(Image credits: itechpost.com)
My experience watching and writing about drama series has led me to realise that it’s more productive to focus on what the show does, instead of on what the show doesn’t do. This allows you to truly appreciate what the writer is trying to do and judge it on its own standards. This realisation became very important for me when viewing this episode.
Joon-Soo’s feelings and experience of marital breakdown
Ever since the beginning of the series, I’ve hoped that the show will take explore the impact of marital breakdown on the child through Joon-Soo. This is because my conversations with colleagues handling divorce issues previously has often surfaced the fact that the child’s voice is often what is neglected when parents undergo divorce. This was part of my great disappointment in the previous episode, which piled on a series of unfortunate incidents on Joon-Soo without exploring his feelings. Episode 9 continues to gloss over the feelings of Joon-Soo, as all that he expressed in the hospital bed in Episode 8 is not picked up on. I would have liked to see Hyun Woo and Soo Yeon at least talk about how they would respond to Joon-Soo’s desire for both of them to be together and why they decided to put aside his feelings for the sake of their own. However, we get none of that and the episode begins with Hyun Woo’s scrambling to get Joon-Soo ready for school and then bringing him to office when the school has a day off.
Viewing the first third of the episodes make it clearer that the series has never intended to explore his feelings, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With that realisation, I was able to appreciate the role of Joon-Soo better and see that the show wanted to use him as a way to highlight the challenges of working parents and how both parents need to work together. He’s also used to good comedic effect in this episode and I laughed out loud at his straightforward, child-like manner of telling Bo Young and Joon Young that they liked each other. I liked also how the show portrayed Hyun Woo’s awkwardness when being a part of a chat group between the mums, being bombarded with messages and wondering how he should reply. It’s such a real and contemporary issue, as I have many parent friends with primary school kids sharing with me how crazy these parent whatsapp groups can be. I applaud the show for portraying this so realistically through its format with the layering of the text messages over the scene and Lee Sun-Kyun’s very animated face which often tells so much without even having to say anything.
Soo Yeon’s journey
While the lack of exploration of the child’s feelings is understandable, one area I do find quite lacking in the show is the perspective of the woman, specifically Soo Yeon. Ever since the truth came out, we’ve had repeated apologies from her and expressions of guilt and then she explanation about how she was on the verge of breaking down because she had tried to juggle the roles of mum and career-woman well. However, we’ve not had a chance to explore further her feelings about the marriage and particularly Hyun Woo.
Soo Yeon does mention at the end of ep7 that she should have came to Hyun Woo first about her feelings of being over-stretched, but we don’t go beyond that. Why is she so estranged from him? Why did she not share her feelings with him? How did he make her feel over the years of their marriage? Surely she has had a role to play too in them growing apart. By relation, what is her process of growth and maturation through this all, besides apologising and regretting the affair? We are very clear about how Hyun Woo has grown, but we don’t know how Soo Yeon has developed through this – in fact, has she even learnt anything about how she could have prevented their marriage from growing apart? We are already three-quarters through the series and yet we have little insight into her growth and journey. While I do understand the value of telling the story through one perspective, the show runs the risk therefore of silencing the woman’s voice from this all.
Soo Yeon’s journey is explored mainly from the lens of being a working mum and we have barely seen it being explored from the perspective of being a wife. From that perspective, she does have some victory in this episode as she stands up to her extremely condescending and irritating boss, but given that the show has already started exploring Soo Yeon’s emotional journey as a wife, it should pursue that further and show her growth.
On the other end, we see Hyun Woo taking concrete steps in this episode to rebuild his relationship with Soo Yeon and that involved him seizing the right timing, by offering to send her back after they’d spent a night with friends. Unlike most k-dramas, I really appreciate that the soundtrack for this series is more muted and subtle, and key moments are not over-played. Him seizing the moment to fetch Soo Yeon back is not overplayed for dramatic effect; it is instead a quiet, small moment of victory, that allows him just to share his realisations of how much he has done. There are a lot of nice, quiet moments between him and Soo Yeon in this episode, as they slowly rebuild their relationship – this is very real, because reconciliation is a long, step-by-step and difficult process. There’s no rush to quickly reconcile the both of them, and I appreciated that they start off first by just spending time together at the end of the episode, learning to be friends again.
It’s also very heartwarming to see that Hyun Woo has such a supportive community of colleagues around him, especially Boo Young and Joon Young who have the most sweet, lovely scenes in this episode as they take care of Joon-Soo. The both of them are certainly bring so much joy, sweetness and hope in this series.
Impact of social media
As the episode ends, there are hints of impending danger to Soo Yeon as a member of the forum community has decided to take things into his own hands. Now, I was really impressed by this direction because the forum community is thrown to the forefront and the show takes a hard look at both the merits and demerits of social media. While the forum itself becomes the platform for Soo Yeon and Hyun Woo to reconnect, it also becomes dangerous and this is explored further in the next episode, which I thought was fantastic. I had previously expressed unhappiness that Soo Yeon’s anger over Hyun Woo’s forum posting was so quickly glossed over, mainly because I had wished the show explored the consequences of him pouring his life out so openly. This upcoming development provides ample opportunity to explore the consequences and is therefore something I strongly welcome. It also adds a great amount of excitement and tension of a more action-packed nature to this series, which is something I never expected. The cliffhanger ending really makes me excited to see what will happen next.