Yes show, a very good job indeed! Episodes 17 and 18 of Healer pretty much rocked. Team Feels approves!
If you missed last week’s commentary, visit Sarah’s!
As usual, spoilers aplenty, but surprisingly, we hold off on the cussing. That means there was nothing much to get mad about this week :). Enjoy!
Sarah: Oh. My. God. Y’all. Where was all of this last week?! So much things. First of all, no way related, but do you think he calls her Sunbae in bed? Also is Jung Hoo’s chin super sensitive to cold or something?
DDee: Wait, what’s wrong with his chin? What did I miss? And yes, I think they can’t wait to sunbae-hoobae themselves silly. Cos we now know that Jung Hoo is a TOTAL HORNDOG.
Vanessa: I think is Sarah is referring to the fact that Jung-hoo’s entire winter wardrobe seems to consist of high-collared sweaters/coats and scarves. Perhaps it is his Achilles heel – uh, chin. But yes! So much happened! There is so much to process! I haven’t been this happy since two weeks ago!
Sarah: Vanessa wins! Have you never noticed how he pulls his sweaters up over his chin constantly? It’s a thing. As far as the horndog thing, let me take a line from an old Pringles commercial: “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”
The “Blood On His Hands” Fakeout
Sarah: I mean, we all knew she wasn’t going to really think he was a murderer. But just that tiny shadow of a doubt was enough to keep me interested. Blind faith is boring. And this is gonna sound really weird, but when she threw up, I was like “Daaww.” Because Young Shin is such a badass one minute and so cute and small and vulnerable the next. Love it. When JH was washing his hands in the sink at the beginning, was anyone else thinking, “Out, damn spot!” I almost laughed. Which is bad to admit because you know he never wanted to have a dead man’s blood literally on his hands. He was so desperate to get it off. And then to wonder if Young Shin was scared of him now…sad face. But then of course she isn’t, and if someone would have called someone they could have got it all cleared up, no problem. I swear half the trouble in Kdramas happens because NO ONE PICKS UP THE PHONE.
DDee: Right? But I can understand this not being able to say what you want to say business, because their relationship is still so new. I loved that that they had that moment of uncertainty. Most often once K-drama couples get together, it’s all rainbows and unicorns and happily ever after. Here, there’s still so much more for them to iron out and explore and they get to talk it out and communicate just like real people. And I thought it was important for her to ask him if he did kill anyone, just to spit out the words and to hear the answer even if she knew what it was, and to know that he wanted her to ask and was ready to asnwer. Loved how they first walked at a distance and then gradually closed the gap between them too. It was truly a lovely moment.
Vanessa: Yes. Because it’s one thing if our OTP never picks up each other’s calls, and a different thing when they never talk or ask each other things that need to be asked. And to our benefit, Jung-hoo and Young-shin do talk, as fearful and as apprehensive as they may be. And I love that Jung-hoo was pretty much ready to tell Young-shin everything she wanted to hear, but he just needed her to make that first step and ask. Not because he is afraid of confrontation, but because he simply can’t think of a way to start this conversation on his own. He is ready and entirely willing to be honest for her sake. I also loved that Young-shin kicks things off by telling him all about her first meeting with her birth mother and the complicated feelings she was grappling with in that moment. It felt very give-and-take, open and generous.
Chae Young Shin and her Appa (or, The Real OTP)
Sarah: Now we can talk about the first time I died. Because I mean full on ugly weeping here. When Moon Ho and Young Shin showed up at the cafe and Young Shin told her dad what her real name was and that she had found her birth mother. The emotional death was REAL. Park Min Young can make me cry on demand, but even so. It was such a happy, heartbreaking scene, because she finally had some answers about her past. But at the same time, it was sad because her Daddy wanted to be happy for her, but the fact that she now knows about this other identity is almost like…it’s almost like you saw in his face that he was scared she wouldn’t need him anymore. And she was crying because she didn’t want him to feel that way and she didn’t want their relationship to change. And then she kept calling him “Appa”, almost like she was trying to keep their hearts connected, and they hugged…and have I mentioned that I died?
DDee: God, this OTP. THIS OTP. I was wondering how this scene would play out from last week and the show did not disappoint. You know all the men have failed Young Shin in one way or another, but not appa! Never appa! Also, since I can’t go one week without bitching about Moon Ho, how typical of him to push Young Shin into telling her dad because it was convenient for him. The nerve of this guy, seriously.
Vanessa: Yeah, not cool Moon-ho. Although I appreciate that his pushiness did result in Young-shin opening up to Dad, for two important reasons – Dad deserves to know, and Young-shin needs his emotional support right now. I love Jung-hoo, but at this point there is nobody on this earth I trust more to be 100% on Young-shin’s side than Appa himself.
Oh Ji Ahn and her Omma:
Sarah: Super death number 2. I mean can we…can someone else…Oh God. Ok so my girl walked in the room and she was already crying, because all the cookies were laid out for her birthday. What am I supposed to do with that? And she cried all the way through the initial introduction, into Myung Hee’s room, and then Myung Hee gets all the things because she answered the one question Young Shin always wanted to know. Myung Hee told her that she was never thrown away, that she was always wanted. And she didn’t even know what she was giving Young Shin. Can I get a Hallelujah for the flashbacks this week?! And to have Myung Hee get overcome again and to have Young Shin hold her, and that look on her face of sadness and love and fear all mixed together. I mean…dangit. And then when Young Shin and Appa unwrapped the birthday cookie, just the two of them, and Appa was telling her what a good cookie her mother must be, and then Young Shin fed him the first bite of the cookie…I literally CANNOT. So many tears.
Vanessa: No but how freaking beautiful is it that Young-shin saves that cookie, her first taste of her biological mom’s cooking in over 20 years, to share with her adoptive father (again with the food and the feels!). It’s a demonstration of love, her way of letting her dad be sure that he is very much included in this part of her life, and that she wants him to know and share these things about her birth mother.
My love for Myung-hee grows every week, you guys. There’s something about her wisdom and warmth and strength that just makes my heart swell, even when she isn’t saying anything. The part where I died was when Myung-hee offers one hand to Young-shin and she takes it with both her hands just like Jung-hoo did the first time he met Myung-hee. Just. Myung-hee and her hands and these children, god.
And that affirmation for Young-shin! That she wasn’t abandoned, that she doesn’t have to fear being left behind or tossed aside, that she doesn’t have to try so hard suppress her nature to please people because she’s worth it, she’s been worth it all along. And it really harks back to what Ddee pointed out re: that scene in an earlier episode, where she’s angry at Moon-ho for like 15 minutes and then goes back to him, all smiles and coffee and apologies. She didn’t come back because she had really processed all her anger and betrayal, she came back because she was afraid of losing Moon-ho (and Jung-hoo) by pushing them away with her anger, no matter how justified her reaction would be.
DDee: Yeah, that was such a key moment for Young Shin. I think this whole thing about her not speaking, and then suppressing her anger in fear, it’s something a lot of women can relate to. It just felt like a little moment of triumph for her. Sniffles. Oh gosh, and Myung Hee! She was so eager to tell her story to Young Shin too, it was written all over her face, and the way she didn’t hesitate to press that alarm into Young Shin’s hands. She just had no fear. GAHD. Courage, it’s in their blood I tell you.
And don’t get me started on that damn cookie. I mean, we’ve already established that this show has a thing for feeding, and though Young Shin sharing her cookie with appa was the simplest meal, it was the most deeply felt. Just the way they were so gentle, treating her mum’s humble cookie like it was made with gold, and then feeding it to each other and sharing it with so much happiness. So beautiful. Contrast that to the dinner Myung Hee has with Moon Shit. An elaborate spread but cold as ice, and with Ji Ahn’s cookies at the side, made earlier with all the love that has now left the building. For a moment there I thought someone was not going to make it out of there alive.
Sarah: THANK YOU. I was sure Moon Shik was dead. And I was so ready. I mean the way they kept focusing on the food, and Myung Hee not eating the food, and then the whole thing with the “new soup recipe”. And then that whole scene with him eating the cookies. The only thing I can figure is she’s poisoning him slowly over time.
DDee: Gosh, poison! I loikes it–it’s passive aggressive but deadly, and it’s a practical option for her. But that would make her a murderer. Will the show go there? I’m on pins and needles to see how Myung Hee will find out the truth (will it be Young Shin? Or Moon Ho? Moon Ho has to be the one, right?) and how she will burn the house of Moon Shit down, because she has to be the one to take him down, poison or not.
Vanessa: I was so struck by Myung-hee thanking Young-shin for asking the question that nobody else had bothered asking her for 20 years. It ties in so much with the themes of both speaking the truth and seeking the truth, and of revealing marginalized narratives. Imagine how Myung-hee must have been perceived by society for so long – this disabled, chronically ill, fragile, motherly woman. Kim Moon-shik’s pretty, sick wife. What would she know. What stories could she tell that would be worth anybody’s time. And this tiny, persistent, wonderful reporter girl walks into her house and asks her the questions nobody else did, validated her story and her life in ways nobody had offered to before. And Reporter Chae Young-shin will go forth speaking Choi Myung-hee’s truth, in the same way that Choi Myung-hee told the nation’s stories on pirate broadcast, two decades ago. How proud is she going to be, knowing that this young woman is her own flesh and blood. Oh god.
And yes, I really do think it has to be Moon-ho that breaks the news to Myung-hee – this is all on him, it really is. Hiding this truth from his noona really seems to the bulk of the guilt he carries, and he needs to come clean with her if he wants to fully redeem himself.
The Confession Tape Flashbacks:
Vanessa: Okay, let’s do this. First of all, we find out that not only was Jung-hoo’s dad not a killer, he wasn’t even a murder suspect at all, but a witness. Nice one, show. Second of all, we get confirmation that the Elder is not an independent, singular figure of malevolence, but part of a much larger, much more intricate and shadowy system of institutionalized corruption. And that these people hide behind the benevolent moniker of “Farmers” – cultivators, guardians and harvesters of money, power, and status.
The flashbacks this week were A+ (and Young-shin’s dad is so so pretty, please give him his own drama soon).
Sarah: I second that. And by “his own drama” I do NOT mean second lead. Also, I loved these flashbacks, because for the first time the tragic dads felt like real people rather than just legends. And their scenes together just made me feel how devoted they were to each other, even in such a short timespan. And I really did fall in love with Young Shin’s biological father in these scenes. Call it a weakness for tragic good guys. When his best friend was killed, he didn’t run and hide or dissolve in grief, he kicked into journo mode and gathered the evidence to bring the killers to justice. He was a true hero. No wonder Young Shin is so awesome.
Vanessa: My only major gripe is that both dads decide to have a loud argument in full view of the bad guys they’re supposed to be stalking, but I’ll let that slide, dads.
We get another taste of how Moon-shik is the stoic odd one out among his friends , as we watch Young-shin’s dad and Jung-hoo’s dad banter and fool around in the car (also what a nice touch it is to have Jung-hoo be the cameraman to Young-shin’s reporter, just like their fathers before them). You really get the sense that despite however loyal or well-intentioned Moon-shik might be, he only goes along with this stuff because they are his friends, and not because of any higher principle or ideal that he himself subscribes to. Is this (coupled with his unrequited devotion to Myung-hee) what makes him so much more vulnerable to the Elder’s persuasive powers?
We see young Moon-shik giving his false testimony three times. Three times, he tells the police that his friends killed each other over greed for money. The first time, he is bloody, shaking, visibly traumatized. The next time we see him, he is glazed over, monotonous, unfeeling. The third time, we get to see him as a sort of prototype Kim Moon-shik of the present – hair slicked back, clean, glib, confident. A growing master in the art of flipping the script and manipulating the narrative, as we discuss further down in the post. Present Moon-shik seems thoroughly unperturbed by all his own sins. Even the traces of guilt he seemed to feel in the earlier parts of the show (i.e being haunted by the ghostly visions of his dead best friends) don’t seem to bother him anymore. He really is too far gone by this point.
Sarah: I’m wondering if he really is, though. Not that he’s redeemable, but this show is so much about people bottling up their emotions and bad experiences. Not only the way Young Shin has forced down her traumas, but Myung Hee medicating away her memories, Ahjumma locking herself away from human contact, even Moon Ho with his asshole grin poker face. I think Moon Shik did shellac over his grief about his friends’ deaths, and then his guilt about incriminating his best friends, all to save Myung Hee. But as with all powerful emotions, I think his guilt (if not his grief) will be his undoing in the end. I don’t think he was ever a sociopath, he just went way too far down the path that Moon Ho started on.
Healer vs. Elder:
DDee: Ok, someone tell me that that wasn’t the oddest resolution to a confrontation with a Big Bad in Kdrama ever. He falls asleep? And then…snuggly bedtime stories? Guys, honestly. But I loved that this was such a smart, well-executed set-up, bolstered by Jung Hoo’s willingness to check with Young Shin and asked her what she thought (Teamwork! Partnership!), before both zoomed off to carry it out to the very end (while Moon Ho waffles, of course). And even if sleepytimes zapped the tension out of that whole set-up, I really really loved that Young Shin was the one to tell fill in the gaps of their father’s story, that she was the one with that knowledge and therefore, power this time. So I give props despite this being pretty awkwardly timed and inappropriately sandwiched in there.
Vanessa: As hilarious as it was to hear Jung-hoo call the Elder “Grandpa” (the boy is so petty, I love him), and as triumphant as it was to watch Someday News’ pretty elaborately planned live broadcast be successfully pulled off, it really did feel like a quite oddly-timed and placed sequence. Like, cuddles? Okay this is cute but you are in the Elder’s house? Evil Headquarters Inc.? Shouldn’t the priority be to leave? And maybe snuggle on the bus or something? Also the Elder makes you pass out with magic incense and then just bails on you? It was pretty anticlimactic, you guys. The final showdown really needs to be epic to make up for this. That being said, the actual conversation between Young-shin and Jung-hoo was lovely and natural, and as Ddee says, for once it’s Young-shin divulging the information and telling the stories. The teamwork was also top-notch this episode. I loved, loved that Jung-hoo kept informing Young-shin about what was happening and what she needed to do, and making sure she was safe and comfortable and 100% down with all his plans.
Bong Sookie Lives!!!
Vanessa: We mourned for Bong sookie too soon! What delights me the most is being able to see how much of Bong sookie’s seemingly put-on levels of twitchiness and stammering is actually Jung-hoo being thoroughly nonplussed by “regular” human/boyfriend behaviour, which is hilariously outlined by Young-shin – you say hello to your girlfriend’s dad, you use doors to walk in and out of rooms, you wake up in the morning and go to work.
DDee: Bong Sookie came back! And I could hear the internet light up with a chorus of Bong Sookie fangirls squealing in delight the moment he walked back into the office, myself included. I was so happy! And Young Shin was too! She’s thrilled to be sunbae again! And like, team work ya’ll, real teamwork. Wheee! And the beat-down by her two dads was priceless. I was very hard on Jung Hoo last week, but seeing him getting his ass kicked was all I needed. His pathetic face, all that squirming, how he was all gung-ho and then chickened out when he got cornered, LOVED EVERY SECOND. And she eats ice-cream like oh well, might as well settle in and watch the show LOL. I’d like to think that deep down she was rubbing her hands with glee, just like I was.
Sarah: I knew Bong Sookie wasn’t all an act! I just knew it. Jung Hoo sexy kick ass Healer guy is great, but I loved seeing all that bravado fall away from him for a minute because he had to go through a rite of passage in any man’s life: Meeting the Girlfriend’s Dad. Or dads plural in this case. I loved Appa and Barista playing Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and when Barista up and went, “So how far have you gone?” I lost it. And Bong Sookie tried to turn to the bookshelf for help again…but alas. I loved this scene for Young Shin’s sake too, because much as she loves Healer Boyfriend, we all know she was missing her awkward, sweet, bumbling best friend. And to see him suffer a little bit at the hands of the men who she turned to when he broke her heart WHILE eating ice cream…sweet revenge.
DDee: OMG Sarah, SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH HER BEST FRIEND. Excuse me, I just…*flail* I love it when that happens! LOVE IT TO DEATH.
Vanessa: There’s a lot of humour in Jung-hoo’s (re)introduction to society, but such an undercurrent of sadness as well. Young-shin’s narration about her strange friend and his desire to become a part of the normal world sort of carried echoes of Jung-hoo’s favourite leopard documentary, right down to her description of sleepy big cats. Because this is the domestication of Seo Jung-hoo, feral child of the night. He barely functions in daylight. He’s baffled, even somewhat offended, at the idea of being paid monthly salary. Young-shin describes him as a”thirteen year old”, because he might as well have the social graces and emotional intelligence of a child. The scene where he’s alone in the staff lounge with Someday News’ ex-boss (?) would have gone down very differently if Jung-hoo were someone with ordinary socializing skills – there would have been banter, some words of comfort or encouragement, mutual whining. But Jung-hoo just stares and manages a barely formed “Are you okay?”. As Healer-as-Park-Bong-Soo he never had to deal with his colleagues on a personal level. Now he is surrounded by them and all their affection and irritation and human beingness. It’s going to take a while to get used to people as people, and not as targets or clients.
DDee: He’s trying so hard guys, so hard. He has such a long way to go, but with Young Shin’s help, he’s gonna make it. I loved how he learns how hard it is to earn honest cash too. If that’s not a introduction to the real world, I don’t know what is. And I noticed how he tried to weasel his way back in to doing work for ahjumma but she’s not having it and asked him to return the earpiece.
The Moon Shik Script Flip:
Vanessa: Hoooly shit this guy. This guy. I’m all the more impressed and terrified by him because, technically, nothing he said during that live news broadcast was an actual lie (well okay, not that part about having lovingly kept the pirate radio cassette tapes for 20 years). Just the other week we were talking about how the Moon brothers are both extremely adept at reframing existing truths to their advantage, but Kim Moon-shik essentially gave us a masterclass in the art of script-flipping. It was infuriating to watch him sit there and go on about the healing powers of media and free speech while he is using those very things as tools to twist and manipulate the established narrative in a way that is guaranteed to make him leave that broadcasting station smelling of roses.
DDee: Well played Moon Shit, well played. I salute him. Way to turn the tables on Team Healer. I was disappointed when the team didn’t go ahead with their guerilla broadcast but then again, what they were planning to counter attack with was probably swiped by Moon Shit. Also, having a top-class shit-eating grin runs in the family!
Sarah: Ok, this is gonna sound crazy, but I was kind of rooting for Moon Shik in this scene a little bit. Only because like you all have said, his creative retelling of the narrative was top-class. He basically back-handed all of us. But also because Moon Ho has been swaggering around like he’s already won the war, when in actual fact he’s up against someone much more adept than himself. And I think until this moment Moon Ho wasn’t taking his brother seriously. It was striking to see all of the denial and arrogance fall from Moon Ho’s face as he finally realized he might be out-gunned.
Moon-Napped (or, Secretary Oh-No-He-Didn’t!):
Vanessa: Secretary Oh and his smug little lizard face, I can’t with him. I already wanted to yell at Jung-hoo about whether it really was the best idea in the world to leave Young-shin alone at the scene of the Moon-napping (heh), but I can’t deny it was a great set-up and a terrific place to leave us hanging before the final two episodes.
And you guys know I’ve been pitching ideas for Moon-ho’s tragic sacrificial death since pretty much day one, but there was an extra layer of Doom that seemed to hang around the guy in these two episodes, and it was ironic because this was also the week where we really get to see him be alive for once. There was passion, there was fury, there was – uncharacteristically – shit being initiated and executed well (for the most part). No lukewarm Kim Moon-ho here – it’s like the guy finally lit a fire under his own ass. But a lot of the things he did this week felt almost final, or maybe that’s just me and my Moon-ho-Must-Die-For-Symbolic-and-Narrative-Reasons tinted glasses. I have a lot of stories to tell you, come visit me with beer, he says. It’s okay if you have leave me for Young-shin’s sake, she’s always the priority, he says.
The thing with Moon-ho is that he’s always been so ambiguous as a character and as a symbol that it’s hard to say which way his fate might swing right now. Him dying makes just as much sense as him surviving the show. He’s not necessarily a part of the older generation that needs to make way for change and growth, but can he truly integrate himself into the new generation? He’s definitely not our villain, but he’s not the stuff of heroes either. He’s inspiring and infuriating. He will atone for his sin, it’s just a question of whether it will end with cold beers and a new family of baby bears to keep him company, or you know. Death. Or maybe there’s a third outcome where he does what he threatens to do in the pilot and actually jets off to Alaska when all this is over.
DDee: Yes as Moon Ho tells Min Jae (who seems to pop up at crucial moments in his arc) he’s found a reason to wake up in the morning. I’ve never been sympathetic towards Moon Ho as you well know, and I’ve been in the Moon-Ho-Must-Die camp too for purely selfish reasons. I don’t think he has to die, and I don’t want him to, but there has to be a reckoning for him and for Moon Shit. And it better be doggone epic and tragic, just how I like ‘em.
Sarah: I have nothing of importance to add here. Except to say that I love how Young Shin’s big kidnapping moment happens in front of an elevator. Coincidence? I think not.
Help I Can’t Think of a Witty Title for this Bit
Vanessa: Minion is back! And being groomed as the next Healer! I still think she has been sadly underused throughout the show’s run, and I’m not going to be happy until she gets to kick some major ass in the finale and then Jung-hoo apologizes to her on his knees.
I was also really glad to see Min-jae return (with new hair!), but as Ddee pointed out earlier, she only seems to show up during key moments of Moon-ho’s arc to drop some insightful comment or two about his personality, or be a sounding board for his angst issues, and then she leaves. To her credit though, the actress has been doing a great job with what little she has to work with. I very much buy that she still loves and deeply cares for this man. It’s just a little unfortunate that so much of her own character revolves around her relevance to him.
And as long as we’re bringing back female characters here, I would really love to see Jung-hoo’s mom at least one more time before the show wraps up. She suffered at the hands of the Elder as well, she lost her husband and her son and any chance of a normal life with them. She has moved on in some ways, of course, but mom really needs some closure and healing of her own, too.
DDee: EVERYTHING YOU SAID. And since you brought up Jung Hoo’s mum, here’s my wish-list for the last episodes, aside from tying up of the major plot points i.e. Myung Hee and Young Shin’s reunion, the final flashback of Ji Ahn’s disappearance, glorious epic/tragic showdown/reckoning etc:
- Jung Hoo’s mum meets Young Shin
- Jung Hoo meets his other mum, ahjumma who gives Young Shin something she knitted for her (the pink beanie!), and Jung Hoo makes a big stink cos he’s jelly
- Young Shin’s mum meets Young Shin’s two dads
- Everyone meets everyone and they feast
- Minion training session with Jung Hoo which will recall his training with Teacher
- Jung Hoo tells Young Shin about his island and they decide to go there to spread Teacher’s ashes. Then Jung Hoo offers to take her bikini shopping, eyebrows wiggling
- Min Jae takes over Someday News
- Ex con tries to get with ahjumma. Young Shin will matchmake
Sarah: All the things above. Yes. I honestly think that the women are gonna knock it out of the park in the final episodes. And I think after Myung Hee has exacted her revenge, everyone should get together and feast, like DDee said. They can have Ahjumma’s kimbap and Young Shin and JH’s mom can make potatoes and then they can have Myung Hee’s cookies for dessert. OH MY DAMN. What if everyone met and then down the road when Moon Shik is in prison (or deceased) and Myung Hee is divorced, Myung Hee and Appa fall in love? IT MUST BE. She can make cookies for the coffee shop! Help, I’m dead.
The only other thing is, I need Ahjumma and Jung Hoo to awkward hug it out. I NEED IT.
DDee: I’m so glad this week’s episodes were in fine form because the feels are back, and it’s exactly how I wanted to enter the homestretch! BRING IT!
Vanessa: You guys, I am so happy with this week’s episodes. Last week was a bummer in so many ways, and I must admit my interest in the show as a whole was flagging. But this week marked a return to everything that had first charmed me about Healer – the humour, the OTP cuteness, the families, the flashbacks, the deft pacing, the tension and expertly-timed reveals. All our characters are now on the same page and on equal footing (except Myung-hee, someone talk to her quick!) which means I am free to enjoy Team Healer shenanigans to my heart’s content without worrying about which characters are being thrown under the bus or kept in the dark. Finale week, here we come!
Sarah: Agreed. I especially enjoy the fact that whereas in the beginning Healer was all OTP all the time, we have reached a point where so many of our ensemble characters are full fleshed-out human beings. I was worried early on that the charm of the romance would wear off, and we’d be slogging through the final episodes. Not so! I’m super excited for a satisfying conclusion. Let’s hope Song Ji Na delivers.