The Ending of ‘Doctor Climax’ Is A Battle Between Conservatism and Progress

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: June 14, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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Doctor Climax Episode 8 Recap and Ending Explained
Doctor Climax | Image via Netflix

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

A shy dermatologist leading a sexual revolution struggles against flagrant conservative corruption in the ending of Doctor Climax, and the fact you’re watching a streaming show about a sex columnist gives away which side wins. But Episode 8 of the Thai Netflix series isn’t an ending so much as a beginning, a starting point for a new era of openness that comes with its own share of difficulties.

Before we unpack the climax – a pun which may or may not be intended – think about Nat, the meek skincare professional at the story’s core. An idealistic but inept creative striving to be a writer ushers in a new societal awakening through his work, but in the process becomes his idol – popular novelist Thong Tien – in the most unexpected ways. It’s a good arc, and thematically the finale is built around Nat having to detach himself from the writer whose work he began the series more or less ripping off.

Sex Sells

To understand the ending, you have to understand the beginning. The birth of The Climax Question, the column that Nat starts writing under the eponymous pseudonym, exists in a perfect storm of sexual conservatism and, of course, greed.

The Bangkok Express is struggling against its rival, The Siam Herald. Editor Choosak Jaithon is under pressure from his boss to implement innovative new editorial ideas, and since sex sells, it’s controversially chosen as the subject of a new advice column. Nat is chosen, through Thong Tien’s recommendation, as the author, partly because he’s an aspiring writer anyway, but mostly because he’s a medical professional whose patients often ask him for advice on these matters since they’re too shy to ask anyone else.

It’s the newspaper’s art department head, Linda, who comes up with the idea of a pseudonym. It protects Nat’s identity and lends the whole thing an air of mystique that does, in fact, boost sales rapidly. But not without consequence, and it’s those consequences that end up being of primary concern eight episodes later.

Doctor Climax Is A Battle Between Conservatism and Progress

Despite being a lighthearted and often quite silly dramedy, thematically Doctor Climax is the story of an age-old battle between progress and resistance to change.

Dried-out, old-school conservatism is the enemy, personified here in a politician named Pornchai who is determined to destroy Nat’s column before it unravels society’s moral fabric. But it’s a grift. Pornchai is curiously unconcerned about the ways in which The Siam Herald sells its copies and zeroes in on The Express and Nat’s column specifically for different reasons. But he fights it on the battlegrounds of good taste and decency, turning a deaf ear to the valid counter-arguments that the column’s subjects are helping the masses to understand intimacy.

Pornchai enlists a corrupt policeman named Pao to help frame Thong Thien as Doctor Climax, a task made easier when he strikes up a scandalous relationship with one of the column’s readers. More on this in a bit.

Conservatism versus liberal progressivism. How topical.

The Gay Question

Nat is good at his job. His advice genuinely helps people and a newfound openness to sex and intimacy begins to proliferate through Thai society. But much like how Pornchai represents an aging viewpoint that refuses to go away, public prejudices still remain difficult to shift, especially in regard to taboo subjects like homosexuality.

And this is a blind spot for Nat. He avoids any questions pertaining to the subject entirely. Throughout the series, it is revealed that Nat struggles with the topic because his father was homosexual, and as a youngster Nat had seen him with another man.

Nat’s father’s sexuality eventually led him to a completely ostracized life away from his family, and Nat resented him for it. He had come to terms with his sexuality and, in so doing, realized that he would never be able to live an accepted life because of it. He chose to isolate himself for the betterment of everyone, especially Nat, who would have been tarred by the association.

This strongly highlights two important things. One is how prejudice can develop and proliferate. Nat, a fundamentally decent and open guy, had this deep-rooted mistrust of homosexuality because of circumstances beyond his control that, for a good chunk of his life, he didn’t even fully understand. Once you realize that Nat’s mother’s pushy attitude towards his relationships is rooted in fear that he, too, might be homosexual, you realize how these prejudices are passed on.

By extension, you realize the importance of a column like The Climax Question. Nat realizes this too and begins answering the questions about homosexuality he had once steadfastly refused to engage with. This is one of the better, more meaningful subplots in the series.

The Ending of Doctor Climax Takes On the Establishment Directly

In an effort to bring an end to The Climax Question, Pornchai and Pao set up Thong Tien in an illegal sting operation designed to catch him in an adult club with a woman named Plern, who they have colluded with unlawfully. Part of their approach is, of course, to slander him in the The Siam Herald.

Politically controlled mainstream media is, as ever, the enemy here. It is a tool of the powerful, the means by which the old rules are enforced. Names are besmirched, including Thong Tien’s, and the real string-pullers like Pornchai are held aloft as heroes. Several decades later, little has changed on either side of the world.

But new media, or at least more well-intentioned media, is the antidote. Much like how Pornchai and Pao used The Herald to smear Thong Tien, Nat and Choosak use The Express to clear his name. A private detective hired by Nat’s mother had followed him and taken multiple photographs of Tien. In the process, he had captured Pornchai and Pao in the midst of their illegal sting operation.

Through exposing the politician and his lapdog in the paper, Nat is able to clear Tien’s name and bring down the bad guys. The Climax Question continues, and Thai society is better for it.

What did you think of the ending of Doctor Climax? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


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