Yong-pal: Episode 8
There’s no dearth of feelings in this episode, and jealousy is to blame as a catalyst for most of them. But everyone who formerly wanted a piece of Yeo-jin now thinks they can do without her, even our hero—though he never sacrifices who he is at her expense, and even when he tries, the results are actually pretty endearing. A hero who can commit to everything except for being a bad person is a keeper, and Yeo-jin’s certainly got enough people (even a nun!) telling her so. Some things you gotta just figure out for yourself.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Since Tae-hyun is still a patient in the hospital, Nurse Oh and the head nurse giggle as she tickles his nose with a lavender branch in an attempt to wake him up. Tae-hyun deadpans from his non-sleep that he’d sneeze and bust his stitches, to which Nurse Oh is all, Shut up, you’re fine.
But his team disperses when Chae-young comes to pay him a visit, and she teasingly calls him a turncoat for sending her out of the hospital that fateful night, even though it was to save her life. She recognizes that now and thanks him, but says that he now owes her for saving his life.
He doesn’t understand at first, until Chae-young points out that all this personalized medical attention he’s getting isn’t free. Tae-hyun says he’ll pay her back, prompting her to place her hand on his, flutter her eyelids, and ask how he’ll pay her back.
Tae-hyun takes his hand out of hers and jokes that it won’t be like that, but their flirty banter catches the attention of Yeo-jin. She is not happy.
Nurse Oh helps keep up the ruse that Yeo-jin is the comatose factory worker who tried to commit suicide, though she finds a difficult patient in her since Yeo-jin won’t eat or drink anything. She reports that to Tae-hyun, who rises out of bed despite his still-healing injury.
Everyone’s having Yeo-jin-based hallucinations now, since Chief Lee finds himself hearing echoes of her whispering “Murderer” at him when he goes to her room.
He pulls back the bed sheet expecting to see the dummy, but instead finds her there, staring right into his soul. But then he wakes up from his creepy dream, safe and sound in his office.
Tae-hyun goes to visit Doo-chul and his lackey, who are in full body casts after the big scuffle. It’s funny that they’re so swollen and hurt that they need subtitles when they talk, and equally so when they start crying in fear at the sight of their incompetent but well-meaning nurse.
Speaking of, Detective Lee comes to the hospital to present pictures of Doo-chul and said lackey to Head Nurse Ahjumma (I’m just calling her that because it’s ridiculous she doesn’t have a name eight episodes in), who claims she’s never seen either of them.
He keeps probing, eventually asking whether any doctors at their hospital perform house calls. Nurse Ahjumma says there’s no way, while Tae-yong interrupts to say it wouldn’t be unheard of. He grabs Detective Lee’s attention, so they go to the hospital cafe for a chat.
I’m getting Gaksital vibes (never a bad thing) watching Tae-hyun sneakily eavesdrop on their conversation, which centers around the identity of the infamous Yong-pal.
Detective Lee is sure that Yong-pal’s a doctor at this hospital, which gets Tae-yong thinking. He doesn’t say anything though, and their conversation is interrupted when the corrupt chief of security comes to shut them down. Lee calls him out for obstructing justice, at least until the chief calls his boss directly and has him chew out his subordinate.
Tae-yong passes by Tae-hyun, and it definitely seems like he suspects him of being Yong-pal by the look on his face. Afterward, the chief of security ironically asks after Tae-hyun’s health (considering he shot him), and tells him that Do-joon has invited him and Chief Lee out for dinner tonight. Declining is not an option.
Tae-hyun stops in to see Yeo-jin next, and it’s cute how he tries to make the rice water she refuses to drink sound so appetizing in the hopes that she’ll try some. She won’t, and keeps shutting down anything he has to say by telling him that she wants to be alone.
He thinks she’s mad at him because he wasn’t able to be in the surgery room like he promised, but defends that he couldn’t have known that Chief Lee would pull the stunt he did. On the bright side, she’s alive, isn’t she?
She doesn’t see that as much of a boon, and Tae-hyun’s attempts to cheer her up end with her raising her voice as she tells him to leave her alone. Then she says in a soft but firm tone that even though she knows he risked his life for her, she can’t stop hating him.
Her reasons are unclear, but she tells him all her concerns in one steady stream: she’ll never have her old life back, everything will be restructured while she’s “dead,” and even if she rises from the dead, she’ll have no power as long as President Go and Do-joon are in cahoots against her.
And if she were to come back, she’s sure that they’ll spin the media coverage so she’ll inevitably be returned to Do-joon’s custody and either end up locked away again or killed. Tae-hyun cuts right to the chase: “So are you saying that I should’ve handed you over to President Go?” Yes, basically.
Tae-hyun argues that President Go and Do-joon are both crocodiles (so, ruthless mercenaries), to which Yeo-jin replies that she’s also a crocodile who’s used to living among her kind. “But because of you, I’ve been pushed out of the water.” Jeez Yeo-jin, gratitude is a thing.
Along with Chief Lee, he’s treated to dinner that night at Do-joon’s grand estate, though Chae-young warns him beforehand that Do-joon invited him to either buy him out or threaten him. Chief Lee, meanwhile, has more Yeo-jin-based hallucinations.
So when Do-joon tells Tae-hyun that he should take his sister to the United States to get treated on his dime, Tae-hyun bows and acts thankful on the outside while on the inside he realizes that Do-joon’s taken the buyout route.
Do-joon is well aware that President Go made this same offer to Tae-hyun, but is soothed when Tae-hyun aligns himself with his offer rather than Go’s. He takes the same bribery route with Chief Lee by offering him the hospital director’s position, citing the recent stabbing incident and the director’s age as reasons he should probably retire.
The chairman skewers the bleeding steak he serves like a caveman before reminiscing about his and Chae-young’s first meeting in New York over grilled meats. It’s with bitterness that he recalls how he was just Yeo-jin’s errand boy then, and how his father sent her to study abroad but not her half-brother.
He takes subtle jabs at Chae-young throughout the one-sided conversation, venting his resentment about always being considered as beneath Yeo-jin despite the fact that he’s technically the eldest son. And, more importantly, he makes sure to mention how Chae-young must have looked down on him for his low status, which really seems to be the sticking point for him.
Despite drama laws dictating that there’s no death without a body, Do-joon seems to be operating under the assumption that his sister is a corpse as he drunkenly sighs that she’s better off this way—she’s with her fiancé in the afterlife now. He sent both of them off himself.
“You’re all my accomplices,” he all but slurs to everyone at the table. Besides, he defends without any provocation, it’s not like he personally killed anyone. That’s what Chief Lee is for, right? (Chief Lee: *gulp*)
He then instructs his secretary to kill his accomplices if something were to happen, which Chief Lee takes very seriously even though he claims he’s joking. Yeo-jin’s warning about Do-joon eventually killing him too rings through his mind.
Do-joon brags about how he’ll have his sister cremated and buried next to her fiancé, but has a slip when he adds ominously, “If he just kept his promise with me, he wouldn’t have died like that.” That’s when his secretary intervenes to take him away, because he’s getting a bit too chatty with the wine.
Tae-hyun’s left with Chae-young afterward, and he asks her honestly why she’s not nicer to her husband—he seems to be suffering from a lack of affection, he adds, which is an apt observation. She laughs the idea off, claiming she’s lacking affection too.
When Tae-hyun asks her about Yeo-jin’s fiancé, Chae-young sighs that he was a great guy who just happened to be the heir to Daejung Group. If he hadn’t been, he would’ve been perfect for Yeo-jin. Despite their backgrounds, the two of them still fell madly in love.
Flash back to when Yeo-jin had first woken after the accident, with only her stern father by her side to tell her that her fiancé didn’t make it. She just screamed and screamed from her hospital bed with grief.
“You took away the person most precious to me, Father. Watch carefully. I will take away the person most precious to you,” we hear her say in voiceover as she takes the suicidal plunge from the window that landed her in a coma in the first place.
But her father actually liked seeing her asleep, so much so that he instructed the staff to keep her in that state until the day he died. That way, she could stay as his beautiful daughter and not try to kill herself because she hates him.
In the present, Tae-hyun asks how Yeo-jin’s father knew when he would die, and Chae-young explains that he had advanced pancreatic cancer at the time. After creating a fortress for his princess to sleep in, he died six months later, though she never woke up because of Do-joon.
Chae-young believes Yeo-jin to be dead, and thinks she picks up grief from Tae-hyun’s expression, enough for her to know that he liked her. In turn, Tae-hyun asks why she doesn’t love her husband (again), noting a bit strangely that VIP floor patients like her whine more than other people. Well, duh.
Later that night, Tae-hyun injects something into Yeo-jin’s IV, presumably so that she can be safe during the car ride he takes her on. She wakes up as the sun starts to rise, and Tae-hyun’s only explanation is, “We’re escaping. Just like you wanted.”
But Yeo-jin remembers this street with horror as the one she and her fiancé drove on before their fateful crash, and the trauma from that night starts to seep into her present. Tae-hyun, ever the gentleman, stops the car and gets out so she can cry to herself inside.
She looks betrayed when he finally stops at a church, because it’s the same one she was going to get married in. He knows that, and says so as he uses a wheelchair to bring her inside.
“I thought this would be the best place to take you,” he says solemnly. “This is the end to your lost memories. Now you’re free. You can regain your strength here. Go back to the world of crocodiles. Chairman Han agreed to help treat my sister.”
What he’s actually saying registers quickly for her, and she simply answers, “Bastard.” He doesn’t refute the claim, nor does he try to defend himself when she asks if she became too burdensome for him now that he figured out how to help his sister.
“That’s right. You’re a big burden,” he says without meaning it. He puts a phone in her hand and tells her she can call either President Go or her bank in Switzerland—it’s too dangerous for him to continue keeping her at the hospital. So he’s just… leaving her here?
He makes sure to add that though no one knows her number now, the second she makes a call, the tracking process will start. He cautions her to use her one call carefully, before she asks why he’s doing this.
“You belong to a different world than mine. I momentarily forgot about that. And I hate being jealous over a dead man.” Tae-hyun leaves her on that note, and she cries to herself once he’s gone.
But a passing priest mentions the car that’s parked outside the church still, and Yeo-jin knows it must be Tae-hyun’s. She uses her one precious call to speed dial Yong-pal, telling him that if he doesn’t come back in thirty seconds or less, she’ll never see him again.
He couldn’t leap any faster from that car, and runs to find her on the church grounds while yelling, “Yeo-jin-ah!” When he finds her, she asks how he could drop to such a familiar name with her in all seriousness… before breaking out into a wide smile. Aww, you two.
The priest allows them to bunk in the church’s lodging for the night, but makes sure to instruct them to make room for Jesus—as in, they’ll have very separate bedrooms. Tae-hyun wins both the nun and Yeo-jin over when he makes sure the light will stay on for her (since she’s afraid of the dark).
A crazed Nurse Hwang has been pestering Do-joon’s secretary for the last two days by calling him from a pay phone and demanding that he return her to Yeo-jin’s side or else.
She threatens to spill what she knows about the nefarious CEO, but is cut short when a truck runs her phone booth over. Aww come on, we’re lost Cynthia and now Nurse Hwang too? This is some serious restructuring.
The truck of doom seems like President Go’s doing, and when we next see Nurse Hwang, she looks pretty dead. Next to her is a picture of her and Yeo-jin together and smiling. For what it’s worth, Do-joon’s secretary had no part in her death(?), and is angry that President Go and Do-joon conspired behind his back.
Tae-hyun and Yeo-jin realize they’re just separated by a wall when they can’t sleep at night, so he knocks on it gently from his side to see if she’s there. She smiles and knocks back. So cute.
They hang out in the church proper, where Yeo-jin tells him not to hate someone who’s already dead. Tae-hyun acts like he suddenly doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but she continues, “He died because of me. Because he loved me. I still remember it so clearly.”
Three years may be enough for some people to heal from such a wound, but living in the prison of her mind made that impossible, when all she’d do was relive the memory day after day. “Can you wait for me?” she asks tentatively. “Until my scars heal.”
Tae-hyun’s silence is his assent, but at least he opens up to her about why he was keen on getting them out of the hospital—the police had tracked him (as Yong-pal) to the hospital, and her brother plans on holding her funeral soon. They can’t hide the fact that she’s alive much longer without being caught.
So if he took her out of the hospital for that reason, she wonders, what was he going to do with himself? “Me? I’m a doctor,” he says proudly. A doctor who makes good money treating gangsters in need, which he’ll go back to doing.
“But… if I didn’t call, were you really going to leave?” she ventures, getting a nervous chuckle out of Tae-hyun for her trouble. “Why did you call me then? What about all the crocodiles?” he returns. Neither of them can explain themselves.
“You said I could only make one call. The call I could only make once… that’s you,” Yeo-jin says. Tae-hyun reaches over to take her hand in his, before he leans in…
…And kisses her.
It’s really a shame that two of this show’s most interesting characters got the boot in such a short span of time, because while I had no great love for Nurse Hwang (unlike the adoration Cynthia’s badassery inspired), I loved how completely and totally insane she was. There were a lot of layers to her, from the caring mother figure who loved Yeo-jin as a living doll to the if-I-can’t-have-you-no-one-can aspect of her that was legitimately frightening at times.
What really cemented her as someone I wanted to find out more about was when she heard what Do-joon and the hospital director were planning to do to Yeo-jin and reacted instantly, even if it drove her into a murderous frenzy. She acted to protect Yeo-jin, and it really makes me wonder what kind of relationship they once had for them to be in a picture together. And I’m worried that by (presumably) offing her, whatever secrets she held about Yeo-jin’s past might never come to light.
But that’s a topic for another day, since that kiss. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it, because while I love the two of them together, I was actually more on board with their adorable friendship and wasn’t expecting it to advance so suddenly. Though I guess it’s not that suddenly in the scheme of things, since we can point to their budding friendship as the bedrock for their romantic feelings for each other and see where small shifts occurred to lead us to this point.
And I’m sure I’ll be just as on board with them once the initial shock passes, but again, I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked when the foundation was already there. I’m also extra grateful that the show didn’t make Tae-hyun into a bad guy like he so desperately wants to be sometimes, because that’s something I definitely wouldn’t have bought. But Tae-hyun saying he’s going to look out only for himself and his sister only to instantly regret it and feel sorry for ever suggesting it? That’s our Yong-pal.
Plus, it was nice to see Yeo-jin be proactive in that moment by calling him, and there’s just something about knowing a person well enough to make an ultimatum like she did that just works. She was banking on him needing that little extra push to do what was already in his heart, and the gamble paid off in a big way—but I do wonder what Tae-hyun plans on doing about his sister. Then again, I was wondering why Do-joon’s offer was the only one available when Yeo-jin’s should’ve still been totally viable. Maybe it made his decision to abandon her only to instantly change his mind a little moot, but I guess you can’t blame the guy for shopping around.