Writer Park Jae-bum has started to use Si-on’s autism as a story tool rather than represent the disability sincerely. This is because there is no other way for the plotline to advance in the manner that Jae-bum ssi wishes it to. He wants people to start to see Si-on for who he is rather than just “that autistic guy”. But, he’s trying to make Si-on himself convince them without any outside help and does so by seriously manipulating autistic traits that were established in earlier episodes.
In terms of the development of other characters aside from the autism, this episode was much more exciting. Do-han and Yoon-seo and a few of the residents have to cope with the death of a patient. They, in and of themselves, have some really nice character development, but in regards to Si-on, it’s a little skewed.
And the bad guys, they’re pulling funding from the pediatric program to be evil. I don’t really care about it. Basically, they’re just using Si-on as a pawn in their political game and are trying to push around Do-han and Woo-seok. Do-han’s board of directors girlfriend, Chae-kyung, is also just a cold business-type and is pretty boring. She did get a little jealous of Yoon-seo this episode because Do-han came back to help her. That was the most interesting thing Chae-kyung did. Yeah, she’s useless.
Si-on’s mom also made a reappearance as a hospital worker. I think she’s his mom? I’m not sure. But there will be some mommy issues coming in soon. I’m really not looking forward to it. I doubt they’ll handle abandonment issues well.
The patient who was brought in at the end of the last episode died on the table. She was Yoon-seo’s first solo surgery patient and Yoon-seo has a hard time accepting the death – Si-on does as well. I expected that from him. For much of the episode, he sits outside the morgue to keep the little girl company before the funeral. It’s what he did for his rabbit and his brother when they died. That behavior is very realistic and is also very sweet. He also mends the child’s ripped so she can wear them to heaven and he silently offers them to the parents. D’aw!
Yoon-seo is trying to act like nothing happened while inside she is reeling from the death and her responsibility in it. The parents blamed her and she had to watch them sob. It was a really powerful experience to watch her go through and, unlike with the NICU infant, the writer didn’t manipulate it too badly. She struggles through her day and Do-han decides to push her into doing another surgery immediately. This method is not one I’d agree or disagree with. Sometimes people CAN do well immediately after suffering such acute grief and guilt. Sometimes they can’t. It’s Do-han’s job to judge. He judged Yoon-seo correctly. She rose to the challenge, even though she thought that he was a total jerk for challenging her in the first place. His method could have backfired, but it didn’t so I won’t harp on that.
One of my favorite parts of the episode is that the parents later forgive Yoon-seo. They have cried their hearts out and are accepting guests at the funeral. Do-han has forbidden Yoon-seo from attending, mostly to protect her against the parents’ fury, but goes to try and make amends. Turns out their fury has run its course. They tell him they know Yoon-seo tried her best to save their child and that Yoon-seo is hurting as well. They also thank Si-on for giving them the clothes. It’s actually a beautiful scene where we see Do-han acting like a human and Yoon-seo getting some of the guilt ablution that she needed.
When Yoon-seo visits the morgue, she finds Si-on guarding the door. There is some talk of heaven. This is a huge point of contention between Si-on and Do-han this episode, the existence of heaven. Do-han thinks that Si-on is an idiot. Si-on is surprised Do-han doesn’t believe. I won’t dwell on this issue because I have my own personal beliefs on the subject. But basically, Si-on tries to comfort and assure her by telling her something Woo-seok once told him. The child is in a better place and that the child appreciates the effort that Yoon-seo made. She tried to give the child a chance at life. When he says it, Yoon-seo doesn’t believe him. But when she has time to think about it, she really starts to appreciate his words.
Although the repetition of words is very much what a person with autism would do in this situation. There are a few other situations in the episode that are very un-autistic.
1) Si-on thinks to himself that it’s okay if people see him strangely. – No, it wouldn’t even occur to him to think something like that. He would just receive their words and their ill feelings and be hurt by them.
2) Si-on explains heaven to a little girl in a story that he made up. – A person with autism would not do that unless the story was told to him previously. It’s too abstract a concept. They are concrete thinkers. It was very, very strange to watch.
3) Yoon-seo hugs Si-on in thanks for showing her how to be a real doctor and not just a technician. (Her worry was that she’d stop caring for her patients and Si-on’s devotion to the dead little girl showed her otherwise.) – He doesn’t flinch when she hugs him! I found that so bizarre. He hiccups at her proximity, but he didn’t flinch at the contact. Even if he accepted the hug, he’d still flinch. People with autism do NOT do well with contact. She touches his shoulder a few other times and he accepts the touch without flinching. That’s just…no. People with autism are hypersensitive to human contact. Therapists have to gradually acclimate them to accepting touches and hugs. I remember at my school, we’d always greet the kids with some sort of firm touch or hug and kisses. (My school was in Miami, a place where kisses on the cheek are an accepted form of greeting.) We would ask the kids for “besitos” (kisses) in return. So precious. I love those kids.
4) Yoon-seo wakes Si-on up in the morning to go on an adventure and he covers up. – He doesn’t have that sense of self-awareness. Nakedness wouldn’t affect him like that unless someone instructed specifically to cover up in front of other people. Based on his behavior in the first episode, he was not instructed in modesty. So this behavior is incongruous.
5) He asks Yoon-seo to go to the zoo for their adventure and he wear a headband with bear ears. – Again, people with autism have sensitivity to pressure and touch. He would NOT like the pressure of a headband on his head unless he was trained to TOLERATE it. Or, he would LOVE the pressure on it head and would therefore always be wearing something that provided that input. But most people with autism have an aversion to that pressure.
6) There is a “feral” child in the ER at the end of the episode. Si-on approaches her and gets bitten. – He wouldn’t approach her unless he was asked. Especially because she is giving off angry, negative energy.
Now let’s talk about this “feral” child. How is not one person in that hospital trained in restraint and seclusion? Why is there a CROWD of people watching her and why did they let Si-on approach her like that? Violent patients are not uncommon and it’s required to have the training. Speaking from personal experience, some people with autism (and other disorders and conditions) are violent (mostly out of frustration) and almost half the staff in my school were trained in restraint techniques. Kids are strong when they are displaying no physical self-control. This scene just wouldn’t happen unless there were no doctors or nurses present.
Basically, the episode was an improvement on the interpersonal front, but the autism was just “there’. It existed. I was really hoping that they’d show the physical manifestations of Si-on’s feelings and maybe have someone like Woo-seok or Nurse Jo explain what was going on. Like, they’d see him rocking and ask, “You are very sad that the little girl died?” “No.” “Are you sad that she is alone in the morgue?” “Yes.” That would’ve been much more realistic.
I suppose I’m hoping that the autistic aspects of the show don’t get totally warped and misused and misrepresented. This is a chance to teach and educate. Miseducation is worse than not knowing at all.
Edit: I realize that I didn’t say something I feel is important. The story is trying to have Si-on prove his worth by himself, on his own merit and behavior. But what really needs to happen is that the understanding of Si-on has to come from something outside of Si-on; it needs to be externally motivated by Woo-seok, or Nurse Jo or perhaps even a psychologist who makes an entrance. Si-on is not capable of garnering empathy for himself in the way that the show wants him to. They want his actions and words to move people. That’s not how autism works. If they had just ONE character who would dedicate himself to opening up the world to Si-on and opening up Si-on to the world, that would solve a lot.
Episode 5: The manipulation of autism