This was the episode that tipped my affection for Descendants of the Sun from strong like to a whole new level above. I LOVE THIS DRAMA, that is all. It probably would have gotten there faster if I connected more with Song Hye Kyo’s earlier episodes performance as Mo Yeon but both her acting and the character development have grown stronger now to the point that I’m all in with her. She’s an interesting nut to crack with plenty of faults and inconsistencies, but the fundamental strength of conviction and character makes for a female lead that can be held up as an example rather than just an accessory.
Episode 8 continued with the aftermath of the big Urk earthquake and the ensuing rescue efforts hit a new hitch in getting to every last possible survivor. I get some niggling worry that many scenes may foreshadow things to come that may be tear inducing, but it’s not here yet and I’ll take the happy and cheerful tidbits while it’s still in regular supply. Shi Jin’s third and most recent confession doesn’t get him a pretty doctor for a girlfriend but does keep their connection strong and solid. He still likes her, she still likes him but won’t date him – luckily it’s not as frustrating as it sounds when their day jobs are as interesting to watch as the small steps romance.
Episode 8 recap:
After Mo Yeon stitches up Shi Jin’s shoulder wound, he quietly confesses that, much as he has tried, he misses her a lot. Whatever he’s doing he can’t stop thinking of her. This does not sound as creepy or controlling coming from him because he’s just so calm and candid about it. Shi Jin figures she wasn’t expecting him to say something like this but he asks that she think about it.
Shi Jin gets up and turns to Mo Yeon telling her to get some rest. He wanted to drive her back but he can’t now as he has to give a report to the main base. Mo Yeon asks if she can go with him to the main base as she has a call to make.
Mo Yeon picks up a cell phone and stares at it. Shi Jin looks over as Mo Yeon places the call to Team Leader Go’s wife. She relays his dying words to her – Team Leader Go feels at peace that he’s provided for his family and sent his kids to college. With his wife they’ve spent the marriage staring at each other’s pictures more than spending time together and in a twist of fate now that will be her future. He assures his wife that he will leave her with the retirement fund and also a nephew will help her out, but most importantly he wants his wife to move on as soon as possible and not mourn.
Shi Jin takes this conversation in.
Nurse Ha finds Dr. Song outside and he shows her a wedding ring from a patient who just came out of surgery. The man won’t be needing it back now since his wedding hand has been amputated. She takes the ring and places it on a necklace chain to return to the patient who quietly appreciates the gesture.
Ye Hwa and Daniel are discussing her promise that he give an interview to the reporter but Daniel wants to save his pretty face for his wifey only.
The medical team pass by Daniel fixing a truck outside and Chi Hoon recognizes him as the famous Daniel who is half Korean and comes from a rich Canadian family but spends his time doing overseas volunteer work. Min Ji is impressed a rich guy would do this but Dr. Song says only an idiotic rich guy would choose this life.
Mo Yeon softy cries after making the call to Team Leader Go’s wife and Shi Jin follows her out of the tent as she looks for a quiet place to grieve. Shi Jin teases that it’s something a guy would be suggesting, going to a quiet place. He compliments Mo Yeon on doing well today and asks her to look at him before pointing skyward. Mo Yeon looks up to see a sky full of stars and is upset that the sky is this beautiful when the ground is devastated below.
Mo Yeon thanks Shi Jin for coming back, if he wasn’t here today perhaps she would have run away. Shi Jin has a quip at the ready and suggests they run away together because a man and a woman have always run away together. Awwww, go elope you two! That gets a smile out of Mo Yeon.
The Manager is getting beat up by Argus for not being able to produce the diamonds even as he tries to explain that the diamonds are stuck inside the buried office. Argus gives him until tomorrow night to bring the diamonds and makes the point with some muscle encouragement.
The camera pans to the buried office and inside it’s the young worker. He calls out for help and then remembers Team Leader Go telling him to wear a safety helmet and realizes that likely kept him alive.
The rescue teams are using cranes now to demolish the remainder of the power plant solar tower to get to the back office, which makes the Manager happy. Dae Young reminds him that their job is to search for survivors once a path is cleared to the office area as there are still three people unaccounted for. The Manager argues that anyone still missing is dead by now but Dae Young says that is for the medical team to pronounce. He grabs a bundle of ropes and heads inside through the cleared path, vowing not to give up on any possible survivors.
Chi Hoon and a few medical team personnel follow the soldiers into the buried space and try as he might to help he’s still startled by flickering power cords and detritus. Chi Hoon brushes away dirt over a glass panel and sees a survivor below.
An aftershock hits and shatters the glass so Chi Hoon is able to reach down to try and pull the survivor out. But a falling rock hits Chi Hoon’s shoulder and he is unable to hold on, and then must run outside as the area continues to shake, leaving the survivor inside who cries out for Chi Hoon not to leave him behind. Chi Hoon is a mess when he gets outside but is able to tell Sargent Choi that someone is still alive inside.
Dae Young tries do his job but Myung Joo knows that his hand is injured and makes him stop so she can bandage him up first. The survivor has fallen down into the basement third level after the new round of shaking. He calls out for help and hears Dae Young’s voice so they make contact.
Myung Joo mans the station outside and tells the arriving Shi Jin and Mo Yeon about the confirmed survivor inside. Dae Young radios in that he will get to the survivor in five minutes and to have medical personnel ready.
Mo Yeon writes down the Korean names of the medicine for Shi Jin to take himself because he won’t bring her inside when the area is not secure yet. Shi Jin doesn’t need her translations since he attended military academy at West Point and can read English just fine but Mo Yeon is all business is making sure there is zero room for error. She tells Shi Jin what to do when he finds the survivor and he snarks that he’ll have a conversation with her in English when he gets back and leaves with a jaunty “see you in a bit”.
Dae Young and Shi Jin have made it into the area where the worker is trapped and he’s in relatively good health, grumbling that Dae Young only gave him water and won’t let him eat and asking Shi Jin for something to eat. Dae Young and Shi Jin need some time to lift the slab off his leg so he can move. Shi Jin wonders how the worker who is on the eastern side construction ended up on the western side of the plant and hears that he crawled through whatever space could find.
Shi Jin radios to Mo Yeon and reports on the patient’s vitals and she radios back for him to provide some painkillers and IV fluid. Shi Jin takes out a needle and tells the patient that he has experience from military academy and wonders why people are questioning him so much today. Dae Young needs another piece of equipment so Shi Jin tells him to go get it as he stays behind with the worker.
The worker asks how long he’s been trapped and hears that it’s been three days. He wants to know how many people died and Shi Jin pauses before saying that a lot of people died but many have been saved. The worker is oddly itchy now and his throat is swelling up. Shi Jin radios in to Mo Yeon who says the patient might be one of the rare few with an allergy to the medication. She hands Dae Young medicine to take inside that will counteract the allergy.
There is suddenly more shaking but it’s not an aftershock, it’s the Manager using the crane to try and dig a hole into the office area. The area starts to shake and things fall so Shi Jin shields the worker. Dae Young hears the Manager is digging and screams for him to be brought over. The soldiers drag him out of the crane and Dae Young orders that he be detained and he’ll kill the bastard if anything has happened. Myung Joo reluctantly sends Dae Young back inside as Mo Yeon also looks worried.
The worker is alert and calls out to Shi Jin who appears unconscious. The worker starts crying that ahjusshi is dead and Shi Jin grumbles that he’s not an ahjusshi. Shi Jin gets back up but the worker notices that Shi Jin’s arm is all bloodied. Shi Jin sees that the shaking actually moved the slab that was on the worker’s leg so he can move but the entrance is blocked and neither can get out now. Shi Jin tries to radio in but gets no reception.
The worker is all demoralized but Shi Jin says they will get out, and the worker can go back to his girlfriend. The worker doesn’t have a girlfriend and asks if Shi Jin does. Shi Jin mentions the female doctor on the other end of the walkie talkie earlier, she’s already rejected Shi Jin three times. The worker says he would be so embarrassed he would kill himself if he were Shi Jin. Outside Mo Yeon gets a grip on herself and remembers that she has a job to do and says for Shi Jin to stay safe.
Shi Jin laughs that Mo Yeon must be worried sick outside right now and probably wishes she accepted him already. Shi Jin asks for the worker’s name and learns that it’s Kang Min Jae. He writes on Min Jae’s arm just in case only Min Jae makes it out. Min Jae is having a hard time talking as his throat his swelling. Shi Jin wants him to stop saying that he will die and believe Shi Jin when he says they will be saved.
A noise reaches them and it’s Dae Young breaking through some stacked rocks to dig a way into the space. Min Jae smiles in relief at being rescued. Min Jae is carried out on a stretcher and Chi Hoon looks stricken to see him since he wasn’t able to rescue him before. Mo Yeon tends to Min Jae and sees that his vitals have been written on his arm and remembers Shi Jin doing that to Ki Bum. She asks Min Jae who wrote it and hears it was the soldier ahjusshi who rescued him. Min Jae is so happy to be out and to see such a pretty doctor.
Min Jae is carried off as Shi Jin walks out grumbling to Min Jae that he’s not an ahjusshi. Shi Jin walks up to Mo Yeon and calls for a stretcher. Myung Joo asks if there is another survivor but Shi Jin lays down on the stretcher and says that he is the survivor.
Mo Yeon is about to head off to treat Min Jae when Shi Jin grabs her arm and turns to look at Myung Joo to bring up how he sent Dae Young out first. Myung Joo thanks him for looking out for Dae Young and offers to treat Min Jae and tells Mo Yeon to stay with this pretending to be injured patient. Shi Jin tells Mo Yeon that he’s not pretending, he really is hurt. She believes him and that is why she will treat him but need him to let go of her arm first.
The soldiers bring in the Manager as Dae Young gets out of the space and the Manager is unrepentant since everyone is safe now. Dae Young punches the dude in the face and gets a laughing thumbs up from Shi Jin.
Mo Yeon patches Shi Jin up and he wonders why she’s so cold to him after he escaped a life and death situation. Mo Yeon doesn’t like that he’s joking about it since he really almost died. She really was so scared for him but Shi Jin says he trusts that Mo Yeon will take care of him should anything happen which is why he went in. Mo Yeon wonders why he always takes such risks and Shi Jin explains that he’s a very capable man and doesn’t intend to ever have anything happen to him.
Ki Bum comes in to report that Colonel Park is here and Mo Yeon refuses to let Shi Jin get up to report. She tells Ki Bum to have Colonel Park come here if he wants to talk to Shi Jin which makes Shi Jin freak out that’s he’s going back to solitary lock up for this disrespect.
Colonel Park asks Shi Jin if he’s hurt badly and he says not but Mo Yeon interjects that he’s really hurt. Colonel Park announces that Hae Sung hospital just notified that a plane is being dispatched to pick up the medical team the day after. He asks Mo Yeon to provide him a full departure roster and to have the medical team prepare to leave.
The Manager rushes and rudely orders Colonel Park to gather his men so he can complain about getting punched out by Dae Young. He threatens to lodge a complaint and get all of them discharged. Colonel Park agrees to do things through official channels and plans to file a complaint that the Manager committed attempted murder by interfering with rescue operations. He then yells at his team for not managing the rescue site better and orders them to go run laps.
They run past Myung Joo who chides Dae Young for the weaksauce punching and suggests he make the guy half dead if he was going to do it so he can’t complain afterwards. Shi Jin sees Mo Yeon as he runs past and breaks from formation to go talk with him. She wonders what he did wrong to run laps even when he needs to rest but knows that he will do whatever is ordered. She hands him the prescribed medicine and Shi Jin thanks her for taking care of him.
Shi Jin wants to know if her name is on the list of Hae Sung personnel leaving and Mo Yeon admits that this time she’s the one leaving him behind. Shi Jin reluctantly lets her go.
Mo Yeon meets with the entire medical team and tells them to go home or stay, it’s their decision as the volunteer effort is officially over. She asks those wanting to stay to raise their hands and no one does until Nurse Ha gives up her space on the transport for a gravely injured patient. Min Ji does the same which upsets Dr. Song since it makes the rest look bad. Mo Yeon tells those who want to go back not to feel guilty, they have done so much so they can raise their hands if they want to go home.
Everyone raises their hands except Dr. Song who reluctantly stays and wants his space reserved for his soul.
Mo Yeon wonders where Chi Hoon went and he’s checking in on rescued Min Jae who confronts Chi Hoon for not being a real doctor since he abandoned a patient to run away. Chi Hoon looks absolutely stricken. Mo Yeon finds Chi Hoon and compliments him on being the first to locate Min Jae. She wants Chi Hoon’s name on the departure roster because he’s done enough and needs to go home to his pregnant wife.
Min Jae finds the survivors to ask where Team Leader Go is? He’s pointed towards a list of the deceased and finds Team Leader Go’s name on it. Min Jae cries and calls him a stupid old man, he promised that wearing a safety helmet will save his life and he did it so how could he have died. Chi Hoon cries watching Min Jae break down.
The collapsed power plant is a ghost town as the camera pans across it. Shi Jin gives his report to the gathered soldiers and medical team and workers that all the people have been accounted for as dead or rescued. He officially declares the rescue operation at an end.
The Manager orders them to leave now as he gets to do whatever he wants here now. An aftershock rumbles through yet again. Shi Jin asks them all to give a moment of silence for the victims.
The medical team dine together and discuss how going through something like this changes a person. Suddenly everyone’s cell phone gets reception again and everyone scrambles off to check messages and make calls. Mo Yeon mom is doing fine but Min Ji hears that her ex-boyfriend is getting married.
Mo Yeon takes a call from Ji Soo who calls her to come back and return to her high profile doctor career. Ji Soo asks if Chi Hoon is cheating out there as he doesn’t answer his wife’s calls. Chi Hoon is still crying over his running away cowardice.
Min Ji and Nurse Ha carry items for repair to Daniel and take a moment to swoon over how capable and handsome he is even in a disaster zone. Daniel says he can fix most anything except for a lady’s heart and that makes Min Ji and Nurse Ha blush and chortle. Dr. Song sees the flirting and runs over to break up the fun.
Shi Jin and Dae Young discuss if Shi Jin has called his dad (he doesn’t need to) and if Dae Young has called anyone (the person he would call is here).
Myung Joo comes in with her dad General Yoon on the other line but she hangs up on him when she sees Dae Young is also there. Dae Young hears that Myung Joo’s dad wanted to talk to his future son-in-law Shi Jin and wonders what they are doing behind his back. Shi Jin tells him to hash it out with Myung Joo and heads off to go see his doctor.
Dae Young asks if Myung Joo enters a man’s room so casually but she’s happy that he’s jealous.
Daniel has fixed the broadcast system on the base and Mo Yeon plugs in her cell phone to play music from the playlist. All the patients, doctors, and soldiers listen to the song and the feels come up.
Myung Joo asks Dae Young if the song is setting the mood but he’s still got a total poker face. She pouts and walks close to him but he backs away and goes to do his rounds. Dude, you’re giving poor Myung Joo the lady equivalent of blue balls.
Shi Jin goes to hand out with Daniel and gives him a thumbs up for the music. He wonders what the next song will be?
Suddenly Mo Yeon’s recordings play, including her cliff side confession to Shi Jin. She wonders why he hasn’t come rescue her yet, and how her heart pounded for so long to be kissed by a guy as amazing as him.
Shi Jin smiles as Mo Yeon frantically races through the base to get to her phone and turn the most embarrassing public announcement in her life off.
Thoughts of Mine:
I loved loved loved the ending of this episode, what a nice lighthearted break from the more somber mood of the last two episodes. Even if I think it’s highly unlikely that her cell phone playlist will play her voice recorded message no matter how inadvertent, I’m fine with such a stretch because it’s such a small moment but delivered with such broad impact for Mo Yeon, to have her deepest thoughts on Shi Jin aired for everyone around her to hear. She’s the more closed off one of the two and also more mindful of what others think. Not that anyone on the base was clueless to the budding romance between the capable captain and the pretty doctor, but to have her deepest darkest hidden away feelings for Shi Jin laid bare will certainly have ramifications. I think it’s good for Mo Yeon, after the embarrassment passes it will have done what she can’t bring herself to do consciously, which is to take her honesty with Shi Jin a step higher. Witness how she didn’t answer his last confession, whereas the first two times she did reject him. It’s becoming harder to stick to her practical side when Shi Jin is more and more integrated into her world.
The rescue operation in this episode continued to be interesting to watch even is nothing terribly interesting in set up. It delivered the emotions and for a K-drama aiming so high on the disaster scale I consider it a success. It meant a lot to watch Mo Yeon pass along Team Leader Go’s final words to his wife and continue her grieving process, which felt genuine even though she only had a few passing interactions with him. As a doctor she has witnessed death before as well but his passing was more than just table death in the OR, she had a decision in it and he was able to connect with her before he went. More than just Mo Yeon, Chi Hoon is also having his world rocked by this disaster and I feel bad for the young doctor who had the heart but not the experience or fearlessness to follow through under any circumstances. I don’t blame him for running out of the danger zone when the aftershock hit, and neither should Min Jae if he was more mature about it. I appreciated Mo Yeon’s assurance to the team that they should feel free to choose to go home and not be judged by it. Doctors and soldiers have jobs and certain duties but it shouldn’t be forced upon them beyond the parameters set.
There was a lot more down time for the various characters to connect in this episode, allowing the nice character development beats to continue. For a drama with such a big cast, even if Mo Yeon and Shi Jin get disproportionately more screen time, it doesn’t feel like the other characters just serve a purpose. I like Dr. Song and Nurse Ha’s interactions and many personality differences, as the older ones on the medical team it’s nice to have mature professionals who can play around when duty isn’t calling. I’m totally able to recognize more than a few of the soldiers not named Shi Jin and Dae Young, especially puppy Ki Bum who feels the most like a useful plot device but one who has a nice memorable charm. Dae Young and Myung Joo continued their status quo but at least he’s not avoiding her which Myung Joo seems to take as a huge step forward like I also see it. His jealousy over even the hint of a future between Myung Joo and Shi Jin needs to be the angle she should use. If he’s going to be a noble idiot then make him stew that she’s moving on, even if he knows it’s not happening but he needs to have his emotions prodded more otherwise he retreats into stoic robot soldier mode. I see parallel paths in the two main love lines and it’ll be interesting to see which couple makes a breakthrough progress first.
My gut tells me it’s going to be Shi Jin and Mo Yeon and likely in the next two episodes. Basically Dae Young just needs to get General Yoon to agree to marry Myung Joo to him and still believe her military career can flourish, which could happen if he performs some incredible feat of bravery and gets a big promotion or commendation. Theirs is not as complicated as Shi Jin and Mo Yeon, but also could wait for near the end of the drama to resolve. Shi Jin and Mo Yeon need some togetherness soon because I know more danger lies in wait for them, and one or the other is always on the brink of running off to another country. They interact on borrowed time and currently Shi Jin smoothly makes the most of it, which remains such an incredible act of restraint on his part not to take a more forceful tack with her especially since his alpha male side is so very very macho. I love their give and take, the dialogue isn’t the most memorable in DotS but everything flows so effortlessly that it’s a genuine pleasure to watch their relationship develop slowly without the need to rush them on. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Shi Jin steals a few more kisses from Mo Yeon whenever he can, who can blame him for trying after the most adorable heartfelt confession first confession from her.
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