Hospital Playlist Season 2 (2021) Episode 5: First Look
It’s that time of the week again when I wake up to my most anticipated drama of the season wondering what the show has in store. I haven’t been disappointed so far and it’s no different this week. In fact, it could be that Episode 5 is my favourite one so far of this installment. It’s brimming with all kinds of Shin-Lee magic within Yulje and without. For the first time since the new season began, I’ve actually enjoyed the band’s song-of-the-week. I didn’t mind last week’s with its upbeat tempo but this week’s number was more up my alley. And Jo Jeong-seok’s musicianship is amazing as usual.
Since bildugi was foremost in our minds last week I should start there. To be honest, I don’t entirely know what to make of how things transpired — in terms of what that means for Jun-wan in the future. Has the door completely closed on a possible reconciliation? A part of me doesn’t think so since Ik-sun has decided to remain in SK and gone back to her old job in some limited capacity. She’s home and Ik-jun is keeping a sharp eye on her recovery. Obviously she still has strong feelings for Jun-wan who on the other hand is moving along stoically with no one to confide in about the matter. He won’t even talk to his besties about it. At least as far as we know. For me as a viewer, I am in a state of discontent about Ik-sun’s attempt to play the villain with the misguided intention to set Jun-wan free. As a grown man with his own thoughts Jun-wan shouldn’t be deceived in this fashion and that continues to sit uncomfortably with me. For those of you who know Chinese, the expression 敢怒而不敢言 fits the bill here. It’s very frustrating. There’s an old biblical adage that’s often quoted out of context but it applies nonetheless. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It seems to me that the entire fiasco hasn’t been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction and everything feels to be in limbo still. As long as no reference is made it and avoidance is the name of the game, it remains an elephant in the room illustrated so poignantly during that montage sequence of the two siblings having meals together.
The truth matters. A great deal. Always.
The fact that we’ve been given two instances of domestic abuse related to Jang Gyeo-ul that sees her rushing headlong to the rescue seems to suggest that something’s not quite right on her home front. The 4 am call from her mother and then her persistent “Is everything alright?” and “Did you and Dad have a fight?” during the conversation seems to add weight to that. For someone who is apparently not in tune with other people’s emotions, it’s interesting that she went there very quickly. Even Jeong-won senses that there’s some underlying preoccupation motivating these impulses. It would explain a number of things about her and it seems suggestive of the possibility that the stoicism is cultivated through force of circumstance rather than some kind of innate flaw.
Biases aside, I think the show has been doing wonderful things with the WinterGarden dynamic in this new season. There’s always something about them in every episode which not only acts as an antidote to the more gloomy aspects of the show but highlights Gyeo-ul’s growth as a doctor and human being. To me she’s a much more interesting, relatable character for having this journey right in front of us. It warms my heart when I see her face light up like a Christmas tree every time she’s with Jeong-won. When they saw each other in the lift, (as opposed to the well-known shy, awkward encounter in Season 1) it was a different story. From the way she immediately lit up when the elevator doors opened, it was obvious that she was greeting him. It’s a facial expression that’s exclusively for his eyes.
The post-arrest scene that spotlights their conversation behind curtains harkens back to a contrasting encounter in the ER all that time ago where he chastised her for not being sensitive and circumspect with a guardian (Episode 2, S1). I don’t doubt that we’re meant to recall that moment and observe the difference. From “she’s not my cup of tea” they’ve reached a different place in their relationship that’s not purely about mentorship but more of a gradual transition into partnership. I like that she’s comfortable enough with Jeong-won to say that she feels dumb and incompetent for charging into a situation in which others were already aware of. It’s true that she put herself in harm’s way and things could have been a lot worse. But I wonder too why nothing was said to her by anyone about the presence of security guards. Even the senior nurse knew about it and said nothing. The other thing that’s changed between them is that instead of pretending like nothing happened when she ran after the DV dad in the last season, Jeong-won took the time to debrief with her. I suppose some might find this laughable but it seems to me that WinterGarden communicate better with each other than bildugi ever did, considering their relative inexperience. Consider too that Gyeo-ul tells Jeong-won that all she’d like is once a day of expressed affection. That shows some healthy honesty. It’s clear that Shin-Lee has a plan for them and I’m loving it.
One of the more interesting pieces of revelation in the episode was about why Seok-hyeong and his former wife Shin-hye split up. Apparently his mother was part of the problem as I had suspected although not to this extent. What it also tells me and perhaps this is not what we’re supposed to be extrapolate from this, is that both Seok-hyeong and Shin-hye were not strong enough to stand up to her meddling ways. Neither of them were able to push back on her infringement on their privacy and choices. All Shin-hye could achieve at the end of their failed marriage was a little payback — a parting shot. It’s disappointing to know that Seok-hyeong’s mother regrettably is the stereotypical overbearing wealthy parent that we’ve all come to know and detest in K dramas.
This leads me to think that perhaps Min-ha might be a different kettle of fish. Her resilience which I admire so much might be just the thing that’s needed in a situation to overcome the obstacles. I don’t think it’s “fair” that Seok-hyeong should live a life of self-imposed seclusion because of his mother although the irony is that she wants him to remarry when she’s never acknowledge that she’s been a part of the problem. What’s worth noting is that he hasn’t outright rejected Min-ha this time. Telling her that she has 4 more attempts indicates that he could be testing her resolve.
Eun-ji’s mother continues to tug at the heart strings with her courage and thoughtfulness. As I said in the most recent podcast, I continue to be moved by her and her actions. It’s a down-to-earth lesson for us all on the importance of gratitude. She was also able to develop empathy for the donor’s family because of the whole time she was standing on knife’s edge with Eun-ji’s predicament. I’m so glad her arc didn’t just end with Eun-ji getting the heart. This follow-up is a much needed call to action. From all of us. Eun-ji’s mum, whatever her name is… is one of the genuine heroes of the franchise.
Wahhh, life is certainly looking up when I get an article from my favorite this early in the morning! :) I'm also eyeing the wonderful 40 min podcast - but that will have to wait until the weekend, unfortunately.
Sooooooooo... To add.
I feel like we’ve been fed that ginormous snow crab dinner - only the writers haven’t warned us to fast for 8 hours beforehand.
Seriously, yesterday's show was even a little bit too much of everything... When I was watching the Korean stream in real-time, I wanted to pause it after each scene to dissect and process. But the show kept going like a high-speed train, and I might need to rewatch Ep. 5 a couple (or ten) more times to catch up. (My pile of work is looking at me incredulously. Sorry, work. Just a few more minutes.)
I’ll just do one tiny scene here, to celebrate the amazing talents and through-the-roof chemistry of actors Yoo Yeon-seok and Shin Hyun-been and the great characters the authors created for them. (At this point, I really wonder if Gyeol was supposed to be this great multi-layered, multi-functional character from the very beginning or if she has won over the writers in the process of filming. Because Yoo Yeon-seok, I totally get you when you can’t shut up about this character in your interviews. Her journey is a unique and extremely addictive story.)
So, my two cents about the iconic date scene, a master class in “show not tell”. It’s 3 minutes and maybe 10 seconds. And within these 3 minutes, we get overstuffed with food for thought... I’m not going to gush much, I’ll just list what I learned.
Gyoel came to her weekend date directly from the hospital (because she has to go back there later if the subtitles don’t lie) - and Jeong-won is driving her around. After dropping her off, he’s going to pick up Jun-won. He continues taking care of Jun-won in this way, subtly, silently. He even made him breakfast, and that’s just too adorable.
Also, Gyoel is an organic part of this domestic ecosystem now. It is unclear if it is her first visit to her boyfriend’s apartment. But she seems to know her way around the kitchen island at the very least. I laughed out loud at the meager amounts of food she was offered this time. But hey, Jeong-won cooked for her. And shelled her crab despite his allergy. And promised to buy her more said crab in the future (or procure it from Song-hwa for free which is more believable).
Then they speak a little about residents being busy. And it struck me that they really have very little time either for themselves or for each other, given their profession and schedules. All they have is snatches. A few days is something of the realm of dreams, even staying the night (and the writers took pains to establish that she is not staying over, lol) is difficult. A couple of hours is what they usually have - hence the non-existent awkward stage and the intensity of simple everyday interactions. They have to use every chance to learn about each other, learn from each other and grow the relationship, slowly, surely, precisely. No time for drama. No time for petty jealous things like, “Why do you hang out with your friends without me, and all entertainment I get is an indoors date night with leftover crab?”
Their priorities are also very much aligned - first comes work (serving people, really), then Gyoel’s studies, then their time together. And Jeong-won is obviously there for a long haul, aiming at forever. Waiting a year to go on a mini-holiday together is nothing to him. But this break in the conversation, “What could happen in a year?” signalized a shift. They both know their honeymoon period is coming to an end. Which is why he asks her to always tell him things. And she asks him to always show affection to her. (Out of context, this request may seem weird, because Jeong-won is showering her with affection at the moment.) Communication and affection are two pillars of a healthy long-term relationship. And those are the basic rules they negotiate right away, telling each other what they need. Jeong-won needs transparency, conversations, words. Gyeol needs assurance, action, touch.
It’s very fitting that at the dawn of this relationship, the girl who is generally bad with words and expressing feelings was the one to confess. And the Professor who preaches moderation and responsibility would answer this confession with a reckless kiss (or two). But those were atypical behaviors for them. When the first-love glamour wears off, they will revert to being just people with their own strong points and weaknesses. That’s why Jeong-won and Gyeol needed to make promises to each other - to stay open, supportive, and available, even in the midst of an emotionally charged hospital setting. *sigh* That will be the last time we see them so fluffy, I think. But what we had was wonderful.
I could go on with this thesis for another three to seven pages but the main point is, I really, really love Hospital Playlist in all its richness and “thought-provoking-ness”, and Ep. 5 is my favorite too!
Let us feast on Episode 5 together and discuss it to death!!!
This is, by far, my favorite episode of this season. There's something magical about this episode that I just can't put my finger to. Plus, it was a breather from the heavy episode 4.
Avoidance is a common theme in episode 5: Ik-Sung avoiding Jun-Wan, Ik-Jun and Ik-Sun never touched the elephant in the room, Song-Hwa summarizing that Seok-Hyeong avoided his marital problems, Gyeo-ul somewhat avoiding confiding with anyone about the domestic violence (or maybe it's not really avoiding with Gyeo-ul but more on she's just used to doing things her way).
For bidulgi, I honestly don't know where this is going. I do want Jun-Wan to be happy, though.
I just cannot handle Seok-Hyeong's mom. My goodness! I'm at a loss for words. Good thing that Rosa was there to reprimand her. But I'm glad to see that Seok-Hyeong acknowledged his (non) efforts towards Shin-Hye.
I'm very pleased to see Seok-Hyeong instantly following Song-Hwa's advice about asking "useless" questions/replies, especially to people he feels most comfortable with. I squealed in delight when Min-Ha called and Seok-Hyeong asked more details about the gift. I wouldn't be surprised if Song-Hwa turns out to be the ship captain of GomGom because it has been said in Season 1 that Seok-Hyeong only listens to Song-Hwa's advice and the rest of the boys are just fillers. Hahahaha!
Min-Ha continues to grow on me. She has a lovely personality. Aside from being both Armys, I understand better why Gyeo-ul and Min-Ha are best friends. They're both resilient, see the best in people, and just want to be good doctors.
I love the quick scene of Min-Ha and Gyeo-ul where Gyeo-ul saw Min-Ha walking with Seok-Hyeong. Gyeo-ul didn't want to disturb the two and deliberately stepped out of the way, completely understanding that this is a moment of Min-Ha with Seok-Hyeong. Any best friend would immediately relate with that!
WinterGarden! This relationships is rich. It is very likely that Gyeo-ul was exposed to domestic violence in her family, hence, her instinct to always do something against the abuser. This explains a lot why she ran after the DV dad in season 1 and now, the DV husband. It is also likely the reason why Gyeo-ul asked Jeong-Won to reassure her of his love once a day. I agree with you that her stoicism was brought about by circumstance. Given that she also appears to be the eldest in the family, she needs that stoicism to take care of the people she loves.
Ik-Jun yelling for Gyeo-ul is always comedy gold. He's just like an older brother who really cares for her. It's not shown but I'm sure he knows that Gyeo-ul and Jeong-Won are talking and is yelling to also mess with them. Hahahaha!
Episode 5 did a one-year time jump to 2021. I'm glad that PD did that because I seriously don't want HP to deal with Covid. But what I like the most about the time jump is that WinterGarden's relationship continues. It's a nice departure from the few K-Dramas I watched where the chaebol son feels pressured to get married quickly.
Any 41-year-old bachelor might feel that pressure to marry quickly but I'm glad that WinterGarden are taking their time building their relationship.
Speaking of chaebol son, I particularly enjoyed the appearance of Dong-Il, the priest brother of Jeong-Won. The scene between Rosa and Dong-Il shows me that this family is truly special. For those who criticize Jeong-won as being too aegyo, the Rosa-Dong-Il scenes show that this kind of aegyo runs naturally in the family. Just like Jeong-Won, Dong-Il shows childlike innocence. The way he yelled 옴마 many times and the way he kept showing the rainbow to his 옴마 was just adorable. So Jeong-Won being aegyo to people he loves and feels most comfortable with is something that has always come naturally in his own family.
Finally, I don't think the secrecy of WinterGarden's relationship will be the focus of the next episodes. It's safe to assume that within a year, people would have known that they are a couple. I honestly don't want HP to focus on that when there are more stories about WinterGarden that can be explored.
To end, I think and I hope episode 6 will be a fun episode since the preview shows that it would be all about the current interns. There's a quick clip of Gyeo-ul saying that she's used to taking care of GS by herself but she's now handling more interns. This is good character development as Gyeo-ul might be shown taking a more authentic leadership role rather than just being an individual contributor.
It is also likely that the 99s's time as interns will be shown. I can't wait!