Episode twenty-one of "Dr. Romantic" has been called a prequel, then a special. It turns out that it actually picks up right after the official last one in terms of its timeline. The episode does explore the past a little, but it is more of an extended farewell with Kim Hye-soo as a guest and with the series making a last return to its roots.
In my review of the final regular episode I spoke about how Yoon-wan (Choi Jin-ho) and his inferiority complex took over the plot for the second half of the series. Yoon-wan is nowhere to be found this time around and this means that the episode feels like the drama's earlier ones. It is quite telling about how strong a grip the villain's arc had on this series that this return to what "Dr. Romantic" did best is deemed an extra, a special episode.
I do like that it addresses some leftover topics, such as Do-il's (Byun Woo-min) trial result and In-beom's (Yang Se-jong) refusal to play nice, but it feels as if the creators are pointing out the drama's shortcomings by making plot points which should have been handled in the main series an afterthought. Perhaps their hands and creativity were tied by the ratings and commercial demands. Perhaps they realized the plot's problems along the way and decided to correct some. Whatever the case, it is a bittersweet experience.
The other side of the episode is the standalone case of the HIV positive patient. Social and medical discrimination is a very big and painful topic for many types of individuals with special needs and the episode serves a dual part through the case. It explores the duty of doctors to treat all patients as equals through this woman and it uses Lee Yeong-jo's (Kim Hye-soo) volunteer work to point of the variety of challenges those working in medicine face.
Of course people like Yoon-wan or Dr. Song (Jang Hyuk-jin) would be far removed from such conditions, but a true doctor's work is complex, demanding and sometimes even dangerous for them and others. It is also one where they need to adapt to their environment and make the best of it for the sake of their patients. Aside from the trip down memory lane that Yeong-jo offers, this is her most important contribution as a character.
So the true end of the series has arrived and now it is time to let go. I am not sure if reminding viewers how much substance the series had before the forced political drama and constant conflicts is a good idea, but it does bring us full circle. The episode also offers a glimpse into Doldam normalcy and remedies the rushed progression of the previous one. It is a good farewell for a beloved series.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Dr. Romantic" Special"
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