It’s me again, here to check back in on Descended! It’s been a while since I last wrote about it and a lot has happened, so I’m glad to have a chance to weigh in and see how things have developed since then.
There’s a good balance of light humor and romantic development in this hour, which is this show’s bread and butter (and really what we’re all watching for, I’m sure—at least I know I am. It certainly isn’t the medicine or the mercenaries or the politics). As an added bonus today, on top of all the feel-good couple moments are ones that mark serious growth and deepening emotions, although those are the things that will probably set us up for a bit of pain down the road. The very short road. We’re gonna be there pretty soon, I think! Brace yourselves.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lyn – “With You” from the Descended From the Sun OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Standoff. While Argus lays bleeding from Fatima’s gunshot, Shi-jin tells Mo-yeon to do her job in saving lives—he’ll take the job of deciding when to take one. It seems rather douchey for Argus to throw Mo-yeon’s oath as a doctor in her face while reaching for his gun, but I suppose Argus’ douchiness was never in question.
Mo-yeon sees that Argus has gone into shock and has him moved inside, and while she treats him, the tense standoff continues outside. She fishes for the bullet without painkillers, and when Argus mentions them, she says coldly that it’s too bad she’s a bad doctor who forgot. Ha, love her.
Shi-jin’s team calls over the walkie-talkie, and Argus’ men get nervous that soldiers may be coming. Argus decides to retreat for today, but when he makes a move to take his young “rose” (real name Fatima) with him, she flinches away and Mo-yeon steps protectively in front of the girl. She refuses to give her up and tells Argus to get proper care, since she only did the bare minimum to keep him from dying.
Argus smirks at the girl and promises that when they meet again, she won’t die with such a pretty face. (Okay, the English sounds like “you’re gonna die” but the Korean subtitles say “you won’t die”… but suffice to say he’s making a threat.)
Shi-jin tells Argus to leave fast and go far, warning that his kindness is at a limit.
Shi-jin fills Dae-young in on the run-in with Argus, noting that it’s a familiar story for an ex-special forces soldier to go mercenary after quitting the military. Over in the Medicube, the measles-stricken children from the village are brought in for treatment.
Mo-yeon washes up and thinks back to Argus’ warning earlier, when he’d called Shi-jin a dangerous man and said that being around someone with a gun puts her at higher risk. (And then straight-up cackled like something in a cartoon.) The words weigh on Mo-yeon’s mind.
Fatima’s insistent on leaving, angry that Mo-yeon didn’t let Argus die. Mo-yeon says she saved Fatima from becoming a murderer, not that Fatima’s grateful; instead, she scoffs at Mo-yeon’s naive assurance that she’s safe with the army and asks if she’s supposed to trust soldiers. Has Mo-yeon ever lived through war?
Unruffled, Mo-yeon sits Fatima down and tells her matter-of-factly that even if she runs, she should eat first.
Back in Seoul, the doctors who’ve returned share their stories with the others, and Chi-hoon’s pregnant fiancée asks worriedly why he didn’t return with the rest. She’s told that he gave his seat up for an emergency patient, but worries that Chi-hoon hasn’t cheated on her while abroad, nor has he called.
It turns out that the sacrificed seat ended up unused in the end, because it was meant for diamond-thief Young-soo, who couldn’t board the flight without being captured by Argus’ men.
Myung-joo packs supplies to return to the village to check on the rest of the children. Mo-yeon wonders if she should return too, but Myung-joo tells her to stay away—Dae-young is the assigned escort on the trip and she wants alone time. Myung-joo’s surprised at Mo-yeon’s easy-going response, expecting more prickliness between them, but Mo-yeon quips that she must be the better person.
Myung-joo and Dae-young make the drive out together, and she enjoys the view—particularly of her companion, though he comments that there’s nothing special about him. She assures him that she’s got high standards—doesn’t he ever look in the mirror?
Dae-young broaches the subject of quitting the military, saying that it’s dangerous work that requires them to be apart. She asks if he’s worried because of her, and he answers, “Because of us.”
Myung-joo answers, “But I’m fine—I like Sergeant Seo Dae-young right now, as he is.” She warns him not to lay a hand on his uniform until she takes it off him, which, rawr. Although it’s perhaps not the answer to soothe his concerns.
When they arrive at the village, however, it’s completely empty. It looks like it’s been ransacked.
At military headquarters, Lieutenant General Yoon speaks to Shi-jin about a new development that’s arisen: A coup d’etat is in the works by the second-in-command, Colonel Amang. A call has come in from the CIA requesting their help, but this is not a mission of justice: “It’s politics.”
The U.S. wants to use this coup to establish a pro-American situation in the country, and Argus is supplying arms to Amang. So while he’s a black-market smuggler, he’s useful for now, and until the mission is over, they are to stay away from Argus.
Shi-jin starts to speak up, but this is not a discussion: It’s an order. The Korean forces will remain out of this situation.
Dae-young looks into the village situation and reports that the kids have been taken to an orphanage. Something seems off about the explanation, but Shi-jin informs him of their top-secret orders from headquarters. Basically, they have to look the other way.
Mo-yeon finds Shi-jin brooding, and asks about the children in the village. He says that everything worked out okay, and that it must have been reported. Ack! I know he’s not lying, but it does make my heart drop. Mo-yeon is relieved to hear it, and happy because kids brought in with measles have been doing well.
Shi-jin notes her loose hair and asks her to hold his cup for her, to which she wryly points out that such a request always ends with him doing something strange. He leans in to retie her hair, not deterred when she shies away saying she hasn’t washed her hair today (“It’s not like you wash your hair a lot anyway”).
She says she could do this herself (I notice she’s not stopping him), and he replies that dating is about letting someone do things for you that you could do for yourself. She promises to return the favor later, and he holds her to it.
Mo-yeon leaps up when she gets a message that deliveries have arrived, and Shi-jin pouts that she’d ditch him for that. “Would you choose the delivery or me?” he asks. “You, of course,” she says brightly, and then runs off for her package.
She collects her package, sent by Dr. Pyo, while Sang-hyun eagerly opens his box. He slides over the brand-new sneakers to Ja-ae, saying that he noted her size. He turns to go, basking in the cool hero moment… until she says he got the wrong size. HA. But she can’t hide her pleasure at the unexpected gift.
Mo-yeon takes another box intending to pass it along, and radios Dae-young to ask where this Shin Ji-young person is. Immediately Shi-jin and Dae-young look up in wide-eyed alarm, and tear out of there at a run. Ha, I notice the box is covered in “Oppa, be strong!” messages.
Myung-joo hears the exchange too, and it makes her storm off immediately. The men race frantically to get there first, but Myung-joo arrives ahead of them and bristles at the hearts on the package, ripping it open. She goes for the card first—which contains a photo of Dae-young, Shi-jin, and two women in flight attendant uniforms.
It says, “The day we met Shi-jin oppa ♥ We send our memories ♥ ♥” Reading the note, Mo-yeon says grimly, “Lieutenant Yoon, bring me a gun.”
The men burst into the room and blurt, “It’s a misunderstanding!” Sure, that’s not suspicious. Mo-yeon points out his big smile in the photo, and Shi-jin says, “I’m not smiling! I’m just making a smile-like face!”
Dae-young says the woman’s a cousin, so Myung-joo tells both men to identify which one in the photo is the cousin—at the same time. They each blurt a different answer, gulp, then switch their answers. Two strikes! Oh, they are so in the doghouse.
The ladies take their boyfriends to task, and the boyfriends both make a muck of a defense, getting caught in lies. Dae-young throws Shi-jin under the bus by saying the blind date was for him, and Shi-jin returns the favor by saying it was Dae-young who kept in touch.
Dae-young tells Myung-joo that there was no skinship and he only met for tea. Shi-jin uses the same line, though Mo-yeon scoffs that he’d left her with such a woebegone face that she’d felt sad, only to have him go off and have fun with other women. Both guys try to downplay the incident and sound as innocent as possible, but they’re pretty terrible at it, and the ladies are sharp at detecting their flimsy excuses.
Mo-yeon gets interrupted by a call from Dr. Pyo, and tells Shi-jin that the call saved his life. She steps aside to chat with her friend, who teases her about dating Shi-jin before turning the phone over to Chi-hoon’s anxious fiancée. She still hasn’t heard from him and is now worried that he’s dead, or that she’s been dumped.
Chi-hoon is currently tending to his surly patient, Min-jae, who continues to rebuff treatment, saying that he won’t trust anything he gives him. Chi-hoon wells up with tears and admits that Min-jae’s words were right, and that he was so scared that in that moment, he wasn’t a doctor. “I’m truly sorry for running away on my own,” he says.
Min-jae says without sympathy that Chi-hoon’s extremely selfish for only wanting to relieve his own guilt. But Chi-hoon says that’s not it—he’d have done that from the start if he could. “I just… I don’t know what to do,” he says helplessly. “Please tell me.”
He speaks through a growing flood of tears that Min-jae is the only one he can talk to. Min-jae isn’t ready to forgive, though, reminding Chi-hoon that he shouldn’t hold out his hand for help, not when he didn’t take Min-jae’s hand before.
Chi-hoon sobs alone outside, and turns off his walkie-talkie when Mo-yeon tries to contact him. A little boy comes up to him and says he must be hurting, and Chi-hoon sobs harder, holding on to his little hands.
Trouble arises when theft is discovered in the medical storage area—the locked cabinet has been broken into and all the narcotic painkillers have been taken. No patients have gone missing, but Mo-yeon has a hunch about the culprit.
It’s Fatima, who calls someone named Tommy from a pay phone, arms full of pilfered drugs. She plans to sell them all, then run away with Tommy.
Shi-jin takes the lead in the search, taking Mo-yeon to that bar that sells everything but women and information. The woman there reminds him of that rule, but Shi-jin appeals to her for help, saying they have to find the girl before someone else does. It’s enough to get her to make a call about where to find the drug dealers.
Her tip takes them to the ruins of a large building, and as they arrive, a scream sounds in the distance—it’s Fatima, having been taken advantage of by her precious Tommy. He takes the drugs and slaps her around, saying it’s her fault for trusting him.
Mo-yeon bursts in rather recklessly with Shi-jin right behind, and Tommy assures his dealer buddies that they’ve got the soldier outmanned. Out come seven guns, all pointed at him.
Shi-jin tells Mo-yeon not to worry, joking that he’ll cover one side while she takes the other. Ha, she just shoots him this look: Is this really the time?
His attempt to get them to let the women go is poorly received, so he gets more serious and tells Mo-yeon to run for the car on his word. She is to drive it to the front of the building—and if he doesn’t come out in five minutes, drive off without him.
As the drug dealers advance, Shi-jin makes a big show of slowly putting down his gun, explaining in Korean that he can’t fire his own gun anyway, since that would require mountains of paperwork. “So,” he says as the leader reaches down to grab Shi-jin’s gun, “let me use yours.”
He shouts for Mo-yeon to run. Quick as a flash, he disables the leader and fights off the thugs who come at him, shooting a steady stream of bullets at the ground and the building, creating confusion. Down they go, one after another, more injured from body blows than bullets, and Shi-jin collects Fatima and heads for the exit.
But they’re not fast enough, and the bad guys recover their weapons and shoot at him. Shi-jin takes cover behind an old truck and fires back, but he’s out of ammo and now they’re back in full force, approaching quickly…
Outside, Mo-yeon waits in the car with an anxious eye on the clock. Five minutes pass, so she decides it’s time to drive… straight into the building. Haha, she really is the car-killer, isn’t she?
She careens into the building and forces the shooters to run back to avoid being flattened, then backs up (nearly flattening Shi-jin’s hand) to order Shi-jin and Fatima into the car. Sir, yes, sir!
Mo-yeon is positively giddy with the adrenaline rush as she drives off, while Shi-jin looks exhausted and grumbles about nearly losing his hand. She airily says she knew he’d get out of the way, ha.
Then their car starts to smoke, and sputters to a stop. She wonders why, while Shi-jin notes that it’s her third car death.
While overseeing work in the minefield, Dae-young broods over the lieutenant general’s ultimatum about quitting the military, just as Myung-joo arrives, ignoring his instructions to stay in the safety zone. She orders him to step face to face with her, then dots his face with sunblock, telling him that this isn’t reconciliation, “just skinship.”
He’s the one who pulls back, saying the others will see, but then he takes her hand and leans in and she’s the one who gets bashful. She closes her eyes as he moves closer… and just before their lips touch, Shi-jin’s voice radios over for help.
While they wait, Mo-yeon wonders how Fatima knew to pick out only the narcotic drugs, and Shi-jin supposes her life has been one that taught her to recognize money. Mo-yeon sighs that it would be nice if her life were one that taught her about cheaper drugs that save the most lives, like antibiotics.
Mo-yeon tells a subdued Fatima that from now on, she is to do as Mo-yeon says, starting with resuming school. Fatima snaps, “What do you care?” Mo-yeon replies that she’ll pay for her school tuition, and that she’ll expect repayment later. Shi-jin pats Mo-yeon’s hair encouragingly, until she says, “I haven’t washed it.”
Later that evening, he finds her drying her damp hair in the main hall, and he teases her about finally washing it. He asks if she really means to pay for Fatima’s education, saying that holding a hand out to someone means you’re taking on responsibility for their life. Mo-yeon replies simply: “We just do what we can, when we can do it. Even if we make a mess of it.”
He says she can’t save everyone she meets, nor will it change the world. She replies that it would change Fatima’s life, and to Fatima, the world will change. That’s good enough.
Shi-jin reminds her that she’d said she wasn’t that kind of doctor. Mo-yeon reminds him that he’d said she was.
Shi-jin can’t help but be impressed, and asks, “Why do you give off your charm so often? I’ve already fallen for you.” He thanks her for saving him today, and they settle down to eat a snack of ramyun… just as the lights go out.
So Shi-jin suggests snacktime in the special forces style—wearing helmets with night goggles. They toast.
Time to check in with our diamond thief Young-soo, who crouches over the toilet to retrieve his stolen reward. It sounds excruciating, which frankly is as much as he deserves. He buys a plane ticket to Korea and a forged passport in a new name, planning the next phase of his getaway. (I notice the passport reads Urk, though I’ve seen Uruk written in past episodes. Eh, at least it’s fictional.)
He gets the diamonds out of his system… and then has to reswallow them for the next leg of his travel. Eww.
Young-soo dons a disguise and presents his passport, but the forgery is caught right away and he’s detained by police. Shi-jin and Dae-young find it curious that it’s not Interpol or American forces who have him; this means there’s someone at the police who wants Young-soo apprehended.
Min-jae overhears their speculation and wonders if it has to do with the diamonds, asking how much money a fist-sized collection is worth. He tells them he’d seen Young-soo placing them into a safe, recalling the curious behavior he’d noticed, and this explains his fixation on getting into the building after the earthquake.
Shi-jin has a bad feeling about this, saying that cases like this often end with the person dying in police custody. He and Dae-young move out.
It’s Argus, of course, who has Young-soo, but a thorough search turns up no diamonds. Argus notes that they haven’t looked in his stomach, and has Young-soo laid out on a table, ready to be cut into.
But a bullet flies through the window and a teargas grenade is set off, sending everyone running for cover. Soldiers pour in from all sides, and in the chaos, Argus makes a break for it.
A gunshot stops him short, and a red dot appears on his forehead. Shi-jin keeps him there while his soldiers neutralize the scene, but they’re not interested in apprehending everyone today. Shi-jin says they’ll only be taking the Korean criminal with them calls his team off with Young-soo in their custody, leaving Argus to seethe.
Young-soo is taken to the Medicube, where he moans in pain clutching his stomach and feigns ignorance about the diamonds. Mo-yeon confirms from the X-ray that they are in fact inside his stomach, and Shi-jin chides Young-soo to stop with the sick patient act—just as Young-soo spews blood.
Mo-yeon diagnoses internal bleeding caused by the diamonds and calls for surgery. He’s in bad shape, and Mo-yeon realizes quickly that something is amiss, aside from the obvious. Blood spatters on her and Myung-joo’s faces, and she sees that a tumor has burst, which shouldn’t have anything to do with diamonds in the stomach. Putting the symptoms together, she orders her team to stand back immediately: She suspects infection of a contagious virus.
She and Myung-joo have already come in contact, so they’ll have to complete the surgery while the rest of the staff leaves.
Sang-hyun explains to the soldiers what an M-level virus is: An M2 virus is very serious, but if it’s M3, it’s akin to Ebola in magnitude. Shi-jin and Dae-young beeline for the operating room, only to be held back at the doors.
Myung-joo tries to joke that it’s nice that Dae-young ran faster than when he heard the flight attendant’s name, but he’s not in the mood for that, pent up with worry.
Shi-jin looks just as intent, asking Mo-yeon what he can do for her. She wants an answer about which woman in the photograph wrote the heart-filled note, and he replies readily and explains that she had a lot of aegyo. Mo-yeon marvels at the straight answer, and Shi-jin says it didn’t seem appropriate to joke in this moment.
That makes Myung-joo say lightly that they must be dying for their men to hear everything as deathbed words. Then she assures them that nobody’s dying, and they’ll be fine.
Mo-yeon and Myung-joo have their blood drawn for virus testing, but the lab can’t do it till at least the next day. There’s a lab at the U.S. army base nearby, and Shi-jin offers to handle the request, making a quick call. Dae-young is just as eager to do something, and the two men deliver the blood samples to the base.
That leaves the two doctors alone in the operating room, having done what they can for the patient, with nothing to do but wait for results. They even manage to joke about taking a diamond for themselves, since nobody knows how many there are.
At the army base, the verdict comes in: The patient tested positive for M3 virus, and so did one of the doctors. Shi-jin and Dae-young brace themselves for the answer.
They burst back into the Medicube wearing dark faces, and Dae-young goes straight to Myung-joo and envelops her in a hug. She’s startled and starts to push him away, saying she might be infected—and then stops, realizing why he’s holding her.
“It’s me,” Myung-joo realizes. A tear falls from Dae-young’s eye.
One of the things I liked best about this episode was in the show finally bringing the two couples abreast of each other, not just on the surface as people dating near each other, but as friends going through similar relationship stages and working through issues beyond the initial attraction and getting-together phase. They’re not quite mirrored scenarios since the couples are dealing with some pretty different issues, but I like it much better when Mo-yeon and Myung-joo are talking instead of sniping, and when the conversations drop the jokes to get a bit more real.
For instance, the moment in the operation room when both soldiers are locked out of the room—it’s a great build-up, and there’s an effective use of that scenario to flip the dynamic on its head. It’s more powerful for me to see the two badass soldiers helpless for once, unable to do anything to help other than play courier, while their women stand strong in the middle of a crisis cracking jokes. And here Shi-jin is, our constant jokester with the glib tongue, saying that he doesn’t think he can make a joke in such a scenario.
I tend to find the medicine in this show to be set dressing for the most part, here to give the characters stuff to do without really being thought out or researched, so I do find it welcome that we do finally have a medical case that carries a narrative purpose and delivers emotional impact. Honestly, if all, or most—or heck, even some—of the cases were fleshed out this way, to tie into the main characters’ arcs in a way that’s actually essential to their narrative arc and growth, this show would have been on a whole new level. Rather than bemoan the lack, I’ll just be grateful we got at least one—a medical crisis where our hearts are engaged, that puts us a little on edge awaiting the suspenseful results.
I’d say the smuggling/politics/military plotlines of the show suffer from that same disconnect—they’re not really plotted to mean much other than providing surface conflict, which means I don’t care about the missions or Argus’ cadre of terrible actors or the extras speaking bad English. (Oy, the bad English! Make it stop!)
I do think this episode stepped it up by managing to find a thread connecting those stories to our main characters, such as Argus confronting Shi-jin directly and taunting Mo-yeon about being with someone like him. He planted doubts in her mind that may have an actual effect in her relationship, and his involvement in the children’s village did prompt Shi-jin to lie (sorta) to her, which I anticipate could drive a wedge between them in the future. The show should really do more of that, finding ways to tie the Plot of the Day into the overall arc better. Most of the time we’ve had to sit through those bad guy scenes just to get to the good stuff (at least, that’s how I’ve felt) when this episode showed us that you can bring things together if you try a little harder and flesh out those storylines.
It isn’t like these flawed beats ruin the show—far from it, since it does such a good job delivering a constant stream of romantic gratification and light humor. I mostly think of those plots as missed opportunities and empty filler, which could have been used more effectively and elevated the show to something even better. Not that the show needs the help garnering more love and eyeballs, with the massive popularity it’s sparked. I just can’t help being greedy, and always wanting more. More!