[Image credits: dramabeans.com]
And it’s over!
Expectations are always high for finales, especially for this show which has displayed such masterful storytelling and characterisation throughout. I won’t deny being a tad disappointed because there were certain resolutions and back-stories I would have liked fleshed out more. Honestly, this is one show that certainly justifies being extended for at least two more episodes and that’s truly to its credit because it has built such a compelling world with characters that are so well fleshed out and relatable that there’s just so much more we want to know about them.
The experience of Healer was definitely one of a kind, where the viewing experience went beyond just watching a TV show to being immersed in its world each week. As someone who loves good writing, there was such joy to witness a story being so gracefully and purposefully developed across the span of 20 episodes, with never a moment wasted. Well, enough of gushing, and on to what happens in the finale!
The Final Showdown
As hinted at in the previous episode, Jung Hoo takes proactive steps in the war with Healer, embarking on a mission that is fraught with uncertainty and danger. He steps into Elder’s territory and deceives him into believing that he has shifted his loyalties. By doing so, he gradually leads Elder and his team into a trap that he’s thoughtfully set up. It’s a well-crafted, intelligent, risky plan that’s certainly a joy to watch unfolding. Most importantly, it’s a plan that Jung Hoo cannot execute on his own, which is a nice contrast to the first episode where we saw him being similarly sharp and smooth, but working on his own with ahjumma.
The airport becomes a tense battleground, where we see Jung Hoo trying to convince Double S that he’s on their side while also executing sneaky moves beneath their very eyes to shift the ball to his court. Someday News plays a prominent role again as Young Shin cordons off a toilet and converts it into an interview room for Kim Jae-yoon, while Moon-ho simultaneously coordinates with the team back in office to begin a live feed. They begin to expose the footage of the village in health crisis, cutting to the interview with Jae-yoon. Even before she says much, Jung Hoo jumps in to stage a capture of her, dragging her out while also instructing her to scream. As he pulls her out, he passes the fake vial of bacteria over to Manager Ahn while she flees, unaware that another assassin is waiting to plunge a syringe into her. Jung-hoo aims his gun at the assassin and the police force led by Detective Yoon enter. A gun-shot is fired and we initially have no idea who’s shot, but we finally see that it’s Jung-Hoo, who collapses to the ground. This creates enough distraction for the assassin and allows the police to apprehend all the forces of Double S.
We quickly learn that the whole shooting was staged through a funny sequence of Jung Hoo rehearsing how he would fall after being shot and then Moon-ho and him smiling to Detective Yoon as he lies down in a pool of blood. Through ajumma’s genius manipulation, the whole incident is framed as the death of Bong Soo, who was assigned by Omega Holdings to kill Jae-yoon. The video of Elder talking to Russian scientists is also exposed and with that, Elder is finally taken down.
It’s such an elaborate plan with so many moving parts, yet it never feels confusing or difficult to follow. What’s impressive also is how the show inserts little sweet moments within this entire sequence, the first being Jung Hoo calling Moon-Ho “Uncle”. Moon-ho is evidently overjoyed at this acknowledgement, but he hides his smile, so as not to expose the entire plan. After ahjumma announces that the flight has arrived, she starts humming to herself, which leads to adoring reactions from both Jung Hoo and Young Shin, especially Young Shin who smiles to herself as she sets up her interview room. The final sweet moment was Young-Shin’s quiet expression of concern to Jung Hoo when he barges into the toilet, asking him quietly to stop. He doesn’t say anything, but just looks at her with determination in his eyes and she relents. We see in the four of them not just a team, but a close group of friends who understand each other and care deeply for each other.
Where our characters are at
As with all episodes of Healer, there’s always that perfect balance between action-packed sequences and wonderful character moments. This episode certainly wasn’t short of them and to do full justice to the finale, I’ll go through this character by character, talking about what I liked but also what I would have liked to see.
Moon-Shik: We only spend a brief moment with him, but we see that Myung-Hee’s departure has left him in depression and he spends the evenings drunk and hallucinating, talking to an imaginary Gil-han. It’s a creepy, haunting sequence, but somewhat befitting of what we’ve learnt of him so far that he has a distorted view of reality. With Myung Hee’s departure, he continues to live in delusion, exalting himself once again as he tells Gilhan that he has loved for twenty to thirty years and his ten years is nothing compared to his. I would have liked to see more closure between him and Elder, following Myung-Hee’s departure, but what we see provides us with sufficient balance of giving him the comeuppance he deserves, while also allowing us to sympathise with him, just a little bit.
Myung-Hee: While we never get to actually hear Young Shin call Myung-Hee “Mum” or for her to call Young Shin “Ji-Ahn”, what we get in this episode is equally powerfully. She holds Young Shin’s hands tightly as she arrives at the cafe and looks at her knowingly. It’s amazing how often the characters in the show speak through just their eyes and this is one of those moments where you know that she already knows the truth. What follows is a sweet and heartwarming sequence of Myung-Hee flipping through past photo albums, which Young Shin’s dad talks about with such love and pride. An actual mother-daughter reunion would have been nice, but honestly, all the scenes between the two of them have been so powerful and emotional in the past few episodes, that I’m satisfied with where the finale left us off at. It would also have been nice to have Young Shin bring Jung Hoo to meet Myung Hee.
Chi-Soo (Young Shin’s adoptive father): Besides the scene with Myung-Hee, he also continues to delight with his protectiveness over Young Shin. You would have expected him to be impressed after Jung Hoo frees him from the kidnappers, but his reaction is “How can I trust someone whose name keeps changing?”. It was also hilarious to watch Jung-Hoo hug Young-Shin for five seconds as the dad watched on, with his assistant counting down. His cafe eventually becomes the hideout for our good guys, which is somewhat apt given his protective presence over Young Shin’s life throughout. He may not have been part of the emotional core of the series, but I really enjoyed every scene with him and you know he’ll always be there for Young Shin.
Ahjumma: She had many lovely quirky moments in this episode, including her reprimand of Moon-ho at the car park and her irritation with him when she’s trying to work. Her scene with Detective Yoon in the toilet was just laugh out loud funny when she teased him about his fly. Just like Jung-Hoo, she’s spent most of her life in the shadows and it was nice to see her enjoying ice-cream with Detective Yoon and we’re pretty certain there’ll be a happy ending to their story. As for her story, I would have liked to know how she got co-opted into being the behind-the-scenes woman and actually, how the whole premise of night-couriers and having “Healers” began in the first place. Nonetheless, this is just a point of interest and not critical for her characterisation.
She’s been such a joy to watch for the entire series with all her quirks and tough love for Jung Hoo. Having lost faith in the police force, she eventually relies on it through Detective Yoon to close the case that she left the force without solving. We had earlier seen how she was accused by her husband of being a bad mum. However, having seen Jung-Hoo mature and take leadership in this episode, I’m certain she’s proud for having “raised” him and happy that he’s now found someone he loves.
Moon-ho: He’s been such an amazing character to watch from the start, all credit to Yoo Ji-tae’s fantastic portrayal. From the start, we’ve seen him tormented with guilt as he watches his sister-in-law Myung Hee suffering as a result of his and his brother’s actions. His journey of redemption has certainly not been smooth, but we’ve seen him emerge from the person who simply works in the background to someone who’s now not afraid to be at the forefront even in the face of danger. His decision to do a live broadcast of a potential crime scene is certainly a bold one that displays his growth.
On the family front, he’s finally able to provide for Myung-Hee by giving her a home, emerging also from under his older brother’s shadows. Young Shin’s acceptance of him as her uncle was never difficult, perhaps because she had idolised him from young. While Jung Hoo struggled initially, he has in recent episodes displayed his acceptance of Moon-ho too, enlisting his help to watch out for Young Shin when he’s unable to. Even though this episode was the first time we heard Jung Hoo call Moon-ho “Uncle”, he has already acknowledged him as that long before. It’s a pity that we never got to see that scene of three of them enjoying beers and it would have once again been nice, but not necessary, to see the three of them reminiscing on all the lost memories over the years.
I’m very glad that Song Ji-na did not take the route of establishing a love triangle between him, Jung Hoo and Young Shin. Moon-ho’s character was one that never really needed a romantic angle and him walking off happily with Min-jae at the end is simply icing on the cake, that additional sweetness to the ending of his very compelling and satisfying story.
Young-Shin: If I had to summarise her character with one line, it would be what Jung Hoo says of her in episode 5, and what draws her to him in the first place:
She is like a leopard I saw in a documentary once. The leopard had a broken leg and had run into a hyena. The leopard was hurt and it was clear there was no chance. The leopard attacked first. The leopard did not back down. She’s like that too. It’s not that she’s brave because she doesn’t know any better. She is brave despite knowing how scary it is.
I’ve always appreciated that mix of vulnerability and courage in Young Shin, whether it’s in her job or in her relationships. Young Shin has grown so much throughout the series as a journalist and as a person. She may have lots of fears, but she puts them aside when there’s a greater cause at hand, whether it’s for the sake of truth or for her loved ones and that’s what makes her admirable. When we see her at the end driving a car, partnering with Jung Hoo in pursuit of the truth, it’s a moment worth celebrating as we see her overcoming her fears, while continuing the legacy of her parents with the man she loves. She gets her wish of finally getting an interview with Healer, as we realise the scenes of Jung Hoo speaking into a video camera are directed at her. This “interview” was a really intelligent way of the show bringing back previous sweet scenes and memories without doing what most shows do of having a montage that appears out of nowhere. We don’t ultimately see what the video is used for, but it’s presumably an interview that Jung Hoo prepared in case the mission didn’t go smoothly.
Huge props to Park Min Young for playing the character of Young Shin so lovingly and convincingly; she really took on the character and made it her own. I cannot imagine any other actress playing her.
Jung Hoo: We witness Jung Hoo reaching a milestone in his journey of self-discovery. The death of Bong Soo is symbolic of him, finally deciding that he no longer needs a disguise to be in a real world and bringing his “real” self. This comes out immediately in the scene where he reveals himself to Young Shin’s dad while taking down the attacker. While he’s comfortable when needing to take physical action, he still stumbles in conversation as evident when he tries to explain the situation to Young Shin’s dad. Young Shin jumps in and Jung Hoo can only offer short replies in agreement to her story (which was so hilarious). He subsequently hugs her confidently in front of her dad and comes back intending to kiss her, only to retreat and tell her to take care of herself – yet another LOL moment. Compared to his previous behaviour with her dad where he was cowering in fear and stammering, this was a huge leap ahead, but we know he still has room for improvement.
When he sneaks into Someday’s office to take the recording, even the colleagues there can sense that there’s something different about him and he no longer hides behind the Bong Soo identity, emerging more confident and even pinches Jong-soo’s cheek on his way out. While this is eventually not told to us, my sense is that he eventually continues on at Someday as Jung-Hoo, while still playing his role as a night courier/Healer when the need calls for it. He has finally found a balance between being in society and outside of society as its saviour and we can’t help but be happy for him.
And with that, this ends my reviewing journey for Healer too. It is somewhat neat for my blogging journey as this entry (which was also coincidentally my longest entry) marks the 50th entry for my blog, which WordPress has nicely notified me of:
I’d like to thank all those who’ve followed my entries, encouraging me with your kind words and also offering your opinions. Healer has certainly been the best drama I’ve written about so far and the viewing journey has definitely been enhanced by writing and talking about it. Am eagerly awaiting the next drama that can make me as excited and engaged as this!
I’ve also read lots of good stuff on the Healer on the finale and would like to share a few sites that I enjoyed a lot:
- Dramabean’s recap and comments on the Healer finale: Dramabeans has always been my companion through all k-dramas and javabeans manages to capture the beauty and brilliance of the series so well in the review. The comments section also serve as a wonderful read as there are always so many differing and enlightening opinions.
- Couch Kimchi’s review: This is a more balanced take on the finale, pointing out some of its flaws but overall still recognising it as one of the better finales. I always love their critical and humorous take on dramas.
- Dramapenchant’s series’ review of Healer: This is a review of the series, rather than just the finale but it contains a lot of very insightful analysis and great lines – loved the one about UNESCO needing to preserve Ji Chang Wook’s smile!