"Doctor Stranger" delivers some answers amongst a whole set of new questions. It's delving deeper into the political conspiracies while the characters become more entrenched in their issues. Jae-joon's tragic past is highlighted and Park Hae-jin is a standout as he brings Jae-joon's tortured soul to life.
After Hoon wins the morally dubious surgical competition, the fallout of the losing wrecks havoc on several relationships. Director Moon is furious with Jae-joon's loss, and how Jae-joon loses his vicious temper at Soo-hyeon. Moon is a curious character who loves his daughter, and acts selfishly despite that love. He would be a more potent character if he didn't wield his power as an all-kill weapon, blindly ignoring morality, his family and the needs of his hospital.
Along similar lines lies Prime Minister Jang, but he is far more fascinating. He is willing to sacrifice lives to achieve his goals. Chun Ho-jin plays him in an understated way, making Jang eerily calm in the face of severe troubles. While the villainous character is intriguing, his reasoning for working with North Korea remains a mystery that leaves the plot hanging. How does his heart surgery, the heart surgeon, and North and South relations tie together? After ten episodes, there is no answer and although his health is supposedly deteriorating, he shows no signs of it nor any signs of caring about who performs his surgery or when that person will perform it. In a peculiar way, it fits into his flippant attitude towards life. He is as uncaring about his life as he is about the lives of others.
Then there is Jae-hee, Hoon's lost love who seems to genuinely love him, but shows that love in a very dubious way. So dubious that she deceives him, participates in kidnapping him, and manipulating him with the knowledge of his love for her. She did give him the chance to hear her out, but he didn't care. It is part of his love for her, constant, true, and going beyond her flaws. It also makes for relationship tensions down the line when he does discover these truths. But what this duplicitous behavior of Jae-hee's does do is gives actress Jin Se-yeon a lot more material to work with. The character is much more fleshed out now.
The second romantic couple, Jae-joon and Soo-hyeon, are not faring much better. Jae-joon's desperate need to enact his revenge drives him to be cruel to Soo-hyeon despite his feelings for her. It makes him as irrational as Hoon, which is ironic since that behavior is what he likes least about Hoon. He attacks Soo-hyeon's soft underbelly and that sends her to Hoon, who protects it even though he has his own issues. Jae-joon is blinded by his mission and is currently unmoveable, unlike Hoon. Soo-hyeon, for both men, is the catalyst for change. She kept Hoon from abandoning his surgery and is also chipping away at Jae-joon's scary devotion to his revenge.
What makes Jae-joon such a juicy character is that his revenge is breaking him down. The way the production team treats the reveal of his past is clever as well. The last scene was two similar scenes, one from his past where he swears revenge on Director Oh, and one from the present where he begs on his knees to keep his job. The scenes cut in and out of each other, showing Jae-joon's real heart lies with his words of the past and he will do anything to make them come true. It's the most effective editing in the show to date.
Now that the drama has reached its halfway point, I hope that it will start to fill in the plot holes so that the amazing character development doesn't have to carry the show.
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Follow on Twitter @raine0211
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Stranger" Episode 10"
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