Right away we get a reasonably full and clear explanation of just what happened to Hye-jeong's grandmother in surgery so long ago. The outcome of this scene left me a little confused. The surgical team screwed up. That much has never been in doubt. But they reacted poorly in the face of an unanticipated situation. While such failures are bad, they're also fairly inevitable. Doctors are only human after all. This is something Hye-jeong herself knows all too well, what with being put under disciplinary review for having committed a different kind of error.
One of the bigger problem I've had with "Doctors" is that it's hard to figure out the moral thrust the drama's going for. Take Hye-jeong's dad. He doesn't appear this episode. Actually, as far as I can recall we haven't seen him at all since Hye-jeong's big epiphany that fathers matter near the end of the Namgoong Min plot. Are they reconciling or does she still hate him, and why does this topic receive so little discussion?
It's the same way with Hye-jeong's quest for vengeance. I can't tell whether we're supposed to want her to succeed or not. Writer Ha Myeong-hee seems to be going for nuance, yet director Oh Choong-hwan keeps making a point of how the more antagonistic characters are total jerks. That really should not be a consideration when it comes to medical ethics. It's a completely arbitrary standard.
But then the understanding of medical ethics has always been a weak point in "Doctors". What's the deal with Kang-soo being operated on by his co-workers? Yes, yes, I know not everything needs to be literal- the point of the scene is about how the various doctors come together as a family. Even so, it's a very silly supporting plot to have when the consequences of surgery gone wrong is being given such emphasis in the main storyline.
While it's normally a good thing when a drama's plot is difficult to predict, with "Doctors" this element is less the result of creativity and more a function of the drama's generally baffling production design. Any time the story moves in a generally linear direction (like with Kang-soo's surgery), the plot arc is fully predictable and the main point of contention is over how the other characters react. While this kind of storytelling isn't terribly exciting, it is at least relatively easy to parse, which is more than I can write for "Doctors" writ large.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Doctors" Episode 17"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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