Watching this episode made me concerned that Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon’s reconciliation may not be as well-handled as their break-up.
Thus far, the show has been competent in highlighting the emotional complexities involved when a marriage becomes estranged. I’ve been impressed that the show has dug deep beneath the surface of the adultery issue and looked at important issues in marriage as well as gender roles. The show has been resolute in refusing to give us any happy moments between Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon; in fact, the only glimpse of a happy moment came in Episode 7, when we were given a brief scene of them admiring the stars. Both of them have continually come up against barriers that hold them back from having an honest conversation and such barriers have been used as opportunities for them to reflect on their lives, their behaviour and their beliefs. However, in this episode, there seems to be an attempt to simplify the issues between them, so as to start towards a resolution. Why do I say that?
First of all, through what happens to Joon-Soo in this episode, the show seemed to be bashing us over the head with the message that “divorce is bad for the child”. When reviewing episode 2, I mentioned that I hoped the show would give the child a voice as their voice is often unheard during divorce. Up until this episode, the implications of the divorce on Joon-Soo has been talked about, more than actually being explored. We barely see him much, but in this episode, the implications on him finally get explored and everything comes fast and furious. The episode begins with Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon engaging in tug-of-war over him at the start of the episode, then we learn of him being the subject of teasing in school and we see him struggling with boredom as Soo Yeon gets caught up in a project. After that, she gets called into office at late hours and she brings him along during which he ends up falling asleep and tarnishing a piece of work that needs to be sent for printing. As if all that is not bad enough, he then runs away after being scolded in search for his dad, where a motorcycle bangs into him, sending him to hospital with bandages over his head and his arm in a cast. I do not deny that I felt sorry for him and teared when hearing his speech in the hospital. However, was there really a need to play up the impact on the child in such an exaggerated, accelerated manner? It would have been better if this was explored over more episodes, showing his gradual realisation of his parents’ separation and how it was affecting it.
Secondly, there was an over-riding message through the episode that Hyun-Woo had missed critical moments where he could have redeemed his marriage, which is also reinforced by his meeting up with his ex. Before he hears of Joon-Soo going missing, he walks along the streets and he reflects on how he should have held her when he first learnt of her affair. The episode ends with her going over his forum messages, where the key moments of their confrontation were shown and Hyun-Woo saying that once again, like 15 years ago, he had missed the timing again. Isn’t that over-simplifying matters? While I don’t deny that timing is certainly key and that Hyun-Woo did screw up those key moments, aren’t there deeper issues at hand? Wasn’t the marriage already in jeopardy even before the whole affair came along? It seems like the show is driving us towards a reconciliation where Hyun-Woo finally seizes the moment and does the right thing at the right time.
Also, I found the forum being used as too convenient a tool for Soo Yeon to get insight into all that Hyun Woo was feeling. At the hospital, Joon-Young tells Soo Yeon to read the forum messages, because he read Hyun Woo’s messages from start till end and managed to see his sincerity shine through. Given that Hyun Woo’s meet up with his ex exposed his general cowardly and avoidant behaviour, it would have been a more meaningful story arc to witness him gain courage to express his feelings to her. Also, the whole issue of Soo Yeon’s anger at having their story splashed over the forums was certainly glossed over very quickly. Being such a private person, I would have expected her to have a bigger reaction, especially since the mums in Joon-Soo’s school were gossiping about it. Of course, Joon-Soo’s injury in this episode possibly caused all this to be forgotten, but I do hope this plot point is not lost and will be picked up subsequently.
Beyond what’s mentioned above, there’s still some good stuff going on in this episode, most of which is the light-hearted stuff. Firstly, we have Joon-Young and Bo-Young’s budding romance, which provides many humorous and cute moments. It was hilarious when Bo-Young was exposed as the student who was trying to negotiate for Bo-Young’s second hand household items. In fact, their relationship is the one bright spot in the world of this drama where almost every relationship is going downhill – and that includes those of the forum users. The three guys bonding after Hyun Woo’s divorce was very wacky and hilarious too, especially when all that Hyun Woo wanted to do was to play with the crane arcade game. It was also funny watching him hesitant and apprehensive over sending the message to his ex. These are the truly human moments that make Hyun Woo an more endearing protagonist amidst all his generally unpleasant treatment of Soo Yeon.
I continue to enjoy the intelligent moments of directing and editing in this show. I particularly enjoyed the “layering” that occurred in several scenes, especially the scene where we saw the video game ‘layered’ over Joon-Young and Bo-Young’s conversation in his place.
As the show starts to move towards its resolution, I hope it continues to display the same maturity and sensitivity that it did for the first half, because I’d much rather prefer a show that ends well than one which starts well. There is potential for a very uplifting story here that will encourage married couples to reflect on their marriage and take active steps to maintain and keep the romance alive, amidst all the challenges of modern society.