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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctor Stranger" Episode 9


As "Doctor Stranger"'s tone grows more unsteady, the characters become more intriguing. Most of that can be attributed to the cast who is, as a whole, absolutely winning. The plot, however, continues to degrade into an utterly confusing mess. There are so many questions floating about that it's hard to keep track of them all. Plot complication is good, but only when there is an adequate amount of resolution.

There are so many deceptions and hard-to-follow alliances that the show is getting very confusing. Prime Minister Jang is allied with Jin-soo and Jae-hee in a multi-stage plan that the audience is fully unaware of save for the fact that Park Hoon has to be involved in Jang's surgery. Jae-hee is still a mystery - she has been confirmed as Jae-hee, but her allegiance is hard to prove. She seems to love still Hoon and seems to be working with North Korea in order to protect him. However, part of that protection involves a lot of deception that is worrisome for the future of their relationship. If they make it through this mess, will they have any trust to go on? This part of the plot is still interesting - the intrigue of her deception is strong. But the political web of deceit that she is involved in is difficult to understand.

Also, there are a few things that are just plain confusing. Jin-soo appears in the hospital and no one finds it suspicious that he is hanging around and never doing any work. Does security not notice him shooting holes in beakers and walls, and dragging people around? It's very implausible that he is present in the hospital so much without faking his identity or without being caught. Then there is Dr. Moon's extremely unprofessional behavior has gone unchecked. While he is highly amusing comic relief, his character does not fit into a hospital setting long term. Not to mention the highly unethical surgical competition that has doctors focusing on winning rather than infant lives. Is there not one doctor who cares about patients at this hospital?

In terms of character development, Hoon's character is strong despite the fact that he has a volatile personality. His single-minded determination to protect and be with Jae-hee guides him, but he is now a part of the hospital setting, and it influences him. Jae-joon is starting to show chinks in his proverbial armor as his plans go awry. It shows he is a lot weaker than he pretends to me because of his all-consuming desire for revenge. Part of that is brought on by Soo-hyeon latching onto Hoon romantically, and as an idol of sorts. He treats her like a person and like a viable doctor. He is patient with her and gives her the attention she lacks from her family and from Jae-joon. It is content like this that keeps "Doctor Stranger" interesting.

There is a minor character, Prime Minister Jang's right hand man, Kim Tae-sool, who has been getting more air time as of late. He supports the narcissistic Jang, but he also continues to suck on lollipops like the one that Hoon gave him twenty year ago. That detail makes me hold out for more interesting development later on. There are a few characters like that. Chi-gyoo keeps having his romantic trysts in places where he overhears Jang, or Hoon, or Jae-hee and that illicit knowledge could put him in a place of power or peril.

The quality of the camera work is high. The colors and shots are beautiful. But, the use of some camera techniques is overwrought, like the camera circling a character 360 degrees when something dramatic happens. Also, too much time is spent on hospital chase scenes. That extended time and repetition makes them lose their tension.

Lee Jong-suk is carrying this drama with his portrayal of Hoon. It's a multi-layered performance that makes his reunion with Jae-hee at the end of this episode even more sweet. It also makes Hoon's concern for his patients more poignant because of the terror behind it. Hoon is terrified of being the horrible doctor he was in North Korea, terrified of doing wrong by his father, and by his patients. Despite Jong-suk's performance, as well as the amazing performances of the rest of the cast, good acting may not be able to carry this drama through to the end unless the illogic and confusion can be cleared away.

Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy

Follow on Twitter @raine0211

"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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