We have a lot of characters to deal with in Last Hope, but it looks like the writers are mostly focusing on one character at a time now, while also adding extra details about the main character – Hatano Takumi (Aiba Masaki) – in each hour. Hatano’s story seems to be the main overarching plot. This episode focuses more on Ogiwara Yukiyo (Koike Eiko). Will we get a satisfying picture of her, or will the writers leave us with too many loose ends?

We begin, of course, with a flashback. This time, it was of the moment when Ogiwara lost her mother. Her mother collapsed on board an airplane, and there was no doctor available to help.

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Flashing to the present, Ogiwara saves a girl from Takagi (Tanabe Seiichi)’s dubious charms.

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With that settled, why don’t we do another flashback? This time it’s Hatano’s near past, when he decides to have a talk with the Director Naruse (Takashima Masahiro) about why Naruse hired him. After all, Hatano was just the son of a country doctor, and this is an institute of cutting-edge medicine.

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Naruse only says that he was impressed by the quality of medicine practiced at Hatano’s father’s clinic, but surely that can’t be the only reason he hired Hatano. There must be some other connection between the two of them.

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Jumping back to the present (I’m getting sick of this already), Ogiwara takes Hatano’s place in consultations without saying why . . .

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. . . and while Tokita (Sakuraba Nanami) catches a baby’s bottle as its dropping, a medical cart crashes into Komaki (Kohinata Fumiyo). Komaki doesn’t seem to be too bad off, though (he ends up with some pain in his pinky), since he immediately starts with one of his odd non sequitur talks.

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This time it was a total misrepresentation of Einstein’s issues with quantum mechanics – an area in which I clearly know more than the writer. People writing medical dramas should stick to medicine and leave physics alone.

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As the scene changes to Ogiwara in the midst of her consultations, it quickly becomes apparent that she took Hatano’s place specifically so that she could see this man:

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His name is Masuda, and while Ogiwara recognizes him, he doesn’t seem to have any memory of her.

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He’s a fellow practitioner, and an arrogant one at that. He has no sensation in his right hand except for pain, and previous procedures have failed. But, whatever the solution, he wants to make sure he regains his ability to be a surgeon – that’s the trick. Even worse, he insists that it be done quickly, requiring minimal recovery time.

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How does the team deal with this demanding patient? Well, they start out with pointless bickering as usual, until the level-headed Tachibana (Tabe Mikako) brings them back to the point at hand. Hatano and Tachibana play the optimists as usual . . .

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. . . but they also seem to have an unlikely ally in Ogiwara this time. She’s sure taking some extra interest in this one.

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Komaki is also interested, but they speculate that it’s because of his broken pinky finger which has suddenly sparked an interest in bones.

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Ogiwara is the first to rush into action to secure a specialist, surprising everyone.

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Another flashback . . .

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. . . and then a different and more obviously relevant flashback, in which the death of her mother convinces Ogiwara to go to medical school:

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Ogiwara manages to bring in a specialist, but he’s not used to the atmosphere. Komaki is a bit hostile because the specialist treated his injury, but it hasn’t healed yet.  Tachibana is also rude – using his name without any honorifics – but that’s probably just her way.

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Much medical technical talk follows . . .

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. . . as well as some pointless side-talk.

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Ultimately, none of them can come up with something definite, Ogiwara spurs things on, and Hatano finally comes up with the technique they’ll pursue.

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Ogiwara explains it to the patient. She has someone specific in mind from the outside to perform the operation – someone who can’t refuse her.

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How about a flashback about Komaki?

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Here, we find out that Komaki might be driven by the possibility that his son can somehow be brought back to life (perhaps he’s cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found?), but that’s mainly speculation on my part.

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What is pretty certain is that all the doctors in this drama are tied together much more closely than we have so far been led to believe. When the doctor Komaki is talking to says that he’s taking on a student called “the machine” – the nickname for Tachibana – Komaki seems to react to that news even though we haven’t been given any reason to believe that he had any connection to Tachibana.

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Back in the conference room, Ogiwara introduces the specialist who will perform the main orthopedic procedure. Somehow, this leads to a completely odd conversation about the structure of the Japanese medical system as compared to the U.S. one, and as someone who lives with the U.S. system, it seemed to me that the writers were once again not in proper possession of the facts.

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Wondering what there is between the bone specialist and Ogiwara, Takagi gets it with one guess – the bone specialist stole Ogiwara’s husband. (Weren’t Takagi and Ogiwara together before, too? How many relationships are we going to have to keep track of?)

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I’m not going to quit with the details at this point, because the layout is now fairly complete. What is there between Ogiwara and the patient? From the flashbacks, we know it has to do with Ogiwara’s mother, but what exactly happened?Will Ogiwara really be able to work with the woman who took her husband from her?

You’ll notice that all the points center firmly on Ogiwara, which is the reason why this episode is the best one so far – it is even more focused than the last one on a single character and her past.

That said, we still get the obligatory scene with Tachibana hounded by the reporter . . .

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. . . and while he’s amiable around the patient . . .

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. . . we get more hints about Hatano’s past, which furthers the impression that the characters are more closely tied than we’re aware of yet.

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The annoyance of going back and forth between different timelines and trying to juggle all the different events to arrange them into a coherent picture aside, I enjoyed this episode more than I did the previous two. The Ogiwara storyline was strong, and they gave us plenty of hints about what happened before actually revealing the answer. And, I have to say, the answer we got wasn’t quite the truth, as there’s also a surprise at the end of the episode. I really appreciated that surprise, since we almost got a perfect Hollywood ending out of Ogiwara’s story, but they decided to throw in a little twist to prevent that clean ending from happening.

Oh, and we also find out more about the connection between Hatano and Director Naruse, and it seems to haunt Hatano even more than it should.

As long as the series goes roughly the way this episode did, I think it makes for reasonable viewing. Again, having little teasers of all the backstories in every episode is irritating, as is the pointless talk between the characters which doesn’t really further their characters and simply makes them seem petty, but I can deal with those flaws as long as they tighten up the main story each episode tries to tell. As long as we have something definite to follow in each episode, we won’t get lost.