Seung Hee. Comrade Cha assures PM Jang that he’ll be thorough and not leave a corpse behind.
Chang Yi has already left by the time Comrade Cha looks around again for the sound he heard earlier. Chang Yi calls Hoon but her calls keep going to voicemail. Finally Dr. Kim answers Hoon’s phone and tells her that Park Hoon is in surgery right now. His doctor honey sits up from his bunk to stop the fooling around and the two of them head to the viewing room to watch the surgery.
Dr. Choi calls down to the OR to start the surgeries despite Dr. Moon asking him to wait since Park Hoon’s anesthesiologist isn’t there yet. Jae Joon’s team starts the surgery with Dr. Eun sedating their baby. Dr. Moon calls down to yell at Hoon who assures him that Dr. Han Seung Hee will be here. Another doctor walks into Hoon’s OR and is told to scram. Finally Seung Hee arrives to the relief of Team Hoon.
Hoon stares at Seung Hee who looks right back at him. She remembers PM Jang’s reminder that he only needs one card as well as Comrade Cha’s warning that if Park Hoon fails and dies then she’ll be laying beside his corpse. Seung Hee composes herself and walks up to the gathered surgical team and proceeds to sedate the baby. Soo Hyun is worried about losing but Hoon tells her to leave if that is what she is thinking about right now. To him this is just an ordinary surgery to save the life of a baby.
Team Jae Joon cuts into their baby and Dr. Yang notes that Dr. Eun is a great anesthesiologist and was the best at the hospital until the arrival of Dr. Han Seung Hee. Lo and behold, even though Seung Hee arrived late, her anesthesia skills are such that she sedated their baby faster so both doctors cut unto their babies at about the same time. Dr. Choi assures Chairman Oh that the future leader of their Myung Woo cardiothoracic department is right here.
PM Jang sits at his desk and murmurs that he’s curious who will win and which card he’ll be using.
Chairman Oh stands up as the surgery gets underway and walks over to watch each other head into the most critical period where they turn off the artificial pump and stop the twins hearts. Chairman Oh is impressed Hoon’s team made up the time on the sedation period. Dr. Choi notes that Hoon’s team also has a very experienced surgical nurse assisting.
Comrade Cha pulls up outside Myung Woo hospital and gets out. Dude just left his car parked right in front because clearly no one will notice it.
Team Hoon runs into trouble as an artery starts to bleed. Hoon screams at Soo Hyun to pay attention and tells her to suture it. She drops her surgical tool and is told to focus. Hoon hands her another tool and tells her to not look at him and just look at the baby. Soo Hyun keeps shaking her head in fear. Dr. Moon is frustrated and about to call her a quack when Chairman Oh turns to glare at him and Dr. Moon keeps quiet. Seung Hee tells Hoon that he doesn’t have time and to do it himself but Hoon insists on Soo Hyun doing it.
Soo Hyun stares at the clock and Hoon angrily yells at her to look back at the baby. Soo Hyun wants Hoon to do it since she’s not as fast. He asks if she wants to be a quack for the rest of her life? Soo Hyun remembers the training Hoon did with her and lowers her head to start suturing.
Seung Hee looks up at the viewing room and her eyes widen in shock to see Comrade Cha sitting glowering. She tries to get Hoon to do it because there isn’t enough time. Hoon keeps insisting Soo Hyun do it and she thinks back to all the pressure she’s been under before taking the surgical tool and proceeding the suture the baby.
Team Jae Joon continues with their surgery and turns their pump back on with over 4 minutes to spare. The doctors in the viewing room all clap as it’s clear Jae Joon’s team won. Seung Hee looks up in sadness at Comrade Cha who just walks away. PM Jang gets a call that Han Jae Joon’s team won. Comrade Cha sits in his car and pulls out his gun from the glove compartment and twists on the silencer. Jae Joon’s team completely finishes and he looks up to meet Chairman Oh’s eyes and the Chairman nods at him.
Hoon’s team finishes and turns the pump on with only a minute to spare. Soo Hyun apologizes, because of her they lost. Hoon corrects her, because of her they saved a baby’s life. He tells her not to worry about losing. Seung Hee looks back up at the viewing room where all the doctors have filed out and doesn’t see Comrade Cha anymore. Hoon leaves his OR and meets Jae Joon’s eyes and nods at him. He turns to talk with Seung Hee who is pushing the baby out and curtly tells him that they can talk later.
Dr. Moon congratulates Chairman Oh who declares that this is Park Hoon’s last surgery here. Dr. Choi tries to argue for keeping Hoon but the Chairman cannot work with Hoon at the same hospital even if he acknowledges Hoon’s surgical skill. Dr. Choi asks whether Chairman Oh still wants to develop Myung Woo as the top cardiothoracic hospital? If so he needs someone like Park Hoon. Chairman Oh says having Han Jae Joon is enough to make that dream come true.
Dr. Moon dejectedly sits in the emptied out viewing room and Dr. Kim by to whisper that he’s here to congratulate Dr. Moon for being transferred to the secondary hospital. Dr. Moon chases after Dr. Kim who tries to assure him that it’s a good move and everyone at that hospital is waiting to welcome him.
Soo Hyun runs around looking for Chairman Oh and asks if Dr. Moon saw her dad? Dr. Moon blames Soo Hyun for Hoon losing but then asks her to talk with her dad and not transfer him to the secondary hospital. Soo Hyun doesn’t think her dad will do it but Dr. Moon takes her hand and keeps begging her to help him out.
Park Hoon leaves the OR and Dr. Moon grabs him to yell about how he could have lost? Dr. Moon is going to die because of him and he then sits down on the floor and dramatically wails that he’s going to die. None other than Comrade Cha waltzes right past the wailing banshee that is Dr. Moon in search of Park Hoon.
The twins are deposited back in the NICU and Dr. Eun thanks Seung Hee for her help. Seung Hee asks Dr. Eun to watch both twins and runs off moments before Hoon walks in looking for Seung Hee and is told she just left.
Chang Yi finds Hoon who immediately asks her to never speak about what she saw earlier tonight. Chang Yi agrees and asks if Seung Hee really is Jae Hee noona? Hoon nods his head. Chang Yi saw guns being pulled so is Jae Hee noona a spy? Hoon tells her that is why she can’t reveal what she saw. Chang Yi gives him her truck keys and tells him to be careful.
Seung Hee is walking through the hospital on the phone with Comrade Cha who wants to kill Hoon tonight now that he’s lost. Hoon spots Seung Hee and runs after her, not seeing Comrade Cha standing right outside the hospital doors. Hoon shoves other hospital employees aside as he runs to catch up to Seung Hee.
Seung Hee screams that the decision for whether the mission failed is made by North Korea, not by Comrade Cha alone! Seung Hee notices Hoon and when she looks back up at Comrade Cha, he’s already vanished. Hoon walks into the OR after seeing Seung Hee standing above in the viewing room.
Hoon looks up at her with a warm smile while she looks down in horror as she sees Comrade Cha standing right behind Park Hoon with a gun pointed at the back of his head. Seung Hee looks absolutely devastated but luckily the arrival of Dr. Kim and his girlfriend touring the OR interrupt Comrade Cha who darts out another door. Dr. Kim and his girlfriend notice him right outside the OR and walk by. Comrade Cha runs back into the OR but Hoon is gone.
Jae Joon sits with his team to discuss their victory. Dr. Keom didn’t know Dr. Oh would go to Hoon’s team but Dr. Eun says their victory was thanks to Dr. Oh’s mistake otherwise Hoon almost caught up to them. Dr. Keom chides her not to say anymore. Jae Joon is called in to see Chairman Oh and he sends his team off to rest.
Chairman Oh demands to know why Soo Hyun ended up on Park Hoon’s team. Soo Hyun doesn’t think it matters since the twins were saved. Chairman Oh is worried that his future son-in-law will run off because of her. Soo Hyun just smiles so her dad asks if she still likes Han Jae Joon? Soo Hyun says of course, she likes her dad the most and then Jae Joon. Dad urges her to hold onto this opportunity but Soo Hyun declares she wants to be independent for now. Dad wants to know what she means and she assures him that she’ll explain later.
Soo Hyun runs into Jae Joon as she leaves Chairman Oh’s office and he asks if she has time and she brushes him off for later. But she stops to congratulate him with a sincere smile on winning.
Chang Yi sits in the hospital lobby calling a spy hotline but hanging up before leaving a message. Soo Hyun finds her and asks if she’s seen Park Hoon because Soo Hyun can’t find him anywhere and his phone is busy. She asks Chang Yi to have Hoon call her if she sees him.
Soo Hyun keeps walking around the hospital and sees Seung Hee walk past while on the phone. Soo Hyun interrupts Dr. Eun and Dr. Keom in the conference room and hear neither has seen Dr. Park. After she leaves, Dr. Keom notes that Soo Hyun seems happy but Dr. Eun is more interested in discussing how she managed to get Dr. Keom into the surgical second spot on Jae Joon’s team.
Soo Hyun finally finds Hoon but he immediately asks if she’s seen Seung Hee. Soo Hyun wanted to talk to Hoon about something but he brushes it off for later and then runs off to keep looking for Seung Hee. Soo Hyun sadly stares at his departing form and sighs.
Dr. Moon is crying to Dr. Choi about what to do and is told to stop sniveling and go look for Park Hoon. Dr. Moon blames Dr. Choi for recommending Park Hoon and now it’s all over and he can’t make his dad’s dream come true. Comrade Cha walks past the office and peers inside looking menacing as usual.
Hoon finally gets through to Seung Hee on the phone and he wants to know where she is while she orders him to immediately leave the hospital. Hoon suddenly pauses as he can sense Seung Hee as can she. They walk towards each other and finally meet as he turns the corner and she walks down the stairs. Seung Hee can see Comrade Cha right behind Hoon who calls her “Jae Hee-ah”.
Hoon is about to walk towards her but she screams out “stop” and thinks to herself that it can’t end like this. Seung Hee walks up to Hoon right as Comrade Cha is about to raise his gun and she calls out “don’t move, there is another chance.” Hoon can tell she’s not addressing him and turns back around.
Seung Hee grabs Hoon and pulls him around the corner right as Comrade Cha fires a few shots which strike the water bottles on a pulley. Seung Hee and Hoon stare at each other with longing and sadness but their reunion is cut short by a hospital broadcast of a code blue in the NICU. The staff runs there and we see Secretary Kim also in the hospital lurking. He spots Comrade Cha running around.
Chairman Oh chastises Jae Joon for letting Soo Hyun work on Hoon’s team. He wants Jae Joon to hurry up and marry Soo Hyun so she doesn’t act out anymore and he doesn’t need to worry about her. The code blue blares over the office speakers and Jae Joon looks alarmed.
Jae Joon barges through the gathered hospital staff and runs into the NICU to discover Dr. Keom and Dr. Eun already hovering over the twin they operated on. That twin needs a second surgery because the first one is causing complications. Hoon calls for the OR to be prepped. Jae Joon screams that it’s his patient and he’ll do the surgery. Soo Hyun arrives to ask Jae Joon what happened but he just glares at her before storming off. Dr. Moon is over-the-moon happy that this means his team won!
Dr. Moon wants Dr. Moon to go see Chairman Oh right now to have the battle results changed. Dr. Choi isn’t interested in who won, he suggested this surgery battle so Park Hoon and Han Jae Joon could understand more what their skills and duty are as surgeons. Dr. Moon only cares that his team won so he drags Dr. Choi off to see Chairman Oh.
Jae Joon repairs the complications from the first surgery and then tells Dr. Keom that he’ll finish up personally. Soo Hyun runs in wanting to help and Jae Joon takes out all his frustration on her and screams at her to GET OUT! Jae Joon looks up at the viewing room where a very angry Chairman Oh is glaring at him. Chairman Oh leaves the viewing room and storms past Dr. Moon and Dr. Choi without talking to them. Dr. Moon runs into Dr. Kim who is all smiles now trying to get on his good side. Dr. Moon punishes Dr. Kim by making his do exercises and repeating that Dr. Han Jae Joon will be transferred to the secondary hospital.
Secretary Kim reports back to PM Jang that Han Jae Joon ended up losing because his twin had complications. PM Jang calls Jae Joon an idiot and then sighs that he’ll have to use the Park Hoon card after all.
Comrade Cha meets with Seung Hee in yet another dark abandoned place. Seung Hee chews him out for almost ruining things by his rashness since Park Hoon ended up winning. Comrade Cha grabs Seung Hee in a neck hold as he pushes her against the wall and yells at her for daring to help Park Hoon escape. She better not do something rash like that again. He’ll be watching her carefully and Park Hoon’s life and death is up to Comrade Cha. He drags her off somewhere.
Hoon is still running around the hospital looking for Seung Hee and hears from Dr. Eun that the second surgery went fine. He spots Seung Hee from the corner of his eye and when he runs after her, he sees her yellow car drive off. Park Hoon gets into Chang Yi’s truck to chase after her while Dr. Moon manages to waylay him to scream out his gratitude with effusive “I love yous” for Hoon. Heh.
Hoon follows Seung Hee’s car which pulls up outside his little hospital clinic. Hoon goes inside and doesn’t notice Comrade Cha sitting in a different car. Comrade Cha watches Hoon goes inside and he smirks this very evil smirk.
Hoon runs into his living quarters and sees the Jae Hee in prison video playing. He turns around and finds Seung Hee standing there with a smiling calling him “Hoon-ah” the exact same way. He remembers all their times together as she smiles and says “Hoon-ah” again. Seung Hee runs into his arms and hugs him tightly around the waist as Hoon holds her head and strokes her hair.
Hoon looks scared that she’ll disappear and pulls back to carefully take in her face. Seung Hee cups her hands on Hoon’s cheeks and strokes him as he touches her gingerly on the face as well before moving in for a kiss.
The lovers kiss and kiss as the cameras pan around them, complete with tongue, nibbling, and lots of head movement.
It’s morning time and Hoon watches the Jae Hee video again but Seung Hee pops up behind him to tell him to stop watching since she’s here.
Seung Hee adorably watches Hoon as he heats up curry rice like he did for the imaginary her in episode 3. They sit down to eat and Hoon grabs a piece of seaweed for Seung Hee and tells her curry rice needs to be eaten with seaweed to be tasty.
Seung Hee takes a bite and confirms it’s delicious. Hoon keeps watching her eat with a smile as she also smiles back. Suddenly Hoon’s eyes open and he sits up from his bed. Was that all a dream? He gets out of bed while looking around his room calling for Jae Hee. He runs outside and keeps calling Jae Hee but she’s nowhere in sight.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’m going to skew my thoughts more for how certain plot turns elicit responses from me rather than whether it makes ANY sense whatsoever. Even within the world of Dr. Stranger, which is already like going on a pot picnic and hallucinating about unicorns and dancing elves, episode 9 confirmed that even unbelievable events can’t even be expected to hew to any semblance of internal logic. This episode effectively made me annoyed at all four leads. Hoon’s knee jerk reaction to ditch the surgery was a major professional fail moment before if he was pulled back from the brink by Soo Hyun. In turn Soo Hyun’s almost shut down in the middle of open heart surgery was the type of incompetence that validates Dr. Eun and Jae Joon for thinking she’s not ready yet to take the big stage. It’s nice and all for Hoon to be supportive, but getting over her own insecurity and inadequacy hump shouldn’t happen in the middle of surgery when a life is at stake. Of course she pulled through in the end, and in general I like that she has her own growth arc about being a confident and capable doctor. But her story line remains like the one carnation stuck in the middle of three thorny roses.
Hoon and Seung Hee are dealing with life and death, guns pointed at their heads, a future hanging in the balance between waking up the next morning or sleeping with the fishes. Soo Hyun’s biggest obstacle is everything made for family drama land – her father’s love and validation, finding a good man who she loves and loves her back, and becoming the capable doctor she knows she can be. Jae Joon’s story also feels lightweight now that all he does is glower angrily at Hoon, attempt to hang out with Soo Hyun and keep getting rebuffed, and planning some sort of revenge on Myung Woo that seems to all hang on becoming the future head of the hospital. He’s also not shown himself to be a really skilled doctor if he made a slip up during the surgery and needed to fix it afterwards. If he let his eagerness to win lead to to oversight then he’s not ready to be the head of the department much less the entire hospital. I did appreciate Hoon and Jae Hee’s big reunion of sorts at the end of the episode, complete with major missing you kissage, but it lacked the oomph payoff I was looking for because so much remain mysterious for the sake of being mysterious and thus irritating the heck out of me. Please return to being silly and satisfying, drama!
The whole Seung Hee/Jae Hee thing is just getting repetitive. If Hoon already knows then the audience should know as well. Show us the kidney surgery scar rather than have us still without a firm confirmation. And if the drama wants to pull a fast one soon and reveal Seung Hee is NOT Jae Hee, then I’m going to call foul. Too many moments between Seung Hee and Hoon, unspoken moments but totally clear gestures and looks, which all up to her being Jae Hee. There isn’t even a memory wipe at play, she’s simply in this undercover dangerous operation for the sake of saving Park Hoon’s life. There might even more additional reasons for her compliance with Comrade Cha and her insistence on the mission, maybe her dad or Hoon’s dad is still alive and the North is using them to ensure Jae Hee plays ball. All I know is that the drama would work better dispensing with the mystery and let us root for Hoon and Jae Hee to outsmart their nemesis and win their happily ever after. I think the big plan might involve more than PM Jang’s heart surgery, he probably wants Hoon in order to gain the presidency. Whether he’s planning on offing the current president through a botched heart surgery or whatever crazy idea he has up his sleeve, he’s likely made a deal with the North to assist him in return for something the North wants. I wished Hoon and Jae Hee’s big reunion moment at the end of this episode didn’t fall flat for me, his expression seemed hesitant and rather tremulous, and then the next morning turned out to be all a dream. I loathe dream cop-outs so the drama better have a viable explanation for me in episode 10.
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