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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Stranger" Episode 17


Although "Doctor Stranger"'s plot is more convoluted than ever, and the neverending, highly unethical medical competition shows no sign of ending, there was some decent character development that followed thee character's original trajectory. It was especially nice to see Hoon return to the man he was because it makes the writing more consistent and, let's face it, he's much more pleasant this way.

What made Hoon such a fascinating character in the beginning was his efforts to overcome the five years he was trapped in the North Korean medical facility performing atrocities on human lives. It made him a forward, honest, well-intentioned doctor who used his good intentions to fight for his patients. Then there was a bout of blackmail using Jae-hee's life that made him waver and the strangely out-of-character two episodes where he lost his trust in Jae-hee. He has finally returned to the light-hearted personality that made him special in combination with his earnest desire to help people - the desire his father cultivated in him when he was young. This Hoon is a hero I can stand behind and root for as the completely inept staff of Myung Woo University Hospital fall into a moral abyss.

Medical dramas always have some sort of shady political undertakings that compromise the integrity of the doctors. But "Doctor Stranger" has taken it to the extreme and makes all of its doctors break HIPAA and accepted moral codes. The entire hospital is a giant malpractice suit waiting to happen. Director Oh claims to want to keep the hospital running and yet indulges in activities that could immediately shut it down. It makes no sense. His interactions with his daughter, Soo-hyeon, have been minimal, and those are necessary to bring out his humanity.

It is the medical incompetence that also renders the side stories futile. Doctor Yang has allowed himself to be manipulated by those in power in order to get ahead. His should be a sad story of trying to do what's right by his family, but it is lost in the moral ineptitude of every other doctor in the hospital. For his story to be effective he needs to be one of the few immoral medical practitioners, not one of many.

Jae-joon is also back to his older personality, much as Hoon is, except that Jae-joon is dead set on enacting his revenge against Director Oh and Park Cheol, Hoon's father, who killed his parents and orphaned him. The two episode stint where he felt pangs from his conscience and befriended Hoon is now only a thing of memory. While his revenge is fuel for the nonsensical plot, his character was more interesting when it was contending with how his revenge affected the lives of his patients. Now he's back to using patients to gain his revenge and masking his intentions as "what's best for the patient". Basically what this change means is that he (and Hoon, and every other character) must give up their consistency to add twists and turns to the plot.

Jae-hee and Soo-hyeon are also included in the "highly variable character personality" category. Jae-hee's intentions are unclear, although I assume they are geared towards protecting Hoon. Her behavior is volatile, and she seems bent on a suicide mission. She seems ready to give up her life for Hoon whereas he sees them fighting together to have a future after all of the conspiracies are through. Soo-hyeon is the shell of the woman she used to be. Loving Hoon has turned her into a weakling when she was once strong and fighting against the odds.

There were several wonderful moments between Hoon and his mother. These moments were reminiscent of the start of the show and what it could have been: emotionally powerful and able to make a statement about humanity and love. If more characters connected in such an honest fashion, perhaps the story wouldn't be such a mess. If more characters listened to one another and teamed up against the world's evils, it would be easier to get behind the happenings of the show. As it stands now, the actors are the best part of the show and I'm sure they are just as baffled by it as I am.

Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"Doctor Stranger" is directed by Jin Hyeok, written by Park Jin-wu and features Lee Jong-suk, Jin Se-yeon, Park Hae-jin, Kang So-ra, Jeon Gook-hwan, Choi Jung-woo.


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