The Virus: Episode 4

Apologies for the delay on this one! I think this episode helps perk up the series a bit, because we’re focusing on who’s behind the virus, rather than trying to catch patient zero. But there’s still a ways to go with this drama before I can call it good. It’s not there yet, but it’s so clearly trying.

Episode 4 recap

It’s the morning of the 11th day since the infection began.

Now that they have In-chul, you’d think things would be easier, right? Wrong. They transfer him in a plastic tube in an ambulance to Nasan Hospital in the hopes of culling the antibodies from him. In-chul worries that he may not have any in him, but Myung-hyun assures that he does. He believes he does – because without that belief, then they’ve lost their only hope.

Dr. Yoon is pleased to hear that patient zero is on his way in to his hospital, and proclaims that he personally will test In-chul for antibodies. He wants to be the first in creating the vaccine.

Soo-gil speeds his way to Nasan, and does not see an oncoming speeding concrete truck to his right. The truck crashes into the ambulance, injuring everyone. Myung-hyun checks on In-chul – he’s barely alive. He notifies Sun-dong to send another ambulance to bring them to Nasan Hospital, and Joo-young checks the cameras to see how the accident occurred. Ji-won informs Se-jin about the accident and In-chul’s need of surgery, but it’s not likely he can get into Nasan because he’s contagious.

Sun-dong and Ji-won pick Myung-hyun and In-chul up, while Soo-gil stays behind to deal with the police. The driver of the concrete truck is missing (of course). As they head to Nasan, Se-jin calls up Ji-won with bad news: no one in Nasan wants to perform surgery on In-chul because they’re frightened to death. This means that In-chul may have to be just left to die.

At the Blue House, Chief Sim Tae-jin informs Do-jin that it’s too late to try to hide the infection from the people. They’ll need to inform WHO first, and then they’ll try to minimize the damage as much as possible. Even though 100 people have died since, they plan to only report 20 deaths. But Tae-jin does have good news: they did manage to catch patient zero so hopefully they’ll have antibodies soon. In addition, three pharmaceutical companies are willing to work on creating the vaccine.

Unfortunately, another side effect of releasing news about this avian-flu-like infection is that there will be terrible backlash against the agricultural ministry. People will start panicking that the poultry and fowl have been infected, even though none have so far.

The ambulance arrives at Nasan, but a guard prevents them from coming in. Se-jin doesn’t want In-chul coming in at the expense of others’ lives, so it would be best if they could transfer him to another hospital. They don’t have enough time to do that, so Myung-hyun volunteers – he will perform the surgery. After all, he completed a course on it and is qualified in surgery. Myung-hyun only needs a doctor to guide him remotely, and it’ll be ok.

It’s a reasonable enough request, so Se-jin makes sure a sterilized room is ready for operation. They’ll need to take a blood test first to make sure he has antibodies, but Dr. Yoon wants to extract his bone marrow first in case he dies. Myung-hyun and Ji-won are against that, because the patient can’t hold on any longer. He’s a person first, the walking plague second.

So Dr. Yoon relents and gets only a blood sample to check for antibodies. Meanwhile, Myung-hyun is assisted by two brave souls in the OR, and is guided through the operation by Dr. Kim Seon-young through the camera and speakerphone. The important thing to do first is to control the internal bleeding.

Sun-dong receives news that several fowls had died suddenly, and are now being slaughtered in a farm at Yangju for fear that the infection has spread. Soo-gil goes to investigate, and so far, there’s no sign that the chicken farm owner has been infected. The veterinarian can’t even determine if the virus that killed the chickens match that of the human virus. Joo-young also has news on the concrete truck driver: she found him speeding through red lights several streets back, but she couldn’t catch his face because he wore a hat.

Reporter Jung’s research leads him to the lawyer that handles Dae Young Industry, a mysterious man named Hwang Seon-suk. A frank conversation ensues, and Lawyer Hwang does admit that Dae Young Industry is a paper company, but it’s not illegal. The fires that broke out were too similar to have just been “chance” but Lawyer Hwang insists that it wasn’t an insurance sham. Buying old buildings and renovating them to sell at a higher price is a legal business. Frustrated, Reporter Jung leaves, but he knows something is fishy about the lawyer.

True enough – the lawyer is the same man that sent him the anonymous tips.

Outside Nasan Hospital, Sun-dong tests the personnel to see if they could have been infected. An EMT freaks out that he can’t go home to his wife and children until the test results come back, and Sun-dong tries to calm him down – the disease only spreads through coughing or sneezing, or any transmission of bodily liquids to another.

Thankfully, Dr. Yoon discovers that In-chul’s blood contains the necessary antibodies to attack the virus. It’s absolutely imperative that they save him. That’s great – because Myung-hyun is pretty much done with the surgery and only needs to suture him up. Unfortunately he faints at that moment because he hasn’t been treated for the injuries he sustained during the accident. Se-jin carries him out of the OR, and Dr. Yoon pressures the reluctant Dr. Kim to finish up the surgery.

Good news spreads quickly, and Ji-won stays by Myung-hyun’s side until he wakes. She holds her hand out over his brow, a sign that she might be interested in him although I don’t understand why. (Are we getting a romantic love line pushed down our throats here?) He wakes up before she can do anything, and she updates him on the Yangju Chicken Farm incident.

Dr. Kim visits to check on Myung-hyun, and determines that he might have a bone split and needs a CT scan. Meanwhile, Se-jin checks on In-chul, who’s been put in his own quarantined room. When In-chul wakes, he asks how many people already died because of him. “Nobody died because of you,” Se-jin says. “They died because of the virus.”

That’s incredibly kind for In-chul, who sobs over his guilt.

Myung-hyun visits his wife, who’s still holding on way past her “due date” for death. Se-jin does note that the virus is having a longer incubation period, where it’s spreading fast but the symptoms are slower to appear. Myung-hyun then visits In-chul, who is thankful for the surgery. He wants to know what happened at Sangrok Medical Center.

In-chul flashes back to the traumatic memories of being taped and blindfolded, and forcibly dragged into the hospital. He was injected with the virus (presumably) and kept on lockdown for days. They continuously did blood tests on him, and watched him through the security camera. Most importantly, In-chul regrets having escaped the hospital; if he hadn’t survived, there wouldn’t have been so many deaths.

Nurse Lee, who had been one of the brave souls in the OR with Myung-hyun, approaches Se-jin with hospital matters, but he notices that she’s bleeding through her ears. Even though she’s completely fine, she’s bleeding like an infected patient. Everyone surrounding them quickly cover their mouths and noses, and Nurse Lee freaks out. Se-jin kindly grasps her shoulders and assures her that Dr. Yoon is going to get the cure soon. Nurse Lee sheds a tear, and the tear falls on Se-jin. “Sorry!” Nurse Lee cries.

In shock, Se-jin rushes to get sterilized. As blasts of air hit his body, he rubs his hands in hopes of getting rid of the infection. Now the infection is hitting too close to home.

Myung-hyun returns to the CDC and reviews the traffic footage that Joo-young found. She found another interesting detail though; when she enlarged the driver’s face as he exited the truck, she found that he matched the same taxi driver that struck Myung-hyun before. It seems like he’s targeting him, but how did he know that Myung-hyun was on the way to Nasan? Only the CDC team knew, as well as Se-jin. So… is Se-jin involved in all this conspiracy?! (They have yet to entertain the idea that those men are keeping tabs on In-chul instead.) Myung-hyun can only deduce this much: if someone wanted to know how well the super vaccine would have worked, he might have been carrying out the experiments on those at Sangrok. That means they need to find who actually created the virus – even if it means it’s a pharmaceutical company – and then let In-chul escape.

Do-jin is informed that antibodies for the infection were found, and even though they can’t mass produce the vaccine yet, at least it will temper the media frenzy. As soon as he’s left alone,  he calls someone and says, “Nasan Hospital has found the antibodies. I’ve already done all I can on my end, so I’ll leave the rest to your judgment.”

There is a government conspiracy!

The press conference begins, and Tae-jin addresses the public’s concerns about the virus. He doesn’t accept questions, but Reporter Jung mentions that the fire at Sangrok might be related, which means there are more victims past those at Hwayong-dong, and that the virus began spreading earlier. That causes a lot of confusion, and Tae-jin’s refusal to comment adds to the chaos.

Reporter Jung then meets with Myung-hyun privately to get to the truth. He shares that the Sangrok hospital fire wasn’t the first, but at the Jechon fire, only one person seems to have died from the infection. By the time emergency response had arrived, another doctor had already come to pick him up. The victim wasn’t registered under any hospital, despite his investigations, so it’s likely that there was a cover up of this incident.

At that moment, the loan shark boss arrives at Nasan with a cohort, both dressed in hospital garb and wheeling a gurney. They beeline for none other than In-chul’s room, and kidnap him, leaving only a blood-stained sheet.

Comments:

So there is a government conspiracy! I like it if there is a big bad, and if it’s the government it’s better. I’m not someone who despises the government, but I do feel that if they end up being the enemy then it makes things all the more sinister. We’d be working on a bigger scale of evil. It’s also possible that only Do-jin would be at fault, and not the entire government, but I can’t help wonder where the president stands in all this. Right now, he’s conveniently abroad…

Despite not knowing all the answers and all the motives, I do feel like the series is quite predictable because it doesn’t try to hide a lot. It was obvious that the lawyer was the secret informant, and it was obvious that there was a government conspiracy since last episode. It’s also quite obvious that they’re going to try and cull enough of the antibodies from the bloodstained sheets to create a proper vaccine. I’m hoping that this show would be more tightly written and be more mysterious, as the next twist we need now is to find out how exactly Myung-hyun gets infected so many days later, when the show is already at the cusp of having a cure.

I’m really not too thrilled with the way the writers are trying to force a romance down our throats, especially with Ji-won all of a sudden having such a sympathetic heart towards Myung-hyun and his wife’s plight. It’s unnatural in this drama, especially since it’s so short. I prefer a slow burn of passion, if anything, but romance is not necessary in this type of drama.

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