We dive straight into the last episode, when ER intern, Oh Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo) finds her wedding ring on the dining table of her ex-husband and fellow intern, Oh Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk). Jin Hee is at Chang Min’s apartment to take care of him, since he’s become sick in the aftermath of his dad’s funeral. An exhausted Chang Min walks out of the bedroom, and she scolds him lightly for not eating. He’s had enough to eat, so she shows him the ring and asks why he has it.
Instead of answering, he sits down on the couch. She explains that Jin Ae took the ring, but he tells her that he got it back, and asks her why she still had it in the first place. It looks like she’s taking this as a sign, because she says that their fate must not be over yet, and that she was really afraid to fall in love with him again.
Chang Min must be in a swamp of guilt at this point, because instead of feeling hopeful, he talks about how hard it must have been for Jin Hee, meeting him again after their divorce. He tells her to leave, that she must be feeling this way, because of his father. Jin Hee denies it, but he goes on to say that she’s just feeling bad for him, because she’s a nice person, and he doesn’t want her to be troubled by him anymore. She tells Chang Min to call her if he’s sick again, then leaves, looking frustrated. I’m also frustrated, because that conversation went nowhere, but fair enough, he’s probably not in any shape to talk about their relationship.
In the taxi on the way home, Jin Hee looks at her ring thoughtfully. Back at the apartment, Chang Min stares off into space. His reverie is interrupted by a phone call from Jin Hee, which he doesn’t answer. He picks up when she calls back, and she asks if he was asleep. Chang Min lies that he was, and she apologizes, explaining that she was worried. He tells her to get home safe and hangs up, then lies back on the bed, obviously wide awake.
Both of the men in Jin Hee’s life are big on staring into space at the moment, because ER supervisor Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo) is fishing, or more accurately, sitting next to a fishing pole by the river and staring into space. He sighs, and flashes back to the night before, when Jin Hee confirmed to him that she still had feelings for Chang Min, then unknowingly cut off his confession to run to Chang Min’s side.
Back at the hospital, Jin Hee treats a granny who is having trouble breathing. Looking at her test results, Jin Hee tells the granny that she’s got pneumonia, and asks if her guardian is with her. Granny tells Jin Hee that her son is too busy to be bothered. Jin Hee proceeds to explain to her that her tumour got bigger, much to Granny’s shock, since she had no idea she had cancer. Understandably, Granny flips out, and attracts the attention of ER specialist Shim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin), who asks for an explanation. Jin Hee explains that Granny is being treated for cancer, but that she has signs of pneumonia from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Granny is in tears, convinced that she’s going to die. Ji Hye and the nurse both attempt to comfort her, but she calls her son, crying.
In Ji Hye’s office, Jin Hee gets a dressing down for not checking the patient record in which the guardian requested that Granny not be informed about her cancer. Ji Hye lectures her about the correct way to notify a patient, then instructs her to get a room to treat Granny’s pneumonia.
Chang Min drives into the hospital parking lot. In his car, he flashes back to his last conversation with his father, where his dad encouraged him not to give up on Jin Hee. He heaves a sigh, and gets out.
In the hospital hallway, fellow intern, Han Ah Reum (Clara) shows up in a totally ineffectual, but spectacularly pink trench coat, and spots Chang Min waiting for the elevator. She asks why he’s back so quickly, and he figures that it was best to get to work. He thanks her for worrying about him, and she laughs, telling him that she was being neighbourly. When Chang Min smiles at this, Ah Reum points out how long it’s been since his smile had appeared (so true, Ah Reum. So true). He laughs, but he’s quickly back to serious (boo). He apologizes that she was hurt because of him, but she shrugs it off, since she figured out that there was no room for her.
In the ER, Jin Hee comes back to Granny’s bed to find it empty. The nurse doesn’t know where she went, and Jin Hee runs off to look for her. She bumps into Chang Min, and asks what he’s doing there. He’s more interested in her problem though, and they both go searching the hospital for Granny. They split up, and Jin Hee checks the bathroom, but it’s Chang Min who spots her at the dispensary, arguing with the pharmacist. As Chang Min comes up, she collapses to the ground, unconscious. The other male intern, Im Yong Kyu (Yoon Jong Hoon), happens to be walking by and rushes over to help. Chang Min sends him to bring a stretcher and the nurses, since they’ll need to intubate Granny.
Nurse Choi, Jin Hee, and the male nurse come running back with Yong Kyu, and Jin Hee explains Granny’s diagnosis to Chang Min, who performs the intubation procedure. They move Granny to a treatment room in the ER, where Ji Hye checks in. They explain to her what happened, and she establishes that Granny will need to have her tumour removed soon. Everyone looks worried, since they don’t know how.
At the nurses’ station in the ER, Granny’s son is angry at Jin Hee for spilling the beans to Granny about her condition. Chang Min and Ji Hye come running, but Granny’s son only gets angrier as Ji Hye explains the situation, and mentions that Granny doesn’t want life support. Granny’s son loses his temper at this, demanding that they save his mother. As Granny’s son advances on Ji Hye, Chang Min steps in between, only to be shaken off. Jin Hee tries to defend Chang Min, pointing out that he saved Granny, but Granny’s son is too angry to care. Ji Hye tells him that they’ll keep him updated, and he calms down.
Jin Hee asks Chang Min what they’re going to do as they walk away. Chang Min has decided to save her, since he couldn’t save his dad. He tells her to go check on the patient while he does some research.
Back at the vacation house, Cheon Soo eats the side dishes that Jin Hee brought him from her mom. Afterwards, he flashes back to their conversation about whether the reason he can’t marry is his parents. He pulls a postcard out of the book he’s reading and writes a message to his father on it, wondering if they can meet some day.
Luggage packed, Cheon Soo leaves the vacation house, mailing the postcard to Kenya on his way out of town.
In the interns’ office, Chang Min is researching Granny’s tumour, when Jin Hee asks if he’s going home. He says no, then turns down an invitation to dinner. Jin Hee thanks him for saving Granny, comparing him to Superman. He only responds when she offers to help him research, and they get to work. Junior resident Kim Min Ki (Kwon Min) and the cranky resident (Heo Jae Ho) come by, surprised that they’re still there. They leave again, convinced that Chang Min and Jin Hee are just hiding their illicit behaviour by looking studious. Yay for comic relief!
As the night wears on, Jin Hee fetches coffee and food, then sits down next to Chang Min as they discuss ideas. She eventually passes out with her head on the desk. Chang Min reaches out to caress her cheek, then pulls his hand back, looking unhappy.
The next morning, Chang Min is still working when Jin Hee wakes up. She wonders at how tired he must be, but he brushes it off and tells her to go wash up. As she leaves, he finally hits upon the solution, in a paper written by none other than Cheon Soo.
Cheon Soo is walking down the street when he gets a phone call from Ji Hye. She tells him about the patient, and how they need him to come back to perform the procedure, since he’s the only one at the hospital who knows how to do it. Cheon Soo goes rushing back to the hospital, passing Prof. Ahn on the way. He takes charge in the treatment room and successfully performs the procedure (which consists of freezing and removing the tumour), with the help of Chang Min, Jin Hee, the nurse, and some fancy machines.
As Cheon Soo comes back out to the ER, he runs straight into Prof. Ahn, who reprimands him for ignoring his probation. Cheon Soo looks like he wants to punch him again.
Back in the interns’ office, Jin Hee gives Chang Min some dessert, and then compliments him on coming up with the answer and saving Granny. He points out that she helped, then gets up to go home. Jin Hee is caught off guard and chases after him.
On his way out, Chang Min runs into Cheon Soo in a waiting area, and stops him to ask about his probation, apologizing that he wasn’t able to get a punch in first. Cheon Soo assures him that the altercation had nothing to do with him, and tells him not to worry about it. Chang Min goes on to apologize for his past immature behaviour, since he’s realized that Jin Hee has feelings for Cheon Soo. Cheon Soo responds gruffly that he would have done the same in his position, and then gets stuck in the unenviable position of having to assure Chang Min that Jin Hee doesn’t have feelings for him, and that if Chang Min wants her, he should go for it. Chang Min cuts him off, saying that he’s made his peace with the situation since his father’s death. Cheon Soo doesn’t press the point.
Jin Hee comes running out of the ER and sees Cheon Soo. She stops to talk to him, but he sends her after Chang Min. Cheon Soo looks like he’s on the point of tears, as she thanks him for coming back to do the procedure and runs off.
Jin Hee gets into Chang Min’s car just as he’s buckling up. She asks to go eat somewhere, and he tells her not to worry about him, but she refuses to leave. Resigned, he starts the car and drives her home, but she refuses to go inside, insisting that she wants to make sure he eats. He tells her he will, and that what she’s feeling right now towards him is pity. When she denies it, he asks what it is if not pity. She has no answer for him, and reluctantly goes inside the house. Sleepless, she thinks back to what Chang Min said, until her mother (Lee Mi Young) comes in. Her mom also can’t sleep, because she’s worried for Chang Min’s Evil Mom (Park Joon Geum), since she knows how hard it is to lose your husband. It’s hardest for those left behind, she says, and Jin Hee looks thoughtful.
Back at home, Chang Min calls Evil Mom to check on her. She reassures him that Evil Aunt is taking care of her. She seems more worried about him, since he has no one to take care of him at a time like this.
It only just occurred to me that Cheon Soo must live in the hospital usually, because he’s staying at Ji Hye’s place while he’s suspended. She feeds him a spectacular dinner of pasta and salad, and he points out how she’s the same, always making over-the-top dishes. They laugh together, and he even smiles when he tries the pasta, which he declares to be delicious. When she asks how he passed the time at the vacation house, he tells her about sending a postcard to his dad’s last known address. She’s surprised, but he just smiles brightly when she asks why he finally did it.
The next morning, Chang Min finds a box of individually wrapped fortune cookies on his desk at the hospital. He cracks one open to find that the fortune inside is a definition of the word “pity”, meaning to take someone’s sorrows as your own, to be sympathetic. He looks thoughtful.
Yong Kyu is looking at a game on his phone when he walks straight into Ah Reum in line at the cafeteria. Her tray goes flying, and they both bend down to pick it up. As he turns around to apologize, they come face to face, and it’s a magic moment with fairy dust and sparkles and — holy crap, how is she working as a doctor in those shoes?!
Despite their moment, Ah Reum eats with someone else. She discovers Yong Kyu watching her longingly from another table while looking into her compact mirror. Ah Reum goes over to visit him when she’s done eating, and they have a chat about whether Yong Kyu wants to continue being a doctor. He looks surprisingly happy to realize that he doesn’t, and that he’s thinking about what else he wants to do. Ah Reum is supportive, and he smiles like a goofball as she walks away.
The interns are all playing badminton with no net in the park, possibly as an advertisement for a sportswear brand, but whatever, it’s cute so I’ll take it. The married interns argue over the baby, or lack thereof, while Chang Min and Jin Hee dispense relationship advice with an apparent lack of irony.
Back at home, Jin Hee chews out her younger sister, Oh Jin Ae (Jeon Soo Jin) for borrowing money from Chang Min. Jin Ae’s husband Kwang Soo (Park Doo Shik) comes over holding Baby Gook, wondering what’s going on, and I lose track of the scene so I can stare at the baby. How cute is this kid? Anyway, the upshot is that Jin Ae agrees to pay back Jin Hee, who will pay back Chang Min. Also, Kwang Soo is awesome.
Jin Hee waits for Chang Min to come home outside his apartment. She flashes back to waiting outside their apartment when they were married (you can tell it’s the past, because she has bad hair again). Jin Hee doesn’t go inside even when Chang Min texts her that he’ll be working late, and he finds her sleeping on their stoop when he gets home. He asks what she’s doing out there, and it turns out that she didn’t want to stay at home alone, or even to go inside then either. The poor guy must be exhausted, but he humours her and takes her for a piggyback ride around their neighbourhood. Chang Min tells her that he can’t work if he’s so worried about her, and Jin Hee replies that she can’t help it, since she can’t find a job and feels useless. He reassures her that there’s something she’s good at, to take her time to find it. To cheer her up, he sings to her while carrying her up a hill. Sadly, I get the hairy eyeball from my significant other when I suggest he try that, too. Boo.
Back in the present, Chang Min finds Jin Hee sitting next to the elevator, and they go inside the apartment to talk. She gives him back the money from Jin Ae, which he initially refuses. Instead, Jin Hee talks about how she always thought she was the only victim of their breakup, but finally realized how hard he’d worked for their marriage, and how she’s been too wrapped up in her own emotions to think about how he felt. He dismisses this insight and tries to send her home, but she stops to ask if he liked her fortune cookies. She’s saddened to find out that he didn’t like them, since she was almost late for work making them. He asks why she bothered, and she explained that even though he called her feelings “pity”, it wasn’t such a bad thing. He smiles a little at this.
The next morning, Chang Min walks in to find another box of cookies on his desk. This time, the fortune tells him to go to a café after work to meet a precious person. That evening, Jin Hee waits at the café, then calls Chang Min wondering where he is. He pretends not to know about the note, but he’s actually standing outside the café looking at her. He comes inside when she spots him, and even almost cracks a smile.
As they sit down to talk, Jin Hee tells Chang Min that she’s thinking of starting over with him. He stops her, and explains that what she’s feeling is fake, and she’ll get over it pretty soon. He tells her to find someone who’ll really make her heart thump, someone who may even be close by. He leaves after dropping this noble sentiment on her, while Jin Hee looks both frustrated and confused.
At the hospital the next day, Jin Hee is listening to a patient’s heartbeat through her stethoscope, while looking at Chang Min out of the corner of her eye. He walks by when he finishes up with his patient, and she stares after him. She abandons her patient (who is hopefully not too sick) to search for him all over the hospital. When she comes upon the elevator, she flashes back to the time they were crammed in together (you may remember Chang Min’s post-elevator erection in episode 10). In the cat stairwell (it’s back!), she remembers when he offered to take responsibility for the tracheotomy. She flashes back to all their moments together (the ones where Chang Min was trying to be nice, not the part where she threw pee in his face), as she races up the stairs.
She finally comes upon Chang Min waiting for the elevator, grabs his hand and drags him into the cat stairwell, where all important conversations happen. Rather than explain, she pulls out her stethoscope and makes him listen to her heart, which is thumping for him. As they stare into each other’s eyes, the episode ends.
One of my least favourite tropes in dramas is the noble breakup, where one character breaks up with the other for their own good. Here, we have its cousin, the noble rejection, and it turns out I still hate it. Jin Hee is reacting surprisingly well to Chang Min telling her that she doesn’t know what she’s feeling, and fair enough, Chang Min’s dad just died and he has a lot to deal with, so he gets a free pass for stupid behaviour this episode. But hey! We have some progress on Jin Hee! It’s nice to have some insight on what she’s feeling for a change, and also for her to take some responsibility for the breakdown of their marriage. Hopefully, we’ll see Chang Min let go of the guilt and stupid assumptions about her feelings soon, too, because, damn it, I hate noble rejections.
So, “Emergency Couple” just got a 1-episode extension, and it looks like they’re going to fill the time with product placement and the Ah Reum/Yong Kyu side story. While I’m not against extensions on principle, adding an episode this late in the game makes for some pretty random moments inserted into the story: for example, I could have done without the random badminton, the trip to the café, or the pause for dessert. Product placement doesn’t usually bother me, but come on, we can do better than this.
On the other hand, if they’d spent the extra time on Ji Hye and Cheon Soo instead, I would have been perfectly happy. Make it happen, writers!