Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Healer: final thoughts

Omg, Healer, your final week almost gave me a heart attack — twice! — of what could have happened. That there was a tremble in my hands moments after each of the pair episode ends. I think the writer likes toying with our emotions because i could totally picture, and rather expected, the ‘alternative’ scenarios materializing then and there. After doing that to Teacher’s character, i didn’t see why the drama won’t surprise us again. I would’ve hated it, but a twist is a twist for a reason, right?

It was not until the very end that i realized i could never predict what’s gonna happen. Never. I neither like nor am good at that, but as certain scenes play out, your brain juggles taking them in with anticipating what’s coming, doesn’t it? That will in a sense soften the blow, if any, because you sort of see it coming, but Healer develops not in the way i thought it would go… or my predictions simply failed every time.

healer_1904

For instance, i didn’t expect Jung-hoo to reveal his identity to Moon-ho that fast, only after a few hunches, or show his face to many central characters shortly afterwards, but the drama has passed the halfway point at that time and somebody got to learn the truth sooner than later, and the story only curves upwards thereafter. Teacher’s tragic end is still a bummer, sacrifice be damned. There wasn’t anything major happening when Young-shin met Myung-hee, tearful and bittersweet nonetheless, though it did propel her to be in the loop regarding her identity and the history of the previous generation.

If anything, that news could have been the perfect source/reason for unsolicited breakup and noble idiocy. In any other drama, that would happen for sure, but the characters in Healer are on a different level. Not only do they not fall into the obvious hole, they also talk it out like adults, keep no secrets, and say what they mean and mean what they say. Find evidence that your dad didn’t kill my dad, but even if you can’t find it, come back. How cool is that? It probably helps that Jung-hoo is socially awkward that things like temporary separation and noble idiocy do not exist in his book.

Moreover, after the nicely laid out trap which got Moon-ho and Young-shin captured separately and had Jung-hoo following a false lead, who didn’t expect him to choose between them and eventually lose the other? He had stated his what-if choice beforehand with Moon-ho agreeing wholeheartedly with that angelic smile (so many hints!), but the thought of him having to make the real choice broke my heart. (Lesson of the day: tracking someone’s phone won’t give you accurate position. Ahjumma and Jung-hoo should’ve learned their lesson from the café incident involving his mom. Phones are easily misplaced anyway…) Alas — or thankfully — it was merely a clever move to blackmail him and both are released unscathed once he complies.

I was ready to breathe a sigh of relief when the Double S goons now headed by that Ahn guy decided to target Healer’s hacker partner. No matter how genius that Ahn guy is, him outsmarting Ahjumma upset me (she is the best! she herself says so!) but her safety is top priority. I mean, not even Jung-hoo knows where her den is! I hope her secret hideout is as labyrinthine as his, or that an emergency exit exists somewhere in case she’s trapped. I bet the goons doesn’t know she’s a one-person show and a she as the whole team is dispatched to get her… I just wanted her to run for her life, although of course she needs to pack the essentials and shut down her elaborate system… and the hour is coming to a close i feared for the worst…

… to that development in the finale. (Gawd, this writer…)

healer_2008 healer_2009 healer_2011 healer_2012

I so thought they are pulling off a City Hunter-y denouement and am couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong. My tear ducts were squeezed dry on Teacher i don’t think there are enough tears left for another central character’s passing.

Then the drama closes with a customary epilogue so brief i couldn’t help wanting more. Normally i’m not big on epilogue, particularly one with a time jump, if that’s just for fan service. Healer‘s epilogue does feel a bit fanservicey, yet i believe it could make effective use of a timeskip epilogue and a longer one at that since there are many more things to tell apart from the central romance(s). I read about time and budget restrictions, still a 2-minute ending clearly isn’t enough to send the drama off. Reading the translated script and Q&A bits with the writer Song Ji-na* does help clarify some things regarding the characters, plots, ending and beyond — which might also provide a less cursory and thus more satisfying closure should everything made the cut — but at the same time it feels nothing more than an afterthought. Those parts are not in the series even though she would’ve preferred them to be; at the end of the day, like it or not, what we see is what we get.

That’s not to say that the ending is a letdown. In many ways, it isn’t though it feels a bit lacking. As usual, i expected a full throttle, high stakes final showdown between the hero and villain — oomph and all — simply because it is the last one. It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for all series long, what a shame if it disappoints. I for one thought Moon-ho got everything figured out and just needed the drive and courage to act on whatever information he’s gathered thus far. Looking back, he didn’t seem to possess a lot of inside information. The informant bit is also somewhat convenient: she contacted him, informed him that she’s stopping by and asked to meet, he just needed to make it work. However, i do enjoy his rebellious take on covering hushed-up stories bigger networks with political tie-ins can’t even if the spur is personal. It’s little surprise that he brought the bad guys down through live broadcast, which has become his thing. What i dislike is how easily it’s achieved. The goons and Ahn guy were captured with ease, the Elder is investigated, Moon-shik has gone nuts… but that wasn’t satisfying. What about the creepy Secretary Oh? They’ve made people suffer. They need to pay for their crimes and i want to see it onscreen.

Another bit that doesn’t feel right is the decision to make the real Park Bong-soo the scapegoat for everything Jung-hoo is accused of. He is an unknown guy, but turning an innocent person into a hired assassin and pining other crimes on him isn’t something the morally upright Team Healer would do. Teacher has already taken the fall for Healer’s misdeeds, why there is a need to sacrifice another person for Jung-hoo’s sake when he can clear his name? Dramatic and heart-stopping effect aside, this move i cannot fathom.

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Back to the epilogue, i can see why it is so short. Other matters were nicely wrapped up prior to the airport scene: Jung-hoo telling Dad and Ahjussi his real name and showing them he’s capable of protecting Young-shin albeit not in a desirable way, the emotional reunion of mother and daughter wherein the eyes do the talking, and the mental breakdown of Kim Moon-shik. The last one is particularly messed up and twisted and sad. He descended into darkness to save Myung-hee and spent decades trying to win her heart but still failed at the end… he ended up seeing himself as Oh Gil-han, the man he so wanted to be, the man she loves for life.

That said, if time and budget were so limited, i could certainly rewind the episode and cut out certain scenes and reserve a few precious minutes for the epilogue *still wished for a longer one* like the carpark scene or the entire Healer Q&A session — sans the unaired scenes, it made many viewers confused anyway. Nevertheless, Healer is one of a few dramas whose latter half is more gripping and riveting than its first half; whose writer actually has enough story to fill 20 episodes (and arguably more — a special perhaps?) without going in circles too much or resorting to trite plot devices, manages to give a balanced proportion to the multiple genres it tackles — action and romance, melo and comedy, thriller and drama — and doesn’t dwell on one genre for too long that it feels too intense or dark or fluffy.

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[left and right: the same person XD]

I love our main couple. Jung-hoo and Young-shin look great together, are so comfortable around each other from the beginning i don’t recall any awkward moment between them, and eventually work together to achieve their common goal. They are one of the best drama couples of all time, hands down, although my fave character of the series gotta be Min-ja Ahjumma. She is seriously beyond fantabulous and even more badass than the Healer himself. She runs the entire Healer business by herself and frankly, what the team gotta do without her? She is such a scene stealer and i loved every single scene she’s in.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Healer is a great show and has provided a delightful watching experience, but it too must (and has) end(ed). There have been plenty great shows in the past which might be as awesome but i don’t think i can bear sitting through the episodes again as some parts are too painful, aggravating, or hard to rewatch. But Healer, i’ll definitely gonna rewatch.

♫ We can start at the end of time… and do it all again~ ♫

Do we have a new wedding song on our list?

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_
Rating: 4.5/5
Director: Lee Jung-sub, Kim Jin-woo
Production: KBS2, 2014~15
Cast: Ji Chang-wook, Park Min-young, Yoo Ji-tae, Kim Mi-kyung, Park Sang-won, Do Ji-won, Oh Kwang-rok
Genre: Action thriller, romantic comedy, K-drama (20 Episodes)

*) I read them over at Soompi, posted by ruizaio: the unaired scenes, part 1 and 2 of the Q&A.

p.s. Healer is my first Ji Chang-wook drama, only saw him in KARA’s Secret Love before. While his previous projects do not interest me, i’ll definitely be on the lookout for his next projects.

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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