Open Thread: Dr. Romantic Special Episode 21

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Aw. Watching this special episode was like spending an extra hour with a bunch of old friends. Doesn’t this picture make you smile? 🥰

Just a little bit of admin and logistics, before we begin:

1. I’ll be putting up a poll very soon (it’s here!), so that you can vote for the show(s) that you’d like to watch next, as a community. You can vote for up to 3 shows, and you can also revote, if you change your mind. Do take time to vote!

2. An announcement post will be up next week, on Wednesday, 19 May 2021, when we’ll find out what we’ll be watching together next.

3. Our next group watch will begin on Wednesday, 26 May 2021. Our Editor’s Choice group watch will begin on Saturday, 29 May 2021.

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this week’s special episode; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 21

For the record, I was a little bit confused at first, about why this episode is billed as a “prequel,” when it functions more like an epilogue. After all, our timeline carries on from exactly where we left off, at the end of episode 20. It was only later, that I realized that Show was slipping in a good number of character backstories, along the way. That’s when the “prequel” label finally started to make sense to me.

We start with three events this episode: Dong Joo getting a mystery letter from the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Nam receiving a letter from the Supreme Court, and Master Kim receiving a mystery visitor, who greets him familiarly, and looks pleased to see him. Ooh. All very interesting things.

I’m happy to see that Dr. Nam’s charges in his litigation case have finally been dismissed by the Supreme Court. Even though we haven’t spent much screen time at all exploring this arc, it’s clear that this is something that’s been weighing on him for a long time. I imagine that a big weight is lifted off his shoulders, with the Supreme Court ruling.

At the same time, I appreciate what he says later, to Head Nurse Oh, that because of the circumstances of the case, he can never truly feel happy about it. That’s how personally invested Dr. Nam is, in his patients. But I also appreciate Head Nurse Oh’s point, that it’s a relief, nonetheless.

It’s about this time that we discover, through Head Nurse Oh’s conversation with Seo Jung, that Master Kim’s first surgery at Doldam Hospital, had been on Seo Jung. How interesting, that it was Dr. Nam who had brought Master Kim to Doldam, and it was Master Kim, who had then brought Head Nurse Oh. (That little side story at the end of the episode, with them meeting at the police station, was pretty fun.)

I don’t know; I guess I’d just assumed that when Master Kim had found Seo Jung up in the mountains, he’d already been working at Doldam for some time. This definitely adds a bit of extra significance and color to everything.

Also, it’s a warm sort of thought, that these people hadn’t just happened to meet one another at Doldam; they had each come to Doldam, because someone had wanted to work with them; had wanted them there. I like that.

Given how Master Kim is generally so unflappable, it’s quite a different experience, to see him react to his guest, Lee Young Jo. Just from the expression on his face, it’s clear that seeing her brings up a lot of emotions, for him. That hint of tears in his eyes already tell us that whatever history he has with this woman, it’s affected him at a deep level.

As it turns out, Master Kim and Dr. Lee had been a campus couple, back when they were in medical school. As Director Song tells it, they’d been like mortal enemies, fighting all the time – until they fell madly in love. Heh. That’s cute. And it also sounds perfectly in character for Master Kim to fall for someone whom he could engage with and respect, on a professional level.

It’s a little sad to hear that they’d drifted apart when Master Kim had gone abroad to Cleveland, and Dr. Lee had gone to work for Doctors Without Borders.

There’s something very poignant about the way they are together now, as they spend some time hanging out in Master Kim’s office. There is a distinct sense of thoughtfulness and wistfulness, though not regret, in the air, as they reminisce about the past.

I actually really like this vibe between them. There’s an easy sort of honesty and serene acceptance, as they talk about the past and tease each other, and chuckle about the things that they’d used to fight over. The air between them is amicable, and yet, at the same time, it feels like there’s a sense of contentment as well, where neither of them is looking to rekindle their relationship; they both are glad enough, to have this opportunity to see each other.

We learn that the reason Dr. Lee is here at Doldam Hospital, is because she would like Master Kim to operate on a patient who has pheochromocytoma, combined with malignant hypertension. To complicate matters, the patient is HIV-positive.

I’m not surprised that Master Kim manages to get the go-ahead from President Yeo, and I’m also not surprised that there are those who are uncomfortable with the idea of the surgery as well. It’s interesting to me, that while In Beom is concerned about the risks involved in operating on a patient who is HIV-positive, Dong Joo is more concerned with whether Master Kim’s wrist is healed enough, to handle the surgery. Also, when Master Kim talks with In Beom and Dong Joo, asking if either of them would be willing to volunteer to be the first assistant on the surgery, it’s Dong Joo who agrees, while In Beom studiously avoids eye contact.

I feel like where In Beom is now, is pretty much where Dong Joo had been, when we’d first met him at the start of our story. But now, he’s matured and grown so much, that his current behavior is a stark contrast to someone else who’s modeling exactly what Dong Joo himself would have done in the past.

And, when In Beom asks Dong Joo if he isn’t afraid, I like how steady and clear-eyed Dong Joo is, as he answers that he isn’t.

It’s all a little melodramatic, the way Dr. Lee has to face everyone in the ER, and talk about how their prejudice is even scarier than the risk of operating on a patient who’s HIV-positive, but I’m glad that it gets things moving along – even as a gunshot patient arrives to add a little extra tension to everything.

As many of you have noted, part of the fun of watching a show like this, is seeing how competent everyone is, and we get treated to double the amount of surgery, with Dong Joo operating on the gunshot patient, with Dr. Lee assisting and guiding him, and Master Kim guiding In Beom through the surgery on the HIV-positive patient. Aw! I’m glad that In Beom overcomes his concerns, and steps in to help. Our boy’s a-growin’ too.

How nice for Dong Joo, that Dr. Lee notices his suturing skills, and compliments him, and how heartwarming, to hear Dong Joo credit Master Kim as the source. Aw. Every time I see evidence of a bond between Dong Joo and Master Kim, it makes my heart swell. 🥰

Ahhh. I love that proud smile that Master Kim smiles at Dong Joo, through his mask.

All this time, Dong Joo’s been secretive about the letter he received, and Seo Jung, having taken a quick peek at it when she saw it between the pages of a book, now also appears troubled by it.

Poor Seo Jung assumes that Dong Joo’s received an offer to work at the Mayo Clinic, and after thinking long and hard about things, decides that it’s the right thing to do, to let Dong Joo go – but not without going on a date with him first, so that they can take lots of pictures together.

A confused Dong Joo goes along with Seo Jung’s idea of a hospital date, and thanks to that, we get lots of nice photos of our cast together, like the one headlining this post. It’s a rather flimsy excuse, but the photos are so heartwarming, that I’m more than happy to let it slide, and just enjoy taking one last good look at our Doldam crew.

Everything turns out to be a false alarm, though, as the mysterious letter turns out to be a rejection letter; Dong Joo hadn’t gotten accepted after all. Seo Jung’s overjoyed at the news, to Dong Joo’s bemusement. Ha. I do like Dong Joo’s conviction, though, that even if he were to go anywhere, he wouldn’t leave alone. Aw. That’s nice. In lieu of an apology, Seo Jung finally tells Dong Joo, “I love you,” which is something that Dong Joo’s been dearly wanting to hear from her, for a long time. D’aw. Boy got his wish! Can’t blame him for trying to wheedle a repeat from Seo Jung, who demurs, which is how we leave them, bickering happily ever after, heh.

As the episode winds down, and I get ready to say goodbye to these characters, I find that I feel content. It’s good to know that they will continue to do good work together, keeping the Doldam tradition alive, and I do like the thought of Dong Joo and Seo Jung continuing to live, work, love and grow together, among the Doldam crew, for a long time to come. 🥰

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Jiyuu
Jiyuu
6 months ago

I just wanted to add that shows that start really well and end well–even if there are parts I wish were done slightly better in the middle–always leave warm, fuzzy feelings within me. Overall, I would say I enjoyed Han Suk-kyu’s role as Kim Sabu more than as the king in Tree With Deep Roots. And this is my kind of romance too, it’s not the core of the story but the parts we do see are done exceptionally right (especially the first episode).

BE
BE
6 months ago

Thanks KFG. I am so glad you liked Dr. Romantic.

Even though it is just a cameo, I think Kim Hye Soo being Dr. Lee is a bit of perfect casting. Given how many different shows deal with leads and their romantic partners as being considerably different in age, it is very nice to both know and feel Kim Sabu and Lee Young Jo as contemporaries with one another, that part of their relationship is shared histories that go back over a couple of decades to their college years, and that vibrationally, while both appear to have serious, high level competencies, they are equals in career and charisma, and they feel that way while also so seemingly individual and complementary, yin and yang. I love Doctor Lee’s projection of wistfulness for the time before her grueling and tragic experiences with Doctors Without Borders, her innocence, which she associates with their romantic days, her confusion with her life as it is now, and Dr. Kim’s confusion in seeing her, but lack of confusion with his own life, and in that sense his ability through small gestures to be strong and generous in response to her leaning into him now, without asking anything more than the immediate moment between them. It is so nice in this drama to really see such good actors get not only into their roles, but the collaboration with each other, both generous and tender, familiar and easy in that familiarity.

Just as I liked Dr. Kim’s final real glance was for Seo Jung in episode 20, it was so obvious in Seo Jung’s “date” with Dong Joo to let him go forward, that it was Seo Hyun Jin who charmed the ensemble and us from moment one all the way through the drama, who with her affectionate and charming style gave us the photo montage of all the actors in, credit the gosh darn show runners and their impeccable ability to deliver while telling the story (most of these wrap ups done in the final credits), a kind of family embrace of those of us watching.

Given all the melodramatic angst and fever pitch at times, episode 21 felt like a gift from the show to its audience.

Trent
6 months ago

For an extra little tag on episode, this ended up being surprisingly meaningful and watch-worthy. It’s really just an extra extension of time with all our by-now good friends at Doldam, without the season-long tension with Director Do and his Geosam crew hanging over our head.

Loved the concluding “how Master Kim and Head Nurse Oh met and came to Doldam” vignette; totally unsurprising to see them both getting feisty in the police station (Nurse Oh uncorking the rarely used but always intimidating full voice against some jerk who was apparently getting handsy in the ER) before settling in and getting all professional on some poor dude with a knife injury. Love it!

Thanks so much for your hard work on doing the thoughtful write-ups, KFG, and everyone who joined the fun and made it a meaningful group watch! Good times, good times…

j3ffc
j3ffc
6 months ago

Thanks so much, kfangurl, for hosting this wonderful group watch (People’s Choice Edition). Your commentary greatly enhanced the watch – as it always does – and I certainly benefited from the comments of the community as well.

I really liked the little “photo date” that Seo Jung brought Dong Joo on – it served as a fun theatre-style curtain call for our talented cast (I always like when TV or film bring in theatre traditions in a clever way). I look forward to seeing many of them again in other projects (or indeed, in my now-certain watch of Season 2….eventually).

See you all on the flip-flop!

manukajoe
6 months ago

It was nice to have this parting episode actually, something a bit more heartwarming after the conflict of the main series. Nice show! Thanks KFG and all!

phl1rxd
6 months ago

Thanks Fangurl for doing this for all of us!!