After two seasons of gentle storytelling, Hospital Playlist has come to an end. The second season wrapped up exactly one week ago today with no plans to return for a third season. While the first half of the second season brought with it some new developments, the latter half of the season slowly but surely resolves all loose threads. Indeed, Hospital Playlist 2 captivates viewers until the very end with its steady, gentle storytelling and characters.
For those who need a refresher, the drama is centred around five friends and doctors at Yulje Medical Centre: Lee Ik-jun, (Jo Jung-suk) a professor of general surgery; Chae Song-hwa (Jeon Mi-do) a professor of neurosurgery; Ahn Jeong-won (Yoo Yeon-suk) a pediatrics professor; Kim Jun-wan (Jung Kyung-ho) a cardiothoracic professor; and Yang Seok-hyung (Kim Dae-myung) a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Aside from the five friends, there is a wide range of charming characters ranging from love interests to their families.
This review contains spoilers.
The last half of Hospital Playlist 2 provides a satisfying conclusion. Loose threads from the first half of season two and even season one are resolved; Do Jae-hak (Jung Moon-sung), who lost money through a scam in the first season, finds the scammer and gets his money back. The same happy ending extends to patients. Hwang Du-na (Park Se-jin), a student who had to undergo extensive physical therapy after a motorcycle accident, is finally discharged from the hospital. Slowly but surely, the season resolves any remaining questions for the characters, and a third season seems to be out of the picture.
Of course, some of the biggest questions for Hospital Playlist 2 were in regards to the various love lines. One of the most anticipated pairings of the series, Ik-jun and Song-hwa, do finally end up together. While the first season of the show proved Ik-jun’s feelings for Song-hwa in the present and the past, the second season explores more of Song-hwa’s perspective as she realizes her feelings for him. The flashbacks to when the two became friends show her side of the story, and her crush on him too.
Following their breakup, Jun-wan and Ik-sun (Kwak Sun-young) are also reunited. Their story is probably the one with the most angst and misunderstanding, but this drama is all about happy endings. With a final unification that is a nod to their early days of dating, they also (re)find love.
Another long-awaited couple is Chu Min-ha (Ahn Eun-jin) and Seok-hyung. A classic extrovert-introvert pairing, Min-ha’s straightforward confession of her feelings in season one is paralleled by Seok-hyung’s subtle hints in this season. Indeed, he eats two lunches just to spend some more time with her. Though Min-ha’s eventual meeting with his overbearing mom was teased with their clash at the hospital, the two women never meet again. Perhaps the scene was left for a potential season three that is not happening, but leaving the scene deliberately out follows the show’s pattern of not dissecting every moment of all the characters’ lives.
In typical Hospital Playlist style, there are no grand and extravagant confessions or proposals. The drama also does not waste time showcasing each step of the couples getting together either; their respective romances are just one aspect of their busy lives. By the end of the series, however, not one of the five leads are single. Everyone is happily coupled up, with finding love ticked off the checklist as we bid adieu to the five friends.
Once again, the latter half of season two shows the strength in consistency. Heading into the last six episodes of season two, most viewers should have been familiar with the episode formats. A typical episode included a quick montage of the five leads doing their jobs, a troublesome patient or one in critical condition, band practice, and a relatively happy ending for all those involved. For example, dramatic tragedies for the main cast are generally avoided; despite a scare, Jeong Ro-sa (Kim Hae-sook), Jeong-won’s mom, does not have Alzheimer’s after all. Though Ik-jun is hurt in the head after he is attacked, he suffers no long term effects and is quickly back on his feet. Despite the episode format being repetitive, there is comfort in the familiar and perhaps more so during a time when real life is filled with the unexpected and unfamiliar. With Hospital Playlist, viewers can tune in once a week to see good people be funny, hangout with each other, and do good deeds.
Of course, Hospital Playlist does mix things up in minor doses. In one episode, Ro-sa, fills in on the keyboard, fulfilling her own longtime wish and providing a small but heartfelt change from the usual band scenes. In another, the leads wear all-black and leather outfits at Ik-jun’s insistence. Despite small switchups, for the most part the episodes remain predictable yet comforting in their consistency.
Despite the predictable format, Hospital Playlist is never sloppy and pays an excruciating amount of attention to detail until the very end. One prime example is the medical detail present. Though any show set at a hospital is bound to contain some medical jargon, there are always episodes that display the hospital crew putting in their time and work, and generally taking their jobs very seriously. An important part of the show’s premise is the fact that they are great people and great doctors, and the writing ensures that the five doctors are ones that are at the top of their games.
The attention to detail also extends past their hospital duties. One example is when Jun-wan and Seok-hyung end up at the bed-and-breakfast run by Min-ha’s family. Her mom is wearing green eyeshadow, a flashback to season one and Min-ha’s own questionable makeup styles. Another is the oily hair that many of the residents and interns sport; it’s a testament to their hectic schedules.
With such a big group of characters, it is impossible to dive into all aspects of all of their lives. However, the storylines and moments they do choose to tell are done with an extraordinary amount of attention. From sound effects, like Min-ha’s choo-choo train sound, to inside jokes that have accrued over two seasons, the drama embraces its consistent format and delivers it with care.
Hospital Playlist 2’s gentle storytelling and charming characters contributed greatly to its popular two-season run. As expected, it bids a final goodbye with a happy ending for all of its large cast members. From season one to season two, Hospital Playlist was no doubt a comfort to many for the past two years.