Okay, yes now I’m fully onboard. I felt optimistic after last episode, but now the main storyline is in full swing and the tone established, and it’s exactly the mix of action, humor, and melancholy that speaks to me—it’s reminiscent of the writer’s previous drama Story of a Man, which I loved and would consider a wonderful comparison point (if Healer can match it, I mean).
I could have guessed that the Healer would have to come up with a scheme to get closer to Young-shin that didn’t entail just following her around like a stalker, since we saw how effective that was. And I suppose the ol’ Clark Kent chestnut was just begging to be used, which perhaps some perceptive viewers already anticipated. I wasn’t thinking too hard about anticipating Jung-hoo’s moves, however, so I was totally surprised when he showed up as the rookie tabloid reporter, and I love the rapport between the two—mostly because Young-shin is so hilarious when she’s bluffing and talking the big talk, and you just know Jung-hoo’s rolling his eyes mentally every time she puffs herself up. But I love that he has to act timid and doe-eyed around her, and this whole dynamic just floats my boat like you wouldn’t believe. I hadn’t even given much thought to how I’d feel about the lovelines in this drama—I know, how weird, right? But it just didn’t strike me all that much—so I’m pleasantly surprised to suddenly care. I totally care, you guys!
And wouldn’t you know, it’s a two-for-one-deal because Moon-ho’s tortured gazes at the end (or always, really) just kill me, first of all because Yoo Ji-tae is fantastic and imbuing his characters with added solemnity and making their silences speak. In fact I find him the most perfect casting in this drama (and can see why the writer went for him first), because he plays the most pivotal role in tying past and present together, and completely inhabits his character’s sense of longing and oppressive guilt.
On top of all that, though, I love this idea of him feeling responsible for Young-shin in a way that he can’t explain to anybody. I don’t know if the show’s going to go for a real love triangle here (it’s a drama, so I pretty much expect it, but I do recall that Story of a Man didn’t really linger on romantic rivalries) but I think I’d be fine either way—I can absolutely see how his guilt soup of emotions could include transferred love for Myung-hee and protective oppa feelings (particularly because he failed her in that role twenty years ago). But if he never goes there, that’s perfectly fine as well, because I see him more as the emotional center of the show, and he has a greater mission than finding love.
In any case, I’m happy that I’m loving all three main characters, particularly our plucky heroine Young-shin. Given how many plucky heroines we’ve had dotting dramaland, I find Young-shin’s bravado and cheekiness really refreshing; we’ve seen Park Min-young being plucky before, but in a more generic way. This character feels more specific and eccentric, and I like the direction she’s taking with her—kind of smart but with huge blind spots, kind of full of herself, and kind of vulnerable and nervous, too. It’s a nice, human mix.