I finally caught up with Doctor Stranger, just as the answers to the myriad mysteries of the drama begin unfolding. This run of episodes oddly split my opinion: I enjoyed episodes 12-13 perhaps the most of the series, while 15-16 are my least favorite and signal the drama’s falling quality, which is surprisingly mirrored in the ratings.
The surgery competition has overstayed its welcome by about 4-8 episodes. I was relieved when the first surgery decided the winner, the second dragged but was supposed to end the competition, and now even the third bogus surgery reveals no winner in episode 16 of a 20 episode drama with other plot lines right and left. Episode 12 looked very promising, and I anticipated the two teams joining forces to take down the corruption of the hospital; instead, Jae-joon has sunk further into the manipulations of Chairman Oh and Prime Minister Jang.
But despite the competitive setting, the artificial rivalry between Jae-joon and Hoon still has yet to take off. Hoon bears no animosity towards Jae-joon, while Jae-joon pathologically hates and repeatedly sabotages Hoon due to a freaking misunderstanding over their fathers’ pasts. Simple misunderstandings that could be easily cleared up by 30 seconds of dialogue are my least favorite plot convention and this one looks like it’s here to stay.
I dislike the current subplots, but my least favorite is the “dumb wife” of the coma patient who trusts a random non-doctor milling around the hospital (Soo-hyun’s evil half-brother) over the expert opinions of multiple quality doctors when her husband’s life is in danger. I found myself extremely angry at the writers for creating this obvious one-sided plot device of a “stupid” and irrationally emotional female character just for two episodes, when the previous patient (the 2nd surgical competition)’s family, the suing father and son, received screentime, development, and empathy despite their similarly short episodic run. Hoon’s mother is also cheated of a proper story and continues to source Hoon’s “manpain” when I expect she could have an extremely interesting story of her own. Nurse Min is a more stable, wholesome character but it would be nice if her character’s relevance to the plot did not depend solely on her husband. I can dream.
In other news, it looks like “Quack” and “Water Bottle” may have their romantic ending after all. After all my downhearted predictions based on Hoon lacking openly expressed feelings for Soohyun, the writers shiptease us: Hoon shows the first sign of potentially reciprocating some of Soohyun’s feelings in episodes 13-14. The most obvious indications, all of which I heavily enjoyed, are: After she sarcastically tells him that he doesn’t look like a real doctor because he has he has a floppy mop of hair, he immediately gets a haircut for a clean-cut look; he calls her a doctor for the first time, and not a quack; when he is banned YET AGAIN from the hospital, he gives his coat to Soo-hyun, not Seung-hee; finally, when drunk he confesses that Soo-hyun pleasantly reminds him of Jae-hee, that she is cute, and that he actually wishes Jae-hee could be more like Soo-hyun as a doctor. Soo-hyun is the only doctor to defend Hoon when he is under trial, while Jae-hee unfortunately sits there like a log. Hoon lies to his girlfriend about spending time with Soo-hyun.
Wow! That is sure a lot of shiptease, but it fulfills its job increasing my hope that there could be a future for my favorite, Soo-hyun–especially because Jae-joon turns slimier every minute. Though Soo-hyun is rejected, Seung-hee and Hoon’s relationship has serious problems and an upset could occur. The writers might make this possible by killing off either Seung-hee (more likely, since she is in direct danger) or Jae-joon (as part of his half-assed redemption arc), in order to “free up” Hoon and Soo-hyun, but this easy copout would disappoint me. However, unless one character dies, I think the endgame couples are Hoon/Seung-hee and Soo-hyun/Jae-hee, because Seung-hee and Jae-hee has no romantic interests in other characters, which would prevent them from pairing off.
Jae-joon reigns unopposed as worst potential boyfriend material of the year (with Doctor Kim Chi-gyu coming in at a close second), so it will infuriate me if he ends up with Soo-hyun. I’m confused why his villainous arc is ongoing when there’s a surplus of villains. I have created a helpful bullet-point list to express my frustration and explain why he is the worst ever:
- He is utterly controlling, selfish, vindictive, and has few moral standards, willing to kill patients because he thinks it will help him manipulate Soo-hyun into loving him or at least force her to be with him.
- He tries to tell Soo-hyun how she feels, ignoring her and not listening. He tells her that she “can’t like Hoon” as if he gets to dictate her feelings. His immaturity belongs in the trash, since he effectively states in multiple episodes, “Don’t like him. You should like me, but I’m not going to be nice to you or show I care for you or anyone else. I’m going to kill your patient, too.”
- He barges into Soo-hyun’s house without invitation when she is upset and tells her “Don’t be alone, what if you faint” and “No, you have to come here.” Jae-joon, I hate to tell you this but women (who are people, by the way) do not faint willy-nilly. You would think he would know this since he is a DOCTOR.
- He conspires with her father to control Soo-hyun; they slyly make plans for her future as if she is a nice rug they are thinking of purchasing. He literally says, “I won’t let Soo-hyun go anywhere… I will take Soo-hyun.”
- After a brief moral turnaround in episode 12 based on personally identifying with a patient, he bounces right back to literally killing patients because he wants Hoon to lose the competition. Even though he stupidly thinks Hoon’s father betrayed his family, this is no reason to sacrifice patients at his nepotistic alter–Since his father was the victim of medical malpractice, you would think that he would reconsider inflicting multiple unnecessary fatal wounds on other families?
As you can tell, I really don’t like Jae-joon.
I’m still disappointed that Seung-hee is straightforwardly Jae-hee, because I persisted in thinking a person in disguise would explain her robotic acting; Jae-hee truly lost personality after the first episode. My thought process was that though Hoon recognized her heartbeat, this is a drama focused on heart transplants… and we still don’t know how Jae-hee morphed from eyewitnessed dead in North Korea to spy in South Korea. But an eleventh hour reveal is impossible now.
Sensibility is admittedly not Doctor Stranger‘s strong point, but the show has ceased to give the feeling that it has a definite will and direction, besides the romantic subplots. I will stick with this drama until the end for the “Quack,” but it has traveled far downhill in the last two episodes.
(images via SBS)