Exciting new South Korean science fiction series Apple TV + Dr. Brain this week brings its first season to an exciting end. Sewon has one last brain sync to be performed – and it’s the most important operation he’s ever performed.
He must correct everything in order to save his son (and redeem himself in his heart for the work he did as a father and husband). The race is on to find out if he and his cohorts can prevent Myung from stealing his son’s body.
Dr. Brain summary: Season 1, Episode 6
Sewon (played by Sun-kyun Lee) is in the brain of his wife Jaeyi (Yoo-Young Lee) while she lies in a coma, with a little help from fake researcher Namil Hong (Jae-won Lee), who monitors their heartbeats. Sewon has come for answers – but his wife wants them too. She doesn’t know I know why he is in a coma, for example.
They engage in a brief conversation, but she becomes aware of her situation enough to realize that she no longer wants to live like this and gives up. Sewon gets out of sync to try to save her, but realizes what she’s trying to do. Synchronization with the living is an unstable process. Sync with the dead, however…
Kangmu (Park Hee-soon) gives him an idea. Sewon suffered a cardiac arrest while synchronizing with Kangmu and, although it nearly killed him, he can now see and talk to Kangmu as if he were his fictional friend. Maybe he can perform the same alchemy with Jaeyi. (Shades Flatliners with this particular new point of action.) In this second, more successful synchronization, Sewon reveals something about his wife.
Surprise from Jaeyi
It turns out she she spied on the clinic where she took Doyon (Jeong Si-on) and where she met Junki Lim (Kim Ju-hun). She suspected that her son was not really dead, so she went to the Myung Clinic to investigate. And when she thought she saw him, the doctors turned her off with gas and sent her away. But not before she made a mental note to silence her before her gossip and paranoia gave up on the entire clinic operation.
Secretary dr. Myunga arrived later that day to fill Jaey with pills and make it look like suicide. But not before she put the USB drive with the information she stole from the clinic in a safe place. And now, Sewon can finally approach him.
Lieutenant Choi (Seo Ji-hye) is amazing at this news, but so far she is used to hearing crazy things from Sewon on a regular clip. She tracks Myung’s finances and discovers that his company owns a bunker outside the city. There he will probably conduct an experiment that transfers Myung’s brain to Doyon’s body. Of course, they are not the only ones trying to stop Myung.
Their next experiment will be unprecedented.
The Dr. Brain the finale could have been hair more action, given all things. When you look at the ways in which Kim Jee-Woon’s other directorial projects culminate – a montage that ends The Age of Shadows, the final crack in Illang: Vuk’s Brigade – I don’t think it was unfair to expect a little more in terms of fireworks from Kim, especially with so much time to tell the story.
However, this is not something I blame the show for. As good as Kim is in action mechanics, he has made it clear that he is working on a different wavelength Dr. Brain. And yes, for a show about a man who enters people’s minds to find clues to the most tragic mystery of his life, the conclusion must act primarily on an emotional level. Everything else is elsewhere.
I commend him for this, even if I miss seeing him orchestrate elaborate action sequences. And we really have great shots and ax fights before the end, so it’s not that I stayed completely dry. No, the real work is done in the final synchronization of the brain when Sewon has to trick Myung into thinking he won and then persuade Doyon from his hiding place in his brain (with a little help from Jaeyi, echoing now in Sewon’s mind as Kangmu). It’s not overly sentimental (it only lasts about three minutes) – and it’s quite excitingly close to the cavalcade of secondary brain waves of this show.
Dr. Brain was, behind it, a triumph of pop art, careful camera movement, honest performances, solid workmanship and, in general, just confidence that the material and the audience would be found. Kim Jee-Woon has always had this incredibly fun trait in him (his other American co-productions confirm this). But still, it was a pleasure to see his sensibility stretch his legs during the six-hour series. Time will tell if we will win the second season, but Dr. Brain stands out as one of the most satisfying things I’ve watched on Apple TV + so far.
Look Dr. Brain on Apple TV +
You can now stream the entire first season Dr. Brain on Apple TV +.
Look at: Apple TV +
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of a long series of video essays The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He wrote for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books i Nylon Magazine. He is the author Cinemaphagy: About the psychedelic classic form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films and author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.
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