Doctor Stranger - Episode 1 (A SqueeCap)

Hello, drama lovers! My name is Becca, and I'm a drama addict. Hello Becca! Hello, hello! If you're watching current Monday-Tuesday drama Doctor Stranger, you know that it's the best kind of crazy and practically begs for squeecapping, and since the ladies of the Problematic are already covering a boat-load of dramas, they've been unable to stop me from elbowing my way in graciously allowed me to help cover this one. This is my first time recapping, and I'm very excited and a bit awed to be here.
bcook: *nods sagely* Squeecap corrupts, absolute squeecap corrupts absolutely.
JoAnne:  Some would say the corrupter is me, but I say if the material weren't there I'd be quiet as a church mouse.  Blame Hallyu.
I tend to have low (read: nonexistent) expectations for medical dramas, so going into Doctor Stranger, I was honestly expecting something along the lines of Good Doctor: North Korea Edition, but the first episode quickly put those fears to rest by bursting out of the gate with thrills, humor, and a dark edge that I wasn't expecting but totally dig. Also, more crazy than you can shake a stick at, but that's part of its appeal. There's a lot to deal with in this first episode, so let's get right into it, and let the squeeing begin!
JoAnne:  Not a fan of medical dramas.  Big fan of Lee Jong Suk and his full lips and expressive eyes and long, lean thighs and tight little tush.  And lately, a full complement of abs.  I wish doctors operated in less clothing.  Sigh.
Episode 1

It's 1994, and North Korea's withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty has sent the Korean peninsula into a crisis that is made even worse by North Korean President Kim Il-sung's unexplained retreat from the public eye. But none of this is of interest to young PARK HOON, who happily switches the channel to watch a kid's program as he readies for school.
He adorably puts on his dad's glasses to read the papers on the kitchen table (looks like Dad is the plaintiff in a malpractice suit against Myung Woo Hospital), which is when Dad, a.k.a. PARK CHEOL, a.k.a. Kim Sang-joong, comes out.
bcook: It's the 'daddy' from Shitty Hunter! He has a habit of raising interesting boys. Jus saying.
JoAnne:  It's Bad Dad!  It's Bad Dad!  I love this ahjussi!  Yes, there are some age-appropriate men in KDrama.  Although I think he's in his 40s so I'm still a noona.
Hoon and Dad head out and find two men on their doorstep, one of whom introduces himself as Assemblyman JANG SEOK-JOO (Chun Ho-jin - it's a City Hunter reunion!) of the National Defense Committee. Inside, Dad assumes he's here about the malpractice suit, but Jang tells him there won't be a trial today, citing national security as he gravely informs Dad that the government is expecting war any day now.
On the way to school, Hoon stops to watch as tanks roll through the street and choppers fly overhead. He salutes.

The U.S. is already mobilizing to destroy North Korea's nuclear weapons, Jang says, and when the North retalatiates, it will start a full-scale war between North and South Korea. Dad takes this in calmly enough but doesn't see the connection to him specifically. He's just a heart surgeon, so why is Jang telling him this? "Because only you can stop the war."
JoAnne:  Do they mean that like...'Only YOU can stop forest fires.' or 'Uncle Sam Wants YOU.' or 'Hey, you, stop grabbing their asses...errr...

Jang's bodyguard/attaché, KIM TAE-SOOL, is still waiting on the steps when Hoon comes home. Hoon gives a little bow and offers him a lollipop. It's the cop hyung from Gap Dong! I like it when my dramas have crossover (I don't. It confuses me to no end (this is kakashi speaking). Kim takes it silently, stuffing it into his pocket as the door opens again and the adults come out. After they leave, Hoon bounces around Dad like a puppy and asks if he's staying for lunch, but Dad says he'll be late, so Hoon should just have whatever is in the fridge. Hoon opens the fridge and points at the bare shelves.
bcook: Cute kid. I'm not a fan of child actors but he's doing alright
JoAnne;  I like this actor and his sad eyes and his very unexpectedly deep voice.  And the other guy, the he's bodyguard for - although I first only saw him in good roles, and now lately he's being creepier. On the generally gives me a moment or two of confusion where I mix up images from both dramas and end up with a WTF series of my own.
So they head to the market, where a panicked crowd is fighting over the ramen. Hoon is too little to understand their hysteria, but Dad watches with concern.
JoAnne:  It's ok Dad, if all the ramen is gone you can just feed him steamed eggs.

Back home, Dad sets a simple dinner, and Hoon asks if they can go to America if there's a war. Ah, that's where mom is. Dad assures him that war won't happen so easily, but the politicians on the TV seem to think otherwise. The mood at the table turns somber, and Dad switches off the TV.

And out at sea, two soldiers stare in shock as a huge aircraft carrier goes by. That must the ship that Jang mentioned earlier, saying that it carries nuclear bombs to rain down on North Korea. Eek.
Dad goes to see Jang and is given some X-rays to look at. He says the coronary arteries are constricted, and the patient won't live a month without an operation. Jang tells him the war can be stopped if that heart is saved, but Dad will have to go to him. Where is he? "North Korea." DundunDUUN!
bcook: *to same tune* W. T. F
JoAnne:  Sucks to be that guy, then.

Dad finally puts the pieces together, and Jang confirms that the patient is Kim Il-sung. He tells Dad that if Kim dies the North will be in chaos and the U.S. plans to use that to their advantage and attack. (This would never happen; we are not that efficient.)
Later that night, Hoon gathers his courage to call mom, but when he picks up the receiver, Dad is already on the line, trying to convince someone to take care of Hoon for a while. It's Mom, who says that she's getting married in a few days and can't take him. Dad tries to reason with her, but she seems too mad at him to listen and spits out that she wants nothing to do with him or Hoon. Ouch. She tells him not to call again and hangs up.
JoAnne: My lack of comprehension for mothers who abandon children is well-documented, so I won't say anything.  Just know that I am seething.
Dad hears the click of a second phone hanging up and goes out to the hall, where the cord is still swinging from the receiver, but when he goes to Hoon's room, he's fast asleep. Dad watches him for a moment before turning away again. As he closes the door, Hoon opens his eyes, still awake after all.
Dad tells Hoon over breakfast that a Dr. Choi will be waiting for him when he gets home from school, and he is to stay with him until Mom comes. Hoon's normal cheeriness is missing today, though, and he says he wants to stay with Dad. When Hoon asks if mom hates him, Dad finally looks at him, likely realizing that he heard everything.
JoAnne:  If that man didn't figure it out last night he's an idiot.

As Dad leaves the house, Hoon follows behind him, calling "Appa!" all the way to the car. Dad can't even look as Hoon bows and leaves for school, his little shoulders sagging. He watches in the rear-view mirror as the car pulls away, then closes his eyes with a sigh.
But! A few moments later he comes running up behind Hoon and calls out to him. He kneels down and pulls him into his arms, and Hoon's tears finally come out in the most heartbreaking sobs while Dad just holds him and strokes his hair. *sniff* I love you, Bad Daddy! (me toooooooooooo)
That night, two boats pull up beside each other, and Jang hands Dad over to the North Korean officer on the other boat. We'll know him later as Agent CHA JIN-SOO. He's creepy. I don't like him.
Later, Jang explains the situation to a boardroom of officials, while in Pyongyang, Dad walks into the operating room, where Creep Cha and North Korean officials watch and guards with rifles are standing in the operating room. No pressure, Dad.
bcook: kdrama hospital tension.... north Korean style.
JoAnne:  Why is the operating room so BIG?
Jang reiterates that once the U.S. starts their attack, North Korea will strike against the U.S. military facilities in the South, as well South Korea's own nuclear-development facility. If it explodes, he says that even if South Korea wins the war, one-third of their territory will be uninhabitable for the next 200 years.
Suddenly all of the phones in the room start ringing, just as Kim's heart stops and Dad rushes to revive him. Creep Cha waves a hand, and three people walk into the operating room. Cha tells Dad that he has to save Kim, and Dad looks up to see one of the guards point a gun a Hoon's head. The message is clear: save Kim or Hoon dies, too.
bcook: Does Hoon have any idea there's a gun to his head?
JoAnne:  I did wonder about that and decided that no, he didn't.
Jang gets off the phone and reports that the U.S. is going ahead with the bombing, throwing the room into a panic. He and Lollipop Ajusshi head over to the U.S. embassy and push their way through the crowd at the gate.

Meanwhile, Dad makes the incision and opens up Kim's chest. Then, he reaches into the dude's chest and starts to massage his heart, but he pauses and looks to Hoon, as if silently asking if he's okay. Hoon gives a little nod, and Dad goes back to work.

Jang barges into the U.S. ambassador's office and demands the attack be called off, yelling that if there is a war, they'll all die. The ambassador is on the phone, though, and he literally just holds up a finger, like he's telling a two year-old to wait. Once he hangs up, he calmly (dare I say, condescendingly?) says the operation has been stopped.
bcook:  I must say Jang's English was quite amazing. "We're all gonna die"
Back to the OR. Hoon watches in awe as Kim's heart starts beating again, and the gun pointed at Hoon's head is finally lowered. Father and son smile at each other.
JoAnne: Umm...Becca...that pizza down there is moving.
Becca: Duh. That's how I ordered it.
Later, Jang and Lollipop Ajusshi watch the news report that former President Kim has promised to halt the development of nuclear weapons for the time being. Crisis averted! Jang comments a hero created during times like this can rule the world. While Jang is being congratulated by his colleagues, Lollipop Ajusshi remembers the lollipop in his pocket and looks to the TV again, where Hoon and a little girl present flowers to the U.S. diplomats.

Hoon and the girl sit out in the hall after the ceremony, and, remembering how his father tied off the suture, he uses two pieces of leather to copy him. She asks if he wants to be a doctor, too, and he happily says yes. He finally turns to look at her and is struck dumb by the pretty. She introduces herself as SONG JAE-HEE, but he can only stare.
JoAnne:  She is The One.
That's when Dad comes out and says it's time to leave. Before they walk away, Hoon turns back and ties the braided leather around her wrist as a bracelet, introducing himself as "Hoon. Park Hoon." (How very James Bond of you.) They flash shy smiles at each other, and he runs back to Dad.

However, it doesn't seem like they're going home, as their car is escorted to a deserted barn, where they're pushed out in front of a line of soldiers with rifles. Ack. Dad pulls Hoon close and covers his eyes protectively as the soldiers take aim. They shoot.
Cut to Jang, telling Lollipop Ajusshi that he's the only hero of South Korea. *sigh* can he not be a bad guy just once? He walks out out to face the press and the crowd that has gathered to praise him. His moment of glory is interrupted, however, as one woman's voice rises above the rest, demanding to know what happened to her son, Hoon. Mom! (Lee Il-hwa!) Lollipop Ajusshi makes his way to her and whispers something in her ear before leading her away from the throng, leaving Jang (not to be confused with JangBitch) to bask in their adoration.
bcook: Funny how now she wants him
JoAnne:  HoonBitch.  And JangBastard.
And back at the barn... Dad and Hoon are unharmed. The soldiers lower their guns, and out comes Creep Cha. He tells them they've been abandoned by their country and Professor Park Cheol of South Korea is dead. From now on he is Comrade Park Cheol. Then he gives a creep smile and does a slow clap as Dad and Hoon stare in shock. It's creepy, but also a little awkward.
JoAnne: Right?  The clapping was apropos of NOTHING and it was too loud and too slow even for a slowcap and it lasted FOREVER.  This guy is nuts.
Fast forward, and Hoon is a med student (helloooo, Lee Jong-seok), selling contraband K-Pop cassettes to the other kids on campus.

He tells them everyone in the South knows this song (Wonder Girls' "Tell Me") and even North Korean spies have to learn it before they're sent over. Pfft. The kids eat it up and start forking over their money, but that's when Hoon's lookout comes to tell them they've been found out, and everyone scatters.
bcook: Hahaha oooh! so sexy.
JoAnne:  They should have done a nod to King Two Hearts here, would have been funny.  And I love that with short, straight hair and a school uniform, Lee Jong Suk is cute to me but still relatively noona-safe. That will not last.

Hoon leads the teachers(?) on a merry chase all over campus and is about to make his getaway when he's stopped by a locked door, and that's when he finally loses his cocky grin. Just as he's about to be caught, the door opens and he's pulled inside by a girl. Aw, it's Jae-hee (Jin Se-yeon), all grown up!
kakashi: noooooooo, it's the Destroyer of Dramas!!! The Broom!!! 
JoAnne:  She 'dies' faster this time, though.  DramaLand is learning.

She pulls him down to hide and shushes him, and he's totally loving being this close to her. He says he can hear her heartbeat, and she shushes him again, worried about being caught. Everyone's heartbeat is different, just like no two people look the same, he says. He pulls her close and tells her to listen to his heart: it's beating just like hers. So it has to be fate. I can't decide if I should swoon or cringe at that, but they are cute.
bcook: What a bunch of corny baloney... but he's so cute! Pity they don't have any chemistry what so ever. I won't be missing this couple at all. Doesn't she fall off a cliff or something? 
kakashi: She usually dies because somebody poisons her. 
JoAnne:  Nothing like slapping us in the face with the Wet Fish of ForeShadowing.
He starts to tell her he's made a decision, and she cuts him off to say she has, too. She grabs him by the ear and drags him through the school, threatening to tell Dad everything and brushing aside his argument that she shouldn't do this to her fate (meaning him, ha). But he surprises her by lifting her into his arms and carrying her outside, where he sets her down and gets down on one knee.
He pulls out a ring and says that, even though her family doesn't like him, they're fated. Will she marry him? Turns out he's been selling those tapes to save up and buy this ring. She acts mad and starts to walk away, but she turns back to take the ring anyway. He starts to puff up, but then she teases that she'll marry him after 100 years and flounces away, leaving him stuttering. Hee.
JoAnne:  Ok but they are cute together.
He chases her back through the hall, and they stop short when they run into dad. Hoon makes a quick apology for cutting Dad's class before scooting away after Jae-hee. Dad sees the ring and their smiley faces as they go.
bcook: See that look? That's the same look he had in city hunter when he saw LMHubbahubba with Kim NaNa. He approves but not really.
JoAnne:  I approve of the stubble and the glasses.
On the bike ride home, Jae-hee asks what he'd do if she disappeared. He says he'd search the world for her, of course. That pleases her, and she tells him to come to her house for dinner tonight. They part ways, and he does an adorable happy dance. WHICH MUST BE GIFFED OR WE RIOT!!
JoAnne:  Of all the noona-killers, I do think he must be the killingest.  Although Park Seo, Lee Jong Suk beats Park Seo Joon too.

So he gets all spiffed up (gif! gif!) ...
bcook: *swoon* Those lips.
JoAnne: I just kept watching the gif over and over.  I have no comment. The lips speak for themselves.
...and is about to head out the door when Dad reminds him they're doing a clinic tonight. Hoon tries to beg off just this once but ends up helping a long line of patients anyway. As they help one man, Dad tells him that a doctor still needs to be able to diagnose a patient, even without X-ray machines and other expensive equipment and guides Hoon's MagicHands™ as he finds the patient's infection with only his hands and his knowledge of the human body.
JoAnne:  Hoon-ah...I have this weird feeling, can you come touch me and cure it?

Later, Dad gives Hoon a bouquet of flowers and sends him off, promising to take care of the rest. However, when Hoon gets there, the door is unlocked and the apartment empty and wrecked. He hears Jae-hee call his name and runs outside. It starts to rain, and he turns down an alley, where Jae-hee appears and runs to his arms, scared and crying.
bcook: Oh. So that disappearing thing was a foreshadowing? That's...kinda sad I guess.
As he holds her, soldiers appear, and, knowing she's about to be caught, she grabs Hoon for one last kiss before they're torn apart. Hoon tries to fight but one of the soldiers knocks him down, and the last thing he sees before he blacks out is Jae-hee being dragged away, screaming his name.
JoAnne:  Just a little dramatic.
When he comes to, it's morning and Dad is watching over him. Dad tells him that Jae-hee's father was taken as a political prisoner, and the whole family with him. Hoon immediately gets up to go find her, and Dad holds him back lest he be taken, too, but Hoon says that she's his everything. He flings open the door and is met by soldiers. They've come for him. Crap.
JoAnne: Then why did they leave him last night?
He is taken to a heavily guarded facility, and learns the hard way that trying to run equals death, as Creep Cha shoots a would-be deserter right in front of him. Cha leads him inside and explains that this is where medical research is done to care for Kim, and once he enters, Hoon will never be able to leave unless he wants to end up like that guy outside. There's one other guy with them, and he asks if he'll become a doctor for their leader if he enters. Cha says it depends on them whether they become doctors or a lab rats.
JoAnne:  Oh.  Oh my.
Just then a doctor stumbles past, covered in blood, and is led away by a guard and an equally bloodstained nurse. Hoon steels himself and walks through the door, staring at Cha defiantly. He starts down the darkened hallway, passing another bloody doctor, and stops in horror when he looks through a doorway to see... eek! Are they operating on a live, conscious person?
JoAnne:  Holy crap.  (Checks channel to be sure still on KDrama not KMovie.)
Five years later, he's strolling about like he owns the place, even as guards escort him back from an unauthorized excursion to the outside world. Hoon just sasses that he wanted some fresh air and doesn't even blink when Cha reminds him that those who leave are shot.
JoAnne:  Fully expected him to quip, 'Don't shoot me, bro!'
Dad comes for a visit, and Hoon wonders how he got in. (So is this the first time you've seen each other, then?) Dad's the same as ever, all business as he chides Hoon for sneaking out all the time. Hoon says he's searching every detention camp, still looking for Jae-hee. Dad advises him to stop now.
Turns out Dad is here as a translator while Creep Cha leads a group of foreign doctors on a tour through the facility. They're watching Hoon perform bypass surgery when suddenly the lights cut out. Halting surgery at this point is dangerous, though, and Hoon uses his MagicMemory™ to finish in the dark. When the lights come back on, everyone is duly impressed.
bcook: Wow! Special kdrama medical skillz. Tap Team Tap Doctor
JoAnne:  Magic fingers trump jazz hands, that's for sure.
This show doesn't shy away from the gore. Share my pain.
Cha shows Hoon the X-rays for his next patients, who are coming from a special concentration camp for political offenders, and they're in bad shape. Cha wants him to try and save the father with a transplant from the girl. If they can impress the foreign doctors again with this, they can get brand spanking new medical equipment. But Hoon refuses, saying the daughter will die and what will he say to the father? He tells Cha to find someone else and walks out.
bcook: Something tells me father & daughter team = his precious love.
JoAnne:  Yep, I'm with you.
Cha follows him out, though, and tells him to get off his high horse. It's not like he hasn't done worse things. Hoon says that's exactly why he won't do it anymore. He leaves Cha fuming.

He passes one of the patients being wheeled in, and his spidey senses must start tingling because he stops and looks back. The girl's face is covered, but when her limp hand falls to the side we see the bracelet she's wearing. He reaches out a trembling hand to reveal her face, and sure enough, it's Jae-hee.
bcook: My spidey sense is pretty effing awesome.
JoAnne:  Does anyone else wonder why suddenly Hoon doesn't want to do bad things anymore?  What changed?
In her room, he gets a better look at her and is dismayed to see just how battered her poor body is. From the adjacent bed, a hand reaches out for his, and Hoon turns to see Jae-hee's father, who pleads with him to save her. Hoon looks heartbroken, but he agrees.
JoAnne:  Not that he needed Dad's permission, but at least that removes the guilt.
Hoon shows Dad the X-rays and asks if he can save her by taking the man's kidney, but Dad says the man would die and he can't do it. That's not what a doctor should do. Hoon asks defiantly what a doctor would do then and wonders if Dad even knows what he's done these past five years. He's operated on healthy people and done transplants knowing that they'd be rejected, so he doesn't know what a doctor does. In this world, even doctors kill people. So he's at least going to save his woman.
Next we see Hoon, he's coming out of the operating room, covered in blood.
JoAnne: Why, exactly?  Did he CHEW the kidney out of the poor man's body?
Becca: Yes. He's a vampire now. He's going to turn Jae-hee, too, and they can be together forever.
In the shower, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and finally breaks down in horror. Oof, how many times have you had to go through this? I think JoAnne needs the shower scene giffed. Right. For JoAnne....
JoAnne:  I did.  I do.  Hello, Abs.  Hello, nipples.  Don't be shy!
bcook: This is one  pensive shower scene where it should feel wrong to perv... It should. (Really it does but only like 40%)
JoAnne: Not even a little.
Dad watches as he prepares to operate on Jae-hee, recalling her smiling face as she showed off her ring. When Creep Cha asks why the girl instead of the man, Hoon says this will show off his skills to greater effect and Dad covers for him, saying the doctors have promised to give them the equipment if it goes well. He's appeased, and Hoon begins.
Creep tells Hoon later that he's to go to Budapest for a few days (as part of the agreement for the equipment), but Hoon isn't interested. He goes to stare at Jae-hee and holds her hand, promising not to let her go again.
When he gets back to his room, there's been another blackout, and Dad's is waiting for him. He starts to worry that Dad doesn't have permission to be here. Dad urges him to go to Budapest, saying one of the doctors has agreed to help Hoon and Jae-hee escape. Dad tells him to live happily with her. Hoon apologizes, but he can't go, obviously worried about leaving Dad here. He shows Dad the secret tunnel he's been using and tells him to go before the electricity comes back. Dad tries to convince him one last time, but Hoon gives a sad smile and walks away.
JoAnne:  How is it secret, that makes me laugh.  Oh show...the tunnel is right there in the open and the doorway to the outside is 10 feet from the entrance. Not to mention that it leads to a football field or something.
Hoon stops when he hears a gate swing shut, and suddenly the electricity comes back. When he turns around, Dad is gone. He runs to the gate, and sees Dad, standing out in the open. Hoon frantically calls for Dad and struggles with the gate Dad locked behind him. Dad turns to smile at him one last time, and then a shot rings out and he falls to the ground.
bcook: So Daddy was shot as punishment? What does he think creepcha is going to do when he finds out that Hoon likes this chick?
JoAnne:  No, not as punishment.  I don't think, anyway.  Dad removed himself as Hoon's excuse.  What reason would he have to stay, now?
How I always see Kim Sang-joong


NOO!! I love Bad Daddy, and I want him to stay! (Maybe he'll visit as a ghost.)  It's a good thing I can still watch him over on A New Leaf. And of course, I have the dozens of screenshots I took. Because he's Bad Daddy and he acts circles around everyone, even in reaction shots. You know it's true.
bcook: I'm happy that Bad Daddy wasn't really that bad. He is a really good actor though. Is he a bad daddy in A New Leaf?
JoAnne:  He's the boss of the law firm that Kim Myung Min works at.  He's helping to keep it secret that KMM has amnesia, and he does seem to care, but I can't tell if it's an act or not.

As for the episode itself, wow. Way to start off with a bang, Show. Far be it from me to discourage a speedy plot, but this is one time I actually would like to spend more time with the backstory. I want to know what we missed in all those years we skipped. Did Hoon have any other friends besides Jae-hee? And what about the time he spent as Evil Doc? Even though he killed Jae-hee's dad to save her (pretty twisted), I would have liked to see more of that darkness. Just how bad have you been, Hoon, and what has it done to you? Don't just tell us; show us!
bcook: I'm pretty sure we're going to see some morally ambiguous things happen when he gets to Seoul. Otherwise there will be no north/south conflict. I'm not really impressed to be honest. I'm hoping for an upped WTF factor in episode 2.
JoAnne:  Oh, I think you'll get it.

I would complain about the weird tonal shifts from suspense to campus hijinks to horror, except for the fact that I've kind of come to love them. It's part of the fun now, and I'm embracing every bit of this show's craziness. Don't question the logic. Just roll with it and all will be well.
JoAnne:  Just lie back and relax. Don't fight it. You know you want this.