This felt like a boilerplate episode for Descendants of the Sun, confirming that the action moving back to Seoul has led to an odd sense of choppiness. Urk life was filled with disaster situation one after another but a confident narrative pace. The dangers lurking in Seoul for the intrepid leads are drama cookie cutter fare despite the big OMG moment to end episode 13. I wish Shi Jin’s life hanging in the balance had a better payoff but conjuring up North-South Korean political intrigue is stuff recent year dramas like The King 2 Hearts and Spy did more adroitly. At least the intense North Korean commander is back on screen, I knew his too brief scene in episode 1 was setting the stage for something bigger to come.
Sadly Mo Yeon and Myung Joo take major backseats in this episode 14, playing the role of girlfriend and/or doctor as if going through the motions. Not much character or relationship development happened as the personal aspect moved aside for the conspiracy that arrived abruptly and was resolved even more abruptly. Who has time for DTR (defining the relationship) when dangers lurks around every corner. All I got out of this was Shi Jin’s superhuman powers now include withstanding multiple gunshot wounds and being able to gallivant around shortly thereafter. Mo Yeon really doesn’t need to worry, her boyfriend is clearly the Korean equivalent of Captain America.
Episode 14 recap:
Following behind the ambulance carrying the injured North Korean commander, an unconscious and bloody Shi Jin is brought to Hae Sung hospital and wheeled into the ER by a shocked Mo Yeon. She tearfully pleads for him to wake up as she takes him to the OR.
Flashback shows the North Korean commander not there to attack Shi Jin and Dae Young, instead asking to talk to them because he doesn’t trust his own side. He’s shot from behind and a van with commandos pull up guns blazing. The gunmen force Dae Young and Shi Jin to hide behind cars for cover and the gunmen take the injured North Korean commander into the van.
Mo Yeon is trying to resuscitate Shi Jin as he codes in the ER. She continues to work on him feverishly with chest compresses, begging him to come back to her.
Continue flashbacks show Shi Jin chasing behind the van as it’s making a getaway from the parking garage. Shi Jin has to get close to the van to shoot at a fire extinguisher which blows smoke in front of the van which crashes into another car, but in the process Shi Jin gets shot multiple times by a gunman in the van. Before Shi Jin passes out he sees Dae Young running towards him.
Mo Yeon is crying thinking Shi Jin died when he says that it hurts so much. He asks about the other shooting victim who came in with him, asking if he’s still alive? Mo Yeon is upset at Shi Jin asking about someone else’s health when he was so close to dying, if his heart stopped for another minute longer then he would be dead. Shi Jin tries to sit up when Min Ji runs in to say that the patient has gone crazy.
The North Korean commander has Nurse Ha with a knife to the throat demanding to be released. Nurse Ha keeps her cool, telling him that he will die if he doesn’t get treatment. Shi Jin tries to talk him down to accept treatment but he doesn’t trust South Korean doctors. He passes out and is wheeled into the OR. Shi Jin asks Mo Yeon to operate on him and she agrees but is very pissed at Shi Jin, brushing his hand aside as she storms off.
Dr. Song and Mo Yeon operate on the North Korean commander and discover that he has something implanted in his arm.
Colonel Park and Dae Young discuss the North Korean Commander Ahn Jung Joon who was supposed to be on furlough but instead ended up in South Korea in a gun fight. The gunmen in the van are apprehended and appear to be Eastern Europeans. The Embassy of fictional country of Maldonia has admitted that the gunmen are their armed forces and was chasing Commander Ahn because he used a fake passport from Maldonia. Everyone knows it’s a lame excuse but there is nothing they can do further to investigate.
Mo Yeon tells Shi Jin that Commander Ahn is stabilized for the time being and is upset at Shi Jin for being worried about the commander but not about Mo Yeon who saw her boyfriend wheeled in all bloody and nearly died. Shi Jin is contrite but Mo Yeon threatens to kill him herself if he worries her like this again.
Commander Ahn is wheeled into the same hospital room as Shi Jin while Dae Young’s team arrives to guard the premises. Mo Yeon hands the sim card she dug out from Commander Ahn’s arm to Dae Young.
Chi Hoon and Dr. Kim discuss the North Korean patient arriving all bloody with gunshot wounds, with Chi Hoon being nonchalant since he’s seen so much action in Urk already but Dr. Kim doesn’t believe him.
Dr. Song is fretting over Nurse Ha being taken hostage and checks her out to make sure she’s alright. He demands to know who did it and is told that it was the patient he just operated on which makes him regret doing his doctorly duty.
Dr. Kim asks Mo Yeon what her boyfriend really does since he was in the gun fight with the North Korean and there are now swarms of men in black in the hospital. This time Mo Yeon doesn’t even sass back, agreeing that it’s all so unbelievable, much to the shock of Dr. Kim.
The medical team rifles through Commander Ahn’s belongings marveling at the items from North Korea. They find the special ballpoint pen used to commit suicide and notices that it doesn’t write. Dr. Song is about to lick it to make the ink flow when Dae Young snatches it from him and whispers the intended purpose in his ear. Dr. Song faints knowing how close he was to death as the ink inside the suicide pen is poison.
The hospital Managing Director wants to enter the patient’s hospital room but is kept outside by the guards. He asks Mo Yeon what her boyfriend really does and if the two men inside got in a fight. He wonders who won and thinks Mo Yeon’s boyfriend must’ve lost and lied about being a good fighter.
Shi Jin sits with Commander Ahn being recorded by Colonel Park as he asks questions about why Commander Ahn is in South Korea and what mission he’s doing. Commander Ahn refuses to answer any questions, even when Shi Jin asks if he wants to request asylum.
Colonel Park knows it’s serious because Commander Park did not travel through China or Russia and instead took the harder route through South Korea. If he cooperates then he will be taken care of in South Korea. Commander Ahn continues to not say a word.
The chip removed from Commander Ahn is handed off by Colonel Park to the National Security Agency to decode. He places a call to the Blue House aide to discuss tomorrow’s second meeting between North and South Korea. He wants Commander Ahn talking before the meeting otherwise it’s going to take place as planned.
Alpha team discusses how Commander Ahn may be a murder suspect which is why he’s running away. They wonder who the murder victims are and Shi Jin recognizes the men as in the same unit as Commander Ahn, the unit that crossed the DMZ in episode one to spar with Shi Jin and Dae Young.
Shi Jin and Dae Young believe the truth must be in the sim card that was taken from Commander Ahn. Luckily Dae Young was smart and switched it before handing it over to the government.
Mo Yeon is treating Commander Ahn and chiding him for being so roughed up, especially with a bullet near his spine that can cause paralysis complications and some old injuries that were not fully treated. She tells him not to waste the chance he got after being brought back to life.
Mo Yeon turns to Shi Jin still mad at him and says the same to him. She brings up the superior officer in Urk who chewed her out for doing surgery on the VIP and then punished Shi Jin for assisting her. Colonel Park is listening in since the hospital room is wired so Shi Jin covers her mouth and writes for her to not say anything because the room is bugged. Sargent Choi is listening in and stifles at laugh to hear Colonel Park being yelled at.
Mo Yeon quickly switches to praising Colonel Park and Shi Jin makes small talk about how her mother is doing. He asks to see her but writes on a piece of paper that he needs a private place to talk with Commander Ahn. She’s reluctant but he promises that nothing will happen that worries her. Mo Yeon tells Commander Ahn to come to the CT room for scans in 30 minutes and not to be late. Mo Yeon runs into Colonel Park in the hallway and acts super excited and giddy to see him. He wonders why he only sees her when there is a problem for the government to clean up.
Mo Yeon begs her radiologist bestie Ji Soo to borrow her CT scan room for an important meeting. Ji Soo is not happy but accedes to Mo Yeon.
Commander Ahn and Shi Jin are in the CT room which can’t be bugged. Shi Jin gives Commander Ahn ten minutes to say what he needs to say, and starts off by asking why Commander Ahn killed the other soldier. Commander Ahn wants his things back first and Shi Jin hands back the sim card. He asks what’s in the sim card?
Commander Ahn explains that top trained North Korean soldiers are asked to do mercenary work to kill defected North Koreans. Shi Jin asks who the mastermind is? Commander Ahn knows Shi Jin already saw the information in the sim card but Shi Jin says he didn’t, joking about how the encryption is too difficult to crack. Commander Ahn swallows the sim card and tells Shi Jin to butt out and let him handle the internal North Korean business. Shi Jin knows who the mastermind is – the high ranking North Korean Minister Choi who is representing their side in the cross-border talks. He moved up his arrival in South Korea clearly to take Commander Ahn into custody.
Mo Yeon and Shi Jin find some alone time in the stairwell and she makes sure this area is not bugged. She asks if Commander Ahn told Shi Jin what he needed to know and Shi Jin tells Mo Yeon that Commander Ahn’s name is Ahn Jung Joon and he wants someone to remember his name.
Commander Ahn expertly escapes his hospital room after being brought back, breaking the window to climb down to another room. He’s stopped by Shi Jin holding a gun to his head. Commander Ahn tells Shi Jin to move as he has a mission to finish. Shi Jin knows Commander Ahn came to him because they have the same enemy – if North Korea betrayed Commander Ahn or vice-versa. Commander Ahn says a warrior never betrays his country.
We see Commander Ahn answering the phone of his head comrade and hearing Minister Choi on the other line asking who is alive? Commander Ahn asks if he’s the betrayer but Minister Choi has set him up already as the scapegoat. Commander Ahn begs Shi Jin to let him go, he has a mission he must finish and even if he dies he will die in North Korea. Shi Jin is also a warrior to his country and cannot betray it so he cannot let Commander Ahn go. He’s already paid him back for the lunch in Pyeongyang by the gunfight earlier today.
Commander Ahn is being transported in the back of a car and we see that Shi Jin handed him some snacks to eat before he was taken away, telling him it’s very tasty so don’t forget to eat it.
Mo Yeon is grilling Shi Jin on the broken windows and mess left behind in two hospital rooms and he blames it all on Commander Ahn. Shi Jin tries to act like his wound hurts but Mo Yeon has no sympathy for him. She asks who will be paying the repair fee – the friend or Shi Jin? He’s upset that the Managing Director is giving her a hard time but she says it’s his fault for getting admitted to the hospital with a North Korean.
Ji Soo is talking with Chi Hoon’s fiancée who is due next week. They are marveling over Mo Yeon’s handsome and dangerous soldier boyfriend. Dr. Kim arrives to be a bitch as usual and is mean to Ji Soo. Chi Hoon’s fiancée grabs Dr. Kim’s hair to stand up for Ji Soo, which is when her water breaks and she goes into labor.
The hospital Managing Director sends a minion to ask Mo Yeon to pay for the repairs since it’s caused by Shi Jin and she’s his guardian. Chi Hoon gets a call that his fiancée is in labor and rushes off. Mo Yeon also uses that excuse to run off.
Commander Ahn is brought to see Minister Choi and Commander Ahn reports on the status of his mission. Minister Choi wants the sim card and asks where it is? He figures the South Koreans don’t have it yet since it’s quiet from their side. He knows Commander Ahn has it in his body somewhere safe and plans to bury it with him then.
Minister Choi asks for any final wishes and Commander Ahn wants to be given a bowl of the famous Pyeongyang naengmyun when he’s dead. Commander Ahn is finished with his last words and will now finish his final mission, which is to execute North Korean betrayer Minister Choi. He rushes Minister Choi with a broken glass but is shot dead before he can kill him.
Minister Choi meets with the Blue House aide to deliver a list of demands before continuing with the talks to allow North and South Korean families to meet. Minister Choi wants to leave but the aide hands over a spreadsheet with the US dollars that Minister Choi has been buying up. He’s arrested by North Koreans as he leaves the meeting and is told that he will be taken back to North Korea along with Commander Ahn.
Turns out Shi Jin was the sharpshooter on the roof and when he hears the code word of the naengmyun then he shoots Commander Ahn who derides the skills of South Korean soldiers for poor shooting skills. Commander Ahn is arrested but pauses to eat the snack that Shi Jin gave him, thanking him for giving him the chance to return to North Korea as a warrior.
Shi Jin picks up the snack bag in the hotel room and inside is the sim card that Commander Ahn left behind after he ate the cookie inside.
The Blue House Aide is ready for his press conference discussing this new breakthrough with North Korean relations.
Shi Jin gets out of bed but his wingman Dae Young hears Mo Yeon coming and hurries him to lay back down. Mo Yeon walks into the hospital room and hears that Shi Jin is asleep.
After Mo Yeon leaves Shi Jin gets out of bed so that Dae Young can help him undress when Mo Yeon walks back in. Dae Young dives into bed while Shi Jin pretends to read a book. Mo Yeon thanks Dae Young for taking care of Shi Jin before shooting her boyfriend a piercing glare.
Shi Jin wants Dae Young to be a man and help him split the repair costs for the destruction but Dae Young tucks his hair behind his ears and says he’s not a man, lol.
Mo Yeon sees Myung Joo in the hospital lobby and the two girls sit down to chat. Mo Yeon sighs that her life is like a drama, laughing that Shi Jin is fine but will soon die in her hands. She’s shocked to hear from Myung Joo that she’s broken up with Dae Young. Myung Joo can’t help but ask if Dae Young is okay. She heads off and Mo Yeon sighs over Myung Joo’s tough road.
Myung Joo and Dae Young are awkwardly standing around Shi Jin’s bed and not talking to each other. She hands off a present before declaring that she’s leaving, Shi Jin teases Dae Young for acting all silly earlier but Myung Joo just leaves. Dae Young explains to Shi Jin that he is quitting the military and Shi Jin is upset to just hear this. Shi Jin tells Dae Young to go get Myung Joo since he’s staked his life on her, don’t just give let her go.
Dae Young walks through the hospital and sees Myung Joo’s shadow on the ground where she is standing around the corner. He stands there not going to talk to her. Dr. Song and Nurse Ha are observing this situation and discussing how they broke up with each other because they love each other too much. Nurse Ha provides a perfect analysis of the situation between Dae Young and Myung Joo.
Dr. Song invites Nurse Ha to go car shopping with her, reminding her that he wanted a new car after he got back to Korea because he doesn’t want to make all that money and die without being able to take it she he die abruptly. Nurse Ha picks out the car she likes and asks if she’s getting involved because she likes it. Nurse Ha answers yes for the first time.
Mo Yeon watches on the news coverage about the North and South Korean families meeting. Shi Jin is watching the same news report before turning it off when Mo Yeon comes in.
Mo Yeon is ready to discharge him but he wants to stay for another week because here he sees her every two hours. Mo Yeon asks if Shi Jin snuck out of the hospital already to go to the department store, and was it with his friend? If so why did he come back alone? Shi Jin says his path diverges with his friend but he’s doing this for the peace of the peninsula. Mo Yeon reminds him that he has people who love and care about him.
Shi Jin asks Mo Yeon to lay on the hospital bed with him but she chooses to sleep in the cot. She shares with Shi Jin news that Chi Hoon became a dad today to a little boy and Shi Jin offers his congratulations. He apologizes for worrying Mo Yeon and thanks her for saving his life. Mo Yeon wonders why they are constantly thanking each other every day, when normal couples only thank each other for big moments.
Mo Yeon says she knows now what type of peace Shi Jin is protecting, she saw it on the news. If he feels bad towards her then he needs to not ever show up before her all injured and bloody. Shi Jin promises to do that before asking her to finish watching their movie because the VIP hospital rooms have movies on demand.
Shi Jin and Mo Yeon sit down on his bed to watch the movie until they both fall asleep snuggling in bed. She voice overs that she still doesn’t know what the ending of that movie was – a happy ending or a sad ending?
Thoughts of Mine:
I thought Shi Jin’s injury at the end of episode 13 was a feint and actually would have preferred that to seeing that it was real injuries with such little consequences. Shi Jin is not a human target with unlimited regeneration abilities but my interest in the story line was hijacked trying to accept how he went from coding to sitting up seconds later. I know it’s just a drama but this was yet another too far out medical moments that interrupted the general flow of accepting the narrative’s sillier details. But once I recalibrated my expectation the rest of the episode flowed nicely albeit on the duller side than previous outings. I felt like both couples were just rehashing the same issues or standing in the same place moving their feet from side-to-side. When I should be getting even more swept up in the romance just in time for next week’s big finale, instead this penultimate week muffled the connection. There was no buildup unless the big movie date in the hospital room was just the foreshadowing that the movie they wanted to watch was a sad ending that would be mirrored for the OTP, for which I say bah humbug. Secret Garden, as flawed as it was, had the most amazing ending to episode 18 that kept viewers tensely on edge until the following week’s finale episodes, here there’s passivity when the feelings should be further drawn out.
The whole political conspiracy with the North Korean side came across as forcibly shoehorned in, there was no real reason for Commander Ahn to come down to South Korea to expose his side’s own misdeeds. He had a few encounters and some grudging mutual respect with Shi Jin, it’s hard to see where the level of trust and faith would come from that Shi Jin could help him. I liked seeing more of him but it wasn’t fleshed out well. He also doesn’t represent the types of challenges Shi Jin would encounter as a special forces soldier in South Korea, at most the two men are extreme types that live, breath, and die for their duty but most of the time Shi Jin is doing missions he seems equipped and capable of succeeding at. I felt bad for Mo Yeon when she saw her boyfriend laying there all bloodied but then Shi Jin really tried her patience with how everything he does continues to be dangerous and secretive. If she were a military doctor like Myung Joo then she would subscribe to the same service ethos but as a regular civilian it’s clearly jarring to force her to accept the most extreme version of a military man. At least she once again came around at the end, but one wonders if at a certain point she’ll be numb to Shi Jin’s job and with it goes her love for him.
The last two episodes have been interesting in ways both good and bad. I enjoyed the lighthearted moments in Seoul, with call outs to early drama scenes that show continuity, but the insane PPL which was overly annoying in the last episode and continued into this one has really intruded on the visual touches. I’m always noticing why a character is eating or drinking something, and when new technology is shown clearly it’s tied to new features on brand name products. It shouldn’t have to be this obtrusive, and makes me wish K-dramas had commercial times to sell so that the drama itself could avoid obvious insertions of everyday items reminding me to buy it. Dae Young and Myung Joo’s big breakup ended up feeling as pointless in this episode as it did when I watched it happened, I know they are getting back together and just wonder why it can’t have happened already so their upcoming screen time is just flirting happy scenes. Shi Jin and Mo Yeon have bigger issues to overcome still but he’s painted so larger than life by this point I don’t feel tied to Mo Yeon’s legitimate worries about his safety. I do still want to see happy endings for all but the return to Seoul sorta took the wind out of DotS, though a return to form for the final two episodes are still a high possibility.
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