Side dish: What better way to celebrate a major accomplishment than with pig trotters, or jokbal in Korean. Here’s a recipe in case you can find pig’s feet and are adventurous enough to make them at home. In case you’re not, I’ve had the jokbal at Chowon Family Restaurant and I can vouch that it’s delicious (though not as good as their cow’s knee cartilage which was AWESOME.)
We start off back in the elevator from the last episode with Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk) too shaky to perform an emergency tracheotomy on a dying patient. Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo) takes the scalpel from him and with Chang Min’s help, performs the tracheotomy and saves the patient. They celebrate together until suddenly the elevator doors open to reveal the ER supervisor, Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo) and the new resident, Shim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin). Kook Cheon Soo, believing that Chang Min did the surgery, slaps him for going ahead without supervision. Chang Min takes the blame, stopping Jin Hee from telling the truth.
Back in the ER, the other interns praise Chang Min for the tracheotomy. Chang Min is about to set them straight but Jin Hee stops him. Later, when Chang Min asks her why she didn’t let him explain, she tells him she was only able to do it because of him and he should get some praise along with the slap. They have a nice moment, which immediately makes him uncomfortable.
Turns out Chang Min’s gesture was for naught, since the nurse who was in the elevator with them sold them out. Kook Cheon Soo berates Jin Hee for going ahead with the operation in that situation, and then tells her that she did a good job on it. Finally on the receiving end of some praise, Jin Hee celebrates as she leaves for home.
Chang Min bumps into sexy intern, Han Ah Reum (Clara) wearing a crazy outfit at his apartment building. She lives in the same building, it turns out, and has just come home from clubbing, hence her outlandish appearance. She invites herself over for a beer and they proceed to have the most awkward conversation ever.
Cut to Jin Hee chugging a beer and eating pig trotters to celebrate her successful tracheotomy. Mom mentions how she’d like to shove Jin Hee’s success in Oh Chang Min’s face. Apparently she also doesn’t know that they work together. What’s with these dishonest kids?
Chang Min and Ah Reum start talking about his blind date (see episode 3 review), which is slightly awkward because he still doesn’t know that she was the one who stood him up. Ah Reum attempts to defend her actions but he doesn’t want to hear it. Switching gears, she asks him what he looks for in a girlfriend. A connection, and common interests, he tells her. She responds by calling him a sap.
Cut to Evil Mom (Park Joon Geum). They should have played the music from Jaws in this scene, because she’s in Chang Min’s elevator and closing in on his apartment. Gasp!
Ah Reum, on the point of leaving, is stopped by the doorbell. In walks Evil Mom, who takes one look at Ah Reum’s outfit and bodily throws her out, assuming that she’s an escort. Too late, Chang Min explains that she’s his colleague, Han Ah Reum, and Evil Mom realizes that she’s just chucked out the minister’s daughter. Chang Min finally figures out that she’s the one who stood him up, as Evil Mom panics.
Shim Ji Hye walks in on Kook Cheon Soo at a bar. They take a cryptic trip down memory lane, talking about something that Kook Cheon Soo still blames himself for. His tortured past instantly ups his hotness factor, and I make a note to pay more attention to him.
Next morning, Chang Min and Evil Mom discuss his absent dad. Chang Min urges his mother to get a divorce, but she refuses until he’s settled down and in charge of Evil Uncle’s hospital. As he leaves, she heads over to Evil Uncle’s house to trade bitchy dialogue with the Evil Aunts. Evil Uncle tells her that there’s a directorship open at Chang Min’s hospital and he can recommend Absent Dad (Kang Shin Il) for the job. Evil Mom immediately starts plotting.
Jin Hee meets with a mysterious older gentleman who helped her through med school and gives him a thank you gift. He wonders how she doesn’t have a boyfriend and she says she doesn’t want one. Then he tells her not to visit him anymore. He asks her where she’s doing her internship but we don’t hear the answer. So mysterious!
Back at the hospital, Chang Min runs into Ah Reum. He confronts her about the blind date and she tries to apologize but she’s cut short when he gets a phone call from his mom, who’s on his way to see Absent Dad about the directorship. He tells her he doesn’t need Absent Dad’s help to be successful since his life is back on track after being ruined by a woman. Chang Min turns around to see Jin Hee, who has heard everything, glaring at him.
Evil Mom, who obviously never listens to Chang Min about anything, stumbles all over rocks and sand in her heels to get to Absent Dad. Big reveal: Absent Dad is Jin Hee’s mystery benefactor. He is unmoved by her efforts and they have a huge argument, which ends with Evil Mom sprawled in the wet sand, throwing an epic temper tantrum. I’m beginning to like Evil Mom; she’s evil but also kind of awesome.
Meanwhile, Jin Hee and Chang Min are back at each other’s throats, apparently unable to even walk through the same room. They run into a pharmaceutical sales rep who desperately tries to sell them some drugs. Jin Hee looks on in pity at his desperation, until she clues in that this was what Chang Min used to do while they were married (see episode 1 recap). Chang Min takes all the guy’s brochures and cheers him on, as pharmaceutical sales reps everywhere are offended by this characterization of their profession.
Evil Mom and Absent Dad have moved their argument into the car. She tries to persuade him to take the director position to help Chang Min and he blames her for the breakup of Chang Min’s marriage. Then he asks for money for his environmental research and she chucks him out.
Back to the ER. The interns are matched up to practice inserting l-tubes up each other’s noses. It’s a cute moment as Jin Hee messes up and they argue, laughing. Ah Reum looks on, suddenly suspicious. Later, Ah Reum explains to Chang Min that she didn’t tell him about the blind date because she didn’t want to be known for being the minister’s daughter. She apologizes by giving him concert tickets.
Chang Min doesn’t have much time to think about Ah Reum’s feelings because he’s busy getting yelled at by Kook Cheon Soo for lying about the tracheotomy. He runs into Jin Hee and drags her into yet another stairwell to yell at her for what he perceives to be her backstabbing him. Rather than explain what happened, she takes a left turn into the breakup of their marriage, basically blaming his mother’s interference in his life for giving him an inferiority complex. At least that’s what I think she meant; she’s being remarkably indirect considering she’s yelling in his face.
She leaves to find Kook Cheon Soo and accidentally overhears that the tracheotomy patient has just died and that the blame will be placed on the ER. A devastated Jin Hee looks on as Kook Cheon Soo confronts another doctor over responsibility for the patient’s death.
As the interns are briefed on the situation in the ER, Jin Hee walks away, followed closely by Chang Min. Right after they leave, the nurse mentions that an overdose patient is coming to the ER. Cue the Jaws theme again, because it’s Evil Mom!
Chang Min finds Jin Hee bawling in the stairwell with the cat painting. He bluntly tells her that she can’t be a doctor if she keeps acting this way and the patient’s death is not her fault, but she continues to blame herself. He tells her that he’ll take responsibility for it instead of her. The conversation again takes a left turn into the breakup of their marriage: he tells her that she put her emotional reactions ahead of everything else in her life, making everyone else around her suffer for it. He repeats that he’ll take responsibility for the tracheotomy so she needs to get it together. The episode ends as the two of them stare intently into each other’s eyes with the weird cat painting in the background between them.
While the acting in this episode was great all around, the standout for me was Park Joon Geum as Evil Mom, who is so far the most entertaining character of the series. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to hang out with her, but she makes for a character that’s both entertaining and complex. There’s no doubting her love for Chang Min, though her way of showing it is pretty over the top. Consider that most of her craziness in this episode comes about because she thinks that making Absent Dad a director in the hospital where Chang Min is doing his internship will make him a more successful doctor. Yikes.
Chang Min really had the deck stacked against him between ruthless Evil Mom and Absent Dad, who is, well, absent from his life. Given the circumstances, the breakup of Chang Min’s and Jin Hee’s marriage seems less like a clash between a clumsy, neurotic wreck and an entitled jerk, and more like two immature people who didn’t know how to deal with each other’s issues. Choi Jin Hyuk and Song Ji Hyo are really playing this well, and I’m enjoying their interactions much more than I expected I would.
Credit also goes to the writers: I haven’t hit a boring moment yet, and even the side stories and secondary characters are holding my interest. “Emergency Couple” is turning out to be a pretty solid drama, so fingers crossed for the next 16 episodes!
Emergency Couple (응급남녀)