The table tennis tournament has to be one of the funniest moments if not the funniest moment in Hospital Playlist history. When Ik-jun and partner Dr Lee Ji-hoon burst into a dance in a middle of the match to do a “Deux”, I could have keeled over and died. The two are humorously competitive all throughout giving their Orthopedic rivals a run for their money while skating through the rest of the competition. Then there’s the ridiculous trash talking doctor style. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much since we saw various members of Ahn tribe parade through the door one at a time to comfort Rosa in her hour of need. Or was it when Jo Jeong-seok walked into the ER with his Darth Vader helmet? Hard to say. The difference is miniscule undoubtedly. But the antics of those who gather around the table tennis table are an unerring source of entertainment. As always it’s a treat to have Yoo Jae-myung on our screens. He can always be relied upon to bring something different to the table. And of course who doesn’t look forward to these Prison Playbook cameos come what may. Professor Shin of radiology might be a dunce at ping pong doubles but he embodies the spirit of patient-centric care when he gets off the bus and grabs a cab back to Yulje for a long-term patient in need of immediate surgery.
Jang Kyung-ho is one of my favourite actors from anywhere on the planet and this season if nothing else is consistent proof of his abilities. He has the best expressions in this episode and my favourite is the one we see during the early part of band practice. The pain is palpable as Song-hwa massacres the song. Even after two years Song-hwa’s singing has not improved an iota and I laughed all the way from the moment she opens her mouth right to the end. The hilarity is maximized when the men start singing along reinforcing the fact that this is not the ideal song choice for her. It’s no wonder even Jeong-won protested vehemently. But at least she had a good time with it and I’m sure the others did too despite the initial misgivings.
I feel nothing but relief that Jun-wan finally knows the essentials related to Ik-sun. Mind you, it was a long time coming. Thanks to Ik-jun’s quiet maneuvering in the background, there’s light peeping through at the end of the tunnel for Jun-wan. The break-up was controversial to begin with and this self-inflicted torment was so so unnecessary. But what’s done cannot be undone. Since it’s clear neither have moved on, we can only hope that lessons will be learnt from past mistakes and they can both begin again on the right footing. It’s what Jun-wan wants and perhaps it’s also what he needs. For him it’s definitely the real deal so any shot he gets at a reconciliation, he will jump at it. Whether or not fans root for it, it’s irrelevant. (By the way, Kwak Sun-young who plays Ik-sun is a fantastic singer and her duet with Jo Jeong-seok was a delight. Pity they had to be cut short. It has been said that musical talent runs in families. :P)
I can’t be too hard on Ik-sun because she’s also suffered in the interim. Her dreams of doing further study on a scholarship came to an abrupt end and she’s now living with a liver condition. I always suspected that she would head home early but I never expected it to play out the way it did. I don’t feel the need to be angry about what happened because at the end of the day, she paid the price. It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the struggles with her illness has been exacerbated by all the unhappiness that resulted from her choices. Perhaps she too had to go on this circuitous journey to find out what was really important to her. (As most of us do) When I look at her spending so much more time with Ik-jun and U-ju in recent days, it may be that she’s rediscovering the importance of family like everyone else seems to be. The feeling of invincibility diminishes during the ageing process eventually strikes us all. When I turned 40, my body was only too eager to remind me of the fact.
When Jeong-won was talking about Seok-hyeong needing time to mull over things, I was wondering if he wasn’t also talking about Gyeo-ul. Maybe he’s giving her time and space to come to the same conclusion that the rest of us came to weeks ago. I suppose he respects her independence and her own need to tunnel her own way out. But also to realise that she can ask for help if she needs it. She really doesn’t have to do it all alone. As a parent I know first hand how tough it is to watch your kids struggle. The temptation is to push and to help when what’s needed is time to “masticate” through the details and for them to own the right conclusions. It’s the same with Song-hwa. Everyone wants her to get together with Ik-jun yesterday. But yesterday she wasn’t ready. Yesterday she was working hard and worried about her mother. Yesterday… he broke her heart. She shouldn’t do it out of feeling the pressure, obligation or even out of gratitude. That’s the absurdity about throwing around the word “deserve”. She will cross that bridge when she’s ready.
I’d been thinking that we haven’t seen much of the emergency team this season, Gwang-hyeon in particular because his gossip gatherings have been made redundant. Lo and behold we had an episode dedicated to celebrating the emergency medics and the critical care that they give to give patients a fighting chance. While it was exciting to see Jun-wan and Ik-jun work collaboratively for the first time onscreen, the efforts of the emergency staff should not be underestimated as the patient’s first point of contact. At the end of the day it’s a team effort. Sure there might be stars but without the support act, the hospital won’t be the well-oiled machine that it makes claims to be. The same goes for the neonatal nurses that were extensively featured mainly from Jeong-won’s perspective. These are the unsung heroes of the hospital.
It’s really good for the soul to see Rosa back to her old, naggy but lively self. She too has come to some realisations of her own about the precariousness of life. On the other hand her banter with Jong-su never gets old. Apparently only a very old friend has the audacity to chastise the chairman of Yulje for slacking off work and for wanting to take up a new interest. I wonder too if he’s on the cusp of retiring.
Episode 9 has got to be one of my favourites this season. Personally I enjoy what Hospital Playlist brings to the table each week. Sure I have expectations — who doesn’t? But I also like being surprised and every episode somehow manages to be a roller coaster ride in some fashion. I realise that this hasn’t been the case for every single fan of S1 and that’s probably to be expected. Most of you know that I was worried that this season wouldn’t live up to all the hype but so far so good.
The reason why I’m reiterating all of this is because I may have ruffled some feathers by my responses to the criticisms that have been levelled at the show. I can assure you it’s nothing personal and I’m fine with some degree of engagement as long as we can all agree to disagree on some level. All opinions can be challenged at some level and not all have equal validity. I also want to stress that I do understand some of the criticisms that have been made against the show but this is also a place where I have to be able to get things off my chest without the anxiety that I will be embroiled in all kinds of disputes with readers. Like some of us said last weekend, at a time when there’s so much fear and turmoil in the world, let’s take whatever respite we can get from our dramas albeit all too briefly.