Halftime Report: “Healer”

After the first two episodes of “Healer,” I was intrigued but not entirely sold. The decades-spanning plot was ambitious, and the introduction of the broad cast of characters didn’t leave enough time to establish a clear thematic center. Don’t get me wrong—I really enjoyed the first two episodes. But after watching them, I felt like I wouldn’t know if I actually liked “Healer” until I had seen more.

Well, we’ve passed the halfway point of 10 episodes now, and I can confidently say that I really like “Healer.” A lot. It’s a pitch-perfect blend of action, comedy, romance, and suspense, and every episode is just a pure joy to watch.

In my First Impressions article, I discussed how much I loved Park Min Young and Yoo Ji Tae’s characters, while Ji Chang Wook’s titular Healer remained too enigmatic for me to really have an opinion of him. Ten episodes in, Healer, a.k.a. Jung Hoo (a.k.a. Bong Soo) has blossomed into a wonderful character.

It was established early on that Jung Hoo had no fondness for other people, but the revelations of why that was so really broke my heart. Abandoned by his mother after his father seemingly committed suicide, Jung Hoo grew up lonely and angry, constantly getting into trouble for fighting. After a stint in juvie, he was taken under the wing of his father’s old friend Young Jae (Oh Kwang Rok), who taught him how to be a night courier, and then left. The absolute loneliness that Jung Hoo feels, and his self-enforced separation from society, makes perfect sense in light of how deeply he’s been hurt—and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. His confession to Young Jae that he fears that he will eventually turn to suicide like his father was just wonderful, and so well-played by Ji Chang Wook, who’s really impressing me in this role.

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Jung Hoo may be an essentially dramatic character, but he’s a great source of comedy as well, especially in his romance with Young Shin, which is beyond delightful. Bong Soo, his bumbling, timid undercover persona, is such a hoot, and Ji Chang Wook’s comedic rapport with Park Min Young is fantastic (as is everything about her performance!). I could watch an entire episode of her bossing him around and protecting him. Their developing romantic feelings are also handled really well. The only problem with the love triangle between Bong Soo, Young Shin, and Healer is that I can’t decide if I want her to ultimately choose her mysterious protector or her dorky hoobae. But whichever version of Jung Hoo loses, the viewers win. These two are an absolute blast to watch together.

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And what of Moon Ho, the hotshot reporter who is the most directly involved in the main plot? He may not have his own swoonworthy romance (I honestly find his ex-girlfriend, ably played by Woo Hee Jin, sort of dull), but I still love watching him. Of our three main characters, he’s the one who knows the most—both about just who Some Day News is going up against, and also about the past events that connect him, Young Shin, and Jung Hoo. Yoo Ji Tae’s portrayal of an energetic, fiercely intelligent man who always has one foot in the past is just masterful. Seeing Moon Ho digging desperately for the truth of what happened 20 years ago, going up against his hugely powerful hyung in the process, is just as exciting as any of Healer’s flashy adventures.

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But the joy of “Healer” is that we get everything—we have a huge conspiracy, we have the mystery of what happened 20 years ago, we have an idealistic fight to expose corruption, we have action, romance, and comedy. Thanks to the combination of all of these elements, the result is an addictive, hugely enjoyable drama. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What are your thoughts on “Healer” so far? Let us know in the comments below!

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