Okay, first off, it’s really weird to be writing a review with “Episodes 1-4” in the title. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get used to the whole 4 episodes a week thing. I know why they’ve moved to this format and by now, you’d think I’d be used to it but I’m not. Am I weird or… You know what? Don’t answer that! It’s been about a zillion years since I last sat down to write a drama review but you know, life happens and things don’t always go the way you expect them to and you just kind of have to go with it sometimes. The good news is, I’m back now and ready to take on this rather surprising drama.
Well, I say it’s surprising but only because when I sat down to watch these first 4 episodes of Hospital Ship, I thought it was going to be pretty similar to the 2013 Japanese drama, Clinic on the Sea. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when all my ideas of a quirky, silly little rom-com were thrown right out the window! Or should I say, thrown overboard? ㅎㅎㅎ (Sorry, lame jokes and puns are my life!) Either way, it didn’t take long for all of my preconceived notions about this drama to be completely undone.
From the very first seconds, you realize that this drama is going to be much more focused on the drama and far less on the cute doctor-doctor banter that inevitably leads to romance. Sure, we get a little hint of the way things are going to go between our two leading doctors, but there’s a lot more callousness and grit that we’re going to have to deal with first, before any sort of romantic attachments can be formed. Not that I’m complaining! I’m actually very intrigued by the back-story of not just our leading doctors, but of some of the supporting cast as well. But more on that later.
Before we can get to the supporting cast, we first need to talk about our heroes, Dr. Song Eun Jae (Ha Ji Won) and Dr. Kwak Hyun (Kang Min Hyuk). I like how both of these characters have suffered some pretty serious trauma in their life, which sounds terrible, I know. It’s not so much that I love to see a good drama character suffer, but I feel like this is going to be the glue that binds these two together in the future. Of course it’s going to take who knows how many episodes for them to get to that point but for now, it’s enough for me, just knowing that even though they’re very different people, they at least have this one thing in common.
Not that having major life trauma is a good thing! But perhaps, at least in Eun Jae’s case, it might be. Having her mother die mere seconds before she could get to her, is obviously going to be a major driving force in everything she does from here on out. It’s pretty awful that it took her own mother’s death to remind her that the work she’s doing, is actually to save real, living, breathing, human beings. I’m not gonna lie. When Dr. Song was yelling at her fellow surgeon, during an operation, telling him to forget that he’s working on a human and just do his job, chills went up and down my spine. I get that she was trying to make a point and that she was trying to get this other doctor to focus, for the sake of the patient, but at the same time, to hear a doctor say something like that, while her hands are inside another human being… It just didn’t seem right. I mean, what if the doctors who’ve operated on me, talked like that while I was on the table? Would that really be the thing I wanted to hear them say? Um… NO! I need my doctors to see me as a human, to understand that whatever ailment I’m suffering with, is having an actual impact on not just my life but the lives of my family as well. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a person alive who wants to know that their physician doesn’t actually seem them as human. That just seems too cold and cruel. That’s why, as awful as it sounds, I’m happy that Dr. Song was able to be there when her mother passed. Yes, it was a terrible moment and one that Dr. Song will inevitably change her life forever. But I really think she needed that moment to wake her up and make her realize that there’s more to being a doctor that constantly trying to fight your way to the top.
On the flip side, we have Dr. Kwak, whose story is a bit more veiled at this point, but no less interesting. What I’ve gleaned so far, is that he’s the son of a very famous and important doctor. Obviously he’s living under an immense shadow and is most likely trying to make his way out from under that. Why he chose to volunteer as a doctor on this hospital ship is still a bit of a mystery but I’m sure it has something to do with his father. At least in part. I’m pretty sure that small glimpse into Kwak Hyun’s past is another contributing factor in his whole running off to sea but how much of that plays into his decision, is still up for debate. Whatever it was that actually pushed Kwak Hyun in this direction is still anyone’s guess, but it’s obvious that he’s got some pretty intimidating demons he’s trying to run from. The question is, will he actually be able to escape those monsters while stuck on a tiny little hospital boat? I mean let’s be realistic here! If you’re trying to run away from something, you don’t confine yourself to a tiny boat adrift in the middle of a giant ocean. It may seem like a good idea at a time but any drama watcher worth their salt knows that you can only outrun demons for so long. We all know Kwak Hyun is going to have to face those monsters head-on one of these days because let’s face it, he’s pretty much backed himself into a corner and the only way he’s ever going to be free, is if he decides to fight his way out.
Lucky for him, he’s got a tough-as-nails doctor working alongside him and we all know the ties between Drs. Kwak and Song are only going to get stronger as the story progresses; which is something I’m very much looking forward to. Something else I’m looking forward to is getting to know more about Dr. Kim Jae Gul (Lee Seo Won). Clearly he comes from a very dysfunctional family, and it’s very obvious that his father blames him for the death of his sibling. Who, what, when and where all of this happened has yet to be revealed but the fact that he’s coming from a very broken home makes him rather intriguing to me. Will this trauma of his help him draw closer to his fellow ship doctors, or will it drive a wedge between them? At this point it’s hard to say, but you know there’s going to be tension on this boat rising from somewhere and it can’t always be from patients needing emergency surgery.
At this point in the story, I kind of feel like a prospector who’s just found a few tiny flecks of gold in my pan. I know there are more goodies out there, just waiting to be discovered, but how much work I’m going to have to put into this, before I’m rewarded with genuine gold nuggets (aka engaging plot movement and interesting character development), it still much of a mystery. At least I can honestly say I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Though if there are going to be many more gruesome surgeries and limb dismemberment, I think I may have to watch this drama with my eyes closed. (Not sure how that’s gonna work, exactly…) Call me a wimp if you must but all the sliced open patients and mangled body parts coming out of people was starting to get to me. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have started watching this drama while I was eating lunch… #LessonsLearnedTheHardWay
Needless to say, I’m very much enjoying this drama. So far the story is intriguing, the characters seem to have a pretty solid foundation yet still have all sorts of room for personal growth and development, which makes me all kinds of happy. I’m also ridiculously happy to see Kang Min Hyuk acting alongside Ha Ji Won. If ever there was a chance for Min Hyuk to prove his acting chops, it would be now. Plus, that whole noona romance thing gets to me every time. (Even if her character isn’t supposed to be that much older than Min Hyuk’s… Or is she? I wasn’t really sure but either way, just the fact that these two are acting together makes me giddy. Yes, I’m lame. I know.) My question for you is, what are you thoughts on this drama so far? Have these first 4 episodes intrigued you enough to keep you watching, or are you going to let this one pass? You know I love hearing from you so be sure to let me know what you’re thinking by leaving me a comment below!