There was so much important stuff going on in this episode that I felt that it would have been more adequately explored across the span of two episodes. The major plotlines of Joon Hyung’s mum returning, Bok Joo getting a place in Taeryung and Joon Hyung aiming for Taeryung by overcoming his trauma were all plotlines with such great scope for development. It felt a little rushed to squeeze all of them into one episode, which also had to cover Jae Yi and Ah Young’s relationship as well as Dae-ho’s love interest.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the episode. Nam Joo Hyuk really put up an excellent performance, capturing perfectly the range of emotions experienced by Joon Hyung when as his mum returns. From the over-brimming joy at seeing her outside the swimming pool, to the awkwardness during their first conversation and the overwhelming pain when he realises she didn’t come back to her – every emotion was so completely embodied and so realistically portrayed.
This episode also illustrates why Bok Joo and Joon Hyung are so perfect for each other. I’m a firmly believer that relationships should bring growth to those involved. While Bok Joo has mostly been on the receiving end of Joon Hyung’s tenderness and care, she helps Joon Hyung to grow by not coddling him and taking a more hard-handed approach to him. This contrasts with Joon Hyung’s uncle, aunt and Jaeyi, who are so gentle and protective of him. Bok Joo screams at him over the phone, scolding him for being completely self-centred by hiding away from everyone and making everyone worry for him. When Joon Hyung hears it, he smiles – because it’s touching to hear how much she cares, but also because he hasn’t had anyone talk to him so directly before. Bok Joo pushes him to reconcile with his aunt and even buys chestnuts for him to give to her. Regarding his mum, Bok Joo acknowledges Joon Hyung’s disappointment, but also tells him she can see things from her mum’s perspective.
While I enjoyed what we saw, I felt we could have understood Joon Hyung’s mum a bit better, since we’ve seen so much of how much their separation hurt him from a young age. We still don’t know why she left him. I felt we could have had more conversations between Joon Hyung and his mum, not even necessarily for reconciliation, but just to catch up on each other’s lives. We could have heard a little more about her daughter. There was just so much scope for heartfelt, beautiful scenes from his mum’s return that I felt a bit like a wasted opportunity.
I felt the same way about Bok Joo’s entry into Taeryung and Joon Hyung’s preparation for it. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy what we got, but I felt we could have gotten more out of that whole storyline with several more conversations between Bok Joo and her friends, her dad and even between her and Joon Hyung.
Nonetheless, what we had was really fun too, especially Coach Yoon dressing up in a suit and everyone else in the team hamming it up for the camera.
Of course, the opportunity to see more of Bok Joo and Joon Hyung cheering each other on, teasing each other and acting all sweet with each other is always welcome and that storyline provides plenty of opportunities.
I do admire this show for continually pushing the story of their lives ahead, even after both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung have gotten together. Bok Joo moving to Taeryung will certainly provide more growth for her and more opportunity for interesting storytelling. Nonetheless, I do hope our two lovebirds aren’t apart for too long and that we get a a finale filled with tonnes of feel-good fun, humour and sweetness – all the qualities that we’ve come to love from this show.